Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of Fame 1989: Doug Lockhart, VE7APU

The March-April 1989 issue of The Canadian Amateur magazine, which was then published by the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (CARF), included the following announcement:

“The Canadian Amateur Radio Hall of  Fame (CARHOF) is pleased to announce that Douglas MacDonald Lockhart, VE7APU, is its premier choice for the position of Member, the highest category of membership.

Doug is being honoured for his outstanding contribution to the development of Amateur Packet Radio Communications. Without his vision, technical ability and per-severance, Amateur Packet Radio might never have developed to its present form. His pioneering work has certainly earned him the title of ‘Father of Amateur Packet Radio’. As Canadians, we recognize this outstanding achievement.

Doug was first licensed as a Radio Amateur in January 1957. Living in Vancouver, he was interested in many aspects of Amateur Radio and soon joined the Vancouver Amateur Radio Club. He shortly served not only on its Technical Committee, but as its Treasurer, Secretary and President as well.

Much of his time was spent on the BCEN CW net in those days and, during the late 70s, DX work and Radio Teletype. Because of his work with computers, Doug could see the possibilities inherent in high speed data communications by Amateur Radio, especially with built-in addressing and error correction.

After some encouragement by the Department of Communications in 1978, Doug formed the Vancouver Amateur Digital Communications Group (VADCG) in January 1979 to begin experimenting with a new mode of Amateur communications called Packet Radio.

By the fall of 1979, the VADCG had developed and produced what they called a ‘Terminal Node Controller’ board (TNC) using bit-oriented protocols (HDLC/SDLC) using AFSK modulation on 144 MHz for testing protocols. They had also developed a Station Node and Station Node Controller (SNC) using CSMA CD protocol and dynamic addressing establishing virtual connections through the station node (packet switch).

After the TNC was developed, some Amateurs in the Hamilton area wished to use it, but they did not have a station node (SNC) or the money to put one on the air. They asked Doug to write them a program to enable them to communicate directly from one TNC to another instead of through a station node, so they could test the operation of  the TNCs before they built the station node. In early 1980, Doug wrote a simple but efficient link level protocol that would temporarily let them do this testing. This protocol became known as the ‘Vancouver Protocol’ and is known as V-1.

During this time, Doug became a packet ‘missionary’ and spent a great deal of time and money visiting and talking, demonstrating and writing letters to groups and individuals all over the United States and Canada. The encouragement and example Doug and other Canadians gave to some US Amateurs resulted in changes in the US Amateur regulations to permit packet experimentation there. The Canadian work served as a catalyst which won US Amateurs the right to  use the ASCII code and packet radio in their country and now in many other countries as well.

It is, in fact, very likely there would be no US packet radio without the efforts of pioneering Canadians like Doug Lockhart. It is basically a copy of the ‘temporary’ system the VADCG was using in early 1980 which is now being mass-marketed. The original concept and development of a dedicated board for Amateur packet radio (TNC), the use of bit-oriented protocols as opposed to start-stop protocols, the use of 1200 baud Bell-202 AFSK on 144 MHz were all originally developed for packet radio by the VADCG under Doug’s Leadership.

All during the 1980s Doug has contributed towards further improvements in packet radio. This has included improved TNCs which provide more flexibility for development and a more efficient modem (the VADCG  TNC+) as well as software development – multiple linking capability for the TNC, new level 2 (Datalink), level 3 (Network) and level 6 (Presentation) protocols.

Doug continues to work actively in the Packet Radio field. A member of the ARRL Ad Hoc Digital Committee, he is currently working on software to increase the baud rate sent on packet from a PC (Using a HAPN board, up to 84 Kilobaud on an AT).

Doug’s contribution was also recognized by the Canadian Radio Relay League (CRRL), who named him Amateur of the Year in 1984. CARF salutes VE7APU.”