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[Articles Home]  [Add Article]  

The Future of Packet Radio

Timothy Johnston (K4TFJ) on July 16, 2014
View comments about this article!

Packet Radio Dead or Alive? Needed or Not?

To answer the first question, No, it is not dead. It is sitting in the easy chair watching it's children and grand-chidren grow-up. Packet was a major contributor to the growth and expansion of digital communications back in the early years. It was the desire and need for accurate and fast transmission of large amounts of information that fueled the ideas that eventually became the digital world we know today as the internet. Did the internet kill packet? No, packet is one of the Internets' many ancestors and is still here.

Today, most people would not know what to do if they could not check their email from their cell phone; or post a status to Facebook; or Google something that they want to know about. Their world would come to and end and so would their link to information. This is packets' purpose and future. Is it an older medium/mode? Yes. Does it still work? Yes. Do we need it? YES!

Packet is needed more than ever! Why? Because of the internet. It is the public and governments routine reliance on getting information through the internet that makes packet a needed mode. Why? Because at some point the internet will not be there!

Your answer: We had internet at the EOC during the last drill, everything worked fine!

My answers:
What if lines are blown down and it looses power or connectivity? (This never happens, right?)
What about a direct attack on the internet infrastructure? (This will never happen, right?)
What if the building, that the routers and switches are in, is under water? or collapsed, or burned up? (This will never happen, right?)

Lets not forget our cell phones and 4g wireless data! Cell sites are always on-line and will never go down! (LOL)

Ok, seriously...
Is the internet more reliable that our eletrical power or water systems?
We have backup power systems... because the power DOES go away!
We store extra water... because the water pressure DOES go away!
We need packet... because the internet WILL go away!

I don't mean to say that it will be gone everywhere, forever. When an emergency occurs or disaster strikes, what makes you think the internet will still be there, where and when you need it?

We, as amateur radio operators, should have working packet equipment in place and using it as often as we can.
We, should be showing our served public agencies that we can still get NEEDED information in and out of an area, even if the internet is or is not there!

I challenge all hams, clubs and ham groups to learn (or re-learn) packet and promote it's use.

The back story: What made me write this? With an empty nest, a new ham shack, and a another ham in the family now (my spouse), I felt it was time to get more active in emcomm, than I have been. It surprised me to hear that during one of our annual local drills, that packet was not used. The equipment is there at the eoc and many of our priority locations... I will assume it works... Why was it not used? "The AGENCY already sent the information by email and the OTHER-AGENC> acknowledged receipt, so why bother?

Excuse me..... but aren't we here to provide that same information to the AGENCY, but via OUR routes? Our radios? Our digital or voice systems?

Redundancy!!! "Mr. Agency, here is a message that we received. As you can see it is the same information you received via email. So you can be confidant that we can provide the information you need as well... should your normal routes go away."

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KG7CSS on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There lot of serious problem with your article. Modern emergency communications require broadband and digital technology not compatible to legacy technology used in ham radio packet. Here in west side of Portland Oregon, we only have 1200 baud packet (mostly Winlink 2000) that is far too slow. Second Ham radio suffers the same vulnerabilities as intente technology. Recently, I think the winter of 2012, a windstorm damaged an antenna that knock out a repeater in my area. The most vulnerable is the specially trained Ham radio operator; all the planning and equipment becomes useless if the operator is a casualty. Finally emergency managers can now deploy portable G3 and Wifi wireless hotspot to restore internet connection.

If you want to look at the future look to Ham Broadband not the sad current state of radio.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by NA7E on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I disagree with this. While broadband certainly is the trend of the future, there are many applications for lesser/slower technology.

If/when there is a disaster, while a portable wifi hotspot is nice and preferred, the fact is that too requires a supporting infrastructure like anything else. The primary thing that people will be wanting to do is send email, sms messaging or tweets. All of these do not require broadband level bandwidth.


While there are (commercial) satellite services that offer broadband services that you can plug your emergency wifi hotspot into, the fact is that if a few dozen people connect, access speeds will drop dramatically no matter what because of the inevitable bottleneck that the satellite will have. And cell service could likely be overloaded with first responders.

I am not familiar with the very latest in emergency portable wifi hotspot technology, but even then the applications of a reliable low speed connection seem pretty obvious to me. Look at the success of twitter - holding at 140 characters. That certainly is not broadband.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by K1CJS on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This entire article seems to be built on the false notion that ham radio is the indispensable communications method for any disaster. These days, that in itself is really pushing things too far.

Instead of trying to muscle its way into a first responders role, ham radio ought to stay in the background, in a 'health and welfare' role--where its always been--until needed.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KB2DHG on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Before I begin let me tell you that I am an active ham and love this hobby. I can honestly say that I am on the air almost everyday...
To me this is a fantastic rewarding hobby...
We have to come to the reality that Amateur radio is just a hobby... Back in the 60's and before, Ham radio operators were a valuable asset to emergency communications and a vital means of getting information around the world. Today the tech in computers and satalites (all of which were developed mostly by hams) has made radio obsolete.
So the long and the short of it all is that we as HAMS only need to keep using what we have and to try to bring in new people to keep the hobby growing.

I think that Amateur radio still can play an important part in society there will always be a need for us to help but if we just try to remember that this is a hobby and what we do other than just communicate is experiment and try to reinvent the wheel... Keep thoes packet units working, keep the boat anchors glowing,keep intergrating computers with radio keep playing ham radio!
 
146.520  
by AI2IA on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This article is a good one and will most likely develop a long thread of comments, which after all is the purpose. It stimulates thoughts and sheds light on the subject of packet radio. I thank the author for making the contribution.

Along the way, let us not forget good old 146.520 and simplex in general as it serves a reliable purpose in emergency communications and among the wise and experienced it will be around for a long time to come.

In passing, haven't you noticed over the years that all the predictions about the future come about skewed or not at all?
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by N6JSX on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
CJS: "in the background", analyze Katrina/New Orleans. The ONLY comm New Orleans had for the first few days was one HAM repeater and simplex, everything else was off the air. Finally the Feds got into New Orleans and pushed the HAM repeater off the air as only the big boys know best. But for the first 72hrs it was HAMs that saved lives and got the information out.

And worse we saw this coming and it still took Govt 72hrs to get it together - in part, due to the arrogant city Mayor, Governor, and Congress reps playing politics in stalling the call for Fed help. (How soon we forget.)

When crap hits the fan in any major city or wide area with infrastructure dieing to include power, landlines, cable, and even transportation access --- it is HAM radio that happens. Review the 1993 Mississippi-Missouri flood, and that was a predictable slow moving disaster over a very very wide area.

Back to Packet-racket, it is still a viable mode (especially with the auto-correcting feature) but what stifled its success for E-comms is the HIPPA/privacy laws limiting what can/cannot be put on the air. Saving ones 'privacy' is of more value than there 'life' (it's the new norm in our twisted society, making lawyers smile).

I built a TAPER2 and digi-ed all over Calf/Oregon/Washington/Utah. But then MFJ came up with PBBS w/beacons and it killed Packet due to the constant Packet crashing. Nodes helped but beacons could still be routed thru Nodes. It took a decade of users to give up and fade away to allow Packet to once again be usable - the 80's craze was over. Packet became the DX Cluster a very good service, soon APRS hit with one single national freq - amen.

As a T-Hunter I loved KPC3's, their watchdog timer was for crap not resetting a stuck TX PTT. I RDF'ed the stuck signals to let the owner know (to there embarrassment) as another VHF fire-hazard averted. With a constant signal these were easy fun hunts.

I now live in the Midwest, I cannot remember hearing a packet burp on the air in over a decade. I still have a KAM (somewhere) but I've not hooked it up in well over a decade. My favorite Packet PC program will not load onto a 32bit Win7. And now Notebooks do not have Serial/LPT ports anymore. With Packet being upstaged by PSK that has been replaced with Olivia (today's new rage) as thee digi-mode.

Is Packet useful, absolutely, will it come back, doubtful (just look at how few TNC MFG's there are and the Cluster has moved onto the Internet).
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KC2QYM on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
On and on some HAMs rant about their role in public service and constantly use that time honored mantra about how radio gets through when other communications infrastructure fails, etc. Well that may be true but in reality the last time I looked it appeared that the 'PAID' public service communications groups had much of the emergency communications technologies pretty well sewn up. I agree with the other poster who said that HAM radio is just a hobby and HAMs who want to help shouldn't complain when they are relegated to passing out water, blankets, and MREs during a disaster. What's laughable is how many emcomm HAMs truly believe that their public service agencies take them seriously; although this may vary from location to location. Really? I became a HAM to have fun with radios, experiment with antennas, and chat with a variety of people all over the world. I don't condemn anyone willing to help their fellow man as a volunteer; I myself would answer a 'May Day' in a New York Minute. But please stop thinking that you've got some power because you have a multi function/mode radio in a box; it takes more than that secure a disaster zone.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K9MHZ on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The topic author confused me....the title concerns packet, while his discussion flows into emcomm. Which is it?

If he's most interested in keeping packet alive, then he'll have some headwinds. It's being outperformed by other modes.

If this is about emcomm, then again, there are other modes that do a much better job, and no, they do not rely on the internet.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K1DA on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Just as a matter of interest, based on power company "representations as to restoration times most cell sites in this area now have a two (2) hour battery backup only.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The author brought up several valid points

>>>"What if lines are blown down and it looses power or connectivity? (This never happens, right?)
What about a direct attack on the internet infrastructure? (This will never happen, right?)
What if the building, that the routers and switches are in, is under water? or collapsed, or burned up? (This will never happen, right?) Lets not forget our cell phones and 4g wireless data! Cell sites are always on-line and will never go down! (LOL)<<<


When Hurricane Sandy that hit the New York Metropolitan area. People were asking the TV reporter for the latest information because their smart phones could didn't work with the cell towers down. There might have been emergency hotspots that were deployed. I didn't recall hearing about it.

Suppose you needed to leave messages or to relay text or perhaps important lists to other hams during some emergency. With the internet, the power and cell phone towers (and their backup) are down. What would be the best method to pass on text based information to other areas out of the affected area?

Voice, simplex? To pass on text information?

D-Star? (Which depends on the internet)

APRS with it's small character limit?

Pactor II or III (Do you have $1500 for the modem?)

PSK31 Mail ?

G3 or Wifi Hotspots? With the grid down?

Emergency G3 or Wifi Hotspots? Who would deploy them and would they cover all of the affected area?

Satellite based internet, yes. That is if you have Satellite Internet and a means to power it off the grid and the storm didn't damage your dish. Not sure if it would be easy to disassemble the dish and deploy to another area.

Or Packet Radio? With a $30 used TNC with mailbox capability or through some BBS running on emergency power. That can be set up anywhere with vintage equipment probably already sitting in someones closet. It can be deployed almost anywhere and be easily carried in a briefcase or suitcase. An inverter could run the computer and vehicle power could supply the inverter, tnc and radio.

It would seem that packet would be the best way. Sure simplex would be fine, or some emergency repeater or even HF. That is if you are there to receive the messages in real time.

Suppose there was some detailed instructions or emergency warnings that has to be conveyed? Packet Radio would be the best method. While packet might be considered by some as something from the horse and buggy era...Especially in today's instant high speed download broadband world.

And even though we have vehicles that can go over 100 mph and we can fly coast to coast in a few hours. We still use older methods today for specialized operations. We still use horseback for search and rescue operations in rough terrain areas where a vehicle might not be able to go. But we would not use a horse to travel the country anymore.

We still use the blimp for televising sporting events even though the blimp would be the last thing that we would take to fly across the country. We still have sail boats and row boats, although we would use a cruise ship to travel by water to a resort area or another country.

Packet radio might be dated and it's use is not what it once was. But for inexpensive relay and storing of text messages, its ability to send mail in and out of affected areas it still should be in everyone's emergency 'toolbox'. It is prudent to use and to have ready some sort of a backup in place. Ready to go when the grid, the internet and cell phones go down. Packet radio fits that bill.

Packet radio can run on any platform including ancient operating systems from 20 and 25 years ago. Used terminal node controllers are sold daily for $30 on the online auction sites, the packet software to run them for the most part are free, ancient computers such as an old Windows 98 or even an old DOS machine would work fine with packet radio.

Overall, packet radio is a good inexpensive backup for relaying messages and passing on important text files and lists when the grid does go down.




 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KB4QAA on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Sure, packet is not dead; just relegated to tiny niches in a few hot spots around the country, and APRS use.

Packet died back due to rise of the internet. Packet fails due to slow data rate, and limitation to text. On HF rates are even slower, and VHF/UHF requires digipeaters every few miles.

In the end, neither hams, nor public safety services need or want text only.

After nearly 25 years since Packets' decline, no one has made the technological break through of high speed data in the bandwidth limitations imposed on hams.

Plain and simple.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K6AER on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
“Just as a matter of interest, based on power company representations as to restoration times most cell sites in this area now have a two (2) hour battery backup only.”

Typical cell sites including F1-F3 sites have battery backup lasting 24-48 hours. Those sites that handle critical bandwidth also have generators. The general statement that cell systems fail during emergencies in great numbers is not born out in actual facts. During hurricane Katrina 85% of the areas cell systems were back on line after 7 days. The rest of the systems were under water. It has been my experience when bad weather hits an area the Ham repeater systems are the ones that go down first.

If you had a 1200 Baud communication on your computer you would send it in for repair. Emergency services need a lot more capability than a single channel of communication. I addition, a bunch of overweight 65 year olds in orange vests bring little to the first responder community.

Ham radio is a hobby first, a medium for electronic education second. Even the Coast Guard no longer requires SSB on ocean going vessels.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KG7CSS on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
one more thing
"My answers:
What if lines are blown down and it looses power or connectivity? (This never happens, right?)
What about a direct attack on the internet infrastructure? (This will never happen, right?)
What if the building, that the routers and switches are in, is under water? or collapsed, or burned up? (This will never happen, right?)"


In a disaster and most power will be off packet will be good as my television without power. You need power for a computer and TNC.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by K8QV on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think packet radio, like Atari, has a history but not a future. CW, as a legacy mode, would be more relevant and useful for EMCOMM, though I admit not enough people are willing to learn it any more to make it viable on any useful scale.


 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by NA4IT on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is one problem that causes the failure of ALL digital modes.

Most hams will attend digital mode training, go home, and never use it again, expecting that when they need it, they will remember everything they did.

They won't. The old adage is true, "If you don't use it, you WILL loose it". If you are not an active participant in the digital modes you trained on, you will not know what to do when the chips are down. Even worse, you will look like an idiot.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by K3STX on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
FWIW, I got my ticket in 1978. While I have HEARD of the term "packet radio", I have no idea what it is or what it is to be used for. I KNOW that says something about me, but I suspect it also says something about packet radio.

paul
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by N4UFO on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I was the State Packet Coordinator for ARES/RACES in the late 90s, early 2000s in another state. I helped put over a dozen dual band packet nodes on the air. (user and backbone) We I left, those that took over got a sizable grant from the state hospital association to put up a few more critical nodes as well as stations in hospitals.

What was the problem? Hams and emergency managers wouldn't use it.

An unused network is a broken network. But even with the network working perfectly, the top hams in ARES/RACES had no interest in promoting it. The state government emergency management officials did not seem to believe in it. County emergency managers would not employ it. And without the skills to use it, there would be no hams to deploy it anyway.

In my experienced opinion, despite the author's insistence that packet radio still has a place, I must say that I believe that ship has sailed. Not because the technology is not viable, but because any mode that involves a network (even voice) starts with people and interest. No one, save a relatively minor few, have any interest in keeping a packet network maintained and functioning. And I can tell you from experience, it is a lot of work! - There is no interest, no desire... no passion.

About the only thing that WOULD be of any use is the HMSS mesh networks, AKA 'ham broadband'. Why? Because it can fill the desires of the served agencies, there are hams that employ it for their own personal use (it is monitored and maintained) and there are developers working on improving it. It DOES have the requisite interest, desire... and passion.


Like so many people I have encountered over the years, you have to remember that the 'tech' is only half the equation... There is no one (not enough) left to deploy packet radio. Heck, there wasn't 15 years ago, when I was involved, much LESS today! Find something people have an interest in and then see if you can adapt that to serve the agencies. IF the served agencies have any interest in it, fine. Otherwise, leave it be... if the served agencies don't show interest in using it, you'll just be wasting your time.

73 Kevin N4UFO

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>"In the end, neither hams, nor public safety services need or want text only.

After nearly 25 years since Packets' decline, no one has made the technological break through of high speed data in the bandwidth limitations imposed on hams.
"<<<<
________________________________________________________

There will be need for text to pass along bulletins, lists and details of the disaster in and out of affected areas. It is possible to relay it by voice, but it gets redundant after awhile.

There has been a breakthrough in speed with Pactor II, II and IV. Pactor Modems are out of the reach of most hams, often costing $1500 and up. Even then Pactor IV is not allowed on the ham bands in the U.S.

Besides, Pactor modems were mainly designed for marine communications for boats in the middle of the ocean to send email.

Satellite Internet like Hughes Net and the other providers will work using alternate power. Assuming the storm didn't damage the dish.

I'm suggesting that hams should just start a packet station in the corner of the ham shack. Have an alternate means of power for it if needed, and just let it run 24/7. And it will be there to go at a moments notice.

Or build one in a suitcase with the laptop, tnc, radio and fold up J-Pole antenna and set it so that it can all run on 12 volts and be deployed if needed.

Hams might have most of the equipment already. It is probably gathering dust in the basement or closet. Might as well as put it to good use or sell to someone who will put it to good use.






 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by AB2NM on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Competition (meaning contests, awards or certificates) seems to be an effective and proven method to focus and direct activity to negelected modes or bands. Perhaps a packet-related contest, or series of competitions (certificate or award) sanctioned by a large organization, and well advertised, could refocus and reinvigorate activity. Make it challenging, but designed in such a way to attract the 'little guns' as well. Start as a domestic competition, an perhaps later grow into an international competition.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Pactor1 was originally designed for use in amateur radio HF QSOs and text messages, where it worked very well. Pactor2 and later have been adopted by marine people for e-mail services on boats. There is nothing however that makes it work better on boats than it does on land stations.

Packet is better suited for VHF/UHF work where you don't have to deal with atmospheric noise, QRM, and fading signals. I think the main reason that many packet users never went to 9600 baud was modem cost and the fact that it required modification of the FM transceivers to bypass the pre-emphasis and de-emphasis circuits. If I were building a Packet network from scratch, performance would be much better if all users went with 9600 baud.

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KE4DRN on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
hi,

while not packet, this Arduino psk31 decoder
can fit right in a personal emcomm station.


http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,97337.0.html

73 james
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by JOHNZ on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Imagine in your mind a picture of the radio operator on the sinking Titanic, 100 years ago, as he desperately pounded out his disaster message. This same picture represents the present state of amateur radio in disaster situations. Ancient technology, for sure.

The Titanic radio had advantages over today's ham radio operators. He was young and slim. Been to any ham radio club meetings lately? The meeting rooms are filled with all males, overweight, and way past 60 y.o.


 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W5GNB on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"The Titanic radio had advantages over today's ham radio operators. He was young and slim. Been to any ham radio club meetings lately? The meeting rooms are filled with all males, overweight, and way past 60 y.o."

Very well put JohnZ....and Don't forget that all these Old Farts are talking about how the GOOD OLD DAYS were far better and they are arguing amongst each other about WHO is the SMARTEST of them All !!!!

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W8AAZ on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I once was involved in packet, both ham and for a period, the CAP packet nets. For some reason it did not always come easy for me. Sending a message beyond someone local seemed cumbersome and time consuming, and I eventually got to where I did not use it at all. Fun for awhile. Till I got email and internet. I can see the utility of packet or some other digital mode for emcomms. But it needs to be something you can use a lot on a regular basis. IF I had to set up a packet system right now, I would still have the learning curve and that is not what you need in a hurry. It was a "standard" for it's time. What is the standard nowadays that everyone can use for that purpose in an emergency?
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KC0KP on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I had to laugh at the old fat guys line of attack.Check out the NIMS incident management teams in your local area. The professionals. The ones paid to help keep you safe. Yeah, another bunch of old fat guys. The people on the street doing the work are all kids but management is senior. I am 65 take my pack test (arduous) am a NWCG Firefighter 1, COMT (T), NIMS all hazard Type3 COML and a full time firefighter. I am an old fat guy.
BTW, our department has 4G mobile hot spots. So did Colorado Springs fire department. Read the Waldo Canyon after action reports to see how they worked.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There are numerous free packet radio software programs available for all kinds of platform.

http://www.tigertronics.com/bay_soft.htm
http://www.glaswerks.com/xpware/
http://www.ui-view.net/winpack/

Hyperterminal is free and available on Windows Computers from XP and down. Putty is another good terminal program.

An excellent 18 article write up on packet radio for anyone to download. "INTRODUCTION TO PACKET RADIO" By Larry Kenney, WB9LOZ http://www.choisser.com/packet/

There are packet radio videos on youtube including using packet on 11 meters from Europe.

There are some good informative ecomm Packet radio sites including pdf's.

http://www.ctsara.org/VHF_Packet_Radio1.pdf

http://www.outpostpm.org/docs/Alameda_Packet_110325.pdf

http://www.scc-ares-races.org/packet.html

There is a site that runs over three pages on how to connect various radios and TNC's togather.

http://ohiopacket.org/files/wiring_diagrams/web.archive.org/web/20000902104029/www.packetradio.org/tnc2rad.htm

http://web.archive.org/web/20000902104011/http://www.packetradio.org/trad.htm

http://web.archive.org/web/20000902104019/http://www.packetradio.org/tcpu.htm

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K3FHP on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
e After a direct by a major hurricane, power can be out for weeks in some areas. Telephone and cell service is overloaded at first and then the generators go out and they are gone. Ask me how I know.....

Our AREC/RACES used VHF voice and UHF packet between EOC, Shelters and Hospitals as well as HF PACTOR for out of area. This gives error free record traffic capability as well as voice. The system was set up using the experience of a MAJOR hurricane when EVERYTHING went out.

PACKET is fine for VHF+ freqs though there are certainly other choices now. Unfortunately few have ARQ, have reasonable throughput.

The HIPPA warnigs here are a red herring in my opinion as actual names are rarely necessary when doing inter hospital communications. Without the mname or SSN, it is NOT individually identifiable patient information.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by K3FHP on July 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Now that the President has a KILL SWITCH with which to interrupt all phone, TV and internet traffic at will, I predict a comeback for this and other modes AND perhaps an increase in new licensees.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K8QV on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Now that the President has a KILL SWITCH with which to interrupt all phone, TV and internet traffic at will..."


Was this given to him by the Reptilians or the Illuminati? ;)
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W5GNB on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The Presidential "Kill Switch" will be as dismal a Failure as the present E.A.S. system....( and the present administration)......

The E.A.S. system in this country is even worse than Packet as far as reliable transfer of information.
The 1940's technology just doesn't work too well these days....
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AI4WC on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I agree with KB2DHG. It is a HOBBY. I treat it that way, and I hope society never needs my help. If it does, I will do what I can with what I have. If society doesn't need what I have, that's fine, too. Meanwhile, I will maintain my radio & computer gear; update my survival plans; keep my solar array and batteries in good order and, in case it all goes KERFLOOY, I also maintain my arsenal and ammunition stores. Remember Andrew and Katrina! Better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it; that's my motto, and the BEST thing I can do for society is to not require help for something I could have reasonably prepared for. SEMPER VIGILANS!
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Here in Arizona, we have a club station in a relatively young town that is going gangbusters on ham radio.

Building up classic FM repeater capability and licensing new operators right and left. Even the crustiest cynic would have to smile.

They (I will claim no credit here) are very serious about the public service aspects, including things like backup power at the repeater site.

Packet has never even come up as an issue.

The human nature part of it triumphs. Nobody (demographically speaking) has or wants a TNC these days. The new hams most certainly won't.

If we are going to help the community out, it's going to be voice FM.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Here are some Packet Radio Videos that might be of interest.


I found some packet radio videos that might be of interest. On the first two videos the ham is using an ancient computer. Nothing fancy about this setup!

Packet radio demo part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dfqPQui4NU

Packet radio demo pt. 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZOSdcRIF99g

What is a Packet Radio BBS and how does it work.

"Packet Radio Bulletin Board Demo"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Hm6omrVaeE&list=PLChFJQNUwriTYqyhzia7Emlgzf1x2wtA3&index=2


Packet at 9600 can be quite fast.

"9600 Baud Packet Radio with the Kenwood TM-V71A"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3CrUexYtKQA

Packet has even been done on 11 meters (in Europe)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFu71XeM998

 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by JOHNZ on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
@KC0KP

Tnx for the suggestion to read the after action report on the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado. That was a disaster of immense proportions that affected a huge area for weeks on end, which is what made it an excellent example of emergency comms and cooperation between multiple agencies.

The report also confirmed my suspicions that amateur radio was never a major player in this disaster. In fact, according to the report, amateur radio was reduced to reporting to the EOC the number of diapers needed at shelter #6, for example. Relatively unimportant communications.

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

This is a FREE 67 page packet radio book by Buck Rogers K4ABT.

http://www.hamradioexperts.com/pdfzips/2012-Packet-SNO-Handbook.pdf

Section One is a primer for a beginner
Section Two is For Advanced Packet Sys Ops

 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by N4DSP on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
When did amateur radio cease being a HOBBY?

john
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KT4WO on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
RE:"The report also confirmed my suspicions that amateur radio was never a major player in this disaster."


Like the "Bounty",,,,Winlink say they "saved" them,,,,NTSB report says not.

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by N4CQR on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet is a fine addition to the NCS operator needing to pass messages off to another NCS operator on a different frequency. Especially information that does not need to passed in the open air. The only limitation is the lack of imagination or adaptation.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KM6CQ on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is a need for CW, FM, SSB, PSK31, and JT65 You can always find this modes being used. And frequently there is a need for RTTY. If there is a need for Packet, it will be an active mode. If there is a need to use our hobby for and emergency, I would think the capabilities of most hams would be limited to FM and SSB modes. To effectively operate SSB is beyond more then a few hams. Most hams are still using XP and Win 7 on there systems. Win 8 has run its course and is giving way to Win 9 next year. The point is very few hams could locate and operate a terminal mode program, not to mention make it work with a current OS. Then there is the hardware issue.
Packet is inactive because hams are not interested in using it. Which is why it would not be a good choice in an emergency. The modes to use would be FM and SSB. The plain ones are the main ones, and the main ones are the plain ones. That does not include packet. Personally I like packet and miss it's hay day. It was a great time when there were so many hams passionate about it.

73, Dan KM6CQ
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K6JHU on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet was good 'in the day'. It has now been supplanted by other digital modes (PSK, MFSK, and other sound card modes) using 'sound card' applications. Capable of transmitting spreadsheets without error (something an ECOMM might want). These modes have been used for a while of HF. Only surprise is that they have not moved up to VHF.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Packet was good 'in the day'. It has now been supplanted by other digital modes (PSK, MFSK, and other sound card modes) using 'sound card' applications."


Yes, but how is it possible to leave messages, mail or files and retrieve them later? (Without depending on the internet or some internet based 'service').


How is it possible to bring up bulletins, messages, and general information without someone having to be there on the other end to send it?

Packet BBS can do these without reliance on the internet inexpensively using antiquated equipment and computers.






 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
<<< Yes, but how is it possible to leave messages, mail or files and retrieve them later? (Without depending on the internet or some internet based 'service').

<<< How is it possible to bring up bulletins, messages, and general information without someone having to be there on the other end to send it?

<<< Packet BBS can do these without reliance on the internet inexpensively using antiquated equipment and computers.

Those same antiquated computers can be repurposed as Linux server boxes that do all you suggest and more. A BBS is limited; Linux is a full, free, and very capable operating system, chock full of all kinds of functionality. It need not be connected to the internet; it can even be optionally connected through an unreliable mostly down connection. Or, always down. It has, itself, supported AX25 for years. It would support all sorts of communications protocols without fuss. AX25 would be but one of many. Definitely not required.

A lot could be done, even in the absence of a general internet, with ordinary web servers and email, never mind other stuff. Adapting these to emergency communications probably hasn't been done, but it's not a world-beater of a problem. And, everyone understands email and web services.

The BBS is a 1980s solution to the problem you posed, requiring equipment and protocols nobody else needs. The rest of the world moved on a long time ago to servers and services.

If you want to make digital relevant in 2014, I suggest you look into that.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
PSK, MFSK, and other sound card modes are NOT error-free modes like Packet, Pactor, and other ARQ modes. Pactor performs best on HF while Packet is better for VHF/UHF. Most sound card modes like PSK31 loose their advantage when you pump them through an FM radio as typically used on VHF/UHF. Most sound card modes need to be send via SSB in order to maintain their benefit - that's why you don't see them used on VHF/UHF much.

For those who don't know, ARQ modes send a packet of information along with a CRC check. When the receiving end gets the packet it recalculates the CRC for the incoming data. If the CRC matches then the packet was received correctly and the receiver sends an acknowledgement so the sender knows it was received correctly and can send the next packet. If the CRC doesn't match then the receiver sends a negative acknowledgement and the sender retransmits the same packet again. That's what makes the ARQ modes error-free. That's what makes it important for emergency messages that contain a lot of numbers and other data that can be easily confused. If someone orders 1000 of some item and you send 10000 that's not good.


 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
By the way, APRS uses the "unconnected" mode of Packet which is NOT error free like the connected ARQ mode. In unconnected mode their is still a CRC and the receiver can tell that the received packet has an error but it has no way to request a retransmission. Most TNCs, by default, simply discard unconnected mode packets that have an error.

 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KM6CQ on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
You guys a correct and I agree however, the modes we are using today will the effective modes we use in an emergency. So I fired up putty and took a look around on the pkt freqs here. And the same thing is going now that was going on last year at this time, nothing. Just a bunch of internet nodes and a few rf nodes. Again, this is not effective. Training is not the quarterly use of packet in a drill is it? We are good on the modes we train (use) every day. If you play instrument every day you will stay up on it and improve. Just like CW, SSB and Packet. If you play your instrument (or Packet) once every quarter, you will be struggling at best. Packet is not even struggling now. It is just irrelevant to almost all amateurs. And that is why it is not a good choice to use as an emergency mode. I think if the need arises, As a group of hobbyist we would use our hobby for the good of the general public. Packet would be on the bottom of the list with Amtor, Clover, and all the other digital modes I use to love that are now inactive. The top the list would probably be SSB, FM and PSK31 in respect to their bands. And yep, you would probably be without "time delayed messaging" And now here is the challenge, can any of you leave a message in my pbbs? (km6cq-1) You can hit it from the RNO node. Good Luck.

Dan
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by AC5WO on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet Radio was already frustrating even back in the 80s. The concept of connecting an audio modem to an FM voice radio was hopelessly slow and obsolete back then and there was never a mechanism to do periodic upgrades of the radio and modem. It's as dead as dial-up internet access. The better option today is to build a ham digital network around Wi-Fi hardware combined with transverters to non-Wi-Fi bands, amplifiers, better antennas, etc.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that Packet never developed to the point where it was "plug and play". A few radios had a packet TNC built in but most required making cables, setting deviation, etc. The sound card modes are just now becoming "plug and play" with some of the Icom radios having a build in sound card and a USB interface.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Your comment

>>>"...A BBS is limited; Linux is a full, free, and very capable operating system, chock full of all kinds of functionality. It need not be connected to the internet; it can even be optionally connected through an unreliable mostly down connection. Or, always down. It has, itself, supported AX25 for years. It would support all sorts of communications protocols without fuss. AX25 would be but one of many. Definitely not required.

The BBS is a 1980s solution to the problem you posed, requiring equipment and protocols nobody else needs. The rest of the world moved on a long time ago to servers and services.If you want to make digital relevant in 2014, I suggest you look into that."<<<...
=======================================================
(My Comment:)

So how does Linux (or any other operating system) "services and servers" are going to send mail, messages and information that work on ham radio frequencies in an emergency, without the internet and without cell phone towers.

Wireless Mesh Network?

I believe the OP was talking about Packet Radio on ham radio frequencies. Can you be more specific and provide more details and a link or two?

Thanks

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WA2ISE on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As for using wifi equipment, there's HSMM-MESH,
http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/
You can convert various Linksys wifi routers to HSMM-MESH devices just by flashing new firmware, you don't even have to open the box up.

A network of these should be useful for ham radio emergency comms. A lot more bandwidth than the old packet. A portable set up would be a laptop and one of these devices running off a car battery.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on July 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
<<< So how does Linux (or any other operating system) "services and servers" are going to send mail, messages and information that work on ham radio frequencies in an emergency, without the internet and without cell phone towers.

I think we need to distinguish services from protocols like AX25. The key is to avoid a TNC and just have the usual computer-and-sound card solution. Maybe something akin to dial up internet over HF or VHF.

But, Apache (and its myriad of plug-ins) have more function than we can discuss in this space. "The right stuff" is out there or can be adapted at the script level.

Email has worked without requiring the general internet since. . .forever. Long ago and far away, email was, in fact, localized. For years, that's how I expereienced email. So, ordinary email can do a lot. It could be kept inside the zone or selected bits of it (segregated naturally by email address) could be expected to go that first hop to an outside-the-zone server and from there, be viewed via (say) webmail on the ordinary internet by anyone authorized and needful. Now the rest of the world, which has an internet, is able to deal with the data forwarded outside of the danger zone. Directly, naturally, and normally.

So, anything sent outside is in a form the world is ready to deal with.

Meanwhile, inside the disaster zone, we could have pretty ordinary email servers. Or, it would simply be a web page on the server instead. Key officials could even have blogs to get critical messages out. Including on the "first hop" server.

The main issue would be to design everything around very limited bandwidth -- no big pictures, no video, but this is a lot more about web design than it is about virgin code.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KG4RUL on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Most of the detractors of Packet Radio offer solutions that are HEAVILY infrastructure dependent. Yes, you can rely on the Cell Phone/Data infrastructure some of the time. Yes, you can set up a mesh network but, who is providing the hardware, planning and maintenance for the system? Packet is slow but, proven and reliable.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
What "heavy" infrastructure was I suggesting?

Maintenance is a bitch on any digital solution. Packet is certainly proven, no doubt about that.

The problem is, even in its heyday, it was a minority mode. I used it, especially for DX spotting back in the day. Fond memories. Had two TNCs -- both TAPR boards mounted on plywood. You see hams deploying that sort of thing in 2014?

What I'm basically suggesting is maybe a bit of code -- maybe -- to adapt existing point-to-point dial up internet to VHF or HF and then after that, it's all software. Well-known software, and no TNC and no BBS. Less training for operators; more familiar functionality.

People on the whole just won't put up with the kind of primitive interfaces in 2014 that a BBS-based system represents.

When the balloon goes up, who is really going to be ready to deal with that? Honest answer is a handful of operators. That was true even when packet was at its peak.

It was a wonderful thing in its day, but we need to move on to where the people are or admit that voice FM is where it is at for amateur disaster communication. Where it is at is not 1200 baud TNCs and command line interfaces.

Like I said, my local club is going gangbusters building capability. I can't take any credit; I do my part, but it is a very small part. But, packet has not, to my knowledge, been suggested. New ops have never heard of it, sad to say.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
" Packet is slow but, proven and reliable. "


Yes, and packet is inexpensive or in some cases it costs nothing because hams might already have the equipment sitting in their closet.

There are numerous free how to PDF's, general information and videos all over the web.

I suggest downloading the all the packet radio videos, PDF's and information you can find now and put it all on a thumb drive for later use if the internet and the grid goes down.

This way you can access that information in an emergency to set up an emergency station for yourself or others.

Packet Radio Power considerations in an emergency...
While most ham radio transceivers and TNC's run on 13.8 volts, a laptop or a desktop computer will require a car converter or a $35 inverter might do.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by K0JEG on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Can't see the point of Packet, especially 1200 baud, these days. Fairly easy and very inexpensive to flash/modify off the shelf wifi gear. Even things like outdoor gain antennas are far cheaper and more plentiful than the few packet TNCs and radios that are capable of 9600bps packet (and users who realize 9600bps packet is even possible). A quick search on Amazon.com will return a lot of equipment options. It's not Icom or Yaesu, and you buy it on Amazon instead of HRO, but maybe that's a good thing.

In a SHTF situation there's usually pockets of infrastructure that go down, usually only over a few miles in range. A mesh style network should have no problem getting out to "civilization" in one or two hops. A directional gain antenna on a high mast (above trees) can see for miles. Simple applications like IRC and web servers can be installed on small PCs like Raspberry Pis and Intel NUC-style machines (or even old laptops). A box of CAT-5 and a few connectors are far cheaper than 50 ohm coax (most outdoor WiFi radios are designed to be powered over Ethernet and placed at/on the antenna). If the infrastructure is down, it's also likely that most consumer WiFi equipment will also be down, so SNR on the 2.4Ghz band should actually increase.

BTW, what ever happened to the ARRL symbol rate petition?
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by JOHNZ on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
@K0JEG

FCC RM-11708 (ARRL Symbol Rate Petition) is yet another dirty self-serving move by the league to ensure money continues to flow into the Newington coffers. RM-11708 is just one example of a long history of treachery from the selfish self-centered Newington Yankees.

I cancelled my league membership three decades ago, when the league started looking out for its own interests and not the interests of amateur radio. Hiram Percy Maxhim must be spinning in his grave.

N0UN has a well written piece in his blog on RM-11708 and how it serves the league's interests and not those of ham radio. Google for his blog.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I understand that if the ARRL Symbol Rate Petition is passed it will allow Pactor IV to be used on the HF bands. Hypothetically speaking would this also allow packet modems to use more than 300 baud on the HF bands as well? How much more?
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The problem with the symbol rate petition is that it sets the maximum bandwidth for data modes (anywhere in the CW/Data sub-bands) to 3KHz! If they would limit the bandwidth to 500Hz, the petition would be a good thing because it allows the development of new modes that could pack higher data rates into the existing bandwidth. The answer I got from the ARRL was that bandwidth limits should be via "gentlemen's agreements" band plans rather than via regulation. I guarantee that if you don't limit bandwidth via regulation then the CW/data bands will be filled with a relatively few 3KHz wide digital stations.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There seems to be another alternative to packet radio. It is called PSK Mail

http://pskmail.wikispaces.com/

PSKmail is a multi-purpose tool for radio communication:

On field: PSKmail is suitable for campers, sailors, hikers, bikers...for hobby and for communication needs.
Thanks to servers adaptive logic you will not need a lot of transmit power, and modest antenna will most likely work.

For emergency communication: PSKmail is field tested and you can practice its use every day.

Or just for fun: Enjoy magic of amateur radio at your shack.

Multi-purpose: File upload and download, email services, text-page loading from Internet (like weather forecasts), short quick emails throw APRS, twitter tweets sending. And it can be used to sent status updates for Facebook also...

Stay on map: PSKmail offers APRS location and message sending and receiving and also iGate for transfer APRS-data to Internet. PSKmail works together with mapping software such as xastir, for local or global needs.
PI4TUE.jpg

Adaptive:PSKmail offers possibility to automatic message transfer in hard communication conditions. If needed, it will chance to most robust modes available and it uses arq for strong error-correction. You can see the example session here.

Flexible network architecture: Keyboard-to-keyboard chat also between clients. APRS iGate also on clients. Decentralized: works also totally without Internet. Multiplatform: Java-based clients.

Also check out

http://pskmail.org/

and

http://pskmail.org/jPSKmail-2.0.22.html
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K1CJS on July 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Re: N6JSX:
I never said packet wasn't needed or necessary at all. Look at the last line of my reply. "...in a 'health and welfare' role--where it's always been--until needed."

In other words, where ham radio--packet included--is needed it's used--such as in New Orleans after Katrina where most of the traffic WAS health and welfare. I honestly wish some of you people would develop the mentality to read into the comments what is actually said instead of putting your own interpretation into the reply--and making yourselves out to be total idiots.

And as far as being pushed aside by the government, it should have been. That is one of the things that set government officials against ham radio operators--the insistence that ham radio still has to be included in the communication mix IN A FIRST RESPONDER ROLE, even after official communication has been re-established. Once official communications channels have been re-established, ham radio should be set aside and relegated to getting non-important messages into and out of the disaster area. Unless it's needed once again, that's where it's place is.

Getting back to the subject, there is something else. Packet radio needs an interface and a computer, however minimal. There is enough being carried around in most instances to necessitate making the portable emergency station as light as possible, and adding more to such a station can be a big problem to some.

I also echo one of the other comments made in this thread: "When did amateur radio cease being a HOBBY?"
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KB9MWR on July 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet Radio in the conventional sense is dead. But it is needed. By the conventional sense I mean 1200 baud, which is what comes to mind for most people when they hear pack radio. Packet radio in the broader sense, is about moving data packets over radio. This version of the words lives on in HSMM and Mesh networks. 1200 baud networks are no longer useful, and are not worth deploying for anything other than maybe sensor networks.

I agree there are to many eggs on one basket when it comes to the internet. But the main reason for deploying and building packet networks (or anything else in the hobby) should not be to provide further backup utility to the public and governments. It goes without saying that whatever we build and deploy of course will be available in the event something happens.

This is my hobby, and I will not partake in activities that cost me money and or time that do not personally appeal to me. The Emcomm overtones in this article almost prevented me from commenting. So please re-think how you are going to sell the idea to the ham populous. That said the emcomm usefulness of a decent digital network is acknowledge-able, but is certainly not why everyone should jump on board.

HSMM uses microwave band space. Mostly because in order to achieve good throughput you need several MHZ of band space. VHF doesn't have it, and the present rules and incumbent activities preclude this from working.

HSMM can put our microwave frequency allocations to good use.   These allocations (23cm-300GHz) make up 99% of hams total available frequency allocations. Yet, it's estimated that only 1% of hams are involved with any microwave operations.
 
High Speed Multi Media data links can support most of the traffic that the Internet currently does, including; remote printing and facsimile, video conferencing & instant messaging, voice, the Web (HTTP), file transfer (FTP), and forums.   D-Star Digital voice and data, Voice Over IP using SIP & Asterisk private branch exchange (PBX) open source telephony switching technology's well as Electronic Mail even via WinLink, AX.25 and more, can all be supported over a High Speed Multi Media network.  Talk about flexibility!

At the same time many ham radio systems use the internet for wormhole-like connectivity.  APRS, WinLink, D-Star, IRLP, Echolink and so forth.  An emphasis on building our own backbone and infrastructure is just simply not there.  This leaves vulnerabilities in our emergency communications reliability.

There are some unknown vulnerabilities in the upcoming switch to IPV6, such as distributed denial of service attacks on IPv4 to IPv6 gateways.  As well as root nameservers, and core internet routing.  In January 2011 due to protests in Egypt, the Egyptian government ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Which showed to have a crippling effect on a modernizing economy. 

Simultaneously, the United States is debating a bill to create an Internet kill switch, also known as the PCNAA bill. In conjunction with this there was a bill (H.R. 607 Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011) that posed a threat to the lower part of the 70 cm band. The proposal was that the Dept. of Homeland Security was going to in-effect build a 400 MHz WiFi network, for if the switch was ever thrown.Another thing to point out is that the government is hiring "hackers" (reportedly 1,500 of them), probably because many predict the internet will be the target of future terrorist activities, and wars will be fought over it.

And in 2011, White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard A. Schmidt (W7HAS), states, "The White House is looking for ways that the great work of Amateur Radio operators can continue to support emergencies in the future with particular attention to increased use and dependency on internet based technologies."

In 2010 it appeared Net Neutrality was adopted after years of debate. In short order Verizon appealed and it was decided in federal court that broadband is currently classified by the FCC as an information service, a category that gives the agency a fairly limited set of regulatory options. If Internet providers were classified instead as common carriers, the FCC's rule would likely stand.  Faced with this dilemma, the FCC may in 2014 either choose to argue that its regulations do not fall under the rubric of common carriage, or attempt to reclassify broadband as a common carrier.

In 2013 CryptoLocker a ransomware trojan first surfaced.  

For true redundancy, a non-critical network can and should be built by the amateur service to avoid this single point of failure.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
My whole point for setting up and having a packet radio station radio station up and running. (That can also run on alternate power is because).

#1. It is inexpensive (or even free).

#2. The technology is proven, even though it is slow by today's standards.

#3. It can be portable.

#4. It can be set up as a BBS. Yes there is free software for that.

#5. No expensive proprietary modems are needed.

#6. The technology is well documented.

#7. Free software, free instructional pdf's, free videos, free books are all available right now on the web. (I have provided links).

#8. It is just yet another communications tool that has potential in emergencies.

#9. No expensive computers are required. Win 98 would also communicate with packet. So would DOS, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0, Windows XP as well as OS/2. In addition so would Linux, Mac and even Commodore and TRS-80 classics. Did I mention Atari?

#10. No expensive or proprietary radios are required. That vintage Icom IC-2AT with it's thumb wheel tuning would work just fine.

And for some hams, they probably already have the equipment just sitting in the closet. Are there better ways to pass around computer based messaging, lists, instructions, weather conditions, local conditions during an emergency.

Yes there are. But for the minimal (or non existent) cost of setting up a dedicated packet station. I believe it is certainly worth the effort.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K4TFJ on July 22, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I started this discussion primarily to make the point that it must be practiced in order to be usable. You cannot wait until the day you need it and then expect to learn it immediately and have it work. Get it out.. get it working. Test it during the "activations" and "exercises". Become familiar, take notes. At least then, you now know it can be used.. when need be. How you use it in your area, is up to you and your areas needs.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K2CMH on July 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Just a question (not meant to start a war) on Pskmail.

Why would one choose to use PskMail instead of the existing WinLink/Winmor combination? Those seem to be quite a bit more mature.

Just curious.

Carlton
K2CMH
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I know very little about PskMail, that is why I mentioned it to see if it had any special advantages over other radio based mail delivery systems.

Someone here on eham could be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages of PskMail better than I ever could.

Can PskMail work independently through some sort of Pskmail server or BBS without relying on the internet or other commercial means?

Or does PskMail ultimately rely on the internet like Winlink and Winmor? I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with Winlink or Winmor.

I am posing the hypothetical ( and perhaps a very unlikely) question of what would happen is there was a world wide internet outage? What other methods would still work to pass email and text based information?

For instance. Can PskMail messages be stored somewhere and then retrieved through some central point and NOT dependent on commercial means like the internet or cell phone networks?

I think the spirit of the article is that packet can work without having to ultimately rely on the internet or other commercial delivery systems during an emergency. And that we should be trained in it's operation and have a clear understanding of how it all works before we actually need to use it.

I think in the hypothetical ( and admittedly a very unlikely) question of what would happen is there was a world wide internet outage? Packet Radio would still be able to deliver.

I understand the arguments that packet is older technology and there are faster methods today. I get that. Suppose those faster methods fail?

It is kind of ironic that we are on this subject of older technology. I just read an article that Germany is considering going back to using manual typewriters.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/07/15/germany-typewriters-nsa-spying/12665727/
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K2CMH on July 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
> I just read an article that Germany is considering going back to using manual typewriters.

>http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2014/07/15/germany-typewriters-nsa-spying/12665727/

I saw that too...interesting...employees are going to be hating that...I can't tell you how many times a day I hit the Backspace key...I would hate to have to use whiteout each time I did that..lol
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K2CMH on July 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>Or does PskMail ultimately rely on the internet like Winlink and Winmor?

That is a very good point and a question I would also like to know the answer to.

Also, I wonder if there are any provisions in Winlink to link the WinLink servers completely by radio if their Internet connections were to fail.

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KD6LM on July 23, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Regarding how closely PskMail is tied to the internet:

There is a bit of info about this on their webpage. Seems they are/can be independent of the internet.

"PSKmail is an outstanding tool in emergency situations. The server network is loosely tied together and that means that if a server, or even large parts of the network, should be out of service then the remaining servers carry on business as usual. Of course one weak link is your email provider, should that server be out of service then fetching mail from it will be difficult.
But, you may have another account? Just point the server in that direction then and carry on.
What if the entire internet shuld go down then?
Well, all servers have local mailboxes that can be used to store and forward your messages to other pskmail clients."
http://pskmail.wikispaces.com/overview
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K9MHZ on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>>>But for the minimal (or non existent) cost of setting up a dedicated packet station. I believe it is certainly worth the effort.<<<<

That's probably the center-of-gravity of this debate. While I don't totally disagree with you, I think most would view it as a dedicated system to something from the 1980s.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I did not locate anymore info for a standalone BBS for PskMail. So I'll throw a couple of more links up on Packet Radio while this article is still active.


A "How To" on setting up a mini BBS
http://tldp.org/HOWTO/FBB.html

Packet Radio "AEA to Z" Free Handbook
http://www.packetradio.com/pdfzips/AEABOOK.PDF

Kentucky Packet Radio Network
http://kypn.wordpress.com/

"Network 105" HF Packet Radio Page
http://mysite.verizon.net/ka1fsb/net105.html

"Packet Radio Keyboard to Keyboard" 35 page FREE pdf
Marion County Indiana ARES General Packet Info
http://www.mcinares.org/Packet%20Radio%201.pdf

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by AA4PB on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I believe that the PSKmail server is intended to be connected to the Internet so that the e-mail you send to it via the radio client will be forwarded on to the recipient via regular Internet e-mail. In many cases this is what you want to do - get the traffic out of the affected area via radio and on to the regular Internet as soon as possible. This assumes that the traffic is going to users outside of the affected area.

A BBS would be used if all user's were connected to it via radio. Each would have to log on to the BBS and retrieve their mail. That would be useful if all users were located in the affected area and had no Internet access.



 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K2CMH on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>I believe that the PSKmail server is intended to be connected to the Internet

Winlink does the same thing, so what was the reason PskMail was 'invented'? What problem does it solve that WinLink/Winmor does not?

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>I believe that the PSKmail server is intended to be connected to the Internet

>>Winlink does the same thing, so what was the reason PskMail was 'invented'?

>>What problem does it solve that WinLink/Winmor does not?
_______________________________________________________

Those are great questions.

Was PskMail was developed as an alternative to WinLink and the Proprietary SCS Pactor Modem BEFORE Winmor was developed?

Or did PskMail and Winmor came about roughly the same time?

What is the purpose for PskMail, if Winlink/Winmor does the same?

Advantages? Easier? Inexpensive?

Disadvantages? More Difficult? More Costly?

Both PSK and Winmor are sound card based digital modes,neither one should be more expensive than the other.

If PskMail and WinLink/Winmor can operate as a standalone server separate from the internet during some kind of an emergency, that could be a good thing. If just to pass messages back and forth.

Would setting up a localized WinLink/Winmor or PskMail server be less of a hassle than a Packet Radio BBS? Which would be the least expensive way?

Sure I could 'Google' for the information. But it would make more sense to hear from those who actually use PskMail and/or WinLink/Winmor on a first hand basis.

Are there any other mail, messaging server/BBS delivery systems on the ham bands that we haven't heard about yet?

I found an interesting article about High Speed Packet from 2009 here on eham that might be of interest to nearly everyone reading this article.

http://www.eham.net/articles/21544








 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think for there to be a future to packet radio, one needs to look at the past and figure out what worked and what didn't.

While AX.25 has been the backbone protocol of packet, to be realistic, it just doesn't intertie well with today's world. I think one of the things that JARL/ICOM got right with D-Star is to use the Ethernet link layer as the basis so that it allows just about any other transport/routing protocol on top of it.

But let's say we want to still utilize the infrastructure we have today while replacing it with something else/convert to hsmm, what applications have kept packet working then and now? I would have to say mail/news and chat.

If I could have my old scroll wheel blackberry talk on ham bands, it would have been the killer app for packet radio. It had basic email, news/rss capabilities, some mapping, could connect to IRC and still functioned like a two way radio (nextel).

Yes, my modern smartphone has all this in spades... but it also has a tether to a corporation that dictates whether or not I have service, what kind of service I shall have and for what cost. With radio, at least I can dictate some of the terms and have direct control over that destiny.

I know the need for HSMM and feel very fortunate to live in an area where it's being fostered in a wide scale. However, I don't see why slow speed apps can't also be developed especially since radio has the unique ability to multicast (one to many) naturally.

If it became a competition for remote tower space which can get contentious, by all means replace with new and we'll bridge the slow speed over the faster link. But there's no reason to walk away from bands that have much farther range (including globally) just because of speed. You push the art to what it can do... not to what was convenient in 1985.

How about a two-way pager like system? How much could it possibly cost to build an arduino based transceiver with a simple 4x16 lcd display and a mini keyboard? Bonus points for it to be mil-spec ruggedized. My guess would be under $200. But just think how easy it would be to communicate to any other ham... even in groups. Add a gps receiver on it, now you have a APRS like transceiver with text messaging still for less than a new premium grade HT and be infinitely more useful out of the box.

I remember back in the early 90's someone has a PicoPacket and a HP200LX hooked together. Both together were just a little thicker than a pack of cigarettes not including the HT. But today all of it could be put onto an FPGA or even a CPLD device - including the HT. Why poopoo something because you've followed your own kid's ritalin habit for speed and fast? If it's consistent and reliable and without costs (free as in beer) who cares if it's slow. If you were somewhere that had no broadband, no cellular and only had dial-up, would you not use it? How many of us have fax machines hooked up to the "bundled" home telephone line since many of us made the switch to only carrying/answering the cell phone?

Slow speeds are acceptable when they are consistent, highly available and next to gratis as possible.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
>>If I could have my old scroll wheel blackberry talk on ham bands, it would have been the killer app for packet radio. It had basic email, news/rss capabilities, some mapping, could connect to IRC and still functioned like a two way radio (nextel). <<

That is a great point.

Basically what is missing from the marketplace is a 'smart phone' type of HT.

I never understood why the Big Three ham radio manufacturers never developed an HT with the following.

#1 Built in keyboard

#2 Could do text messaging from HT to HT and to packet Radio BBS'

#3 Built in Full functioning Packet Radio

#4 Connect up directly to a Packet Radio BBS without a computer.

#5 Built in camera

#6 Built in screens that would display real APRS maps.

#7 Send and receive photos, text files, mail, messages to other HT's (with ease). To Packet Radio BBS stations, to APRS stations, from field to home and home to field. An all in one single "Smart HT".

While the Kenwood TH-D7 was the first handheld (to my knowledge) that had a built in TNC. And they did have a
"Visual Communicator" the "VC-H1". An accessory that could connect with the TH-D7 to send pictures via the HT.

None of it was integrated together in one single unit and there was no keyboard. And no advanced display like the smart phones. The TH-D7 still had to be connected up to a computer to do packet. Even the more advanced TH-D72 falls way short.

By the late 1990's into early 2000's cell phones (especially Blackberrys) had more features than the latest HT from the big three.

We should have, could have had that technology on our HT's before the cell phone manufacturers did. We didn't.

What about today in 2014 ? Why can't there be screens built into today's HT's that would display real APRS maps? Why can't they send and receive text messages with the ease like today's smart phones do?

Basically what is missing from the marketplace is a 'smart phone' type of HT. Perhaps we can build our own, or develop a device that would transform a simple HT into a "smart HT".

I believe if we had HT's that were able to do all these things like cell phones can. Then we can build back up BBS's around cities and towns throughout the U.S. again to accommodate these newer "Smart HTs".

I am not talking D-Star. I am talking "Smart HTs" using common packet protocols already in place. And then when there is some emergency, we will have these 'Smart" HT's that can also transmit text, text files, photos, maps, graphs and anything else with nothing more than a couple of menu selections.

There I believe lies the answer.

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Let me expand further on the last comment I made.

Why can't a tiny TNC/Interface be developed that would fit on (or in in back of) any HT and would interface to any smart phone and transform a regular HT into a "Smart HT" ?

All the features of the smart phone could be used on the ham radio bands. The smart phone would be able to send and receive (and display) APRS Maps, text messages, text files, files, graphs, maps on the ham radio bands using the same protocols that Packet Radio could do.

This tiny TNC/Interface in conjunction with a standard HT along with a smart phone/device would be able to have the same functions on the ham radio bands just like it would as if the smart phone/device was connected up to the cellular phone networks.

Except the cell networks are not used. The VHF/UHF bands are used instead. The smart phone/device (with the tiny TNC/Interface) would act exactly the same as a regular computer connected to a 15 year old TNC to a HT except on a much smaller (and more portable) scale.


Any smart phone or device would work (including those that are deactivated sitting in the drawer no longer used).

Blackberry
iPhone
iPad
Android
Tablet
(Any smart device)
Even older non smart phones that just did text messaging would still be able to work to send and receive text on the HT.

Think about it. That $35 Baofeng HT along with that old smart device sitting in your drawer would be transformed into a "Smart HT" with this tiny and very portable TNC/Interface.

I think such a device could be built for under $100 and maybe sell for $125 to $150.

Your thoughts?


 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on July 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is a project like this: http://static.gotenna.com/ that describes what you are thinking. This will likely never fly due to FCC Type Acceptance in the 150-160mhz band. But the idea is sound never the less.

Some of us on Wetnet were discussing this very thread. I think the hardest but doable part would be the shoehorning. It is very accomplishable if you went simplistic and had it talk via bluetooth to an external radio.

This way you could keep your heavy data use software on the commercial network and add ham specific applications to the mix since it's a different data path. This, of course, is hypothesizing that one is using a modern Android/iPhone. The only thing that may be missing is voice communications but that would depend on how you setup the secondary bluetooth between phone and radio.

Still better would be the blackberry all-in-one route as I know my Nextel/Boost Mobile handsets had a removable IDEN modem but I suspect unless we were to standardize on DStar DV or P25 or another Digital Voice standard, it will never happen.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WA2ISE on July 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Depending on the required bandwidth of these gotenna things, maybe we could move them onto an unused packet frequency, like 145.07 if these things are not frequency agile. Though I doubt that it would be as simple as changing a crystal... But at $75 a pop, these aint cheap.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by N9KWW on July 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet Radio is dead and its kin will take over. Even if we lose the internet Packet radio can’t take its place, but Winlink can and will. Is it a distant relative of packet? Well yes it is but it is so far removed from Packet they have about as much in conman as they have with the man in the moon!!!
The old days of TNC’s are long gone, sound card modes have taken over. Modern modes have long placed packet radio in retirement. While it is nice to think back on “the good old days”, we must continue to evolve and move forward. In any real world situation short of as nuke, packet radio just does not fit even as a last resort mode.
Ron
N9KWW
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on July 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I don't get how Winlink is alive but packet is dead. Isn't Winlink just HF/VHF email? If so, I get that angle. You can be in a boat or the outback and send/receive email.

I think what we've been discussing is the future.

Applications like:
Text Messaging (SMS or other)
RSS/Pub-Sub messaging
Background wide area file transfer (set it and forget it)
Geolocation and "Internets of things"
Pairing Smartphones with 300/1200/9600bps packet - not exclusive to ax.25 since tcp/ip works just fine over radio.

I'm glad you find fascination with Winlink. I'm sure all that traffic handling rekindles NTS memories.

But, I see what I've suggested as way more attractive and fun than making sure my dinghy can send notes back to shore. But I also have a Iridium handset for that.... and it also uses <9k6 speeds. I think these applications would also make for a more relevant demonstration to a younger generation that grew up with Nintendo and cell phones.

Ultimately, I think it's just a matter of time now before someone starts building what I've just described. The technology is now getting commonplace and cheap enough for single chip sdr's and cheap, easy to use microprocessors to tie it all together.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Gontenna

Is mainly for connecting two smart phones together. It (allegedly) works by taking the 151 Mhz MURS frequency and using that as a link between the two phones. Bluetooth will be involved according to the article.
"..GoTenna sends your message over Bluetooth-LE to the smartphone app it's paired with..."

TNC/Interface

My hypothetical concept would be to take an interface that would couple any smart phone/device ALONG with a tiny TNC. It would be an integrated device.

That TNC/Interface would THEN be able to connect with wires to ANY HT and will be able to be use ANY ham radio VHF/UHF frequency. Bluetooth will NOT be involved.

Packet Radio didn't die

While Packet Radio use dropped considerably from it's heyday. Packet Radio is still going, there are BBS's and ARES groups still use it. It is still alive and well in some parts of the country.

There are thousands of Terminal Node Controllers in ham shacks all over the country gathering dust. These could be put to good use and new packet stations can be put back on the air for no cost to the ham ops. Packet Radio's biggest success these days is it's offshoot, APRS.

People are buying 15 and 20 year old TNC's through the online auctions daily. Someone must be using them. Are all they using them just for APRS?

Packet Radio is but just one of many options available to hams these days. Because it isn't that popular as it once was, doesn't mean we should not use it.

Hams still use AM, even though SSB is the main preference for voice communications. Hams still use vintage tube radios daily even though modern solid state transceivers are more popular.

Winlink

Sound card programs like Winmor are great for accessing Winlink. And Winlink is a superb method to send mail over the ham radio bands.

However having to heft up $1500 for a proprietary modem (mainly designed mainly for marine communications) just to access Winlink is not so great.



 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by NA7E on July 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"In the end, neither hams, nor public safety services need or want text only."

I'm quite certain certain that when a disaster strikes, the last thing that emergency personnel will be looking for is a rich, multimedia experience!
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K6JHU on July 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think we may be getting close to an idea here. A VHF/UHF radio with Bluetooth (or maybe a Bluetooth adapter for existing radios). Pair it with your smart phone and use the smart phone as remote. Gives you voice and text over VHF/UHF. All the capability of a smart phone and the advantages of power and distance over the ham bands.
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by N9NWO on July 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet, to include its various forms like APRS, have a place. It is effective. So is HF digital.

The future however is shifting. the rise of DMR may push all other VHF/UHF digital formats to the side. Not only a voice mode, it is also has text modes (like Packet), positioning (APRS) plus the ability to trunk multiple communications over a single frequency. While D-Star has many of these features, DMR is more modern, has more vendors (commerical) and a longer history. Trunking is the big plus.

Thus many of the older forms of digital may, slowly, disappear.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on July 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

The following device could be built from scratch. It could be built using components like, a small display, a digital camera, USB port, GPS receiver, a small keyboard and a pointing device and could be constructed using small micro controllers like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc. And interfaced to a tiny tnc. All of it could be built into single package that could "cradle" around a standard HT of any type.

It would turn ANY common FM ham transceiver (HT, mobile or home station) into a (portable) packet station!

It would have the capability to take pictures (and send them!), receive pictures, send and receive files, the USB port could be used for transferring text files from a thumb drive and then uploading to be sent out, or receiving files and then transferring them to a thumb drive, hooking up a portable printer via the USB, send (and receive) text messages, send and receive mail to local packet BBS's or to other like "portable packet stations" it would also do APRS, and view REAL APRS maps as well as have the capability to digipeat.

The sending and receiving would not be limited to local BBS's. Other similarly stations could send information with the same capabilities to each other back and forth to each other in the field.

Imagine the possibilities?

During an emergency one can take pictures of weather related or disaster conditions and send them off to other similarly equipped stations in the field or to some central point command center with in range.

With the built in GPS, everyone will know exactly where everyone is and displayed on real maps.

Emergency information and long lists could be sent to anyone in the field or to command centers within VHF range.

How about non emergency conditions? Hunters in the field could use text messaging to alert each other of deer sightings. This would be especially useful where there is no traditional cell phone service and voice communications would be not advantageous anyway.

No one would need to buy new radios. Just the add on device/interface. So no radios would be obsoleted, and all existing equipment could still be used. Since the common packet protocol would be used. It would be entirely open sourced and any company (or individual) could build it and or market it. No expensive $1500 modems or $500 HT's would be needed.





 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on July 28, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Thus many of the older forms of digital may, slowly, disappear."

Packet is still current to me as technically it ticks all the boxes of modern networking today. The Internet is a packet based network (TCP/IP) utilizing CSMA/CD (Hub/Switch). There really is no difference except in speed and bandwidth requirements between it all once you let go of AX.25.

I have no problem with DMR. In fact, if built and architected properly, it would lend to both voice and digital sides as it would the number of repeaters on both sides and allow interoperability. Same with trunking as most repeaters sit silently most of their lives. One of the many grips I have with D-Star is the lack of range in DV mode with an HT, interoperability with other handsets, lack of DD in a DV handheld, etc.. I really wish Motorola would have opened up NXDN (maybe Google can help?) as it really did everything well including direct-calling and group talk.

But if you really want a peek at the future: LTE is it. Cellular providers are getting out of the voice call game as it's much more lucrative to provide mobile data and you can do voice over data. That is where the future is.

We need to consider how to implement this into our spectrum allocations while co-existing with other uses for the shared spectrum. Spread Spectrum will have to be part of this solution as much as people will groan about the noise floor being raised.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on August 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have already suggested how we can live with low bandwidth, but now I wonder.

People DO expect "rich multimedia" these days. Think of what even a few digital pix at 2.5 MB means at 1200 baud. Yet in any imaginable US emergency, this sort of thing will be wanted in a digital solution.

Sure, someone with a digi editor can get it to 256KB but that needs training and even a little nerve. And even that is a lot at 1200 baud.

If we want to be more than voice, we need to be doing modes with at least enough bandwidth to deal with the pictures coming in from digicams in 2014. 1200 baud? Doubtful. We need to be a first hop out of the disaster zone at modern bandwidth for serious data. That means GHz stuff.

Or just admit we are voice only.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by WO7R on August 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have already suggested how we can live with low bandwidth, but now I wonder.

People DO expect "rich multimedia" these days. Think of what even a few digital pix at 2.5 MB means at 1200 baud. Yet in any imaginable US emergency, this sort of thing will be wanted in a digital solution.

Sure, someone with a digi editor can get it to 256KB but that needs training and even a little nerve. And even that is a lot at 1200 baud.

If we want to be more than voice, we need to be doing modes with at least enough bandwidth to deal with the pictures coming in from digicams in 2014. 1200 baud? Doubtful. We need to be a first hop out of the disaster zone at modern bandwidth for serious data. That means GHz stuff.

Or just admit we are voice only.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on August 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Text will always be king in a digital world. It ensures an error free copy and when properly formatted (ie: JSON) can be an effective way of transferring information in a machine/human readable fashion.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on August 1, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As for video: There already is ATV/DATV. And with higher speed networks, comes more bandwidth for video/audio/rich multimedia. I don't think we (hams) should be a curmudgeon and force people to stick with lower frequencies and insisting to only use the same gear they had in 1980. Heck, I bet most of us have made the switch to 16:9 HD TV's by now.

What people should be doing is building new networks. Whether it be 2.4Ghz/5Ghz 802.11 high power networks or something else like the Doodle Labs 70cm card, we should be builders and not simply users.

But we shouldn't say that we're voice only and that packet is dead.

Because not only would you be wrong, you would be missing out on a very exciting time in the hobby. Even the ISS has a packet station and a DATV transmitter transmitting live images 24/7.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on August 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I agree that we need faster than 1200 baud. And yes this is 2014 and not 1994. The issue is how to build a faster and much more modern system for next to nothing and have it up and running in a pinch whenever and wherever it is needed.

Low tech packet radio can do that and send file transfers, lists, photos, messages and mail directly to other packet operators or through some local BBS during an emergency. All of it can be thrown up in a few minutes time and become operational. Portable packet stations can be built in suitcases or briefcases and be ready to deploy anytime. Packet is well documented, well established, there are tons of tutorials out there on the web.

Can we do the same with a faster and much more modern system for next to nothing in costs? If so, then can someone please write an article here on eham detailing on how it can be done?

Thanks

 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by KL7EET on August 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Like I said, I am very fortunate to live in an area where high speed packet radio is already happening.

I give you: hamwan.org
https://www.hamwan.org/t/tiki-index.php
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K6JHU on August 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Next to nothing in cost. Cost me a bundle for a TNC when I was doing packet. And then I discovered that there was no one home.

Doing NBEMS now. I have the computer. I have the radio. The NBEMS program is free (Thanks). And you can run it in 'microphone' mode. Can't get any cheaper than that :-)

But I did make up a couple of cables. So my total hardware investment is about $10.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on August 8, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
But those used TNC's that originally sold for hundreds are now selling for $30 and up. Vintage AEA PK 232 MBX's are still some of the better TNC's on the used market.

If anyone is looking for Software to run the MFJ 1278 and doesn't want to spend $69 on the 'MFJ Multicom for Windows' there is "Skyrider" the original program that 'Multicom' is supposedly based from and it is still available out there on the 'net.

There are a number of free packet radio programs and yes while it is true that some of them are old enough to run on Windows 98 machines. And that could be a good thing if someone has an old working but technologically obsolete Windows 98 machine! Repurpose it and you can put it to good use with packet radio.

We still use horse back, row boats, sailboats, prop planes and blimps, even though there are more faster ways to travel these days. Why can't we use packet radio? Not just as a novelty, but as just another means of viable communication. Use it as an alternative means to send data in and out of areas and when the 'net goes down.




 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K7TMG on August 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Packet radio isn't dead. Far from it.

The longest lived true packet network is still alive on 20m (since 1986) - Network 105.

Some calls observed today:

AC0VC,AJ0O,CO3LC,K1CKK,K7TMG,KA9QJT,KB8TLU,KB9KC,KB9SOZ
,KB9VLH,KC6OAR,KO4OP,KO6IZ,KQ0I,N2TIF,N8YOH,PD4U,UZ7HO,
VE1JOT,W6OAV,W9UW,WA5ETK,WA6HVC,WB5BNV,WB7ECU,WD6DFH,
WD8OHA,WD9EPF

Most stations run a personal BBS and a node. What other digital mode can you use to QSO with a station in your skip zone?

As W4KYR mentioned, packet radio tncs are dirt cheap and work well. Why not become part of the network when you get bored operating other modes?

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/network105

73

Sholto
K7TMG
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KC2QYM on August 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If I were to print all the comments out on this posting I would kill a tree. What I've condensed from all the comments are the following:

> Packet is underused but there's a reason; its slow and obsolete

> Emcomm HAMs are fat and only good for diaper dispersement duties (no pun intended)

> Too many HAMs take themselves far too seriously; its a hobby to have fun, not an auxilliary FEMA operation (yes I know, even though the FCC calls it a service)

> Some HAMs still have fun using packet so the last thing on their minds is Emcomm use.
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on August 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Packet radio isn't dead. Far from it.
The longest lived true packet network is still alive on 20m (since 1986) - Network 105."

---------------------------------------------------
Great to hear that the oldest Packet network still alive on the HF bands. I was reading some Packet Radio books about how they had all these HF Packet Radio links to relay email across the country.

A local BBS on 2 meters would have email relayed and sent to a local HF Packet Link and then that email would be relayed and sent out to another HF Packet Link located thousands of miles away who would then send it to another local BBS also on two meters located across the country. All done with radio.

To keep such networks, links, systems and BBS's running today takes little effort and minimal cost compared to years ago. It is an infrastructure that needs to expand again. Because while the internet is faster, we take it for granted that it will always be there.

A tornado, hurricane, flood, earthquake, snow storm or ice storm could easily take down the internet, cell towers and POTS (plain old telephone service).

No one HAS to be involved with ecomm just to put up a packet station or a BBS. A packet station could be just for your own use to help keeping you informed, to be able to get or pass around weather maps,photos bulletins and messages from across the county or around the country during some emergency.

And with Packet TNC Mailboxes and BBS Mailboxes. You do not have to be there to get your information. Remember that this all can be done without relying on the internet.

While it is true that some other modes can be faster than Packet Radio. How many of those modes have capabilities to receive, store and retransmit messages without the operator being present? How many of these other modes have the capability of having personal mailboxes? All all done without the internet or cellphone networks. This is what gives Packet Radio the edge.

I agree with the OP when he said "I challenge all hams, clubs and ham groups to learn (or re-learn) packet and promote it's use." Packet Radio is a mode which proven it's worth so many times in the past.

With the availability of inexpensive TNC's costing only $30 and up. With the availability of inexpensive (or free) retired off the 'net yet still working Windows 98, 2000 and/or XP computers out there for a song (or FREE at your QTH). The time to rediscover Packet Radio is better than ever.

Relatively inexpensive $50 inverters should be capable of powering a desktop computer and monitor from 12 volt power. So if the power goes out, the internet and cell towers go. You can still pass around bulletins, weather maps, photos and other important information without relying on the internet or smart phones.

Even a $20 (200 watt) inverter putting could power a laptop charger. You can often find these at Harbor Freight on sale.

I ask every ham reading this, to put a packet station on the air by the end of the month, thoroughly learn its use, know how to run it on emergency power.

I ask every fifth ham reading this to also put up and run a packet BBS by the end of the month and become proficient in it's use and be able to operate it on emergency power.








 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by K7TMG on August 19, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I should clarify that Network 105 isn't an emcomm network. I guess we could handle emergency traffic if necessary but it's really just a chatting and personal mail network (think FUN!)

Most of the node stations are running HF & VHF ports so it's perfectly possible to connect from 2m<>20m<>2m if you live within VHF range of a node. Many people do.

The emphasis is to keep the network RF only. Some nodes probably do run telnet/ax.ip in addition to the RF ports but none of those have anything to do with the RF infrastructure.

We don't allow automatic BBS<>BBS bulletin forwarding or binary transfers. HF packet just doesn't have the throughput available and the network would become useless.

73

Sholto
K7TMG
 
The Future of Packet Radio  
by KC7KLZ on August 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
This is an interesting thread. I can't resist putting in my nickels worth.

First lets talk about ECOMM. In an emergency, the goal is to pass traffic. In other words get information from point A to point B. As a ham radio operator, I have the equipment at my disposal that I can have up and operating in a few minutes. At my clubs last field day, it took two minutes to deploy VHF/UHF, and twenty minutes to deploy HF. (Four Dipoles up about 30 feet.) We can do this at any location.

In my municipality, some years ago, we convinced to city to deploy two VHF/UHF radios in all of the community centres. We exercise them at least once a year. We know that we have voice paths all over our city.

This brings us to packet. What does packet radio give us? When I think of packet radio, I think texting or e-mail. A simple way to send text based e-mails, or keyboard to keyboard communication. To do this, all you need is a laptop with a sound card, A $10.00 cable, and a cheap HT.

If you wanted to get a little bit more elaborate, you can set up TCP/IP over AX.25. At 1200 baud what does this give you? e-mail server can operate at low bandwith. Just don't send any attachments. How about an IRC server? Again getting a little bit more complicated, plug this system into a WiFi router, all of a sudden you have chat and e-mail capability from point A to point B.

Final thoughts. Ham radio is a first a hobby. For me I enjoy thinking about and experimenting with what I can do with my radios. This is what makes it fun for me.

'73

Eric Scott
VE7KLZ / KC7KLZ
 
RE: The Future of Packet Radio  
by W4KYR on August 25, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yes lets not forget the fun aspect of packet radio. I think it would be fun to get some friends to put up packet stations on 222 mhz or 440. Since less people are using packet these days especially on those frequencies. It would be like having a private packet radio network.

How about using Palmtop computers for packet? Someone suggested using the TRS-80 Model 100. I found a site recently that showed several different "Palmtop" models for packet. http://www.ke4nyv.com/portapacket.htm

Since packet will run on a terminal program, no exotic or expensive software is needed to make it run. How about running a packet station on Windows CE? Maybe those $50 "Sylvania Windows CE" Netbooks on ebay could work?

Of course you can run a packet station on a Commodore or even an Atari. In fact there is a Youtube video called "Why I use an Atari ST for packet radio".

Packet can be a hobby within a hobby. And that is where the fun can also be found. Having a micro packet station using a small tnc , palmtop and a Baofeng UV-3, this would easily fit in a 3 ring binder with enough extra room for a small solar panel and extra batteries.
 
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