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Author Topic: Packet radio  (Read 3719 times)
KD5PCK
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« on: November 18, 2011, 02:40:43 PM »

Yes, you read the subject line correctly. I am interested in setting up a packet station. From my research, it looks like I need the following:
one two meter radio
one Signalink interface with correct cables
download of Outpost
download of AGWPE
one computer to do everything with

So I have everything except the Signalink. I will be ordering that once I get all my holiday shopping out of the way.

I have read elsewhere that the Signalink is basically an "external soundcard". Is it truly an external soundcard? I am asking because I have an old computer that does NOT have a soundcard installed in it. If the signalink actually has its own soundcard, I should be able to connect everything to the computer that does not have its own card and operate with no problems. Does this logic make sense?

Thanks in advance. 
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W0TLP
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« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2011, 03:01:42 PM »

Yes, the SignaLink has an integrated sound card so running it on a computer without one should work. If you had a sound card in the computer you'd need to adjust settings so that the sound card only runs in the computer and not through the interface (something to keep in mind if you upgrade computers). From what I see the AGWPE is an engine that allows other programs, like AGW Terminal, to work.

What is Outpost? Perhaps something I need to check out.

There's a bunch of software, including AGWPE and AGWTERM that comes on a mini-disk with the SignaLink.

Although I know that -- I just got a SignaLink and it seems to work fine once I figured out how to set the computer and software -- I have no idea what to do next.

I connected to a local ARES packet node successfully and was able to give a few commands, which worked. But I have no clue where to go next if i want to use the SignaLink to allow chat-style QSOs or just an exchange of information. I'm pretty sure I need to have another user on the other end to do anything and I don't know many hams who can (or will) help out on this.

Does anybody have suggestions for learning how to have some fun with this thing? Winlink sounds cool, but I can't tell if I have an appropriate node near me (I'm in St. Louis).

Good luck, KD5PCK.

Teak

KD0KVV
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KD5PCK
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« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2011, 04:04:52 PM »

Teak,
 Outpost is a packet message program that takes all the thinking out of operating packet radio. It's an interface that looks more like an email program like most people use everyday. Instead of having to remember all those crazy commands, the program does it for you. Check it out here: http://www.outpostpm.org/
I printed out the user guide (140 + pages) and plan to do some reading up on it in my free time while waiting to order the Signalink.
Some club members locally have recently refurbished and upgraded the packet station at the local NWS. Seems like with that and recent upgrades to the local digipeater, there has been a surge in packet radio in the area. I've always been interested but have been turned off by all the commands. I'm not much on programming and that's what has kept me from experimenting with packet in the past.
Hopefully I will be on the air by the beginning of the new year.

73
Scott
KD5PCK
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2011, 07:44:05 PM »

The SignaLink requires a USB port.  Does your computer have one ?

If so, just about any Windows O/S should work.  You might want to contact Tigertronics to check compatibility if your O/S is really old.

           charles
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KD5PCK
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« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2011, 10:03:39 PM »

Charles,
 The computer I plan would like to use does have a USB connections available. No problem there. It's running XP, so once again, shouldn't be a problem. I suppose what I meant by "old computer", was a computer that was no longer used. It's actually only about two years old. It's similar to this one here: http://www.hatteland-display.com/panel_computer_hd12t04b.php .
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VA7CPC
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« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2011, 08:17:14 AM »

Aha - that's not _old_, it's just dusty.<g>  I was worried about Windows 98 or Windows 2000.   Anything running Win XP should be OK.

There's a minimum CPU speed for running soundcard-decoding programs, but I think it's around 100 - 200  MHz.   You'll be fine.

There was also a discussion on a Yahoo group -- "WINMOR" -- about how easy / difficult it was setting up AGWPE.  Several members suggested that buying an old TNC would be easier.  But you'll find that out for yourself.

          Charles
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AK4KZ
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« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2011, 08:55:49 AM »

I love packet! I miss it. When I got my first license about 20 years ago, I could sit in Modesto, Ca. with a handheld and digi-peat up to the mountain, down into the Bay area. Some guy was running a link to the east cost and I could digi-peat across the country. I really traveled with that little beat up HT.

When I went to get my license again, I bought another PK-232 modem (which does packet, RTTY, etc.). I've looked at doing software packet but could never really get it to work well. I much prefer the hardware. (I hope you have better success than I did)

Unfortunately, now that I have my license again, I live on previously mentioned east cost and I don't think anyone's running straight packet over VHF around here. I've heard some HF but I don't have my PK232 wired to my HF rig yet so I can't send HF.

On VHF, a lot of people have delved into APRS. Same technology.. different application. APRS is kind of cool and has it's purpose.. but I miss "packet".

I'm not sure what's changed while I was away but you could certainly connect to another user's terminal while they were there and have a QSO. You could also connect to BBSs and leave msgs that way. That was kinda cool. I think there's a lot of potential left for packet yet so I'd like to mess around with some software programming and see what ideas I can come up with. (I'll have to get another packet modem but... all in good time).

Good luck!

73,
Chris
AK4KZ

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KD5PCK
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« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2011, 10:03:53 AM »

Charles,
 A couple of the "older guys" in my local club actually have this exact setup, the Signalink with AGWPE. I think I should be able to get everything configured correctly to work with the Outpost program. They've even been playing around with something called EasyPal using the Signalink as well. Baby steps...I want to get packet working before I venture into another digital mode.
 Charles and Chris, luckily I am about dead center between two packet digipeaters in my area. One is about 35 miles to the west and the other about 28 miles to the east. I think with the Icom IC-V8000 and small three element beam I plan to use, I should be able to hit both. what's nice about the V8000, is I have 75 watts if I need it. Not that I will always have it locked on high power though.

Scott
KD5PCK
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AK7V
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« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2011, 04:33:51 PM »

I met my Elmer on packet with my old PK232MBX -- turns out he was only a mile or so away.  Nowadays, seems like the only VHF packet that goes on is APRS.  I miss the old PBBSes or just CQing and seeing if anyone was out there.

Packet radio made a natural progression -- it's mostly automatic, linked with the internet, etc. nowadays.   
« Last Edit: November 23, 2011, 04:35:58 PM by AK7V » Logged
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