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Author Topic: Packet questions  (Read 11160 times)

Posts: 284

« on: October 08, 2013, 07:42:41 PM »

Long before there were DX clusters on the internet, I had my ICOM IC-2A connected to something?? and hooked to (I think) a simple dumb terminal program...and it gave me DX info, as well as swap shop stuff etc.
I had to send simple commands like sh /dx....or something like that to show stuff. It took a while for the request, then wait for the reply, but it was pretty cool.

That must have been 20 years ago. I always wanted to put another otherwise unused 2 meter rig on an antenna and tune to 144.39, as I recall and see what is there.

At a few hamfests I saw APRS demo'd.  Usually a rig connected to a computer with a map display..and all the call letters of where everyone is. I never understood this. Why do I care where they are or where they are going? The whole thing hit me as useless.

What I would like to packet still used for anything? Are there digipeaters that can be used for anything?  Are there programs that add something more than the old terminal emulator I used to use??

I'd love to re-visit packet!
.....Anyone have any thoughts??

Posts: 397

« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2013, 05:49:42 AM »

I'd love to re-visit packet!
.....Anyone have any thoughts??
I, too, was on packet nodes in "the old days," first with a huge old Heathkit TNC, and I eventually graduated to an MFJ multimode TNC that opened up other worlds as well, like HF-fax, RTTY, AMTOR, SSTV etc.  Much of that world (except fax and SSTV, IIRC) was available through nothing more than my tnc and "beehive" dumb terminal.

I am also, at times, on the air using the same technology today using APRS.  Same AX.25 packets, only now we no longer use connection or acknowledgement/error correcting.  But, by using a PC instead of a dumb terminal, the tools that can use the packets' data can now be much more elaborate.  Digipeaters on APRS (which generally uses a different frequency - 144.39MHz - than do connected, node-based packet networks) are reachable nearly everywhere - possibly covering more U.S. land area than voice repeaters!

This "newfound" method gives us flexibility and much better ability to share information amongst a group (such as location info, as you have seen, or weather conditions, as examples).  But it doesn't necessarily hinder us from sending messages targetted at a particular ham (point-to-point messaging) or accessing an information repository (often referred to nowadays as an "information kiosk").  There's quite a few applications for APRS, and more being dreamed up and developed, but the key to fun and usability of any of these is the availability of other hams using and maintaining these applications on-air.

One more thing to consider - the ubiquity of the Internet has created a tendency for hams to develop systems that integrate on-air and Internet networks.  This allows certain data on the Internet to be accessable via APRS (and connected packet), and vice-versa.  The sources and volumes of data that can be retrieved on-air can potentially be virtually limitless (subject to the limitations of packet speed and reliability, of course!).  So be prepared to encounter this if you find yourself accessing what, at first glance, might appear to be something akin to the old packet bbs systems we used to use.  And be prepared to find that folks on the Internet can search your callsign and possibly see what you have have doing with packets on-the-air.

Posts: 98


« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2013, 08:58:33 AM »

If you are interested in APRS, take a look at to learn more.

Posts: 5482


« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2013, 06:30:50 AM »

Why do I care where they are or where they are going?

If it's people/things you don't care about then yes, why should you care.  But, if it *is* people or things you care about, or others are tracking you because they care about *you*, then suddenly this is a useful tool.

I only use APRS a few times a year, when I go on cross country trips.  It serves two purposes.  One is to give the folks where we're headed to a way to track our progress by watching us on  Even though it's often not real time out in the hinterlands it shows we're in motion and on the right road.  The other purpose is to use the text feature of it to update folks I have skeds with on HF during the trip.  They don't have to hunt for me if I can't make a time or something else changes.  They can look me up and see when and where I'll be on the bands at any point.

Frivolous?  Perhaps, but isn't pretty much anything you do with ham radio?  It's just a mode, something to play with and if you can come up with a useful application for it, why not.

Quote packet still used for anything? Are there digipeaters that can be used for anything?

Depends on where you live.  There's still a few digipeaters and a BBS or two still on the air around here.  Hardly any traffic though.  There are also a couple of winlink "wingates" around, which use packet but it won't work with a dumb terminal.  You need to be running the winlink software to effectively use those.

Are there programs that add something more than the old terminal emulator I used to use??

There are a number of them out there, most I've seen are targeted for "emcomm" purposes, i.e. have embedded forms, etc.  Not sure if any of them have been established as a standard for that.  You certainly don't see packet use emphasized for that purpose.  APRS is the most common use of packet, followed by winlink.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Posts: 16

« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2013, 06:16:27 AM »

Check out John's website You'll be able to see the PBBS and frequencies he has running in the NYC area.

Posts: 1732

« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2013, 10:04:28 AM »

I'll be putting up a packet station soon after I reorganize my shack. My thought is to have a dedicated packet station running in the corner of the shack running independent of everything else. Perhaps even start a PBBS as soon as I get that figured out. It wouldn't matter if no one logged into the PBBS, it would be used more for experimentation rather than anything else. I'd like to eventually try to have a PBBS that would run on deep cell batteries if the power went out.

For what it is worth, 'Hyperterminal' is available on XP and earlier Win OS' and can run most of the TNC's out there. You can go retro too, with a Win 95 or Win 98 computer, a TNC from 1989 and a HTX-202 and still have a functional packet station.

Another project along these lines is to build a portable packet station, something that I could just plug into a cigarette lighter in a car or a truck. I just need to look into 12 volt adapters for a laptop. Most TNC's will run on 13.8 volts.

I planned to do this earlier in the year, I just been busy with other projects.


The internet and cellphone networks are great until they go down, what then? Find out here.,111948.0.html

Using Windows 98 For Packet...

Posts: 3160

« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2013, 07:57:10 AM »

PuTTY is a free implementation of Telnet and SSH for Windows and Unix platforms, along with an xterm terminal emulator. It is written and maintained primarily by Simon Tatham.

An Open Source serial terminal program (TNC control), Download page.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2013, 08:00:39 AM by W9GB » Logged

Posts: 22

« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2013, 01:46:43 PM »

Packet radio has had a little bit of a renaissance in the northern suburbs of Chicago. Lake County RACES has an APRS digipeater and several WinLink stations that get a fair amount of use. The North Shore Radio Club has an APRS digipeater, a WinLink station and a JNOS BBS station up and running in northern Cook County. APRS is used regularly to track the location of assistance vehicles during a 100 mile bikathon that takes place every September and the WinLink station has been used to send and receive emails from remote locations, especially during Field Day. The JNOS BBS use is fairly sparce, but it's there if needed. The APRS stations are on 144.39, the WinLink stations are all on 145.61 and the JNOS BBS station is on 145.01.
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