KellyKeeton dot Com v3.0 reverse engineering life

6Apr/110

Packet radio is not dead!

So my recent ham radio adventures have taken me to packet radio, I am super stuckon it as it's a lot of fun. I have collected a lot of knowledge that seem to be allover the net as well as wanting to document my learning for others that Google acrossmy blog.

Packet radio what is it? first here is some good reading as to whatis packet radio

after you peruse that if your still interested then this is a good post to keep reading,if not just understand that I am a nerd and go read katiesblog

So the first thing you need to do is get a TNC and this is a big one so I wanted toprovide some advice here. I had a timewave/AEA PK-900 this is a Cadillac of TNC'sit was more money then I have to spend back in 1995 today it retails for less then200 bucks on used markets and you can find them even cheaper. But here is the thingany TNC is very reasonably priced. If you watch for things like AEA PK-232MBX theyare less then 50 bucks. I even just picked up a old MFJ TNC for less then 30 shipped!Those are the 3 physical TNC's I own the AEA units run some awesome software madeby a company that is now out of business but timewave purchased they and they stillsupport the units that are out on the market. Needless to say I love the AEA hardwareits awesome. The MFJ will do TNC2 Bios which you can learn about later its not ascool.

All of the TNC hardware I listed is physical units that need a serial port to function,they also have D/A converters or just a Analog modem in them so they are very accurateand stable.

All of the TNC's I listed also have something that you need to learn about, a PBBSthis is a packet or personal bulletin board system, this is the same BBS concept from1990's basically what you care about is a PBBS is important because people can storeand forward "email" on your TNC. Meaning that when your away from your station peoplecan leave you or others "email" (I say "email" because its not email that youknow today, its archaic digital email that is only stored on a chip in the TNC .nothingto do with the internet..yet)

So we have some large concepts out of the way what is packet radio, physical TNC,and mailbox or PBBS these are all things you want to know or have if your seriousor just have extra 50 bucks around.

What if I don't want to spend money and do this for free?

Glad you asked, or ..are still reading. There is a free option to get this working.its called AGWPE

AGWPE
this isa handy little software application which emulates a TNC with soundcard hardware.The application can be downloaded from the link, additionally if you want to downloadthe latest beta its here
here
. The softwarealso has a $50 copy that is "easier" to use and operate. I say "easier" because itcomes with a GUI and more help. I highly suggest buying the software to keep it indevelopment and feature enhancement if you find it handy. otherwise spend $50 on aPK-232MBX  on the used market.

How to configure this stuff?

As for configuration and set upof the AGWPE Free or pro - thissite has all the questions

thissite has all the questions
you ever need answered step by step go there and reada lot. and if you needmore here

If you have a AEA product the manualon how to use them are here these manual are incredibly detailed and you needto read them cover to cover they are awesome resources and even if you don't havea physical AEA TNC I can say that the PK900 manual is just an awesome instructionmanual on how to use any TNC and packet radio.

How to get on the air fast?

For VHF set your radio to any frequency with packet data (typically in the 144.8 to 145.1, so 145.01 145.02 for example likely have data on them and remember APRS ison 149.39 which is 1200b packet)

Once you have the TNC configured for connectivity to your radio and the computer youwant to use any "terminal emulator" software such as putty or terraterm inthe case of a physical TNC. if you don't have a physical (such as AGW) then download AGW-Term (additionallyyou might want AGW-Monitor)alternatively you can use a packet radio application a nice free one is WinPack (AGWinstructions) any of these will get you online.

If you have a physical TNC you want to learn how to set it up fast in the manual,basically you want to set your call type command "MYCALL" to show the current and"MYCALL K7MHI" for example to set to my call, on AGW there is various ways with winpackyou have a emulator for TNC commands, and with AGW-Term you set it in applicationsettings.

Once you are this far you can see what is on frequency, if you haven't see data yeton the screen you can set your monitor command, using "Monitor ON" or "Monitor 6"you should be able to start watching all packets, if you hear data on frequency butdon't have any output check your 'on-air baud rate' VHF typically 1200 UHF 9600 andHF 300. If you are on Vhf/Uhf you just need to be on frequency FM if your on HF youshould be on NET105 at 14.105.51USB Ishould note that getting on VHF packet is faster then HF because you must get thefrequency exact to your radio and its not as quick to do.

You should ideally be seeing packets now. To do something more then read the mailyou can connect to any station you see or hear.. to find out what you see or hearthe command "MHEARD" will show you a list - note that there is a bug in AGW if youhavent heard anyone and type MHEARD the application will crash. Use the AGW-Monitorlink above to solve this issue - also worth noting that agw-monitor will monitor allpackets for you.

if you see call signs in the MHEARD list you can then connect to them with the command"Connect K7MHI-1" for example or just short hand "C K7MHI-1" all commands on the TNChave a shorthand version.

What to do once your on the air?

next you want to enable your mail PBBS and other fun functions on your TNC (to dothis on AGW we chat about BPQ later) if you have a TNC with a PBBS chip in it youcan do lots of fun.

SSID?

SSID's are not complex but what is complex is understanding that every group has theirown rules around how to use SSID's . a SSID is nothing other then having multiplesimilar call's on the air at the same time. for example when you set up your PBBSyou want to use a SSID, example my SSID for mail is K7MHI-1 so if you connect to K7MHI-1you will get my Mail BBS, if you connect to K7MHI you get my keyboard (QSO mode) ifyou connect to K7MHI-2 you connect to my portable TNC station setup keyboard/QSO mode)its nothing more then designating stations on the air as the same user but different"addresses"

Some common SSID's are on HF -1 is PBBS or mail -7 is a gateway or Node. on VHF -4or -10 is a winlink node. These are just example on VHF as there is no standard thateveryone seems to stick to. -15 is normally reserved for digipeting off someone else'sstation you typically never assign this your self its automatic by someone else'sTNC

What next?

Next you want to start reading this site thisis a great resource on how all this stuff works. And start looking at software tostart making your experience more fun.

Outpost

Outpost is a PBBS or BBS tool that will automatethe use of PBBS mail systems, it takes a bit to get working but its real nice if yourusing a BBS system anywhere. it makes the interface nicer then a command line. helpfor outpost is on the main site and it can connect to AGW

BPQ

BPQ gets advanced fast, but ifyou don't own a TNC with a PBBS chip this software will give you the ability to havemail and chat BBS for free, its great software and works with AGWPE

Winlink / RMS

Winlink gives you the abilityto have email connected to the internet via winlink.org, you will get a email addresssuch as your call at winlink.org when you use it the first time. So if you are awayfrom internet you can still use email with the internet if you have a RMS/Winlinknode in range. I found the best to use PackLink this application works on VHF andHF and telnet. It also works with the PK900 nicely as well as AGWPE. once you havepacklink working you point your email application at localhost for POP3 (the pop3server is the paclink application) after this is configured you should be able tohave email via radio!

QSO Mode software

As I said I use a dual port TNC on VHF and HF at the same time, for this things canget crazy fast. I have found that EmcommOps softwareis very nice GUI to keep everything in line and working well.. additionally its nicebackup of most of your settings when things go crazy it will reset most things foryou. which is handy when your learning how to use the TNC.

- I will update this post as I find new help info!

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