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  1. Packet

  2. Getting Started • It is REALLY helpful to have a mentor to help you get setup and make your first contact. • If you have never done this before – there can be many UNKNOWNs to get over. With the help of a Mentor you can reduce the Unknowns. Even if it just a phone call, it can save you a lot of time and frustration.

  3. Packet Station • Terminal Node Controller – TNC • 2M Radio • Computer w/serial link • Program for Packet • Cable to connect computer to TNC, and TNC to the radio

  4. Packet TNCs • Most Packet stations have a TNC (Terminal Node Controller). The TNC is a small computer that has memory, circuits to decode/encode the tones, etc. (This type of TNC should not be confused with the TNC for PSK-31 [sound card interface].) • There are some sound card programs for packet (a few years ago these were not very good – but they may have progressed).

  5. Packet TNCs cont’d • Some TNCs have limited capability, some are KISS only. • KISS – it is mainly a modulator/demodulator and most of the functions are performed in the computer if your computer is not connected to it, it will not function. • Some TNCs have mail boxes – this allows others to leave you a message if you are not at the unit at that time.

  6. Some of the Available TNC on the market TNC-X KISS Mode TNC KPC-3+ PK-232

  7. Programs • Along with the TNC you will need a program. • XPware is a Freeware packet program • MacTNC – freeware program for the MAC • The software will run in different modes. • Need to become familiar with your program operation.

  8. Radio • You will need a 2M radio • No tone is required so an old radio will do just fine • There are digipeaters (like repeater – but for packet) so high power is not usually required. • I use an old radio with 10 watts output • Some use a handie talkie

  9. Cables and other hardware • You will need several cables: • Serial cable (USB/serial) to talk to the TNC • Radio Interface cable to connect – Audio Out, Audio In, PTT from radio to TNC • Radio cable can be purchased for newer TNCs to newer radios, if using an old radio you will need to make your own.

  10. Getting Started • The first thing to do, is setup your station and try and make a contact. • Get you station on the air – leave it hooked up for ½ hour to see if it receives any stations (use MHeard) • Common Packet Frequencies – 145.01, 03, 05, 07, 09 - For Montgomery county the frequency is 145.03 – with an outside antenna you should receive several stations and digipeaters.

  11. Getting Started cont’d • Using MHeard – try to connect to a station – the best are BBSs & WinLink stations because they are active all the time and they are nodes. (You can only connect to stations & nodes.) • If you can connect to a station or a node then your station is transmitting & receiving, cables are good, software is working – everything is GOOD.

  12. Getting Started cont’d • Try checking into the ARES net on Wednesday night (145.03 @ 7:45 – 8:00) might have to use a digipeater (Conroe) to talk to the station taking check-ins. • You can also connect to a WinLink station – (K5RUD in the Woodlands – if it is up) to check out your station.

  13. Packet Operations • When the program and TNC is first powered up the program will send commands to the TNC (this is a setup in your software). Downloads are: • Commands - Modes of operations • Call sign entry • Date & Time

  14. Packet Operation cont’d • The TNC has lots of commands & setups (50+ for a normal TNC) – to start out – just use the DEFAULTS • You will also need to know some operating commands. • Most all the commands have actions – (i.e. Monitor On/Off ) • The most important command is entering your call sign.

  15. Packet Operation cont’d • Your TNC will display messages when someone is connected to you. • You probably want to see the traffic and whose is active. • To do this there are several commands you can use. • Also normally you can only talk to stations you are Connected to – might want to talk to others stations etc. (round table etc.)

  16. Common Commands • Most commands will have a shorten version (one or two letters) • Monitor – On/Off – when On it allows you to see all traffic on the frequency (not just what’s addressed to you) • MHeard – Short/Long – gives a list of stations that your TNC has heard • MCOM – On/Off – will list the command signals

  17. Common Commands • UnPronto – allows you to talk to stations that are not connected to you (like a round table etc.) • Command – this is a mode for the TNC – this is how you give instructions/commands to the TNC • Converse – this is a mode for communications – when you type items they will go out over the air when you hit send

  18. Packet Operation cont’d • To talk to a station you need to connect to the station – type “C KE5STL” - this is what is typed in the send buffer – C is the short version for Connect and then the Call sign • Most TNCs will try and connect with the station a number of times (mine sends a Connect message every 5 seconds for 10 times)

  19. Packet Operation cont’d • When the connected station is contacted it will send several packets (control packets) back & forth. • Then Both stations will be “connected” – an LED is usually illuminated to show that you are connected to a station. • Then your TNC will change into Converse mode and anything typed in the TX buffer will be sent etc.

  20. Packet Operation cont’d • A lot of times you can not connect to the station directly (too far away), then we use a digipeater. This is like a repeater but for packet. • Then the command will be “C KE5STL V Conroe” - this command is Connect to KE5STL Via Conroe digipeater (in packet you can have alias for your station – Conroe is an alias for W5CFJ digipeater)

  21. Packet Operation cont’d • You can’t “Kurchuck” a digipeater – it receives a packet and then retransmits it immediately (less than ¼ second) • A digipeater is not a Node so you can not connect to it.

  22. Packet Operation cont’d • You have instructed the Conroe digipeater to relay you signal to the other station. You also instructed the other station that you are using a digipeater (he can then connect to you and he will use the digipeater) • When you do a MHeard it will display the call sign – if it has an *then it means that the station was heard through a digipeater.

  23. Packet Operation cont’d • If you do a MHeard Long, then it will give you the name/call of the digipeaters. • You can go through multiple digipeaters (usually the limit is 5 or 10). Practically the limit is about 2.

  24. Winlink 2000 • Winlink 2000 is a system where you can use you packet station to send & receive emails & messages. • It has HF and 2M/70 cm gateway stations. • You use special software (like an email program) to use Winlink • You can connect to the RMS Packet stations to check out your radio etc. (they are nodes)

  25. Winlink 2000 cont’d • You can down load the programs from the web site. There are 2 programs (freeware) that can be used: • Paclink – if using XP will have to probably load some other programs • Airmail – older 3rd party software (works on XP w/o adding new software) • When used the first time you will become register (have to do it over the radio & connect with a station to get registered).

  26. Winlink 2000 cont’d • Your address is • Friends can send an email to this address and when you connect to the Gateway station it will be tell you how many messages it has, and will start downloading them to you.

  27. Winlink RMS Packet Map 2M Winlink Nodes

  28. NK5Z Station in Conroe KD2KW Station in Spring Most Winlink 2M stations – have a Call Sign -10

  29. HF RMS Stations

  30. Local HF Stations

  31. Up & Running • Some TNCs have a Beginner & Advanced Modes • Beginner Mode – limited amount of commands that can be used • Advanced Mode – all commands can be used • Beaconing – You can setup you TNC to Beacon (send a short message) every X minutes. This will let other stations know that your station is active.

  32. Up & Running cont’d • Beacon requires several items to be setup • Time to Beacon – should be ~ 15 – 30 minutes • Need to set up the text it will send (limited to ~ 128 characters) • A lot of station heard are their Beacons. • On the Beacon you can give them the address of your mail box if you have one, and other information

  33. Other Fun Things • Try working the Space Station on Packet • Frequency is 145.825 • You can hear it with an indoor antenna, need to use a better antenna to work through it. • Need to track the ISS and see if you can hear it. If you can hear it, you can probably work it or at least see your call come back to you (due to the slight delay).

  34. New Satellite Digipeater – FASTRAC 1 (FO-69) • There is a new satellite digipeater open for use. (Just opened up for digipeating on Dec. 1, 2011) • It is called FASTRAC 1 – alias is FAST1 • Uplink Freq. 145.825, Downlink 437.345 • 1200 bps – • To connect using digipeater • “C KE5STL V FAST1”

  35. Demo • MHeard on 145.030 • Connect to KE5STL • Connect to WinLink node – KD2KW-10 on 145.07 • Connect to another station Via Conroe digipeater