SKCC 5123T----- FISTS 14979----- Flying Pigs 2331----- NAQCC 3610-----QRP ARCI 14176-----Polar Bear 257

Monday, September 10, 2018

Packet Radio for My Field Day Messages

I missed the heyday of amateur packet radio during the 80/90s. However, there is now some local interest in Bay County, Florida since Bob KK4DIV set up a packet BBS on the two-meter band. I am now active on packet using a hardware Terminal Node Controller (TNC) and an older radio. The TNC is a Timewave PK-96. I found a new PK-96 with a USB interface at Ham Radio Outlet. There are many used TNCs on eBay, but I wanted the convenience of a USB interface to the computer.

Diagram from this Packet Introduction
I am interested in packet radio to transmit radiogram messages off my site during ARRL Field Day in June. Radiograms are worth ten points each up to 100 points. Also, a message to the ARRL section manager is worth 100 points.

I could not find many software programs for Windows 10 to talk to the serial port on hardware TNC except for Putty. However, my favorite tool is the Outpost Packet Message Manager that runs on Windows 10. It makes handling messages just like an email client. That is perfect for entering the Field Day messages and have them ready for a bulk transfer to a BBS. Outpost can support NTS style messages. I expect all my messages will be for local delivery except for the Section Manager message. The routing to the final destination could be via sneakernet or email

I believe I am set for doing the message passing via packet in Bay County. However, I am planning Field Day at Falling Waters State Park in Washington County at least 50 miles away. If I can't get back to Bob's BBS on simplex, I may try using a mobile packet station located off the Field Day site as a relay. In fact, the mobile packet station can store the messages in its own personal maildrop and forward them when it is in range of a BBS, Using a local repeater is another idea.

Winlink may even be the better approach since you can get messages out via HF. By ARRL Field Day, I may be set up for Winlink as well.

I find that using packet has given me some perspective on digital communications that I missed. It helps me understand APRS type packet radio also. I am exchanging messages locally for fun. You know if our phones and internet are out of service during a disaster, packet radio could come in handy.