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ARKAN Newsletter -- Page Seven


ARKAN hosts hands-on events for amateur radio operators on the second Saturday of each month. Start time for Second Saturday meetings is 10 a.m. at the Air Museum (includes foxhunts, which will depart from AAM to the hunt area).

MARCH Soldering / De-soldering instruction

Packet Pointers

From Steve Barrington, N9NSO

Once again there has been a renewed interest in packet radio. A little over a year ago there was an attempt to resurrect interest in packet radio. However, due to the terrain in this area, digipeaters with good elevation were needed for stations in low-lying areas, or stations using low power, to connect to other stations in the area. A station in northern Benton County cannot connect to a station in southern Washington County due to a lack of stations in-between to digipeat through. I’m happy to say that hurdle has been overcome thanks to Jerry, KD5PXX bringing his station (and an antenna with height) back on-line.

APRIL Foxhunt (meet at Air Museum)

MAY Morse Code Oscillator homebrew assembly

A “Special Interest Group” (SIG) is being started for packet radio. This is an informal group open to anyone interested in packet radio. The primary frequency we will use for our packet network will be 145.090. There are some in this group who are new to packet radio and there are some of us who have been in packet radio years ago, but forgot so much of it that we might as well be “new”. The bottom line is we’re all here to share information and techniques to make this aspect of Ham Radio fun and useful. Also, if any of you have an idea on what to call our little SIG, please pass those suggestions around.

JUNE How to set up a 2m packet station

JULY Foxhunt (Meet at Air Museum)

Packet Pointers will be a monthly feature in the ARKAN newsletter for discussions concerning packet radio. So, I hope anyone interested in packet radio will join us on 145.090 and help us develop a strong community of “packeteers”. This month, we’ll start out with the basics of packet radio.


AUGUST Parkfest 2005 (McClure Park in Lowell, AR)

SEPTEMBER How to install coax connectors, use a SWR meter, and use a tuner

As you may have already surmised, packet radio is a form of digital communications. There are three basic components needed for packet radio; a 2-meter radio, a TNC (Terminal Node Controller), and a computer (any vintage will do). The computer is for creating and reading text messages. The TNC acts as an “interface” (or translator) between the computer and the radio. And, of course, the radio sends and receives the “packetized” signal. Text messages can be sent in “converse” mode or sent in the form of “messages”. Converse mode is basically live, keyboard-to-keyboard communications. Messages are very similar to e-mail. You connect to another station’s “mail-box” and leave a message.

OCTOBER Go Kits – Everyone bring theirs and do a show and tell so we can all get ideas

NOVEMBER Bench Test Equipment

DECEMBER No Second Saturday due to the holidays


Typically, to connect to another station, you go to “command mode” and enter the command for connect (usually the letter “C”), leave a space then enter the call sign of the station you are trying to connect with. For example, N9NSO wants to connect to N5JPC the command text would look something like this: “c N5GPC”. If you can’t connect directly with a station because of distance, terrain, or some other impediment, you can connect through a closer station (or stations). This is called digipeating. You are using closer stations that you can hit, and repeating through them. For example, because of several factors such as antenna height, station power, and terrain, N9NSO cannot connect directly with KD5NFX. So, N9NSO connects to KD5NFX by digipeating through KD5PXX’s station. That command text would look something like this: “c KD5NFX via KD5PXX”. Now, if I wanted to connect to a packet station way over in Miami, Oklahoma, I may need to digipeat through 3, 4, or more stations (or nodes).


When you are finish “conversing” with the other packet station (or stations), you need to disconnect your station from everyone else. This is simply done by going to the command mode and typing in “d”, “dis”, or “disconnect” (depending on your TNC and software.

In future articles we’ll discuss in more detail equipment and software. We’ll also try and post a SIG page for Packet Radio on the club’s web site. If you have information to contribute about packet radio, please submit them to me at the e-mail address below or send it in a file to my packet mailbox: N9NSO-1 (don’t forget the “- 1”). I look forward to meeting more of you on packet.



When carrying on a keyboard-to-keyboard QSO, enter a right arrow (>) or forward slash (/) after your last

word. This lets the other station know you are finished with your thought. You might view as a type of “courtesy beep”.


Most packet stations identify their mailbox node with a -1 (i.e. N9NSO-1) after their call sign. You will

usually get a greeting and instructions on how to leave messages or read bulletins.

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