ping again? -f

Steve Stroh N8GNJ n8gnj at
Fri Aug 26 09:19:00 PDT 2005

For years, I've been distracted away from Amateur Packet Radio by the 
incredible things going on in the Broadband Wireless Internet Access 

There's been some amazing stuff going on in Amateur Packet Radio too, 
but I haven't been participating.

It's time for me to devote some time back to Amateur Packet Radio (APR).

Here's some of what I personally find to be of interest, and what I 
hope to be doing.

* APR had mesh networking before almost anyone knew what the heck it 
was. I think that mobile mesh networking is one of the more fascinating 
things going on, and it's worth getting involved with. There are 
versions of the Net/ROM protocols for Linux, it is more possible than 
ever to build/buy small, dedicated computers to embed this stuff into. 
Most of us are familiar with the Jeepgate concept (APR radios in the 
car, gatewayed into a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi radio to allow unmodified laptop 
access to APR systems via Wi-Fi; think parking the car outside the 
coffee shop and accessing it via Wi-Fi)
* One area of research that I'd like to work on is forming up "Amateur 
Packet Radio HotSpots"; returning to the future somewhat that every ham 
has a PBBS; in my scenario, every ham would have a node online one one 
or more channels for localized access; to the Internet (slowly), with 
distributed resources and services. Much more research needs to be done 
on that.

Network Architectures:
* I think that I've finally come around that a "pure" TCP/IP network 
isn't necessarily the best approach, especially for doing mobile, 
ad-hoc mesh networking. The link layer / MAC needs to be something that 
addresses (better than "pure" TCP/IP on AX.25) a dynamic networking 
environment - both the network AND a unit/node's PLACE(s) in the 
* Watching mesh evolve in Broadband Wireless Internet Access, I've come 
to believe that model is better suited for Amateur Radio than the 
"repeater" model that we've used for the past 50 years. When a (fixed) 
node is built, the builder should have the expectation that it will be 
used opportunistically and tactically, not "strategically" (IE a "key 
system") and won't necessarily be depended upon.

* For all its many... numerous... overwhelming faults, 1200 baud AFSK 
works well enough for networking and message passing. 9600 was more fun 
than 1200 baud ever was, and I will use it for those remaining 
high-level systems that are on the air, and in some of my personal 
experimentation, but 9600 baud just didn't make it as enough of a 
widely-embraced standard to try to base a lot of networking stuff on.
* With all the progress made on small, embedded radios for telemetry,
* D-Star... well, I don't expect to be wealthy enough for quite a while 
to be able to afford even one D-Star radio. It makes some sense, but 
the inane networking and lack of lessons learned with it cripple it 
perhaps to the point of not being useful enough to implement.
* Bill Vodall continues to make the point that Ricochet radios are very 
usable for short range links. Not enough work has gone into hacking 
them to support better antennas, and they're about the only way to get 
some "Amateur Radio" reasonable usage of 902-928 MHz.

* TNC's of all kinds are a serious impediment to making packet things 
work. I think they're neat and fun, and I'm full of nostalgia about 
them, but I plan to treat them the same way as many hams treat old tube 
gear... largely of historical use. My TNCs will be on the air, but 
mostly my work will be done with non-TNC devices; dedicated single 
board computer hardware, software, better-than-TNC radio interfaces, 
etc. Mostly I want to figure out how to make use of inexpensive (under 
$200) single board PCs to run Linux as routers.
* Bill Vodall makes the point that JNOS is "good enough" glue to tie 
together many disparate Amateur Radio systems, and I've come to agree. 
Use what works and can be replicated by others that are motivated to 
participate in what you're doing.

* It's just amazing to me the ingenuity and resulting usefulness that 
is APRS. One thing that puzzles me is that there doesn't seem to be 
much integration of APRS into other systems. It's long past time for me 
to get fully up to speed on APRS.

* What more do I need to say about this. The only HF radio that 
interests me in the least is the Flex-Radio SDR

* Life's too short. If some people don't like what I'm doing... I'll 
just route around them.

A major failure that's really, REALLY hurting Amateur Radio is that the 
most interesting stuff, that I touch on above, ISN'T being made 
accessible in more usable forms... IE, people aren't writing it down 
and making it accessible. Every interesting article that's published in 
CQ or QST is in essence "locked away" from general view, to inspire and 
educate others. Once I get back into packet, I intend to make good use 
of a weblog to document what I'm doing and what I'm seeing that's of 



On Aug 17, 2005, at 10:41, Bill Vodall WA7NWP wrote:

> Ok.   So where do we (Wetnet as a group) stand these days?   Dead? 
> Simply OTB?  (Old, Tired and Broke?)  Signs of life?
> The Winlink train is picking up speed and more and more folks are 
> hopping on.  At the same time they're designing in more holes and NIH 
> technologies.  ( - that's a 
> start of some notes. )
> I have to write a note to Ed/SCM and the other section folks here in a 
> bit and it would be good to say "we have a TCP/IP network that's 
> "better" then Winlink."  Right now, all we got is a couple stations 
> pinging.
> Is anybody on here interested in investing a few hours to bring Wetnet 
> back or should we just blow it off?
> Bill


Steve Stroh
425-939-0076 | Skype: stevestroh2 | steve at |

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