Packet Radio Information


Montgomery County Packet Group

 145.010 Mhz - C.A.R.C. PBBS: WR0CV-2


Why Packet, I thought packet radio was dead !

My question is why not ? Now in post 9/11 days, packet radio has all of the functions that we require to provide a reliable communication path in an emergency situation. It is relatively cheap to install and maintain, the operation of a packet station is transparent to the end user; connect to the other station, type in your message, and it is sent automatically. The terminal Node Controller (TNC) automatically divides the message into packets, keys the transmitter, and then sends the packets. While receiving packets, the TNC automatically decodes, checks for errors, and displays the received messages. Packet radio provides error free communications because of built-in error detection schemes. If a packet is received, it is checked for errors and will be displayed only if it is correct. In addition, any packet TNC can be used as a packet relay station, sometimes called a digipeater. This allows for greater range by stringing several packet stations together. 

TheNet was one of the first networking schemes to try to address the problems with digipeaters. A user connects to a TheNet station as if connecting to any other packet station. From there, he can issue commands to instruct the station to connect to another user locally or connect to another TheNet station. This connect, then connect again, means that to a user's TNC, you are connected to a local station only and its transmissions do not have to be digipeated over the entire network and risk losing packets. This local connection proved to be more reliable.

Since amateurs use radios to transmit their data, their range of communications is limited to approximately line of sight. An average packet station talks in a radius of about 10-30 miles. Packet Networks allow amateurs to widen the area of communications past their line of sight, by having a series of packet stations linked by radio, that can be used to get their packet messages to where ever the network goes.

Like the title says, 'Why Packet Radio ?' Like any mode in the amateur service, it provides a group of amateurs with a way of having fun and meeting one of our primary aims, 'improving the radio art.' Packet radio was a new mode in the early 80's that many of the outstanding amateur experimenters worked on and developed. The result, almost 30 years later, is something that provides a lot of different operating opportunities. No longer is it just packet radio, but now it is bulletin board systems, DX Clusters, chat bridges, networking, emergency communications, satellite operations and much more.

What is packet radio?
The good thing about packet radio is that you don't really have to know a lot about how it works or find it necessary to memorize a whole new set of technical terms. Find a friend who is using packet, buy your TNC (terminal node controller), hook up your unit, and then ask for help.  A basic TNC allows your computer to use your radio to talk to another computer, thus combining two popular hobbies computers and radios. The cost of the TNC is going to depend on what you want to do.

Packet Bulletin Board Systems (BBS):
Our Club has a packet Bulletin Board Systems, or BBS for short. BBSs do two main things: send and receive personal messages for their local users (like yourself) and send and receive messages or bulletins intended for people locally or around the County.

These are just some of the things you can do with packet radio. Once you find something that you can do with packet radio, then you have a reason to purchase the equipment necessary to get on the air. A good place to start is to find a friend who uses packet and go visit. See what your local area has to offer. As already stated, packet radio changes every 50-miles. What is being done where I operate is probably slightly different than what you can do where you live.

Last update: 03/17/2014

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Coffeyville Amateur Radio Club
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