[nos-bbs] B2F (compression) success !!!

Bob Donnell kd7nm at pugetsound.net
Wed Apr 2 18:42:18 EDT 2008

I can't say that I remember a >nationwide< 220 packet network, though I do
remember trying to promote that idea, when I ran across 75M QSO's on the

I helped design the first part of the 220 network that started here in the
Seattle area, and eventually extended (on 220) south to Eugene, OR or so,
north into SW British Columbia, east to about the ID/MT border, and I think
into north central OR.  That started within days of our group receiving its
first NET/ROM chips, because we'd already purchased radios, and had invested
a lot of effort to try to create dual-port digipeater firmware to run in the
TNC2 - an effort that didn't pan out. The cheap out for us, in 1987(?) was
buying the 2nd TNC for each site.  Loss of the 220-222 spectrum was one of
our challenges, as our network had been built out on 220.95, with the idea
in mind of going eventually to 56k packet in that 100 kHz channel slot.  

By the time of the loss of spectrum, I'd moved on to TCP and IP on
unconnected AX.25, with routing based on subnets and RIP, 9600 baud, and
packet repeaters, allowing inter-lan gateways to be mostly at home stations,
where it was easier to maintain them.  All of that on NET, one or another
flavor of NOS, and some experiments with MSYS, since I was also the BBS
operator for one of the LAN's.

I'm a recent convert to using Airmail on VHF packet - mainly as an EMCOMM
tool, one that's much much easier to train new hams to be able to use than
our previous packet programs, ARESPACK and FNPack.  So far, it's exposed
very few challenges, like bugs, that the other programs exhibited.
Similarity to existing email programs is very important to the class of
users I have to work with, significantly reducing the training effort
required to achieve a functional packet radio operator.  Also, most of these
users don't have their own packet stations - they are walking into
pre-configured EOC amateur stations - the software is similar enough to what
they use at home that it only takes a very simple reference sheet to resolve
forgotten program functions and proceedures.  Another factor is that it's
easy for more of our 2nd tier operators to be able to troubleshoot problems
- something that unfortunatly NOS doesn't lend itself to.  Its great
flexibility comes at a price - a pretty high training barrier to get a
beginner to the level of competence where they can troubleshoot a problem -
and until perhaps 10-20% of our group can do that, there are not enough
"smart" resources to troubleshoot installations.

I do agree that there is a place for more sophisticated and flexible
software - as there's a place for software that's easy to teach and use.
One is for the afficianados, and one is for hams that use packet as a tool
to get a job done, easily enough to accomplish it quickly.  I'd love to be
able to provide the level of automation that NOS can provide - but I can't
be the only expert in a group of 60 or so.  Especially if I'm not available,
for any reason, when something breaks.

Also, it's been interesting to note that in the last few months, "competing"
EMCOMM oriented products/programs have been featured in QST, which suggests
that perhaps ARRL management is a little less locked into Airmail than they
used to be, or appeared to be.  There's a Communications Academy in the
Seattle area this weekend, that will have ARRL staff participation.  It will
be interesting to see what the "party line" is.  To see what's on the
program, take a look at http://commacademy.org for past and current
programs.  This follows by 2 weeks, the Microhams Digital Conference, one
oriented more toward data over amateur radio interests:
http://www.microhams.com/softcontent.aspx?scId=46  Video of most of these
presentations will be on the web site in a month or so.  The Powerpoint
slides are already there.

73, Bob, KD7NM
Deputy Radio Officer of ESCA RACES, and main techie...

-----Original Message-----
From: nos-bbs-bounces at lists.tapr.org [mailto:nos-bbs-bounces at lists.tapr.org]
On Behalf Of Gene Mayler - K8EE
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2008 5:10 PM
To: nosbbs at mfnos.net; TAPR xNOS Mailing List
Subject: Re: [nos-bbs] B2F (compression) success !!!

From: "Barry Siegfried" <k2mf at k2mf.ampr.org>

> Excellent observation, Maiko!  I have been asking myself this question 
> for over a year now:  Given that this is the case, then what is all 
> the hysteria about over Airmail?  Is this all because the ARRL has 
> decided that this is what packet hams will use, and they *will* like 
> it?

The reason I like it is that it is a simple "Outlook" look alike that does
packet radio mail.  Unfortunately, I can't get it to work.

If we don't pay attention to Winlink and Airmail there is a chance that they
will take over amateur packet radio completely and leave the rest of out in
the cold.  An ARRL  endorsement has the power to make things happen, but not
always.  Remember the nationwide 220 MHz packet network.  Wonder what
happened to that.

73, Gene - K8EE

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