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Michael E Fox - N6MEF
n6mef at mefox.org
Thu Dec 18 14:19:31 EST 2014
> The Michigan AMPRnet is already doing the Pi/TNC-Pi solution. Small,
> simple, low power, and after the initial configuration remains basically
> hands-off and just sits on your home LAN.
Very impressive, Jay.
I really like it. And with a cross-over Ethernet cable, it's essential a replacement for the TNC. No extra hub/switch, etc. required.
But I'm trying to think through the practical implications.
-- Building the unit
-- Installing the software
-- Dealing with IP addresses on the unit and the PC
-- Learning/configuring the client
-- Learning about cross-over Ethernet cables
It's certainly much more complex to set up than a simple client like Outpost. But, of course, is has more functionality, too.
I can see that some agencies would be able to find someone in their group who has enough computing and networking background and interest to set this up. But I know some of our agencies definitely would not. And I wonder how many of our individual users could handle this (based on some of the questions I get today!), or would go through the trouble to build the unit, learn about IP addressing, etc.
We enjoy a pretty large user population because the setup is so simple. I can only guess, but it seems like maybe only a small portion of the existing packet user population would be able to or willing to do this. And if the penetration/conversion rate is not very high, then you're left with just a portion of the group who can send info that many others can't read.
So I wonder: What has the uptake been like? What percentage of the folks? How many is that? What type of folks? What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Also, just blue-sky thinking:
Dave Cameron, the guy who does IRLP, makes the software and board available. But he also offers pre-built, pre-configured units. I went with the prebuild/preconfigured unit for my repeater, since building yet another computer is not something I had the interest in or time to do. The unit came configured with IRLP and EchoLink, including my call sign and passwords. I just needed to cable it up and update the repeater controller config. It saved a ton of time that otherwise would have been spent dealing with stuff like picking a motherboard and chassis and power supply and such things that are totally unrelated to actually learning about and operating IRLP/EchoLink.
The broadband hamnet guys are doing pretty much the same thing on the software side. The actual hardware is off the shelf. Nothing to build. You download the software, put in your call sign, and, badda bing, badda boom, you're on the air and talking to other mesh nodes.
WL2K is sort-of the same thing. The RMS is pretty much stupid-simple to setup and all the complexity is dealt with elsewhere. Of course, it's got lots of limitations because of that design. But it does enjoy a healthy following of people who don't know any better.
So there are multiple models that enjoy success because they turn the complexity into an appliance. It's like my car. I enjoy driving it. But I don't have the time or inclination to become a mechanic. Or an airplane. Much, MUCH more complex to operate. But you still don't have to know how to build an airplane in order to operate one.
So I wonder ... If someone/some group were to take on production of such units, including pre-installing and configuring the software, I wonder what the market would be? To be clear, I'm not thinking of trying to build a major profit center. Just wondering if it could be done at a price that people would pay, and allow the producer to recover their cost and make it worth their while.
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