Miscellaneous Packet Radio Notes

"PACKET RADIO" is a general term used to describe a form of data communications using Amateur Radio. Though there are many groups around the country using slight variations of the protocol, Northern California has by far the largest and most influential group -- the Pacific Packet Radio Society. See the submessages below for more details:

To participate in the local repeater network, you will need at least a Technician Class Amateur Radio License. The FCC requires that you pass a 70 question exam on amateur rules and regulations, operating procedures, and electronic theory. Also you must pass a morse code receiving test at five words per minute -- the speed at which most people learn the code. The test is administered weekly at the FCC offices in San Francisco.

Among the other things you can do with this license are:

1) Operate using telegraphy with 250 watts or less on four of the amateur high frequency shortwave bands for long distance communications.

2) Enjoy full amateur privileges on the amateur bands in the VHF and UHF spectrum, including use of up to 1000 watts power, establishing repeaters, using telegraphy, radioteletype, facsimile, am, fm, ssb voice, slow scan television, fast scan (ordinary) television, and operate through the amateur satellites (called OSCAR for Orbiting Satellite Carrying Amateur Radio).

These are the four basic components of a packet radio station in terminal mode for the existing local network:

1) 2-meter FM transceiver and antenna
2) Modem, Bell 202 standard (1200 baud half duplex)
3) Terminal Node Controller (see submessage)
4) Terminal

Some stations have combined the Terminal Node Controller and terminal, using their personal computer as a dedicated TNC.

The most common Terminal Node Controller is a single board design by the non-profit Vancouver Amateur Digital Communications Group. This board uses an 8085 CPU, 8250 UART for communications with the terminal, INTEL 8273 packet controller, 4K or RAM, and 4K of protocol firmware. The cost of the board is about $250 fully populated plus the power supply.

Other boards are in development stages by the Tucson packet group and others.

A Bell 202 modem board has recently been completed by the VADCG. Watch this space for availability.

This message copied from (415)863-7715 March 22, 1982.