Training - Packet Radio

This page is all about the packet messaging system that we are trying to impliment in Sedgwick County.  Please note that no one is required to participate in this program. However, it will be to your advantage to do so. 


Why are we trying to institute packet communications into the normal communications mode used in Sedgwick County RACES?
  • Packet communications is an essentially error-free mode of communications. Not so with voice. 
  • Some packet communications software provides for automatic logging of both stations logs and message logs. 
  • Packet communications will "go through" when voice modes will not.The software we will be using makes it possible for the originator of the message will type the message, not you.  
  • Routing of the messages from originator to receipient can be made much simpler.
  • Packet communications seems to actually be growing in usage in emergency communication country-wide.
  • Packet communications is "Fun"
  • The packet software offers automatic printing of the message to a printer.

More Detail

Because every "packet" of information is sent with a checksum, the software on the receiving end "knows" when a packet contains errors. It then requests the sending station to resend that packet. This process continues until the packet is received without error or the maximum number of tries has been reached.

The software we will be using, OutpostPM, automatically generates a message log and a station log. These logs are REQUIRED by the FCC when we are sending third-party traffic. Any time we pass a message for anyone except OURSELVES, we are sending third-party traffic.

Due to the nature and physics of packet communications vs voice communications, packet communications is much more reliable than voice communications over difficult paths. It almost has the same reliability of CW, which we all know, is the mode with the highest possibility of "getting through".

The sofware we will be using is "network aware". It can be utilized in a LAN or WAN so that a remote computer can be used to orginate or receive the messages, passing through a packet station that is connected to the network. This can cut drastically down on the workload of the amateur operator. It also means, that when used in this manner, the amateur operator is NOT concerned about errors IN THE MESSAGE. The operator is like the postal carrier. We only carry the message that someone else writes and someone else reads. There are HUGE benefits to this that will be discussed in more detail in the upcoming classes we will be presenting at the EOC.

A discussion of the routing of the messages is best left to the upcoming classes.

Even in the "far reaching extremes" of western Kansas, emergency communications groups are setting up their packet networks.
What is required to participate in the packet program?

Because the emphasis of our packet program is portability, we are stressing that the packet station be readily portable. This does not preclude its use in a fixed location, however.

Equipment Needed

The equipment needed include:
  • A suitable transceiver
  • A Terminal Node Controller (TNC)
  • A laptop computer
  • The appropriate software
  • A power supply
  • A suitable antenna
  • Necessary cables
  • Any transceiver capable of operating on the frequencies we will be using and capable of properly interfacing with a TNC is suitable
  • A Kantronics KPC-3+, an AEA PK-12, AEA PK-88 all have been shown to work well. Other TNCs may be suitable, depending upon the radio chosen.
  • A laptop computer is recommended due to the portability requirement. It must have an RS-232 port, or a USB to Serial adapter will be necessary. (Keyspan brand adaptors recommended)

OutpostPM Software

We are using OutpostPM software as the primary software. We also want to use FLDigi for a reqularly scheduled net as it is designed for holding nets on packet.
Where do you get the software?

Where do I get help if I need it?

  • Roger Teachman


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