I currently hold four NoVs to my licence for packet nodes.
- GB7AUG (Newton Mearns) for 2m
- GB7AUG (ditto.) for 40m
- MB7NKL (Kilsyth) for 2m
- MB7NDH (Dalgety Bay) for 2m
The GB7AUG node setup is thoroughly explained below. The Kilsyth (MB7NKL) node has a near identical setup to the 2m GB7AUG node (with the substitution of the 2m slim Jim for a Diamond X-50N). The Dalgety Bay (MB7NDH) node is also running from a Tait and NinoTNC, but uses a Diamond X-2000 antenna. This node is situated at the QTH of MM3NDH. Together MB7NKL and MB7NDH link the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh by packet radio - meaning I have achieved my aim of linking these two cities!
Technical details of GB7AUG Packet Node
I run a AX.25 Packet Node and Mailbox (at 1200bd), callsign GB7AUG, serving the Glasgow and East Renfrewshire areas. This node operates on 2m (144.9375MHz). I currently handle mail for regions 72 (Central), 73 (Dumfries and Galloway) and 78 (Strathclyde). I also have a NoV for a 40m port on the node, allowing me to carry mail up and down to/from England. This uses 300bd I2LP and sits at a dial freq of 7.045.75MHz. Alongside the BBS, and connectivity to other nodes, GB7AUG also hosts the GB2RS News in a downloadable format, and various other applications for the connecting amateur to use.
For my 2m TNC, I use a NinoTNC, produced by Nino KK4HEJ. I bought the kit to make the NinoTNC as part of a group buy for interested members of OARC - the Online Amateur Radio Community.
As a TNC for 40m, I use QtSoundModem, a variant of SoundModem, which integrates nicely into the node software. I am looking to move this over to another NinoTNC in due course, as the QtSoundModem software is a little bit buggy and requires frequent restarts.
The software that runs the nodes is linbpq, a Linux version of the famous bpq32 software developed by G8BPQ.
In terms of radio hardware, the 2m transceiver is a Tait TM8110. My antenna is a 2m Slim Jim at rooftop level, with excellent coverage over Glasgow and the Clyde, as well as into Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and parts of Lanarkshire.
The current HF transceiver is an Icom IC7300, but I hope to replace this with an Icom IC7100 when it is returned from repair.
OARC Packet Network
Following a successful TNC group buy, OARC members (and others) are attempting to re-establish a UK-wide packet network primarily using amateur RF. Since the arrival of the NinoTNCs, new packet nodes and ports have sprung up, and the project is rapidly gaining momentum. (Taken from the OARC Packet Network website)
Although Packet Networking has seemed to fade into obscurity over the last few decades, as the above shows, there has been a resurgance in interest in this fascinating and technically complex yet rewarding mode. Thanks to the hard work of, among others, Tom M0LTE (who co-ordinates the OARC Packet Network project), we have been able to map the packet nodes in the UK. You can access this map by clicking here.
My node is a work in progress, and every day I am learning more about how AX.25 Packet Networking works. It is also stretching and strengthening my Linux command line skills, which can only be a good thing too.
If you are in the area, please do connect to GB7AUG on 2m; or if you connect to a node near to you, have a look and see if there is already a connection to mine in place!
Predicted coverage map for GB7AUG:
Predicted coverage map for MB7NKL:
Predicted coverage map for MB7NDH:
A map showing the links between Central Belt nodes (as of 8th Jan 2024)
OARC National Packet Network map: (This map shows the nodes known to the OARC National Packet Network, and shows the links between nodes in GM)