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Maine Packet Network Posts

Featured Post

Welcome!

Thank you for visiting the Maine Packet Network website. Our mission is to build and maintain a packet radio backbone to interconnect several community-level networks and their respective emergency communications teams across Maine and beyond its borders.

Further, our goal is to pull together all the bits of information about packet radio operations scattered across the web, and to give operators of all skill levels one place to go to learn about packet radio and get connected with the network.

For more information about our group, please visit the About Us page. If you would like to contribute, please reach out to Brad Brown, KC1JMH.

W1YCA-15 Node Move

Image from kindpng.com

The W1YCA-15 node will be taken down soon for maintenance and to be moved to its new home at the Wells Town Office. We will update this post when it returns to service.

KC1JMH-15 2m access is down (updated)

The Westbrook KC1JMH-15 node’s 2 meter VHF operator-access port was unavailable from February 20th until today, March 2nd. During which, the 70 cm UHF radio remained online and continued passing traffic along the statewide backbone between our other nodes.

We want to thank Richard Bates WD1O for going on-site and replacing a faulty component.

New links: NTS on BPQ32 nodes

Image from http://www.iconsmind.com/
Image licensed from http://www.iconsmind.com/

We added the following links to our Links section. Visit this section for official sources of information, guides and cheat sheets assembled by other organizations.

With this information, we’re hoping to permit the routing of messages sent to ZIPCODE@NTSME to automatically route to our Region 1 NTS traffic coordinator, Steve Hansen KB1TCE.

NTS Digital NetBPQ32 Hub Operators – BPQ configuration and use for the purpose of passing NTS traffic

Deciphering packet frames

Have you ever wondered what all that obscure code means that flies by as stations transmit their connection requests and messages? The following link comes from one of the available software modems, which modulate and demodulate data to transmittable audio.

Example:

<RR P/F R1 >  - this is a "ready to receive' (RR) packet simply acknowledging receipt of packet #0 and ready to receiver #1.

<REJ P/F R1 > - this is  reject (REJ) packet meaning that the packet just received was out of sequence or a duplicate or not received accurately; ready to receive packet #1 instead.

This link is available in our Links section:
https://www.soundcardpacket.org/8headers.aspx

W1YCA-15 Maintenance

Maintenance Underway

Sysop Roger Pience, N1XP, will be performing maintenance on the W1YCA-15 node at York County EMA.

Services will be up and down throughout the day, Thursday, December 16.

Maine 2021 SET

Winlink demonstration at Wireless Society of Southern Maine 2021 Field Day

The Maine 2021 Simulated Emergency Test or SET is scheduled for Saturday, October 9th from 0800 to 1200 EDT, during which amateur radio operators will be demonstrating the effectiveness of their capabilities to send formal traffic across the state. This traffic will exercise the Maine Packet Network (MEPN) nodes, their ability to route BBS mail throughout the system, and their ability to gateway Winlink RMS messages to NTS traffic coordinators.

From the exercise plan:

Exercise Mission Statement

The purpose of the disaster exercise is to test and evaluate emergency communications and its support during a long-term, region-wide power outage caused by a solar geomagnetic
disturbance.

Exercise Objectives

  • Demonstrate the ability to operate during a total regional grid failure emergency.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize EMA networks to communicate between the State and County EOCs.
    • Test County EMA radio repeaters and simplex channels
    • Test the Statewide RegionNet repeaters
    • Test the ability to utilize SHARES to relay messages.
  • Demonstrate the ability to utilize Ham Radio capabilities to communicate between the counties and amateur radio operators.
    • Test amateur radio communications between counties and operators on 80m, 40m, 2m, 6m and 70 cm simplex voice.
    • Test the ability to successfully transmit and relay Radiograms by VHF or HF including voice and Winlink.
    • Test the ability to retrieve web files via Winlink
    • Test the ability to use the Winlink System and Packet Network to relay messages.

For more information

See a copy of the plan hosted by the Wireless Society of Southern Maine at: http://www.ws1sm.com/Forms/2021_SET_Plan.pdf

If you are interested in participating, reach out to your local amateur radio club or emergency communications team.

Hardware issues at N1ZRL-15 (Updated 12/7)

We received an update from sysop Pete Thuotte, N1ZRL on December 7th:

N1ZRL Node situation. Need to drop the antenna and mast for gutter installation. Temporary re-installation to follow until, a final solution is found.

Pete Thuotte, N1ZRL

On October 5th, Pete Thuotte, N1ZRL, reported to us via our Facebook page that:

N1ZRL node not receiving well at all. Thought I found an issue with the 16 pin interconnect between Motorola Radius Gm300 and the TNC-PI. Well, it was a problem…replaced it basically rewired it all. Received well for awhile, not now. Maybe should rebuild setup, starting with antenna, mast and coax.

Pete Thuotte, N1ZRL

We wish him luck with his repair efforts, and will keep everyone appraised of any updates as they are received.

WS1EC Frequency Change

Photo borrowed from W6OAK

The 2 meter frequency for the WS1EC-15 node has changed to 145.050 MHz to remove internode communications from the operator access frequency. Internode operations will continue on the 70 centimeter statewide backbone frequency.

Printable Maps

Find Roger’s maps in the Files section

The Maine Packet Network is proud to announce that updated printable maps are now available in our Files section! Roger Pience, N1XP, has put a lot of effort into these, working with individuals and groups all over the state to gather accurate information. We couldn’t have built our dynamic map page without his help.

While our dynamic map can help you quickly find nearby packet nodes, we strongly recommend carrying a printed map with you in case you find yourself without Internet access.

We welcome any corrections and info on new nodes!

W1YCA Back Online

From Young Frankenstein (1974)
20th Century Fox

We have received word that the York County EMA node W1YCA has returned online on a new VHF frequency of 147.550 MHz, and it now supports the UHF statewide backbone! The application SSIDs have been renumbered to the standard scheme started by the Midcoast Maine Packet Network.

Roger N1XP, who reported the news to us, shares the following information, which will be included on our node map:

W1YCA-15 York Co. EMA Emergency Packet Network Node Returns on 147.550 MHz !
W1YCA-15 is part of the Maine Emergency Packet network reaching from New Hampshire into the Canadian Maritimes.
https://www.mainepacketradio.org/

W1YCA-15 Node, alias YCAEMA
W1YCA-2 BBS/Mail, alias YCABBS
W1YCA-10 Winlink RMS, alias YCARMS
A CHAT room will be activated later this month
W1YCA-5 CHAT, alias YCACHT

Please contact Jimmy, KC1ETT [kc1ett@arrl(dot)net] if you wish to have a mailbox on a packet node in York County or Brad, KC1JMH [kc1jmh@arrl(dot)net] for Cumberland County.

If you are new to packet and interested in Emergency Packet communications a “How To” will soon be available on the above mentioned web site or contact one of the SysOps above.

Roger Pience, N1XP

Field Day is coming, use Winlink!

Did you know that you can leverage Winlink to earn up to 200 points? As long as the connection starts over radio, it counts! You can leverage one of the nearby packet radio nodes with your free VHF 2m station while your friends are raking in the contacts on HF. See our Node Map to find a node near you.

Relevant Field Day Rules

7.3.5. Message Origination to Section Manager: 100 bonus points for origination of a formal message to the ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator by your group from its site. You should include the club name, number of participants, Field Day location, and number of ARES operators involved with your station. The message must be transmitted during the Field Day period and a copy of it must be included in your submission in standard ARRL radiogram or no credit will be given. The message must leave or enter the Field Day operation via amateur radio RF.

The Section Manager message is separate from the messages handled in Rule 7.3.6. and may not be claimed for bonus points under that rule. Available to all Classes.

          7.3.6. Message Handling: 10 points for each formal message originated, relayed or received and delivered during the Field Day period, up to a maximum of 100 points (ten messages). Copies of each message must be included with the Field Day report. The message to the ARRL SM or SEC under Rule 7.3.5. does not count towards the total of 10 for this bonus. Available to all Classes. All messages claimed for bonus points must leave or enter the Field Day operation via amateur radio RF.

Looking for contacts?

There’s a Google spreadsheet going around with a list of stations that you can contact during Field Day, and a form that you can use to add your group or station to the list.

W1YCA Temporarily down

Unknown / multi-source

The W1YCA-4 (soon to be -15) node in Alfred at the York County EMA has been taken offline as of June 18th due to VHF radio issues. Work was already scheduled for next week to add a UHF radio for connection to the Maine Packet Network backbone, to add a UPS battery backup (to augment the generator), and to renumber the node SSIDs to our statewide network standard. Repairing the VHF radio will be added to the work detail.

Operators are encouraged to leverage the K1DQ-15 node in Northern York County or KC1ETT-4 node in Southern York County at 145.730 MHz, or the KC1JMH-15 node at 144.930 MHz in Cumberland County, in the meantime.

A New Ham

Dylan, KC1PDS Connects to KC1JMH-15

This is Dylan, KC1PDS, a recently licensed amateur radio operator. Dylan made his first connection with the packet radio network after his club meeting with the Wireless Society of Southern Maine.

Dylan is interested in setting up his own gear for use with packet radio. He has a Yaesu 7800r, just like the club uses for the WS1EC-15 node in Windham.

Brad, KC1JMH and Vice President of the club, discussed the equipment he would need, provided him a quick rundown of the software used, how to connect, hot to move around from node to node, and how to send and receive BBS and Winlink RMS mail.

We look forward to seeing Dylan’s call sign on the nodes again in the future!

Knox County 2Q21 Quarterly Exercise

The Maine Telegraph Newsletter – June ’21

With the recent work done to the Southern Maine Packet Group network to enable and connect to the Midcoast Maine UHF Backbone, the Knox County quarterly exercise was able to expand and share their simulated emergency test to Cumberland and York County.

The packet network was used to send messages between Knox, Waldo, Lincoln, Cumberland and York Counties around May 22nd, to and from representatives of each of the county’s Emergency Management Agency offices.

A full write-up is available on pages 6 through 12 of the Maine Telegraph Newsletter, June 2021 edition.

https://www.mainearrl.org/newsletter

New Maps and Node List in Progress

With the construction of new nodes and the addition of UHF to several others, we are working on updating our maps.

Roger N1XP is working on an updated printable PDF, which will be located in the Files section.

Brad KC1JMH has replaced the card style Nodes list with an interactive map that can be filtered and sorted. Looking at the list below the map, nodes will appear in order of distance from your location if you allow your location to be shared in your web browser (a pop-up should present itself to ask you).

As noted on our pages, this is a work in progress, as time allows between work and personal lives. If you spot anything wrong or missing with our data, please reach out to one of us. Our email addresses are good on QRZ, or you can use the Contact form in the menu to the left.

We want to share accurate and timely information from across the state, and we need your help!

New node in Shapleigh: K1DQ-15

Some of the nodes reachable from K1DQ

We have received word that K1DQ-15 in Shapleigh is now on the air, sharing tower space with an amazing DMR repeater. The packet radio node SSID’s are -2 BBS and -15 Node, Winlink RMS is pending and will likely be -10.

This is a dual-band site, providing York County and points well beyond due to its altitude with access to the statewide network.

Node information including frequency and available applications will be posted to the Nodes page as the site continues to develop.

WS1EC Node at Cumberland County EMA Adds UHF

WS1EC-15 Node at CCEMA

As of Saturday, May 15th, The WS1EC UHF backbone connection is now online, and with it the Midcoast is reachable again from Cumberland County! The node is able to reach the new KC1JMH-15 node in Westbrook and on occasion the N1QFY-15 node in Gardiner, on UHF.

Of note, the node’s SSID’s have been updated: It is primarily accessible at WS1EC-15, BBS is now -2, CHAT is now -5, Winlink RMS remains -10.

The existing station consisted of a 2-meter Kenwood TK-760H that was donated by Brad Brown KC1JMH, connected to Raspberry Pi running linbpq node software with TNC-X hat via a custom TNC cable, all built and assembled by Roger Pience N1XP.

On May 15th, Brad met with James Fraser KB1SDK, a member of the Cumberland County EMA. An unused repeater was disconnected and a jumper run from the hardline to a Yaesu 7800r which was donated to the Wireless Society of Southern Maine. The radio was then connected to the Pi using a DINAH USB radio interface, which Brad had displayed at a club meeting in March, and curious to see how well it worked, had donated to the cause. On one end is an 8-PIN DIN or data interface port, the other is USB, inside is a CM108 soundcard that supports push-to-talk.

Direwolf was installed to be a KISS TNC sound modem. It took some tinkering with Direwolf to make it play nice with the DINAH USB radio interface; it turned out that the version of Direwolf in the Raspbian repository (1.3) is too old to support PTT over the CM108 chip in the DINAH. Once Direwolf was installed fresh from the git repository (1.7), there were no further problems.

Future planned updates include swapping out the higher-altitude 2-meter antenna with a dual-band antenna and connecting both radios via a duplexer. James plans on setting up a radio rack for the repeater, which will eventually see a higher-altitude UHF antenna, and a tray included to help consolidate the packet station into a neater but still air-gapped package.

Thank you James KB1SDK for making yourself available for this work detail, and Roger N1XP for the phone support for the software changes.

New node in Westbrook: KC1JMH-15

Packet Network Display

As some of our astute hams have noticed, KC1JMH-15 has appeared on the BPQ nodes maps. Located in Westbrook, ME, and having both VHF and UHF radios, this node is our key to connecting Southern Maine with Midcoast Maine, allowing traffic to flow from New Hampshire to Canada along the i95 corridor.

Information on this node will be made available on our Nodes page and our printable maps as it continues to be developed and implemented.

A special thanks goes out to Richard Bates WD1O for his hard work and coordination to get this done. This could not have happened without him!

Solar Storm Expected To Impact Communications

April 25 Solar Storm

From: Dr. Tamitha Skov, @TamithaSkov1:55 PM · Apr 22, 2021

Direct Hit: An Earth-directed #solarstorm is coming! NASA prediction model shows impact early April 25. Coronagraph shows a full-halo (teal line) ring around the Sun confirming the storm is Earth directed. Expect amateur #radio & #GPS reception issues & #aurora to mid-latitudes!

https://twitter.com/TamithaSkov/status/1385291202937847809?s=20

WSSM Packet Training Exercise

WSSM ECT nets occur monthly on the 4th Thursday

Thursday, March 25th, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine held a training net to coordinate a training exercise utilizing the Southern Maine Packet Group’s Cumberland and York County EMA nodes. We passed Winlink and BBS mail traffic, and communicated via packet Chat. Two members worked from new setups, and this allowed them to work out the kinks.

Read the full report on the WSSM ECT Blog!

WSSM Meeting Presentation

Packet Radio BBS and Winlink

Brad here, KC1JMH. I did a presentation this evening after the Wireless Society of Southern Maine business meeting, about what packet radio is, what it’s used for, and demonstrated how one connects to a node to send and receive BBS and Winlink mail.

The club runs the WS1EC node for the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, Maine.

Our discussions lead to stories about the marine stations we have contacted with Winlink as a training exercise from our region’s traffic coordinator, Steve KB1TCE. They have made for some fascinating contacts, a view into another lifestyle!

There was a lot of information to absorb, but this was meant to be an introduction. We’ll certainly have some practical hands-on training in the coming weeks. 73!

Stack of modems, a TNC, and a radio with data port