Net/Rom Node Information for the Sysop - Part Six

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

This is part 6 of a series designed to help node Sysops learn more about the popular TheNet X-1J series of nodes. We'll skip over the more common user commands and devote our discussion to commands used by the Sysop. In this part, we'll look at the BBS, BBSALIAS, BRATE and BTEXT commands.


If you have a BBS that is accessible through your node stack, this command makes life easier for your users. When BBS is entered as a command by a user, they'll be connected to a BBS set by the Sysop. No call-sign or alias needs to be remembered by the user, which certainly makes it easy for out-of-town packet operators.

When the Sysop enters the command when the node is in the Sysop mode, the Sysop has options to set the BBS, as well as to clear an entry that was previously made. Here are the various Sysop forms of the command:


Clears the node's entry for the BBS, if one was set. Usually, a Sysop only needs to enter this command if he or she wishes to clear or change a current designated BBS. If the BBS is cleared, the command is disabled.


Asks the node what call-sign has been entered as the BBS.

BBS (call-sign)

Sets the call-sign of the BBS to connect to. This can be either the actual call-sign or the Node alias of the BBS. Only valid node aliases are allowed if the call-sign validation is active.


This is another alias that the node can be known by. It does not get broadcasted as a separate node, which means it won't conflict with the BBS's node broadcast itself if the BBS is acting as a node, too. It's used as a shortcut for users on a LAN that can connect to a node directly. For example, if the BBS is hard-wired to the node's RS-232 port, one has to access a node to connect to the BBS. A user normally would first connect to the node, and then type "BBS", or the call-sign or alias of the BBS/Node. This eliminates a step, allowing what the user sees as a direct connection to his or her station. It operates in conjunction with the BBS command. If the BBS and BBSALIAS are both set, then the seemingly direct connection will take place. The BBSALIAS command takes two forms:


clears the current entry.

BBSALIAS (call-sign or Node-type Alias)

will set this additional node alias to whatever call-sign is used. One note of caution here - you must make certain the BBS is not on the same frequency as the node and using the same alias. For example, if a BBS has a port on the LAN, and the node is also on the LAN, two stations will try to answer a connect request. This will, in all likelihood, generate a "Frame Reject" in response to a connect request, and no one will be able to connect to the BBS.


This command is specific to the PK-96 TNC when TheNet X-1J firmware is installed. It sets the serial port speed used to communicate with other TNCs on a node stack. If the firmware is installed in a TNC-2 or clone, it is not used.


will clear the current serial speed.

BRATE (choose 300, 600, 1200, 2400, 4800, 9600, 19200)

Sets the serial port to the corresponding speed. TheNet X1-J authors caution that 19200 bps may not function well, as it is untested.


This sets the beacon text - what you want it to say when it beacons - for the node. While it is a good thing to beacon the node's existence from time to time, it's easy to overdo it. Naturally, the beacon is only seen on the radio port, and not the RS-232 port. Here are the various forms of this command:


sent to the node by itself by a Sysop while the node is in Sysop mode will simply display what the beacon text, the beacon message, is set to. alternatively, the Sysop can send


to find out what the current BTEXT is.


As you may have guessed, clears the beacon text and sets it to nothing, blank.

BTEXT (beacon text message)

will set up the beacon to send the text as a UI Beacon packet. The total amount of text that can be sent is limited to 160 bytes (80 characters including spaces, control characters and carriage returns), and can be separated by multiple lines.

The Sysop can even start a message with a blank line. There is a bit of a trick to this, however, and it's really not a blank line. The Sysop sends a control-character combination (Control-A is suggested in the documentation) at the start of a message and this appears on most packet terminals as a blank line.

One note concerning BTEXT - if you forget to send the BTEXT * command before programming a new message, the "new message" will simply be added to the old one, if the total doesn't exceed 160 Bytes.

Which is how you get a beacon text message to be displayed in multiple lines. The Sysop would enter each line of text in succession, each preceded by BTEXT. In this example, we start by clearing the current message:


Now we'll put three lines of beacon text into the node:

BTEXT This is the first line.

BTEXT This is line 2.

BTEXT This is line 3.

When the beacon is sent, most packet stations monitoring the frequency will see this:

This is the first line.
This is line 2.
This is line 3.

This method works for other types of text the node sends, such as CTEXT (the text users see when they connect to the node). We'll discuss that in a future part of this series. That's all for this installment. Next time, we'll continue our alphabetical exploration of the Sysop commands for these nodes.

Proceed with Part 7

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