WAPR News - August 1999

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Hello to all. I hope your summer has been treating you well. August is somewhat of a turning point in the Wisconsin Summer - it's often the last chance we get to enjoy truly summer-like weather. After that, it's time to prepare for (and I hate to use the word) Winter. Enjoy complaining about the hot weather, you will quickly be relieved of the opportunity to do so!

As the summer activities wane, WAPR activities start anew. I have been mentioning for the last few months that we have been in the process of changing treasurers. I am pleased to announce that the changeover is now complete. The last of the records are being updated, and we are getting "back on track" toward our usual meeting schedule, albeit a bit late.

We have picked a date and place for an August meeting of WAPR. This will be in Green Bay on August 21st, a Saturday. I am waiting for confirmation of the place as this is being written, so I can't give you any more details than mat. But that will soon change.

Rather than rely on the BBS network to get the word out about me meeting, we will be mailing out letters to current and former WAPR members inviting all to attend. We'll have all the pertinent information in there, so look for it in your mailbox soon.

We hope to also have a special presentation at that meeting as well, just to spice things up a bit. I will say no more than that, the suspense should serve as a bit of enticement to get you to the meeting (I hope). As always, we will have an open discussion of your packet questions and ideas, and will meet afterwards for a meal. What good would a ham radio meeting be if there were no promise of food afterward? We need to feed ourselves well in order to maintain our energy level - typing requires so much energy <GRIN>.

As we did last month, we will again include a membership form on this page. We all want to see WAPR grow and be effective in it's mission of promoting packet radio, now's your chance to get in on die action. Please consider membership in WAPR as a way to keep packet radio on the forefront and growing in Wisconsin.

And that is all I have for this month. Until next time, 73 from Andy.

Updates on Past Articles by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN 

From time to time, I become aware of updated and new information concerning articles that have appeared in past editions of "The Wisconsin Packeteer. This month, I will share some of this information with you, starting with an article mat appeared here last month.

Upping the Speed with Part 15 Devices.

Last month we talked about experimenting with cast-off wireless ethernet cards that have been popping up on the used market of late. These are "part 15" devices, which require no license to use. Just as handy is the fact that they also operate in two ham bands - 900 MHz and 2.4 GHz. I have found a couple of interesting resources for you to try if you are interested in experimenting here.

First off, there is a handy source of antennas for those units operating on the 2.4 MHz band. Many of you folks -especially those living in rural areas - have heard of, or even subscribe to a "wireless cable" service. Don't confuse these with the "DSS mini-dish" type satellite services. These are microwave services characterized by a rooftop antenna that somewhat resembles a "wire dish". These antennas look like a cross between the classic "corner-reflector" UHF antenna and a parabolic reflector seen on a satellite dish. The reflector is semi-parabolic, curved vertically only. They have a feed assembly consisting of a simple dipole that is stood off from the dish, again, similar to a satellite dish.

I have recently obtained one of these antennas that was abandoned by an ex-subscriber to such a service. After careful inspection, I found a down-converter that was legibly labeled. It turns out that these antennas operate in the 2.5 GHz region of the radio spectrum. They are very wide-banded (this service uses FM for the television signal, making for a wide band-spread of channels). The actual antenna is a simple dipole, the semi-parabolic part of the antenna just reflects the signal and focuses the signal coming to/from the antenna probe.

The dipole itself should be easy to modify for 2.4 GHz operation. In addition to the lengthening of the actual antenna element, the dipole may have to be stood out a little further from the reflector to get the absolute optimum results from the antenna. However, you may not need to get too finicky about this for good results. In die future, I will be modifying one of these and publishing the results here.

In the meantime, keep your eyes and ears open for such "rural cable" providers who may be ceasing operations. With the cheap and easy availability of satellite television, you may see more of these enterprises closing up shop, and selling off their equipment. They may also abandon antennas installed on their former customer's homes. Many of these disgruntled customers may sell the antenna quite cheaply or even give them away out of disgust It is a cheap way to experiment with something new and different.

New Networking Ideas and Other Information.

If you're interested in packet networking, and realize that it is getting more and more sophisticated every day, you probably have thought about the need for a remote computer at a node site. You may have considered this especially lately, as the price of a decent 386 computer for this use has dropped to free in many cases. The problem is, as you have maybe guessed, most node sites are not the ideal environment for your typical PC.

Well, there are some excellent suggestions on the subject in an article written by Don Rotolo N2IRZ in the August issue of CQ- VHF. Don covers what you need to do to make a typical PC" site worthy" as part of a network node installation. He talks about removing the moving parts of the system, what to do for a power supply, and other related information. It is a good article and I recommend it highly if you have an interest in such an undertaking.

One of the more interesting ideas presented in the article is the use of a digital camera "flash memory card" as an IDE drive. For about $60, you can obtain an adaptor from TAPR (the Tuscon Amateur Packet Radio Association, (www.tapr.org) that will allow you to use one of these devices as a solid-state IDE drive. The cards themselves are pretty reasonably priced, too. There is also a version that includes the adaptor and the memory card, as well. This is a great idea for those who need a small hard drive for a PC in a harsh environment, like a node site.

If you can't find the magazine on your newstand, you can order some back-issues. Contact CQ-VHF at 1-800-853-9797 or E-Mail cq-vhf.com.

FlexNet and NEDA.

Many of you know that I have written about the North East Digital Association, NEDA in the past. Recently, a copy of the April NEDA Quarterly came across my desk. As you know, NEDA is digital networking organization that is responsible for creating some needed standards for packet networking.

Many of you also know that NEDA has been a big promoter of FlexNet, an AX. 25 based networking system meant to replace TheNet nodes. This issue has some very good information on the various implementations of Flex-Net, as well some sorely needed translations of the original German documentation. There is also a handy article that details how to connect to a FlexNet node from a TheNet node. 

If you'd like to contact NEDA regarding obtaining this back-issue, you can reach them by mail at:

P.O. Box 563
Manchester, NH 03105-0563

Or on the World-Wide Web at www.cam.org/~burt/neda/neda.html

And that is all I have time and space for this month. As I get new information on past articles, I will try to keep you updated.

Until next time. 73 from Andy.

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