WAPR News - March 2001

By Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Welcome to the "Ides of March". Yes, at long last, we are in the downhill stretch of winter, and I am one who is very happy about that.

Last month we covered the WAPR meeting on the 20th of January, and published the meeting minutes here. However, one detail slipped through my typing fingers and it needs to be brought up.

As was reported last month, Al Schnepf, N0GMJ is no longer WAPR treasurer. He is still on the WAPR board, but now Larry Shields, WD9ESU is handling the treasurer's position. I neglected to give an address for him. To contact Larry about joining WAPR or renewing your membership, you'll need his address

Larry Shields W8926 Hwy K Lodi, WI. 53555

Remember that there are now 3 membership packages new available. The basic yearly WAPR membership dues are $15.00, the same as it has been for several years. $20.00 will enable us to donate $5.00 to the Badger State Smoke Signals for Internet viewing of their electronic version of the monthly. If you elect to pay $25.00 annually, you will receive a printed subscription to the Badger State Smoke Signals.

True, you could pay only $15.00 and look at the electronic version of the BSSS that is on the web. However, we know that even an electronic version has some costs involved, so we elected to allow people to join WAPR for a little more, and donate the balance to the BSSS. This will help to insure future editions of this monthly will be around for quite a while (we hope) After all, where would you be without the Badger State Smoke Signals? It's the best source of what's happening on the Wisconsin Amateur Radio Scene.

On another topic, this month we start a new feature, aimed primarily at node operators and others who are interested in such things. It's actually a series designed to help sort out some of the more arcane aspects of node configuration a.nd operation. Ill try not to get too technical so that the "regular user" won't get lost. We'll deal with the more nebulous areas of node operation and touch on recommended settings, while passing by the stuff like node aliases. I'll also take questions in this series, so if there is something that you'd like to see discussed here, by all means, let me know.

Two months ago I put a survey on this page, one designed to discover why we have seen such a drop-off of packet activity. As of mid-February, I have received 3 responses, for which 1 am grateful. Thanks to Bill AF9B, Dale WB9NRK and Dave, N9ZHZ for taking the time to reply. Here is a bit of a summary of what they had to say.

Bill AF9B gave the most complete response. He cites the convenience of packet mail, and that is what drew him to packet. His primary use of packet involves packet mail and keyboard chatting. He also notes that packet generally does not need a powerful computer to work well, and he appreciates the fact that an old computer can be kept from the digital graveyard when used for packet.

Bill goes on to say that the biggest problems he has had with packet involved radio setup and interfacing it with the computer. He had a little bit of difficulty setting things up early on, but apparently he has gotten past this as he still uses packet. And he says the one thing he would like to see is more local keyboard-to-keyboard chats.

Dale WU9NRK still uses packet, although not as much as he used to. He divides his time between SSB Voice, CW, Packet, MFSK and PSK31, among other modes. He feels that the drop-off of packet activity is primarily due to the Internet. He also notes that he is active in traffic handling nets, and has seen a similar drop-off of activity there, also coinciding with the arrival of reasonably priced Internet service.

Dave N9ZHZ says his interest in packet started with his involvement in Winnebago County ARES. He enjoys the weather updates he gets through the KB9BYQ Internet gateway, which fits hand-and-glove with his Skywarn interest and activities. Winnebago county ARES also utilizes APRS in their operations, and he uses that as well.

I certainly appreciate these responses and would like more. I am particularly interested in hearing from folks who have packed up or sold their TNCs and are not currently operating this mode. If you know someone who fits into this category, I would really appreciate you taking the time to talk to them about why they left packet and forwarding their comments to me.

And of course, I always like to hear from fellow packet operators, regardless of the topic. Packet related news is also welcome. You can mail me at one of the addresses at the top of the page with your survey responses, news, or just plain chit-chat.

That's it for this month. Until next time, 73 from Andy.

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