WAPR News - April 2001

By Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

No Foolin', it's April and spring gets closer to us with every passing day. Yes, antenna work is just around the corner.

March made it's traditional windy presence known last month with disastrous results for Larry, WD9ESU. As you may know, Larry has operated a BBS in Lodi for a number of years Unfortunately, mother nature has interrupted Larry's BBS operation in a most dramatic way. Wind took down his 70-foot tower, along with the antennas This effectively takes his BBS and Nodestack down until further notice.

Larry says not to fear, his station will be back on the air as soon as he can get it operational Of course, this will take some time as a new tower will have to be erected and populated with antennas And that will require more hospitable weather than we have seen in March.  Cross your fingers and wish Larry well, perhaps he can get his system back on the air before too long.

By the way, this is not the first time that Ma Nature has given grief to Larry 1 remember that he has been struck by lighting at least one time in the past. That strike took out virtually everything he had connected to the antennas, as well as his computer Larry's determination to keep the BBS and nodes operating is commendable - a lot of people just would have thrown in the towel by now. But there is a reason why he keeps plugging away, trying to keep the BBS and nodes operational - it's an important link in the Wisconsin BBS and Node network.

The absence of his node stack and BBS have sent BBS operators throughout the region scrambling for alternative forwarding routes. ARES operators have also been feeling the pinch, as Larry had a port on the ARES node frequency as well. Operators in some parts of the state have had a tougher time getting to the WEMBBS in Madison, as a result of the downing of the tower.

It seems that, with the dwindling number of BBSs and nodes these days, almost every BBS and node can be considered "vital". No doubt about it, if even one node goes down for whatever reason, the Wisconsin network suffers considerably. Even if we can work around a missing node, the results are often not good. Network connections suffer and sometimes can't be made when a particular node is missing. If that node is a BBS, oftentimes packet mail delivery will be affected adversely.

Which brings up a point that needs to be discussed -does your local club sponsor a node or BBS? Is it in jeopardy? If something were to happen to it, would someone be able to get it back on the air?

If you find that these questions are not easy to answer, or you get the "wrong" answers, then perhaps it's time to look into this a bit. Perhaps it's time to get a local packet "committee" together, consisting of a few local packet operators that have volunteered to see that the BBS or node site continues operation. Such a. committee could mean the difference between losing yet another network node or BBS, and keeping it operational.

Keeping the packet network intact is not just a matter of keeping ourselves amused with an interesting pastime. It means that we have one more method of communication with the DEM in Madison. It means that in times of emergency, the local packet system will be there as one more resource for ARES and RACES operators to use. And it's one mode that has some distinct advantages over voice operation in certain circumstances.

So if you are in a position to help maintain and/or operate a club-owned BBS or node, please volunteer to help. Your fellow packet operators will thank you, that's for sure. However, you may find that your efforts make far more of an impact than you ever realized if a disaster ever strikes.

Now on to the "mistakes department". I have a big "Oops" to let you know about, and to correct. Last month I started another series concerning operation of nodes, specifically the X-1J series of nodes that are widely used in Wisconsin. However, I mistakenly sent an early version of the article that had some incorrect information in it. Instead of going on to part two of the series, this month we will have the correct version of part one. If I did not put this version in, reading part two would be awfully confusing. I apologize for this mistake, and hope to not repeat it

Carrying on another topic, I received one more reply to the packet survey that appeared here in the January edition of this column. This one is from Steve Lampereur, KB9MWR. He is one of my packet friends here in Green Bay.

He tells us that he still uses packet and still finds it interesting. He was drawn to Amateur Radio through his hearing about packet radio. He finds automated personal mail delivery the most useful aspect of packet radio. He had no problems getting his station set up initially at 1200 bps However, 9600 bps was more of a problem, because the radio tuning and setup was something that he was unable to do by himself.

Steve answered the question of "What would you like to see in packet radio" pretty completely. He'd like to see advancements, particularly more accepted use of advanced networking protocols like TCP/IP. He'd like to see implementation of dynamic IP address assignment so that

people would not have to obtain an IP address to use TCP/ IP. Along with that, more simple dynamic routing is something he'd like to see.

Of course, I thank Steve for his comments and am always willing to hear more. Send your comments and news to one of my addresses at the top of this page. Hope to hear from you soon.


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