WAPR News December, 2005

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

On behalf of all of the people who are associated with WAPR, Happy Holidays! I do hope your Christmas or other Holiday celebration is a merry one, and that the New Year finds you happy and healthy. Thanks to everyone who has been kind enough to support WAPR and the Wisconsin Packet Radio Network.

It's been quite a while since I've been able to put anything in this space. There's been precious little in the way of news, but I will pass along what little I have.

First, news regarding WAPR. Walt, AA9AW has resigned from the position of WAPR Packet Radio Frequency Coordinator. Joel, N9BQM has assumed this position until some other arrangement can be made. So far, this position has seen little packet activity as all frequency coordination seems to be mostly complete and stable. No newer packet frequencies have been requested for a while. However, it is important to have a point-of-contact person in case we need to clarify frequency designation.

Joel also is resurrecting the Tomah node. He has bought radios from Walt and plans to link them into the western end of the state's packet network. The plan is to allow network access at 1200 bps first, then move up in speed later.

In other packet radio news, Jim KB9MMA from Racine recently contacted me with an IP address question that he had. He let me know that in addition to his BBS, he plans to be an amprnet gateway and also operates a WinLink station. He also has a web presence, you can find him at:


Steve, N8MLI of Negaunee (in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) is putting a 3-frequency node together.   Negaunee is near Marquette, which has had sporadic and unreliable packet connectivity since an airplane hit the tower that hosted the node's antenna quite some time ago. While you still can get to some stations near Marquette, they need to have a very capable station to get back to the Iron Mountain node. This may fix that problem, if indeed it goes up in that area.

Steve contacted me regarding frequencies used to link the UP with Wisconsin. Although I sent him the information, the message was bounced, and could not confirm his plans.

Network Status

As of this writing, we seem to be taking one step forward and occasionally falling one step back. While I am heartened to hear of the resurrection of the Tomah node, there are still large gaps in our network.

The Northeastern part of the network (that serves me here in Green Bay) is still present, operating and can transport one to the UP of Michigan. Unfortunately, we lost our southern link that allows us to go west.

Al K9ALS (formerly KB9BYQ) has taken his system down for the time being. His station in Appleton allowed us to link to the west. The Western backbone in the Wisconsin network operates on a different frequency that the Northeastern part of the network, and Al's node stack in Appleton was a transfer point. It allowed the two parts of the network to connect. Al tells me that he does plan to reopen the node stack and BBS when he relocates. He has no firm timetable, but is hoping for spring.

There is not a great deal left to the Southern parts of the network. At one time, Len N9QIP and his Wisconsin Interstate Network operated a large number of nodes in the south-central part of the state. Those nodes have been taken out of service, leaving no real path between Milwaukee, Racine and Port Washington.

In addition, I am told that the Port Washington BBS and node is no longer operating.

There are a few bright spots, however. Josh AB9FT in Sheboygan is still out there and operating. The central part of the state perhaps has the highest level of activity and network connectivity. There are also a number of nodes devoted to ARES communications on 145.61 MHz.

In short, the Wisconsin network is heavily segmented. While it is possible to link a lot of it together through the internet, we'd rather only do that on an emergency basis only (for disaster response purposes).  We'd really not rather be in a position of having to rely on something that is subject to failure, and may not even be available when needed.

While all of this sounds a bit discouraging, it's not as bad as you'd think. We do have quite a bit of network we can still use, and it would not take a huge effort to get a lot of it tied back together. While some people have forgotten that a good digital network is very helpful in Emergency and disaster communications, recently, there has been an awakening of sorts in the Emergency communications community and we may see some of those gaps filled in the coming months.

One nice side-effect of this is that there is virtually no network congestion. As a veteran of the packet radio boom, I can tell you that packet radio is now faster than it has ever been. It really is very inexpensive to try out packet radio these days, with used TNCs and radios very cheap. If you've never tried packet and wonder what it's all about, you could find out very cheaply. And have some fun with it.

You can find out a lot about packet radio at this site:


That's all for this time out.

Until next time, 73 from Andy.


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