Using the Wisconsin Network - Part 11

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Last time we turned in a slightly different direction in our exploration of the Wisconsin Network. We started to explore the somewhat mysterious world of the TCP/IP station. We learned just what "TCP/IP" is, and what makes them different from the garden-variety "AX.25" station. We also learned that they are capable of the "standard" AX.25 protocol so that they can communicate with "standard" stations. And we learned that these stations can also talk to Network Nodes, and are part of the network.

And this is why we are learning about them; you may encounter a TCP/IP station that functions as part of the network and we should learn how to use it as such. Most IP stations you will come into contact with use the network in a different way, to support the TCP/IP functions of the system. Because of their inhernet versatility, they are gaining wide usage as "Packet Switches". They can handle various different protocols, and therefore, can do many different jobs. Most likely, when you connect up to one, you will be connecting to what looks like a BBS. But a TCP/IP station can and is often used as a node. When you connect, you may get a greeting screen that looks something like this:

[WNOS-4B0-HMI$] Currently 1 user.

Welcome to KB9ALN's Mailbox and Node in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

To chat with me, Type C . Mail area (WX9APR): 0 Messages
Enter Command: (a,b,c,co,conv,d,du,e,f,h,i,k,l,m,n,n c,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,?)>

The first line you see identifies the program in use by this station, which is called "WNOS". WNOS is an abbreviation meaning "WAMPES Network Operating System". WAMPES is a group of Amateurs from Germany who modified a program written by Phil Karn, KA9Q called NOS. Virtually every flavor of TCP/IP has NOS in it's name.

The "HMI$" part of the first line lets other BBS's know that this station will accept forwarded messages, among other things. The second line is self-explanatory, the users currently connected. The third and fourth lines of text are just a greeting and an instruction as to how to do a keyboard chat with the operator of the station.

Notice that the fifth line mentions a "Mail Area". Every one who connects up to the station has a personal mail area where their messages are stored. You log onto your own personal area. The user connected here is WX9APR (a call I pulled out of thin air for example), and has no messages. If you were to connect up to this station, you would see your call sign in place of this one.

Now, to the command line. It does look similar to a BBS, doesn't it? There are a fair number of BBS function in there, and they function much like any other BBS. We'll cover each command specifically below:

A - area

This is used to find out about the various mail areas available, and allows you to change to a different one. When you log onto a TCP/IP station, you are in your personal mail area. Those of you who have used the MSYS BBS systems may be familiar with the concept of message catagories. The mail area is very similar.

B - bye

This will disconnect you from the station.

C - chat

Allows you to talk to the Sysop, if available. Some TCP/IP stations use the "O" command (for "Operator").

CO - connect

Makes a connection as a node to another station. Sometimes, this will make a network node connection for you. Most of the time it will connect you to another station much like a "KA-Node" does.

CONV - "converse"

This allows you to join in a "round table". More than one person can join in a conversation with you and all stations can see what each participant is sending. Their call-signs are inserted in front of each sentence they send.

D - download

Allows you to download a text file. The format is d (filename)

DU- download

This allows you to download binary files that are "UU" encoded.  The format is du (filename)

E - escape

Allows you to set an "escape character" This is a key combination (like control-x) that is used if you want to abort a process, but wish to remain connected to this station.

F - finger

This retrieves a short info file about a user of this system.

H - help

Just what you would expect. In addition, you can use this in conjunction with a particular command. Help Finger will give you specific information about the finger command.

I - info

Gives you a short info file about this TCP/IP station.

K - kill

Deletes a message, just like any other mailbox or BBS.

L - list

Lists messages. Again, just like any other BBS.

M - mheard

Returns this station's heard list.

N - nodes

Just like any other node, this is a list of network nodes that this mailbox and node can connect to.

N C - "Netrom" or "Network" Connect

Some TCP/IP stations need to know that you wish to connect to a network node. If you wish to connect to the Green Bay LAN node WIGRB, you would send: n c wigrb .

P - path

Gives a list of nodes that this node can directly connect to, without going through the Network. Similar to "routes".

Q - quit

Same as "bye".

R - read

Read a message, just like a conventional BBS.

S - send

Send a message. Again, this is the same as a regular BBS or Mailbox, and the same process is used.

T - telnet

This is TCP/IP lingo telling this computer to connect up with specified computer running TCP/IP.

U - users

Shows who is currently connected to this station.

W - what

Sends you a list of What files are available for downloading.

Now you may have a better idea of how to use a TCP/IP mailbox/node. There is much more that you can learn about these stations. Space permits us to only go so far. But operation as a network node is remarkably similar to any other node you may have used. If you have questions about a TCP/IP station, the best way to find out more is to contact someone who operates this mode. Most folks who operate these stations are more than happy to help you use their station.

On to Part 12 -  Your station as part of the packet network

Back to Part 10  -  A look at TCP/IP Stations

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Back to the WAPR home page  - Look at something else