Using the Wisconsin Network - Part 19

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

Did you know that a distant BBS takes Requests? Most BBS's can furnish you with a variety of information, all you have to do is ask for it. Best of all, you don't even have to navigate the network to do it. It can all be done by packet mail from your local BBS, saving you time and giving you the benefit of a local connection when retrieving files and other information. There are 3 information servers that most BBS's in Wisconsin have available.

You can request the contents of a directory, request a file, and on some BBS's, request a callbook look-up. The reply comes back to you at your local BBS as a mail message. The REQDIR is a function that will return the contents of a remote BBS's directory. This means that you do not have to connect long-distance to a BBS and go through a long process of manually looking at the directory. It can be done with a simple mail message. All you have to know is the call-sign and heirarchial address of the remote BBS (as well as your own, naturally). Let's say that you want to know what is in the directory of our KA9JAC's BBS in Neenah. Start the message with:

SP [email protected] @(Your BBS)

The @YourBBS tells the remote BBS to mail the reply to you at your home BBS. Substitute your actual BBS call-sign with this. The BBS will respond with:

"Enter Title or City, State, and Postal Code:"

Keep this line blank. Simply hit the Enter key on your computer. The BBS will respond with:

"Enter Message (^Z or /EX to End, ^A Aborts)"

Leave this blank by sending a Control-Z (or /EX) to end the message. That will start the process. You will get a message by return mail listing the contents of the directory. I did this with the KA9JAC BBS in Neenah, and my reply looked like this:

******** Main File Directory ********


ALIGN.MFJ          1603         ARES                           BART                  2751 CTYHUNT
DX-NOTES                         DXDATA.A-E                DXDATA.F-L                DXDATA.M-R
DXDATA.S-Z                       FAIL.386               942  FCC                             FIELDDAY
FILE1                      846       FREQ-STS.74     2225  FREQCORD.FRM 3832 FREQS
GEOGRAPH                         HUMOR                       ICOM1.MOD                COMSERV
INTERNET.GAT     1351        KDK                            KENWOOD1.MOD        KENWOOD2.MOD
KENWOOD3.MOD                KEPS                           KNWDSERV                 MFJ
MODS                                 MSYS                          NASA.BBS     627        NEWDXA              1148
NODES                               PACKET                        PACKET.10    408        PACKET.WIS
REQFIL.HLP            602       REQSAT.DOC     1994   SATELITE                   USDATA
VIRUS                   4235       WALL.DOC         1792    WAPR                         WAPRFREQ.APP   3730
WARNING                881       XMAS                1301

Along with the list of files, you have a list of subdirectories that also contain files. File names follwed by a number (in the above example, ALIGN.MFJ, BART and FAIL.386 and others like them) are indeed files. Names appearing without numbers are indeed subdirectories.
Yes, you can also send another message and find the contents of those directories, too. The procedure is almost exactly the same as in the first example, except for the title. Let's say that you want to find the contents of the WAPR directory. Use the same format to send a message to REQDIR. When the BBS prompts you for a title, send:


After you get the prompt for the body of the message, just send a Control-Z (or /EX) to close the message. You will get, by return mail, a list of the files in the WAPR subdirectory.

Okay, now you have a list of files in front of you. This is nice if you collect lists of directories, but not much good unless you can get one of these files. Of course, you can. That is what the REQFIL function does. Let's say that you found a file called WAPR-BL.DOC that interests you. This would be a copy of the WAPR By-Laws, and this file can be mailed to you just as your request for the directory listing was. Using our above example at KA9JAC, you would use this format to send a message:

SP [email protected] @(YourBBS)

The BBS responds with:

Enter Title, or City, State, and Postal Code:

You now send:


Notice that we did not include a / in front of the WAPR. It is not necessary. Just remember that you use the / in front of the directory name to request the contents of a directory, but not when requesting a file. Use a / between the directory name and the actual file name.
The BBS will now ask you for the message. Again, you will leave this blank and simply close the message with a Control-Z or /EX. You will get the file by return mail for you to retrieve at your convenience. A word of caution is in order, though.

Directory listings will show the size of the file that is listed. Keep this in mind when you are retrieving the file. A very large file downloaded during peak hours will almost certainly wreak havoc on your fellow packet operators. If you get a large file returned, take note of the traffic on the frequency and try to avoid congestion. Download it during off-peak hours to keep your LAN a happy place.

The last nifty feature can help you out with your QSL'ing chores. Some BBS's are equipped with a call-book server, and you can remotely take advantage of this. A message to REQQTH will do the job quite nicely. Just send:

SP [email protected] @(YourBBS)

The BBS responds looking for the title, or City, State and Zip. You simply enter in the call-signs of the stations you wish to look up. Separate each with a space, and due to space limits on the title line, you can't do any more than 5 per REQQTH message. An example:


The BBS will again respond asking you for the body of the message. Once again, leave this blank and close the message with a Control-Z or a /EX. You will get a reply with the callbook information for those call-signs, or a message saying that the call was not found. Naturally, not all of the BBS's you encounter may have any or all of these features available. If a particular BBS does not have a particular feature enabled, you will receive a reply informing you of this fact. It's easy enough to use, and just another way you can enjoy Using the Wisconsin Network.

On to Part 20 - Radio and TNC information for 9600 bps operation

Back to Part 18  - Using the Kantronics KA-Node

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