Using the Wisconsin Network - Part 36

by Andy Nemec, KB9ALN

In our last installment of this series, we started a discussion of Amateur Radio-to-Internet Gateways. Non-interactive gateways (used for mail forwarding and to complete the network) are largely "invisible" to you. So we will devote our time to the discussion of using interactive gateways. These packet radio stations can perform most, if not all, of the following functions:

1) Handling Internet E-Mail (Outgoing and Incoming).

2) Provide access to other Amateur Gateways.

3) Allow connections to Internet sites of Amateur Interest.

4) Provide local node service.

5) Provide access to Amateur "Converse Servers" (more on that later).

6) Provide access to a few Amateur-interest "mailing lists".

7) Make dedicated node circuits available to other packet operators in other parts of the country.

By far the most popular use of a gateway is for Internet Electronic Mail. You could use a gateway to E-Mail anybody who has an internet E-Mail address. Of course, there are some limitations as to who you can E-Mail because we are using Amateur Radio. Legality, privacy, and other message content are important considerations here. That being said, how do you do it?

Surprisingly enough, there is not too much difference between gateway E-Mail messaging and "regular" packet messaging. The procedure is the same as using any BBS, in fact, you are greeted with a BBS-style prompt when you log-in. Consider the prompt you get when logging into the KB9BYQ gateway in Appleton:


While this seems to be quite a lengthy prompt, some of it will look familiar. Notice the K, KM, L, R and S in there. They do the same thing as on any other mailbox or BBS. The procedure for sending Internet E-Mail is the same as you are used to, assuming you have used a packet mailbox or BBS of some sort.

Assume you want to send a message to your friend, who has an E-Mail address of [email protected]. After you get the prompt, type:

s [email protected]

You will get a return prompt of:


As usual, you will type in a subject, and press the Enter key. The next prompt says:

Enter Message (^A Aborts, end with ^Z or /EX on a new line)

 Then, you type your message. When you are through, press the Enter key and send the key combination Control and Z, or send /EX to close the message. The gateway will respond with:

Message forwarding to [email protected]

and return the BBS-style prompt.

Reading mail is exactly the same as you normally do - R 1 will let you read your message #1 on the computer. KM will kill all of your messages, and K (followed by the message number) will kill a selected message.

While this is simple enough to do, there are a couple of things you need to be aware of before you send off your first message.

1) Internet E-Mail addresses are case-sensitive. You cannot expect to leave your "Caps-Lock" on and have an address interpreted correctly. [email protected] is not the same as [email protected], nor is it the same as [email protected].

2) While we are on the subject, it is not considered good etiquette to type your message out entirely in upper-case. Internet-savvy folks refer to this as "Shouting".

3) What's legal? In general, you follow the same rules regarding voice radio operation. While the FCC does permit us to carry on a limited amount of business over the air, it does not allow us to run a business over the air. It is best to be safe with this. Do not make any business inquiries via E-Mail and make certain the language in any message (sent or received) is within the limits of Part 97.

4) What's permitted? The gateway operator becomes the "first forwarder" of any traffic you may receive. Because of the his license is on the line, he sets any restrictions on it's use. Consult the gateway Sysop about his usage policy.

5) Disconnect if you start to receive an inappropriate message. Reconnect to the gateway, list the message, and kill it. If it is unwanted E-Mail from a commercial promoter ("SPAM"), notify the gateway Sysop. If the offending mail is from an acquaintance, perhaps a phone call to him or her is in order.

6) Incorrect addressing will result in an error message appearing the next time you log in to the gateway. If you get one of these, simply kill off this message, along with the original "bounced" message. Re-check your addressing, and try sending the message again.

That's all for this time. In the next installment, we'll discover more things you can do with a gateway.

On to Part 37 - Internet Gateways - Part 3

Back to Part 35  - Internet Gateways - Part 1

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