Packet Radio: For those unfamiliar
with the term "Packet Radio", a brief
description is "a digital radio technique that allows text
messages to pass from one computer to another, using
Amateur radio". The term "Packet" comes from the
packet switching technology, also the basis for moving information on the
Internet, which allows many different users to simultaneously
share the same physical connection. In packet radio, it allows many users
to share a radio frequency, holding several separate simultaneous
conversations. One big difference between packet radio and the Internet
is packet radio's narrower bandwidth. The data rate (baud) for packet
is much slower.
packet operates somewhat similar to sending and receiving email
over the Internet, or texting, however the
connection is made using Amateur radio, rather than conventional
wired or wireless Internet connections. While we are used to having routers
steer our messages from one computer to another over the Internet,
with packet radio, some of this overhead will be done manually.
Most Amateur radio packet activity
is found on VHF, although there is significant activity on UHF
and even HF. The range can therefore be
anything from a few miles to several thousand miles, making it
popular with "Hams" who enjoy "RV-ing" or
cruising on boats, where a normal Internet connection may be
scarce. Packet Radio uses virtual "connections", which
may pass through a number of other stations, or "nodes",
along the way.
Packet radio is much narrower in bandwidth than even a dial-up
Internet connection. This means it is slower, and doesn't usually
have the capacity to
support attachment files. But the fact that it can pass
a written message through a
normal radio voice channel bandwidth makes it compatible with
ordinary Ham radio equipment. It is also important to understand
that generally, any station in a packet network can be used as a
repeater (digipeater), allowing a connection to "hop"
from one station to the next to cover a relatively long distance.
This can be very important when trying to relay a message out of
an area affected by a disaster.
Although the Packet Radio network can, and does,
interface with the
Internet at a few locations,
the radio portion is itself independent of the Internet.
Packet Radio can move messages without any outside commercial
infrastructure. It can also move messages from
an area that is without Internet service to an area
where Internet service is available.
Packet Radio is an important technique
for those involved in
District Three: Western Washington ARES/RACES District/Region
Three comprises Pacific, Grays
Harbor, Lewis, Mason and Thurston
Counties. For geographical reasons,
Communication (EmComm) "EOC" Packet
Radio Network also includes
Wahkiakum County and the Washington State Emergency Coordination
Center at Camp Murray. The primary frequency for the network is
145.630 MHz. This is simplex, of course, and does not use
any CTCSS (PL) tones.
The packet network is not part of
however since many of the packet resources
are co-located at our sites, and
owned and/or maintained by Principles, Associates or Friends
of this project, it seems
appropriate to list a modicum of information on this website.
It is our hope that this material is of some use. If you are involved in,
or would like to be involved in, packet radio within this Region, the
following links are included for more information:
For District Three frequencies and Node List:
To visit the Western WA EmComm District Three Packet Yahoo Group:
We hope to see you on the air!
Pictures below, left to right: (1) NEILTN packet node; (2) NEILTN
packet node; (3) MINOT packet Node; (4) HOLYX Nodes.