80’s Vintage Packet Radio Questions

Discussion in 'Computers, Hardware, and Operating Systems' started by KN6HRT, Jul 31, 2021.

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  1. KN6HRT

    KN6HRT Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have an old Atari 400, Commodore Vic-20, and an Icom IC-701. I eventually want to get another 80’s vintage HF radio and try to set-up a packet link between my house and cabin. I set-up microwave ptp internet for a living and this seems like a fun project. I know I need to pick up some old modems and software, my main question is do the modems and computers need to match to talk to each other? Any 80’s vintage rigs that worked better for packet?

    I have absolutely no interest in playing around with modern programs or equipment, this is just a fun way to play with old computers and radios that interests me
     
  2. K2CD

    K2CD Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It's the protocol that matters (AX.25). As long as they're "speaking the same language" and the parameters are set properly, they should be able to exchange data together. I used an AEA PK-64 Packratt to get on VHF packet and HF RTTY/AMTOR with a Commodore 64 system. I used an HT (Icom 02AT and a 30W brick amplifier). Worked great. Assuming you can find a couple of TNC and terminal software it should work.
     
  3. AA4PB

    AA4PB Ham Member QRZ Page

    What is your ultimate goal? If it's just keyboard to keyboard chat with a licensed ham at each end that's fairly easy to do. If you intend to use it to provide an Internet connection then you run into a number of legal considerations concerning the content to be transmitted. How far is the cabin from the house? If you need HF to make the link then remember that you are limited to 300 baud. On vhf/uhf you can run up to 9600 baud. The standards are 1200 & 9600 baud.
     
  4. KN6HRT

    KN6HRT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Got it, thanks!

    Just looking for a keyboard to keyboard chat, my wife and I are both licensed.

    The distance is around a 130 miles, so I think we’ll have to use HF.
     
  5. AB2YC

    AB2YC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    I was huge into packet in the 80-90's

    Many TNC's have the intelligence built in and only require a dumb terminal to operate.

    For 130 miles you'll most likely need to go to HF (or possibly 6 meters) at 300 baud.
    300 baud is plenty fast enough for keyboard to keyboard use.

    Some TNC's even have a Mailbox built into them where someone can leave a message for you.

    Packet was one of my all time favorite modes.
     
  6. N0NB

    N0NB Ham Member QRZ Page

    I started with packet in the autumn of 1987 with a Radio Shack Color Computer 2 running a terminal program and a Kantronics KPC2 with an Icom IC-290A on 145.010 MHz. Keyboard QSOs were made with all sorts of other stations on 2m including stations running a packet BBS. A couple of years later I upgraded to a home-built IBM PC-XT clone and used Procomm and later YAPP as the terminal programs with the KPC2.

    130 miles would seem to be ideal for 80m NVIS but packet never really worked very well on that band with its noise level and multi-path. Protocols like AMTOR and PacTOR (the original version) worked much much better. Even RTTY had higher throughput!
     
  7. KN6HRT

    KN6HRT Ham Member QRZ Page

    It’s peaked my interest lately. A coworker opened a video game store recently and talked me into buying an Atari 400. I fixed that up and the idea of setting up a vintage link seems fun.
    Are there any of the old TNCs you recommend above others that were available then?
     
  8. AB2YC

    AB2YC Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    as I recall a lot of people wanted the AEA PK-232.
    I never had one so I don't know how good they are

    I had a Kantronics KAM and a MFJ- 1278 and both worked well for me
     
  9. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The PK-232 is excellent. They are still being manufactured 35 years later!

    You can pick up used ones for around $50. There are a variety of updates and internal board configurations. Firmware version should be checked since they have been continually updated.
     
    AB2YC likes this.
  10. WA9SVD

    WA9SVD Ham Member QRZ Page


    Both were good, but the Kantronics KPC-3 (various firmware incarenations) probably out-sold either one. It was also a great performer, and had the capability of running off an internal (9 Volt) battery. I was able to upgrade (or add) both memory and the firmware chips.
     
    AB2YC likes this.

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