Packet Radio - Searching for a nice host interface

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by WQ6N, Apr 22, 2017.

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  1. WQ6N

    WQ6N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Packet Radio Never Dies:
    As always my first love is good old 300bd HF packet. I do keep a Win98 machine up and running for my PcPakratt which drives an AEA DSP-2232. Conditions are tough but 14,105 LSB is still alive and well. Wonder if 15 meters is still up packet wise?

    I have two Jnos2 packet nodes running here in San Diego and there are several mountain top nodes that provide a good mesh. Agreed that users have diminished with the internet availability, but there are a few that drop in now and again. In addition to the fixed nodes, I have put together a "Node_in_a_Box" that can be setup quickly anywhere. This is a solar powered solution that consists of a dual port Kantronics Data Engine, Kantronics D4-10 @9600bd and a FT-7900 for @1200bd that is driven by a Soekris headless low power computer running Linux and Jnos2. I love those Data Engines but the internal modems are no longer available if they fail.

    From my perspective, It is not so much as creating an packet radio availability but more of emergency communication service in case of disaster. If you live in SOCAL then we all have the "Big One" in mind. My argument that in times of disaster, voice communications will be chaotic. The ability to provide a stateful store and auto forward (Type it, assign the destination, hit the send key, wait for the reply) will be value added. One does not have to be doing the "say again....over" dance or even be at the keyboard to receive a reply.

    Looking for a nice Host Interface:
    I have put together a small road trip packet setup with a KPC3+ and a hand held that can be setup fairly easy while living out of hotel rooms. What I was trying to find a way to get KAGold working. TeraTerm works fine using WIN 10. I have created a Virtual Machine (VM using VirtualBox) and running a 32bit Windows XP instance for older legacy Packet Radio host mode programs.

    I visited the Interflex site and one can still download the KaGold. PkGold... software. The catch is that there is no way, to my knowledge, to install without a registration number. I did see that Mr. Jeff Towle, W6FCC was very much part of KaGold but do not want to bug someone who has closed shop. I have purchased the Hostmaster II+, long ago, which does run on WinXP but one cannot adjust the windows size or scroll back through the QSO. FYI, the KEYSPAN 19HS USB to Serial interface works well with WIN 10 and Virtualbox.

    Extending the thought of the VM, I have not tried to run a virtual instance of Win98 or Linux. As with Win98 there is always the challenge of drivers. A Linux VM should be easy enough to host a portable Jnos2 and just throw the TNC into the KISS mode. That is basically the "Node_in_a_Box" mentioned above without the Soekris/Raspberry Pi box.

    So the search for a nice Host Interface to run either a Kan KPC3+ or DE continues. I would welcome constructive thoughts or recommendations.

    73, JohnF (WQ6N)
  2. W4KYR

    W4KYR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use Terra Term too.

    Well there is AGWPE, but that is more used with sound cards and KISS modems. I'm not a big fan of it.

    This is for VHF, if you ever need it. .

    Winlink for HF uses Pactor II and III and then there is the less expensive Winmor option.

    Getting back to packet radio, this is an older 32 bit Packet Radio program from XPWare. The author stopped supporting the XPWIN program and made it into freeware for anyone to download and use it for free.

    XPWIN 1.3.2 Supports Kantronics TNC's made though 2003, I believe the KPC3+ has been out since 2003

    "Welcome to XPWare

    I have decided discontinue support for all XPWare software programs at this time. I wish to thank all of the users from around the world that have supported the various programs over the past 12 years. I have been lucky to have made a lot of friends and relations along the way and have always enjoyed working with the amateur and MARS communities.

    I have decided to post the registration generation programs for both my DOS and Windows (XPWIN) programs on this page. Please feel free to use them as you see fit. This site will remain open until I run out of space at These programs are now deemed as Freeware."

    Let me know how this works out for you....
  3. WQ6N

    WQ6N Ham Member QRZ Page

    I am wondering if this work in a Virtualbox XP Virtual Machine? I was playing with Kantronics Hostmaster II+ trying to get it to run and see the modem in a WinXP Pro 32bit VM. The host system is a WIN 10 64bit platform. Since most Laptops and PC's do not have a serial port, re-directing the USB/Serial adapter is achievable. Did not get it working yet. It does work on a older XP Pro laptop. Can't believe I paid $ for the app. PKGold is gone since no one does the registration key anymore. To bad they did not make it Freeware.
  4. K3XR

    K3XR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Have tried several and settled on Winpack v6.80 with my KPC3+ on 2 mtrs also recently picked up an AEA PK 900 in nice condition for 20 mtrs. etc.
  5. W4KYR

    W4KYR Ham Member QRZ Page

    (K1ABX told me about this)

    If you run Linux you can try Linpac

    "LinPac is an Ncurses packet radio terminal for use with Linux's native AX.25 stack that mimics many of the feature packed HOST-MODE programs that used to exist for Dos (PkGold, etc) but with any TNC running in KISS mode.

    It allows wide configuration and easy addition of new functions and special functions needed by the user. It's intended for keyboard-to-keyboard use but also supports receiving basic PBBS messages, local Converse-link chat rooms, basic node commands like mheard and making outgoing connections, etc.

    The aim was to minimize the amount of 'hard coded' functions and create a complete set of applications that can be easily expanded and/or completely reconfigured via a simple macro language.

    There is also a developing GUI version (1.x branch) that provides either a Java Swing GUI or the familiar Ncurses UI. Author1 David Ranch, KI6ZHD"

    It can be downloaded at
  6. WQ6N

    WQ6N Ham Member QRZ Page

    I did try Winpack just recently. It does work in Terminal and BBS interface modes plus the window is adjustable. Free registration as well, along with the expectation of a donation. What a wonderful way to help out.
    I also dug up my old Hostmaster II and it does work with a dual modem in host mode. I just cannot resize the window without changing the whole desktop. Thank you for pointing out the Winpack.
    K3XR likes this.
  7. WQ6N

    WQ6N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Well last week was an unexpected journey. I got a wild hair and decided to make the old WinXP laptop dual boot with Linux. Unfortunately for me, the re-partitioning did not work and resulted in a dead WinXP. Not to mention that I was a long way from my recovery disk. The second wild hair took over and I loaded the whole disk with 32bit Linux MINT. I kept with xfce v.18.3 Sylvia. Looking at my options, I could use Putty or GTKterminal for console access. Then there is LinPac which is AX25 based. My final thoughts were on JNOS and LinBPQ. Since I enjoy VHF/UHF Packet, ARDOP and Pactor that lead me to a stripped down version of LinBPQ as a host PBBS with an excellent web interface at that. Will I go back to WinXP? Maybe while in a VMWare guest OS. I like the MINT console. One can turn off the Windows Display Manager using systemctl and just run from a tty console. Access can be done with the built in Telnet session to the node switch or PBBS. Lots of options to choose from.
    *** Note*** for anyone reading this: MINT will not be supporting the 32bit any more in version 20 (sometime 2020). So if you are looking at something on an old platform, do it soon. Once the ISO boot image was loaded it took quite a while to load all the updates.
  8. WQ6N

    WQ6N Ham Member QRZ Page

    Update - Final upgrade to Linux MINT Tina version 19.2 32bit. The upgrade from 18.3 was done in two steps 18.3 > 19 > 19.2. For the most part it was painless and automated. The step going from 18.3 to 19 took the longest. JNOS compiles fine, using Maiko's tun.spcl for tun.c. No problem with LinBPQ either. For the sake of cutting back the overhead on memory, I turned off the gui 'systemctl disable display-manager.service'. Besides, everything is command line initiated.
    Now I have a current OS that is supported until 2023, wifi interface via hotspot or wired connection, full iptables firewall, with ipset dynamic block lists, and anti-virus. I think that I am done with the host mode. My wish list would be to have DXLabs integrated, but that would require a VMware host and a Windows guest OS. WINE will not work. I don't think my old laptop can handle the VM with the limited RAM. My main goal was achieved and now can use either LinBPQ or JNOS as a host mode interface to the Data Engine (DE) and what ever soundmodem that I add. This includes the AXIP/AXUDP and AMPRNET encap routes if desired. Done.
  9. K8BZ

    K8BZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I use Outpost PMM, it's free and very adaptable for any need you can devise. You can write your own scripts for any special purpose you have.
    Here is a link to a training play list for Outpost PMM.
    WQ6N and KX4O like this.

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