Raspberry PI + dual TNC-PI's as a Kantronics KPC-4 Replacement?

Discussion in 'RFinderPi - Open Source radio interface based on R' started by N6DSW, Feb 1, 2015.

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  1. N6DSW

    N6DSW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have been tasked to find / build an updated replacement for a Kantronics KPC-4 that after 25+ years in the county radio vault has basically bit the dust. Kantronics quit making them in the early 90's & has nothing like the KPC-4 since in production.

    Our local emergency comm group really like it for the simple & unique fact that it had two inputs for two radios on different bands, & it not only allowed connecting to someone else via the node on the same band, but allowed a "gateway" feature to cross-band out on the another band when needed. In our case 2m & 1.25m.

    I ran across a picture of two stacked TNC-PI's plugged into the top of a PI online. I bought & received the TNC-PI's today. I thought this might be a good replacement as everyone in our group has moved over from basic PBBS's to WinLink. Good time to update our packet system in the vault.

    But I'm seeing some reference to a stand alone PBBS hosted on the PI itself, which isn't what I'm looking for. We already have in development a WinLink radio <> IP server (hub?) on the test bench being built & tested by one of the tech's in the group. All I'm interested is a remote node/gateway system up on to of the mountain in the radio vault. All designed to work with WinLink or keyboard to keyboard modes.

    Any experiences or suggestions as to software for the Raspberry PI/dual TNC-PI stack that would allow me the same functionality as the node/gateway function of the KPC-4 but for more modern packet functions than just a PBBS?


    Dave - N6DSW
    Asst Radio Officer
    Sonoma County ACS
  2. KL7AJ

    KL7AJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi Dave:
    If you want a lower tech solution, i have a couple of KPC-4's looking for a home. :)P
  3. W1RYN

    W1RYN Ham Member QRZ Page


    How much would you want for the KPC-4's?

  4. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Synchronet BBS using the AX25 module for it. Or, the Linux AX25 + TCP/IP stack + Whatever software you'd like to use. The fact that hams still use Winlink is silly.
  5. N6DSW

    N6DSW Ham Member QRZ Page

    OK. I'll bite. What do you purpose one to use instead of Winlink for emergency-only comms when standardized data connections & infrastructure "go south" locally? What can be relatively easily deployed in minutes where there was no existing infrastructure existed minutes ago? Such as a forward staging area miles from anywhere (including cell towers), that just rolled into place?

    Educate me.

    Dave - N6DSW
    Asst Radio Officer
    Sonoma County ACS
    Fire & Emergency Services
  6. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Synchronet BBS answering on a packet interface. In fact, most any old-school dial up BBS can be used in this manner. And, all it needs is a telnet client installed (Or web browser, you can do it that way too, albeit slowly).

    You can also deploy BBHN, and use a standard email server, web server, et al. Or, even Synchronet BBS :) (It pops up all of those). Each forward op install can do email forwarding to "home" or wherever (Even, the internet, if it's there). And, all of those could be deployed on something as small and power-sipping as a Raspberry Pi, with a solar panel and battery.

    Packet BBS's (Even on VHF) are a tech of yesteryear. We can do soooo much better today. And, we should.
  7. N6DSW

    N6DSW Ham Member QRZ Page

    (Sorry it's long...)

    Well let see here.
    Quoting from the overview page of Synchronet's very own homepage:
    "[FONT=Arial,Helvetica]Synchronet has since been substantially redesigned as an Internet-only BBS package for Win32 and Unix-x86 platforms"[/FONT].

    Mesh nets are VERY cool (Several of us are starting to play in that sandbox locally). But as a local program emergency administrator for 24+ years, my standard stock answer concerning tech & emergency services has been for two decades is: "While bleeding edge tech is way too cool personally ( I'm a senior electronic tech by trade), I absolutely need to keep in mind that the 135+ members of our emergency services while having passed the ham tests, are with a few exceptions "appliance operators". If it is more complex than sending an e-mail most won't want to learn & practice the technology regularly.

    My rule of thumb for this is unless 80% of our folks use a technology more than 3 times a week for at least 6 months or more on their own, I don't want to put it in the mix. Same with the digital "flavor of the week" voice stuff like D-star & what Motorola's has out.

    Simply I have better things to do than try to heard cats. I have to keep in mind the lowest common denominator which is 2 meter FM & e-mail style packet systems. Having run a PBBS right prior to the internet boom, very few of the populous want to "learn a new tech" that they will readily forget in three weeks.. (Bummer too). The reality is the KISS principals (excluding you, me & the rest of the tech -heads around here), rules.

    What I am aiming at is something resembling straight up simple email messages for the users on 2M & 220 MHz using their favorite email software such as M/S's Internet Exploder or similar as that is what most folks feel comfortable with & can setup on their own from a Go bag. (We do have a few who have a hard time finding the PTT switch. (Smile) Every large group does.

    Let the few of us techs put the tech in the back end that the average user won't need to learn or see for a successful activation. Such as my original request for using a Raspberry PI TNC based node/gateway I can setup in the vault & forget about.

    Dave - N6DSW
    Asst Radio Officer
    Sonoma County ACS
    Fire & Emergency Services
  8. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Also, from Synchronet's site:

    Internet-Only means it doesn't do modems anymore, that's it.

    Bleeding edge?

    OLSR (The specific routing protocol used in BBHN) has been around since 2003 (https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc3626)... Hardly bleeding edge. And, Winlink is much more complicated than using a mesh network to send an an email using a standard email client.

    Mesh networks are already deployed by the US military in theater. It's hardly bleeding edge, it's a pretty well tested setup. Berlin already has a mesh network deployed around their city, privately owned and operated by volunteers.

    Running a packet BBS is more labor intensive, knowledge involved, than running an off-the-shelf *Nix daemon, which is well documented. You want to keep it KISS? Mesh network + Standard Daemons. Toss in open source for good measure. You want to add complexity: Toss in a non-open sourced, non-standardized platform designed for a niche market that was popular 25+ years ago.
  9. N6DSW

    N6DSW Ham Member QRZ Page

    You ask the average member of any emergency service volunteer agency what a "mesh net" is & you will get a blank stare back.

    We can argue back & forth on this. But my view still stands. Unless 80% of our folks use a technology more than 3 times a week for at least 6 months or more on their own, I don't want to put it in the mix. The average volunteer isn't going to want buy/build/learn new tech. Heck we have a hard enough time to get 30% of our volunteers just to check into the weekly 2M FM voice nets. (Herding cats.)

    You can win your argument when the local ham volunteer groups commonly accepts and uses mesh nets in ham radio arena on a weekly bases on their own. Again lowest common denominator. The KISS Principle.

    Dave - N6DSW
    Asst Radio Officer
    Sonoma County ACS
    Fire & Emergency Services
  10. KC2UGV

    KC2UGV Ham Member QRZ Page

    That doesn't mean it's cutting edge. That means we've fallen behind in the state of the radio art. And, you don't even need to use a mesh network. You can use Synchronet on AX25 packet.

    And, this is sad, and silly, as I've stated before. We can, and should, do much better than a niche product which cannot interface with any other system in use today. Everything knows how to talk TCP/IP these days. Not much knows how to talk Winlink.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2015
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