TNC or Soundcard?

Discussion in 'Working Different Modes' started by N1MIW, Aug 26, 2010.

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  1. N1MIW

    N1MIW XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Hello - thanks for reading. I have been playing with HRD and MixW for some time now, but miss having a dedicated TNC available for packet nodes, the mailbox, etc. In fact, when I first started playing with packet in the pre-APRS days, I always looked forward to having the "MAIL" light blinking when I got home from work. Is there a major difference between using my soundcard software over a dedicated TNC? Is there a software package out there which would include a mailbox? Would it even be worth the investment of getting a TNC (dual-port, of course) when MixW will do just about any mode out there? As an example, I was looking at the PK-900 or the PK-232MBX. My feeling is that the responses will be that the TNC era has passed, and the only thing they're pretty much good for is APRS - something I'm not too interested in at this point. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject & 73's... Larry N1MIW
  2. N9DSJ

    N9DSJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Multipsk has both sound card ax25 packet and a mailbox function (plus a great deal more), and the price is right (free for most features).


    Bill N9DSJ
  3. WJ6R

    WJ6R Ham Member QRZ Page

    With the soundcard modes you can't do ARQ, or have the mailbox on unless your computer is on. What the soundcard programs have done, is taken the power from the internal TNC and use the CPU and Windows for it. So for the price of your computer you have a computer and TNC, but turn your computer off and your mailbox goes away.

    Alot of hams are going back to TNCs and packet since it's a much simpler setup than alot of soundcard hardware. Keep in mind, the Rigblaster, etc are just interfaces from the radio and computer and the tones are created by your soundcard. Some like the signallink have a built in soundcard.

    Plus a used Packet only TNC, as well as some of the used multimode TNCs go for under $100 on ebay. I just sold one refurb PK-232 there and since I do the software for them, I can tell you, there is still a market for it.

    The only new TNC that is dual port is the KAM XL. The PK-900, DSP-2232 and Kam Plus are out of production. The PK-232 and PK-96 can be used together as a dual port' TNC with my software even thoguh they are two different TNCs. As can a KPC-3 and KAM-98 set.
  4. G0GQK

    G0GQK Ham Member QRZ Page

    As you suggest the TNC era has passed and you can get all the digital software modes you might need to try for free so use your computer, and any help you will need, check Yahoo groups or QRZ.

  5. WJ6R

    WJ6R Ham Member QRZ Page

    What facts are you basing this on? Do you know the number of TNC sales from each dealer? Do you know the number sold from each manufacture? Why did MFJ design a new TNC and why is TNC-X being resold by them?
    How many people are buying my software after they get a TNC from a hamfest or off eBay?

    Do I know the answers to all those questions? Yes!

    Do you?

    Without the facts, your statement has no teeth.

    So I can state factually that the TNC era hasn't passed at all, especially for ARPS and Packet, as well as the HF modes. It's still a very good market, even competing with the free stuff.

    BTW, as I was typing this, I just got an order from my online store for the Digital Desktop for AEA.. how cool is that?
  6. N9DSJ

    N9DSJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Incorrect. There are many ARQ modes that are supported by a soundcard plus appropriate software. I still use a tnc for vhf packet due to simplicity. But it too does not have a mailbox when turned off :)


    Bill N9DSJ
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  7. N9DSJ

    N9DSJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Ok, I will bite; what are the answers to these questions?

    Bill N9DSJ
  8. WJ6R

    WJ6R Ham Member QRZ Page


    I've only seen amtor/Pactor FEC and not ARQ on the soundcard modes. What ARQ modes are you refering to?

    As for the answers to the questions, I can only answer the sales for my company. Over 12,000 in the userbase, about the same as the published sales for Rigblasters. Most feel that there are about 35,000 'active' hams on HF and a smaller percentage of those on digital.

    The others haven't published their sales, but you have to think, how could all of us stay in business if sales are not there?

    Speaking of West Mountain Radio/Rigblaster, it got sold to CCS in Wisconsin a couple weeks ago. Were you aware of that, and what does that say about the soundcard market?

    Rick - W4PC
  9. N1MIW

    N1MIW XML Subscriber QRZ Page


    If you do not know the facts from each dealer, you really shouldn't have claimed you did with your previous statement. :)

    My question now is how many people are using ARQ modes? I would love to have the capability to "do it all", but it all comes down to money. I still want the mailbox feature - I need to look at the software which was recommended in an earlier post. If I do decide on a TNC, it most likely will be a used model, since I like the 2 I mentioned in my original post because of their features. Any software out there that can rival an AEA PK-900 or 232MBX??? :))

    Lots of good posts here guys! Keep 'em coming! ...Larry
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  10. WJ6R

    WJ6R Ham Member QRZ Page


    I do know all those numbers, but Im not at liberty to post them here. AES, HRO, Giga, Associated Radio etc have let me know sales, because Im in the biz, but they do not want the number for public consumption and I repect that.

    I can tell you though from a public standpoint, there are over 100,000 PK-232s alone that have been made and over 100,000 Kantronics units and probably about 25%-30% are still in use. If I put all the numbers on a spreadsheet, the numbers follow the sunspot cycle! LOL Lower sales when we're at the bottom of the cycle and higher sales when the sun comes back.

    The bottom line is NO, there is no software that can rival those boxes, as both the PK-900 and PK-232 let you do soundcard modes AND the built in HF modes with ARQ. Randy Gawtry, Timewave's President, and I came up with a way to run the soundcard through the TNC and out the radio cables (Back in 2001). One set of cables eliminated, as well as an extra serial port (before you had at have a PK-232 or PK-900 and a soundcard interface.. more cables, more to mess up), and the PK-232 and PK-900 have USB and DSP upgrades in addition to the soundcard upgrade. So you dont even need a serial port on your computer anymore.

    The major modes in use on HF today are: CW, RTTY and PSK-31. Pactor is seeing a keyboard to keyboard resurgance and the Winlink guys need ARQ pactor. (We're gonna be supporting the Wimore Engine when Rick Munting gets done with it, for Keyboard to Keyboard Winmor.).
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