Outpost Packet Message Manager

Tactical Call and KA-Node/NETROM Support


Outpost v2.1 Release Highlights

Outpost v2.1 is now available and delivers 2 key pieces of functionality... Tactical Call and KA-Node/NetRom support.

Tactical Calls
Outpost currently supports tactical calls for users of a modified AA4RE BBS (operating in Santa Clara County, CA) that prompts for a tactical call, and then uses this call for all subsequent operations. However, this BBS is not a viable solution given the old hardware and O/S requirements. To address this deficiency, v2.1 implements tactical calls that appears to be usable on all types of BBSs.

Outpost's implementation of tactical calls is based on substituting a tactical call designator in place of the standard Call Sign for message creation (From:), TNC initialization (my <call>), and BBS activities (List Mine).  While apparently all BBSs do not inherently support tactical calls, experimentation has shown that a tactical call can be structured to satisfy the log-on and call-sign checking of a BBS, and can achieve the intent of what Tactical Calls can offer.  While the Outpost implementation is not fool-proof and does have limitations, the v2.1 implementation gives packet users the look and feel of tactical calls while operating within the FCC rules.

Is it legal?
Stations that identify with a tactical call must also identify with their legally assigned call sign. In the U.S., the FCC addresses the subject of station identification in Part 97.119, and states that each amateur station “… must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmission. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station. 

There are three points to reiterate:

  1. Under FCC rules, station identification must occur at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication.

  2. The FCC rules do not state that the expanded AX.25 address field with embedded Call Sign is required for packet station identification.  While the AX.25 implementation satisfies the requirement, this is not the only method that the requirement could be met.

  3. Outpost satisfies the requirement for legal station identification by transmitting the user's valid station call sign at the end of each Send/Receive session.

See the application note describing an example on how this configuration is set up (pending).

KA-Node/Netrom Support
Outpost v2.1 builds on the direct BBS connect and digipeater networking methods by adding KA-Node/Netrom support.  See the Outpost Application Note on setting up Node access.

As described in the TAPR Publication #95-1 “Packet Radio: What? Why? How? / Articles and Information on General Packet Radio Topics,” by Greg Jones, WD5IVD (http://www.tapr.org/pr_intro.html#NetSchemes), NET/ROM was one of the first networking schemes to try to address the problems with digipeaters.  A user connects to a NET/ROM station as if connecting to any other packet station.  From there, he can issue commands to instruct the station to connect to another user locally or connect to another NET/ROM station.  This connect, then connect again, means that to a user's TNC, you are connected to a local station only and its transmissions do not have to be digipeated over the entire network and risk losing packets.

Outpost implements KA-Node/Netrom access by managing the connect sequence for each KA-Node/Netrom node between Outpost and the BBS.  to do this, 4 pieces of information are required: 

  1. Node Name: the station name of the node in the path to the BBS

  2. Successful Connect Message: some or all of the string that this node will return when a successful connect is made to this node.

  3. Port Number: Some nodes have the ability to access several ports; indicates the port that Outpost should use to get to the next node or BBS.

  4. Unsuccessful Connect Message: This is some or all of the string that the node will return if the connect attempt to the next node is unsuccessful. 

Outpost extends the BBS Setup form by adding a Path Tab to select one of the 3 navigation approaches (direct, digipeater, KA-Node/Netrom).  See the application note describing an example on how this configuration is set up (pending).

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updated:  January 15, 2016