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Henk de Groot henk.de.groot at hetnet.nl
Sat Feb 19 23:25:34 UTC 2005


Mark Conner schreef:
> I agree that if one is installing a new digi and has new hardware purchased,
> a KPC-3 may not be the way to go for future flexibility.  However, a $30
> refit kit for existing digis might be more palatable for KPC-3 owners than a
> pricer replacement.  

I wonder, why spend $30.-- for a refit kit? This thing can already talk 
KISS, so you can turn it into an excellent digipeater as is!

The big problem to advance into the future seems to be todays need for a 
PC in a state of the art digi, eventhough the software runs fine on a 
scrap 286 machine. I'm talking about PC's for which people almost pay you 
if you take them away.

Old laptops are ideal, they use not so much power (approx 15 Watt, much 
less than the transmitter) and are small. Most of them still operate at 12 
Volt and you can run them from battery to cover power outage. Yesterday I 
saw a ham advertize, this ham wants to get getting rid of his old 90 MHz 
pentium laptop because the screen is defective; cost $0,00. These are 
great machines to use in a digipeater!

Our own digipeater, PI1APK, runs from an 486 HP Omnibook (also a gift) and 
PI1APA ran from a 80286 Tulip PC. PI1APA used a harddisk and last year the 
disk died, the machine was donated to the garbage collector. Now it runs 
from an old 166 MHz Pentium 1 I had laying arround after my daughter (7) 
got a better machine (800 MHz Pentium II).

Both PI1APK and PI1APA boot from floppy and run in ramdisk - no moving 
parts at all while in operation. PI1APK has run non-stop over a year 
without any maintenance, it only stopped for replacing the software and 
relocation. The floppy acts as persistent storage with all the settings, 
it doesn't ware out since the drive is always idle during operation.

I can't imagine that these kind old machines are not available in the US, 
its very cheap and very reliable. The PC's are outdated but by no means 
worn out. The only real extra expense compared to a KPC box is maybe 
energy. Even that is only a few Euro's per year. Better spend those $30.-- 
on that.

When you have this setup, you have plenty of options to play with. 
Trapping large WIDEn-N for example, not only WIDE7-7 but also all the 
others. The number of aliasses is limited only by memory size.

Why was this solution, or any other solution, not implemented in all those 
1000's of sites that Bob keeps mentioning? Simple. 4 years ago we, or more 
accurate Bob, didn't have the guts to move away from todays limited TNC 
implementations. And eventhough we have not progressed an inch since then, 
still the same argument is repeated. So after then next 4 years we will 
still have todays limited TNC implementations operating everywhere (in the 
US). All the people with great ideas will have moved on into other parts 
of the HAM radio hobby that give them more rewarding opportunities.

In my opinion it is not a cost issue. The PC's you need for this are 
give-away machines and I bet a lot of Hams already have these laying 
arround collecting dust.

Of course there are sites depending on solar pannels, they would have to 
use something like an UIDIGI prom. But when we start moving into the 
future I'm sure these solutions will become available.

Building something new and something better als gives energy to start 
working on new TNC designs or to build extensions that work in conjuction 
with for example a TNC-X. What kind of incentive is there today to work on 
that?

Maybe even Kantronics will add new features to their TNC's as soon as they 
realize they are going to loose market share if they keep sitting on their 
hands.

Worst case is keep the current Kantronics boxes at those solar-powered 
sites and have the surrounding digi't be aware of that and adjust the 
route by explicitly using this box's callsign in the path.

Start upgrading those 1000 sites and you will have a better network tomorrow.

If in The Netherlands, Germany, France and Italy its not a problem to 
deploy PC's in digipeaters, why is it such a problem in the US? I don't 
get it, but maybe that is because I'm European.

Kind regards,

Henk.





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