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TAPR's Packet Radio: What? Why? How?

Articles and Information on General Packet Radio Topics
Greg Jones, WD5IVD (editor)
132 pages. ISBN: 0-9644707-0-5

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Sorry, Packet Radio: What? Why? How? is no longer available


Don't let the ham digital revolution pass you by! If you own a packet station or think you might buy one soon, this book is a must for your reference library. Published and endorsed by TAPR, the inventors of the TNC-II. Why reinvent the wheel? Save hours of time and endless frustration getting started, and find hundreds of tips and short cuts from ham radio's digital experts.

Finally, a book with everything you need to know about packet radio, explained in easy-to-understand English, not overly-technical mumbo jumbo! Destined to be the packet book by which all others will be judged.

Read the review of the book

Table of Contents
  • Why Packet Radio? Could be, You are Missing Something Fun
  • Introduction to Packet Radio
  • Go Digital! The HF digital modes are booming
  • Do's and Don'ts: Rules and Regulations
  • Buying Equipment: Terminal Node Controllers
  • Buying Equipment: Antennas for Packet
  • Buying Equipment: Radios for Packet
  • Eliminating Poor Operating on Packet
  • A Simple Guide to Better Packet Operations
  • Beginners' Frame: Command Settings
  • Beginners' Frame: Basic Problems
  • Beginners' Frame: Packet Software
  • Beginners' Frame: STS/MIR Packet
  • Beginners' Frame: Packet BBS
  • Beginners' Frame: TNC Alternatives
  • Beginners' Frame: Packet and HTs
  • HF TNC Settings
  • A Tutorial for Using the Packet Channel on APLINK
  • Hints & Kinks for AMTOR Operations on APLINK
  • Digipeating
  • Prioritized Acknowledgment: An Overview
  • Multi-Connect Survival Guide
  • Conference Bridge Commands
  • APLINK PACKET Channel Commands
  • Net/Rom Command Summary
  • KANode Commands
  • DX Cluster Commands
  • Mailbox/BBS Command Summary
  • ROSE
  • TexNet
  • TheNet+
  • Full-Service BBSs - How to Better use Them
  • Common BBS TO Fields
  • Formatting Messages for Transmission via the National Traffic System (NTS)
  • How to Repair Packet Equipment
  • Technical Terms
  • Digital Groups (Jan 1995)
and much more!

Review of Packet Radio: What? Why? How?

Presely Smith, N5VGC
TAPR PSR, Issue #60, Fall 1995 p18.

The new book from TAPR called Packet Radio: What? Why? How? contains a collection of articles and information on many different packet radio topics. The introduction for this book states the goal is to "provide information to beginning and intermediate packet operators."

This book covers a broad range of topics from an introduction to packet radio for the beginner to DX Clusters to the use of packet BBS systems. This book gives the reader good overview of all the various types of packet capabilities that exist today. Since this book contains an overview of many different topics, none of these topics are covered in full detail. This book is an excellent overview for someone who would to understand all the various capabilities that exist with packet radio today.

The book starts with an introduction to packet radio. The first two sections summarize the basics of packet radio and how to get started with packet. The first section gives a broad overview from direct connects to packet networks to packet satellites. The section details equipment needed and has a summary of networking schemes with packet radio.

Operating HF packet is the next topic. This section details the what is needed in a transceiver, computer, and TNC. This section also gives an overview of the various HF modes such as RTTY, AMTOR, PacTOR, CLOVER, and GTOR and lists some of the most popular frequencies.

The next sections of the book cover the selection and purchase of packet equipment with sections on Terminal Node Controllers (TNC), antennas, and radios. Topics include the tradeoffs between various models of TNC's from BayCom TNCs which require the computer to function as the TNC to the sophisticated Digital Signal Processor (DSP) TNC's that are available now. The section on radio selection also has information on importance of having the proper deviation in the packet setup.

The next few sections deal with operating your packet system. There is a section on Eliminating POOP (Poor Operating On Packet) from Packet. This section is an overview of good operating practices on packet and has information on the proper way use beacons and how to set various parameters in your TNC for optimal performance for example. The need for a good Elmer is mentioned in several sections of the book.

Jim Neely's Beginners' Frame sections are next. These sections include "Command Settings" which has information on the various settings for your TNC parameters, "Basic Problems" which contains hints on solving various problems, "Packet Software" which reviews various packet software programs that are available such as PACKET-GOLD and LAN-LINK. The next section is "STS/MIR Packet" which overviews the operation of packet on the U.S. Space Shuttle missions and the packet operation on the Russian MIR space station. (Note: the STS frequences change on various missions and are not right in the book and the MIR callsign has changed from what is in the book. Check with AMSAT for the correct information.) Next sections are the "Packet BBS" which is an introduction to using a packet BBS and "TNC Alternatives" which has additional information on TNC kits.

The next sections include information on operating HF packet. Sections include "HF TNC Settings" and a tutorial on operating APLINK which is a HF mailbox. In these sections the proper equipment setup and the procedures for using APLINK are detailed.

The next sections of the book contain information on digipeating, the use of various network capabilities. The commands for various systems such as DX Cluster, Net/Rom, and KANode systems are provided. An overview of packet BBS commands is also provided.

An overview of the various packet networks is contained in the next sections of the book. Included are sections on the Rose network with an introduction to the system and a summary of commands and how to use them. Next is an overview of TexNet commands and how to use the TexNet system. The final section on networks has information on TheNet+ with information on how to use the system and a summary of the commands.

Packet BBS systems and how to use them is the topic of the next section. This section includes information on the various commands available on these systems and also a list of common TO fields that are used in bulletins found on packet BSS systems. Also included in these sections is information on how to format messages for the National Traffic System (NTS).

In summary, this book covers a broad range of topics that provide a good overview of most of the capabilities of packet radio that exist today. The book is made up of a collection of articles that have been written on various topics. As a result, the level of information varies widely with some topics discussed in more detail than others. Since each article was written separately, the flow of the book is not as smooth as it could be. The book is not a tutorial but is a very practical guide for someone who is interested in capabilities of packet radio and wants to know more about what is available today. The strength of this book is it's introduction to the broad range of topics covering all aspects of packet radio today.

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