I have spent a large amount of time searching for information on various TNCs (if you don't know what a TNC is, you don't need this web page) and end up re-researching far too much material because it is so poorly laid out by the manufacturer or because they have many copies that recursively call each other.
A few of the diagrams and pages linked to and referenced will have both local and manufacturer copies. I suggest you use the manufacturer information where ever it is available. I keep local copies because some of the information I gathered has been discontinued.
NOTE: ALL information contained herein is either
observed OR has been obtained from the INTERNET!
NOTHING has been pirated from any manufacturer!!
Please note: If a given segment is not a link then either I have not been able to get the information yet or it is not available. You say "How do I know it is a link?" and I reply "It turns green on mouse-over."
If you have links to information that you think would be helpful, please send them to me at the address below. If you send me a link then it is available to all and you are simply making it easier for others to find. THANKS!
Recommended digital communication guidelines are from the
Colorado Disaster Response Team documentation
in the DRT Digital Coms PDF.
To anyone that is now saying "So?" you should understand that under terrain conditions that do not allow 1200 Baud FM packet you can use AMTOR or PACTOR in ARQ mode reliably. This greatly extends the useful range of 2M and 70CM for digital operation. It also allows those with Technician licenses to handle situations that were formerly restricted to General and above class operators. A few of the radios that work very well in this manner are: Yaesu FT-897, FT-857 and Icom 706.
The manual does not tell you about the "EXPERT" command unless you have a copy of the "Node/Gateway Option Supplement". With EXPERT set to "OFF" (default and where you are after a RESET) you have access to about one half of the command set. That is also reflected (or not) in the various display command output. I found it in mine when I started setting some of the "EXPERT" commands with the WinPack script from my PK-900 and got the error message "?Expert Command". "EXPERT ON" cured all of that. - - The person that had mine before me had used the TNC for 1200 Baud Packet ONLY. Very nice to have a PK-900 first.
If you get one with firmware at 01.July.92 or earlier, you will not have PACTOR. That will require a firmware upgrade ($57.50). Latest firmware is 01.Dec.93 and comes with PACTOR / Gateway. (Almost as a P.S. - Timewave is quite good at getting your upgrade out in a timely manner and was zero, zip, nada, problem to install.)
NOTE: If you have access to a PK-900 manual, it will supply 99% of the information you need. Exceptions are satellite operation and the "MODEM" parameter (use MODem 31 for HF on port-1 and VHF/UHF FM on port-2).
This is an excellent way (presuming you have an MBX box) to get PACTOR. You end up with an excellent TNC and Mailbox that handles all of the modes you need.
This would be a great TNC for someone that doesn't need Gateway IF they would fix the firmware bugs!
The replacement for this TNC is the current PK-232 MBX PSK DSP model at over $500.
The Kantronics TNCs use a less than straight forward instruction set (compared to the AEA-Timewave). There are several parameters that must be changed as you move from mode to mode. As such, I strongly recommend using the WinPack scripts to change modes. The other side of that coin is that if you have ONLY Kantronics TNCs then you never see a problem.
The following is a list of the WinPack scripts you may find handy in loading/re-loading your TNC. You WILL need to change the call in most of these script to your call. The "default" used is W0XYZ and the "default" alias is JUSTME. Once you have made those changes you should be able to reload ALL of your TNC parameters without having to re-establish the TNC to computer hand-shaking.
Easiest way to save a copy is to put the cursor on the script name you want to copy, right click for the option menu and select "Save Target As". The other way is to display the script, right click to get the menu and click on "Save Page As".
Once you have them on your system you need to do the updates (call etc.). An easy way is to use Windoz "Notepad" text editor. Once updated, move them to the "SCRIPTS" folder within the "WINPACK" folder.
If you put a copy of the "Set Time" script in the WinPack SCRIPTS folder and name it STARTUP.txt it will be automatically run as you turn on the TNC (if you bring up WinPack then the TNC). If you bring up the TNC first and then WinPack, the STARTUP script (set time) will run to complete initialization.
For those with a PK-900 or DSP-2232 (they share over 98% of their command set) there is a "cheat sheet" that I got the basis for from Wes Wilson, K0HBZ. You will find it at http://www.w0ipl.net/PK900CMD.htm if you choose not to memorize every command in the manual. I also recommend the scripts detailed above to speed changes in modes, etc.
The easiest way to establish communications with a TNC of unknown baud rate, word length and stop bit is to use HyperTerm. A copy of HyperTerm is included with Windoz and is the easiest for almost everyone. Oops, do NOT forget to write down which combination you tried. If you don't, plan on this being very frustrating - unless you are lucky.
First find out which COM port you are using and then set the HyperTerm parms to what seems best. If it doesn't work, discard the copy you are working with (do not save it), close the software and open another copy. Set the new copy to new parm values and try again. In most instances, you will be talking with the TNC in two or three tries.
Once you are talking with the TNC, set the parms to 9600, 8, none and 1 (most effective settings for most computer/TNC combinations). Oops, That's 9600 baud, 8 bit words, no parity and one stop bit.
While 9600 may seem slow on many TNCs and current computers, if you need to operate on an older computer, they like 9600 baud. In addition, if the fastest data transfer rate you are going to run is 1200 baud, do you really need to run the computer to TNC data rate at more than eight times the data transmit rate? Think about it.
Other software you will find things much easier by using:
Use the Internet copy if you can! If that is not working for you I have a local copy. You will still need to register it on the page above. Please note: This is a self extracting .exe file that does the install on Windoz.
A few other things you may want to think about:
NOTE: Exercise care when you make this modification! The two 5-pin din plugs for port 1 and port 2 are numbered J1 and J2. J2 is PORT-1 and J1 is PORT-2! for the PK-900. It doesn't work very well to add FSK when you need AFSK on V/UHF. Did that, fixed it. :-)
The DSP-2232 is MUCH easier to do the same modification on because it has a jumper with two of the lines to the switch, in easy reach. The third line is a tap from the high side a capacitor to ground that is very easy to find (FSK line of the "FSK OUT" connector).
For those running an IC-706 - the 13 pin din plug that comes with the radio, but is usually lost or in use elsewhere, you can go to Icom and get another for $54 OR you can go to Bux dot Com (at almost the bottom of the page) and get another for $7.95 with a six foot long cable (rather then the eight inch one from Icom). The 13 pin din connection simplifies the cable significantly AND allows you to turn off the receive audio (don't have to listen to the breeps, brawks and blips) without affecting the received signal! Ten of the thirteen wires have the same color code as the Icom "cable".