80-Bus News


January–February 1984 · Volume 3 · Issue 1

Page 17 of 55

Dave Hunt’s Bits

So 80-BUS is on the move again, and has caught me by totally by surprise as I’ve nothing ready to print. Do I hear cries of shame!!! [Ed. – No.]

They say that behind every great man is a woman calling the shots, and in the case of our editor, this seems to be the case. Now he’s too modest and/or shy to make any comment, but if I say that shortly before the Christmas issue was due to be put to bed, a rather nice young lady entered his life .... suffice to say that the demands on his spare time (usually devoted to magazine preparation) was devoted, or, should I say, diverted elsewhere. Now, this being the case, if you assume that the reappearance of the mag. is indicative of a departure in his life, you would be wrong, perhaps he’s feeling guilty having left his readership magazine-less for so long, or something; whatever, it has created a great spurt of energy, and not only is this issue in the last stages of preparation as I write, but the next issue as well.

The radio bits first…

Firstly AMTOR, I am now in possession of a number of reports on the development of the commercial system upon which AMTOR is based and also the various specifications which comprise the working details of AMTOR. My grateful thanks to those readers (several anonymous) who sent me the details. I confess that I’m somewhat intrigued by the two copies addressed directly to my home, as at the time my address hadn’t been published anywhere (now QTHR in the 1984 callbook). Sadly, I’m not sure that I will be able to make use of the information (although all information is ultimately useful at sometime). As you may have guessed I have been investigating ‘PACKET RADIO’, or at least the bastardized form that the UK amateur radio regulations allow.

Literally a couple of days ago I was presented with the PACKET RADIO program by G8WJL and G6GIX, for the BBC computer. I swiped a BEEB and had a go; it certainly works well. I particularly liked the fact that no additional hardware was required, just a lead which plugs from the BEEB tape I/O socket into the mic, ptt and extension speaker sockets of the rig.

Despite the ease of setting up, I feel the program suffers from a number of minor deficiencies, niggles really. If the program is active, then it will read any packet information that it sees, so if there are two or three QSO’s going on on the same frequency (don’t forget the idea of packet is to allow just this), then the program writes the packets to the screen. This is fine if you are ‘earwigging’ and just want to know who’s around. The problem is that if you start a QSO with a station, then (as far as I can see) this reporting of other QSO’s continues, making it difficult to see who is talking to who. Worse, because of this reporting, it suggests that multiway QSO’s are possible, fine until you try it. As a data anti-collision protocol is used with random timing between packets, there is no knowing which station is going to send first, so unless ‘to’ –> ‘from’ callsigns are included in each packet text then multiway QSO’s becomes extremely confusing. A simple software toggle to turn the ‘blurb’ off once contact is established would be a very good idea.

A further off-shoot of the “blurb” reporting is the ability to “sort of’ send a CQ, something which packet does not normally allow. If you program the originating callsign as your own and the destination callsign as CQCQ rather

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