Saturday, August 16, 2003

Email Sent from Amateur Radio Network to Internet and Back

Today I visited the Ham Radio Outlet in Woodbridge, VA and bought a Kantronics KPC-3+, pictured above. This little beauty is a "Terminal Node Controller" (TNC) and it lets my HTX-202 2 meter radio (pictured next) talk to the "packet radio" network around the world.

Combine this equipment with an amateur radio license and you're ready to go! (I earned my Technician class license in 2001.)

I cabled my laptop to the KPC-3+, and cabled the KPC-3+ to my HTX-202. Next I used the Windows Hyper Terminal program to communicate with the KPC-3+. I told the TNC to connect to W4OVH, which is a geographically nearby packet node operated by the Ole Virginia Hams Amateur Radio Club. From there I hopped to a node which offers mail relay to Internet space from the packet network. I composed a message, shown partially below:

I received the message on my Thunderbird Windows XP Internet email client:

I replied to the message on my XP box and got the reply back through the packet radio network:

I think that's cool! Amateur radio operators can send email to each other without the use of the Internet. It's just like the old BBS days in the 1980s, and especially relevant in emergencies today. (The VA Digital Emergency Network operates using packet radio.) My HTX-202 rig supports data transfer at 1200 baud, which is what I used with my Commodore 64 back in the day. Monday night I plan to attend a meeting of the amateur radio operators in my area and learn what else I can do with this technology.