SCARBOROUGH, ME – During our March 11th monthly meeting, Brad Brown KC1JMH, gave a presentation on the Maine Packet Network and demonstrated how to connect to a node, check and send messages, and some of the terminal commands needed to navigate it. He also showed off a new website he created, which is an excellent source of information for anyone interested in Packet Radio.
During the presentation, Brad remotely operated his PC at home, which was connected to his FT991 radio and set to the frequency of the W1YCA node, located in Alfred, ME. Brad briefly talked about using software such as the UZ7HO sound modem and AGW Packet Engine to enable your radio to communicate via Packet. Once connected, he showed how to access features such as CHAT, and BBS on the node. He connected to the WS1EC node via W1YCA, and was able to check stored messages, and demonstrated how to send a reply.
Brad made it look easy! He next demonstrated how to use Winlink Express to connect to the Winlink Radio Messaging System (RMS), where he was able to check his inbox, and demonstrated sending a message from there as well. Packet is just one of the modes that can be used to connect to Winlink, and the only mode used on VHF and UHF.
The Maine Packet Network is described on the website as a “consortium of individual amateur radio packet nodes and their licensed system operators or sysops,” which are affiliated with county-level Emergency Management Agencies throughout the State of Maine. The stated mission is to interconnect these agencies to facilitate the flow of accurate and concise information between county EMAs, MEMA, hospitals and recognized groups operating in an emergency capacity such as the American Red Cross.
The network is currently comprised of eight nodes, three of which are local-coverage community nodes, and three digipeaters, and this list keeps growing.
“The 2019 statewide Simulated Emergency Test was the first big test of the network, at least in Southern Maine,” Brown explained. “At that point the network was in its infancy and it was overwhelmed pretty quickly with the amount of connections being attempted, but the improvements made over the past year have helped out tremendously, and it continues to get better.”
At this point you’re probably wondering “what’s this for?” Brad explains on the website that, just like amateur radio, packet radio is there when all else fails. “With a radio, a modem, and a computer, a licensed amateur operator can still send emails, text messages, chat, and so forth when the infrastructure that we rely on has become unreliable.”
For more information about the Maine Packet Network and how to get started in Packet Radio, please click here.
Click here to read Brad’s article, on the Maine Packet Radio website, about his presentation for WSSM.