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Virginia Digital Emergency Network (VDEN)

May 12, 2024

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Packet Bulletin Net - PKTNET@USA
May, 2024

Net Control:
   Glenn N3MEL

View net reminder bulletin from N3MEL

WHO: All amateur radio operators
WHAT: Packet Bulletin Net - PKTNET@USA
WHEN: Sunday, May 19, 2024 - 0000 UTC
              Saturday, May 25, 2024 - 2359 UTC
HOW: This net will accept check-ins via BBS Bulletins only. Send a check-in via any participating BBS, with active forwarding, any time during the week.

This month, net control has asked participants to attempt making direct connections to N3MEL-2/melbbs using any of the following options:

  1. Packet node stack (N4VEM-7 to KN4LQN-7 to N3MEL-2)
  2. Direct RF connection via:
    1. VHF AX.25 on 145.090 (PA)
    2. VHF VARA FM using the Chester County PA Vara FM Network on 145.670
    3. HF AX.25 300bd (offset 1000) or VARA HF (BW narrow, offset 1500)
      Daytime dial freq: 7.103.2
      Nighttime dial freq: 3.596.0


Subject: Your Call, Your Name, Your Town & Your State
Message: Add any comments you might have about the net or leave blank

If unable to make a direct or node connection, please submit your check-in as you have in the past.


Example from Central VA:

  1. Connect to N4VEM-7 via Packet AX.25 (145.730) or Vara FM (145.090)
    C N4VEM-7

  2. Connect to KN4LQN-7 (1=AX.25 145.730, 2=AX.25 145.090, 4=VARA FM 145.090)
    C 1 KN4LQN-7

  3. Connect to N3MEL-2 via VARA HF
    ATT 5
    C N3MEL-2

  4. Send bulletin

You could also connect direct to KN4LQN-7 via Packet AX.25 or VARA FM, or VARA HF (7.102.3 / 3.596.0), and start at item #3 above.


The participant map will be updated throughout the duration of the net at:


Don't feel obligated to enter a detailed message if it's difficult; the important part is the Subject line!

The VDEN website (https://vden.org) includes information about the Central Virginia BBSes, how to send personal mail and bulletins, and methods for connecting over RF (Packet / Vara via Terminal / Winlink / Outpost).

Bulletins created on the N4VEM BBS will be forwarded over Vara FM to the KN4LQN BBS, which will then forward over Vara HF to the N3MEL BBS and the wider regional packet network.

Reach out if you have any questions!
David KN4LQN

Previous net reminders, results and maps:

PKTNET@USA - April 21-27, 2024
PKTNET@USA - March 17-23, 2024
PKTNET@USA - February 18-24, 2024
PKTNET@USA - January 21-27, 2024
PKTNET@USA - November 19-25, 2023
PKTNET@USA - October 22-28, 2023
PKTNET@USA - September 17-23, 2023

(View as PDF)

Table of Contents:

  1. Central Virginia BBSes with active forwarding
  2. WIP Quick run-down on RF methods
    • Radio (getting audio and PTT)
    • TNC (hardware vs software)
    • Application (Keyboard Terminal, WLE, Outpost)
    • Special note, if wanting to use Winlink Express and receive bulletins, need BBS forwarding config
  3. Quick example using Keyboard Terminal
  4. BPQ BBS commands
  5. WIP Connecting via Packet Terminal (EasyTerm, AGWTerminal, etc)
  6. Connecting via Vara Terminal (FM, HF)
  7. WIP Connecting via Winlink Express (packet, vara fm, vara hf)
  8. WIP Connecting via Outpost Packet Message Manager (packet, and ??)
  9. Additional resources

Central Virginia BBSes with active forwarding:

BBS Callsign Mode Freq (Dial) Hours (ET) Via Digipeaters
N4VEM-1 (VA) Packet AX.25 1200bd 145.730 0000-2359 KN4LQN-3
  Packet AX.25 1200bd 145.090 0000-2359 KN4LQN-3
  Vara FM Wide 145.090 0000-2359 KN4LQN-10
KN4LQN-2 (VA) Packet AX.25 1200bd 145.730 0000-2359 N4VEM
  Packet AX.25 1200bd 145.090 0000-2359 N4VEM
  Vara FM Wide 145.090 0000-2359 N4VEM-10
  Packet AX.25 300bd 7103.2 USB
3596 USB
@ 1000c
  Vara HF 7103.2 USB
3596 USB
@ 1500c
N3MEL-2 (PA) Packet AX.25 300bd 7103.2 USB
3596 USB
@ 1000c
  Vara HF 7103.2 USB
3596 USB
@ 1500c

Quick example using Keyboard Terminal:

*** Connected to N4VEM-1
Hello David. Latest Message is 419, Last listed is 323
de N4VEM>

Enter Title (only):
:> KN4LQN, David, Virginia, N4VEM
Enter Message Text (end with /ex or ctrl/z)
:> 1. Various Packet/VaraFM Winlink gateways are in the area, with one well-positioned central standalone digipeater
:> 2. Regular daily HF NTS voice nets but not much on VHF in Central VA
:> 3. Still using mainline UZ7HO Soundmodem but will give QtSoundModem a try for IL2P
:> /ex
Message: 420 Bid: 420_N4VEM Size: 232
de N4VEM>

:> BYE
*** Disconnected Fm N4VEM-1

In this example, the lines in bold are typed in by the operator and ":>" is the BBS prompt.

Practice by sending private messages to other local operators or bulletins to ALL@N4VEM, ALL@KN4LQN, etc!

BPQ BBS commands:

Command Description
? or Help Displays a list of commands.
B or Bye Disconnects from the BBS.
N Enters or modifies your name (max 12 characters allowed).
Home Enters or modifies the Home BBS. A point deletes the current Home BBS.
Q Enters or modifies QTH.
Z Enters or modifies the Zip Code.
I callsign Gives the information on callsign taken from the white pages database. Callsign can include wildcards.
OP <# of lines> Enables or disables the paging of output.
A Abort the BBS output while paging.
L Lists the new messages since the last usage of this command.
LM Lists the personal messages to you.
LB Lists bulletins.
R msg# msg# Reads the messages by their numbers.
RM Reads new messages to you.
S[type] callsign Sends a message or a bulletin. If the type is not specified, sent as private.
SP callsign Sends a private message.
SB category@route Sends a bulletin. eg, SB ALL@N4VEM
SR Msg# Replies to a message.
S callsign @ BBS Sends a message to a station AT another BBS. The message must be terminated by a Ctrl/Z or /EX followed by a return.
SC Msg# Call @ BBS Copies a message or bulletin to the specified callsign.
K msg# Deletes a message identified by its number.
KM Deletes all the messages addressed to you, that you haven't yet read.

Connecting via Vara Terminal using Vara FM / HF

Vara is a newer mode that is robust and fast, using scaling speeds with OFDM modulation.

Vara FM can use WIDE audio bandwidth signals for faster speeds, depending on hardware setup, and includes digipeating functionality similar to AX.25 Packet.

Vara offers an optional $69 license for the use of faster speeds and FM digipeating.

The Vara Terminal application uses either TNC to connect to a remote BBS to give keyboard terminal access.

Download Vara FM and HF TNCs and Vara Terminal:

Click here for full instructions

Additional resources:

PKTNET Packet Radio Forms:

BBS spec:

AX.25 Packet spec:

Automated Packet Reporting System (APRS) spec:

Improved Layer-2 Protocol (IL2P):

BPQ mail user commands:

Kenwood-style TNC commands:

Kantronics-style TNC manual:

For more information about Winlink in Virginia, please see the Virginia EmComm public Facebook group.

For more information about the Central Virginia digipeater, N4VEM, please see VDEM Amateur Radio Communications Auxilliary (ARCA).