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Packet Radio on the Atari

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The ham across the street from me's computer is windows 98 era... a lot of ham's don't keep up with computers. A LOT.

 

That's around 20 years later than the computers we worship! :)

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The EMP thing is pretty scary. We're totally vulnerable. However, it is my belief that our Ataris will fare better, and in the aftermath we'll be the acknowledged kings of the computing world.

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bumpity bump bump

 

i'll try to set aside some time to type in the Packet program along with 3 other Ham Progrms from QST soon. The copies that QST sent me are alittle faded and OCR Scanning didn't work so good when I tried last summer...

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The EMP thing is pretty scary. We're totally vulnerable. However, it is my belief that our Ataris will fare better, and in the aftermath we'll be the acknowledged kings of the computing world.

I had just written up something about a news article that I had read, and figured that I'd share it, due to it's relevance to this thread:

 

 

Duct Tape... Old Habits Die Hard

 

As a Technologist, I've always gotten a good laugh from the classic 1964 US Navy Polaris SLBM Missile promotional photo (magnify to see the lower portion of the nose-cone with three strips of Duct Tape).

 

Not to be outdone, the Air Force has found Duct Tape to be a necessity, with our contemporary land-based Minuteman ICBM defense systems, perhaps as a result of a long string of defense budget cuts, treaties, or perhaps out of sheer willfulness to Tempt Fate.

 

The Minuteman missile, first developed in 1962, then refined until 1970 has become our ONLY land-based ICBM, after 46 years of budget cuts and the discontinuance of all other land-based ICBM types. Only our submarine launched Trident II (SLBM) ICBMs are more modern... designed in 1971, and refined until 1990, that's twenty-six years ago. When we talk about our "Modern Nuclear Deterrence Force" we are talking about 46 year old and 26 year old technology.

 

Can you imagine running a business with 26-46 year old equipment, or relying on a 26-46 year old car to get you to work reliably everyday? Clearly, it is time to fully implement new systems before something bad happens.

 

 

Today's article (or When the World's Fate is in Your Hands, Slap Some Duct Tape on it and Hope for the Best)...

 

"At times the Air Force has been slow to acknowledge its nuclear missteps. In 2014 then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expressed worry that personnel failures were squandering public trust in the nuclear force..."

 

"The most recent previous Air Force investigation of an accident at an ICBM launch silo was in 2008. That investigation, which was publicly released, found that a fire in a launcher equipment room went undetected for five days. It uncovered the remarkable fact that the Air Force was using duct tape on cables linked to the missile.

 

The fire was caused by a loose electrical connection on a battery charger that was activated when a storm knocked out the main power source. The fire ignited a shotgun storage case, incinerated shotgun shells, ignited and melted duct tape at the opening of the launch tube, charred an umbilical cable in several places, and burned through wires in a pressure monitoring cable."

 

 

 

Wow. Just wow.

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Just because something is old, doesn't mean it is unreliable. I think our Atari systems prove that. Often older systems are less complicated and have less that can go wrong with them. Some factories use equipment which is over 100 years old. Those older systems are US made with high quality parts that were made to last. That article is combining two separate incidents, the most recent doesn't have anything to do with duct tape and could be as simple as the technician didn't follow the procedure that was taught and damaged a connection that can't be fixed without removing the missile. The USAF is very strict and will pull certifications for even minor infractions. Duct tape is a great tool when properly used. There are many forms of tape called duct tape, so that is most likely a misnomer and not actually the tape used for air ducts. Although some form of Duct Tape would actually be required for air ducts in the facility's air handling systems. There is nothing in the article that says the AF has found Duct Tape to be a necessity. It didn't cause any hazard, it burned just like many other items there. It wasn't the cause of the fire, which was an electrical spark. The connection could have loosened over time from vibrations. They need to increase their rate of maintenance inspections to check those connections and fire sensor and suppression systems. The public was in no danger and anyone who understands how these systems work knows that. If you think that is duct tape on the missile in the picture you linked, what do you think it was put there for? What do you actually know about missiles? The US missile systems are well cared for; if you want something to worry about, there are plenty under the control of others throughout the world that deserve your worry.

Edited by Defender II

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Just because something is old, doesn't mean it is unreliable. I think our Atari systems prove that. Often older systems are less complicated and have less that can go wrong with them. Some factories use equipment which is over 100 years old. Those older systems are US made with high quality parts that were made to last. That article is combining two separate incidents, the most recent doesn't have anything to do with duct tape and could be as simple as the technician didn't follow the procedure that was taught and damaged a connection that can't be fixed without removing the missile. The USAF is very strict and will pull certifications for even minor infractions. Duct tape is a great tool when properly used. There are many forms of tape called duct tape, so that is most likely a misnomer and not actually the tape used for air ducts. Although some form of Duct Tape would actually be required for air ducts in the facility's air handling systems. There is nothing in the article that says the AF has found Duct Tape to be a necessity. It didn't cause any hazard, it burned just like many other items there. It wasn't the cause of the fire, which was an electrical spark. The connection could have loosened over time from vibrations. They need to increase their rate of maintenance inspections to check those connections and fire sensor and suppression systems. The public was in no danger and anyone who understands how these systems work knows that. If you think that is duct tape on the missile in the picture you linked, what do you think it was put there for? What do you actually know about missiles? The US missile systems are well cared for; if you want something to worry about, there are plenty under the control of others throughout the world that deserve your worry.

 

I know enough about defense technology, both past & present, to be qualified to work in a high-level position at RAND... and I would do just that, if I lived close enough to Santa Monica, CA.
I could easily write a fifty-page report, as a reply, but I'll refrain. I'll just suggest that you re-read what you have written, and that you should buy a carton of Electrical Tape.

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I didn't mean to upset you, sorry. I'm not trying to start an argument. I re-read what I wrote and stand behind it. I've been there and now retired. It's too bad you didn't get to work with them. Please don't read anything extra into reports. I have electrical tape and don't need to buy any more. No need for me to write a fifty page report either, my previous comments will suffice.

 

 

 

I know enough about defense technology, both past & present, to be qualified to work in a high-level position at RAND... and I would do just that, if I lived close enough to Santa Monica, CA.
I could easily write a fifty-page report, as a reply, but I'll refrain. I'll just suggest that you re-read what you have written, and that you should buy a carton of Electrical Tape.

 

Edited by Defender II

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I didn't mean to upset you, sorry. I'm not trying to start an argument. I re-read what I wrote and stand behind it. I've been there and now retired. It's too bad you didn't get to work with them. Please don't read anything extra into reports. I have electrical tape and don't need to buy any more. No need for me to write a fifty page report either, my previous comments will suffice.

 

Thank you for being there for us. Particularly, during the time-period when the professionalism was top notch, and especially so if you were in during the Cold War.

 

I presume that you retired more than eight or nine years ago. I am actually very sorry to have to tell you that there has been one scandal after another, for quite some time now. Drug-rings at multiple bases, widely reported cheating on proficiency tests, failure to demonstrate proficiencies, Internet surfing on the internal, supposedly secure networks, commanding officers turning a blind eye to what's going on around them. It's sickening. I guess if you just do a web search for Air Force Missile Scandal, you should get up to date, fast, as a lot will come up.

 

This quick quote, from Wikipedia, should give you an inkling of how bad things have gotten:

 

 

"On 5 June 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, accepted the resignations of both the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Wynne, and the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, General T. Michael Moseley. Gates in effect fired both men for "systemic issues associated with declining Air Force nuclear mission focus and performance." This followed an investigation into two embarrassing incidents involving mishandling of nuclear weapons"

 

 

Here's a new update on that last article.

"The amount of damage to the missile — $1.8 million, according to the Air Force — suggests that the airmen's errors might have caused physical damage, Kristensen said. If so, he said, it could have been categorized by the Air Force as a "Bent Spear" event, which is an official reporting code word for a significant nuclear weapon incident. The Air Force refused to reveal how it categorized the Juliet-07 accident."

 

In any case, as part of the point that I was initially trying to make, we should have the best of the best available, both in terms of people, and in terms of equipment. The current infrastructure is aging, and needs attention paid to it. Aside from that, discipline & professionalism need to return, as well as a clear Mission.Temporarily patching the problem with duct tape (literally or figuratively) is not the answer.That is all.

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Can you imagine running a business with 26-46 year old equipment, or relying on a 26-46 year old car to get you to work reliably everyday? Clearly, it is time to fully implement new systems before something bad happens.

 

 

Due to the way your comment was formatted, I'm not certain if this observation is yours or from the article you read, so please take my response as is appropraite:

 

Bull Shit. I drive a 35 year old car every day, I even moved cross country with it last year. It never skipped a beat. It's not a restored vehicle, just one that's been maintained and in constant service since new. There are also a *ton* of businesses still using decades old equipment. In many cases it represents a one-time capital investment in manufacturing process. When looking over at the military sphere of existence, where maintenance and inspection routines have traditionally been rigorous, equipment can last, seemingly for ever. How long are we planning on keep B52's in the sky? KC-135's? Note: I'm not trying to say we *should* be relying on 60+ year old airplanes for this stuff, just that we are and have a plan in place to do so.

 

I agree with the other guy who said, there was a failure of process here, not necessarily of equipment.

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Whatever, dude. You are likely a mechanic, judging from your username... I drove a jet black 1984 Porsche 928S across the entire North American continent... twice. I felt confident doing so, because I know how to work on them. Would I recommend anyone else to do so? Hell no!

 

Did you ever just stop to think that maybe you were just... lucky? ha.

 

Am I ever sorry that I de-railed my own damned thread, with some tangential observations on a news story... lol.

 

Airplanes... they should never have killed the B-58!

 

Fu*k, there I go again... can somebody please post 20 replies about Packet Radio, and let this subplot be a distant memory... haha.

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Well. I'm no defense expert, or pro mechanic, or anything but a do-it-your-self guy, if I don't know how to fix something, I learn. I maintain all my own electronics and vehicles from my 1200XL circa 1982 (Commodore 1084S monitor from '87) to my 1989 GMC pickup. Both are in top notch working condition. I use my truck for my maintenance company (home repairs and painting, lawn, landscape, tree removal, etc.) every single day and put about 100 miles a day on it. It has over 250,000 miles on it and works perfectly. I would trust it to take me from New York to Los Angeles and back with out a problem. I use my 1200XL (512K Rambo) daily not only to play games and do graphic art, but I'm writing a novel on it using Flashjazzcat's fabulous 'The Last Word' processor. Old equipment is reliable if it is cared for. My home stereo is still a JVC rack system from 1985! I have a collectors item B/W Motorolla TV from 1959! It works perfectly, I rebuilt part of it though (vacuum tubes). So I agree that old equipment can be maintained well and work well after many decades. And I'm just average-Joe American. My motto is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it (or replace it) and if it is, fix it (don't replace it)! Maintain, maintain, maintain!"

Edited by Gunstar
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This is just an observation, not an opinion. I was at Walmart and the dog tag engraving machine was hung up. The application had crashed and it had dropped to the desktop. I shit you not, the engraving machine in every Walmart runs Windows 3.1!

Edited by fibrewire
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Our local electronics store, who's also selling the latest PC equipment, runs MS-Dos to keep track of what's in store, just because he wants to stick with his old label-printers which require true Dos to run.

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On Syncalc I do my business adminstration (which is something really serious, not just a hobby or small administration or so) on my Atari 800XL.

The only thing 'new' is the fact that this computer has more memory, and the software is adapted to run on expanded atari, so my workbooks can be much larger.

The only downside is that the program itself only supports single density floppy disks, so in fact my workbooks can't be larger than around 90K.

 

I use my atari 8bit for a few serious things, since they are -at least in my life- are the only computers that did prove me a reliability that no other modern computer has ever proven me. And with reliability I mean not the risk of data loss (that is something the user of the equipment is responsible for). I mean the risk that the program crashes or the risk that when I need to work on it, the system won't start or is defect or whatever. (Have been there some time, on moments it was really unhandy)

 

Because I also love atari 8bit a lot, I decided to try to run the administration on Syncalc, and I must say: it was and is a big success.

 

Another benefit of using the Atari above any other modern solution is that they are not connected to the internet, so I can store passwords and other important information on it, without the risk of my system being hijacked by a hacker. Benefit of (very) old equipment.

 

And to get back on topic.

I'm a licensed HAM operator (although I don't use it a lot at the moment). But one of the great benefits of radio is that it is also not very vulnerable to technical problems. Digital communication systems are way more out of order than analogue. I know that one of the original 'tasks' of the HAM operators is giving assistance in crisis situations using their radio communication shack. In that light: new isn't always better.

I would be extremely enthusiastic when Packet Radio was back in the air here in my area, and I would love to use it on my atari 8bit (I remember I was searching for good software back in the day too).

 

On thing I also remember though, was that my atari 800xl caused an extremely high amount of RF-noise on both 11m and 2m frequencies, which made it almost impossible for me to use my a8 while being on air at the same time.

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I would be extremely enthusiastic when Packet Radio was back in the air here in my area, and I would love to use it on my atari 8bit (I remember I was searching for good software back in the day too).

 

If there's reasonably good A8 software, and you set it up to work on 11M, I'll re-set-up my rig too. It was only yesterday I had to shove that antenna aside (again) to enter my shed and still have that Italian box with tubes on the floor of my living room.

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I just searched for my emails from the QST support guy and the article is in the November 1987 issue on page 15.

 

eBay Auction -- Item Number: 1716942972361?ff3=2&pub=5574883395&toolid=10001&campid=5336500554&customid=&item=171694297236&mpt=[CACHEBUSTER]

 

For the program listing, you have to contact QST to send you a copy.

After I type it in, I'll post the binary and basic creator for it...

 

attachicon.gif8711017.JPGattachicon.gif8711018.JPGattachicon.gif8711019.JPG

 

Out here in San Diego, Packet Comms are in the lower 144Mhz (2-Meter) range.

 

Oh! and the BaoFeng radios are called throw-aways by the locals as they are pretty cheap, but have heard good reports about them.

I here those keys clicking whens that posting?

Edited by _The Doctor__

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Okay, finally got to it :) Needs Assembler / Editor to compile.

 

PK-2 TTL Packet Program by Steve Stuntz

 

Steve_Stuntz_PK2.atr

 

PK2.ASM

Pk2.xex

 

Requires a Packet Controller TNC set to TTL. connected to JoyPort #1...

 

Article and Interface located on this post:

http://atariage.com/forums/topic/178454-packet-radio-on-the-atari/?do=findComment&comment=3193853

Edited by AtariGeezer
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Bumpity necrothreading.

I was chasing Y2K fixes from 1997-2000 at Tektronix Wilsonville to discover that there were DOS machines running somewhat expensive CNC machines. I had to upgrade the IBM DOS to 6.22 and sometimes upgrade the BIOS for the clock to read correctly past year 2000. Some of the machines needed an ISA clock card instead.

These machines made metal and plastic machined pieces to prototype their printers and plotters they made. It was quick, cheap, simple and reliable.
Any machinist using these new exactly how it worked, had all the bugs shook out of it, reducing the turnaround time.
Sometimes it is easier to use trailing edge technology since for the fact that it had all the software, firmware, and mechanical issues fully developed.
Sure, in some industries, you don't need the latest giggle feature or app on it. It just needs to work consistently and exactly.
That's what these machines did, milled out parts with high mechanical tolerances. The CAD machines that made the CAM files were upgraded eventually, but the standard files they generated would make those dinosaur mills and lathes sing.

 

About packet radio:
You can now get a Chinese Baofeng hand held 2m radio for under $50 and hook a packet radio TNC to it. Great for tactical use in short range coms.
I don't think it would survive an EMP unless you had it in a Faraday cage, but the insurgents in the Middle East use them for all sorts of mischief.

Even a 6 pack of cheap FRS audio radios in the 433 Mhz spectrum would work for short range comms, and help defend a compound.

 

Also there has been a redevelopment of QRP using the sound card for really low power (5 Watts), and be able to send digital information on the 2m net or moon bounce. For about less than $100 in parts and some ingenuity, you can reach someone on the continent or internationally.

 

Then Google and Microsoft have internet radios that were blocked by the FCC using the white space where analog TVs used to work. now that broadcast TV is digital, there should have been a blossoming of white space bandwidth. The premise was that Google and MS would just give you a $30 radio, paid for by the ad revenue since you are sucking down MS and Google YouTube content. Even though Google and MS proved that the device doesn't interfere with a certified FCC RF test room, the Comcast guys had one of the FCC commissioners in their pocket so to speak.

So if you want to blame the lack of computer radio digitial information transmission progress from 1990 to present, put it on the FCC for not encouraging development from opening more radio spectrum for packet and white space transmissions.

Plus, all the really good radio guys are starting to die off, sad as it is. I am stil an Elmer to help those interested in it.

The number of HAM licenses newly registered has been dropping for some time. :{

Edited by mechanerd
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The number of HAM licenses newly registered has been dropping for some time. :{

 

I used to do a bunch of packet BITD, even worked the ISS. Sadly the Internet helped destroy the world-wide packet network in various ways. I never bothered to renew my license when it expired. It no longer seemed 'cutting edge' and all the OM's I used to ragchew with have become SK's.

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