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Packet Station Equipment Considerations

Overview    |     Recommendations    |     Simplex    |     Antennas    |     Radios    |     TNCs    |     Power    |     Questions


Questions about which antenna or radio or TNC to use for packet networking seem to come up every few months.  This page summarizes the key points to remember when choosing components for an ARES/RACES packet station.  The central assumption built into these recommendations is that the station has to work in emergency conditions, each and every time, with minimal set up.

Santa Clara County ARES/RACES does not officially recommend or endorse any particular make/model of equipment. But the detail sections below do list the most common equipment in use in the Santa Clara County packet network and/or by the folks that manage the network. These specific configurations are known to work well after years of use. This list is not intended to cover all products in use. Many other options exist.


General Recommendations

Some general recommendations are presented here in quick, bulleted form.  More details are provided in the sections that follow. It is important to understand that the recommendations for antennas and radios really apply to any simplex FM station, whether it is used for voice or data communications.






Simplex Details

Simplex operations and the "Hidden Node" problem


Antenna Details

Antenna Height

Antenna Pattern  (Omni vs. Directional)

Antenna Gain

HT Antennas

Notes on Some Specific Antenna Configurations


Radio Details

Transmitter Power

Data Connector

HT Radios

Notes on Some Specific Radio Configurations


Terminal Node Controller (TNC) Details

Hardware TNCs

Software TNCs


Notes on Specific TNC Configurations



Radio Power Requirements for a Field Station Radio and TNC

The following describes how to calculate the power requirements for a radio and external hardware TNC used for packet communications. The assumptions stated below are appropriate for most situations. Most people can jump straight to the answer in the last bullet below. But for completeness, the detailed assumptions and calculations are presented so that anyone can adjust them to their own requirements.


Questions / Comments

The SCCo Packet Operations training classes cover the above information and much more. Consult the training course materials for more detail.

If you have a question about any of the above information, someone else probably does, too.  So post your question to our scc-packet Yahoo group where all of our local users can see the question and the answer.

Note:  The scc-packet group is a closed group to prevent SPAM. Only members are able to see and post messages.  You will need to join before submitting a question.

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This page was last updated on 26-Jan-2017