This software allows an IBM PC, or similar machine, equiped with suitable Communications hardware, to act as a Node in a NET/ROM compatible AX25 network, and/or to support a multiuser Mailbox, or other similar applications.
The switch section of the code supports up to 16 AX25 ports, and the application interface supports up to 64 connections. The basic applications interface is called 'BPQ Host Mode', and is defined in file BPQHOST.DOC. Additional drivers are provided to convert this to other common Amateur interface standards (eg TNC2 via COMBIOS, and WA8DED Host Mode).
Note the software is NOT Public Domain. It may be used only by licenced Radio Amateurs in Amateur Packet Radio systems.
2 Hardware Requirements.
The system is written in 8086 assembler, and is currently only available for the MSDOS/PCDOS environment, although once loaded it makes no use of operating system facilities. It has been tested on IBM PC and XT machines, and a number of similar machines. (AST Premium, Toshiba T1100+, OPUS). The software needs about 48 - 80k RAM, varying with number of buffers, comms links and COMBIOS ports configured.
The software supports the following comms hardware:
PAC-COM PC120 card DRSI PCPA card Software Forge HDLC card for the Toshiba T1100 (with external modem). KISS mode TNC via a standard PC ASYNC card or QUADRAM Quadport . Link to NET/ROM or TheNet Async port. RLC100 4 port HDLC card. Baycom USCC 4 port HDCL card.
A version is also available for the Kantronics Data Engine.
3. Networking Facilities.
The system is designed to be operationally compatible with existing NET/ROM or TheNet nodes, but there are a few minor differences. As it can support an integrated BBS, it has 2 Callsign/Alias pairs, one for accessing the node, and the other the BBS. Note, however, that a multiport node does not need a different callsign for each port. Because of the multiport support, the 'Downlink' connect command needs a port number as the first parameter (eg C 2 G8BPQ). A connect to another Node doesnt need this - the system selects the 'best' port as found from the NODEs and ROUTEs lists.
Although multiple applications are allowed, only one (BBS) has its own Callsign/Alias pair. Others are accessed by connecting to the switch, then entering the service name.
There are extra commands for normal use (BBS, or other application name, to connect to the applications, and PORTS to display available port descriptions), and 2 commands intended primarily for the system operator (STATS and LINKS).
Two extra commands PACLEN and L4T1 are available to set Paclen for NODE generated messages (nodes lists, etc), and the Transport timeout. At the moment these are primarily for me to experiment with, but feel free to fiddle.
The system is also able to link to the 'back end' async port on a normal NET/ROM or TheNet node.
4 Getting Started.
A. Decide what you want.
The software can be configured as a mailbox access system, a packet switching node, or a combination of both. I would expect most intallations to use either one or the other, but if you run a well sited BBS (particularly if multiband), and there is a shortage of nodes in your area, you may wish to run both.
B. Choose your hardware and software.
You need an IBM PC/XT/AT or compatible. A switch needs very little RAM ( about 128k), but a BBS system will probably need a minimum of 640K. You can connect your radios via an internal packet adaptor (PC120 from PACCOM, PCPA from DRSI, etc), or via normal TNC's running in KISS mode (or both). For a new installation I recommend the internal card, as it will normally be cheaper (especially for multiport nodes), and faster, but if you already have a TNC which has (or can be fitted with) a KISS option, then by all means use it.
The software has been tested with the BBS systems written by W0RLI, F6FBB, G1NNA, and G4YFB, and with AK1A's PacketCluster. It is likely to work with other system which use a similar interface - if in doublt, consult the author of the program concerned.
C. Edit the configuration file (BPQCFG.TXT)
I hope the comments in the file make it largely self-documenting. You need one Callsign/Alias pair for BBS access, and one for the Node. If you are running both, they must be different, but if you are running only one or the other, you must still put BOTH entries in the file, but they MUST be the SAME. The software doesn't currently verify this, so be careful!
Most of the configuration params can be left alone - the ones to look at
IDMSG and INFOMSG
BBS, NODE to select BBS support and NODE support as required
ROUTES to 'Lock In' the routes you want to use
Note that the supplied Networking parameter conform (more or less) to the
recommendations made at SYSOPS 5.
There are sample 'PORTS' configuration files for the various link types supported in file PORTS.DOC - copy and customise the ones you want to use.
D. Run BPQCFG.
This will convert the configuration file to a format suitable for use by the main software. Validation isn't wonderful, but it may produce error messages.
E. Load it.
I suggest you test the system first using a simple terminal program, before trying it with the BBS (if required). I have included on the disk a suitable terminal program (PAC4), which may be used with the system.
When running with a multitasker (eq DesqView), you must load my software before the multitasker. You should run BPQCODE, then any required interface drivers. The available drivers are described in DRIVERS.DOC, but for initial testing, just run BPQHTNC2. A copy of my AUTOEXEC.BAT file follows (I use W0RLI BBS). Once the switch is running, load Desqview (if required), then your BBS or other application programs.
The BBS software is loaded by a Desqview script file. The following saves the ROUTES and NODES to disk before shutting down.
John Wiseman, G8BPQ