So....you've decided to take the plunge into setting up your own BPQ32 packet node/BBS. Then you take one look at the bpq32.cfg file and your eyes bulge out. Well take a deep breath....this quickstart guide will help you get a very basic BPQ32 node up and running, explain what items to modify and what to leave alone, and help you understand what some of the different sections do in the bpq32.cfg.
What is BPQ32 and what does it do?
BPQ32 allows a computer running under Microsoft Windows® to act as a Node in a NET/ROM compatible AX25 network (there is also a Linux version called LinBPQ.) It is comprised of multiple programs including support for a multi-user Mailbox, Chat, or other similar applications, depending on how you want to build your packet system and what you want it to do for you.
The basic node software is the base on which the rest of your packet system is built. It establishes a node call and alias, creates all the port definitions, and handles all routing of packet traffic between the ports. This software supports running a variety of ports (ie VHF Packet, Pactor, Winmor, Robust Packet, UZ7HO soundmodem packet, etc.)...each with their own unique requirements in the configuration file. All the system features are setup in the bpq32.cfg file
Once you have a basic node running, you can expand your BPQ32 system with a number of applications that run on top of the BPQ node switch. Some of these include the BPQMail, BPQChat, BPQAPRS, BPQTerminal, as well as a variety of third party applications which work well with BPQ32. Honestly, the possibilities are vast and it is impossible to create a quickstart guide for every possible senario that folks would like to create. However, by getting a basic understanding of how the system works and how the bpq32.cfg file brings it all together, it is very easy to expand once you have a basic node up and running.
So let's begin.....
The easiest way to get a BPQ system running is to use one of the example files and modify the information to suit your specific needs. The first thing you need to do, if you haven't already, is download the installer from the website. The best place to get the installer is from the BPQ32 Yahoo Group. In fact, you should really join this group as it is a great resource for getting help:
You will find the installer download located right on the front page of the BPQ32 Yahoo Group. Once downloaded, you can simply run the installer which will extract all the files needed to the appropriate folders. Now, if you navigate to the BPQ32 program in your Windows menu and click on View Examples Folder you will see a list of folders. Each folder has an example bpq32.cfg file in it, depending on the system configuration you are looking for. You will also find that the various example configs are good for copying portions, such as port setup or APRS setup, into your working configuration file for adding features to your system at a later date.
For this quickstart we will be using the bpq32.cfg file that can be downloaded from the link below. This example is a great file for creating a packet node with 1 AXIP port, 1 Telnet Port and 1 KISS TNC port. It also supports 2 applications, such as a BBS and RMS.
Open the bpq32.cfg file in any simple editor, such as Notepad. You will notice right at the beginning of the file a comment block. All text within an area starting with /* and ending with */ is a multi-line comment and not actually part of the node configuration. You will also see single line comments beginning with a semicolon (;) character. These are helpful when you need to remark out just a single line of text. It is helpful to read through some of the comment lines as they explain certain parts of the configuration.
The beginning of the bpq32.cfg file is used to setup the node call (NODECALL=) and node alias (NODEALIAS=). It is also used to set your grid square locator (LOCATOR=), as well as setting the text that is sent during an ID (IDMSG:), a beacon (BTEXT:), setting the text users see when typing the INFO command (INFOMSG:) and the prompt users see when they connect to the node (CTEXT:).
There is also a setting for using a password to access sysop status remotely.
Now its time to change a few settings in this first section. To start, simply enter your grid square after the LOCATOR= in normal grid square format....ie CN95GQ. The next edit is to replace every instance of MYCALL with your callsign. The simplest approach for this is to do a global search and replace. In Notepad, you would simply click Edit and Replace in the menu. Then you can search for MYCALL and replace them with your callsign.
The next change is to create a node alias (NODEALIAS). This is a name associated with the node call used to describe the node. A lot of times this may be an abbreviated geographic location....NEPDX or PACHUB. Or this could be the last 3 letters of the sysop callsign......HCS or BPQPI. Whatever you choose, it should be unique to your node and can only be a maximum of 6 characters long. Once you have decided on an alias, ENTER THE alias after the NODEALIAS=.
If you used the search and replace for your callsign, the IDMSG and BTEXT should already be changed for you. The next item to edit is the INFOMSG. This message can be used to provide a little more detail about your system, list the applications you have running, etc. This section can be as simple or informative as you would like. An example of a INFOMSG might be as follows:INFOMSG: ;The INFO command text follows: Welcome to the W5SEG BPQ Region 5 NTS Hub located in Seguin, TX You may connect to the following: SEGBBS:W5SEG Region 5 Texas Hub BBS HRCRMS:W5SEG-10 Region 5 Texas Hub Winlink RMS Thanks for visiting. ...73's Robby *** You will notice the example has an ALIAS2 and ALIAS3. You will need to choose an alias for your BBS and RMS similar to but different from the ALIAS chosen for the node. These two aliases will be used at the end of the configuration file. So now is a good time to decide on an alias for your BBS and RMS (or any other apps you plan to run).
The CTEXT is the message your users see when they first connect to your node. You should change the ALIAS:MYCALL-1} so that it has your chosen node alias and call correctly entered....then leave the rest of the line as it is for now. (If you are not planning on running an RMS, you can delete the word RMS from the line.)
The line that reads FULL_CTEXT=0 is best left alone for now. This line sets whether the CTEXT is sent to all connects to the node, or just for end user access to the node. Normally we only send the CTEXT to end user connections to the system.
That completes the first section of the bpq32.cfg file.......
Network System Parameters
This next section sets the parameters for the node such as how often the node broadcasts it node list, sends an ID, sends a beacon, etc. The MINQUAL, which determines what quality of nodes on on your node table, is set here as well. For a simple starter system, these can all be left alone. Some items could be changed later as you start fine tuning how the node interacts with other nodes and end users.
AX25 Port Definitions
This is where the fun really begins, as this is where you begin to setup the ports to be used on your BPQ node. You will notice that each port begins with the word PORT and ends with the word ENDPORT. Each line in between the PORT and ENDPORT set the specific parameters for the port and how it functions.
The first port in the bpq32.cfg file is an AXIP port. This is used for linking to other nodes via the internet. This can be a great addition to your system if you decide to link to other packet nodes out of range of your RF ports or you plan to connect to the world wide chat network. For now we simply want to leave this port alone. This will allow the AXIP port to run, but will not link to any other nodes until your start establishing AXIP forwarding partners.
The next port is the BPQTelnet Server port. This port is used to allow telnet access to the node and applications for sysops duties and end user access, if desired. This port also establishes a gateway to the winlink servers, much the same way RMS Packet functions. It allows the system and users to use the winlink system through any available ports on the node. The first item to change in this port is the CMS=.....if you will be running a winlink access gateway, this should remain set to CMS=1. You will also need to provide your winlink callsign (CMSCALL=) and password (CMSPASS=) to allow the gateway to function. If you do not have a winlink password, contact the winlink team to get a password for your gateway. If you are not planning to run a winlink gateway, set CMS=0. The TCPPORT provides telnet port access to the system. FBBPORT provides FBB access as well as BPQTermTCP access to the system (BPQTermTCP is a standalone terminal program that is great for remotely accessing the node). The HTTP port is used for web server access to the node. (If you plan to access your system remotely, you will need to modify port forwarding on your internet router.) The last line to change is the USER line. This line sets telnet access for each user, starting with your own access. You should enter a user, password and callsign....generally we use the callsign for the user and callsign for simplicity, but you can choose your own user name. The SYSOP at the end of the line designates who has sysop privileges via the telnet port. OK....so far, so good!
The third port is listed under Radio Port Definitions.....this is a KISS TNC port. This port connects any TNC that is configured to operate in KISS mode, which is the standard mode for a normal VHF or UHF packet port. The main lines to change here are the ID, which is what users will see when they use the PORTS command on your node. You will also need to change the COMPORT to match the com port your TNC is plugged into on your computer. The SPEED should match the speed set on your TNC and the CHANNEL should be set for your TNC...typically this is left set to A for a single channel TNC, but could be different for multi-port TNCs such as the Kantronics 9612. The rest of the parameters for this port can be left at the default settings for now. Some settings may be changed in the future to improve packet port performance. This completes the first KISS TNC port.
This completes the AX25 port configuration for a 3 port BPQ packet node....WOOHOO! Now on to the applications.....
We are down to the final section of the configuration file....the APPLICATIONS section. This where you will define the applications to run on top of your BPQ node. The layout for an application line is as follows:
This line is where you will set the first application....in this case the BBS. The BBS command is what users would type to get to the BBS. Following the BBS command are 2 commas....these should be left as they are for now. Your callsign should already be correct if you did the search and replace. This callsign can have an SSID if you wish, but convention is usually to use your callsign only (sometimes called your base call) for the BBS callsign. ALIAS2 is where you set the alias for your BBS. You should have chosen this earlier when editing the INFOMSG. This should be descriptive of your BBS. Again, this is sometimes based on geography or callsign much like your node alias. This alias needs to be different from the node alias and is again limited to 6 characters. The last figure is the quality to set for this application. This is generally set to the maximum of 255, but this can vary depending on how much prominence you want the BBS to have on the packet network.
If you are planning on running an RMS, you will need to change the line for APPLICATION 2. If not you can simply comment out the line with a semicolon at the beginning.
APPLICATION 2,RMS,C 2 CMS,MYCALL-10,ALIAS3,255
Similar to the first application line....this line is for the RMS. The RMS command is what users would type to get to the winlink servers. Following the RMS command is C 2 CMS....this should be left alone, as it tells the node to connect to telnet port 2 to access the winlink gateway. Your callsign should again be correct with an additional -10 SSID. This SSID is the standard used for a winlink packet gateway. ALIAS3 is where you set the alias for your RMS. You may have chosen this earlier. Replace ALIAS3 with your chosen alias for your RMS application.
BPQ32 has a facility to allow an incoming connect to a terminal window so a user can chat with you. This uses Application 32. Remove this line if you don't want this.
Now, so that you do not overwrite the original example file, you should save the entire file into a separate folder with the same filename....bpq32.cfg. This is important as this is what BPQ looks for when starting the system. Once saved, you can close your editor.
The file you just created needs to be located in the correct folder in order for BPQ to run with your new configuration. If you go back to your BPQ Menu in Windows and click on View Configuration Folder...this will bring up the correct folder where you need to copy your new bpq32.cfg file. Simply overwrite the bpq32.cfg file in that folder with your new bpq32.cfg and your system is ready to start for the first time.
Time to Start It Up
Its finally time to give your new configuration file a try. Go back to the BPQ Menu in Windows and click on BPQTerminal. You should see a flurry of activity while BPQ loads. The BPQ Console should launch showing a window with frames for various functions of your node. BPQTerminal should also launch, which gives you terminal access to your node. If you type a ? you should see a command line prompt with a list of commands available to use on the node. Typing INFO should show you the information you typed in the INFOMSG line of the config file. PORTS should list the ports on your system...namely the KISS TNC port and the AXIP port. NODES should show you a list with the BBS app on your system. If you type BBS, you will most likely get an error message as the BBS has not been launched at this point.
If all the above works as described.....CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You have just configured your first BPQ packet system. If the system does not load quite right, just go back over the instructions again and see where something got tweaked incorrectly. Help is also available from the BPQ32 Yahoo Group by many willing sysops ready to help folks with questions.