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Using VARA with the BPQ32 switch.

1. Introduction.

VARA is a soundcard-based software TNC written by EA5HVK. See EA5HVK's Website.

The driver supports PTT control via a serial port, using the DTR and/or RTS control lines, or via CAT commands.

2. Configuration.

The driver is defined to BPQ32 as an External port and needs a CONFIG section. The first line defines the IP address and Port of the VARA TNC, an optional PTT paameter, and an optional PATH to the VARA exe file. If PTT is omitted, VOX operation is assumed. If PATH is omitted, bpq32 won't start the TNC, and you will have to run it before starting bpq32.

Typical first lines are:

ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300
ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300 PTT DTR
ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300 PTT CI-V
ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300 PATH C:\VARA\VARA v1.5.0.exe
ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300 PTT CI-V PATH C:\VARA\VARA v1.5.0.exe

Other PTT options are PTT RTS, PTT DTRRTS

If you are running the TNC on a different machine to the Node, you can use program WinmorControl.exe to start or stop the TNC on that machine. To enable this mode, run WinmorControl.exe on the remote machine and enter REMOTE: before the path to the TNC, eg

 ADDR 192.168.1.2 8300 PATH REMOTE:C:\VARA\VARA v1.5.0.exe

If you are using the Rig Control feature, either for PTT or scanning, add the RIGCONTROL command next.

The VARA TNC doesn't have a busy channel detector, but if you are sharing a radio between VARA and a WINMOR, ARDOP or SCS Pactor port, the busy signals from those controllers will be used. The following command controls how long the program will wait if the channel is busy when a connect request is made.

BUSYWAIT n
This changes the time the software will wait for a clear channel before failing a connect request.

VARA keeps a list of active VARA Gateways.. You csan add your station to the list by includiing a GATEWAY line in the configureation. Format is GATEWAY Callsign Locator Reqency (KHz) Comments, eg

GATEWAY G8BPQ-10 IO92kx 7045 Nottingham. Node Call G8BPQ-2

The callsign should be the one that connects to Winlink CMS. The comment field is up to 60 chars and could be used to list other frequencies or calls.

; Sample Config for an VARA Port
PORT
ID=VARA
DRIVER=VARA
CONFIG
ADDR 127.0.0.1 8300 PTT CI-V PATH C:\VARATNC\VARA.exe
GATEWAY G8BPQ-10 IO92kx 7045 Nottingham. Node Call G8BPQ-2
RIGCONTROL
COM2 19200 ICOM IC7000 70
10,14.103,USB,F1
10,7.045,USB,F1
****
ENDPORT

You can have more that one VARA port. Install a second copy of VARA into another directory. Set a different pair of TCP Ports in each VARA config and the bpq32.cfg port config.

The software will append the BPQ32 Port Number to the TNC Window title, so you can tell which TNC corresponds to each port.

3. Operation.

As the TNC only supports a single connection (unlike ax.25 packet), a VARA port must be allocated to a user before making connects. This is done using the ATTACH command. So if your VARA port is BPQ32 port 3, enter

ATTACH 3

Possible responses are:

#BPQ11:GM8BPQ-2} Ok

#BPQ11:GM8BPQ-2} Error - Invalid Port   // Port is not an VARA port.

#BPQ11:GM8BPQ-2} Error - Port in use   // Port is in use.

Once attached to a port, You use the "C" command to connect and the "D" command to disconnect and release the TNC.

The remote VARA TNC can have a password set to restrict access. If this is the case you can add the password after the callsign in the C command, eg

C G8BPQ PASSWORD

5. Status Display.

The VARA module creates a status window, so you can keep an eye on your connection to the VARA TNC.

If you are using Rig Control, the Frequency, Mode, etc will be shown.

John Wiseman GM8BPQ/G8BPQ
November 2017