Internet Spots on Packet
Dick Pechie, KB1H

YCCC Scuttlebutt #124, August 1996


Recently trials have been made in introducing an Internet gateway to the YCCC PacketCluster (tm) network. I must apologize for the poor job the YSA did informing the Users of the network as to what was going on. Due to lack of communication (our hobby I think) there was an User uproar that has never been seen. I wish some of you would get as excited about scoring for the YCCC contests efforts and providing support in the form of man-hours to the YSA. Anyway, let me start over and maybe someday we can make another try at what some of us feel is a movement in the forward direction.

Let me preface this by saying that the software is not real flexible in what the SYSOPs can do and enhancements are not in the future. We have to work with what we got or develop software that runs outside of PacketCluster.

First, let's state the goals that were trying to be met:

1. First, the ability to have no boundaries in the size of our cluster. Without a bunch of pros and cons, I think it was proven by those who took the time to analyze the spots that there were numerous times European originated spots did produce copyable and workable stations that were not announced by the East Coast Network. Yes, there was junk like a JA spotting a BV, or PA spotting DL on 50 MHz. Let me ask this. Do you read ALL your newspaper that you pay $.50 a day for???!!! You’re getting all this for free.

2. Second, with the rules changing so DXpeditions count in all the contests it becomes even more important that we get a competitive edge. We expect more and more club members to go to DX locations to operate and wouldn't it be nice if while at that location the DX operator could send talk messages to club members for multiplier passing. Until the rules are changed we would be foolish not to take advantage of this.

3. I know of at least one contest software being prepared with the proper protocol for 100% Internet connection. I am sure in the not too distant future some of the larger contest stations will be connected via dedicated telephone lines. Should we be ready for this as well?

4. The network has been very lucky to avoid major shutdowns due to icing. At least one major link was being tested for Internet back-up connections for such a situation.

K1XX was working on running numerous filters to limit some of the Internet spots. There is also a program that can be run to limit spots from only certain originating nodes. Unfortunately this TSR program stops all the spots from propagating further down the network so that was not very realistic on nodes in the path of major linking.

Within PacketCluster though there is the ability to filter spots by node for USERs. The SYSOP has to add the User call to a file. Also on the node needs to be files to define cluster size. In most cases, we have define the cluster into three sizes. The YSA network plus a few adjacent nodes. The East Coast megacluster which was just about the whole east coast. Finally, the Cluster of the Universe. The problem was not all SYSOPs had this knowledge, time, or available files. A message went out but too late to stop the onslaught of User mail, opinions, and polls. A message to the SYSOP saying which Cluster size you as a User wanted to received spots from was all that was necessary. The SYSOP then edits a text file and it's done!

Well, all this could not be done. Do you realize that out of the 24 YSA nodes I have not met nor even spoken to all the SYSOPs. Never receive replies. I doubt if we could have gotten all the nodes to get the pieces in place, timely or ever. It was probably better to do what we did and then let the Users pressure their SYSOP to look into the changes.

So what happened was some of the Internet testing has been halted. There is some going on still and with little filtering or thinking going into the input. Just raw spots that if continued will I am sure keep the fires burning.

Do any of the goals above seem reasonable and/or benefical? I think they do but now we have to draw back and see if it is worth the problems it will surely bring. Do any of the users re-member the Beta testing we did on the nodes and what a pain the on-going development was? As a SYSOP is was without a doubt a cause of a few gray hairs (can't blame my boys for all of them) This Internet project was also an on-going, in-progress growth. Yes, it was different. Yes some of the spots were useless. But it was growth forward!!! I am afraid with the crude, rude, and "let's not change" attitudes which some of the messages on the network displayed, amateur radio op-erators will not continue as the pioneers in new technology. It also must be the YSA that communicates within itself and with Users what is going on and hopefully when possible give the Users and SYSOPs the choice of being part of the experiment or not. Remember please, that in some situations this not very easy to do and the flexiblity is not there. The "Pick and Choose" options are not always there.

Finally. I had a dream last night. I looked at my Packet screen and I saw a JA spotting P5!!!!!