© Copyright 2003
Emergency Minnesota Amateur Radio Disaster Data Network
We built right after 9/11/01 a wide area data network
using AX.25 packet radio on a single frequency. It
is designed for low data rate, high value urgent
messages. If you are trying to replace the
Internet, you need different technology. We will keep it on the
air as long as we can get parts and there is a need for
You can build nodes in your area. Units in back
yards are not very useful as they may have limited range
and are subject to being unplugged in storms, people moving out of
town, etc. The best plan is to get a good site
like a city water tank and put up a real node with a
written site agreement, decent equipment, etc.
We suggest later-model (KPC-3 or newer) Kantronics TNCs
unless you have experience with "Node" type firmware.
Very early Kantronics units (KPC1/2/2400) do not have a
transmit timeout timer, and can/do lock up.
Computers use a lot of AC power and make unreliable node
A hardware reset is always a good idea. Take all defaults. />
You need to turn on the KA-Node:
Numnodes=4 is one we pick
Mynode=MNLLLL where LLLL is something useful like an airport code
12/6/14: I got a call from
some folks trying to build a statewide packet network in
Indiana. The way to go is to establish a limited
mission and scope and get your own sites and frequency.
Note the "Hidden Transmitter Problem" does not apply to
sparse long haul packet networks. There is
apparently a packet network in operation called
DAREN in West Virginia.
10/1/13: A large scale packet node
was installed in Bayport, MN at 300' HAAT. MNWASH.
4/7/2012: The minimum power bill
for our Rush City 145.67 and APRS site is getting
excessive - $30/mo. So we are going to switch
145.67 to Solar unless a sponsor comes forward. We
have a low power packet station in stock.
Hopefully the Duluth link will still be OK.
6/19/11: A simple basement packet station on a deep cycle battery and with two $79 Northern Tool solar panels
has now been on the air three years.
6/8/11: The lovely program PUTTY which does all this
cool stuff is also a serial terminal program, to replace
the one removed from Windows (r) after XP.
5/30/11: We got a formal request from the US Coast Guard
Auxiliary to provide data support in the Red
River/Fargo/Grand Forks area. This would require
several sites (100 feet) in the area, and some linking
sites en route. This is not an expensive job on
packet. These sites could be gradually upgraded to
D-Star, as our site standards require the use of a
Tri-Band (Comet GP95) antenna and high grade feedline so
D-Star can be added.
4/4/2011: It is being reported Amateur Operators
are needed in the Red River area (NW MN) for
flooding duty. It is too bad we don't have an
extension to the 145.67 or 145.01 packet network up
there at least. It would only take a station
or two to get as far as Little Falls as an example to
get on the backbone.
News 9/24/10: We put a new high performance 145.01 node in Hilltop. MNCHTS
News 11/14/08: MNMONT is back on the air on 145.67, and has a good signal south and a little east from Monticello. Ideally, it would go more north east to help out the Central Minnesota Hospital Project, which is roughly on a line from St. Cloud to Duluth.
News: 8/5/08: We have a new 145.67 backbone packet node- MNMLR- located near Garrison, MN. Thanks Jerry and Al for the report here. Jerry, N0MR is reporting they are building a bit of a 440 packet radio backbone mid-state.
News: 6/29/08: We are burning in the newest solar packet node. The charge controller is working fine and it should be ready to install in a week or two. The priority project seems to us to be the Rochester/Twin Cities link. The idea is to get that working with a primary path, and then add a second/third path.
News: 4/12/08: We got some notes and calls this week. Jerry says the work on MNSTP has disrupted the Twin Cities end of the 145.01 packet network. MNWBL has an ancient radio on the 145.01 side which has failed. This is true. We need to find another NE metro site for 145.01 to get some more redundancy in place. The Hospital Compact folks are asking about packet/FM voice radios and drills and training. We sent them on to those in charge of that project.
News: 2/20/08: Two of the KAM units we got yesterday upon closer inspection turned out to be "Enhanced" units in disguise. So these could be used for Airmail, which is a Pactor based HF email system. Some of the mail BBS systems set up to accept Airmail connects over HF radio still take connections from slow legacy Pactor 1 systems. So these TNCs are useful- you pretty much need to pair them with an HF radio with a digital frequency readout in my experience to get to these BBS systems. The latest gear for this is Pactor II I think, but the modems are $1000.
News: 2/19/08: MNCLK is back online. We waited a day for the holiday and got in there today over lunch and replaced the TNC. The last site visit was in 2003.
News: 2/17/08: Jerry is reporting MNCLK is offline. He says the TNC is spewing "A"s - these lose their minds about every five years and have to be rebooted. We'll get up there this week. MNMONT - our backup to MNCLK is offline- long story- so we'll make fixing it a priority.
News: 1/23/08: We was curious if cold weather impacts our packet network- it's four degrees F out -and the answer is no- all of the links are fine. These path were over-engineered in the first place.
News: 12/15/07: We got an email asking us to increase the Twin Cities APRS backbone coverage. We are not fans of home made repeater/node equipment on our commercial/government sites, so if someone were to hand over a late model type accepted radio, attached to a late model Kantronics TNC (MTBF of six + years) and a switching power supply, we might find a home for it. Fussy equipment you have to go and tinker with every few months is unprofessional and annoys our site owners. This is 1980's technology...long since perfected.
News: 11/25/07: There is not much on the air in the Twin Cities on 145.01. I was trying to test some old Kantronics DVR2-2 crystal controlled radios on that frequency. These are good for solar power.
News: 11/20/07: The parts to make another solar packet node are in stock, so we are going to tackle the Minneapolis/Rochester link situation. We have a site in mind in River Falls, Wisc. The new link as is is not very solid.
Legacy 145.67 1200 BPS Packet Wide Area Node Status as of 8/1/2009:
Thanks Jerry, N0MR (Statewide Packet Network Operations Manager for these). Plan is for one BBS per State EM Area. These came from donated laptops.
Minnesota Area Packet BBS's Updated 8/11
Following are the major packet BBS's in the area along with the frequencies
STPONE St. Paul, Citadel on 145.01-
STPBBS St Paul 145.63, 145.01
STCBBS St Cloud 145.67
HUTCH Hutchinson 145.67
BRDBBS Brainerd 145.67, 446.125
ISLBBS Isle 145.67, 446.125
DULBBS Duluth 145.01, 446.125
BALBBS Balsam Lake, WI 145.01
145.01 1200 BPS Node Status as of 8/13/09
STPONE - Our Packet/D-Star node on a nice downtown St Paul site @260 feet or so.
MNGPZ - Grand Rapids
MNWBL - White Bear Lake
MNLF1- Little Falls- Dual port 10/24/06
MNISLE- Crosslink .67/01 + new Telpac node w0kgw-10
MNNWD - Norwood Young America
MNDUL- Duluth .-01 gateway, reached on .67 via MNCCC7 then MNCCC
MPSTP- Twinslan link - Woodbury location- now (4/08) linked to MNSTP D-Star repeater for Citadel etc- has various issues 6/09
WISS- Duluth area
NY9D - Near MNWBL - 2x 15 watt panels ($80 each from Northern Tool) and a charge controller and a deep cycle Group 24 battery are enough to power a Kantronics KPC-3 (turn off the LEDS) and mini-mailbox, NY9D-1 and a Kantronics DVR2-2 3 watt radio. You could also use an HT here for your radio. The idea is this is a fully survivable BBS that would work in a prolonged regional power outage, as has happened.
In a declared emergency, an activation message will go out over the National Traffic System (NTS) and other methods (i.e. local repeaters). Most likely, one or more BBS systems on the network will be designated as the dissemination point for official bulletins and message traffic for our served agencies, primarily hospitals and MDH.
Please stay off of the main backbone nodes and 145.67 in this situation unless you have official served agency traffic as the Statewide Network (we share just one 1200 bps radio channel) has very limited long distance surge capacity. There are many other designated packet radio channels -145.01, 145.03, 145.05 etc. (including the Twinslan backbone) where non-essential /H&W/supporting/local traffic can go during such an event.