I haven’t heard anything else from anyone else I’ve messaged, which is unfortunate but I’ve got a plan…
I’ve set up a VPS – a “Virtual Private Server” that will operate on a fixed IP address. Linux, I have been informed, has AX.25 capabilities available to it (AX.25 is an essential part of packet radio!) Beyond merely running software on Windows, Linux has the capability of natively using AX.25 with a few simple installs. It’s history dates back pretty far, and I’m pretty excited about it.
Of course, interfacing AX.25 with a real radio across the internet may not be as feasible as I’d like – I’d basically have a transmitter that operates by sending its audio out/mic in feeds through to another computer which will access the internet. While this is possible, digital modes certainly will not appreciate lag or dropouts in audio streaming. It may not support AFSK faster than 300 baud if its particularly bad though the potential is something like 1200 baud (maybe there is a 2400 mode as well) for Audio Frequency-shift Keying. Of course, for Network105 use 300 baud is the maximum for practical and regulatory reasons.
However, I’ve set up this VPS for multiple reasons, so if it takes longer for the AX.25 server to do anything for fellow hams, that’s why…
I will test my theory using an SDR (Software Defined Radio) feed streamed online to software like MixW just to see if I can reliably decode digital signals across the web via audio.
That said, I am also moving forward on my first effort to actually USE Packet Radio over VHF. I will be using my little Baofeng HT in an attempt to communicate with VE3CON – 145.03 MHz (BBS / NETROM / IP Gateway). If I want to find packet operators, I guess dropping a line to them directly is a way to do it!
This station is roughly 10-15km (8 or 9 miles) away and I have no line of sight with it. If I can hit it with 5 watts, that would be amazing, but I won’t hold my breath. With the amount of objects/buildings/terrain in the way, I expect I would need 20 watts or more. If I have to, I’ll actually travel close to the station and communicate that way until I find a better more powerful transceiver and perhaps building a Yagi style antenna and pointing it in its direction. At the very least this will serve as practice working with troposphere propagation!
The Yagi will also serve to be useful for some Amateur Satellite work, some of which support digital modes, some even have packet BBSes on them.
Obviously that is a lot of things to attempt, but slow and steady, right?