Saturday, May 29, 2004

Meeting of the South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group May 29th 2004 

South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group Meeting

I attended my first meeting of the South Western Pennsylvania Packet Group this morning at the Blue Flame restaurant on Rt. 51 in Large PA. I did not take a “head count” but I would say they had a pretty good turn out today. First let me say what a great group of people the SWPPG are. It was founded by Geno Boyd, WA3IOU, and his wife Marlene, N3LGY, and is run under what I consider the best circumstances for this type of group. Geno is a benevolent dictator. No other way to put it. He decides what goes on and what doesn’t and his word is final. With the right person in charge this has a tendency to produce the most friendly and productive group in a hobby atmosphere. When I join a group like this one I want to go to the meetings and enjoy myself, not worry about who is going to win the political “pissing contest” this time around. But enough about that, and let me say that the people at the Blue Flame Restaurant are great also. Very good service, very good food and reasonable prices if I do say so myself.

While everyone stuffed their face with breakfast we got to know each other and chat a little about why each of us had come to the meeting. Then Geno gave us an overview of the group’s packet network complete with handouts. He introduced us to the various core members of the organization and told us what aspect of the network they specialize in.

Then Ron, K3MI, gave a short talk about packet in general and went over some common terminology. He explained the difference between files and mail and covered some of the basic commands that are used once you connect to a bulletin board system. Ron branched out into “digipeating” and exploring other nodes in the system. Finally he had some handouts for the group and had a question and answer session.

After that Geno set up a packet station in the corner of the room for a demonstration. Now, I’m not talking about an HT hooked to a pocket sized TNC. This was a commercial Motorola radio with TNC attached on top, 25 AMP switching power supply, J-pole antenna and laptop computer. This station was up and running in less than five minutes. He connected to the DX cluster and we watched a flurry of activity that indicated a contest was in progress.

I haven’t played with packet radio for a number of years now but this has rekindled my interest and I hope to be on the air digitally soon. I had a great time at the meeting, ate WAY too much and met a bunch of nice folks. I will let all of the scanner net members know when the next meeting is scheduled. You are invited, you don’t have to be a member of the group to attend, and I encourage you to come out and see what it is all about. Put some of the “fun” back into ham radio and computers.
Almost forgot, they have a web site where you can get more information and even get a form to join if you so desire. Check their page out and see what you think. http://www.swppg.zelie.com/index2.html

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