Bulletins from the Pacific Packet Radio Society - page 131

communications would be by an active, onboard computer. Other functions to be performed by this computer would include the access mechanism to manage the "virtual disk" storage, handling of the protocols to allow multiple users to get their messages up and down during a single pass, and possibly interspersing of "QST" bulletins in the downlink data stream during moments of inactivity.

On Saturday, the AMSAT members attending the technical forum were allowed to hear packet radio in action on AMSAT's W3ZM (146.235/.835) repeater. W3IWI brought a micro processor-based Terminal Node Controller (TNC) developed by the Vancouver Area Digital Group (VADCG), a "202A-type" AFSK modem, and a standard 2m FM transceiver. Some 50 miles away in Sterling Park, VA, Dave Borden (K8MMO) had his Z-80 CP/M computer hooked to a similar TNC and modem. Amidst normal talk-in activities, the two packet radio terminals were sending brief data packets through the repeater so that those attending the meeting saw a game of "ADVENTURE" being played in the squelch tails. This impressive demonstration was the first exposure for many AMSAT members of the capabilities of digital techniques in amateur radio.

As the weekend proceeded, a number of informal discussions on packet radio continued. Among the experts there grew a general agreement on the data link protocol, with the AMSAT AMICON ADDCP-HDLC definition emerging as being the best for the "LEO" PACSAT too. Arguments for and against Tom's proposal for multiple uplinks (supporting a single downlink) centered on the estimated relative traffic loading on satellite uplink and downlink. These discussions included the observations:

-- CBBS experience shows that users "browse" through stored information much more than generating new information. If the PACSAT is to be operated as a flying CBBS, then the design should be reconsidered.

-- The "QST" bulletin transmissions will be a very important PACSAT function for the users.

On Sunday, a proposal was made by Den Connors and Lyle Johnson which included a number of the above concepts. Different mechanisms for access using full-duplex uplink/downlink pairs were presented. The AMSAT AMICON (AMRAD AX-25) HDLC logical link protocol was discussed in as a PACSAT standard and a number of network-related issues, including message classifications and buffer allocation/deallocation mechanisms were raised. Lyle presented another possible system block diagram, showing different input/output channels, including command, multiple CPU's and different memories for program store, file directories, buffers and message mass storage. The tasks of the CPU were further detailed, and the different algorithms needed were identified.

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