New node GB7ODZ for the North East Packet Radio Group

I (Greg) recently completed my aim of passing all levels of the UK amateur radio examinations. This means that as a full license holder I could request a Notice of Variation (NOV) from OfCom to run a packet radio node.

With the ink still wet on my license I applied online for my NOV and it was granted very shortly after.

The callsign of the new node is GB7ODZ (golf bravo 7 oscar delta zulu) and the coverage should be Sunderland to the north, and towards Middlesbrough to the south.

Currently the now is only set up for mail (M0ODZ, mike zero oscar delta zulu) m0odz@gb7odz but I plan to do a full BBS in the near future.

Connecting to the NEPRG

The NEPRG is open to all licensed Amateur Radio operators in the North East of England and there is no joining fee.

To connect to the NEPRG you need:
a radio capable of transmitting and receiving on the 2 metre amateur radio frequency 144.950MHz using the FM Narrow mode
a TNC (Terminal Node Controller)
soundcard modem software such as SoundModem or direwolf and radio interface such as the DuinoVox or Signalink or a simple DIY cable
A computer capable of talking to a serial port (either inbuilt or more increasingly via a cheap USB device)

Any 2 metre radio will work as long as it can be switched to the FM Narrow mode and it can output audio via a dedicated (and standardised!) data port or other connector, and this does include the cheap handies such as the Baofeng.
Nowadays more and more radios (such as the Yaesu FT-991A) are shipping with inbuilt soundcards and serial interfaces. If your radio has that facility then interfacing is trivial and you could be up and running in a matter of a few minutes.

Terminal Node Controllers are devices that take the raw audio from the radio and examine it for Packet Radio messages, handle mailboxes and BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) and send messages via the radio.
They are a standalone unit that plugs into the radio and communicates with other packet radio systems. Prices range from a few pounds for Arduino-based units to hundreds of pounds for the more expensive and feature-rich models.

The computer can be used for connecting to a dedicated TNC using free software or alternatively as a software-based packet radio decoder and encoder, again using free software.

To connect via a TNC it first needs to be configured with the speed from the radio (1200 baud). On my model (the Kantronics PacketCommunicator 9612) the command is

HBAUD 1200

You also need to set up your callsign in the TNC. On my model the command is:


Be sure to use your own callsign.

To connect to my node you use the CONNECT command:


If you can’t see me then you may be able to route via another TNC in the group using the command:

removed as MB7NEV is offline due to our founder and dear friend Nick G7EVW being terminally ill. I wish him my best wishes.

(or another callsign from the NEPR group.)

Once you’re connected, the HELP command will list all commands available to you.

If you want to connect to my mailbox, then connect as above but use the callsign 2E0HIS-2. Again, the HELP command will give you a list of commands.
Should you wish to disconnect from the mailbox, type in BYE and press enter.

Information about the NEPRG

Dedicated to the memory of Steve

The North East Packet Radio Group is located in the North East of England and allows Amateur Radio users to communicate and pass messages to each other using radio signals rather than relying on the internet.

Founder members are:
Nick G7EVW

The frequency used is 144.950MHz with the callsign GB7ODZ FM Narrow, 1200 baud.

Welcome to the NEPRG website

Let’s bring packet radio back to the world!

An entire generation has grown up without knowing the sounds of a computer connecting to the internet using POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) or the sheer fun that could be had exploring the strange and exciting world of BBSes (Bulletin Board Systems) around the local area and even around the world.

Packet Radio can bring back that lost youth for many of us and has a great deal to offer the Fortnite crowd at the same time.

Playing chess with a friend from overseas, waiting patiently for his next move – when he finally wakes up! – and constantly scanning your TNC lights in case someone has left you email, even though for the rest of the neighbourhood the internet is down. Reading documents and viewing pictures from around the world without any form of a network connection.

Being in a car or lorry driving around the country with no phone signal yet still keeping in contact with loved ones, letting them know exactly where you are at all times – even when you don’t actually know where that is yourself.

What magic offers all of this ?

Actually you can do all of that with a radio that costs the same as a cup of coffee and a mobile phone that was destined for the bin 2 years ago but is still on the side gathering dust.

Welcome to the world of Packet Radio on TNCs (Terminal Node Controllers).