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
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:
CONNECT 2E0HIS VIA MB7NEV-2
(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.