Outpost Packet Message Manager

BBS and PBBS Information


Supported BBSs | Not on the List?Background
Don't have a BBS? Options for getting started

Supported BBSs

The following are the PBBS and BBS applications currently supported by Outpost.  Click on the BBS Link to see details on each.


Supplier PBBS/BBS Status
Kantronics KPC2 Supported (v2.2.1 c85)
KPC2400 Not supported; 1000 Byte memory limitation
KPC3, KPC3+ Supported
KPC4 Supported
KPC9612 Supported ( v2.2 c194)
KAM-4, KAM-5 Supported (v2.2 c229)
KAM-XL, KAM-98 KAM Plus Supported
Data Engine Supported (v2.2 c194)
KWM9612P Supported (v2.6 c31)
Timewave PK-88, PK-96, PK-232 Supported (v2.2 c194)
DSP-232 Supported (v2.2 c194)
MFJ Enterprises MFJ-1270x Supported (v2.2 c194)
MFJ-1274 Supported (v2.4c074)
MFJ-1278 Supported ( v2.2 c194)
Kenwood D-700 Not Supported; insufficient feature  differentiation
 PacComm TINY-2 Packet Controller Not Supported
Alinco DR235  with Build-in TNC EJ-41U Not Supported; incompatible message list format
BBS Applications AA4RE Supported
BPQMailChat Supported (v2.4 c074)
DXNET Supported (v2.2 c228)
F6FBB Supported
HAMSERV Supported (v2.2.2 c026)
JNOS Supported (v2.2.1 c85)
MSYS Supported
N0ARY Supported
OpenBCM Supported (v2.4 c074); Confirmation pending.
SNOS Supported (v2.2.2 c026)
TNOS Supported (v2.2.2 c026)
Winlink (Telpac/RMS/CMS), Classic Supported (v2.2 c194)
W0RLI Supported (v2.2 c194)

In the event you don't see your BBS on the list, or it does not behave as expected (BBS Prompts not set up correctly, different message listings, etc), there is a likelihood that Outpost may hang.  If this happens, see the section on "Your BBS not Supported?" 

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Don't see your BBS on the list?

Currently, I am aware of a couple of BBS/PBBS implementations that Outpost does not support: OpenBCM to name one.  Support was not included mainly because I didn't know how they look or behave.  To request that they get supported, read on... 

If you access a BBS that is not listed above and its' message listing is different from any of the above listing, provided this BBS is supporting your local emergency communications response efforts, please send me a full session listing as described here.

Using Outpost's Interactive Packet Window, Hyperterm, or any other packet program, manually do the following:

  1. Connect to the BBS or PBBS.
  2. Send yourself as message on this BBS (SP <yourcall>, etc.),
  3. Get a listing of messages addressed to you:  enter the LM command.
  4. Retrieve individual messages with the Read command (R ###),
  5. Get a listing of bulletin messages (if applicable):  enter LB command.
  6. Retrieve one bulletin (R ###),
  7. Exit from the BBS (usually a "b" for Bye),
  8. Cut and paste the entire text from the above session into an email or text file,
  9. Email it ALL to me at the address below. 

I'll keep you posted on when an update can be delivered, and will need your help to check it out since I will not have access to this BBS/PBBS type.

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Don't have a BBS?  Options for getting started

Outpost relies on a BBS or PBBS as a mail-drop for leaving and picking up packet messages.  You may be interested in using Outpost, but do not have a BBS or PBBS in your area.  Here are 3 possible approaches you may consider for getting a packet environment up and running ...

1. Quickest, easiest, cheapest: identify an existing user with a radio and PBBS-enabled TNC as your mail drop.  If you can dedicate radio and TNC to the task, (meaning, it is not doing double-duty as a stations' TNC as well), that's even better.

UPSIDE: (i) Take a look at the list of Personal BBSs embedded TNCs from Kantronics, AEA, and MFJ.  There are plenty out there that have sufficient memory for small (key word) message passing.  (ii) A TNC-Radio combo can be easily deployed in a small rugged'ized package, such as to a repeater site. (iii) Most TNCs do offer remote Sysop capabilities so you can configure, command, and control them remotely.

DOWNSIDE: (i) If it is not a KPC3-PLUS, then you can only have one station connect to its PBBS at a time.  Others will get a "BBS Busy" message if attempting to connect when someone else is already connected.  (ii) Memory limitation... you will need to make sure that users retrieve and delete messages addressed to them so that you do not run out of memory.  NOTE:  Outpost may not detect that a Out of Memory condition occurred and the user may think that it was posted on the BBS.

2. Quickest, easiest, not so cheap: If you have the funds, I recommend the KPC3-PLUS, with the 
version 9.1 firmware or greater and a 512Kb memory upgrade.  Depending on the firmware revision of the KPC3+ that you may have, you may need to perform a firmware update to get the all important concurrent users feature (meaning, more than one user can connect to the PBBS at a time).  Also, a memory upgrade is desirable and possible with commercial off-the-shelf parts that have been confirmed to work.  
Check out the KPC3+ BBS-in-a- Box application note on what is involved.

UPSIDE: (i) This TNC supports multiple concurrent connects, and gets you up and running with a quick and easy mail drop that closely resembles a stand-alone BBS. (ii, iii) Same comments as above regarding the small package and remote Sysop control.

DOWNSIDE: Even with the memory upgrade, you do not have "infinite" message storage.  You will have to make sure that users retrieve and delete messages addressed to them so that you do not run out of memory.

3. Not quick, not easy, may/may not be cheap: If you have a PC, TNC, and Radio that you could dedicate to a PC-based BBS and the time to work through the configuration, then I recommend looking at both the  F6FBB or JNOS BBS.  To give you a sense of what is involved in configuring a software-based BBS, check out this F6FBB Implementation Guide I wrote for my local county hospital group.  This procedure works, and has been confirmed by others.  However, if you deviate from the main equipment and SW setup, you will probably have to read up on all the components, and then plan on spending some dedicated shack time to get it to work.

UPSIDE: (i) because it is PC-based, you will not easily run out of message storage area. 
(ii) This package may be a good jumping off point for bringing up a multi-node packet network within your area.  For instance, in Santa Clara County, we plan to deploy 4 JNOS BBSs with 2 meter and 220 user access ports, and a 440 interconnecting LAN backbone.  During periods of high packet traffic, this will help spread out the traffic load.

DOWNSIDE: (i) Think of this as essentially bringing up a server to be accessed by Outpost clients. Depending on the PC, you may need to consider the environment where it will be deployed (dust, temperature, etc). (ii) To really check out your setup, you will need 2 sets of everything... a PC-TNC-Radio combo for the BBS, then another PC-TNC-Radio for your local packet station to connect to the BBS (as well as to test it). (iii) You may need to train up a few more folks as SysOps to help out. (iv) This effort will require a better understanding of a PC and its operating system.  (v) Lastly, you need a champion to own, drive, and motivate the project team that makes this happen.

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Outpost uses packet bulletin board systems (BBS) as mail drops for exchanging messages between users.  Users post their messages to a BBS using Outpost or some other interactive terminal mode application for other users to retrieve messages addressed to them.

While all BBS perform the same general functions, their individual implementations can be quite different.  BBSs are implemented as a SOFTWARE application that runs on a PC, MAC, Linux, or other platform.  Examples of software-based BBSs are F6FBB, MSYS, and AA4RE to name a few.  BBSs can also be implemented in FIRMWARE and incorporated into a Terminal Node Controller (TNC), such as with the KPC3, MFJ-1270, and PK-232 TNCs.  This type of BBS is typically referred to as a Personal BBS or PBBS.  There are several BBS and PBBS that Outpost supports; see the list below.  For this discussion, the tern "BBS" will be used to refer to both types.

The different BBS implementations were made with the intent for some type of optimization envisioned by the BBS' author.  As a result, each implementation has slight differences in their look, feel, and behavior.  Outpost talks to the BBS by interacting with it in the same manner that you would manually interact with the BBS.  Essentially, it does the following:

  • looks for prompts from the BBS to let it know when to send a BBS command
  • receives message lists to determine what messages need to be retrieved
  • retrieves messages and stores them in Outpost's message database

To do this, Outpost needs to know several things about the BBS:

BBS Prompts

The BBS Prompt is what the BBS presents to the user to let the user know that the BBS is ready to accept a BBS command.  BBS Prompts are either fixed by the BBS application, or can be customized at BBS run-time based on internal configuration files.  All prompts minimally have the ">"  as the last character in the prompt.  Examples of BBS prompts are:

BBS Type




Help >











Outpost will automatically determine the BBS prompts based on the first occurrence of the ">" character that it finds.  The Strength of the prompt is dependent on number of characters in the prompt;  a longer prompt tends to be more unique and helps prevent false prompt detects during a Send/Receive session.  Strong prompts help avoid inadvertently truncating an outgoing or incoming message.

Message Lists

Message lists are the result of issuing a List (L), List Mine (LM), List Bulletin (LB) or other BBS message list command.  

Outpost reads the message listing and then retrieves the messages per its Retrieve options.  Similar to BBS Prompts, not all message listings are the same.  For instance:

KPC3 listing

MSG#  ST SIZE TO     FROM  DATE              SUBJECT

36    PH 66   KN6PE  W6TDM 01/21/07 10:01:43 Are we ready?


F6FBB listing

Msg#   TSLD   Dim  To    @ BBS   From   Date/Time Title 

346    PNL     177 KB9SZK        N9ZZK  0127/0355 SSID test


Telpac listing

469435_K4CJX 2007/01/23 07:33 56 KE6AFE testing again


See the specific BBS pages for examples and other details on BBS message lists.

Message Headers Message Headers contains similar information to that of the message list, but formatted for printing.  

Outpost reads the message headers and, depending on the BBS, will take some or all of the header information to build up a more complete view of the message for display to the user.  Outpost also pulls the message header out of the message and allows the user to view it separately from the message itself. 

BBS Commands

There are 10 BBS commands that Outpost needs to know about to manage messages on the BBS.  In almost all cases, the commands are similar across the BBS implementations.  Some of the BBS commands that Outpost uses are:
Send Private: SP
Send Bulletin: SB
Read: R
Delete Message: K

See the Outpost BBS Setup form for the complete list.  It is worth performing a manual command check on your BBS before putting Outpost into production in your area.


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General Feedback

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updated:  July 18, 2012