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
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
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:
Connect to the BBS or PBBS.
Send yourself as message on this BBS (SP
Get a listing of messages addressed to
you: enter the LM command.
Retrieve individual messages with the Read
command (R ###),
Get a listing of bulletin messages (if
applicable): enter LB command.
Retrieve one bulletin (R ###),
Exit from the BBS (usually a "b"
Cut and paste the entire text from the
above session into an email or text file,
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.
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.
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.
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
looks for prompts from the BBS to let it know when to send a BBS
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:
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
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
Message lists are the result
of issuing a List (L), List Mine (LM), List Bulletin (LB) or other BBS
message list command.
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:
MSG# ST SIZE TO FROM DATE
36 PH 66 KN6PE W6TDM 01/21/07 10:01:43
Are we ready?
TSLD Dim To @ BBS
From Date/Time Title
346 PNL 177 KB9SZK
N9ZZK 0127/0355 SSID test
469435_K4CJX 2007/01/23 07:33 56 KE6AFE testing again
the specific BBS pages for examples and other details on BBS message
Message Headers contains
similar information to that of the message list, but formatted for
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
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:
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.