EastNetPacket.org

Some history of the Eastnet Amateur Radio Network

In the early days of packet radio here in the northeast there were 3 groups
of packet fanatics which were in existance and for the most part all 3 groups
worked together in constructing networks from Florida, up north to Maine
and deep into eastern Canada. These groups that were formed were:
NEDA - NorthEast Digital Association
NETCPA - North East TCP Association
EastNet - self explanitory

One common denominator all three groups had besides the fact that they shared
many members between them, is the fact that all 3 groups actually would bench
test the systems they used PRIOR to deployment and promoting the system. This
helped us maintain integrity and if anyone attempted to disqualify the info
any of the 3 groups presented, we had the FACTS ready. Between the groups,
we would find holes in source code (such as memory leaks in TheNet firmware)
and report them to the authors for patching... or if we made a claim that
our mail system could support 100 concurrent users (as a certain mail group
claims - but can't produce actual results) we'd have the actual proof available
for review.

NEDA was more of a NetRom networking system. Some of their reports are still
available online at https://n1uro.ampr.org/neda/ if you wish to review some
of their findings. EastNet imported many (not all) of NEDA's NetRom parameters
when we used NetRom as our defacto network protocol. Prior to using NetRom,
we used a system called ROSE which is very limited in its usage even today.
Unlike NetRom which is somewhat dynamic in it's routing nature, ROSE is a
static route protocol - so if a path died, no alternate path could automatically
take over. When you're doing interstate routing, this is NOT an optimum idea.

NETCPA was our area's IP experts. Many of their past presidents also worked
at ISPs in some capacity or another... most were in higher level positions.
One was an owner - K2MF - who also developed and maintained MFNOS (DOS).
http://www.mfnos.net/ is still a valid website. IP services were always a
favorite of the EastNet founder (Bob Anderson - K2BJG/SK) and Bob tapped
into K2MF's knowledge of IP to learn routing across EastNet. Bob had already
enlisted John WB2CIK for assistance with RF contructions, and routing through
EastNet was working pretty darn good. 

EastNet was in great shape... RF resources were plentiful, network engineering
and software programming were local and available (with MFNOS). In 1995, K2MF
and N4GAA got N1URO involved to assist in the network engineering designs of
EastNet IP routing and AmprNet coordination. N1URO eventually became involved
as a president of NETCPA as well, also working for ISPs such as RCN, DSL.net,
NEN, ReonBroadband, and others. Through K2MF, N1URO met K2BJG and an additional
resource was available to EastNet. 

In the mid 1990's N1URO began working with the Linux operating system, and
part of his work included how to interface it with amateur radio. It appeared
to have an ax25 and NetRom protocol stack... and just needed an engineer to 
properly have it interface with EastNet's X1J-4 NetRom system. Using both
NEDA and NETCPA suggestions, N1URO was able to get it to work and work quite
successfully. The major problem was: Linux also can do IP, and there were those
on EastNet (now SK) who didn't understand nor wished to understand that IP is
just a protocol and like running water it will flow in which ever path is the
easiest to flow... wire or rf it did not matter.

In 1998 K1UOL after several work-related visits to Germany brought over a
system designed there called pc/FlexNet. It was an ax25 digipeater/router
system that used a new eprom system called 6-pack. They claim to "route"
everything however K1UOL knew there were no route tables you could set in
pc/FlexNet and his goal was to cease all IP operations on EastNet. After 
bench testing just the ax25 routing aspect of this new system it was rapidly
deployed out to the various EastNet locations... and IP was considered a dead
protocol, as with NetRom on EastNet.

K2MF engaged in an email thread with the creator of FlexNet and was given much
false information about how to get IP through FlexNet. In 2001 K2MF had given
up on further MFNOS development for EastNet and began to bow out. One thing was
that he didn't appreciate the false information he was being fed direct by the
author of FlexNet... however through his persistance (or stupidity hi!) N1URO
finally figured out the whys and hows to get IP to pass through FlexNet, while
using FlexNet as a sort of BGP router on RF to enhance the distances of IP.
First engineering on linux was done, then N1URO passed this theory to xNOS
and MFNOS was again a viable IP system on EastNet. IP routing on RF from
mid Massachusetts to mid NJ were flowing at both 1200 and 9600 baud nicely. 

K2BJG, K2MF and N1URO drafted several white pages for EastNet and to this day 
N1URO still does. In 2007, between K2BJG and N1URO, EastNet's software design
was to be linux since DOS was no longer being maintained or even sold, FBB
was only being developed for Linux, and N1URO had developed packet software
natively for Linux which have more features than what's available for the
Windows platforms. N1URO also engineered a way to run pc/FlexNet within
linux as a daemon. This gave EastNet the ability to expand beyond it's wildest
dreams. It was back then where K2BJG and N1URO decided that the official OS
for EastNet would be linux with pc-FlexNet/LinFBB/URONode/axMail-FAX as
the primary services.

When we were unfortunate to lose K2BJG, while in Florida, Bob Anderson Jr
passed off EastNet to Ted K1YON who does the radio work for EastNet. Between
K1YON and N1URO managing EastNet, we're the only one of the 3 groups that
remain in operation and continue to grow.

Unfortunately, like any other aspect of any hobby political figures always have
an uncontrollable urge to interfere and take credit for the success of anothers'
work... and we've had our share within EastNet. Some were even trying to make
Windows the primary OS for EastNet... just picture an emergency condition with
a blizzard (yes this happened in 2017!) and a pc running Windows blue screened
and prevented emergency communications on packet to get through - and a travel
ban was in effect preventing one from going to a remote mountain top (in 2
feet of snow) to hit a reset button. We won't even go near that one.

EastNet is now very robust with it's services and protocols we can now route.
We can handle anything from ax25 to ROSE to FLDigi. Our network engineer
N1URO is also now a linux partner developer and contributes to the LinFBB
project as well as maintaining URONode and axMail-FAX. EastNet is also the
only network who has a packet node developer in the U.S.A. and who's software
is part 97 compliant unlike those from other lands which are not.

We've been trying to hold meetings twice a year and we encourage sysops
current and future to join us in discussions and presentations. We're also
still very fortunate to not only remain a packet group who has a developer
in it but also we're recognized by TAPR and we're blessed to have Stana
WA1LOU give talks and represent TAPR. TAPR also sponsors and hosts
the URONode/axMail-FAX support list. EastNet also has an email list you can
register at via our home page.

Click here to get back.