I am busy with a number of large projects, so I have very little time for the hobby. In my daily life I work as a Welder and I am used to working with large materials.
And I get scared of the little NinoTNC and parts I received. I know where to start, but I’m scared of squeezing that little thing completely. Or that everything is soldered together. I hope I can find some time this weekend to find out which part should go where and start soldering.
I ordered two, I am very curious. Just wait for the B.O.M (Bill Of Materials)file and then I can order the components.
PRE ORDER LISTING–PLEASE READ: This is a revision of the N9600A that eliminates the need for a USB-serial daughter board, which is now in short supply in the US. This PCB, N9600A3, provides pads to use an MCP2221A-I/P USB bridge on-board, along with a USB-B connector. I expect to have stock ready to ship in May 2020, but that date may extend due to current global events interrupting supply chains.
This kit contains the printed circuit board and programmed dsPIC CPU required to build one TARPN N9600A3 packet radio terminal node controller (TNC). This kit does not include any other parts from the bill of materials, you will have to obtain more parts from a supplier to build a complete working TNC. Basic electronics tools and skills will be required to assemble a working TNC. You’ll need to be competent with a soldering iron, and have a supply of small-gauge solder. Side cutters will be necessary, as well as tweezers or needle-nose pliers.
The PCB is a high-quality 4-layer board with blue finish and white silkscreen for part locations and identifiers. It requires only thru-hole parts for assembly.
Once assembled, the N9600A3 TNC acts as a multi-mode data modem you can use to create narrow-band datalinks with VHF and UHF communication radios. The N9600A3 TNC sends and receives data using several user-selectable modulation methods and link protocols: traditional AX.25 modes at 1200 bps AFSK (like APRS) and 9600 bps using GMSK (compatible with the G3RUH standard).
N9600A3 differs from previous revision with the incorporation of an on-board USB bridge and USB-B connector, as well as 2 more DIP switch options that will enable several future firmware features that are under development now. All these future firmware upgrades will be supported in N9600A2 as well, through KISS options (N9600A2 does not have as many switches).
The TNC also supports an experimental layer 2 protocol called IL2P which incorporates several improvements, including Forward Error Correction. IL2P can be used as an alternative to AX.25 on both 1200 AFSK and 9600 GMSK modes. You can read more about IL2P here:
9600 bps GMSK will not work with all voice-band radios. It requires a radio with a data port (direct modulator/discriminator connection) or other wide-bandwidth connection. It should be possible to use 1200 bps AFSK mode with most voice-band radios, once you have obtained (or made) suitable connection cables.
You can find more information about this TNC, build instructions, bill of materials, configuration tips, and a community of users at the following links:
Some disclaimers: We are selling this kit at very close to our cost, in the hopes of growing the Terrestrial Amateur Radio Packet Network (TARPN) and the entire packet radio community. You must assemble and use this device at your own risk. Operation of any radio device on the Amateur Radio bands requires applicable licensing by the government of the country where the device is used. If you damage the PCB or CPU beyond repair during assembly or use, you’ll need to pony up another $7.57 plus shipping to order a replacement. We do not guarantee suitability for use for commercial purposes. Do not use this device as part of a life-saving system.
I hope that you enjoy assembling and using this device, and grow a packet radio network where you live!
I received a nice email from Tadd KA2DEW, there is a lot of development in the NinoTNC.Read the great news below.
We fixed the FTDI USB problem with the NinoTNC board by putting a USB-B socket on the PCB and a Microchip USB IC. This actually cut the parts cost by a few $. We’ll have the boards for sale on ETSY in April. Go to Etsy.com and search for TARPN. If the search doesn’t come up, then it isn’t listed yet. Our plan is to take orders in advance of shipping, and prime the pump with 200 boards ordering in early April with 3 weeks to get the boards into stock. At a time closer to ship time we’ll order programmed PIC CPUs with the latest firmware. When we get down to 50 or so in stock, we’ll order more. Because we’re running on out-of-pocket funding for the boards and CPUs, there may be some out-of-stock issues, but the price is right so hopefully people will smile and deal with it.
The new board is called the N9600A3. The last version was the A2, a black PCB with a 2-bit dip switch and the FTDI module on headers. The new board is the A3 blue PCB with USB B connector and a 4 bit dip switch. The new switches will be used to select more bit-rates. We’re not ready with anything new yet, but hopefully by the time the board ships? We’re likely to have 1200, 2400, 4800 and 9600 for FM and maybe some support for HF via SSB. Just like the A2 board, this one will come with IL2P Forward Error Correction mode which is a very efficient packet encoding providing Forward Error Correct in the same length packet as an AX.25 packet. (Full disclosure, as I understand it, packets with > 64 payload bytes will grow larger than AX.25 but small payloads result in shorter than AX.25 packets).
The NinoTNC A3 will come with a over-the-USB bootloader to update the firmware over USB, and we’ll be shipping a free Raspberry PI Raspbian application to boatload the TNC from a hex file. The hex file will be shipped for free one way or another. TARPN node ops will just do an UPDATEAPPS command on the TARPN scripts.
There is much software support to write for this which is not yet done. Our crack firmware and software teams are busy busy busy. Even though we’re not going to be ready with updated software in time we wanted to rush the A3 out there to solve the availability problem with the FTDIs. In addition we discovered that the tolerances for the Micro USB plugs and sockets are so bad that many people are breaking the FTDI modules plugging and unplugging. That’s not good. It’s easy to work-around but ugly. The A3’s USB-B connector is a much better deal.
Like before, we won’t be taking profit from this, and we’ll be selling the PCB + CPU for well under $10 on ETSY. Search on ETSY for TARPN. If it isn’t coming up, then we’re not ready to take pre-orders yet. It should be ready in early April. The news and info page will be updated when we get the store back up and when we have a clue about shipping this. We’ll also be posting a new A3 assembly link with access to the new bill of materials.
Tadd KA2DEW send me some great news. Thank you Tadd.
I`ve read that they were working on it, but that they were already that far …..
The sale will probably start at the end of January or the beginning of February.
TARPN is about to start selling its own TNC called NinoTNC. This is to be sold as a programmed CPU and PCB for $14 including shipping. They give you a BOM file and instructions to submit it to DigiKey for the rest of the parts. Costs about $25 including USPS shipping. Total cost is < $40. The NinoTNC is a USB KISS hardware/firmware TNC which looks like the TNC-PI, but isn’t a HAT. It is powered over USB and can connect to any USB equipped computer which supports a program to operate a KISS TNC. The NinoTNC has its own FEC mode useful for making dedicated point-to-point links.