The Kantronics KPC

Full-featured packet in a compact package,

Kantronics Company, Inc. 1202 E. 23rd Street Lawrence KS 66046 Telephone; (913) 842-7745 Price Class; $120

Kantronics has been in the business almost from the beginning of packet radio and is still going strong. Their KPC-2 has been around for some time now and the software has been updated numerous times, in the beginning there was the basic VHF/HF TNC with Digi, Since then they have added a BBSr KA-Node (their version of node) capabilities, WE-FAX and remote control

Their latest entry is the KPC-2's little brother, the KPC-3. Although the on]y thing little about it is its size.


Features \\ke the PBBS, KA-Node, Host mode, KISS mode. WEFAX and remote access are still there and operate identically to the KPC-2.

The KA-Node has always been a setting point for me and should be for others looking for a node. Unlike other nodes, you don't need to bum another EPROM or buy any updates. All parameters can be set by the user, even remotely.

The addition of remote control operation is a plus. No more special trips to the Digi site to set parameters. You have to be carefu) not to paint yourself into a corner. Hint: Don't turn EQUALIZE off unless you are certain you can turn it back on again. An unscheduled trip to a mountaintop taught me that one.

I've never had the chance to operate WEFAX, Most amateurs woufd probably never have a reason to get their own weather map, except for the novelty; however, i could see small Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) thai might want their own current copy during a hurricane alert. PC software is not included but is available from ^ Kanlronics. If you feel confident ^^^^ enough


write your own program, Kantronics gives you the specifics. Data comes in too fast (9600 baud) to write it in interpretive BASIC, Kantronics suggests Compiled BASIC, C or even Assembly language (for you rnasochists).

One more word about the WEFAX mode. I prefer to call it the "signal sampling" mode since all it really does is sanple the incoming signal, at intervals set by you, and send a raw bit stream of Vs and 0+s based on mark and space tones, I'm able to decode RTTY signals with a simple BASIC program. Although Kantronics says the center frequency is 1700 Hz {where everything higher than that comes out as a "1" and anything lower is a "0"), I've been able to copy 2125/2975 tones on VHF-FM+ Experiment with this mode and see if you can come up with a program to decode ASCII and maybe even CW.

Many units use DIP switches to set the RS-232 baud rate, turn the LEDs on and off, etc. 1 have always liked the idea of software switches instead of hardware DIP switches.. It just makes the unit look cleaner and software switches don't get dirty. Tiie KPC-3 retains the software switches,

Connectors are the same; a DB-9 for the radio, a DB-25 for the RS-232 and a 2.1 mm power jack.

This is where the similarities end.


First off, it's smaller. Much smaller. 0.8" x 5.2" x 5.2", weighing in at 11 oz., to be exact; compared to 1-3/4" x 6" x 8'\ at 2-1/4 lbs., for the KPC-2. That's one-quarter the size and one-third the weight!

In addition to the POWER, XMITf RCV, CON and STA LEDs, Ihey've added a MAIL light to indicate someone is connected to your PBBS (if constantly lit) or you have unread mail in the BBS (if flashing). On the KPC-2, the STA light performed this extra function when the CON light was off (not connected).

According to the manuals, the KPC-2 would run between 9-14 VDC at less than 250 mA. The KPC-3 is rated 6-25 VDC at less than 40 mA. Kantronics says if you turn off the LEDs (a software command) and use hardware carrier detect instead of software detect, current will be less than 15 mA! Sounds like the perfecl unit for an airborne node for 24V aircraft. It can afso be powered by a 9V battery, which they have allowed room for inside. It's nice to know


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