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RMNC/FlexNet and PC/FlexNet

On-Line FlexNET Manual
by Tadd, KA2DEW

Under Construction.  Last Modified
Thursday, December 17, 1998 07:28:09 PM EST

This project is being started on November 6, 1998.  I expect to be 90% complete by June 1999.  Please check back often and e-mail me screen shots. 

This is an attempt to capture all of FlexNET in a user manual.  This manual is supposed to support sysop, user, builder, and designer.  If there is anything missing in this manual, please send me e-mail including supporting screen captures.  I will be keeping a list of contributors so please include whatever moniker you want included in that list.

Some issues and features of FlexNET cannot be tested without having equipment that I am not likely to be able to reproduce.  Enthusiasts of this project are welcome to send me me screen captures, photographs, and text as necessary.  I can do clean-up on text if needed.  Thanks for your support.

What is FlexNET?

FlexNET is software for building Amateur Radio packet networks.  It lets hams communicate over long distances through multiple radio link sites (nodes) to tie their stations together and to ham operated server systems. 

FlexNET is a product of and Copyright 1995 of Gunter Jost of Darmstadt, Germany.  Gunter is DK7WJ.


FlexNET implements a digital network of nodes where each node represents a point in the network map.  The purpose of FlexNET is to allow computers to commuicate with other computers over distance.  The intended use of FlexNET is to have a series of nodes, each having a set of radios and located at discreat locations.  The radios are used to allow the FlexNET nodes to communicate with each other.  User stations access the FlexNET nodes via radio and then use FlexNET to connect them to destinations which can be servers of various types, and other user stations. 


FlexNET runs in a computer and connects RF modems and other devices together with intelligent routing.  A digital message packet can be received on one device and routed out another device.  Each device that a FlexNET computer uses to talk is called a port.  A port signifies a single pathway which can end at one or more other stations. 


FlexNET in 1998 can run in two different classes of computer.  One class is the Intel Personal Computer using Microsoft DOS as an operating system.  The other class is called the Rhein-Main-Network-Controller, or RMNC.  The RMNC is a custom hardware platform based on cards that plug into a passive backplane.  Each card hs it's own microprocessor with a single card that acts as a master. 


The FlexNET system uses a modular driver system.  Each kind of hardware port has it's own driver program to control it.  New hardware can be connected to the system if a new driver is written and installed to handle it. 

User Experience

There are three significant ways a user experiences FlexNET.  Let's take a case where the user is in PA with a callsign of N3EIC.  The user's local node is KA3NRJ.   The user wants to connect to his friend VE2BMQ in Vermont through the node VE2RM.  

The user with a TNC can connect to a FlexNET node and then issue commands.
Connected to KA3NRJ
Connected to VE2RM
Connected to VE2BMQ
A user with a TNC can connect to a destination by giving one or two FlexNET node identifications in the digipeater field of the connect sequence.
Connected to VE2BMQ
A user can run flexnet on his local computer and give it the command to connect to the destination.
Connected to VE2BMQ

Major Software Features

When a user connects to a FlexNET node they get a welcome message if enabled, and then a prompt;
The user may then enter one of many commands, some of which have parameters.  The node answers the command or connects the user to another station.  Disconnecting from the other station may reconnect the user back to the FlexNET node. 





Important Notes/Application Notes

Connecting to a TheNET node from FlexNET

The TheNET node must have digipeating into the node and out of it allowed.  This is Mode 17 on TheNET X1J.  Also it may require having digipeating through allowed.   This is Parm 23 on the TheNET X1J  --  Gunter says this isn't true.