[NA-User] System Requirements

David A. Pruett k8cc at comcast.net
Fri Oct 31 09:41:23 EST 2003


I'm assuming (since you sent this note to the NA reflector) that you're 
going to use NA.  If so, then I'm afraid you have some challenges ahead.

Last weekend I and a team from the Mad River Radio Club did CQWW SSB from 
VE1JF up in Nova Scotia.  'JF favors WriteLog, which none of the team 
wanted to use, so we took our own computers.  What we had was a multi-2 
setup with packet spots coming in via a dialup connection using a laptop 
running K1TTT's WinTelnetX.  We ran into many of the same issues you're 
going to encounter, so it will be a useful example.

In looking at your description, I was initially puzzled why you had 
separate "WinTelnetX out" and "WinTelnetX in" ports on the two 
computers.  I've deduced that by running under WinXP, you're going to run 
both NA and WinTelnetX on one computer, then funnel the output from 
WinTelnetX "out" into the NA network via the "in" connection on the other 
computer.  This is pretty clever.

And it might work fine if you were using Win98 for your operating 
system.  WinXP does not want to let NA (or any other DOS program) hook 
itself into the operating system as is necessary to run the CW 
keying.  Most people can't get NA to send CW correctly under WinXP, while a 
few have made it work but have encountered anomalies such as the clock not 
keeping time.

The other issue is COM ports.  This is where we had problems getting a 
working configuration for VE1JF.  The computers we used were very small 
Acer desktops (which fit nicely into carryon bags), connecting them to 
monitors already at VE1JF.  The computers have two COM ports, but one is 
apparently dedicated to an internal modem and so can't be used for other 

At K8CC, these are the computers for the multi-multi 10M position which get 
their spots over the NA network.  Only two COM ports are needed - one for 
the NA network and the other for radio control.  Due to the computer's 
small size, there are only two expansion slots - one PCI, and the other an 
ISA/PCI combo.  The ISA/PCI slot is filled up with a W9XT Contest Card 
voice keyer.  For use at K8CC, I bought a SiiG single-port PCI COM card 
which comes with a DOS-compatible configuration program.  This works 
perfectly at K8CC.

However, for VE1JF we needed one machine to have three COM ports for radio 
control, NA network, and packet spots coming from the WinTelnetX 
laptop.  Our thinking was to replace the single COM card with a dual 
card.  While the availability of such cards is shrinking in an Ethernet 
world, they ARE still available.  I got one from CompUSA and another from 
SiiG (http://www.siig.com).  However, neither would do the job because the 
design of the cards was such that both COM ports shared the same interrupt 
line (IRQ).  This works fine in a Windows world; it's even advantageous 
since it minimizes the number of IRQs you have to have available.  However, 
NA's COM drivers are not designed to work that way.

If your computer currently has two COM ports (most likely COM1 and COM2 
using IRQs 4 and 3 respectively), the single port PCI COM card will likely 
work as long as it's DOS compatible.  The dual port SiiG card will even 
work as long as you only use one COM port.  (Tip - set NA for IRQ 11).

Again, it get's back to the operating system issue.  If you want CW keying, 
my advice is to step back to Win98.  If you're willing to use outboard 
keyers, NA will run OK under WinXP.

More and more NA users I know are simply avoiding the modern Windows hassle 
and setting up dedicated logging computers in the shack running DOS or 
older Windows.  For example, these little Acers I mentioned cost $75 used 
two years ago - 233 MHz Pentiums with 2GB hard drives, CD-ROM & 
floppy.  These handled our ~7800 QSOs from VE1JF flawlessly.

Hopefully, these tips will help.



At 02:18 AM 10/31/03 -0500, Dennis Ponsness wrote:
>Dave and group,
>   I am presently in the stage of "upgrading" my station for the ultimate 
> goal of a 2 rig multi op setup and have a question...
>For reference, I am using a P4 with Win XP Home (both machines) and want 
>to run them in a network configuration and also use rig control and 
>WinTelnetX for spotting.
>1) Lack of COM Ports - I believe that I can overcome this by installing an 
>I/O board with 2 additional COM ports on them.  I think I am limited to 4 
>COM ports total (correct me if I am wrong), so with that in mind, would 
>the following "work"...
>Computer #1 - Station #1 (online to Telnet)
>COM 1  Rig Control (K2)
>COM 2  WinTelnetX out
>COM 3  NA Network (to Computer #2)
>Computer #2 - Station #2 (not online)
>COM 1  Rig Control (K2)
>COM 2  WinTelnetX in
>COM 3  NA Network (from Computer #1)
>The only thing that I am not sure about is the WinTelnetX 
>configuration.  I know that it needs 2 COM ports to work "correctly" - I 
>want to be able to send spots as well as RX them!  Does it matter if the 
>COM ports are on different machines?  And I would assume that the spots 
>coming into Station #2 would be sent over the NA Network to show up on 
>Station #1.
>TNX es CU in the 'tests!
>Dennis - WB0WAO
>EN84ij Iosco County, Michigan
>K2 #3555
>Charter Member - Michigan DX Association
>Never get a busy signal because you are always connected  with high-speed 
>Internet access. Click here to comparison-shop providers.
>NA-User mailing list
>NA-User at contesting.com
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