Transient-User Station Operations
A transient user would be a ham station who is sometimes connected to the network, and sometimes not.
Historically the Amateur Radio packet station would dial their radio and TNC to a packet network user frequency and get on the air.
The networks or servers, in the pre-Internet packet world, would have a radio+TNC on some channel, usually on 2 meters, where the locals would dial up to connect in.
The expectation at the time was that a BBS or DxCluster, or maybe network node port, would be available on 2 meters for anybody who happened to be on, and that the visitor would be able to play around, at least locally, with the avialable resources, without any commitment or notice to the community.
In a TARPN, as of late 2018, the only stations on the air are those who have semi-permanent dedicated point to point links with at least one neighbor station.
If one of our stations wanted to visit another county, in which there are network stations, they couldn’t just sit down and get on the network without making arrangements with at least one local network station in the community.
In the 1990s, almost all stations using packet radio were transient stations. There was no accommodation made for each station.
The result of this were:
- Transient stations needn’t have any relationship with the network operators so if the network operator eventually went away, the transient station was out of luck, having not been read-in on network operations, or practiced any of the methods needed to build and operate a network node.
- The channels used for transient operation were usually not operated with an eye toward surviving channel saturation.
That means if the traffic on the channel exceeded some threshold, the stations on the channel would see traffic flow stop and then they’d get disconnected, possibly in the middle of some operation which they’d then have to start over, possibly resulting in the same stoppage.
- Network node operators sometimes had expectations which differed from the transient operator.
This might result in a lack of system development or improvement, which might have been required for an optimum experience on the part of the transient user.
For instance, sometimes the transient user might be interested in using the network to connect to distant stations.
This might be a process at odds with the network operator and DX operation might be destructive to network operations, or prohibited by the network system or operators, or it might just not be an available choice due to the network architecture. The transient user had little recourse on any of this.
- Because of the very limited capacity of the transient access channels, individuals coming into the hobby were prohibited from adding network hardware to that channel, or building their own servers.
In order to advance to network building, or server application development, they’d first have to make friends in the server or network community.
That’s something which wasn’t always made available.
The TARPN network design imposes that any station who wants to do packet using the TARPN would have to volunteer to operate a node, and likely would also have to own and construct the node. The tools and documentation for node building are provided on the TARPN website.
The network permits long distance packet DXing through the network, and every station in the network has explicit permission to expand the network or add applications. Every TARPN node is a server.
Now that we have a TARPN, we certainly could create transient access channels again.
Could we do this better?
Or would the same community and social interaction eventually develop?
If somebody could get on the TARPN network and access its resources without having to operate, or build, own and operate a network node, would they graduate from operating transiently to actually building on to the network?
Would they care for the TARPN operational principals (no automated Internet interoperation)?
This is a social/philosophical/motivational discussion, not a technical one.
For the moment, as of the end of 2018, we don’t have a scheme for transient users.
We’ve bandied about some ideas.
- We really want transient operators to either be TARPN participants already, or to graduate to TARPN participation.
We need network builders.
Long term transient-only operation is not beneficial, maybe.
- We want to foster network participation. We could create transient channels using simplex transceivers, like back in 1990, but the keys to operate on the transient channel might only be granted existing TARPN participants?
This seems harsh.
- Or maybe we can come up with a transient system which is sustainable and is perhaps as good as our current backbone-only system?
Transient channels would be built using multi-frequency polling mechanisms where the operator has equipment which is just about the same as required for a TARPN node.
In fact, the polling channel, with multiple frequencies in use, might be as good as a TARPN backbone and this could become a valid way to expand the network.
For now we're looking for people who would like to build onto the network.
Eventually, or initially, each participant learns, operates and owns a backbone connected packet node.
It's rather fun and the existing group can help with some of the otherwise most expensive bits.