Monday, 7 January 2013

DPARS members have always had an interest in Packet operation and opened their first Packet station in December 1992. This was sited on Bullbarrow Hill, near Blandford Forum in Dorset. The node was known as SMOKEY and used the DPARS club callsign M1ABD. SMOKEY was a dual-port node, working on 2Ms and 70CMs. It became obvious that SMOKEY had very good coverage and provided links into Devon, Somerset, South Wales, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands.

A second node was very soon added to the network. This was sited on Eggardon Hill, near Bridport in Dorset. This node was known as ASKERS and used the DPARS club callsign of G0ROZ. ASKERS was also a dual-port node on 2Ms and 70CMs.

In 1995 the APRS protocol appeared in the UK and the club nodes were converted to APRS Digipeaters. SMOKEY’s callsign was changed to M1ABD and ASKERS callsign was changed to G0ROZ-3. A smaller Digipeater was set up at Dorset Police Headquarters at Winfrith and uses the callsign  M1ABD-3.

 Attempts were made to get a new MB7 callsigns but, as the sites belonged to the Home Office, this was not possible.

On March 29 2011 the computers at all three sites were updated. M1ABD is now running Windows XP and the other two are running Windows 98SE. All the computers are now programmed to re-boot themselves in the early hours of every Sunday morning. The old computers suffered from Memory leakage and ground to a halt about once a month. The automatic re-boot should stop this from happening and keep the sites running for longer without maintenance.