Using the WA2FNQ FlexNet Node
FlexNet is a packet network system like TheNet, NetRom, BPQ, etc. only most of its parameters
are adaptive. This allows them to change according to different channel usage and conditions
maintaining optimum performance. Nodes regularly poll each other giving the network a true,
dynamic view of the fastest route to any destination. The only parameter the node operator
has to set is TXDELAY, which is dependent on his equipment. FlexNet takes care of the rest,
eliminating the guesswork all too often found with other node systems.
In the fall of 1997, one link of the WA2FNQ node along with 3 other nodes in the area switched
to FlexNet as a test and never switched back. Since then all the nodes in the NYC Metro area
have all but converted to FlexNet. As a result we have seen an increase in network speed and
Using the WA2FNQ FlexNet Node....
Using a FlexNet node is similar to how you would use any other type of packet node. To
connect to the WA2FNQ FlexNet node on 145.05 MHz you would type "C WA2FNQ-2" at the TNC command
prompt as you normally do. What you will see is:
PC/FlexNet V 3.3g
Welcome to the WA2FNQ FlexNet-Digi node located in Northport,
Suffolk County, N.Y.! [FN30IV] This node operates as part of
the USA Eastnet Flexnet Network and serves the Northport Long
Island area of the NYC/LI region.
SYSOP is Jerry, WA2FNQ
Type H[CR] for help. Type M[CR] for the WA2FNQ Mailbox/BBS.
Type Q[CR] to quit.
Now, let's look at a few basic commands to get you started:
Normally when you connect to a NetRom node you type "N" to get a list of
nodes that is known by the node you're connected to. This is called the Nodes
List. With FlexNet you type "D" instead. This will give you a list of destinations
(the Destination Table) which the node can route to. With every callsign is its SSID range and
round-trip time in 100 ms steps.
Here is what a typical Destination Table might look like:
Typing "D [callsign]" will cause the node to try and work out a route to the given destination.
It will display after a few seconds. The destination table is usually the same on all nodes
with the except that if a round-trip time gets too high that node is dropped from the list.
FlexNet has the ability to detect loops in routing. The Destination table will only display
those nodes reachable without loops. Typing "D *" will display a complete nodes
list. By typing "D W2" you can selectivly view all the nodes that start with W2. Typing "D * W2"
shows all the nodes begining with W2 with or without a loop in their route.
Typing "MH" will display the last 30 callsigns the node has directly
heard. Optionally, a port number, a callsign or a number of entries to be listed may be
given ( "MH [options]" ).
The connect command is used to connect you further onwards to another node or station. The
correct syntax is "C [callsign]" or "C [callsign] [via] [digi1 digi2....digi8]. The node
will try to connect you via the path you request however the request will be denied if it
causes a loop in the network. For example, if you are connected to WB1CQO from WA2FNQ, you
can not connect back to WA2FNQ. To confirm your command you will see the message "link
setup..." and when the connection is made you will see "*** connected to [callsign]".
If the station you're trying to connect to fails to respond you will see "***
failure with [callsign]". If the station is busy you will see the message "***
busy from [callsign]". When you become disconnected from a distant node or station you will
get the message "*** reconnected to [callsign]" from the next node backwards. This
will show you where you are in the network.
If no callsign is given the "C" command will put you in to the converse mode. This allows a
number of stations to have a round table QSO. There are 255 converse channels available. See
the Help text for a list of available commands.
The "M"ail command will connect you to the nearest BBS defined by the
node operator. This is the same as the BBS command on a NetRom node. Typing "M" on the
WA2FNQ node connects you to the WA2FNQ Mailbox/BBS, WA2FNQ-4. To find out which BBS has been
set by the node operator type "M ?".
Typing "H" will give you the help file. This short file contains information
about the various node commands. These commands are shown in the list below:
FlexNet Node Command Overview
Statements inside  are optional.
A:.........................display text LATEST NEWS
C:.........................start conversation mode
................./w: list node users
................./w n: list convers users on channel n
................./c: display convers channel number
................./c n: switch to channel n
................./s call text: send private msg to user
................./q: quit conversation mode
C call [v] [digi]:...connect further on
D [*] [call]:..........display destination table, path to destination
F (call):................FIND-command, look for (call)
H:.........................display text HELP
I:..........................display text INFO
IO:.......................In/Out - status (used mainly on RMNC FlexNet nodes in Europe)
L:.........................display Interlink information
LO:......................display text LOCAL
M [?]:..................connect next BBS
MH [...]:..............display Heard-list [selectively]
MY:.....................display Mycall and SSID-range
P:.........................display parameters and statistics
Q:........................quit, end of connection
S:.........................SETSEARCH, display search-paths
T:.........................(call) send text to other users
U [*] [port/"="]:.display user table [selectively]
Typing "I" displays the information text file. This file generally
contains information about the network and/or node.
Typing "U" displays a list of stations currently connected to the node.
The "Q"uit command ends your current session with the node. The node
will respond with "73" and you will be disconnected. If you were connected from another
FlexNet node you will be returned to that node.
Some other useful commands....
This is what a typical Links table looks like:
The first column shows the callsigns of the neighbor nodes. The second column
shows the SSID range of these stations. In the third column is the round-trip
time in 100 ms steps. No number means the round-trip time is not calculated.
Three hyphens means that the link is not available at the present time. Three
hyphens surrounded by brackets means that the link is not available at the time
but the node autorouter is aware of a different way to the station. If there is
only one number in the column, the link partner does not know FlexNet protocol
(example: a NetRom node) or internode communication could not be established.
Two numbers indicate the neighbor is a FlexNet node and the round-trip time
in both directions is shown. If these numbers are in brackets, the node autorouter
knows a better (faster) way to the neighbor and the direct link is not used.
The direct link is also not made known to the network. The forth column shows
either the port number of the link to the neighbor or the stations by which
the neighbor is reachable. If the node operator knows the neighbor is not
a FlexNet node he may set the attribute @ to the link. Then only the path
is tested and there is no internode communication. A hyphen behind the port
number means that link is not made known to the network. This is used for
temporary links and tests.
The "P"arameters command displays a list of the current node parameters
and some channel statistics. This is what a typical Parameters table looks like:
The columns mean:
po: Port number.
id: Port SSID.
td: TxDelay in 10 ms units.
qso: The number of QSOs on this port. Internode communication is also counted.
usr: The number of stations heard on this port (last 3 minutes).
tifr: Transmitted I-frames within the last 10 minutes.
rifr: Received I-frames within the last 10 minutes.
tkby: Transmitted kilobytes within the last 10 minutes.
rkby: Received kilobytes within the last 10 minutes.
qty:  : Quality of the channel. This is updated every 10 minutes if there is something to send.
mode: Baudrate of the port. Additionally:
"c" Kiss: CRC-mode. HDLC: Software DCD (depends on hardware).
"d" Full duplex.
"t" External Tx-clock.
"r" External Rx-clock.
"z" NRZ mode.
"m" DAMA master.
"s" Port is syncronized.
"u" Port is a user port.
The "T"alk command allows you to talk to other users connected to the node.
There are 2 modes. If text is given behind the callsign ("T [callsign] [text]") this line is
sent to the station and you will be returned to the prompt. In this mode you will have to issue
a talk command for each line of text sent. By using the command "T [callsign]" you will get
into a permanent Talk mode. This is similar to the Convers mode only it does not occur on a
Convers channel. All Convers commands are active and the current status can be displayed with
The WA2FNQ Node is a registered user of FlexNet.