ARRL Michigan Section
Digital Radio Group
a.k.a. "DRG"
a Michigan Section organization

The mantra for 2021 is:
Delivering text, data, ICS Forms, files, and images, over AX.25, NetROM or TCP/IP, to anywhere in the State of Michigan.

      The Michigan Section Mission Statement:

Develop the Michigan ARPSC Program into a fully integrated communications team ready, willing and able to provide radio communications support to public service agencies and the citizens of Michigan


Welcome to the DRG:

    The ARRL Michigan Section Digital Radio Group (DRG) was created in 2004 in an effort to coordinate the creation of a dependable Packet Radio network across the entire state of Michigan, primarily for use by the general Amateur community, and secondarily for emergency communications. The Digital Radio Group consists of a number of Michigan Section ARRL Staff along with two representatives from each of 7 state Districts and meets at least four times annually to discuss technical issues, develop network topologies, and resolve any problems in the deployment of a flexible and reconfigurable digital network that can be depended upon in times of emergency.

       Use of this network by the Amateur community on a day-to-day basis is requested and encouraged!

    What better way to assure that a network will work when it is needed, than to submit it to everyday use. And everyday use means that a larger pool of equipped, knowledgeable, and trained operators are available to step forward should they be needed to provide emergency communications. So dust off those old TNC's! We want to see you on the air! We wantto see the network put through its paces. We want your input regarding how the network develops. And most of all we want and need your participation!

    The map below, shows the status of the Network as of May of 2007. It grew considerably bigger in the following serveral years, with an RF footprint covering nearly 70% of the Lower Penninsula and several areas of the U.P. But then we went through a dry spell and many of the nodes and "Hamgates" are now off-line for one reason or another (health, moved away, jobs, family, interest, age). As with most things in life, the pendulum swings back and forth, and with your interest and energy we can swing that pendulum back in the positive direction and have such a well connected network, once again!

    Each of the Red dots on this map are "Hamgates" that form what is called a "fully meshed" network. That means that each node talks DIRECTLY to any other node. Whether that node is across the State or around the World, the connection is direct. This means that there is no Single Point of Failure: anywhere in the network. Though many of them do depend upon the Internet to provide that linking, they can, and many nodes do, connect purely over RF paths (using HSMM, microwave, 220MHz, etc.). The more the Network grows, the more support it has and the more RF paths that get installed, bypassing the Internet. Your efforts and hard work will determine how well connected this network becomes. But we have to start somewhere, and the Public Internet has proven itself time and again as a VERY resilient network - it is typically only the "last mile" that ever fails - but we can get around this with some effort.

    Behind each of these "Hamgates", there are Metropolitan and County-wide networks being deployed that consist of a mixture of both old and new technologies, from using simple AX.25, NetROM/X1J4/K-net, all the way up to dedicated TCP/IP protocols. Some networks branch off into HSMM-Mesh (WiFi) metropolitan area networks (MAN), D-Star, WinLink, and some even ride over the top of WISP (Wireless Internet Service Provider) networks. By using whatever technologies are available to us assures that each district within the State, or individual county, can deploy the technology that works best for their particular needs. What works best in one part of the State may not be the right solution for another. Our ultimate goal for the network is to move bits from Point-A to Point-B by whatever means we can, including the use of the Internet where Terrestrial RF paths may not yet be available.

    So get involved and come join us in the Packet (re)Revolutioni!!!

Benefits of the Michigan AMPRnet:

    Crawling hop by hop through AX.25 Digipeaters is *NOT* any way to sucessfully get data moved across the state. Even high-profile Digipeaters are known for the "Hidden Transmitter" problem that quickly brings throughput to a crawl when only a few users are attempting to use it. AX.25 is a "Link Layer" protocol and is only meant for point-to-point links, and digipeating was only meant as a Band Aid hack until proper Layer-3 and Layer-4 Packet and Network protocols would come along. Well, IP (Packet Layer) and TCP/UDP/ICMP/IPIP (Network Layer) protocols did indeed come along!

    JNOS and X1J/NetROM/BPQ do these higher level protocols, and are excellent platforms to build a suitable network that can tie our AX.25 user base together, while also providing an avenue specifically built to pass the TCP/IP suite of protocols. Golly, that would be just like the Internet, albeit somewhat slower. But anything faster than ZERO bits per second is a good thing (grin).

    One key purpose of such a Statewide network would be to move large data files and FEMA ICS forms to and from disaster scenes and between Emergency Operation Centers (EOC) and the State EOC in Lansing (SEOC.AMPR.Org). On a day-to-day basis, the general Ham radio population can chat with one anouther using the CONVerse "chat" system, Telnet to various hosts and BBS's, pass text and image files via FTP, and in some cases view small Web pages. On higher speed links we can even link DMR, Fusion, and D-Star repeaters, and even support VoIP RTP/SIP telephone protocols. The world is our playground.


Finger, SNMP, HTTP, ICMP, Ping, SMTP Mail, IMAP, POP3

easily interface with off-the-shelf (OTS) hardware such as WiFi Access Points, local LANS, Windows, Mac, Linux and Android devices

Can interface to HSMM-Mesh or Ubiquiti or Mikrotik or Meraki Modem/AP/Routers for HIGH-SPEED networking over the air!

JNOS is the Swiss Army Knife of Packet Radio!

Periodic Meetings and Training sessions:

The Digital Radio Group meeting schedule:


DRG Quarterly Meeting

AMPRnet/Packet Training Session

Meeting Date/Time

April 27th, 2019
Noon - 3:00pm
Livingston County EMS Headquarters
Howell MI

JNOS on the Raspberry-Pi
Using the Michigan Networks to get where you are going

Saturday March 2nd, 2019
9am to Noon
Monroe county
(precise location to be provided soon)


Jay Nugent - WB8TKL
1316 Oak Street
Ypsilanti, MI 48198

Jay Nugent - WB8TKL
1316 Oak Street
Ypsilanti, MI 48198

    DRG Quarterly Meetings are attended by any of the Michigan Section Staff and two representatives from each State District (as appointed by that district's DEC). Meetings are NOT open to the public, however, non-members may be asked to attend by invitation for the purpose of presenting specific information or training to the DRG membership.

    AMPRnet/Packet Training Sessions are open to the general Amateur community. Their purpose is to answer the basic questions that users may have and to help more experianced uses with the more technical questions. These sessions could be held as a Presentation at a Ham Radio Club or ARPSC group, etc. They are intended to expose new users to the AMPRnet network and to train new Operators in its use and to help them better understand all aspects of TCP/IP over AX.25.

    DRG Quarterly meetings are not closed in an effort to hide anything. They are closed in an effort to control the meeting size, as too large a group leads to too many distractions and less work gets accomplished. DRG quarterly meetings are NOT the venue for new users to attend to ask questions like "What is Packet?", or "How do I hook up my TNC?". These meetings are attended by the movers-and-shakers that build out the networks YOU use. The agendas are oftentimes filled to capacity for the 3 to 4 hour long meeting, and we MUST stay on track and on topic else we waste precious time. But please feel free to contact your District Representative for further information about getting started in Packet Radio and TCP/IP or NetROM networking, or check the resources here on this website. Your DRG Representative should also be able to direct you to the nearest Packet Training seminar or presentation at a nearby radio club. And feel free to ask him/her if they would be willing to provide such a presentation at YOUR club! Afterall, that IS what your DRG Representative is there for. To represent and support you!

    Agendas to upcoming meetings as well as the minutes of past meetings will be posted on this website as well as on the ARRL Michigan Section website.

    Working Groups and sub-committees are encouraged to involve as many interested persons, whether ARRL members or not, to participate in such meetings. The Chairperson of each committee shall decide how large or small his or her Working Group shall be, how often it shall meet, and how work or tasks will be delegated within the group. Each WG then reports back to the DRG at the quarterly meetings.

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