Sound Card Packet

AGWPE Overview
    More about AGWPE
1. Interface
 Getting Started
Kits and Pre-assembled
    Receive Audio Cable
    Transmit Audio Cable
    PTT (TX Control) Cable
    2 Radio Modification
2. AGWPE Set Up
Download and Install
    Basic AGWPE Setup
    2 Radio Setup
    2 Card Setup
3. Sound Card Setup
    Basic Settings
    Additional Settings
Tuning Aid
4. Windows™ Setup
TCP/IP Settings
    Update Windows
5. Problems?
Program Behavior
    USB SignaLink
6. Using AGWPE
    AGWPE on a Network
Baud Rates & Modes
    Remote Control
    TCP/IP Over Radio
Tips and Tricks
Traffic Parameters
7. Compatible Programs:
    Setup Help
8. Packet Reference
    Exchange Modes
    Frame Headers
    TNCs and AGWPE
    What to do with Packet
    Common Frequencies
    Sound Card Mechanics
    Further Reading     


More About AGWPE

Other AGWPE features
Hardware requirements (processor, RAM, etc)

Sound Cards
Compatible Packet Programs

Baud Rates and Operating Modes


This web site discusses only the sound card features of AGWPE.  AGWPE was originally written as a TNC management utility. Before AGWPE came along, a packet device such as a TNC (Terminal Node Controller) or radio modem could only be used by one program at a time. Likewise, a packet program could only use one packet device at a time.  AGWPE changed all that. AGWPE lets AGWPE-compatible programs access multiple packet devices at one time, and lets a packet device be shared by multiple programs at one time.

AGWPE performs its magic by placing TNCs in KISS mode and then taking over responsibility for handling most of the logic functions built into the TNC. The TNC is left to handle just tone modulation/demodulation, or modem, functions.

AGWPE also works with radio modems, such as the YAM and Baycom, which do not have the logic functions of a TNC and must rely on the logic functions of a computer control program such as AGWPE. The program author, George SV2AGW, then realized that a computer sound card could emulate all the functions of a radio modem, so he added the logic in AGWPE that allows a sound card to act as a radio modem.

For AGWPE to work with packet programs, the program must have an option to use AGWPE as a TNC manager, i.e. the program becomes a client of AGWPE, the host.  Many program authors have added this option to their programs because AGWPE relieves them of the need to write all the programming code that would be needed to control different packet devices. It's much easier to let AGWPE do it!

To use AGWPE and its TNC management services, authors only need add a simple link to AGWPE using either the Windows DDE Manager (Dynamic Data Exchange) or, better yet, the Windows TCP/IP Socket interface, which permits network access to AGWPE. (If you are a program authors: see open development information).

Note that when a packet program is using AGWPE's host mode, any settings that may be in the packet program to control a TNC or radio modem are usually no longer functional since AGWPE has take over control of the device.

Other AGWPE Features

To learn more about AGWPE's super capabilities, I suggest you read the info pages at the AGWPE web site and the program's integrated Help files (Help is on the AGWPE popup menu. Then explore the program's various menu options. For example, you'll discover that:

  • AGWPE can automatically launch your packet programs after it loads. From the AGWPE menu select Startup Programs
  • AGWPE will automatically adjust TNC/sound card timing parameters as it senses packet traffic on the frequency (although you can over-ride this). From the AGWPE menu select Properties and then the TNC Commands tab.
  • You can use a network or the internet to tie into the feed from a remote TNC running under AGWPE providing your packet program can link to the remote computer and AGWPE using TCP/IP protocols.
  • There is a special "TCP/IP Over Radio" feature which allows you to use packet radio to create a wireless TCP/IP network to exchange email, surf the web, etc. For example, with this feature a station with internet access could provide internet access to a station that doesn't have it.  Note: there is a licensing fee for this feature, however, if you are interested in this feature, consider purchasing Packet Engine Pro, which includes a TCP/IP over Radio license.
  • AGWPE can direct specific packets to specific AGW-written programs. For example BBS packets can be directed to the AGWTerm program, while DX cluster packets can be directed to the AGWcluster program. The secret ? Using a different callsign SSID in each program, e.g. NM5RM-2 for AGWTerm and NM5RM-3 for AGWClusters.)
  • You can access and control AGWPE from a remote computer on your network or even over the internet.

AGWPE Hardware Requirements

It's impossible to give a definite minimum requirements for running AGWPE. There are many variables that have an effect on operations including processor speed and type, amount of  RAM, video card, sound card, sound card drivers, etc.

George SV2AGW, the program author, wrote once that generally a Pentium II or newer processor should work without problems. Older, less capable processors may or may not work.

Here's a posting from one user successfully running AGWPE on a 486 66 MHz computer with Windows 95 and 28 MB of RAM:

"For 1200 baud AFSK digital signal processing (DSP) algorithms (i.e. packet) you do not need a lot of CPU power. If you're into real time video processing, yes, but in general a 486/66 is plenty for the DSP algorithms used in packet radio. Thomas Sailer who developed the algorithms considers a 486/66 as a minimum.

Also, keep in mind that even at a 44KHz sampling rate and at 16-bit resolution, you only need 88Kb to store 1 second of audio. The applications that we are talking about do not store huge amount of data, so a lot of RAM is not necessary for these applications. The only reason you might want to consider more RAM is to keep Windows running at a reasonable speed, leave more processing resources for user space algorithms, and prevent your packet applications from being swapped out to the swap file on the hard drive."

The real problem is how Windows handles resources, and how the drivers are being accessed by the applications. George mentions this on his web site. At this time I have AGWPE running on a small 486/66/28Mb/Win95 with no problem. I can surf the net and start other applications with no problem. WinAPRS and AGWPE keep humming."

And paraphrasing Stephen: "I run AGWPE very nicely on a mere classic Pentium 166 with MMX. If I put a P200 chip without MMX in the same machine, it won't run AGWPE reliably. Ham sound card programs are one of the few real-world applications where MMX actually does make a difference. In nearly every case, the presence or absence of MMX is the critical processor "horsepower" threshold that determines whether a sound card application will run or not. By the way, all Pentiums after the original "Pentium with MMX", in other words, all P-II, P-III, and P4 processors, incorporate the MMX instruction set as a matter of course."

Sound Cards

AGWPE will work with most 8-bit sound cards, but not all. For more information, see the Sound Cards  page on this site.

Compatible Programs

AGWPE will work with dozens of Windows programs, but not DOS, UNIX or Mac programs (at least none that I know of). On the Compatible Packet Programs page on this site, there is a partial listing of programs that will link to AGWPE. For some of those programs, there is also an AGWPE configuration help page on this site. Just click on the "yes" next to a program's name.

Baud Rates and Operating Modes

AGWPE handles baud rates of 300 (HF), 1200, 2400, and 9600. The Baud Rates and Operating Modes has additional advice about operating at those baud rates.


  Last Updated: 07/05/2012   Return to the top of this page