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Terminal node controller

Terminal node controller

(also TNC)

Terminal node controller definition

A terminal node controller (TNC) is a device that acts as an interface between a computer and a radio to facilitate data communication over amateur radio networks. TNCs are primarily used for packet radio, a communication protocol that enables transmission of digital data packets via radio frequencies. They consist of a modem, a processor, and firmware that encodes and decodes data packets according to the AX.25 protocol, ensuring reliable data exchange between radio devices.

See also: broadcast address, class C IP address, network security protocols

Terminal node controller examples

  • Kantronics KPC-3: A popular TNC model used by amateur radio operators for packet radio communication, APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System), and other digital modes.
  • MFJ-1270X: A versatile TNC that supports various digital communication modes, including packet radio, RTTY, and PACTOR.

Terminal node controller vs. sound card modem

While TNCs have dedicated hardware and firmware for handling digital communication, sound card modems utilize a computer’s sound card and software to perform similar functions. Sound card modems are more affordable and versatile but may be less reliable and perform more slowly than dedicated TNCs.

Tips for using terminal node controllers

  • Ensure your TNC’s firmware is up to date to avoid compatibility issues and maintain optimal performance.
  • Choose a TNC that supports your preferred digital communication modes and offers reliable performance.
  • Configure your TNC according to the specific requirements of the radio device and software you are using.

Further reading

Ultimate digital security