Packet Radio BBS

Previously operated by the Ariel Radio Group

GB7BBC was a packet radio BBS serving the amateur community in West London. It was housed at the BBC Outside Broadcast Base in Acton, and operated by members of the Ariel Radio Group, the amateur radio society for BBC staff.

This page was embarrassingly was last updated on May 9th 2007. You may like to:

News from GB7BBC

GB7BBC Closure

The BBC Outside Broadcast base has moved out of Kendal Avenue, Acton, to Langley in Berkshire. The Ariel Radio Group station previously homed at Kendal Avenue has moved to the East Tower of BBC Television Centre in West London. The on-air activities of the group will be reviewed by the Ariel Radio Group members using the station, but the BBS and node are closed at present and the priority is to re-establish 'conventional' radio activities from the new site.

The group would like to thank all the users of GB7BBC and the GB7LO/G8LWS node for the kind encouragement they gave to the project.

RF Links

The GB7HSN BBS and node stack has closed, and although it was hoped that Derek would bounce back with a 9k6 network node, this does not look likely any more. The 439.875 MHz 9k6 link is currently useless.

More recently in January 2002, the 9k6 link to Caterham has started to get stroppy. The problem is believed to be a soggy run of feeder across the roof, and we'll try and get that replaced 'real soon now'.

Licensing Rules

Across the world, radio amateurs steer well clear of using amateur radio on a commercial or business level, and as you might expect, the UK amateur radio rules ban these advertisements from the amateur airwaves.

The UK rules have changed recently regarding 'personal shack' sales and wants, and UK packet radio users may post one advert per month. Unfortunately, although the Radiocommunications Agency intended this advert facility to be available at all UK BBS Stations where the sysop wished, it appears that some sysops opposed to the introduction of advertisements lobbied the infamous RSGB DCC. Subsequently, a loophole was found in the wording so that only BBS stations who had been granted an additional NOV are permitted to handle advertisements.

Please be wary when connecting to a UK BBS in order to send any form of 'for sale', 'wanted' or 'swap' message tolerated elsewhere in the world - check with the sysop first to see if these messages are welcome and permitted. A small but vocal 'Packet Gestapo' get their kicks from finding licensing infringements and causing grief for the sysop of the BBS responsible - usually calling for penalties that would have been beyond the pale of even the NKVD in the Stalin years.


There was a major panic at the start of the year 2000 when the UK amateur radio rules were suddenly changed to forbid the use of packet wormholes.

A well-meaning amateur in the Midlands had been campaigning for years to have voice repeaters interlinked via the internet, and in November 1999, his wish was granted by the head of the UK Radiocommunication Agency, David Hendon - who passed his decision on to the Amateur Radio Department to implement. These people are professional UK Civil Servants, and taking their cue from the legislative practices of the last Conservative administration, chose to ban all 'other network' linking apart from that which they expressly permitted for individual amateur radio licencees.

The circumstances in which GB7BBC operates were not envisaged at that time, and after a little lobbying by ourselves and the infamous RSGB DCC, a new 'node authority' was introduced as a mechanism of permitting the packet wormholes to continue. The Radiocommunications Agency were very keen not to put a stop to existing uses of 'other networks', and the paperwork for GB7BBC was in place just before the cut-off date.

GB7BBC has a node authority 'GB7LO', whilst G8OTS operates under 'MB7KW'. Up to now, this has been a paper exercise for us, but these new authorities open up the way for interconnectivity with the internet at large in addition to existing wormholes. Watch this space.....


GB7BBC's linux box is now using the latest AX25 software designed for new 2.2.x series kernels. Our latest excuse for not moving the ports running under BPQ to the Linux node is: The Sysop team are unusually busy with work in the winter months and linux configuration of the BAYCOM USCC 4 port card presently in use with the 'BPQ is considered to require the use of 'black arts' and a few days withdrawal of service of the G8BPQ node whilst 'hit and miss' testing - along with the sacrifice of several chickens, takes place.

For the moment, the node capable ports are allocated between the Linux and DOS machines:

Linux (BASE:GB7BBC-1)
439.825 (9k6 Caterham link)
439.875 (9k6 'HSN link) [GB7HSN is off air]


These nodes are wire linked using AXIPs (AX25 over IP) over Ethernet, together with the gb7bbc mailbox (IPBBC:GB7BBC-5). The 144.925MHz TCP/IP user port is also driven from the Linux box.


Average mailbox usage has fallen from 180 logins per day at the start of last year to about 110 logins per day at the start of Year 2002. Despite the overall fall in usage which started with the advent of the 'Free ISP' in the UK, it is hoped that the lowest point of use has passed, and over the end of 2002, packet radio use appears to have picked up very slightly.

Maybe now that the Internet is no longer a source of Wondrous Magic, Packet Radio can perhaps look forward to a very modest revival.

73, Gareth.