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General Help

If you have questions, problems, proposals, or comments relating to the PTC-II modems or PACTOR®, please contact us:

Address: SCS
Special Communications Systems GmbH & Co. KG
Roentgenstr. 36
63454 Hanau
Tel: +49-6181-85 00 00
Fax: +49-6181-99 02 38
PACTOR® is a registered trademark of SCS, Germany.


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Q: What does FAQ mean?
A: FAQ is the abbreviation for Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: My PTC-II sends in Packet-Radio the packets in a much too fast sequence.
A: Propably one of the timing parameters is set to a wrong or unreasonable value. The PTC-II expects ALL timing-values in milliseconds! Perhaps your Packet-programm is still configured for a different TNC. Many TNC's expect the timing values in 10 millisecond steps, e.g.: for a TxDelay of 100 ms a TNC2 needs to be set to the value of 10, but the PTC-II needs the value of 100. Check the values for CHeck (300.000), FRack (5.000), RESptime (500), SLottime (100) and certainly the TXdelay.

Q: Shall I send 7plus files as text or as binary file?
A: Send it as text file as exactly this is the major advantage of 7plus.

Q: If somebody connects my PTC then it always gives a beep.
A: Simply switch off the Connect-Bell:
In PACTOR the CBell-command in the cmd:-Menu.
In PACKET the CBell-command in the pac:-Menu.

Q: From where can I obtain updates for the PTC-II?
A: Updates for the PTC-II are available in the software section of the SCS home page. Here you find firmware updates for all PTC-II models, links to a wide variety of third party softwar and much more.

Additionally firmware-updates are usually also in the Packet-Radio-Mailboxes in the section PACTOR.

Those who only have a slow Internet connection can purchase the SCS CD-ROM.

Q: Now I have downloaded the new firmware from a Packet-Radio-Box. Fine, now my PTC-II has some commands more. But where can I find a description of the new features?
A: Very easy! You can obtain it from the same mailbox where you also got the firmware from. NO PTC-II firmware update is distributed without description (German and English). The naming of the files is as follows:
ver6_9.pt2 - The PTC-II firmware Version 6.9
ver6_9.pte - The PTC-IIe firmware Version 6.9 - The PTC-IIpro firmware Version 6.9
v3_1news.ger - The German manual addendum for the version 3.1
v3_1news.eng - The English manual addendum for the version 3.1

(Exceptions confirm the regulations!)

Q: Are there Windows programs available for the PTC-II ?
A: Not directly from SCS. But several programmers have written Windows software for all PTC-II modems. A good point to begin the search is the software section of the SCS home page. Here you can find some programs directly for download and links to other sites.

Q: Why can I not find anything under a given Internet address?
A: The Internet is subject of steady changes. Therefore it can happen, that sites simply disappear or move to different servers. To find the new location of a site simply use your favorite search engine, e.g. Altavista, Yahoo or Google.

Q: Is the PTC-II capable of DAMA ?
A: Yes, certainly!!

Q: I have bought a new PTC-II. The version command shows me: Version 6.8. But on the manual it says: "Manual for Version 6.5". What does this mean?
A: The manual cannot always be rewritten as quickly as the firmware gets updated. The reason may be a lack of time or that there are still some older versions left which should not easily be thrown to trash.

But all news are on the CD-ROM which comes with the modem!

Q: After an update my PTC-II only shows "Ready" in the display. What can I do?
A: Propably something went wrong with the update and the PTC-II is operating in the BIOS, which always happens when the firmware cannot be started.

The best is to repeat the update procedure, which is also possible from the BIOS the same way. You can do this with PlusTerm or UPDATE.EXE or a suitable Windows program like WinUpdate, NCWinPTC, Alpha or Airmail.

Q: My PTC-II steadily cycles in the "lightshow" after power up.
A: This can have several reasons:
1) Does your power-supply deliver enough current? The PTC-II needs significantly more current (up to 1 A !). Many smaller wall-plug power supplies cannot deliver this current!
2) Has it happened after a firmware update?
  • switch PTC off
  • bottom DIP-switch 8 to ON
  • switch PTC on
Does it still cycle the lightshow?
YES: Oh that's bad, no good idea any more...
  • Now start PlusTerm (or another terminal you're accustomed to). Presumably a lot of error messages scroll over the screen.
  • The display of the PTC-II should now indicate "Ready". This is an indication that the PTC is in the BIOS now.
In the BIOS there is an easy to use feature to check the firmware in the Flash.
  • With the command SYS you enter the SYStest-menu of the BIOS.
  • Enter the command CHKF.

(Is it necessary to be mentioned? After every command press the RETURN key!)

If you get a message like "CRC Error", then the current firmware in the Flash is damaged!

Leave the sys:-menu with Q and repeat the update procedure.

Q: Which baudrate shall I set with PLUSTERM.INI?
A: The baudrate set in the PLUSTERM.INI is the speed with which the PTC and the PC communicate with each other. This baudrate is completely independent from the baudrates of the HF/VHF-ports of the PTC-II.

For only PACTOR- and HF-operation 2400 baud is enough as data is not transfered faster through the HF-link anyway. But for firmware updates or backups of the internal mailbox higher baudrates are recommended and more convenient. Baudrates between 9600 and 38400 are applicable.

For simultaneous operation of Packet-Radio the facts are somewhat different. Here the baudrate should be at least twice as high as the highest baudrate used on VHF for Packet-Radio.

Too complicated? OK, here an example:

  • PTC-II with 1k2 und 9k6 modem. The highest baudrate over Packet-Radio is 9k6 (9600 baud). So the baudrate in the PLUSTERM.INI should be set to 19200 baud.
  • PTC-II with 2x 9k6-modem. One of the modules runs with 19k2. In the PLUSTERM.INI the baudrate then should be set to 38400.

But why the double baudrate?

With activated Packet-Radio monitor and one or more Packet-QSOs the received data of the QSO channels are tranferred to the PC twice. One time into the QSO window and a second time into the monitor window.

Q: Which is the correct sequence to start up my system? At first the terminal and then the PTC, or?
A: First switch on the PTC and then start the terminal!

The terminal program (e.g. PlusTerm) has to send some configuration commands to the PTC-II to ensure proper operation between them both.

This is the case for nearly all terminal programs that are especially written to operate with the PTC-II modems.

Q: When starting PlusTerm several times the error-message "Error please type help" appears and also the little blue command window does not come up.
A: In 90% of the cases the ESCAPE-character set to the wrong value!

Check the setting of the ESCAPE-character in the PLUSTERM.INI and the PTC-II.

Most frequent cause: Testing around with other programs (especially XPWin).

Q: The MYCall suddenly is set to "Test".
A: Propably you have tried the PlusTerm menu "Fixfiles->PTC-II Initialize"!

It opens the Fixfile CTRL.F01 which you can find in the sub-directory FIXFILE of your PlusTerm installation.

This file is certainly only an example and is subject to be changed with respect to your personal requirements!

In the example the file only consists of the four lines:
%%ESCChar PSKA 400
%%ESCChar FSKA 300

Here you can begin and extend the file!

Here another example (my own CTRL.F01):
%%ESCChar T 5
%%ESCChar PSKA 400
%%ESCChar FSKA 300
%%ESCChar AP 1
%%ESCChar PTC 8
%%ESCChar REM 0
%%ESCChar TRX O -1.4
%%ESCChar TRX TY K 4800 B
%%ESCChar TRX C 1 3583.64 DL1ZAM
%%ESCChar TRX C 2 3584 DL1ZAM
%%ESCChar TRX C 3 3585.64 DL1ZAM
%%ESCChar TRX C 4 3588 DK0MAV
%%ESCChar TRX C 5 14077 DL2FAK
%%ESCChar TRX C 6 14079 DL2FAK
%%ESCChar TRX XG 2 1
%%ESCChar TRX XG 6 1
%%ESCChar XU ALL 222
%%ESCChar XU DL1ZAM 333
%%ESCChar XU DL6MAA 333
%%ESCChar XU DL2FAK 333
%%ESCChar XU DL3FCJ 333
%%ESCChar XU DK9FAT 223
%%ESCChar XU DL3FCI 223
%%ESCChar PAC B 2:19200 9600
%%ESCChar PAC TXD 1:120
%%ESCChar PAC TXD 2:120
%%ESCChar PAC CB 1

Purpose of this file is to easily be able to supply the PTC-II with its basic settings after an UPDATE or RESTART. Mainly it contains settings which you do not need to change every day (see the example above).

Q: How can I save the channel list for the transceiver control?
My list is fairly long and I do not want to enter it by keyboard after each update. :-(
A: Unfortunately it's not possible to download the list out of the PTC and store it!

But the problem can easily be solved with the Fixfiles feature of PlusTerm!

Presume you have established the following frequency list:


Ch Frequency/kHz Scan Gate Comment
1:      3583.640  YES  NO  DL1ZAM #:A1
2:      3584.000  YES  YES DL1ZAM #:A1
3:      3585.640  YES  NO  DL1ZAM #:A1
4:      3588.000  NO   NO  DK0MAV #:A1
5:     14077.000  NO   NO  DL2FAK #:A2
6:     14079.000  YES  YES DL2FAK #:A2

This frequency list shall now be saved in a FixFile. This will look like this:

%%ESCChar TRX C 1 3583.64 DL1ZAM #:A1
%%ESCChar TRX XS 1 1
%%ESCChar TRX XG 1 0
%%ESCChar TRX C 2 3584 DL1ZAM #:A1
%%ESCChar TRX XS 2 1
%%ESCChar TRX XG 2 1
%%ESCChar TRX C 3 3585.64 DL1ZAM #:A1
%%ESCChar TRX XS 3 1
%%ESCChar TRX XG 3 0
%%ESCChar TRX C 4 3588 DK0MAV #:A1
%%ESCChar TRX XS 4 0
%%ESCChar TRX XG 4 0
%%ESCChar TRX C 5 14077 DL2FAK #:A2
%%ESCChar TRX XS 5 0
%%ESCChar TRX XG 5 0
%%ESCChar TRX C 6 14079 DL2FAK #:A2
%%ESCChar TRX XS 6 1
%%ESCChar TRX XG 6 1

All commands required to generate the frequency list are simply stored in the FixFile.

When you change the frequency list you certainly should also adapt the entries in the FixFile!

Q: How is it possible to read out messages from my PTC-II mailbox when using a hostmode-program (e.g. GP, WinGT...)?
A: Unfortunately this is only possible with the detour of a self-connect via a near digipeater.
Fo example: The MYcall of the PTC is set to DL0FOO and the digipeater has the call DB0BAR. Now you need to connnect your own mailbox via the digipeater: "C DL0FOO-8 DB0BAR".

Q: Why does PlusTerm not always run with Win98 ?
A: This is really a good question! There are definitely problems with PlusTerm (and any other DOS programs using the serial port) under Win98. Hereby there are several possibilities:
  • PlusTerm does not run at all
  • PlusTerm runs but behaves very strange
  • PlusTerm runs without problems

Under Win95 and WinNT4 we are not aware of such problems. There must be something that has become worse with Win98.

Or perhaps its only an item of the "correct" configuration of Win98 ?

Q: My new Laptop has no serial COM port any more! Only USB.
A: Messages like this appear more and more the last times.

But exactly for this "dramatical problem" USB to RS232 converters are available.
The following models we tested with success:

D-Link DU-CS - USB to SERIAL converter cable.
ATEN UC-232A - USB-Serial converter.

We tested on a Laptop using Win98SE with Hyperterminal, NcWinPTC and Airmail.

When we have successfully tested more and other converters we will expose it here.

Q: In the Plusterm reveive window all text is written into the same single line where the text is always overwritten. What's wrong?
A: Most propably the value of the PTC's LFignore setting is wrong. It should be 1, which is also the default.

Do you have a question to one of the PTC-II products that is frequently asked from persons you know?
And do you perhaps already have a (preferably short) answer?
Fine! Then write an E-Mail and we will extend the FAQ respectively!

I think it should be clear: The more people join, the better and more detailed this FAQ will be!

PACTOR-IP-Bridge (server) FAQ

This FAQ is mainly about setting up a PIB server...

Q: I successfully get a connect but a can not ping over the link.
A: The PIB supports TCP and UDP only!
There is no support for ICMP!
Therefore you can not ping over the PIB !

Q: Can you help me with an init string for my server?
A: Yes. Try our Init String Helper!

Q: What is the appropriate entry for the /etc/inittab
A: First of all check what runlevels your Linux distribution use.

Most Linux distributions have a description of the runlevels at the beginning of the /etc/inittab.

On current SuSE, Mandrake and Red Hat only runlevels 3 and 5 include network support (this complies to the Linux Standard Base). So it's a good idea to start the mgetty in these runlevels only.

A valid /etc/inittab entry could look like this:

# PTC-II control process
ptc:35:respawn:/usr/sbin/mgetty -s 38400 ttyS0

Gentoo Linux is a little bit different. Gentoo use the runlevel 3 as the "default" runlevel. Please read the Gentoo docs!

# PTC-II control process
ptc:3:respawn:/usr/sbin/mgetty -s 38400 ttyS0

And don't forget to read man inittab.

Q: How to configure mgetty?
A: First of all check how your mgetty was compiled. You need the AutoPPP feature enabled!

You need to change only two files: mgetty.config and login.config.

Here are examples for the two files:

These files are usually found in the directory /etc/mgetty+sendfax

Please read man mgetty.

Q: How to set up the pppd?
A: The configuration files for the pppd are stored in the directory /etc/ppp.

The main configuration file is /etc/ppp/options.

Here are examples for the two files:

With these examples pppd uses the system password database (/etc/passwd) for authentication: username and password are checked against the system password database!

Please read man pppd.

Q: How to setup a PIB client with Windows XP?
A: Here is a detailed description.

If you have further questions regarding the PIB and Linux please send a mail to