BayPac Troubleshooting

LEGACY PRODUCT NOTICE:  Our BayPac modem series (BP-1, BP-2, BP-2M and BP-96A) is no longer supported beyond the information found below and on other related pages of our website.  This is due to the fact that these modems have not been compatible with any version of Windows released in the last ~20 years, and have been replaced by much more capable hardware (SignaLink USB).



Troubleshooting FAQ

NOTE:  These are the most commonly asked questions as reported by our Technical Support Staff.  If you do not find an answer to your question or problem, be sure to look at the Troubleshooting Tips and Using Handheld Radios sections below.




Troubleshooting Tips

Using Handheld Radios

Can I run DOS programs (like BPMODE) in Windows 95/98? - If you have Windows 95/98 installed on your computer, you can still run all of the DOS based programs written for the BayPac. You will simply have to get to a "Real" DOS prompt (NOT a DOS "Window"!). To do this, you need to go to the "Shutdown" screen and select "Restart In MSDOS Mode". If after doing this the program still doesn't seem to work properly, you should try using a boot disk. See "Using A Boot Disk" in the "Troubleshooting" section below.

I just received my BayPac.  Will I need to adjust the Transmit Level?
- It is VERY UNLIKELY that you will need to adjust the level control on the BayPac. The factory adjustment is correct for almost all radios of recent manufacture. Please don't change the adjustment unless you are sure that it is needed! Remember also that the level control pot is small and fragile. Use a screwdriver of the correct size and don't force it!

Where should I set my radio's Volume control?
- The BayPac requires about 1 volt (p-p) audio from the radio for best performance.  This corresponds to about 1/2 to 2/3 rotation of the volume control on most radios.  You may want to try different settings during actual operation to determine the best setting for your particular equipment.

Can I connect the BayPac to my radio's Data (or Accessory) port? - Most data and accessory ports will NOT work properly with the BayPac because they don't provide a high enough audio level. Most data ports only provide 100mv to 300mv (p-p) of audio, which will result in poor receive performance. It is best to connect directly to the mic and speaker jacks. (See "Radio Volume Setting" above).


My radio manual shows a capacitor and resistor in the cable that connects to the TNC.  Does the BayPac need these components? - Most radio manufacturers suggest that you install a resistor or capacitor in the cable going to the radio. We have already installed these components inside the BayPac. DO NOT install ANY additional components in the radio line or performance will be degraded!

How long can the cable that connects the BayPac to my radio be? - We can't stress enough, the importance of keeping the radio cable as short as possible to prevent RF from interfering with both the BayPac and the computer. This telephone type cable is very inexpensive and readily available so you should not hesitate to cut it to the length you actually need. If your radio is not close to your computer, you should extend the RS-232 cable rather than the radio cable.

The Level control has no effect on my signal.  What's wrong? - This usually means your ground line is open or you have connected the PTT (red) line to the mic input without a resistor (either the internal keying resistor or an external one). You should be able to adjust the tone level completely off. If you can't, you have something wired incorrectly.

When installing BayCom, can I enter an SSID with my Callsign? - When entering your callsign in the installation program DO NOT add the SSID (any "dash" suffix - i.e.: WA6IKO-7) to your call. If you must use an SSID, you should enter it manually by editing the SCC.INI file with a ASCII text editor.

What is my Digipeater Call? - Your default digipeater call will be your normal call letters followed by a "-10". Example: WA6IKO-10

BayCom doesn't work with my Mars Callsign.  What's wrong? - The BayCom packet program will not work with MARS callsigns. This is because the BayCom program checks the prefix of each callsign to see if it is valid. BayCom considers a valid prefix to be any one letter by one number prefix (like "W1") or any two letter by one number prefix (like "WA1"). Consequently, the three letter by one number prefixes used by MARS stations (like "AFA5AB") will not work.

Are there any know BayCom Bugs? - BayCom Version 1.4 has a known bug in the beacon mode. The beacon works but the "qtext" message is transmitted, rather than the "btext" message. This is not a big problem since most people don't use the beacon mode anyway. However, if you do intend to use the beacon you will need to put any message you wish to send in the "qtext" entry in the SCC.INI file. This problem has been fixed in BayCom Version 1.6.

I can't seem to decode any HF Packets.  What am I doing wrong?
- HF Packet is probably the most difficult mode to operate. The tuning requirements are extremely critical. Even when tuned correctly, the packet signal is easily corrupted by static crashes or QRM. If you are new to packet radio, we suggest that you become experienced with VHF packet before attempting HF. When you are ready to tackle HF, we suggest the following: Using BPMODE, place the BayPac in Mode 2. Set the BayCom software to 300 baud by entering one of these lines at the BayCom command prompt. Enter "Mode 0 300" for BayCom v1.6, or enter "HBaud 300" if you are using BayCom v1.4. Find a strong signal (S9+) for your first attempt. Tune your radio very slowly (no more than 10Hz increments!) until you begin to copy packets. HF packet requires precise tuning of the 1070/1270Hz tones, so tuning will take some practice!

BayCom won't transmit
- The most common cause of transmit failure is the result of the BayPac thinking that the channel is "busy". Before each transmission the modem checks to see if there is already activity on the channel. It does this by monitoring the receive audio. It is very important that you make sure that the squelch control on your radio is closed (no noise) before attempting to transmit. If the squelch is open, the modem will see the squelch noise and assume that the channel is "busy". The computer will then "wait forever" before transmitting! If this is not the cause of your transmit problem, proceed to the Troubleshooting section below.

BayCom won't receive
- The first test to make if you can't receive packets is to open and close the squelch control on your radio, while observing the upper status line of the BayCom program. The "QRV" indication should change to "RCVE" when the squelch is opened or any signal is received. If the "QRV" indication does not change, the audio is too low or not connected to the BayPac. Check your radio wiring (green/black wires). If you have connected to the receive audio on your mic connector (rather than the ext. speaker jack), verify in your radio manual that the connector provides "high-level" (speaker) audio. Some radios have "low-level" (100 mv) audio on the mic connector (See notes on various radios below). If this does not resolve your receive problem, please refer to the Troubleshooting section below.

BayCom Won't Transmit Or Receive
- You have most likely selected the wrong COM port during installation. Reinstall the software to fix this problem. If BayCom still doesn't work, then see "Using A Boot Disk" in the Troubleshooting section below.

My computer locks up when I transmit.
- This is what you get when excessive RF enters either the BayPac or the computer. In extreme cases you can permanently damage the equipment. This is especially true of portable computers. If everything seems to quit working after you transmit, you will need to re-boot the computer to get it all working again. This is most common with handheld radios if the antenna is not remoted. It can also happen on base stations that are not grounded AND have very poorly matched antennas (high VSWR = RF everywhere!). In any reasonable environment shielded cables are not required between the BayPac and the radio.

BayCom and 16550 UART problems.
- The BayCom program will not work correctly with some (but not all) RS-232 serial cards that use the 16550 UART.  The problem is because some versions of the 16550 do not support an internal "6 bit" mode that BayCom uses for timing.  Apparently this mode is rarely used and so some chip designers have not implemented the feature.  The symptoms associated with the UART problem are "strange" sounding transmit audio and no packet reception.  If you have these symptoms and think that you might have an incompatible UART, then before you do anything, you need to try all of the suggested troubleshooting tips to see if they fix the problem.  If the problem still persists, then you most likely have an incompatible UART.  To fix the problem, you can do one of two things; you can install a serial card that uses an older UART (8250, etc.), or you can use a different packet program (BayCom appears to be the only program to have this problem).

BPMODE displays the message "BayPac Not Found
- This error message is displayed if the BPMODE program can't establish communications with the BayPac modem. See the Troubleshooting section below for a list of possible causes.

The BPMODE program says that my BP-2M is a BP-2
- This can happen if there is a severe communications error between the BayPac modem and the computer, while the BPMODE program is running.  An error of this magnitude will normally only occur only if you attempt to run the BPMODE program from within Windows (DOS Window) or another program (DOS Shell).  To correct this problem, you will need to download our BPRESET program and reset your BP-2M back to the original factory defaults.  Before you attempt to run BPMODE again, be sure to see the "Running DOS programs in Windows" question in the BayPac Troubleshooting FAQ. 

The BPMODE program won't let me change modes and/or my BP-2M is stuck in an invalid mode
- This can also happen if there is a severe communications error between the BayPac modem and the computer while the BPMODE program is running (see the previous problem for more information). To correct this problem, you will need to download our BPRESET program and reset your BP-2M back to the original factory default condition.


Troubleshooting Tips

Never Use Breakout Boxes - Breakout boxes are normally a great help when troubleshooting serial port problems. But... BayCom serial is not normal! If you install a breakout box on the BayPac serial port, you can be sure that the BayPac will not work correctly! The problem stems from the fact that the breakout box lights "hog" all of the power and the BayPac will have insufficient operating voltage.

Using A Boot Disk - Sometimes BayCom, BPMODE, or other compatible programs do not work properly because of other conflicting programs that are loaded automatically when your computer boots (menu/shell programs, memory managers, mouse drivers, etc.). If you can't seem to get the software to behave, you should try booting your computer from a "DOS BOOT DISK". You can make a boot disk by placing a blank formatted floppy in your "A" drive and then from the "C:\>" prompt, type "SYS A:" and then press "ENTER". After you receive the "System Transferred" message, reboot your computer with the "boot disk" in the "A" drive. If you are using a boot disk that was previously created, make sure that it does NOT contain either a AUTOEXEC.BAT or CONFIG.SYS file. Note that these are the files that automatically load other programs during boot!

RS-232 Adapters & Cables - Normally the BayPac is plugged directly into the computer serial port. If your installation requires the use of either a 9-25 pin adapter or serial cable, you need to make sure that it is wired correctly. Not all adapters or cables are wired the same. Just because it works with some other TNC or computer device (mouse, modem, etc.) does NOT mean that it will work correctly with the BayPac! This is one of the most common causes of the "BayPac Not Found" problem during the running of BPMODE. Use a multimeter to compare your cable or adapter to the wiring diagram in the BayPac manual (Figure-1).

Original Radio Cable - This is another very common source of trouble. While the radio cable supplied with the BayPac looks like an ordinary "telephone" cable, it is not necessarily wired the same. The problem arises from the fact that the connector can be (and often is!) crimped on backwards. On a telephone, which is not polarity sensitive and uses only the two inner wires, reversing the connector makes no difference. Cables made for telephone use, often have one end wired correctly and the other end incorrectly! However, wiring your mic, speaker, PTT and ground connections backwards is a different story! We highly recommend that you use only factory supplied radio cables because of their superior quality, reliability, and correct wiring. If you are not using a factory cable, then you need to verify that the RJ-11 connector is in fact installed correctly. Refer to Figure-2 in the BayPac manual for the correct connector orientation.

Power Management - Some computers have Power Management circuits that try to detect serial port activity so that ports that are not being used can be turned OFF. This is especially common on laptops (where power is a major concern), but it is also an issue on many of the newer desktop computers. Because the BayPac uses the serial port in an unconventional manner, it is not always detected by the power manager. If this happens, the port is shut down and the BayPac won't function. If your computer does not seem to recognize the BayPac, try disabling the power management. This is normally done in your computers "System Setup" (BIOS/CMOS).  Consult your computers manual for procedures.

Serial Port Disabled Or Not Configured - If you've checked everything, and the BPMODE program still can't find the BayPac, then it may be that the serial port you are using is disabled or not configured properly. If you have an internal telephone modem, it is not uncommon to have one of the regular serial ports disabled. Consult your computer's manual or your dealer to determine how your serial ports are configured.

When All Else Fails - If you are unable to resolve your problems with BayCom, BPMODE, or the BayPac modem, then you should contact our Technical Support Staff for assistance (Note that we do not provide support for any other hardware or software).  Tech Support is available every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday between 1:00 PM and 5:00 PM Pacific time by calling (541) 474-6702.


Using Handheld Radios

WARNING to HTX-200 and HTX-400 users - Both the Radio Shack HTX-200 and HTX-400 handheld radios use a push/pull audio stage that will short out if you connect either side of the External Speaker connector to ground.  So, when connecting the BayPac to either of these radios, the ground wire MUST be connected to the sleeve of the Mic plug (see the HINTS.DOC disk file for detailed wiring information).  Note that this problem has been fixed in later versions of these radios (HTX-202, etc.).

Turn Off Battery Saver - Be sure to turn OFF the "Battery Save" feature on the radio (a feature of all radios of recent manufacture). This is VERY IMPORTANT! The battery save feature turns off the receiver momentarily when the channel is not busy. This saves power and has almost no effect on voice communications. But... It's a disaster for packet signals!  This is the most common problem with handheld radios!

Handheld Antennas - When using handheld radios, we suggest that you locate the antenna at least ten feet away from the computer and radio. Try mounting your rubber duck or a 19 1/2" whip on the top of a small aluminum camera tripod (or other ground-plane). If signals are weak, you might want to use a "gain antenna" like a "J". DO NOT use a "Mag-Mount" antenna unless you are placing it on a LARGE metal object that can serve as a ground- plane (like a car!).

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