Check-ins: 13 – WB4P(net control), KU4GC(backup net control), W4ORD, W3AHL, KR3AM, KI4RAN, KW4KZ, KM4BMG, KI4MXP, W1KES, KR4UB, NA4VY, KE4NBB.
Duration: 15 minutes
Next Week’s Net Control: KW4KZ (12/10-KR3AM, 12/17-KM4MBG, 12/24-W3AHL, 12/31-KU4GC)
OCRA Christmas Party – On 12/12/16 at the Exchange Club in Hillsborough at 19:00. Lad, W4ORD will post the details on the NCOCRA Yahoo Group soon. If you haven’t signed up already, let him know you will be attending. (W4ORD)
Training: Winlink Radio E-mail System Overview
E-mail has become the primary messaging method for most people, companies and agencies. When Internet service is unavailable in an area due to severe weather or equipment failures, Amateur Radio can provide backup e-mail communication for critical messages using the digital Winlink Radio E-mail Systems.
Winlink is a worldwide system capable of transferring messages anywhere in the world where Winlink-equipped radio stations exist. It was originally developed to support the maritime community. The messages can consist of simple text or can contain binary file attachments such as pictures, spreadsheets, documents, PDF files, etc. Since the radio data transfer rate is much slower than typical Internet connections, file sizes need to be limited, with an enforced maximum size of 120KB.
The Winlink system actually consists of several parallel systems. In addition to the one used by Amateur Radio operators, there are separate systems with different frequency allocations for MARS and SHARES.
The Winlink system has three levels:
1. Client Systems — Radio, computer with Winlink software (Winlink Express or Paclink) , TNC (or sound card) and you, the end-user.
2. Radio Message Server (RMS) – Radio gateways between the client (end-user) and the Winlink system backbone. On the air 24X7, scanning multiple frequency for client requests to connect to the system to send or receive messages.
3. Common Message Servers (CMS) – Winlink’s Internet backbone with 5 CMS locations that are redundant and fault-tolerant. They are located on 3 continents. One CMS is sufficient for normal system operation. Central storage of incoming messages, which can be forwarded to an RMS and Client via RF or delivered to Internet e-mail addresses immediately.
Winlink uses four connection modes:
1. HF Pactor 1, 2, 3 and 4 – Fast and reliable but requires an expensive modem ($1500+).
2. HF WINMOR – “Poor man’s Pactor”. Not as good as Pactor, but operates with inexpensive sound card device ($100). Speed between Pactor 2 and 3.
3. VHF/UHF Packet
9600 baud – Fast, reliable, range limited and requires $400 modem (Kantronics or SCS Tracker).
1200 baud – Slower, but can use inexpensive Byonics TinyTrak-4 modem.
4. Telnet – Non-radio connection through the Internet. Good for training and use if radio is down or network is busy.
Orange County ARES has equipment capable of Pactor 3 and 1200 baud packet modes. Several OC ARES volunteers have personal equipment for packet, Pactor and Winmor operation also. NC AUXCOMM has several stations capable of Pactor 4 operation to support statewide messaging for NCEM.
Pactor is the most popular mode and operates at four speed levels ranging from about 100 bps (bits per second) for Pactor 1 to 5500 bps for Pactor 4, with 2000 bps being more typical for the Pactor 3 controllers. With automatic data compression/decompression, the effective throughput can be considerably higher however.
While Winlink typically uses the Internet to deliver radio messages received by the RMS gateways from Client stations to the CMS nodes, the system is very flexible and can function in several configurations that do not require any Internet service.
Winlink’s interoperability features connect different types of systems:
1. Bridge different radio capabilities (VHF/UHF/HF)
2. Bridge protocols: Pactor, Winmor, Packet, Robust Packet
3. Seamless integration with Internet e-mail
What Winlink Offers for EmComm:
1. Standard e-mail format with many features
2. Binary file attachments — pictures, pdf, spreadsheets
3. Automatic message compression/decompression
4. 100% accuracy using ARQ (Automatic Repeat Request) protocol
5. Encryption capabilities available to Agencies on non-ham channels
6. Time independence — ability to collect messages while unattended
7. Good operation at most power levels
8. Not limited by station-to-station propagation
9. Message logging, and ICS report generation
10. Wide adoption by EmComm related agencies
Winlink software is available at no cost, although a $35 donation to the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation (develops and supports the system) is suggested. Most modern ham radios can be used for HF/VHF/UHF messaging by adding a TNC or audio device.
For more information contact W3AHL or see:
http://www.philsherrod.com/Winlink/Winlink_PowerPoint.pdf (the source of some of the info in this brief overview).
There are several Yahoo Groups that provide support for Winlink users (request to join to view info):
Steve Ahlbom, W3AHL
Orange County ARES/AUXCOMM Emergency Coordinator