Florida WINLINK Net Sponsored by Clay County ARES Volunteer
by Gordon Gibby KX4Z
Ray Cook WD4SEN has volunteered to head up an emergency preparedness practice WINLINK Net for Florida, similar to several others elsewhere in the nation. Participants simply use on-the-air radio to send a radio email using any WINLINK RMS server station they wish, to KI4UWC@WINLINK.ORG, with one or two lines of specified content. This is similar to weekly practice voice nets that allow people to check their gear. Not only does this check out the participant’s equipment, setup, and knowledge of this important system, it also allows discovery of multiple possible email Radio Message Servers (RMS) within reach of the ham.
Check-ins can be done on either VHF or HF. Participants have all of Monday each week to get their email sent. On HF, there are scores of possible server stations all over the USA and the world. Any can be utilized. Most HF users will simply use a soundcard system and the built-in WINMOR protocol that comes inside of WINLINK EXPRESS. A lucky few might have a PACTOR modem and be able to utilize that faster protocol. The number of HF servers in Florida seems to be growing, with a new station now turning on in Orlando, W7USR.
On VHF the range is a bit more limited, but many communities have a local VHF RMS station. (You can view a map here: https://winlink.org/RMSChannels ). There are 27 packet RMS servers in Florida, including Ray’s WD4SEN-10, -13 and -15. The really savvy user may be able to jump onto the SEDAN and reach WINLINK gateways that are accessible via the SEDAN (including KX4Z-10, KM4YGH-10 and NK3F-10) —but this takes a bit more expertise and knowledge of the state’s VHF digital packet systems.
Every Sunday afternoon, Ray will post the message format requested, on the home page of the Clay County ARES: http://www.clayares.org/wp/ He’s just getting started with this, and may add a “peer to peer” component (for a limited check-in time frame) in the future For now, he’s delighted to see the system come up and function well – check-ins the first week were 2, and jumped to 9 the second Monday, as the Alachua and Marion crew learned of his system. After the conclusion of each Monday, he sends out a reply to all checked-in stations with summary information.
Similar practice nets are functioning in Tennessee (https://wcares.org/monday-night-winlink-net/ ), Virginia (Winlink Wednesday, now > 70 check-ins, https://www.albemarleradio.org/2017/08/14/aresraces-of-virginia-winlink-net/ ) Wisconsin (Tuesday, http://www.wi-aresraces.org/ ) and over 5 years in San Diego (https://www.winlink.org/content/san_diego_winlink_net_marks_five_years ). The nationwide WINLINK system handled 27,000 messages in October 2017 over HF, and 21,000 over packet.
Florida PACTOR HF (left) and PACKET VHF (bottom) Winlink RMS server stations. Participants in the Florida Winlink Net can use any server – doesn’t have to be in Florida, but Florida coverage is getting better!