July 2018

July 2018

DEC Bulletin

Why are you still using that commercial ISP email system to communicate with your amateur radio friends? You can use your amateur radios to accomplish the same thing. Use your amateur radio privileges and frequencies to stay in touch with each other.

Winlink 2000 (WL2K) is primarily a donated, dependable, transparent, back-up E-mail system that bridges any distance. It is donated by us, the amateur radio operators that use the system. It can be used in your everyday hamming needs as well as EMCOMM needs. 

The purpose of Winlink 2000 is to supply de facto e-mail (IETF REC 2821) using the End Usersexisting e-mail programs, on the End Users own computers in their own offices, with no additional invasive software. It must be seamlessly transparent, from user-to-user, from inside the End Users own County or around the world from inside a disaster area, and without normal e-mail servers or Internet links.

The Winlink 2000 system has demonstrated 99% system availability since Nov. 1999. Since 2000 the radio users are about 15,000, with Internet recipients at 100,000 worldwide, in 4 Radio Mail Server (RMS) Service Classes: Public, EMCOMM, Army MARS, and UK Cadet Forces offering each separate service class their own operation. Radio users are pushing an average of 150,000 messages monthly. Average connection time duration of 3.3 minutes and 3,600 bytes/per message. Typical message latency sender to recipient delivery …1-2 minutes. Many agencies have proven that WL2K is a viable primary source for Point-to-Point and Point-to-Multi-point communications where accuracy, speed and a permanent record is required.

The “last mile” is an important concept in Emergency Communications. The “last mile” is the path across an area where conventional communications have been disrupted or overloaded by an incident. If a community “Last Mile” internet link is broken, or the agency e-mail server is down, e-mail cannot flow.

For the end user it must look like e-mail and use familiar software like Outlook or Windows Mail. It must have an address book and a spell-checker and allow multiple recipients (to: cc:). We must be able to send multiple attachments as well as be able to use tactical email addresses, and NOT add to the stress or learning curve when in an emergency situation.

The system requirements require it to work on multiple computers on a LAN without additional desktop software, and not invade security, it must be automated, use available and future digital radio modes, interface with commercial communications systems like telephone, cellular telephone, the Internet, etc., have speed, performance and accuracy, and immediately deliver emergency traffic seamlessly, end-to-end.

In the 21st Century we must have accuracy, consistency, and record tracking. The traditional role of Amateur Radio supports health and welfare of affected public, voice communications among served agencies (EOC's, hospitals, shelters, and incident command.), Site tactical support – Incident Command, search and rescue, damage and storm reporting (SKYWARN), and “Formal,” Structured written emergency traffic handling.

Our traditional methods fail for complex message handling in today’s agency environment. Since the advent of e-mail the need for delivering written procedures, lists, graphics, images, and Pre-defined, formatted, documents to multiple recipients. As well as, multiple recipient e-mail with binary attachments is the de facto standard to carry written information. Also, hand-written message forms are seldom used, and are not transparent to normal operations. For complex messages, voice, Morse code, Radiograms, and traditional Packet radio won’t do…  they are way too slow, translation required, inflexible, prone to error, no permanent record, not self-originating, not point-to-multipoint. They don’t go end-to-end from user-to-user on their own computers in their own offices and no attachments and no automatic distribution.

The ARRL implemented a National Plan in July, 2003 in cooperation with its partnership with Homeland Security, and at their recommendation, the ARRL Board has agreed to provide a nationwide digital system to enhance the communications capability of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®). There are situations, the Board said, when ARES® "must have the capability to pass digital traffic across the nation quickly and accurately.” It must also be transparent, seamless, end-to-end, and take only minutes from origination to destination.

In the state of Texas, the de facto method of emergency communications is Winlink 2000.

So, I ask again. Why are you not using your amateur radio privileges, skills, and equipment to send and receive email from your amateur radio friends? We have two Radio Mail Servers (RMS) on the air 24/7 here in El Paso county. They are the AE5HE-10 and KB5HPT-10 stations on 145.010 MHz. To find out more about Winlink 2000 go to www.winlink.org.

Questions and comments are welcome and encouraged regarding the content of this article. Send an email to the address shown below.

The terms ARES® and Amateur Radio Emergency Service® is both registered trademarks of the American Radio Relay League, Inc. and are used by permission.

Lew Maxwell, KB5HPT 
DEC, District 6 – Far West Texas 
Email: kb5hpt@arrl.net