Author Topic: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms  (Read 507 times)

Offline Smurf Hunter

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some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« on: June 15, 2017, 02:56:14 PM »
A couple weeks back I got SoundModem and RMS playing together, so I was able to send packet email via Winlink using a TigerTronics signalink, but without the traditional TNC (modem).
This seemed like a cool trick, especially as the local ARES group(s) use Winlink as part of their comms plan.

From my vehicle, parked in my home driveway, there is only one RMS gateway I can reliably connect to.  It is only 2 miles away...
If I try from my upstairs, using "Big Stick" mounted in my attic (~30 feet above driveway elevation) I can reach 3 stations, all inside of 10 miles.

Here's my point and concern. During an "off-grid" emergency where internet/cell phone service is interrupted, there's an extremely high chance these nearby packet stations will be offline as well.
None are advertised as having backup power, but I suspect some do.

Really the only tactical value of an RMS gateway without the internet might be to relay message traffic between stations.
e.g. station A sends email to station B, but it's stuck sitting on the RMS gateway as there's no internet.
Station B connects and downloads his messages.

However, unless there's a mutual elevation gain for each station talking to the RMS gateway, A and B may as well try peer-to-peer packet.

I think having packet capability could be important, but I'm not sure if it will be a difference maker during an emergency.

Offline armymars

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2017, 04:06:13 PM »
  MARS use too be heavy in HF Winlink. The idea was to allow stations to find a link that could connect to the Internet somewhere in the US. We have gotten away from that as our mission has changed. 

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2017, 06:18:40 PM »
  MARS use too be heavy in HF Winlink. The idea was to allow stations to find a link that could connect to the Internet somewhere in the US. We have gotten away from that as our mission has changed.
HF using winmor or pactor in theory gets your traffic outside of the affected area. 

E.g. a big seattle earthquake takes out grid comms for 100 miles.  I might reach northern CA via winmor and get an email onto the Internet that way. 

Though that's more for personal welfare traffic, and less about emergency agency comms.

Offline iam4liberty

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2017, 06:28:40 PM »
Here's my point and concern. During an "off-grid" emergency where internet/cell phone service is interrupted, there's an extremely high chance these nearby packet stations will be offline as well...

I think having packet capability could be important, but I'm not sure if it will be a difference maker during an emergency.

The APRS network may be more robust for text messaging. The Wide Area repeaters generally have backup power.  And many fill in digipeaters and igates do too. This is partly because one of the main uses of APRS is weather station monitoring so users are concerned about power outages from storms.  Also with satallite relay hams are able to send emergency messages from anywhere in the world using HTs.  And, of course, APRS is fully integrated with SMS messaging and email allowing the sending of messages to non-hams.

A couple years ago my area got hit with a windstorm (localized macroburst) and cellular was knocked out for about 2 hours.  But APRS and voice repeaters remained operational.  So plan B did work.

From the above you might find learning to work the satellites fun. You have all the hardware already.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2017, 07:29:50 AM »
From the above you might find learning to work the satellites fun. You have all the hardware already.

when I first got my ticket, I did setup connect to SO-50 briefly. I used a mono band FT-2900 VHF mobile to TX using a big copper j-pole (not directional, I know), and using headphones was listening to the downlink UHF frequencies using an old Uniden scanner. A crude sloppy setup, no QSO, but my kids and I could hear my on the downlink. 

While a novelty, without the smart phone app showing the windows of the when the birds are overhead, it'd be difficult to coordinate the communication windows needed for orbiting satellites.

Online Carl

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2017, 09:06:08 AM »
when I first got my ticket, I did setup connect to SO-50 briefly. I used a mono band FT-2900 VHF mobile to TX using a big copper j-pole (not directional, I know), and using headphones was listening to the downlink UHF frequencies using an old Uniden scanner. A crude sloppy setup, no QSO, but my kids and I could hear my on the downlink. 

While a novelty, without the smart phone app showing the windows of the when the birds are overhead, it'd be difficult to coordinate the communication windows needed for orbiting satellites.

Success depends a lot on organized communications plan so someone is at the other end of the string. Digital advantages are great,but can get 'lost' without a well organized group of participants.
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Offline SCWolverine

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Re: some thoughts on packet winlink email for emergency comms
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2017, 03:32:28 PM »
Well...I have Winlink VHF P2P Packet working in the shack over RF 2 rigs on opposing benches  ;)

this is how I celebrated something working!
https://www.instagram.com/p/BVc5qI7gcyJ/

From there I'm running into the wall.  For whatever reason I'm not able to connect to a local Winlink node and push an email?
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