Adaptation of Winlink 2000 Emergency Amateur Radio Email Network to a VHF Packet Radio Infrastructure

Adaptation of Winlink 2000 Emergency Amateur Radio Email Network to a VHF Packet Radio Infrastructure

Miroslav Škorić (IEEE Section, Austria & NIAR, India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0773-4.ch016
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Abstract

This chapter presents software and hardware solutions for interconnecting an existing VHF amateur packet radio infrastructure with ‘Winlink 2000' radio email network. Having in mind that a number of households, schools, and offices are equipped with Internet connections, and that many radio amateurs at such locations are active on their VHF (or UHF) digital networks on a daily basis, the connectivity between the two systems will increase the chances for citizens who suffer after disasters such as earthquakes, heavy rains and floods, followed by malfunction in commercial communicating services – to remain electronically wired with the rest of world by email. The chapter provides a tutorial on constructing, installing, and testing a simple packet radio repeater station, additionally equipped with computer programs with ‘Winlink 2000' compatibility.
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Background

Following rapid growth in research on wireless communications and networks in recent years, radio amateurs keep their repositioning by implementing new procedures and approaches. Among them is ‘Winlink 2000’ – a well-established emergency amateur radio service that enables people in need to send and receive Internet emails even without direct connectivity to the global network. Instead, the amateur radio stations can provide urgent radio-calls via dedicated gateway servers that forward emails to/from regular Internet users. In addition to the long-haul HF communications that provide alternative connectivity to sailors on the oceans, or to scientists at the expeditions in a jungle or desert, ‘Winlink 2000’ can be easily adapted to existing short-range VHF (or UHF) packet radio installations, in order to allow radio amateurs who reside in urban areas to stay tuned and helpful in public safety emergency situations.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Node: A device that partially amplifies and transfers digital signals in order to extend the distance of the transmission. Nodes are also known as ‘digital repeaters’ or ‘digipeaters’.

Gateway: A computer hardware and software that connects two different networks together. The gateway performs the protocol conversions necessary to go from one network to the other. For example, a gateway could connect a local area network (LAN) of computers in the school to the Internet.

Sysop: It is a short name for Systems Operator. That person operates and maintains an amateur radio BBS or a repeater. Some sources refer to the sysop as “system administrator”.

RMS: The abbreviation for Radio Message Server. It is a ‘bridge’ or ‘gateway’ between amateur radio stations and email capabilities of the Internet.

Amateur Radio: A century-old activity in voluntary experimenting with radio waves, and exploring communications with other parts of the globe on a non-profit basis and by using advantages over commercial services, such as low cost, independence of official infrastructure.

Experiment: A term similar to ‘test’, ‘probe’, ‘simulation’, etc. In the context of this chapter, it is associated with exploring new approaches to existing or incoming new technologies, etc.

AMUNET: The acronym stands for the AMateur radio University computer NETwork, which is a proposed name for the wireless network of an amateur radio bulletin board system at a local university.

Packet Radio: A communication mode between the amateur radio stations where computers control how the radio stations handle the traffic. The computers and attached modems organize information into smaller chunks of it – often referred as ‘packets’ of data, and route the packets to intended destinations.

CMS: The abbreviation for Common Message Server (or Central Message Server). It is an email server group distributed at five locations (San Diego, Brentwood, Halifax, Perth, and Vienna).

BBS: An electronic bulletin board system – software that operates on a personal computer equipped with one or more telephone lines, amateur radio stations and Internet connections.

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