Winlink is a digital mode used primarily as a store and forward messaging system. A station connects via RF to a VHF or HF node known as a Radio Message Server (RMS) Gateway. The RMS gateway forwards that message to one of two redundant Common Message Servers (CMS) via internet. When a receiving station connects to the system, the CMS sends the message to the RMS that the receiving station is logged in to. There are also Hybrid gateways that will relay messages when the internet is down.
This gives a valuable capability when internet is down in a local area, allowing stations to connect to HF gateways outside of the impacted area.
Winlink operates much as an E-mail program and has many standardized forms such as used by the Red Cross and Incident Command System (ICS) forms used by FEMA and local EMAs.
In addition to VHF and HF connections, there is a Telnet option that connects using the internet, providing an opportunity to learn the program prior to integrating it with your radio.
The Red Cross has incorporated Winlink into national exercises such as the one held on 8 May 2021. See the ARC-EmComm Training group for details on upcoming drills and their Winlink Thursdays training program.
Two local Winlink nets are:
- Send a Winlink message to W8LRJ via email@example.com either using the Winlink gateway at 445.01 MHz simplex, HF or via Winlink Telnet any time on Tuesday between 6 am and 9 pm. All messages will be acknowledged.
- Net, please use the following format: Callsign, Name, City, County, ARES District, State, and How Connected (Frequency and Callsign of Winlink Gateway or Telnet). As an example, that would be “W8LRJ, John Westerkamp, Beavercreek, Greene, D3, OH (via 445.01 W8GCA-10 Gateway)”
- Please feel free to check-in using one of the Winlink Form Templates, e.g., the Winlink Check-In form under General or the ICS 213 form under ICS Forms.
- Remember that a Winlink Net is NOT like a conventional net where all participants meet simultaneously. All messages will be acknowledged on Wednesday.
Ohio Winlink Net:
- Send a Winlink message to K8EAF any time on Wednesday.
- Just a one line with callsign, first name, city, county, state and via what mode (VHF, UHF, HF or Telnet. Because we want operators to get started using Winlink, the Telnet check-ins are excepted.
- Enter K8EAF in the “To” field. Subject field “OH Winlink Net Check-in”. In the body field enter callsign, first name, city, county, state and via what mode.
- Example: K8EAF, Ed, Cincinnati, Hamilton, OH (VHF)
- All check-ins will be acknowledged, and a complete roster will be sent later in the week.
- NOTE: They will accept the ICS213 forms and the new Winlink Check-in form found in the General Forms folder. Test drive the forms!
Great Lakes Area Winlink Net: Wednesdays, send a message to KB8RCR with the subject of “GLAWN Date of Check-in” (example: GLAWN 3/10/2021), with your information in the body (FIRST NAME, CALLSIGN, CITY, COUNTY, STATE, COUNTRY). You can also use any of the standard Winlink forms or templates.
In addition, there is the Original Winlink Wednesday Net with net controls in Virginia. Check out their website and read the All About Winlink Wednesday document (.pdf file) for more details. In addition to checking in via VHF/UHF and HF RMS nodes (no TELNET please), they also hold HF Peer to Peer (P2P) sessions.
Going a bit further out of the region there is a North Texas Winlink Net
On Thursdays, our neighbors have their own nets:
West Virginia Winlink Net, using standard RMS messages and P2P connections.