Sunday, March 22, 2015

When All Else Fails




As you know from my previous post (Cross Country HF APRS), I recently added HF APRS to my mobile by downloading APRS Messenger software to my netbook, and then interfacing this program with my Kenwood TS-480HX HF rig through the addition of a Tigertronics SignalLink USB, allowing me to message with other HF APRS stations as well as being placed on the map at aprs.fi.

 The next step furthering the capability of my mobile allowing me to connect to anywhere in the world, was to download the software for RMS Express allowing for handling digital messages through the Winlink system with gateway stations located worldwide.
In times of emergencies due to the infrastructure having failed, RMS Express can be utilized with my HF rig to interface with email systems outside of the emergency zone, or possibly when I am in a location where I cannot connect with my smartphone to the Internet.

RMS Express adds the WINMOR protocol to this system, optimized for HF messaging.
The WINMOR protocol is implemented totally in software without the need for external hardware such as a TNC, allows for the use of the soundcard in a computer, although in the case of my mobile, I am utilizing the SignalLink USB external soundcard device as seen in the photo.
Upon opening RMS Express, I am able to read, compose, post and manage messages not unlike using your normal email client. If I plan on sending any email, I first compose it and then send it to the Outbox for automatic transfer and forwarding to the WINMOR RMS.
I then select a WINMOR station from a list provided by RMS Express combined with a propagation predictor.
This list of RMS WINMOR stations are based on my lat/long location as supplied to RMS Express by the GPS receiver connected to my netbook.

At this point I choose the best RMS WINMOR gateway station based on the time of day and the band conditions as provided by the propagation predictor as to the predicted path quality.
Once I click on the channel that I have chosen, the WINMOR virtual terminal node controller screen floats in to view.
This allows me to follow the RMS Express operating state, as well as the quality and frequency alignment of the received signals and becomes the front panel of the virtual TNC.
The waterfall display of the virtual TNC shows the audio spectrum of the received signals from the RMS WINMOR station that I am attempting to connect with.

Now I dial in the frequency of the WINMOR RMS station that I have selected on my TS-480HX, and I then attempt to connect by clicking on the start button.
When a connection is made with the RMS WINMOR station, the transfer of the email in my Outbox takes place as well as the transfer of any email addressed to me being placed in my Inbox.
This transfer takes place quite rapidly and without excessive retries when I have a reasonably good connection with the RMS WINMOR station that I am connected to.
 
At the end of the session RMS Express generates a summary showing how the particular link worked.
I have found that it is important for further sessions to save the WINMOR RMS gateway stations to my favorites list, that I have had good success connecting to with good reliability in the transfer of data.
I have also discovered that I am able to connect directly to other stations running RMS Express software interfaced to their HF rigs and exchange messages directly.This is called peer-to-peer message exchange.

Winlink and HF radios are a hit with offshore sailing boats and has become the standard form for long distant messaging among the offshore boating crowd.
It is only a matter of time before I make a peer-to-peer contact with a sailboat located in the South Pacific and possibly 2000 kilometers off Hawaii bound for Australia. 
Just saying!

So the crux of it all is that I have the capability through my mobile to connect by email or to send and receive messages from anywhere in the world when suitable HF links to RMS stations can be established no matter my location.

Note...all photos expand.....

My Website....
www.jerryclement.ca

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