Yavapai County ARES/RACES and the Winlink System
Yavapai County ARES/RACES has chosen to implement the Winlink System (see www.winlink.org) on 2 Meter packet as a digital communications system to support our served agencies, in particular, the Yavapai County Office of Emergency Management. We are deploying Winlink packet gateways throughout the county and packet repeaters and gateways on mountain top locations. Our long term goal is to have Internet email access from most locations in the county, whether or not the Internet is actually available in the county. Although we coordinate closely with Coconino County ARES (1 gateway is located in Flagstaff and 1 packet repeater is located on Bill Williams Mt.), no adjacent counties have chosen to implement a VHF packet Winlink System.

The recommended user software is Winlink Express, which is maintained by the Winlink Development Team (WDT) and therefore works seamlessly with the Winlink System. It is a free download at http://www.winlink.org/WinlinkExpress. It will automatically update itself when new versions are released and it supports most terminal node controllers (TNC)s that are available today. It also supports many sound card modes. It includes an email program that will be recognized by any email user. It can also be used in a peer-to-peer (P2P) mode to send email directly from one station to another, bypassing the Internet.

Our gateways are using RMS Packet and RMS Relay software, both of which are maintained by the WDT. Our gateways are located at municipal facilities (where we hope the Internet is more likely to be available during an incident), on mountain tops and some gateways are maintained at their homes by local amateur radio operators, in order to provide maximum flexibility during an emergency. We will continue to deploy additional mountain top repeaters and gateways as facilities become available in order to improve digital communications coverage in the county.

Some gateways have enabled VARA FM, a higher speed mode written by EA5HVK. Check the list below for which ones use VARA. VARA requires a sound card interface at both ends of the connection and cannot be used through repeaters.

Yavapai County ARES/RACES also recommends its members become proficient with the use of Winlink on HF. The primary modes should be WINMOR or ARDOP, which are both supported within Winlink Express. The simplest implementation requires an external sound card interface (e.g. Signalink, Rigblaster, several MFJ products or a generic sound card) between your computer and HF radio. HF, within the Winlink System, will provide email Internet access across the country and around the world, if the Internet is not available in northern Arizona.

Soundcard Packet
VHF packet can be generated in 2 ways. Traditionally we have used a TNC between the radio and the computer. An alternate method uses a sound card – typically an external device as mentioned above. A sound card is a good choice if your radio supports both HF and VHF and has 1 data port (e.g. FT897, FT857, or others) or if your radio has a built in sound card (e.g. modern Icom radios). Follow the sound card device level setup instructions on HF (e.g. for Winmor), then don’t change them for VHF. Here is a link to the detailed instructions written by our own W6CCD – UZ7HO SoundModem Installation. These instructions assume that you are starting from the default settings when the software is downloaded. If you had a working version and it suddenly doesn’t work, Windows may have changed some settings for you. We recommend removing the old version, downloading a new version and then following the instructions. If you need additional assistance with setting levels at VHF, try this link – Quick Setup Guide for VHF/UHF written by K6OLI and NS7C.

Packet Resources in Northern Arizona

Operational Notes:  Remember to allow the gateway or gateway/digipeater combination to completely disconnect before stopping a Winlink Express session.

VARA can only be used when connecting directly to a gateway with VARA enabled or in a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) session.  It cannot be used through a digipeater.

There are many hills and mountains in northern Arizona.  This may cause multi-path interference at the gateway or digipeater, particularly if you are using an omni-directional antenna.  If you are positive you have a clear path to the gateway and cannot connect, multi-path is a likely problem.  If you are in a portable location, try moving your antenna.  At your home station, try installing a directional antenna.

During an incident or an exercise, do not use a working gateway as a digipeater unless you must use it to make a Peer-to-Peer connection.  Also during an incident or an exercise, use VARA whenever possible.  Note that 145.71 MHz provides access between the Verde Valley and Wickenburg.

 

Winlink Gateways

 

 

Callsign

Frequency

(MHz)

VARA

Enabled?

 

Location

K7YCA-8

145.710

Yes

Mt. Union

K7YCA-9

145.030

No

Bill Williams Mt.

K7YCA-10

145.050

No

Mingus Tanks in Prescott

K7YCA-11

145.010

Yes

West of Prescott at N7CW

K7YCA-12

145.050

No

Prescott Valley Police Department

K7YCA-14

145.010

Yes

Mingus Mt.

N0DAJ-10

145.710

Yes

Wickenburg at N0DAJ

N0DAJ-11

145.010

Yes (narrow)

Wickenburg at N0DAJ

N0DAJ-12

441.300

No

Wickenburg at N0DAJ

NL7FQ-10

145.710

Yes

Cornville at NL7FQ

W7LUX-10

145.010

No

South of Flagstaff at W7LUX

KE7EJF-10

145.710

No

Central Phoenix at KE7EJF

KG7ARL-10

145.710

No

North Phoenix at KG7ARL

 

 

 

Packet Repeaters

 

 

Callsign

Frequency

(MHz)

 

Location

K7YCA-5

145.010

Mt. Union

K7YCA-8

145.710

Mt. Union (gateway with digipeater function)

K7YCA-9

145.030

Bill Williams Mt. (gateway with digipeater function)

K7YCA-10

145.050

Mingus Tanks in Prescott (gateway with digipeater function)

K7YCA-11

145.010

West of Prescott at N7CW (gateway with digipeater function)

K7YCA-12

145.050

Prescott Valley Police Department (gateway with digipeater function)

K7YCA-14

145.010

Mingus Mt. (gateway with digipeater function)

N0DAJ-10

145.710

Wickenburg at N0DAJ (gateway with digipeater function)

N0DAJ-11

145.010

Wickenburg at N0DAJ (gateway with digipeater function)

NL7FQ-10

145.710

Cornville at NL7FQ (gateway with digipeater function)

NL7FQ-12

145.710

Squaw Peak

W7MOT-6

145.710

White Tanks

W7MOT-8

145.010

Mt. Elden

 

Gateway Connection Suggestions

All the gateways can be connected to directly.  There are currently no digipeaters to access K7YCA-9. 

 

K7YCA-8 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks or NL7FQ-12 on Squaw Peak.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            NL7FQ-10 first, then through NL7FQ-12.

            N0DAJ-10 first, then through W6MOT-6

K7YCA-10 can be accessed through K7YCA-12 at the Prescott Valley Police Dep            artment .

K7YCA-11 can be accessed through K7YCA-14 on Mingus Mt., W7MOT-8 on Mt. Elden or K7YCA-5 on Mt. Union.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            K7YCA-14 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            K7YCA-14 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-14.

            W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            K7YCA-5 first, then through K7YCA-14.

            K7YCA-5 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            N0DAJ-11 first, then through K7YCA-5.

K7YCA-12 can be accessed through the K7YCA-10 on Mingus Tanks.   

 

 

K7YCA-14 can be accessed through K7YCA-5 on Mt. Union, K7YCA-11 in Prescott or W7MOT-8 on Mt. Elden.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            K7YCA-5 first, then through K7YCA-11.

            K7YCA-5 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            K7YCA-11 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            K7YCA-11 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-11.

            N0DJA-11 first, then through K7YCA-5.

N0DAJ-10 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks or K7YCA-8 on Mt. Union.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            NL7FQ-12 first, then through K7YCA-8.

N0DAJ-11 can be accessed through K7YCA-5 on Mt. Union.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            K7YCA-11 first, then through K7YCA-5.

            K7YCA-14 first, then through K7YCA-5.

W7LUX-10 can be accessed through the W7MOT-8 node on Mt. Elden.  Examples of 2-step connections are:

            K7YCA-5 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            K7YCA-11 first, then through W7MOT-8.

            K7YCA-14 first, then through W7MOT-8.

KE7EJF-10 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks.  A 2-step connection can be used through K7YCA-8 on Mt. Union first, then connect to W7MOT-6.

 

KG7ARL-10 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks.  A 2-step connection can be used through K7YCA-8 on Mt. Union first, then connect to W7MOT-6.

 

NL7FQ-10 can be accessed through NL7FQ-12 on Squaw Peak.