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.

Here is a link to a map of the approximate locations of the gateways listed below.

 

Winlink Gateways
Callsign           Frequency   VARA Enabled?                Location
K7YCA-8       145.710 MHz         No                    Mt. Union
K7YCA-9       145.030 MHz         No                    Bill Williams Mt.
K7YCA-10     145.070 MHz         No                    Mingus Tanks (Prescott)
K7YCA-11     145.050 MHz        Yes                    West of Prescott at N7CW
K7YCA-12     145.030 MHz        No                     PV Police Department
K7YCA-14     145.010 MHz        Yes                    Mingus Mt.
W7LUX-10    145.010 MHz         No                     South of Flagstaff at W7LUX
N0DAJ-10     145.710 MHz        Yes                     Wickenburg at N0DAJ
N0DAJ-11     145.010 MHz         No                     Wickenburg at N0DAJ
KE7UUV-10  441.300 MHz         No                     Wickenburg at N0DAJ
KE7EJF-10   145.710 MHz         No                     Central Phoenix at KE7EJF
KG7ARL-10  145.710 MHz         No                     North Phoenix at KG7ARL
NL7FQ-10    145.030 MHz         Yes                    Cornville at NL7FQ

Packet Repeaters
Callsign        Frequency                              Location
K7YCA-5     145.010 MHz       Mt. Union digipeater
K7YCA-8     145.710 MHz       Mt. Union gateway with digipeater function
K7YCA-9     145.030 MHz       Bill Williams Mt. gateway with digipeater function
K7YCA-10   145.070 MHz       Mingus Tanks gateway with digipeater function
K7YCA-14   145.010 MHz       Mingus Mt. with digipeater function
NL7FQ-12   145.030 MHz       Squaw Peak digipeater
W7MOT-6   145.710 MHz       White Tanks digipeater west of Phoenix
W7MOT-8   145.010 MHz       Mt. Elden digipeater

Gateway Connection Suggestions 
All the gateways can be connected to directly. There are currently no digipeaters to access either K7YCA-10 or K7YCA-11.
K7YCA-8 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks.
K7YCA-9 can be accessed through NL7FQ-12 on Squaw Peak.
K7YCA-12 can be accessed through the K7YCA-9 on Bill Williams Mt. or NL7FQ-12 on Squaw Peak. Examples of 2-step connections are:
    K7YCA-9 first, then through NL7FQ-12.
    NL7FQ-12 first, then through K7YCA-9.
K7YCA-14 can be accessed through K7YCA-5 on Mt. Union, K7YCA-10 on Mingus Tanks or W7MOT-8 on Mt. Elden. Examples of 2-step connections are:
     K7YCA-5 first, then through K7YCA-10.
    K7YCA-5 first, then through W7MOT-8.
    K7YCA-10 first, then through K7YCA-5.
    K7YCA-10 first, then through W7MOT-8.
    W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-5.
    W7MOT-8 first, then through K7YCA-10.
N0DAJ-10 can be accessed through W7MOT-6 on the White Tanks or K7YCA-8 on Mt. Union.
N0DAJ-11 can be accessed through K7YCA-5 on Mt. Union.
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-10 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 K7YCA-9 on Bill Williams Mt. or through NL7FQ-12 on Squaw Peak. Examples of 2-step connections are:

    K7YCA-9 first, then through NL7FQ-12.
    NL7FQ-12 first, then through K7YCA-9.