Winlink Email System
What is Winlink Email?
Winlink is a worldwide radio email service that uses radio if the internet is not present and is capable of operating completely without the internet, automatically. Winlink provides its users email, with attachments, position reporting, weather and information bulletins, and is well-known for its role in emergency and disaster relief communications. Licensed Winlink operators use both amateur radio and government radio frequencies worldwide. The system is built, operated and administered entirely by licensed Amateur Radio volunteers. Support for the system is provided by the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. Using the Winlink system, email from areas not served by the internet due to a local disaster can move email to an area where internet is present thus moving email traffic in and out of a disaster area where no other option may exist.
The Winlink system consists of multiple Common Message Servers (CMS) on multiple continents thought the world. The CMS servers form a “star” network configuration to coordinate traffic and provide services like email, webmail, telnet, bulletins, and reporting. Each CMS is a mirror image of the others for redundancy, failover, and outage situations. Remote Message Servers (RMS) are scattered throughout the world and are the RF connection into the Winlink system. RMS gateways access the resources of the CMS servers via the Internet. These nodes are provided by hams familiar with the system and are setup on many ham bands (HF, VHF, UHF). On VHF/UHF, connectivity is limited to local clients. HF gateways serve a wider area but depend heavily on band conditions.
Your computer runs the client software which interacts with services provided by the CMS, most often through an RMS gateway. The client software sends and receives messages. Size is limited to 120KB maximum, including attachments. Winlink uses a “store and forward” approach to messaging meaning clients are not constantly connected to an RMS or CMS gateway. RMS Express is one of the more popular client applications. In addition to your PC you need an amateur radio, antenna, and an interface between your PC and the radio allowing control of the radio as well as connections for speaker and microphone audio.
Acton Amateur Radio Club RMS Gateway
The Acton Amateur Radio Club maintains a Winlink RMS Gateway here in Acton and it operates on a frequency of 144.390Mhz. It is available for use by all licensed Amateur Radio operators.