Amateur Radio Emergency Services Association (ARES)

 Sumter County, Florida

Winlink Global Radio Email System

This system was first used by ships and mariners and has developed into a worldwide system for sending email which includes remote areas or for emergency situations where there is little or no power.  Some of the disaster organizations that use it are as follows:

  • Southern Baptist Disaster Relief
  • American Red Cross
  • Salvation Army
  • AT&T
  • FedEx
What does the Winlink System offer for Emcomm
  • Flexibility:
    • Internet-only (Telnet direct connections to
    • Radio link bridge to Internet Email.
    • Radio-only store and forward messaging.
    • Peer-to-peer connections between radio end-user.
    • Familiar and simple Email client interface.
  • Interoperability:
    • Connect different types of systems.
    • Bridge different radio capabilities (VHF - UHF - HF)
    • Seamless integration with Internet Email
  • Geographical dispersion and redundancy
  • Standard Email format with many features
  • Binary file attachments (photos, pdf's, spreadsheets)
  • Automatic message compression/decoding
  • White listing used to prevent spam
  • Time independence
  • Ability to collect messages while unattended
  • Good operation at most power levels.
  • Not limited by station-to-station propagation
  • Message logging, and ICS report generation
  • Forms and templates support

Hierarchical levels of the Winlink System
1. Common Message Servers (CMS) - Winlink backbone
2. Internet
3. Nearby Radio Message Server (RMS) - Radio Gateway
4. Client System - Radio, computer with Winlink Express, TNC (or sound card), and you, the end-user

Hierarchical Levels without the Internet

1. Nearby Radio Message Server (RMS) - Radio Gateway, require three which are linked
2. Client System - Radio, computer with Winlink Express, TNC (or sound card), and you, the end-user

Southern US Gateways

The nearest gateways to Sumter County are the yellow one (west of Gainesville) and the green one on the West coast (Sarasota). Both are too far to connect via VHF or UHF radio but are in range for HF radio. 


Winlink Peer-To-Peer Radio Only
This is the method that has a lot of potential for Sumter County and can be done via simplex or utilizing a local repeater to connect end-users who must be on the same frequency and both are using Winlink Express.
  1. The Internet is not used, all communications by radio
  2. Only the two client stations are involved
  3. 100% error-free transmission and file attachments


Winlink Connection Modes

  • Telnet (Internet)– Non-radio connection through the Internet. Good for training (no radio equipment required) and use if radio is down or network is busy.
  • VHF/UHF Packet (Local LOS propagation)-
    • 9600 baud – Fast, reliable, range limited and requires
    • 1200 baud – Slower, but can use inexpensive

  • HF WINMOR - “Poor man's Pactor” Not as good as Pactor, but operates with inexpensive sound card device (SignaLink) speed between Pactor 2 and 3.
  • HF Pactor 1,2,3, and 4 – Fast and reliable but requires an expensive modem ($1500+).

Resources Needed for Winlink Express (VHF/UHF Packet Radio)

  1. Computer with Windows XP to Windows10 & NET 3.5 framework software
  2. Winlink Express Software
  3. VHF/UHF radio with data port (1200/9600) or speaker connection (1200 only)
  4. SignaLink or similar USB soundcard interface, or Packet TNC (Kantronics PC3+, TNC-X, MFJ, etc.). Might require a USB or Serial dongle.
    Note: Some new radios have a built-in soundcard / TNC's (example: Kenwood TM-D710G).

 Last Update:  09/12/2016    © Copyright Sumter County ARES. All Rights Reserved.