Weekly Winlink Net

I have been thinking for several weeks of starting a Winlink net to get more involvement in the local ARES/RACES group. Starting for the new year I sent the following to the group. The response has been good and with any luck it will be a success.

I am wondering if doing the net every week will become tiresome, but I figure it will be good to get started and it can be dialed back if the participation starts to fall off. It may also transform into a monthly net and the remaining weeks will be other methods of communicating. It has been a long, long time since we held a voice net, so maybe it will change to a schedule of Winlink one week, a voice net another week and other weeks have other types of nets.

Here is a copy of the email that I sent to the group to announce the net. If you are not in the City of Issaquah, you are still welcome to participate. We just like playing with others, so everyone is always welcome.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Something I was thinking about during the month of December is to start a Winlink net. This will start as using only Winlink, but there maybe occasions where other protocols/technologies are used to keep a variety and keep things interesting. Even with introducing other protocols this will remain primarily a Winlink net.

So how does a Winlink net work? I am going to model the net after the original Winlink Wednesday net that was started in Virginia. So on Wednesday between the hours of 0800 and 2000 (PST) you would send a Winlink message to check in to the net. We will start with a basic check in and later on add a bit more variety by posting a question for the answer to be submitted with the check in.

So the basic Winlink check in is simple. Compose a message to K7ISQ and on the first line of the message include the following:

    callsign, first name, city, county, state, connection type

So for me I could checkin with something like:

    WT0F, Gerard, Issaquah, King, WA, VHF

If you are traveling that week, then you would check in with the current city, county, state that you are currently in. Or lets say that you are at work when you send the Winlink message, use the city that you are in when you send the message. The last item (the connection type) is generally optional for many nets, but I think it would be a nice thing to add. Generally the options for the connection type are HF, VHF, telnet. I think as we go forward this list will get extended to include if the connection is over 9600 baud or a P2P connection or even a VARA-FM, ARDOP or other unique connection is being made. But for now lets keep it simple.

While I am thinking about it, check ins are welcome to come from any source. So you can use any of the Winlink RMS nodes–so don’t feel that you have to use my nodes for the check in–or a Pactor station if you want to practice sending over HF. Quite honestly if all you have available is a telnet connection over the internet, then that is sufficient. The purpose is to exercise the use of Winlink and getting used to using it periodically so that everyone is familiar with it and it is ready to go at a moments notice. My suggestion is that people should be using various RMS nodes so that they have a good understanding of what nodes they are able to normally hit and know what alternative RMS nodes can be used when the one that is normally used is out of commission. Maybe that will be a bit of a contest one week–who is able to hit the furthest node from their station. Get those Yagis tuned up

I plan on producing a Winlink form template for the net and the variations to the net that will develop. So stay tuned for where you can get that and use it to construct the check in message.

So you send a message to check into the net, what happens afterwards? At about 2000 PST or some time afterward, I will collect all the messages sent to K7ISQ and respond to all the check ins to acknowledge that the check in was received. Sometime around the beginning of the week I am planning on sending Winlink messages to all the stations that checked in the prior week (and probably for some amount of weeks after the last check in) with any information that would be useful for that week’s net. This might be simply a reminder of the type of net that will be functioning that week or a question to be answered in the check in for the week. It is my hope that this will provide a moderate amount of Winlink messages back and forth to insure that everyone’s Winlink setup gets exercised enough to find any issues with stations on a regular basis and not just during drill time.

As the net develops, there will be other things that are brought in such as a week that the ICS 213 form is used or using P2P connections for the net. I have also started to build a list of questions to use for some nets to add something more than just a simple check in. I would also like to get the net to the point where there is a couple of people that act as net control and that it can be moved around.

Finally, while I am sending this notice out to the ICST members, it is by no means that the net is restricted to just ICST members. Anyone is welcome to participate in the net no matter where they are located. So, if you have friends that may have an interest and want to work with Winlink, feel free to forward this email and invite them to participate.