Winlink2000 Ham radio
To do Ham Radio
E-mail with the Winlink2000 system from the outback with no cell phone service
, on my laptop
, I recently bought an older, used Kantronics Kam+ HF Modem
(TNC), for only $130. (They go for less.)
2 or 3 TNC’s retail for $700 to $1200, and are not available on the used market , yet. They are also only manufactured by a German company, which has the monopoly in this field.
I hope the price
of my used TNC, is good news for the poorer sailor or RVer with more energy than money
Although the Kam+ only supports Pactor
1, I am still able to connect to many Winlink2000 PMBO's (Participating Mail Box Offices) here in the USA and Canada
and post and get my E-mail this way.
Some PMBO's now start moving away from Pactor 1 only, and only accept Pactor 2/3 connects, for faster connections, but many still do accept slower Pactor 1 connects. These Pactor 2/3 TNC's are expensive and propietary hardware
, which makes Ham radio more expensive and is contrary to the mood and spirit of pure Ham Radio. Pure E-mail of short lengths (a paragraph or two) is still good with Pactor 1, using these old Kam TNC's, as many PMBO's supporting Pactor 1 could still be found around here.
I can send and receive fairly long E-mails, the length of this post, in only 30 seconds or so. - Good enough if you just want E-mail from the system (and no pictures).
BUT, I can also request Airmail Catalog weather
items, get GRIB weather
files from Saildocs for free, and request the text version of any webpage on the internet
from so-called E-mail-to-web servers for free, with my $130 SSB modem
I used Windows Hyperterminal to reset and setup my Kam+, and
I use the Airmail3 E-mail client for Winlink2000.
- Just downloaded the GOES Color Infra Red satellite
image off Airmail's catalog. Huge file for Pactor 1 (18KB). Took about 20 minutes over a nice, clear HF SSB
Pactor 1 connection to a Winlink PMBO (Participating Mail Box Office) about 1000 miles away on 20m.
All done with my old Kantronics Kam+ HF SSB Modem and my old Icom
735 HF SSB Ham Transceiver.
Still have ten minutes of daily use use left with this PMBO, but I can also connect to a slew of other PMBO's around the USA and Canada
, each giving me 30 minutes/day.
The Pactor 2/3 modems would have handled this transaction much faster, though.....for $700 to $1200 + per modem........
Me, I am happy for now with a $130 used HF modem that can download and upload huge text files and text attachments (fairly quickly at about 1kb/minute) plus do the occasional image file when needed.
Older Pactor 1 HF SSB Modems which are inexpensively available on the used market:
Kantronics Kam +
Kantronics Kam 98
Kantronics Kam XL
All supported by Airmail 3.2 e-mail software
for both Winlink and Sailmail.