Radio Preppers

General Category => Digital Modes => Topic started by: KC9TNH on October 18, 2012, 09:50:27 AM

Title: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 18, 2012, 09:50:27 AM
DISCLAIMER: Don't know enough about the modern digital modes to address one of this sub-forum's premises - discussion of standardization - but that topic has legs for future threads at some point. So this is just one more thing - maybe - in the tool bag.
-------------
Over the past week or so I've been dabbling in this. The RMSExpress s/w was loaded and an initial WINLINK account created by sending a test message to myself using Telnet (this one routed off to Perth & back), just wanted to validate the s/w load in advance of the Signalink arriving.

...I went with a Signalink USB interface and will never look back.
As street jargon seems to go:

WORD

Having already read through the manual before it arrived, the whole thing could've been done in about 20 minutes, uninterrupted. However, 2 factors added to that install time. First, given that things are part of a working radio room the cables needed to be routed behind/through etc. because when I got it done I didn't want to get behind anything, pulling stuff out to troubleshoot & tend to keep a neat table. Also I'm of the measure-twice-cut-once generation.

The other is that I also took a bit of time to reflect on what interacts with what, as I'm pretty draconian about not having RF in the shack. With outboard speaker going to be run from the audio out of the Signalink and a USB cable running from the laptop, thence in proximity to the amp, and on to the little box there were some ferrites to be applied. (As a friend told me there might be a 12-step program for those whose drug of choice is compressed iron powder.)

The Signalink itself was a joy to configure and install. EVERY direction (and some possible screw-ups) are in the manual & address what needs to be done. RTFM completely FIRST, then proceed IN ORDER. The manual is in real honest-to-God ENGLISH (angels sing) and written by people who've seen it all and write the online FAQs. The box itself is extremely well-made.

I'd originally wanted to route an email to a very distant relay as I have a piece of wire that plays better than its theory on 20m. However, I forgot that when configuring the propagation prediction software add-on that RMSExpress uses to give best candidates I'd plugged in some info about my multi-band OCF dipole. So I used a relay in Canada that's literally over the bridge from Detroit on 40m, and it worked great. I initially used the slower speed to give the benefit of doubt to the atmosphere gods (500 vs. 1600) but will try 1600 tonight maybe.

In the base shack I have a pretty robust manual tuner, not as fast an auto-tuner but it solves alot of problems. With the temporary brain-freeze of suggested list of relays (ranked on best path by the software), listening to new sounds, and watching a waterfall of activity on the bands competing for my attention (I didn't hear any pings from the Red October) something I'd done before paid dividends. When I'd first gotten that manual tuner I'd gone through and made a little cheat-sheet of the dial-settings for the CW and SSB mid-points for all the common bands. This allows tuning almost as fast as an auto. Comes in handy when your first freq of choice is in the tank or busy and you need to make a rudder correction. After awhile with this method and a known antenna some settings are muscle-memory.

Finally pressed the Start button and watched the simultaneous logging activity, the 2 stations linked up, and the traffic was being passed.
Total time using that slower rate for a simple few-lines ASCII test was a bit over 2 minutes. (Power was set to 50w by the way, certainly achievable with the 817 and its little THP kicker amp and QRP will be an interesting test.)

Exited out of that* & popped up the browser to check email and, voila'. Test in my commercial account.  In sum, ready to start some further testing, faster rate, more text, balancing the band conditions with who might be a better relay based on the antenna available.  1 successful test isn't a result. More to follow.

Edit: Back to the Signalink, you don't have to have that one but it really does simplify alot of stuff and the little CD-ette that comes with it also contains a bunch of commonly-used client software for various modes.  In fact, in reading a couple of the real good primers on using WINMOR that are available, one used a $5 outboard sound interface, and one provides the schematic for what the thing simply has to do for those who like to roll their own. For me time isn't necessarily money but, more importantly, time is simply time.

* The manual is serious about not having any other communication programs running. Unless you tell it to go out and check the bands for candidate relays LIVE, via RF, updating the list will be done via the internet. If you have your browser, email, whatever, up & running at that time you'll get an error because the commo software wants your TCP/IP port.  You can do without it - that's the whole point right? - but those are changes to be made BEFORE running your session. See above about RTFM.

Your internet starting point is: http://winlink.org
From there, read, learn, search more & go forth.
 8)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: cockpitbob on October 18, 2012, 10:06:35 AM
Wes, great write-up.  Digital and HF-email are on my winter-spring list of things to add to my operating repertoire. 

It seems like the software uses the web for a few things.  How does it all work with no internet connection?  My main interest in HF email is for a reigonal SHTF situation where the area I'm in has no phone & web, but much of the rest of the country does.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 18, 2012, 10:38:13 AM
It seems like the software uses the web for a few things.  How does it all work with no internet connection?  My main interest in HF email is for a reigonal SHTF situation where the area I'm in has no phone & web, but much of the rest of the country does.
With my limited use of it to this point, the internet is convenient for a handful of things INITIALLY. From my perspective, here's what I used the net for:

1. The companion propagation prediction program (ITSHF, not to be confused with 'If The SHTF') is used by RMSExpress, the WINMOR client software, to produce for you an updated list of radio messaging relays and their ranked path reliability, frequency info and some other info. This is the source of the data that comes up when one presses "Select Channel" - so you can pick from one of the relays based on its perceived reliability given its freq, distance & azimuth so you can select proper antenna, etc.  The software DOES have a mechanism for updating this using RF, over the air, but presumably takes longer.

Besides, the propagation models are done on overall Space Wx prediction models using SMOOTHED Sunspot Numbers rather than the little daily gadget people watch where one minute the sky is falling & 10 min later the radio gods are smiling. The initial hand-hamming of these values for the coming year into the on-board prop software is time well spent.  Sources for where to get this are in the WINMOR primers. Winlink's website has links to some of them. This lets you...

2.  Use the internet, from within RMS Express (which uses the solar data you plugged in), to get the initial table of ranked best HF mail relays.  When you use this the top-ranked one isn't necessarily the best, you might have other considerations. So getting that INITIAL table planted into the software directory structure is a good thing.  Momentary glitches based on solar or geo-mag events are gonna happen no matter what. But you'll have something close when without the net.

3.  Before the Signalink arrived, I was able to validate the basic install & config of the s/w by doing a test message using a Telnet session to send / receive to a relay. Zip, took a few seconds. Done, life is good to that point. (Some things in the s/w won't come alive to setup until you actually have a device installed anyway.)

However, believe me, on the test regime in my head after checking for different throughput questions is to update that info mentioned in #2 simply via RF to benchmark what the payload is. After all, that's the intent and, absent SATCOM, how would a vessel do that? I would imagine that it will take longer, but I want to see it done. All the above is what I'd consider basic setup; the meat is gonna be how it performs without a TCP/IP connection at ANY point.

Thanks for asking, great question.


Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: WA4STO on October 18, 2012, 10:40:44 AM

From there, read, learn, search more & go forth.


If there's but one more thing I wanna do with ham radio before I become one with the great antenna farm of the cosmos, it's get going with Winmor.

The whole idea of a network that is designed to scan all HF bands, just looking for your puny little prepper signal to connect with, on a 24/7 basis, is too much to even contemplate.  It's just fabulous. 

But it gets better. 

Unlike voice, CW and some of the digital modes, with the Winlink system, your data either gets to its ultimate destination devoid of errors or it doesn't get there at all.  Still, not to worry, the system will keep scanning and keep trying, long after you're cuttin' firewood for your BOL in your dreams.

But it gets better.

Not sure what band will best propagate your signal?  Well, quit wondering.  The software tells you which station is most likely to work for you at any given time.  Sheesh.  They thought of everything.

73 de WA4STO
 
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 18, 2012, 11:22:35 AM
But it gets better.

Not sure what band will best propagate your signal?  Well, quit wondering.  The software tells you which station is most likely to work for you at any given time.  Sheesh.  They thought of everything.

73 de WA4STO[/color]
I'll give an example of how the s/w helps out with that table. Right off the bat, several of the best candidates were very distant stations MMMMM  :) on 30m. Now you can set the threshold of what the s/w uses to rank Green (best), Yellow, Red. In this case it comes as a ranking of 75 or better means a Green path; it shows the raw ranking too. But as it turns out, after actually tuning up at that moment & looking at the receive levels in the waterfall and the little gauge that functions like a modern S-meter, those stations on 30m weren't gonna work out. Either the prop wasn't right, or they were ranked high and, as a result were damn popular ergo busy.

OK, well, 73 might be yellow, but it's hand-grenade range of 75, so a 40m station was chosen. Bang, done deal.

To segue away from the zombie apocalypse for a moment, remember that here we're talking about a protocol where you can watch live (in your logger there on the screen) the attempt at connection, the distant station's response, the hand-shake, and all the:

Got your little bunch of data packets, looks good, gimme some more.
Here's some more packets.
Got your little bunch of data packets, looks good, gimme some more.
That's all I have for you; do you have anything for me?*
No.
tks de kc9tnh <connection terminated>... or machine words to that effect.  This isn't your DS3 circuit down the street.

There's one other use for also having an internet connection brought up by one of the primer authors whose focus is MARS.  If you are in support of an EMCOMM situation, where there may be loss of net IN THE AFFECTED AREA, you need to use your precious RF bandwidth to support information going to/from affected area. Alot of EMCOMM SOPs say "All traffic must go via RF."

Horsehockey. Routine comms between other supporting stations, cells, zombie-fighting bands, that can go via a less demanding method should go that way.  So in an EMCOMM situation from outside an affected area where you have both, use them. That's my story & I'm stickin' to it.

* When you make a connection to an RMS HF gateway your connection also picks up any mail waiting for you.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 18, 2012, 03:33:54 PM
But it gets better. 
A properly implemented piece of wire, in the air, in the clear, and your laptop and your (pick interface device) and your 10w transceiver, and you're good to go. Great for field environments and much of the premise of this forum.

For those of you uber-geek members of the Auxiliary, or who will work an EMCOMM event and/or sheltering-in-place (and you're a map junkie like me), you can download the list of the RMS relays for WINMOR to a .KML file. Pull that into your GoogleEarth and it will overlay all those locations into your view of the Big Blue Marble, whatever that is. Becomes a switchably viewable layer.

Just make sure when you go HERE (http://www.winlink.org/RMSPacketStatus) that you select the radio-button for WINMOR, then after it sorts you can select the KML file.
Title: Just a reminder
Post by: KC9TNH on October 20, 2012, 10:52:55 AM
When changing something in your station, be sure to take all the care you can to rule out the new guy on the block causing you any issues.

Thought I'd post this reminder because, fixed or otherwise, one thing the little Signalink USB (SL) box is going to do is aggregate a bunch of little connections on its backside in close proximity to each other.

The base station speaker has opportunity for a line out but I elected to take receive for the SL straight out of the radio as designed. It's the first honest version of what's coming in, and switching a speaker in/out can change the loading the SL sees. But not to worry, there is a separate audio out jack on the SL to feed a speaker for the shack, present whether the SL is getting power from the computer or not. So...

Coming into the back of the SL, in close proximity, are the USB connection to/from the laptop (which carries POWER for the SL as well), speaker feed from the radio, and speaker lead feeding the shack speaker as well. The RF monster appeared because all of that was coincidentally near a run that takes care of the mic hand-switch for a headset. A real witch's brew, but easily rectified.

I generally route things in a couple of distinct directions to/from the radio depending upon whether they are signal-related, or power-related, trying to keep them from coming near except when it can't be avoided. So what I did was properly dress the wires away from the SL coming away from the box as soon as possible. The other thing done was to use some small clamp-on ferrites at each end of all cables, including both ends of the USB SL<--->laptop connection. Outbound audio was easily returned to normal.

Just a lesson-learned for when adding a little box with wires near each other, especially those carrying multiple signals. As an old instructor mentioned once, "if you've pulled the throttle back & the airplane starts to fall out of the sky, let's think about reversing the last thing you did, hmm?"

Having a combo pack handy of various decent-mix clamp-on ferrites in your kit can help make your day. Not an endorsement, but one source is DX-Engineering's PN: DXE-CSB-COMBO. You can buy packs of all smaller sizes too, although the big ones that come along are useful for things like appliance power cords or really larged fixed-base feedlines.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 21, 2012, 08:14:10 PM
Did some initial testing. As the primers indicated (linked or downloadable from the site at winlink.org) just because the s/w ranks stations at the top doesn't mean one a little further down the list won't work better (within reason) since you know best (or should) how your antenna plays and the different constraints on a given band based on time of day, is the corn dryer going down the road at the Co-op, etc.

Have made a few tests forwarding test msgs to my com'l email account, as well as creating some messages from that account for pick-up when connecting. The shortest an overall session has been is about 1.8 minutes, for a simple 1-2 line test.  But only 2.2 min for a full 1/2-page of text from the USMC Antenna Handbook, WELL in excess of the ARRL "gram" limit and so I can see why this mode is appearing in alot of EMCOMM planners' ARES/RACES SOPs. That manual extract wasn't typed in, but was dumped into Notepad and sent as an attachment.

The longest session has been 8.8 minutes. During that one I was doing 2 things, only one of which was intended. I first wanted to see if I could pass a .JPG graphics file, so in honor of RadioRay I dumped a 43k thumb-nail of his old outfit's shoulder patch into the message. It went, and then also a SERVICE message came back into the Inbox saying the RMS relay was unable to deliver. However, I checked my private email a moment later and it was indeed there, so not sure that the SERVICE message was about. Maybe the final ACK dropped into the bit bucket.

By the way, as with many stations one gets familiar with, certain stations just seem to be always there, solid regardless of band conditions. I'm gonna continue to try to pick some others, but there are a few on 40m and one on 20m that aren't always busy, but seem to have pretty good stuff at the other end. Also, the information that indicates whether a particular relay is up 24/7 is also in the ranking.

All in all, this has some pretty nifty potential; within RMS-Express it functions pretty much like most familiar email clients - except for the terminal node controller window and waterfall (spectator privileges to the band activity, literally) which popup when you start an actual session. It will be interesting to see how throughput fares in a Peer-to-Peer session, literally radio to radio, with another user of WINMOR. It's feasibility there will make it a mission enhancer, rather than just something interesting. I'll have to see about that. All of this has been done on 50w.

LL:  When you feel you've done your best efforts and no station is answering, no matter how "idle" they are or their receive level, make sure you've actually reached over and pushed the ON button on the Signalink.
 ::)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: RadioRay on October 21, 2012, 09:49:56 PM
WINMOR is absolutely the best PC emcomm software going.  REAL internet e-mail over radio, and ham-2-ham radio e-mail. . . I am very impressed by it.  On the sailboat I used PACTOR III for years and from my little cabin in Idaho before that. The PIII modems cost as much as a new rig or more, but the WINMOR is FREEware.  If a station can work PSK31, then they have the hardware to work WINMOR.


Well - time for Zzz!


de RadioRay ..._ ._
Vigilant Always
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on October 27, 2012, 05:41:22 PM
Update: As a sometime-NCS on a voice net, and gnarling through the AM's kerfuffle while the rest of the world (seemingly) playing SSB contest, playing a bit with CW and digital. Some update notes, no particular order:
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: gil on October 27, 2012, 05:55:19 PM
Ray, if you could have only one band on a boat, which one would use take?

Gil.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: RadioRay on October 27, 2012, 06:56:08 PM
One band?  Offshore 20m   Coastal 40m.  I can find more local'ish information and etc. on 40m, but may not have the reach is seriously off-shore, except at night.  My #1 frequency is always 14300USB MMSN.


>Ray
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: WA4STO on November 18, 2012, 10:52:29 AM
Finally!  After six months -- maybe more -- of piddling with Winmor (I'm a slow learner...), I got it to establish error-free contact AND pass traffic, with one station.

As it happens, I had gotten into a long-winded Olivia QSO with a fellow that I used to work with on NTS matters.  He was in Georgia.  It was interesting to note that his signal pretty much died off on 20 meters, but Olivia kept chugging, even with no real error-correction involved.  I may have to modify my mindset about FEC.

Anyway, he and I got yappin' about Winmor and I was whining about how I couldn't get it to work.  He suggested that I craft a message, addressed to him and have it in my outbox.  I was to make sure that I marked the message "peer to peer" as that was the key to getting stuff to transfer.

I had one serious problem, and that was that the port to or from the Signalink USB wouldn't initialize.  A reboot fixed that, but I'm suspicious of FLDIGI and other Windows sounds causing difficulties down the road.

He connected successfully, the familiar sound of ARQ occurred and the message automatically started transferring.  I'm hooked.

SO many things to experiment with now!  I'm particularly interested in seeing if other preppers will sign on to this idea AND if the auto band scanning will work.

I would like to envision:

BOL A only has a ten meter dipole.  And it needs to communicate on a reliable basis with BOL B which is 15 miles away.

BOL A has a fabulous path to BOL C on ten meters.    BOL B and BOL C both fully implement the band-scanning features of WL2K so the A > C > B path should work nicely.

At present, I'm noticing that signals are lousy and that I haven't yet discovered any one station that is consistently strong here in Nebraska.  Gotta work on that.

73 de WA4STO
Title: Winmor telnet freq updates
Post by: WA4STO on November 18, 2012, 12:36:51 PM
Hey guys -- can one of you hold my virtual hand so as to get it thru my thick noggin how to use telnet from the RMS Express GUI to get the latest stations list?

I can't spot the appropriate menus to get there from here.

Tks es 73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: Winmor telnet freq updates
Post by: KC9TNH on November 18, 2012, 06:22:38 PM
Hey guys -- can one of you hold my virtual hand so as to get it thru my thick noggin how to use telnet from the RMS Express GUI to get the latest stations list?

I can't spot the appropriate menus to get there from here.

Tks es 73 de WA4STO
EDITED FOR CORRECTION AS TO MODE*
Assuming you have an internet connection present once you're in the basic screen just click on Start Session (where the mode says WINMOR).
Once the next pair of windows appears on the session window click on Select Channel.
NOTE:  If you would like to update the actual SFI number at this time from some live propagation info you have you can modify that first.
Once you click on Select Channel, it will start building in the list of stations, their rating, bearing, distance, etc.

I'll go back later & read your other post above; I'm smoked, just got back from getting the 8-pointer home, bless his freezer-fillin' heart.

My feeling about WINMOR is to test it regularly, both via Telnet which I'd use if available for routine stuff, and via HF if an emergency or other situation. Regardless, I still test both periodically.

Assuming you've already done the initial stuff & have your WINLINK acct established, try going out to your com'l email and send yourself a message so you can test both the send & receive aspect. Don't forget to put //W2LK as the first part of the subject line.
Good luck!!!
 :)

* (arggh, that's what I get for posting when tired)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on November 18, 2012, 06:40:29 PM
I had one serious problem, and that was that the port to or from the Signalink USB wouldn't initialize.  A reboot fixed that, but I'm suspicious of FLDIGI and other Windows sounds causing difficulties down the road.
[/color]
Try going back through your Signalink setup instructions; I believe the part about making sure that default Windows sounds go to the speaker and are not audio out to the Signalink. When you're in s/w that will use the Signalink like RMSExpress (or fldigi for that matter) it will use that. But you can either turn all your Windows sound events off or, preferably, just tell them to use the built-in speaker. The Signalink instructions cover this if I recall correctly.
 :)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: WA4STO on November 21, 2012, 05:45:40 PM
Hayulp!  I've lost my third RMS Express screen.

I was doing fine (thanks, KC9TNH) until I tried to get to the screen that lets you put in the dial and center frequencies.  Used to have it, but it's just plain gone now.  wuzzup with that, anyway?

So now I have the "Winmor sound card TNC" screen and the -- wait! -- I just 'found' that third screen.  it was 'greyed out" if you will down on the windoze task bar.  Only way I could get it to come up was to to right click on it and then 'maximize'.

OK, then another question:  When there's traffic being passed, and I KNOW I'm smack on freq, shouldn't I be able to see something in the way of data?  I can see the "rcv frame" info changing but I'm wondering if the TNC allows for monitored data to be shown, even if it's just bits 'n pieces.

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: RadioRay on November 21, 2012, 05:57:20 PM
It does not show data.  The data is compressed, so it must receive the entire message before it's readable, which is VERY good for 'privacy' on the air. It's not CRYPTO, but it's quite private, in that Joe Ham/SWL is not going to be able to read the compressed mail unless he captured every packet, and assembles them, then decompresses it into a coherent message.   This is one of the many things that I like about WINMOR.

Basically at the top of the screen (one of three.... )  there are numbers like 650/28   and that changes 500/237  as the data is received and confirmed.  Remember - WINMOR is checking EVERY packet and rejecting any garbles, then automatically requesting retransmission of those packets so that you receiver fully error free messaging.


>de RadioRay ..._ ._
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: WA4STO on November 21, 2012, 07:27:37 PM
aha!  That makes perfect sense -- and provides a further level of comfort...

So now I've gotta see if 3585 is gonna support prop between myself and that rascal W7ASA.  Not real likely but ya never know.

I'm in Nebraska.  Are there any active TAPRN Winmor stations further west than you two?  Are you still in peer to peer mode on 3585?  And do you forward into the WL2K system?

Tks es 73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: RadioRay on November 21, 2012, 09:36:54 PM
I am not ative on WINMOR at this time.  The 3585 has not been active in a very long time.

W0ECM in Oklahoma should be VERY strong for you! His mailbox scans 20/40 meters and should show-up on your list of WINMOR e-mail stations.

>Ray
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: WA4STO on November 22, 2012, 10:28:51 AM
Winmor forwarding questions:

1.  Thinking back to the early 80s when packet forwarding systems were up 'n running, I remember that an individual operator could tell the whole system that WA4STO traffic should be sent to W1AW-5 for retrieval. 

But the beauty of Winmor is that the system doesn't know what station is going to be strongest at a given operator's location.  So how does the system know that W4WXA is going to be looking for his traffic at W0ECM?  Or does it?  And, if it's a matter of telling the system in advance, how exactly do I do that for my incoming traffic?

2.   On a related note, during post-SHTF, I have a node suddenly set up at the local Emergency Operations Center.  Piddly poor antennas, pathetic power levels, tons of RF interference.  How do incoming health and welfare messages "know' that I'm only able to get my traffic at, say, W0ECM?

Hmmm, Q1 sounds remarkably like Q2.  Sigh...

73 de WA4STO
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: RadioRay on November 22, 2012, 12:23:10 PM
As the Winlink/Winmor system looks at your log-ins.  When you log-into a station, it adds that station to the list (top 3 stations, if I remember) where you are likely to get your mail and forwards to them.  This makes sense, because the system , back when it was WINLINK, was designed for long distance sailors who would be changing their prefered home stations as they sailed around the globe. 

So, if you sign-in with W0ECM, your mail goes there, then you sign in to N0DOG it can go there and then K9MUTT it goes there.  One thing I would do when I heard a lod station that I had not used before, was to long on, sign-off  - wait ten minutes then call back and POOF! my e-mail would be waiting there.

WINMOR is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  If I wanted to use a computer, WINMOR is my first choice. I especially like it because it can wait for traffic right at your house.  Friends drop by, leave you mail,and pick-up theirs directly from you or to you directly from them in Peer to Peer (P2P) connections, or via the WINLINK network.


de RadioRay ..._ ._

Ps. Time for me to shower, shave and smell human for our Thanksgiving Day visit with friends.    ???
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on November 22, 2012, 01:58:14 PM
Ps. Time for me to shower, shave and smell human for our Thanksgiving Day visit with friends.    ???
As with all here, wishing an enjoyable Thanksgiving event. (Our houseful will be on Saturday in concert with #1 gd's birthday.)

Sunflower, prayers out.

Since I spent the first half of the day hiking through hill & dale for a couple of guys on stand I should do the same thing as Ray, house full of company or not.

The interesting thing I've found about the channel selection in RMS Express is that it still pays to look at other stations if one has a pretty good understanding of their own antenna & where their first hop lands. A station "ranked" not near the top might still be in your wheelhouse. Still testing but it is no doubt a cool tool to have in the bag.
 :)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on November 23, 2012, 04:48:32 PM
The interesting thing I've found about the channel selection in RMS Express is that it still pays to look at other stations if one has a pretty good understanding of their own antenna & where their first hop lands. A station "ranked" not near the top might still be in your wheelhouse. Still testing but it is no doubt a cool tool to have in the bag.
 :)
25?, NW winds at 20, add 10-15 mph up on the ridge, and it made for a short 1/2 day of hunting, especially after I came around after my Lewis & Clark expedition through a valley trying to push some critters to a couple others & found them already back in the house w/coffee & German choc cake. >:(

So I tested a couple of things. What Ray has said regarding packet disassembly & re-assembly is certainly borne out by today's test of the same message, 3 different ways.

First, was simply the text as part of the message.
Second was that text exported to a .pdf, and then attached.
Third, was a .jpg capture of that .pdf, and then THAT was the attachment.

In each case the whole shebang took about 2 minutes or less, per, given a distant-end of reasonable signal strength. Within approximately same-size payloads, the TYPE of payload seems to matter not.

The message contents from this source were used for the actual message contents, just for fun. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/defence/9697929/Wanted-for-one-last-mission-call-for-Bletchley-Park-codebreakers-to-crack-the-D-Day-pigeon-cipher.html) (Neat story; unfortunately unless one of the gray-beards from Bletchley Park saved their "in" pad with a record of what pathfinder team it was issued to they will be out of luck. Yes, I love one-time pads. 'Nuff on that here.)

Maybe it really says "Sorry to bother, old boy, but did you say, "One if by land, or was it the other way 'round?"
 ;D
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on November 26, 2012, 12:58:36 PM
The things we do while waiting for the dryer to finish its work...
I've found over the last relatively short digital foray that my knowledge of my own wires exceeded the defaults when a WINMOR session comes to recommending a 'best path' to a relay. So I decided to play with the itshf VOACAP software a bit to see if they had something a bit better in their tables that would pop up depicting the real characteristics of my antenna. (coffee, need coffee) Since I usually work days as a wage slave (insuring you all have at least another 19 days worth of my Social Security money) I also wanted to see what the typical choices looked like with some daytime prop.

BLUF: The choices in the VOACAP software (used by RMS Express) are pretty varied and one can find something close to their real base situation in there, it is some nugging through details and plugging the correct values in. For instance, right off the top if you accept the defaults of a wire antenna oriented due N-S, but your dipole goes E-W, and you only look at the GREEN choices in selecting your channel, you may be short-changing yourself. So it can pay to spend some (boring) time going through everything that affects how your digital setup runs - RMS Express uses this info to make choices for you. G I G O.

If, on the other hand, you fully understand the capabilities of your antenna(s), you can scan further down the list of channels and, basically, take the attitude "I know more than you do."  :D  and select something more in your antenna's wheelhouse.

I've got an 80m dipole running E-W and just changing the orientation of this, and the gain relative to an isotropic, notably changed what was offered.  Not a big bunch, but some other stations floated to the top while a few moved lower.  Likewise, since I also have a 20m end-fed up close to 1/2 wave length high that IS running N-S, and it's slightly dipped at the fed end & plays great to the south as well, I can make judgements about whether to use it for 20m & higher. Part of that is because it's 'quieter' on receive being physically further from the residential noise-floor. It's not good for mid-distances - it doesn't play from WI to WY any better, WY is actually too close. But it plays like gangbusters out to the left-coast, New England into the North Atlantic, and down into the Caribbean and Gulf of Meh-e-ko on 20m.

Summarizing, it may be worth the time to nug-out the details of your setup in the prop s/w that RMS Express uses. Or... you can use knowledge of your antenna(s) and make a more than cursory glance at the less-than-perfect relay stations the software picks for you.

In a field situation (or after everything came down in a storm but I had to communicate with a specific station), I'd turn my back on the target, throw some wire up into a tree, and let that sloping wire signal play over my shoulder, so to speak. So it comes down to (old refrain) what you need to do.*

But give it a look, maybe your antenna parameters are already in there, or something close to it (like, uh, "horizontal dipole", duh). <headslap>

* Postscript: In the interest of being fair & balanced I did just a few more tests today before taking a step-back from digital immersion to return some balance to the atmospheric life, like talking to folks and pounding brass.

In the spirit of "I have this saddle & need a horse", I just couldn't resist checking the duty cycle of the mode. I have an extremely flexible charger, albeit bigger than the one that takes care of the gel-cells in my field bag, that is crying for me to have some more/bigger gel-cells around (on sale during Christmas in the lawn-care section of my local hardware store).  So I found that the rough duty cycle of a 3 minute transmission of several paragraphs of text is about 2:1, xmit to receive, actual current draw of course determined by output power. Because 40m during the day ain't the greatest this led me to....

Same message, any elapsed time differences based on output power used?
Earlier in the day I'd been using 45w and going with a distant station, to move the relays around a bit.  This time I picked a 40m station that was in my AO and was at the top of the (new) recommended channel list.
Obviously if things aren't going well there may be a tactical reason to hit a more distant station, even off-shore if you've got the power to hold the signal.

But there is no substitute for having a monster connection in terms of not needing packets repeated. Power settings, and the transmission times for the TOTAL session on-air were:
45w ~3 min.
20w - 2.1 min.
10w - 1.8 min.
5w  - 2.1 min.
5w - 1.9 minutes off my short 20m end-fed NON-resonant opposite azimuth wire, working as a 1/4 wave.

That's pretty minimalist and (gulp) democratic in my book.
A good mode, with readable text on the other end by those who may need it (or from whom you may need something).

. .
 :)


Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 13, 2013, 12:01:36 PM
Anyone had any luck using a west mountain radio PNP? I am able to successfully do psk31 and i can get RMS to activate the radio but it won't connect to a station. Trying to do it all on 20m, maybe i got to try 40?
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 13, 2013, 05:15:07 PM
Anyone had any luck using a west mountain radio PNP? I am able to successfully do psk31 and i can get RMS to activate the radio but it won't connect to a station. Trying to do it all on 20m, maybe i got to try 40?
Lots of variables. Not familiar with the West Mountain device. Not all stations that come up on the RMS Express list are going to be available. It's usually advisable until you get more familiar with it to pick the best recommendations. Could be something as simple as the levels you've got set. Any further info you can provide about your settings, power being used, antenna, station attempting to be contacted etc.?
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 14, 2013, 01:03:38 PM
i'm pushing 100W with an 857D. RMS is able to trigger my radio on and off to make a connection but thr session just ends up shutting down. I did make sure be on USB.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 14, 2013, 01:31:16 PM
i'm pushing 100W.....
  :o

1.  You should be able to hear when your station first makes the initial contact attempt if there is any attempt by the other station to acknowledge you.  If there is, try this:

For the sake of your radio's finals, dial back your power to about 40w.  In the case of packet transmission less-is-more. 2 reasons are:
- the duty cycle at full output can be hard on your radio.
- you run the risk of clipping the waveform to the point that the other station may not reecognize it for what it is.  (My simplistic understanding of it.)

In a full key-down signoff, you'll see the 40w on a wattmeter, otherwise it'll  normally during the session be transmitting at about half that. Either way, you don't need 100w to get this done and if that's your full output you need to back that off by half or more.

2.  Further questions:
a.  What's the distance, bearing & band of the relay station you're trying to connect to?  (and where are you?)
b.  Is it a station that is operating during those hours (your best bets are relays that have 00-23 in the hours column).
c.  Is that really the direction your antenna plays best?  Probably not the first problem choice but the selection ranking is going to be partially dependent upon the propagation software parameters. Usually the defaults don't matter, but if you have some quirky special antenna that is doing something different....

Any specifics you can provide will help.  You're there, I'm not.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 14, 2013, 03:02:35 PM
I will tone it down for my next try. I am located in northeastern MA and there is a station 38K from me the operates 0-23. My antenna is a homebrew dipole oriented N to S.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 14, 2013, 03:52:53 PM
I will tone it down for my next try. I am located in northeastern MA and there is a station 38K from me the operates 0-23. My antenna is a homebrew dipole oriented N to S.
23 miles might be too close unless you've got a good 80m signal; you could be blowing right over the top of him.

Try a station, using 40w, that is west of you (broadside to your dipole) something in the area of 150-300 miles away, even 4-500 if you've got your dipole up at least 30ft or so.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 14, 2013, 05:59:52 PM
I tried a couple fo stations but no dice. I did notice when my radio tries to connect it doesn't put out any power.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 14, 2013, 06:09:27 PM
I tried a couple fo stations but no dice. I did notice when my radio tries to connect it doesn't put out any power.
Ok, that's another matter. If you're running a data mode (whatever your 857 manual indicates to run) in USB, and you're connected correctly you should see your radio keying up to send a connection attempt string as soon as you click the Start button in the session window. You may want to take a fine-toothed comb over the instructions for the West Mountain PnP to make sure you are connected in such a way that it's keying the transmit of your radio. If nothing jumps out, honestly I'd call West Mountain.

Upside:  It's probably something simple.  :)

BTW, how long is your dipole anyway?
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 14, 2013, 06:28:30 PM
BTW, is your mode set to User Defined USB?
In the 'D' model of the 857 it's on page 64 of the manual, Menu 038.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 14, 2013, 07:21:34 PM
Dipole is a single wire with jumpers cut in at 10-20-40 and full length 80.

I will have to take a look at the USB mode, I thought you just had to change the mode to USB
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 14, 2013, 09:37:40 PM
I will have to take a look at the USB mode, I thought you just had to change the mode to USB
Yep, needs to be in a data mode.  Most common one encountered as a default is RTTY, then PSK or some such, and the Yaesu's let you also select User Defined data mode with either Upper or Lower Sideband injection. You'll find it.
 :)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 15, 2013, 07:49:46 AM
I will have to take a look at the USB mode, I thought you just had to change the mode to USB
Yep, needs to be in a data mode.  Most common one encountered as a default is RTTY, then PSK or some such, and the Yaesu's let you also select User Defined data mode with either Upper or Lower Sideband injection. You'll find it.
 :)

I think i figured it out and would explain why my radio didn't put out any power or key the receiving station cause i had it set to SSB USB, no voice no output, but if it was in digital it would have keyed.

Edit: When my radio transmits a off and on is that a handshake process for the receiving radio?
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 15, 2013, 05:52:36 PM
Edit: When my radio transmits a off and on is that a handshake process for the receiving radio?
If everything normal your radio will key up for a few seconds, literally calling the other station. It will try this several times until it timesout and you'll get a fail in your terminal node controller window. If it answers, you're going to hear it (kind of a screeching) and you'll see a brief 'ACK' packet notice display in the session window that shows where your receive strength is, etc.

(NOTE: If you now have your radio keying and your RMS Express software is setup failure to connect to a selected station does NOT mean a failure on your part. Lots of reasons they might not answer.)

Do you have one of the primers available for setting up RMS Express from the winlink.org website?
(Also, if your RMS Express software is setup, did you already send your first message to get a WINLINK account?)

(Edited 2312Z)
You can go here:
http://www.winlink.org/webfm

Click on the Software-Utilities folder and download one of the WINMOR primers.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 16, 2013, 02:25:44 PM
Interested to see how madball's FT-857 experience comes out. I've been giving some thought to making my #2 setup something larger than QRP but "Pelican-able". At it's price-point it beats an IC-7000, 2 antenna outputs, full-featured and would even take the old Collins CW filter in my 817. (The old ones make modern digital effects sound like krap, just my opinion.) The -857 seems to have the same capabilities (largely software-based) as my 817 or the 450. 'Bout the only thing it doesn't do that my 817 does is route any band to either antenna output I choose but a small consideration that really only shows up on hugely reducing the 817's consumption.

Decent IC-706MkIIg's seem to be going used for about the price of a new 857.

So, madball, how's it going?
 :)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 16, 2013, 02:51:29 PM
Ruff dude, Ruff

Got the mode right last night and the radio was able to show power going out. Was not able to make a connection but i think it was due to the time of night and band. I started reading that primer you sent and will try uninstalling RMS i have and re-installing following the directions.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 16, 2013, 03:19:39 PM
OK, good deal. You're probably 95% there. Some screenshots in RMS Express may have changed with versions. You might just need to go back & make sure the few things you do have to configure are correct.  And having that WINLINK account by doing that first message, which you can do via a RMS Telnet session over your internet connection, is key.

Also, the bands are flaky off/on, although 40m is finally coming around as the solar effects recede.

Also, some of the stations I've noticed that seem to float to the top of the list I have NEVER been able to get in contact with. Some stations have really robust setups and are "go-to" types for me in my RMS Express client favorites.  Others, I don't even bother with.

Also, one thing to be careful with:  A couple of the Canadian relays have their 80m frequency in what amounts to the Extra slice of the spectrum, so if you're a General take note.  VA3LKI comes to mind.

Anyway, keep plugging. PM your email address if you wanna go back & forth or need a different primer.
Which one did you get?  If you don't have Phil Sherrod's "Getting Started with WINLINK" shoot me a PM with your email address and I'll send it along.

He's easy to follow, covers several clients, RMS Express as well & you'll end up sending him your first test.  He's neck-deep in WINLINK.ORG
Good guy.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 17, 2013, 09:41:51 AM
I just joined the WINMOR yahoo group and i see lots of files i need to read. Hopefully i can bang this out this weekend.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 22, 2013, 06:34:50 AM
I give up. Everything I read uses the Signalink as the interface and not the West Mountian PNP or something like it. I may end up picking up the Signalink and ditching the PNP
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 22, 2013, 01:53:51 PM
I give up. Everything I read uses the Signalink as the interface and not the West Mountian PNP or something like it. I may end up picking up the Signalink and ditching the PNP
That's sad to hear; some people even make this work with home-brew modems. I'm pretty sure it's not the West Mountain device but something simple you're missing in the config, audio in/out levels in Windows or telling Windows to do something else with default Windows sounds, or..... (think functions, versus what a particular manufacturer calls it). Even the WINMOR primer by Fred Hambrecht uses a very rudimentary sound-card that is neither West Mountain nor Signalink.

Not to be captain of the obvious, but have you called West Mountain on the off-chance that you got a bad one?
They hawk that card citing specific mention of supporting "the new" mode of WINMOR.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 31, 2013, 10:48:46 AM
I'm back on this thing! I just snagged a used signalink and will be giving this another shot.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on January 31, 2013, 11:38:19 AM
Good deal madball.  Nug it out, step - by - step.
good luck
:)
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on January 31, 2013, 02:31:28 PM
Thanks! I will be following the 857D and Signalink primer from the Winmor Yahoo group, hopefully that works.
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: madball13 on February 02, 2013, 04:41:14 PM
FINALLY!!!!!

Got my fisrt test back to my phone and just sent one to WA4STO
Title: Re: Signalink USB and WINMOR as a mode
Post by: KC9TNH on February 02, 2013, 09:18:22 PM
Good deal!  :)