Meetings & Nets
First Friday Monthly meeting at 7:30 PM at LaPlata Train Station; Net-Tuesdays 8:00 PM on 443.700 MHz, (No PL, TSQL 179.9 Hz)
Once a month social gathering for breakfast –please check the website for schedule
Second Tuesday Commex with the ARES/RACES team Charles County 7:00PM EOC LaPlata
How to Contact Us:
PO BOX 169, La Plata, MD 20646
President: Art Audley firstname.lastname@example.org
Vice-president: Charles Hallock email@example.com
Secretary: Bill Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer: Andrew Davidson email@example.com
Membership/Activities: Bob Davidson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Training officer Bob Curran (KE3GG) email@example.com
Smoke Signals is published monthly as the newsletter of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club, Inc. Items to be published in the Smoke Signals should be submitted by the Sunday before the first Friday of the month. Email submissions are most efficient firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to Michelle Sack PO Box 1182 Waldorf, MD 20604. Permission is granted to reprint.
Several members of the CCARC met at Maries this morning for Breakfast before the Winlink session started at the train station. In attendance were Charles (AA3WS), Flyboy Bob (KE3GG), Patrick (KB3UYZ), Boy Scout Bob (KB3KOW) and the newly licensed Spenser (KB3????).
After breakfast and a bit of a late start (helps if you have the key) the train station opened up. Joining us at the station were Bridge Bob (W1BJC) and Lee (N3YWZ). After several minutes of setting things up, including getting an antenna on top of the caboose, we
were ready to start.
A little while later we were joined by Art (AA3RT) and Tim (KB3OSF) and Melissa. During the time at the station we were able to:
- Get Patrick (KB3UYZ) up on Winlink
- Get Tim (KB3OSF) up on Winlink and into his Winlink Webmail as well as onto D-Star via the DVAP
- Provided some RMS Express P2P training and Set up RMS for
HF operations for Bob (W1BJC)
- Provided some Winmor WL2K training
- Set up a Digipeater so Charles and Bob could connect to a
local node using their HT’s and a dummy load.
- Provided a demo of setting up the “CCARC” network which allowed everyone with a PC and web browser to log on and send emails via Paclink.
Many of the activities were happening concurrently and the time at the station went by quickly as everyone was either being helped or helping out.
I owe a few web links and documents which will be provided out
over the next few days. If anyone else in the club would like to
join in on the Winlink fun and help expand the ‘Packet’
Airmail/RMS Express network within Charles County, let me know.
A big thank you to everyone who showed up as we were able to
feed off of the combined knowledge of all present and accomplished a lot of things in a short period of time.
73 Bob KB3KOW
During the meeting on Friday, Donna had mentioned about a Region 5 test the last weekend in March. She has contacted me today and noted that the actual date of the drill is March 27th-28th, which is a Tuesday to Wednesday.
I am working with her to see about a ‘comm’ portion of the drill
both for our training as well as to see the best way to interface
with the CHAS HD and their traffic. Donna did note that any comms portion could take place Tuesday evening so as not to interfere with our normal paying jobs. I’ll update everyone once I find out more info.
73 Bob KB3KOW
This is some good news on the dates. I suspect we in PRGE will be asked to play during the working hours; HOWEVER, we certainly can be flexible to add any Tuesday evening comms as well.
We (PRGE) probably won’t hear anything official until the County Health Care Coalition meeting scheduled for 0900 on the 27th. And, if this is anywhere near a big deal exercise, there will probably be a large pre-exercise conference just like last year’s Region 5 Capital Shield Exercise. In fact, that is where met Donna and Bob’s Civista rep (name escapes me).
Looking good guys! Thanks Bob.
73, Jim WB3KAS
I have, once again, connected my Icom PCR-1000 to the internet.
It is available for all to use.
It can be reached at: http://18.104.22.168:8080/PCR
73, Cliff N3FI
Congratulations to Spencer Johnson who passed the Technician class exam with the AA club yesterday (Saturday, 14th).
73, de AA3RT
Web enabling of Packet Radio
aka Winlink 2000
You show up to a served agency to help support an internet outage by providing them some email connectivity for the passing of important data. You get to your normally assigned location and get set up only to find out they have 25 emails waiting to be sent out or you arrive only to find out they want you sitting in another room which is not co-located with the radio or antenna coax. Maybe the served agency doesn’t want to had you the data but want to type it themselves to provide some control, or it’s on a program that is on their PC.
One way to overcome these issues would be to web enable the environment. This would allow multiple hams to be typing at the same time or even allow the served agency to do their own emails using tactical call signs.
If you go to www.winlink.org, under the ‘Software | Users’ tab there is an interesting note from Lee Inman, K0QED, who mentions about setting up a Webmail environment for messages sent and received via the Winlink nodes and RF. His web page provides some very simple instructions on how to set it up, but they are also a bit dated and as the software products have matured there have been some changes to how they interoperate, but after some playing, testing, more playing, kicking the PC and a lot of Google web searches, I’ve been able to create a web based system.
From the radio side of things, nothing changes. You still need the antenna, a radio and a TNC. The additional equipment needed is a computer to host all the software products and a Wi-Fi router, such as a Netgear WGR614. The Wi-Fi router is used to establish a local network that others would then ‘join’ using the wireless options in their PC.
The host computer would be running several freeware or open source products. The main ‘Ham radio’ program is Paclink. Paclink allows the establishment of multiple tactical call signs as well as the ability to create multiple user accounts. Paclink can also act as a very simple SMTP (email) server.
Additionally the host computer is running the “Apache” web server as well as a Webmail application.
How does it all work? Well, you show up with your laptop and join the “CCARC” network. Once that is completed, you then open your web browser and go to http://webmail. Once there you are presented with your logon screen:
Once you log into the system, you’re then presented with your webmail environment:
From this screen you can draft a new message or read/reply to messages. If you opt to draft a new message, you are presented with a new screen where you can address and type your message:
Once you hit ‘Send’ the email is sent to the Paclink program where it is queued to go out during the next connection to an RMS Node. As messages are received and you refresh your screen, those Winlink messages addressed to your email account will be displayed on the screen.
Of course, this got me thinking. What would happen if we were spread out across several rooms or, as in the case of CIVISTA, across multiple floors? How could we easily communicate between ourselves? W know that HT’s will work great but maybe the environment is a bit too noisy or to quite and they don’t want to hear the radios squaking in the background.
This is where a ‘chat’ client can come in handy. So I threw in a ‘Chat’ server and again made it web capable. Here is a screen shot of a chat session in progress:
In this case you have Bob and Carl in a discussion and the ability to exchange any back-channel communications needed while supporting the served agency. The screen shot above is from a web page, so while no additonal software is needed on the users laptop, if you can load a dedicated chat program, then you have some increased capability, such as the ability to transfer files. Here is a screen shot from one chat client called Pidgin:
Where this would come in handy would be if one operator received a file they needed to share with others at the same organization. No need to drop it to a thumb drive or have it sent multiple times via WInlink, just ‘send’it to them via the chat software.
Since I had some more free time I also wanted to pursue a Document Management capability. What this would allow is the ability to stage documents that in turn could then be downloaded by individuals as they joined the network. Some examples might be the various ICS forms that are used during an event or as noted above, any large files received that need to be shared with others.
The software is again web based so nothing needs to be installed on the user’s laptop. They simply go to the web page in question, log in and they are presented with the documents they can download:
There are some Pro’s and Con’s to this whole set up. Currently I have everything set up on a desktop which is a great development and testing environment but in the event of a real emergency probably wouldn’t work too good. The good news is this can all be installed on a laptop. The more powerful the better.
A second issue is that management for the users is conducted using the three separate programs. There is no “Active Directory” environement where one name and password can be entered and used for all three. Of course the advantage is that you ca control who has access to what program.
I was able to provide a brief demo at the Winlink session held a few weeks ago and will try to have it available at a future get together as well as maybe at the next quarterly drill at CIVISTA for testing if anyone is interested in giving it a try.