Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Every HAM should know how to e-mail with radio!

  I think every HAM should know how to send e-mail with his radiostation. Not via the internet but via the airwaves. Just in case the internet is down, in case of an emergency. Or in case you're in an area without internet, when on a hike, on vacation...

Lately I saw some interesting videos made by OH8STN Julian about this subject. But it is not really clear how to do it. And there are several possebilities you can use. You can use a "one has it all package" but you can also use external software to speed up the process. I've experimented with e-mail over radio with the use of PSKmail in 2010 , I got it working but it was a very complicated road the setup everything. I lost interest since this should be easy so you can set it up in a emergency situation. It is 11 years later now, time to take a look again.

I did hear about Winlink a long time ago and I downloaded the package once but never got to experiment with it. I was actually afraid it would cost me at least the time I used to setup PSKmail. But I was wrong. I got it all working with my IC-7300 within 20 minutes.

A interesting video about reliable e-mail over HF can be seen.

There are many interesting videos about this topic. And even OH8STN did some videos that are very interesting to get an idea. However, setting it up is not really clear in these videos. You have to experiment. I had problems to get my IC-7300 to transmit, but after some experimenting with several settings I was finally able to send out my e-mail over HF.

Just for my own archive and for others to learn from I made some screenshots from my setup for the slower ARDOP and the faster VARA HF. The ARDOP TNC software modem is built in Winlink, so you have a "all in one package".

Setup Soundcard for IC-7300

Setup CAT/PTT control for IC-7300

However, if you like to have a faster connection you really need VARA HF. It is a separate package which you can use for free with limits. If you pay $69 you can get a registery key and have no limits on the connection. Personally I experienced the free version is already much faster compared to ARDOP and so far fast enough for me.

VARA HF setup, you don't need a reg key to work with it

VARA HF soundcard setup for IC-7300

VARA HF CAT/PTT control for IC-7300

I suggest to watch the video on how to setup Winlink itself. I didn't have any problems with that. 
By the way, you get your own e-mail adres within the winlink system which is your callsign@winlink.org. 

VARA HF winlink session with LA1J on 60m. Click on it to view a larger picture.

To upload/receive your e-mail you need to connect to a relay station. With the channel selector you can find what would be the best station for up/downloading. You can view the stations location on a map.

There is also a possebility to exchange e-mail peer-to-peer. So you don't need a relay station. The only problem is that you need to be on the same frequency at the same time and know each others callsign to connect. And of course you need propagation.... but when the internet and/or grid is down and if there are less relay stations on air you can still get a message reliable to another station over HF.

It seems that e-mail over VHF/UHF FM is also a possebility. If interested you might search for it on google or youtube.


  1. Interesting blog thx Bas.
    73s Peter/pd1rp

    1. Hallo Peter, als je het voor elkaar hebt stuur me dan ff een test mail. pe4bas (at) winlink.org. ;-). 73, Bas

  2. Hi Bas,

    This is on my list of Things To Do in 2021. I have a lot to learn as I know nothing about the procedure so far.


    1. Hi John, the whole setup and procedure is a lot easier compared to PSKmail. It actually is like when internet started and you had to call in to a internet provider to connect to the internet. Watching some video's is probabely learning you enough to have it all configured.

      This is a video I found today: https://youtu.be/WRv9DbqnnDg which is very useful to watch.

      Well, if you have it all working.....try to send me an e-mail. pe4bas (at) winlink.org

      73, Bas

    2. Good video, Bas - thanks for the link. I've downloaded and registered WL but still have to sort out some config issues (TNC Type, TNC Serial Port). Quite a bit more involved than WSJT, etc.

      I'll get to it this weekend and hopefully finish it up.



Thanks for your comment. Bedankt voor je reactie. 73, Bas