WARA regards Winlink as an integral part of its emergency communications plan. Since January 2018, one of our directors, J73WA, has been operating an RMS gateway at his home in Portsmouth. The RMS gateway consists of a dedicated computer, two pactor modems (one main and one backup), Rigblaster for sound card modes, KPC-3+ packet radio TNC, VHF and HF radios. Antenna is an easily replaceable dual band fan dipole for the 30 and 40 meter band. Modes supported are pactor 1 – 4, Winmor, Vara, Ardop and VHF packet. The system runs continuously off-grid on a 100% renewable energy power system with backup generator. Spare antennas are kept in storage for rapid deployment if needed. Backup emergency VSAT equipment is also on hand.
Winlink is actively promoted among WARA’s membership and to remain in a constant state of readiness, a weekly Winlink net was launched. Winlink Wednesday is an all day net designed to provide a platform for our members to practice using the system. In the net, operators connect to whichever RMS station they can access to send their checkin messages. These could include the J73WA gateway, any of the ones in the region and even those further afield.
In WARA’s emergency management plan, packet radio plays an integral part in moving messages from one point to the other. To enhance the effectiveness of packet radio on the island, WARA has embarked on a project to install VHF packet radio digipeater/nodes at our repeater sites. Our current packet network:
This digipeater network is designed to serve Dominica and surrounding islands from St. Kitts to St. Lucia.
The Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS) was heavily used by some amateur radio operators in the region in their response to Hurricanes Irma and Maria. WARA has included NBEMS as part of its emergency response plan. All licensed members of WARA are encouraged to keep the FLDIGI app installed on their smart device and on laptops which may be used during an emergency. WARA also conducts a weekly NBEMS net on its repeater network using the MT63-2KL mode as primary means of data transfer.