1. Introduction to FLDIGI and Winlink

FLDIGI uses any of a number of digital modes for keyboard to keyboard communications. These modes (MT-63 2KL and Olivia- 8/500 are modes commonly used by Ohio ARES) allow operators to make contact, pass information and to transmit messages using one of the variety of forms in the companion FLMSG software including standardized Incident Command System (ICS) and American Red Cross forms.

FLDIGI modes can be used on HF, VHF and UHF frequencies and allows for nets with multiple participants sending and receiving messages.
The key here is that there must be an active operator on both end of the connection.

Winlink is a digital mode used primarily as a store and forward messaging system. A station connects via HF, VHF or UHF to a node known as a Radio Message Server (or Radio Mail Server) (RMS) Gateway. The RMS gateway forwards that message to one of two redundant Common Message Servers (CMS) via internet. When a receiving station connects to the system, the CMS sends the message to the RMS that the receiving station is logged in to. There are also Hybrid gateways that will relay messages when the internet is down.

This gives a valuable capability when internet is unavailable in a local area, allowing stations to connect to HF gateways outside of the impacted area.

Winlink operates much as an E-mail program and has many standardized forms such as used by the Red Cross and ICS forms used by FEMA and local EMAs. Messages sent by Winlink can be received by served agencies via internet e-mail.

In addition to RF connections, there is a Telnet option that connects using the internet, providing an opportunity to learn the program prior to integrating it with your radio.

So, Both FLDIGI and Winlink can:
be operated on HF, VHF and UHF frequencies
Can be used to pass simple message traffic
Can use standardized forms

The differences between them are:
FLDIGI is used in real time communications between operators
Winlink is a store and forward messaging system
Winlink messages can be sent to standard internet e-mail users

Our next training will discuss getting the Winlink software and setting up a user account.