4. Setting up Winlink for use on HF

For RF operations, you can use either a hardware modem (TNC) or a sound card (computer, built into the radio, or external such as SignaLink etc.) with one of a variety of software modems to interface between your radio and sound card.

For HF with a sound card there are several options:

ARDOP is included in Winlink Express.

To set it up you will need to open an “ARDOP Winlink” session, go to Settings; ARDOP TNC Setup; and enter the audio settings for the sound card you use for digital (such as “USB Audio CODEC” used by my SignaLink).

VARA HF: You can download the VARA HF 4.0 software at https://rosmodem.wordpress.com/

The Free version is limited in speed. The paid version ($69.00) removes the restrictions. I’ve found the free version very workable. A friend of mine, Evan, WH6ECG with Hawaii ARES has done field testing with the mainland and found VARA HF 4.0 very robust with good throughput in weak band conditions.

Once installed, you will need to open a “VARA HF Winlink” session, open Settings; VARA TNC Setup, and enter the path to where you installed the sound modem in the “VARA Modem Location” box.

Winmor is currently included in Winlink Express, but is being phased out.

If you have an SCS PACTOR hardware modem, there is a “Pactor Winlink” mode to use with it.

Rig Interface: All of the HF modes I discussed here allow you to configure them to control your radio and automatically switch to the proper frequency when selected in the software.

The Winlink website, https://winlink.org/ has links to software, documentation, tutorials including YouTube videos and operating information.

You should be ready to start connecting to RMS nodes on HF. We will go into more detail in later training, but for now, here are some nodes to try.

KC8YJJ, 3589.500 Toronto OH (VARA, ARDOP, PACTOR)
VE3HJL, 3587.00 Scarborough Ontario (VARA, ARDOP)
NM5PB-11, 7101.300 St. Louis MO (VARA, ARDOP)
KØSI, 7103.500, Columbia MO (VARA, ARDOP)

Once you have your HF station configured, feel free to send a test message to KA0AZS with the mode you’re using and the RMS station your used.

Our next training will discuss connecting to RMS nodes to send and receive messages.