PARG Winlink Gateway
Ever since I first saw digital modes and Winlink being used I have been fascinated with it's possibilities. So sometime around June-July 2022 - on account of there being very few Winlink Gateways in VK6 - I got it into my head that I wanted to build my own (or at least one for the Club. That is still on the cards, however there are some clubhouse challenges to be overcome first). By mid October 2022 I'd assembled a rudimentary Gateway and been approved to be a Winlink Systems Operator (SYSOP)
The Gateway at the time comprised a Barrett SB250 HF radio (kindly loaned to me by Maurice VK6HLY) on 7052 kHz USB (Upper Side Band), a 13.8v power supply for same, a Windows 10 Laptop running RMS Trimode and Vara HF, a USB (Universal Serial Bus) soundcard, and a radio-PC PTT interface.
RMS Trimode (a Windows program) is the system controller, it uses Vara HF to send and receive data via the Barrett HF radio, and via the internet to the Winlink Common Message Servers. The PTT interface and USB soundcard are used to key the radio, and transfer audio to and from the radio.
I've had a few things that needed adjusting and fixing since I first powered the Gateway up.
Firstly I had issues with the tune of the antenna (a 28m end fed with a 9:1 UnUn), this was fairly well remedied by doing a retune.
Then I realised that the power supply was insufficient for the radio, and might be causing the radio to perform oddly. This has since been remedied, at the time of writing (19 Nov 22) I haven't tested how the radio performs now. Maurice will try to call in from Quindalup on 20 Nov 22.
In December 2022 I decided to change out the radio to my Xiegu G90 as I was concerned that the Barrett was suffering from QRM from within my QTH. The G90 didn't seem to suffer as much.
Then in March 2023 I changed the Gateway's frequency as I was getting serious QRM from operators using Voice on that Freq (which is well within the where the Band Plan designates as Digital).
We've noticed that there seems to be a very distinct skip zone at about 18km from the gateway. Skywave has fairly good performance, with over land op
To everyone, please feel free to use the Gateway. (Assuming of course you're Licensed Hams).
I'm hoping to implement an additional VHF Vara FM channel to the Gateway soon, I'm however having a mighty battle to get my VHF radio and interface to actually work.
March 2023 update:
I've changed the HF radio over to a Xiegu G90 as the Barrett was experiencing lots of QRM, so until I can make a filter I'll use my Xiegu. I've had a fair number of users, mainly in VK6, but also one from Mauritius.
I've not yet achieved a VHF capability yet.
I've also installed RMS Relay, which can store messages in the event of an internet outage to the wider Winlink system, and can - after an specified period of internet outage - forward messages via another Gateway over HF. This however can't be used with the Barrett, as it doesn't have the Computer Aided Transceiver capability to change frequency.
July 2023 Update:
PARG has purchased a new Windows 10 PC and an Icom IC-7300 transceiver which has been setup to be a Winlink gateway. Jenny VK6JEN is testing it at her QTH, and has taken her gateway offline.
Winlink users can dial in to the PARG gateway, to find it perform a channel update in Winlink Express.