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Winlink 2000

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Winlink 2000

Winlink, also known as the Winlink 2000 Network, is a worldwide radio messaging system that mixes internet technology and appropriate amateur radio radio frequency (RF) technologies. The system provides radio interconnection services including: email with attachments, position reporting, graphic and text weather bulletins, emergency/disaster relief communications, and message relay.


Generally, email communications over amateur radio in the 21st century is now considered normal and commonplace. Email via High frequency (HF) can be used nearly everywhere on the planet, and is made possible by connecting an HF single sideband (SSB) transceiver system to a computer, modem interface, and appropriate software. The HF modem technologies include PACTOR, Winmor, and Automatic Link Establishment (ALE).


PACTOR radio equipment consists of an HF transceiver, a computer and a terminal node controller. Software running on the computer drives the terminal node controller. The most commonly used Amateur program for this purpose is Airmail.


PACTOR is used by Amateur Bulletin Board operators to exchange public messages, and open conversations across the world. It is also used by the NTSD (digital) portion of the ARRL's National Traffic System (NTS) to pass digital radiograms. Newer PACTOR modes are used to transfer large binary data files and Internet E-mail, particularly via the Winlink global E-mail system.

HF data transmission by radio amateurs uses medium power (100 watts) over long distances (100 to 4000 km). Effective radio-frequency communications over such long distances over hostile radio paths require that special attention be paid to the rate at which data is repeated and error correction. To reduce the amount of data sent, on-line data compression is utilized, along with memory ARQ error correction. By combining these open technologies, PACTOR achieves a power efficiency much greater than that of older protocols such as packet, AMTOR, or RTTY. PACTOR has a very narrow waveform and occupies the same band space as analog 300 baud packet.


PACTOR utilizes very rapid Time-Division Duplexing, giving PACTOR communications its characteristic cricket-like chirping sound when listened through a single-sideband receiver.

Depending on the version of PACTOR protocol used and the radio-frequency conditions, PACTOR transmission speeds range from 20 to 200 characters per second.


Let's kick Winlink around Thursday night.

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