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           Digital Communications


GA ARES GEMA SOC operations have concentrated on using Winlink 2000 as their main application for sending/receiving written communications. Although it's not the only application used, it has been rock solid, flexible, and dependable over the years. Other applications listed below are just as important for passing data between stations. Each application has it's pros and cons. Each operator should be proficient with each of these applications and understand their limitations so the appropriate application or mode can be chosen for the situation at hand.

The best way to get started is to download and install the email like client programs Airmail or RMS Express.

You do not need a radio and TNC to learn and use these applications. All you need at a minimum is an internet connection, so if you are reading this online, you are good to go. No cost, no excuse. Visit these sites, read the getting started sections, download and train.

This is a link to the Winlink 2000 Webinar Presentation that was presented to nearly 700 viewers on Sept 21st, 2011. Hosted by ARRL Atlantic Division Director William Edgar, N3LLR and presented by Tom Whiteside, N5TW and other members of the Winlink Development Team.
2011 Winlink Webinar powerpoint

A DVD video of the presenation can be ordered from the ARRL Atlantic Division training page.

A presentation on how to get started with RMS Express, the latest Winlink Client application that provides connectivity via Telnet, Packet, Pactor, and a robust soundcard mode WINMOR, written by Phil Sherrod, K4PHS...
Getting Started with Winlink and Winmor.pdf

This is a PowerPoint presentation about Winlink which includes installation and setup of Airmail.
Winlink/Airmail Presentation

NBEMS (FLdigi)

Another very usefull and popular tool is NBEMS. Easy to install and setup. This application uses your Computer Soundcard with a simple interface between you computer and radio. If an interface is not available, you can simply put your computer microphone near the speaker of your radio to recieve transmissions. Likewise, for transmitting, you can hold your radio microphone to your computer speakers.

NBEMS, which is a combination of fldigi, flmsg, and flarq can handle a wide range of modes, namely PSK31 and MT63. It can be used casually for non-emergency QSO's for practice, and Field Day too.

Detailed instructions on dowload, installation, configuration and use can be found at


D-STAR is mainly a Digital Voice radio system, but it does include capabilities that allow the transfer of text, images and GPS positions through RF at low and high speed rates. Software applications like D-Rats provide flexible options for transmitting messages via Internet or RF.

Information about D-STAR can be found at
The D-STAR Wikipedia page

All the software applications refrenced on this page are free for download and use. They can be used with an Internet connection for training and practice in addition to using it over RF with your radio.

D-Rats can be downloaded from


APRS - Automatic Packet Reporting System - is a digital communications information channel for Ham Radio.

It is used for GPS position beaconing, Text Messaging, Weather Station beaconing, and NWS bulletin messages. One of the best all time software applications to use with APRS is UI-View (link below).

The main APRS information page is located at

Download UI-View

Introduction to Packet Radio
Articles written by Larry Kenney, WB9LOZ

NBEMS Download
Tucson Amateur Packet Radio