This guest post is by Ridge G and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .
Please understand that I do not profess to be an authority on the following information. My intent is to share my personal experience with the RMS Express software, the Tigertronics SignaLink USB unit and the WL2K WinLink 2000 system in a relatively non-technical manner. This combination of free software and inexpensive equipment added to your existing Amateur Radio station will allow you to send and receive encrypted email over your radio, independent of the internet if necessary. From a survivalist or prepper’s standpoint, the encrypted security provided by this system goes a long way toward easing the concerns of many regarding their personal security or OPSEC (Operational Security) when transmitting voice or data “in the clear” over Amateur Radio.
The WL2K Winlink 2000 system is comprised of a worldwide network of Mail Box Operator (MBO) Amateur radio stations which are largely monitored 24/7. The Winlink system is free of charge to all Amateur users. When you send a message into this system in the form of an email to a Winlink address (e.g. email@example.com), it is instantly distributed system wide via the internet, where it can then be retrieved by the recipient from practically anywhere in the world through the WL2K radio system. Additionally if your message is addressed to a typical internet based email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org), it will be delivered as normal email directly to the recipient’s email inbox. As an added benefit, should the internet ever go down in a TSHTF scenario, the Winlink system has the capability of linking MBO stations together by radio.
RMS Express is an email over radio application that looks and feels very similar to any generic email application (re: inbox, outbox, etc.). RMS Express coupled with the SignaLink USB interface generates the WINMOR mode, the encrypted data protocol which is sent out over the air. RMS Express is available free of charge. There is a one-time registration fee of $39 for WINMOR, but it is not mandatory. If you choose not to register, you will simply see the following message screen each time you log on:
This is a reminder that you should register your copy of the WINMOR TNC. It is not necessary to register to use WINMOR; just click the “Remind me later” button, and you can proceed. However, it is well worth a $39 donation to the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation to support that organization and obtain a registration key for WINMOR that will suppress this screen.
RMS Express also has the capability of linking two or more stations together peer-to-peer, independent of the WL2K Winlink network or the internet, providing an even higher level of privacy.
The SignaLink USB interface is required to connect your computer to your radio and contains its own sound. The unit connects to your computer with a single USB cable. The SignaLink is powered by your computer’s USB port, so it does not require an additional power source. A single cable connects the SignaLink to your radio, either through the mic jack or the radio’s back panel accessory port. I purchased my SignaLink USB (comes with USB cable only), the correct cable to connect the SignaLink to my Icom 706 MkIIG, and a plug and play module for the SignaLink which eliminated my having to think about the proper configuration of the jumpers for my particular radio – I need stuff like that these days – from DX Engineering for a total of $121.06, including shipping.
Setup is extremely simple. It is truly “plug and play” vs. “shrug and pray”. The installation instructions included with the SignaLink are concise and easy to follow. I’m guessing I was on the air in about an hour, start to finish. Below I have listed a few links to instructions and tutorials which you might find useful.
Please note: The sound card configuration instructions that come with the SignaLink USB are for Windows XP. If you are running Windows 7, as I am, or Vista (my condolences) please especially see the link below to avoid confusion.
In closing, I think it’s important to consider that in an emergency situation having access to accurate and timely information can be vital to your survival. Hunkering down in a remote location is all fine and good until one day said location comes under siege. Wouldn’t it be advantageous to know if and when the bad guys are coming? And trust me, they are coming! It might also be nice to have the ability to keep abreast of the whereabouts and wellbeing of those about whom you care.
Be particular.. RR
http://www.tigertronics.com/ – Tigertronics – Manufacturers of SignaLink
This contest will end on August 7 2012 – prizes include:
First Place : 1 Year Subscription to AlertsUSA, 1 Radiation Safety Package consisting of the following; (1) NukAlert Radiation Monitor and Alarm (5) Radsticker Peel and Stick Dosimeters (1) Box Thyro Safe Potassium Iodide. All courtesy of AlertsUSA. A $150 gift certificate for Federal Ammo courtesy of LuckyGunner Ammo. And a British Berkefeld water fillter system courtesy of LPC Survival. A total prize value of over $700.
Second Place : A six pack Entrée Assortment courtesy of Augason Farms, a Nukalert courtesy of Shepherd Survival Supply and a WonderMill Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads. A total prize value of over $550.
Third Place : A copy of each of my books “31 Days to Survival” and “Dirt Cheap Survival Retreat” courtesy of The Survivalist Blog dot Net and “Kelly McCann’s Inside the Crucible Set” courtesy of Paladin Press. A total prize value of over $200.
Contest ends on August 7 2012.