Winlink Thursday #3 with the American Red Cross

Again this year, the American Red Cross (ARC) will be conducting Emergency Communications (EmComm) training drills and exercises using Winlink.

(* This event counts towards WCARES participation requirements )

A groups.io group has been set up for announcements and information:

https://groups.io/g/ARC-EmComm-Training

You can join that group or simply access the messages using the Message History calendar at the bottom of the page linked above.

The third exercise for 2021 is Thursday, Jan. 21st and is related to last week’s ARC-213 form. You can find all the details in groups.io message #11 . Note the request to include the words THIS IS A DRILL in the title of this and any other form used during these practice sessions.

The second exercise for 2021 was Thursday, Jan. 14th and was slightly more involved than the first requiring copying and sending an ARC-213 form. You can find all the details in of groups.io message #10 .

The first exercise for 2021 was Thursday, Jan. 7th and the straight-forward instructions were provided in a PDF document linked from the bottom of groups.io message #9 .

Here is the announcement from Mike Walters, W8ZY, CT ARES SEC:


Well, we’ve pulled through 2020 and are ready to resume our popular Winlink Thursday exercises. Our goal for these sessions is to help you learn more about Winlink and how it can be used to support emergency communications for the American Red Cross.

In January, we will repeat the exercises we did last fall as 4 weekly exercises to review and practice the skills identified for a Basic Operator. Beginning in February, we will shift to a monthly exercise on the second Thursday of the month to help prepare operators for the May 8th exercise.

Each week in January, you will receive an email notification from the ARC-EmComm-Training groups.io with directions for that week’s exercise. You can send your message at any on the Thursday listed for the exercise. Our divisional clearinghouses will then collect and process the messages with an acknowledgment and results made available that weekend

Our exercises are designed to introduce you to the concept of sending email using radio where traditional internet is not available. Sending a digital message can improve efficiency and accuracy when passing traffic in an emergency. To get started you will need to install the Winlink software on your computer. You will also need a way to get the message from your computer to your radio. A Terminal Node Controller (TNC) like those from Kantronics, if you have a packet node nearby, or a sound card interface like the SignaLink can be purchased to make this connection.

To help guide you through downloading, installing and using Winlink, there are many video tutorials available on the internet. We have listed several videos and other resources in the Winlink Proficiency Goals found in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive. In that same folder, you will find a map of Red Cross Divisions and a table listing the Winlink Tactical address for each division’s clearinghouse. These addresses are used for collecting the training messages that are sent as part of Winlink Thursday and the May general exercise.

We encourage everyone to make use of available RF gateways when possible. If you are not able to access a Winlink gateway via RF, feel free to participate using Telnet. While it is best to be able to send your traffic over the air, it is fine to use Telnet to become familiar with Winlink and be able to navigate the software.

Attached is our first Winlink Thursday (WT) exercise of 2021. In this exercise, you will complete a Winlink Check-In form and send it to your Divisional Clearinghouse. Refer to the map in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive to find the Winlink Tactical address for your division. It is important to follow the directions and fill in the fields as directed. This will allow our divisions to extract information from the check-in form some what automatically.

If you have difficulties or questions, we have a team of volunteers available to assist. Send your questions to winlinktech@redcross.org and one of our WInlink Elmers will get back to you.


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