In preparation for the first ever Federal Fusion Center activation to test large-scale disaster communications I buckled down and finally got Winlink running over HF with my Icom IC-7300.I’m feeling quite accomplished.
In simple terms Winlink enables sending and receiving email using HF radio frequencies rather than an internet connection. This is a common emergency communication method when cell service and the internet are down during disasters. There are a number of forms for transmission that are tailored to specific disaster recovery needs and most users have some degree of FEMA training.
Winlink isn’t the most user friendly piece of software, HF communication is always tricky and radio interfaces can be as well. I had the added challenge that Winlink is Windows-only for EMCOMM and I’m a Mac user. After shooting myself in the foot a few times I did manage to get it all working using Parallels.
Our ARES group is one of the first in the country to participate so there is a big push to ensure success this weekend. I’m glad I’ll be able to contribute using a ‘disaster mode’ setup.
Background info: The Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) (Formally known as the Office of Emergency Communications) has recently created a Federal level Fusion center. The mission of the Fusion Center is to staff a coordinating center to process requests for Amateur assistance, at a Federal level, during large-scale disasters. It will bring together various Amateur organizations, including ARES /RACES, Civil Air Patrol, ARC, Salvation Army, REACT, and the VOIP Hurricane Net. CISA will request the Fusion Center’s activation.