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Winlink 2000 (WL2K). Introduction and Overview. Prepared by WL2K authors: Vic Poor, W5SMM / AAA9WL Rick Muething, KN6KB and Presenter: Rick Pemble AAR4WJ / W4RP 10/13/07 Melbourne Hamfest. Overview:. What is Winlink 2000 (aka WL2K) What were the design Goals for Winlink 2000

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Winlink 2000 wl2k

Winlink 2000 (WL2K)

Introduction and Overview

Prepared by WL2K authors:

Vic Poor, W5SMM / AAA9WL

Rick Muething, KN6KB and

Presenter: Rick Pemble AAR4WJ / W4RP10/13/07 Melbourne Hamfest


What is Winlink 2000 (aka WL2K)

What were the design Goals for Winlink 2000

Winlink Today…

Winlink 2000 and MARS

Alphabet soup…

What are a CMS, PMBO, RMS and Telpac?

What are AirMail and Paclink?

Winlink Web services…system info via the web

WL2K Emergency Use

What you need to get started with WL2K

Additional Resources


What is Winlink 2000 (aka WL2K)?

It is a volunteer designed and operated communications system that provides reliable E-mail service over MARS and amateur radio Frequencies regardless of the user’s physical location.

In english: It lets you send and receive email to/from the internet via radio: HF Pactor, VHF Packet, or via Telnet on your computer.

The Acronyms:

  • PMBO Participating Mail Box Office

  • RMS Radio Messaging System

  • CMS Common Message Servers

  • Telpac Telnet Packet

  • AirMail An WL2K Client (program) a user runs on his computer to access (send and receive) e-mail on his computer

  • PaclinkMP A new WL2K Client (replacement for AirMail)

Advantages over ‘classic’ BBS / Node / and other Radio Messing Systems

  • Seamless message communications between Internet and all supported radio modes

    • A single domain for E-mail (

    • No H-routing, No ‘home’ BBS, etc

  • Compatibility with existing packet networks

  • Multiple-destination Addressing of Messages (Amateur, MARS, and internet E-mail)

Advantages over ‘classic’ BBS / Node / and other Radio Messing Systems

  • Transparent File Attachments

  • Reduce HF Radio Airtime

    • Use a fast user client program

    • Inter-MBO forwarding on Internet

    • User Time Limits and Lockouts

    • Minimize/eliminate “keyboard” connections

  • Worldwide Access Via HF for Mobile Users

  • Local Access Via UHF/VHF for Fixed Users and for Packet Interconnection

Existing Ham/MARS Messing Systems

Radio Networks

Telnet, VHF/UHF Packet, HF Pactor

Winlink Today


Three mirrored CMS sites in

Washington, San Diego, and Perth



Telnet, D-Star,

VHF/UHF Packet

WiFi, Etc.

Paclink at Served Agency

VHF/UHF Packet


Served Agency LAN

Individual Users

(AirMail, Paclink)

User’s standard Email Client

Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.

Radio Domain

Winlink 2000 Today By The Numbers Messing Systems

  • Demonstrated > 99.9% system availability since implementing mirrored servers

  • 3 Full-time Redundant Common Message Servers (CMS) in Washington, San Diego and Perth, all in hardened “caged” sites, with power backup, provide excellent reliability

  • 102 total PMBO/RMS sites, worldwide, in 4 service classes: Public, ARES, Army/Air Force MARS, and UK Cadet Forces

  • Approximately 10,000 Radio users, 100,000 Email recipients, currently running an average of 150,000 messages monthly and growing.

  • Average monthly HF connection time of 280,000 minutes with an average duration of 3.3 Minutes and 3,600 bytes/per message.

  • Typical message latency sender to recipient delivery 4 to 5 minutes, less locally

  • In the ARES Service Class, there over 400 Active VHF/UHF Telpac Gateways with many more on standby for emergency operation

Mars wl2k current status
MARS WL2K: Current Status Messing Systems

  • The formal Agreement between Army MARS & the WDT now complete.

  • DHS HQ Common Message Server/PMBO now in place (CMS Washington).

  • Secure FTP site to be moved to Fort Huachuca.

  • Proposed Fort Huachuca CMS/PMBO in process.

  • The Network is fully operational. It is very robust.

  • MARS WL2K is being reviewed, proposed, and used, by an ever-increasing number of Agencies.

    (This is dated – someone in This audience can update us)

What is a CMS (Central Message Server) ? Messing Systems

  • Routes all messages between PMBO/RMS sites and messages to and from the Internet

  • Sends all outbound Internet mail messages to their addressees (no relays)

  • Receives and routes all messages addressed to <callsign>

  • Automatically registers all users and tracks their locations and PMBO/RMS usage

  • Provides additional services . . .


What is a PMBO or RMS? Messing Systems(Participating Mail Box Operator) (Radio Message Server)

  • Routes messages between users sharing the same PMBO or RMS site

  • Receives messages for local users from CMS sites

  • Forwards all radio messages to a CMS site for further handling (internet or radio destinations)

  • Forwards all message and connection status data to a CMS site for further handling

  • Maintains a local user directory

What is TELPAC (TELnet PACket) ? Messing Systems

  • Connects one or more VHF packet users and channels directly to a PMBO/RMS site using telnet

  • Works over hardwired, D-Star, WiFi, or any channel capable of supporting TCP/IP

  • Reports QTH to APRS and Status to CMS

  • Simple transparent, no-maintenance installation and operation

TELPAC for Win 98 – Win XP Messing Systems

Simple Setup:


Packet TNC,

FM VHF Radio,


Internet connection

What is AirMail? Messing Systems

  • AS A USER: This is the program YOU load on YOUR computer and send/receive e-mail via WL2K – (HF Pactor, VHF/UHF Packet, Internet, etc)

  • Acts as a personal E-mail client for a radio user

  • Supports Pactor, packet, and telnet connections to a PMBO or RMS site – directly or via a Telpac gateway

  • Optionally provides propagation forecasting for picking optimum HF radio channels

  • Provides a catalog of PMBO/RMS locations and frequencies

  • Provides extensive bulletin catalog

Using AirMail… Messing Systems

You tell AirMail your TNC, and Radio Configuration.

Then compose and send your message just as with any Email Client

Airmail screens cont
AirMail Messing Systems Screens (cont)

Airmail screens cont1
AirMail Messing Systems Screens (cont)

What is Paclink MP? Messing Systems

  • Provides an SMTP/POP3 port into Winlink for served agencies so they can use Winlink services with their existing LAN and Internet email client.

  • Works over VHF/UHF packet, HF Pactor, D-Star, WiFi, or telnet.

  • Supports automatic multiple prioritized channels for message delivery

  • Minimizes training of served agency personnel

PACLINK is the next-generation AirMail – it integrates WL2K intoyour Outlook/Outlook Express / Thunderbird / Etc., email client

When you have Airmail ‘down’ you might want to try Paclink MPas a replacement or adjunct to Airmail – (it is still under development)

Using Paclink MP… Messing Systems

You pre Configure Prioritized Pactor, Packet Or Telnet “Channels”

Each “Channel” becomes a way to connect to WL2K

Once configured Paclink needs no user interaction…simply send email

From your existing Mail Client (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.) and

Paclink MP automatically routes it through the best “channel” to WL2K and your destination!

Emergency Use Messing Systems

WL2K’s mission is to provide our users and agencies with the value-added services they want. Today, that includes digital messaging in the form of de facto e-mail extendibility. The network is in place, proven and fully operational. It is now up to us to be organized and trained with the proper tools to respond to any casualty event.

What you need to get Started with Winlink 2000 Messing Systems

As a User to send/receive Radio Email:

Valid MARS or Ham Radio license

Paclink MP or AirMail user client and Windows computer.

VHF/UHF Radio and TNC (packet radio) (local access)

Pactor TNC and HF SSB radio for Long distance

As a part of the WL2K/MARS System Infrastructure:

Valid MARS or Ham Radio license

VHF/UHF Radio and TNC (Telpac or RMS Packet gateway)

SCS PTC II model TNC (Pactor 1, 2, 3) & HF SSB Radio

Full time internet connection

Win 2000 or later OS and modern computer.

  • What Programs Do I NEED??? Messing Systems


      • Use on HF (Pactor I or II)

      • Use on VHF / UHF (Packet)

      • Use on Internet (Telnet)

  • Where to get the programs / Tutorials / Info



Additional Resources Messing Systems

  • System details and downloads:

  • Join the 1400+ member EmComm reflector:

  • Join the Mars_WL2K reflector


  • Take the on-line course for using WL2K modules for EmComm:

  • Keep up with the latest news about Winlink 2000:


  • Review the presentations and examples of EmComm use:

AirMail/Winlink Demos Messing Systems

FPAC Switch

Trinity Towers, Melbourne

Distant HF




MLB Hamfest

WL2K Demo RV

30 M Pactor II, III

Paclink MP, PK96, KDK VHF

Paclink MP, PTC II, TS-480

This Presentation can be found on the web at my web site (W4RP)

At: www.w4rp.comfollow the links for MARS

Last but not least

  • Say Hello to Our Audience VIP’s

    • WL2K Authors:

      • Vick Poor W5SMM / AAA9WL

      • Rick Muething KN6KB

  • Ask them about WL2K !!