There are rumors that “Winlink is going away”. Well, no, not really — but some of the modes that we were accustomed to using as hams are being replaced by new modes. This article is an attempt to clear up some of the confusing Winlink terminology perhaps get hams back into Winlink e-mail if they have been recently “shut out”.
Those of us using Winlink to send messages via RMS Express may have recently noticed responses back from the RMS Gateway that WINMOR will no longer being supported, and users should switch to ARDOP or VARA mode.
First, some background on terminology:
1. Winlink is a system of message distribution. The Winlink system is still here to stay. The Winlink system allows messages to be sent via multiple modes:
- WINMOR mode on HF
- PACTOR mode on HF
- Packet mode on VHF
- Telnet mode via an Internet connection
- Post Office mode via a LAN network (hard-wired or wireless mesh)
2. This discussion will address only the first mode, WINMOR and its replacements, ARDOP and VARA. WINMOR was the “go to” mode for HF message exchange in the software package RMS Express, which many of us hams used. RMS Express software has now been replaced by Winlink Express.
3. In July 2020, the WINMOR mode has been “deprecated“. That means the Radio Message Server (RMS) Gateways in the Winlink system will start to refuse message transfer via the WINMOR mode. WINMOR mode is being replaced by the modes of:
- ARDOP (Amateur Radio Digital Open Protocol), or
- VARA HF (and I can’t seem to find what VARA stands for)
In response to this decision, the latest versions of Winlink Express now include ARDOP Winlink and Vara HF Winlink as options to open a session.
4. WINMOR mode formerly offered speeds up to 1,300 bps and is still included in Winlink Express software (at least, in version 18.104.22.168) — but is being “deprecated”.
5. ARDOP Mode offers speeds up to 4,000 bps and is also included in Winlink Express software. (My experience with ARDOP mode on a Yaesu FT-991 is that ARDOP is difficult to get set up and running.)
6. VARA HF offer speeds up to 7,000 bps but requires an external add-on software package which interfaces to Winlink Express. (This external software package requires a $69 user license, but VARA HF can be tested without registration at a restricted speed.) My experience with VARA HF on the Yaesu FT-991 is that is runs right out of the download with no problems .
So if you are being shut out of the Winlink message system because your software is out of date, go to the Winlink site at www.winlink.org, where you will find links to update your software to the new configurations. If you are successful, send me an e-mail at W4BZM@winlink.org!
Mike – W4BZM