Winlink portable HF gateway

Albemarle ARES® maintains a portable Winlink HF gateway for use in exercises and incidents. This gateway addresses unlikely events such as a global Internet outage, or a failure of the Winlink CMS infrastructure due to error, disaster, or cyberattack. It may also be useful during times when propagation conditions make it difficult to contact HF gateways outside the area. When the gateway is operating, it is possible that it will be in disconnected mode with no Internet connection and no access to the Winlink CMS. It will still be available for local traffic.

The gateway operates under the EMCOMM service code. It will only be operational when needed for testing, training, exercises, and incidents. It is not an unattended gateway. When operating, it will be monitored by a trained operator.

Emergency traffic will always have priority, including emergency traffic from stations not involved in the exercise or incident. Other non-emergency, non-exercise/incident operators are requested to find a PUBLIC gateway for their traffic.

Otherwise, it works like any PUBLIC HF gateway, with one exception for one-time setup. Before you use the gateway the first time, go to the Winlink Express “Settings -> Winlink Express Setup…” window and add “EMCOMM” to the list of Service Codes at the lower left corner.

From then on, just open a “Vara HF Winlink” session, set the callsign and center frequency, listen to confirm the frequency is clear, and begin.

To minimize potential interference with other gateways and non-Winlink operations, the gateway will use an NVIS antenna. The gateway operator will monitor conditions and adjust transmit power to the minimum necessary to maintain reliable communications. All calling stations should follow these same procedures.

The gateway operator and operators of calling stations are always responsible for operation consistent with regulations and good amateur radio practice. The gateway will scan a set of frequencies; operators of calling stations should choose one of those frequencies that is not already in use. The gateway operator will, if necessary, terminate a session to avoid interfering with a prior frequency user that the calling station was unable to hear.

The gateway callsign is KQ9P. Like all Winlink HF gateways, ours scans a set of frequencies, listening for 5 seconds on each one before moving on. When it hears a connection request it stops, handles the session, then begins scanning again. While it is in a session on one frequency the others are unmonitored.

The current set of scanned frequencies is:

Dial frequencyCenter frequency
3583.0 KHz3584.5 KHz
3585.0 KHz3586.5 KHz
3591.0 KHz3592.5 KHz
7051.0 KHz7052.5 KHz
7104.0 KHz7105.5 KHz
KQ9P Winlink Portable HF Gateway Operating Frequencies

The gateway will accept VARA connections of either 2300 Hz or 500 Hz bandwidth. Consider using 500 Hz if conditions are challenging, or if you are having trouble finding a clear frequency for the full 2300 Hz but the center 500 Hz is clear.