Mexico's Gateways, a 3 year program, xe2/n6kzb
Having been involved with WinLink since the days of PMBO's and the improvement from Pactor 2 to 3, I have always believed and supported the concept of HF email for emergencies.
Having one of the first agency provided early NEXUS gateways with a packet input, helped me to gain the experience needed. This system was at a training facility on batteries and had a "high speed" 9600 baud telephone modem for internet. Funding came from the county RACES program at a cost then of $3000.00.
This early PMBO, (HF/packet gateway), was a lot different from what we have available today. The software was remotely installed by K4CJX and it operated a single SCS Pro modem with a packet board installed. In those days one TNC and WinLink software could do both HF Pactor and packet. A high level digipeater provide the packet coverage desired. The software was stand alone and each SySop could view and control all messages being accepted. A user back then had to pick up return email up from their original gateway, later expanded to a few you could designate. There was no CMS connected network as we have today. But it did work and was actually used by the county on several real events by local RACES. Airmail was the software used as RMS Express was not created yet.
When I retired from the fire service in 2005 and moved to Mexico, I always wanted to get a system going to support this area. I was a user during the years that followed and kept up with the changes. I also did have the honor of being one of the beta testers for SCAMP, the predecessor to WinMor, and made the first long distance connection with it, so I have always been abreast of WinLink progress.
It was not until late 2010 that the opportunity to demonstrate WinLink and Pactor 3 to local emergency mangers presented itself. That demo created the start of the funding process to create Mexico's network of gateways. The politics and meetings were important, as the fund source venues were successful due to Mexico's FMRE, (their ARRL), the local Baja California radio club, the University of Mexico City, and a local amateur in the State of Chiapas. Key players in this were XE1VP, XE2SI, XE2GF, and XE2EOS. Continued supportive amateurs towards this network and its under construction final station # 4, are XE1RZ and XE1BRX.
The concept was simple, provide Mexico with 4 gateways, located to support each other and to provide reliable email acceptance and delivery 24/7.
Each gateway consists of an Icom 7200, SCS Dragon modem, packet input TNC, 4:1 UnUn feeding a 90 foot wire matched by an auto-tuner. All computers
are rebuilt Dell commercial boxes with Windows 7 Ultimate. UPS and battery back up/or generators at sites help to keep the systems functioning.
Each system was funded at $5000.00, and considering there are only about 5000 amateurs in Mexico, this is a significant undertaking.
With the eventual release of MPS to the amateur community, this was viewed as a great concept for regional system message delivery. Since Mexico can do auto forwarding and Pactor 4, the gateways can support each other via HF. Add in auto-forwarding on HF to find a CMS connection should internet fail, Email delivery is greatly increased.
In future postings we will describe the locations and different site configurations with each system, XE2BNC XE1VP and XE2EOS.
Such as one at a 8000 foot mountain near the Guatemalan border, and another using 5 Ghz for remote packet gateways.
The fourth system, XE1CRG, for Guanajuato, MX is awaiting its dragon modem and final site agreement.
I believe in Winlink as it offers the only HF based reliable message delivery system, that can be operated by a stand alone portable HF station.
Thus allowing emails to be delivered outside of an affected area with no local infrastructure.
Thanks for reading... Adios Mike