The Popular Winlink Thursday Exercises

Another broadcast message specific to the event:

From: ARC EmComm Steering Committee Moderator #1
<[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Jan 4, 2021 at 6:40 PM
Subject: [Special] [ARC-EmComm-Training] Winlink Thursdays resume!
To: <[email protected]>

Dear Friends,

With the holidays behind us we are ready to resume the popular Winlink Thursday exercises.  The goal is to help you learn more about Winlink and how it can be used to support emergency communications for the American Red Cross. Whether you are a Winlink Rookie or a Winlink Expert, we hope you will take part.   

In January, we will repeat last year’s exercises in four weekly installments to review and practice the skills identified for a Basic Operator. Click here to see what a “Basic Operator” is in our Winlink Proficiency Goals document.

In February, we shift to monthly exercises on second Thursdays to continue our preparation for the May 8th Spring Drill.

Each week in January, you will receive an email notification from the ARC-EmComm-Training with instructions. You can send your message at any time on that Thursday up to midnight your local time. Our Divisional Clearinghouse stations will collect and process the messages with an acknowledgment to you and results made available that weekend.

Our exercises are designed to introduce you to the concept of sending email using radio where traditional internet is not available. Sending a digital message can improve efficiency and accuracy when passing traffic in an emergency. To get started you will need to install the Winlink software on your computer. You will also need a way to get the message from your computer to your radio. A Terminal Node Controller (TNC) like those from Kantronics, if you have a packet node nearby, or a sound card interface like the SignaLink can be purchased to make this connection.

To help guide you through downloading, installing and using Winlink, there are many video tutorials available on the internet. We have listed several videos and other resources in the Winlink Proficiency Goals found in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive. In that same folder, you will find a map of Red Cross Divisions and a table listing the Winlink Tactical address for each division’s clearinghouse. These addresses are used for collecting the training messages that are sent as part of Winlink Thursday and the May general exercise.

We encourage everyone to make use of available RF gateways when possible. If you are not able to access a Winlink gateway via RF, feel free to participate using Telnet. While it is best to be able to send your traffic over the air, it is fine to use Telnet to become familiar with Winlink and be able to navigate the software.

Attached is our first Winlink Thursday (WT) exercise of 2021. In this exercise, you will complete a Winlink Check-In form and send it to your Divisional Clearinghouse. Refer to the map in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive to find the Winlink Tactical address for your division. It is important to follow the directions and fill in the fields as directed. This will allow our divisions to extract information from the check-in form somewhat automatically.

If you have difficulties or questions, please contact us at [email protected] for help.  Elmers are standing by!