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Bob Heil of the Ham Nation video podcast talks with Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, CEO of the American Radio Relay League about the rapid deployment of hams to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria recovery operations. Winlink is there.

FCC Grants Waiver to Permit Higher Symbol Rate Data for Hurricane Relief

FCC Logo

10/05/2017
The FCC has granted an ARRL request to waive current Amateur Radio rules to permit data transmissions at a higher symbol rate than currently permitted, in order to facilitate hurricane relief communications between the continental US and Puerto Rico. The temporary waiver is limited to Amateur Radio operators in Puerto Rico using PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 emissions, and to those radio amateurs in the continental US who are directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications involving Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands, the Commission said.

“We conclude that granting the requested waiver is in the public interest,” the FCC said in its October 5 Order. “Hurricane Maria caused massive destruction in Puerto Rico, and communication services continue to be disrupted. Thus, to accommodate Amateur Radio operators assisting in the recovery efforts, we grant the ARRL’s waiver request for the period of 60 days from the date of this Order.”

ARRL explained in its waiver petition that it’s shipping five PACTOR radio modems to Puerto Rico for use in connection with Hurricane Maria disaster relief communications. The League asked the FCC to temporarily allow PACTOR 3 and PACTOR 4 transmissions that exceed the current symbol rate limitations under § 97.307(f) of the Amateur Service rules.

Under the current rules, “specified digital codes” in Part 97 may be used with a symbol rate that does not exceed 300 baud for frequencies below 28 MHz, with the exception of 60 meters, and 1200 baud in the 10 meter band. The baud rate limits were adopted in 1980, when the FCC amended Part 97 to specify ASCII as a permissible digital code.

Copyright ARRL. Used with permission.

New CMS Cluster Goes Live October 31

The Winlink Development Team has scheduled the switch between the current production CMS cluster (Wien, Perth, Halifax, San Diego) to the new 'cloud' CMS cluster hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS). the switch will take place on October 31, 2017 at 1600 UT.

The new server cluster is geographically diverse and sits within the AWS management environment. This provides the Winlink team better management tools, better analytics and monitoring, better backup, automated recovery from common problems, and will mean for users even more dependability and faster performance. Just in case, we have an independent live backup CMS system in San Diego that can be put online in minutes should the whole Amazon infrastructure collapse--and that's not likely. And even if that fails, the Hybrid RMS gateway radio-only network will function to keep message routing and delivery moving.

The AWS CMS server cluster has been in continuous beta testing for almost two years. We successfully tested it under full load of the network for four hours on June 16th. We are confident that users will notice no troubles with this change. But we're always on guard: There is nothing users need to do before or after the change, but we would like any issues you come upon to be promptly reported to the Winlink_Programs_Group support group. Just click the 'Support' item in the web site menu for access to it.

Current versions of Winlink Express have a checkbox that allows users to test the beta AWS cluster. After the 'go-live' date, this setting simply becomes inoperative, and a later version of the software will see the control disappear. Users of Airmail and other third party clients should also see no effect as long as they do not use IP addresses in settings to refer to CMS sites. Make sure your settings use 'server.winlink.org' wherever your program asks for the address of a Winlink CMS. All other settings remain the same.

The outgoing CMS servers are managed by volunteer sysops Neil Hughes, VE1YZ and Don Trotter, VE1DTR (Halifax); Phil Sutherland, VK6KPS (Perth), Gerhard Kmet, OE1ZK and Michael Kastelic, OE1MCU (Wien) and Tom Lafleur, KA6IQA and Scott Miller, K6SKM (San Diego). Each CMS was hosted at facilities donated to the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation. These individuals and host facilities have served Winlink for many years with stellar performance, permitting Winlink's 99.99% uptime record since 2000. Our gratitude for their dedication and services can't be expressed well enough in words. We invite our users to send them their individual thanks, and perhaps a short story about how you found their work behind the scenes useful, even life-saving, in the past. They can be reached at [email protected].

The good news is that these valuable members of the Winlink team will continue to operate RMS gateways, and contribute their knowledge and skills to the system as WDT members.

--Winlink Development Team

Advisory: Requests for Info About Loved Ones in PR or VI.

We received this information from Steve Ewald, W1VX, Supervisor, Field Organization Team for the ARRL:

Advisory: Requests for Information from the Public and the Press

Many individuals have loved ones in Puerto Rico and they are understandably hopeful that Amateur Radio operators can relay messages to them. As a result, some are contacting amateurs with requests to pass message traffic to the island.

At the same time, individual amateurs and clubs have reported that local press representatives have contacted them to request information about Amateur Radio involvement in Puerto Rico. This is likely to increase as word spreads in the national media about our activities.

For inquiries from the public, ARRL advises that these individuals should be informed that amateurs traveling to the island to support the American Red Cross effort will be tasked with handling outbound traffic only. With that in mind, members of the public should access the American Red Cross Safe and Well System online at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php. Status information from friends and relatives in Puerto Rico will be entered into the system as it arrives from amateurs stationed there.

For press inquiries, please ask reporters to contact ARRL directly at [email protected]. A system has been established at ARRL Headquarters to respond to press inquiries in a timely and accurate manner.

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