Baja Radio Club XE2BNC Helps Hawaii Communications During SET

CREBC - XE2BNC provided a 20 meter long haul link on Pactor to facilitate Hawaii ARES.

The island gateways all see each other well on 40 meters. One drill aspect was to test long haul HF forwarding in the event of regional internet outage.
To this end a reliable communications link needed to be provided from the Islands to the West coast of the US.
Most gateways tend to use omni directional antennas and when bands cooperate connectivity can be obtained on 20 and 17 meters.

In addition the Hawaii side wanted a local 40 meter input to the 20 meter long haul channel. This was to allow local traffic to be sent to a common gateway and then forwarded out on HF Pactor. On the Hawaii side a good contest station with great directional antennas was used.

A look at the stations Web Site will show you why it was chosen.

The next issue was to provide a 40 meter and 20 meter gateway at the site on a common computer. Using RMS Relay and two instances of Trimode this was accomplished. Since the chosen site has good separation with its 40 and 20 meter antenna systems, this was not a problem.

Two Icom 7300's were used along with Dragon modems.
- The 40 meter side was configured for all modes and single frequency for user access.
- The 20 meter side was Pactor only and on an array pointed to towards the Baja CA MX/San Diego area.

Problem was that Hawaii is several thousand KM from other gateways. The propagation matrix would favor its own island gateways, despite manipulation of the net work routing parameters menu in Relay.

RMS Relay had to be set to ignore its propagation matrix and favor XE2EL on 20 meters. (The Gateway call used at the club). By using the propagation override feature in Relay, and only selecting a few key 20 meter gateways this was accomplished. XE2EL was given a quality of 99 and the others a quality of 80. Since the drill was in the afternoon this worked well for 20 meter use.

This meant XE2EL would be tried first. And if no connect or it went away, others could be reached. Testing days before the event, showed that KB6YNO, KF7RSF, and KO0OOO, were viable backups. The connect to XE2EL was the best due to its directional antenna.

The CREBC radio club, XE2BNC, set its Icom 7300 up with RMS Relay and Trimode, on a single 20 meter frequency and its log periodic pointed to Hawaii.
This station is on battery/solar and has a multi-hop 5 Ghz link to another HF gateway should internet fail.

During the event, XE2EL was a solid S9+ connect at P3 and 3200 bps for the majority of transfers. A few band fades caused it to drop to 2200/1400 Bps.
Return forwarding via the Local Users setting in Relay was tested for some response email. This was then turned off to facilitate more outbound traffic.
The traffic load on 40 meter local input to KH6YY was constant, and when KH6YY was sending to XE2EL on 20 meters, 40 meter inbound traffic could still be accepted. Traffic loading had to be considered and keeping message size small, using template forms, helped a lot.

Remember Winlink is a back up, an alternate communications methodology, and should be managed as such.

Traffic counts:

- XE2EL accepted 29 inbound for entry into the Internet, over 23000 bytes.
- XE2EL sent 6 messages to KH6YY.
- Message average was less than 1 K.
- A few were 3.5 to 4.5 K.

The primary effort and inspiration for this process came from Joe AH0A and the Hawaii Emergency Amateur Radio Digital Network Inc.

Contact Joe AH0A for questions on the event and the respective efforts. Also he is doing a separate after action report later on.

Here is the link to the photo album as it is today: (will add more when available)

photo - winlink station
KH6YY to XE2BNC 20 meter HF P3
Winlink Linkomatic