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Author Topic: Why Winlink 2000 is (mostly) legal  (Read 2593 times)
KV9U
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Posts: 166




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« on: March 01, 2009, 04:31:39 PM »

Although there have been claims by some that Winlink 2000 is somehow not legal, we need to keep in mind that this is not factual information. Rather, the FCC strongly supports such systems which go back several decades now to the original Aplink, Winlink, Netlink, and later Winlink 2000.

Most of the traffic is moved via the internet and the RF paths can be quite short depending upon if the system is being connected to via VHF packet or HF Pactor, Pactor 2, or Pactor 3. Compare this to the old Aplink, Winlink and packet BBS systems that used only RF store and forward prior to the ubiquitous availability of the internet to take much of this traffic off the ham bands.

Some, such as myself, felt that they went too far with this idea and weakened their system, since it is not as useful for serious emergency use. But thankfully that is finally being corrected with new technology that will be able to use RF forwarding when wireline fails.

A new low cost HF approach is expected this year using the WINMOR sound card protocol which will complement the Pactor modes. Pactor 2 and 3 will probably outperform almost any amateur developed S.C. mode, but WINMOR will likely outperform Pactor which is now a fairly old technology compared with the very different modulation schemes of P2 and P3.

What WINMOR may do is to greatly increase the use of the Winlink 2000 system access via HF because of the low cost and ability to connect via relatively long distances. Pactor 2 and 3 will still be used since those modes perform so well for those who are willing to spend the ~ $1000 for the modem.

When Aplink and Winlink were developed, the maximum bandwidths used were 500 Hz or less using Amtor, Pactor, and Clover II. U.S. FCC rules were changed to allow automatic operation throughout any part of the  RTTY/Data sub bands as long as the automatic side could not transmit without being activated by the human side. The assumption was (right or wrong) that even though there can be a hidden transmitter issue on the automatic side, it won't be too severe a problem and the technology would advance to take care of it.

Actually, the technology currently in the Winlink 2000 system, seems to have the capability to be able to detect a busy frequency, however the policy of Winlink 2000 has been to turn this off because the frequencies are often busy and they also claimed malicious individuals who prevented the automatic side from ever transmitting.

When the very wide Pactor 3 mode was used, the rules still allowed such a mode to operate automatically, however they were forced to stay within the very narrow confines of the automatic sub bands where machine to machine automatic operation was also restricted. That primarily included HF packet BBS systems and greatly increased congestion since P3 takes up 4 or 5 times as much bandwidth as the narrower, more spectrum efficient modes and yet often does not yield 4 to 5 times greater throughput. Even if it did, it makes it impossible to operate what would otherwise be multiple 500 Hz "channels" that would be a much better fit on what is often an extremely finite HF resource.

There is one issue that no one seems to be concerned about and that is the transmission of image and fax data in the RTTY/Data sub bands. In the past several years, due to a petition by N5RFX, it is now finally possible to send fax/image/data in these sub bands provided that the bandwidth does not exceed 500 Hz. This means that sending weather maps or attachments of documents that are fax type origin, is not legal using the wide protocols but is legal using the narrow, 500 Hz and less protocols. The FCC's response is to ignore any questions of this type.

Just for the record, I am personally in favor of making this completely legal. Although many disagree with me, I would like to see us be able to send any digital data, perhaps using band plans to work out conflicts between modes and bandwidths.
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KC5CSG
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2009, 07:02:57 PM »

Even though I have to admit I'm a person of limited knowledge in this area of Amateur Radio, I have to agree with you. Your post makes actual sense. I also agree there IS a problem with "busy freq" detection but I asume they were pretty much forced to turn off what little winlink has to offer in that area in order to keep their system working through intentional QRM.

I've read a few posts on other sites in the past of people bragging about trying to jam out winlink comms and I always got a laugh out of this. Jam them to what end? The longer you jam a digital station the longer that station is going to send and occupy the frequency due to the digital station being forced to utilize it's FEC more often.

Oh I forgot, I personally believe that PACTOR III is no more encrypted than CW falling on the ears of a Technician (No Code) or the average scanner user................

73

KC5CSG
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12784




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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2009, 06:23:15 AM »

Very good overview. The issue with the PTC busy channel detection is that it only detects stations that are exactly on frequency. I don't think it will reliably detect non-pactor modes operating on or near the frequency. The issue with busy channel detection is of course making sure that you are detecting a valid signal and not just noise. Otherwise the PMBS is essentially shut down. I expect it will take DSP analysis of the channel rather than simply looking for signal on the mark or space frequency like the PTC. The PTC busy channel detection was designed to detect the presence of another (exactly on frequecy) Pactor signal in the same manner that Packet detects the presence of another Packet station.


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N5PVL
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Posts: 210




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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2009, 08:46:07 AM »

A load of hogwash that glosses over WinLink's obvious illegality.

Charles, N5PVL
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KC5CSG
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2009, 08:59:26 AM »

Charles,

Your baseless claims of child porn and terroristic communications on winlink isn't hogwash?

I'm just curious.

Jerry
KC5CSG
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N5LRZ
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Posts: 0




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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2009, 10:50:21 AM »

Re CGS...

I thought you knew....

All children abusers and or Cocaine Drug Lords are international terrorists who use Amateur Radio to transmit international terrorist messages to their fellow terrorists comrads around the world and or their drug pushing employees.  

I thought you knew that already ;-)....


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KV9U
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Posts: 166




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« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2009, 12:17:33 PM »

To Bob, AA4PB:

If it were true that the busy detection only worked for Pactor type modes, then wouldn't it seem reasonable that they would not defeat such a system?

There have been conflicting statements by the same individual who heads the Winlink 2000 system. For example:

On 12-30-07:

"IT was attempted with the old Winlink system. However, malicious interference on a continual basis kept the auto-start stations from transmitting and it was therefore eliminated.  Things are even worse today on the Ham bands and I have absolutely NO confidence that busy signal detection will be successful regardless of the technical merits."

More recently in commenting on the developers of the SCS modem, the same individual has said:

"According to Hans-Peter, the detection will work with anything but a constant carrier. Since the RMS Pactor stations now have this facility in place as an option, we shall soon see."

Perhaps they are using it now? We had it when I beta tested SCAMP a number of years ago and it was very effective. Even a slight trace of carrier and it could prevent any transmissions so they included an adjustable level of detection.

The new WINMOR technology has busy frequency detection. The last time I tested it was yesterday, and I can confirm it does work. WINMOR does not have servers set up yet for the clients, but that should be available in a few months, maybe less.
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N5LRZ
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« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2009, 01:47:02 PM »

What the anti  L people refuse to acknoledge is the absolute pure fact that foreign amateurs are not obligated to obey FCC Rules and Regs as issued by the US FCC when they operate because they are not under legal license of the FCC.

Further, US Amateur Ops in foreign territory and waters are obligated to obey ONLY the rules and regs of the country from which they operate.  In such situations they are obliged to obey only radio rules and regulations of their hoste country--NOT the US or any other country in the world.

IF said people in obeying the rules and regs of said foreign soverignty wish to be adz holes there is absolutely nothing the FCC can do to stop them, absolutely nothing at all.

Sometimes ya win, sometimes ya lose.
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AA4PB
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« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2009, 07:28:51 PM »

According to the PTCII manual "A busy channel is defined as all signals that are audibly distinctly different from noise but, however, having a speed < 250 Baud. Packet-Radio (300 Buad) is virtually ignored. Furthermore, strong carriers on the channel are not evaluated as channel busy."

I expect that an RTTY signal in the passband would be recognized but a PSK31 or CW signal would not. The "Traffic" LED lights when the channel is detected as busy so its easy to try.

It's also possible that SCS has upgraded the busy channel detection with newer firmware releases.

I expect a lot of the complaints are coming from PSK31 operators. The issue there is that even though they are transmitting a very narrow signal they often consider anything that appears in their 3KHz receiver passband to be QRM, whether those frequencies are really in use or not. I see only two solutions there: either use a narrow IF filter on PSK31 or set aside PSK31 spectrum and keep all other modes out. I've seen it happen with RTTY to a lesser degree using SSB IF filters to receive a 500Hz wide signal.



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AA6YQ
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« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2009, 10:35:43 PM »

re " expect a lot of the complaints are coming from PSK31 operators. The issue there is that even though they are transmitting a very narrow signal they often consider anything that appears in their 3KHz receiver passband to be QRM, whether those frequencies are really in use or not."

That's a ludicrous explanation. PSK31 ops do not consider other signals is their passband to be QRM; the whole point of panoramic reception is to be able to see such signals. Most ops know how to use narrow filters or passband tuning to deal with strong signals in their passband, whether those strong signals are PSK31, PSK63, RTTY, Pactor 3, or any of the other digital modes with whom we share spectrum.

While operating both PSK and RTTY, I have been QRM'd several times by WinLink PMBOs that fired up right on top of my QSO frequency. I used my PTC-IIe to verify their identity -- which wasn't hard because they were very loud. Had a competent busy detector been deployed and enabled, there is no question that they would have held off.

    73,

         Dave, AA6YQ

     
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G0GQK
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Posts: 634




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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2009, 12:37:35 PM »

There is perhaps nothing wrong with this system, but park it where its supposed to be, and not on amateur radio frequencies, and not where the users can totally demolish signals 21 hz wide, pushing 30 watts. Let's start having some common sense from Winlink, there's little being shown by this Winlink group so far.

G0GQK
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AA4PB
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2009, 01:31:14 PM »

That's a ludicrous explanation. PSK31 ops do not consider other signals is their passband to be QRM
---------------------------------------------------
You don't, but I've heard complaints from people who apparently do. I've heard people complaining that a PMBS fired up on the very edge of their waterfall. I've also had someone complain to me for using a Yagi with PSK31 (it was designed only for use with low dipoles and indoor antennas and my 30W signal was too strong according to him). I've also had complaints about QRMing another RTTY QSO when I was 2.5KHz away (in a crowded band) so its not limited to PSK31.

Of course if a PMBS fires up right on top of your QSO (or close) then you've got a legitimate complaint.
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N5PVL
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Posts: 210




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« Reply #12 on: March 03, 2009, 03:42:43 PM »

I hope nobody will be holding their breath as they wait for WinMore to come online.

It will suffer the same fate as SCAMP, for precisely the same reason.

SCAMP was a fraud, like WinMore it was just smoke being blown by WinLink folks who are trying to convince everybody that - any day now! - they are going to start acting civilized. With a new shot at bandwidth segmentation on the horizon at ARRL, the timing with WinMore is identical to the way it was with the SCAMP scam.

The truth is that WinLink is joined at the shoulder with the ( Illegal on the ham bands ) PACTOR III protocol, and the chances of them ever junking their $1,000 SCS boxes are like, slim and none.

I predict that some unfortunate and greatly regretted technical problem will keep WinMore from ever being implemented on anything more than a token basis - if that.

More likely, WinMore will just suddenly drop off of the radar like SCAMP did when the next bandwidth segmentation scam fails, and if you ask about it afterward you'll get,"Win-What?"

Charles Brabham, N5PVL
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N5PVL
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« Reply #13 on: March 03, 2009, 03:48:02 PM »

KV9U says.
"Although there have been claims by some that Winlink 2000 is somehow not legal, we need to keep in mind that this is not factual information. Rather, the FCC strongly supports such systems which go back several decades now to the original Aplink, Winlink, Netlink, and later Winlink 2000."

That's a bald-faced lie.

Not even a very good one. The reasons why PACTOR III cannot be operated legally on the ham bands is clearly outlined in a previous thread. PART97 specifically prohibits what WinLink and PACTOR III do.

KV9U apparently thinks that his fellow hams are stupid.

I think the readers here are smart enough to judge for themselves.

Charles Brabham, N5PVL
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KV9U
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Posts: 166




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« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2009, 08:06:04 AM »

Interesting that no one responded to my main point about FAX transmissions in the RTTY/Data area that exceed 500 Hz bandwidth and are clearly not legal.

In terms of any other violations of Part 97, it is a moot point since these systems have been operating for decades with no FCC concerns.

I should probably start a new discussion of WINMOR but it will be getting a lot of discussion once it actually is deployed with server stations becoming operational.

Considering how well SCAMP worked, which was spectacular if conditions were good, I expect WINMOR to perform better than Pactor, but not as well as Pactor 2 or 3. Even though SCAMP required a good signal, about the same as we expected for digital SSTV operation, since it used the same RDFT protocol they were using, I wish it had been released for general amateur use as a superb, high speed sound card mode for peer to peer, but instead they totally abandoned the mode. All beta software had self destruct times so we were not able to continue using it. When I did do some of the testing, it was absolutely mind blowing to see an HF sound card mode handling nearly 1000 wpm error free between Wisconsin and Nova Scotia. You have to experience it to believe it.

In effect, the SSTV hams had the same thing for one to many with their software, but not peer to peer connections with on the fly ARQ that was available in SCAMP. They only have after the fact ARQ. Almost no one used it for messaging, only images.

The amount of bandwidth used by WINMOR may impact the RTTY/Data portions of the bands, however, it can operate anywhere in those sub bands as long as the automatic station only responds to a human operator and is 500 Hz or less in width. Unlike Pactor(x) modes, WINMOR also has the very narrow 200 Hz mode so that it can meet the current IARU band plan recommendations.
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