The Internet via Ham Radio

In late September 1998, my wife and I readied our tent trailer and van for an exploration of Arizona and New Mexico. At no time was there a question
about taking ham radio along. Usually I've simply operated HF SSB.
In 1997 I, took mobile Pactor along.

Pactor was so successful, that this time I wanted to try Pactor as a way of posting
and receiving e-mail to and from the internet. We have a number
of friends and relatives who use e-mail. Most of them are non-hams, who in this way, would experience the touch of ham radio.


I selected Steve, K4CJX in Nashville, Tennessee as my Ham Radio/Internet Gateway.
Steve has a very busy WinLink-NetLink operation. WinLink-NetLink is a completely automated system. Folks on the internet side send e-mail to K4CJX using a special e-mail address that designates their ham radio operator as recipient. Their mail is posted for pick-up by the ham. In the reverse direction, the ham operator posts his messages at the WinLink-NetLink station with a designator indicating that the message is for the internet, then the e-mail address is given and the message posted.
The system worked well for me, but I did encounter
some problems. One problem occurred when another
station was trying to link with K4CJX at the same time I was
trying. Both of us initiated our call the moment he signed with
another station. Another problem occurred when K4CJX was
busy on another band, while I was calling on 20 meters. These
kinds of problems, multiplied by other BBS users, are contributing
to QRM and creating a bitter taste some hams have for
"those blankety blank mailboxes."

But most days, I was able to send and receive all my e-mail in the 30 minutes of BBS time allotted to me. From New Mexico, I discovered that I had great propagation with Grady, K6IXA in Atwater, California. And since K4CJX was extremely busy, I used K6IXA as a secondary place to drop messages for the internet. Some folks caught on, and sent their e-mail to me via Grady's system.

Fenton Lake State Park, New Mexico

Usually I would write messages in the evening, addressing one of them to over 20 people, a "Happy Wanderer's Newsletter." Then during the next day when 20 meters was at it's best I would link with K6IXA or K4CJX to pick up and send e-mail.

I'm hooked. This was one of the greater ham radio experiences of my 48 years as a ham!

Note: The background image on this page is the famous White House cliff dwelling ruin of Canyon de Chelly, Arizona.
Click here to see a set of photographs taken on our New Mexico/Arizona exploration.