More HF ARQ information exchange software – PSKMail

Initially when I started looking at PSKMail it seemed to be the open source version of the Winlink 2000 offering. It however targets a slightly different market.

Both offer the following:

  1. Email
  2. Robust transfers, i.e. automatic retransmission etc.

The advantages of Winlink are the seamless integration into their network. Mail delivered at one mail server, from the internet or via radio is accessible from any of the sites. This means a traveller has to only tune to the nearest Winlink 2000 radio station and send and receive email. This is a huge plus. In addition, the Winmor protocol seems very robust and efficient.

PSKMail has similar advantages. It offers email, however, distributed and redundant mail as offered by Winlink is not available by default. However, with a dedicated group of individuals it can be achieved but will be unlikely. It does offer the ability to link up to your own ISP which is great news. In theory you can connect to any PSKMail server and send your mail settings through and download your mail from your ISP. The drawback is still the single point of failure, your service provider. In addition it also offers file uploads and downloads, APRS positioning, internet browsing (text only) and some other features that might appeal to the traveller. Communication is via all modes supported by fldigi.

Installation

Installing is simple for the client. Download and install the jar file for the latest client from PSKMail. Be sure that the latest librxtx is installed, sudo apt-get install librxtx-java and that you have a oracle sun java install. OpenJDK had some issues with the application on my PC, but maybe that’s just me.

I also had issues with librxtx not being found by my java installation. I had to link the librxtx libraries into my version of java.

/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle/jre/lib/ext$ sudo ln -s /usr/share/java/RXTXcomm.jar

/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle/jre/lib/ext$ sudo ln -s /usr/lib/jni/librxtxSerial.so

Note the java directory of my jre. Make sure it is in your jre,

Remember to change the call sign before doing anything else. People get very excited, in a bad way, when NOCALL is attempting to connect to their station.

FLDigi is required as virtual TNC, and I’m lead to believe it is an excellent piece of software. apt-get install fldigi sorts this out.

I can’t go any further with either Winlink or PSKMail at the moment as my laptop was stolen on Friday (how baffles me, a story for another time) and the patch cable from my server to the HF set is too long and experiences problems with the Vox triggering from the noise it picks up.

I have my sights on an HF set for mobile operation, so perhaps we’ll get the mobile sorted as well sometime soon.

Oh, just for fun I had AndPSKMail (also available from the PSKMail web site) installed on my tabled (the one stolen along with my laptop) and had the server installed on the laptop. Using just the speakers and mics on the two devices they were happy to talk PSK250R.

Sigh, that is the 3rd laptop stolen… 2 cars stolen, 5 breakins in the cars.

Thats it for now.

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