F.A.Q. — Frequently Asked (and Answered!) Questions

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New to Winlink Express?

Getting Started with Winlink Express and the Winlink System

Can I run Winlink Express on a Macintosh?
Can I run Winlink Express on a ChromeBook/iPad/iPhone/Android Device?

Finding Winlink Gateways

On the Winlink.org web site:
Inside of Winlink Express:
  • Within Winlink Express, on the Session page:
    When you are in an Open Session, let's say for Packet on FM VHF or UHF, and your computer is connected to the Internet, you can click "Channel Selection", then "Update from Internet", and Winlink Express will use your Grid Square (that you told it, in Settings...), to give you a list of nearby Gateway Stations. Image of Update From Internet option in W.E. Open Session
  • in that same Session page, if you DON'T have an active Internet connection:
    If you do have an RF gateway connection available, you can Request an update to your Stations List, using "Update Table Over Radio" over RF, and the update will be returned to you, at your next RF Winlink connection.
From your local ARES/RACES group(s)
  • Check with your local ARES/RACES group(s), to see if their Web Sites mention their Winlink gateway stations:
    On SeattleACS.org, they offer a Map of their Ham Repeaters, Winlink Gateways, and GMRS Repeaters:
    [click on the @-symbols]:
    Seattle ACS Repeaters and Nodes

GPS's, Position Reports, and ETO Mapping

UPDATED: How do I add a GPS to my Windows Computer, for Winlink Express to use?
  • If you routinely fill in Winlink Express “templates” or “forms” that ask for Latitude and Longitude, it’s convenient to add a GPS device to your Windows laptop.
  • They are very inexpensive, and widely available from Amazon and other vendors.
  • It’s important to purchase a GPS that connects via a USB port, and that provides GPS data in “NMEA” 2.0 (or newer) format.
Here are some examples of suitable USB GPS devices:
[as of November 20th, 2023]
Shop for USB GPS NMEA on Google
Once you receive your USB-equipped GPS unit, here is how you add it to your Windows computer:
  •  Open either “Control Panel” (Windows 7) or “Settings” (Windows 8/10/11)
  • Find “Device Manager”.  
    In Control Panel, you might see an icon for it; in Settings, in the Search Box at the top of the Settings page, type “device manager”, and then click on the “Device Manager” that Settings found for you.
  • Scroll down to “Ports (COM & LPT)”, and click on the pointer to the left of the word “Ports”
  • You should see something like this:
  • Plug the GPS into one of your computer’s USB ports.
  • Windows should “beep” or otherwise notify you that a New Hardware Device has been detected, and that Windows is finding the correct Drivers for that device.
  • You will see Device Manager’s “Ports” listing change: you should now see something like this:

    Note the COM address: on my computer, Windows assigned “COM3” to the GPS.
    Your COM Port Number will probably be different.
    That’s what Winlink Express needs to know, to read the GPS' output.
    Here’s the “GPS / Position Report” dialog box in Winlink Express, under the “Settings” menu:
    Notice that I entered the “COM3” address, and set the GPS Baud Rate to 4800.
    [by the way, Windows 10/11 has a built-in “Maps” app, which is another good way to test your GPS device.]
  • Important! Be Patient.  The first time your GPS looks for satellites, it may take several minutes for it to get enough information to show a position.
  • I connected a brand-new USB GPS to my laptop, and put the GPS next to a window; I live in a ground-floor apartment, surrounded by other buildings.  It took over 5 minutes before my GPS “sync’d”
  • Next:  click on the “Use GPS Position” button, and the bottom half of the form will be filled in.
  • Also, be sure to click the “Use Current Time” button, and the “Report Date / Time (UTC)” will also be filled in.
  • Now, once your GPS has absorbed enough satellite data (it needs at least 3 satellites to calculate your position…), your GPS Position Report dialog box should look something like this:
    GPS Position Report dialog box in Winlink Express, after GPS is recognized and satellite-synchronized
  • When the GPS has supplied data, you will see your position info filled in, in the top of the form.
  • Next, click the “Use GPS Position” button, and the form will copy the info to the lower half, and do the math for you, including figuring “MGRS” coordinates.
  • You can add comment text in the Comment box.
  • GPS Position Report dialog box in Winlink Express, with GPS-supplied data entered in the lower part of the box
  • Important:
    If you don't have a GPS, be sure to check the "If no GPS position, use position report location ...", in the Winlink Express Settings box.

    Paste in Latitude and Longitude values into the highlighted boxes

    GPS Dialog Box in Winlink Express, make sure you tell W.E. to use your Grid Square position, if Lat/Long *not* supplied.
  • Then, just click “Post Report”, and it will be added to your Winlink Express OutBox.
  • ALSO, be sure to open the Preferences dialog box, and make sure that Winlink Express is including your Lat/Long in all outgoing message headers:

    Preferences for GPS dialog box in Winlink Express
  • (Contact our Tech Team ETO.Technical.Team@emcomm-training.group.io
    if you have further problems.)

Bill Thomassen
Seattle WA
Email: N6NBN@arrl.net

Some helpful links:
Mapping Enabled Winlink Forms--- by Phil Sherrod – W4PHS https://mcacs.net/training-resources/gps-hockey-puck/
YouTube:  How to Send a Winlink Position Report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAg-iP0A1D0

What are some good brands and models of GPS devices?

"How do I find my Check-In on the Map?"
  1. In your Web Browser, with our Results Map displayed...
  2. On the left side, you'll see a list of the 11 ETO Clearinghouses.
  3. Click the  ∨  (down-pointing caret), and the list will expand vertically;
  4. Type a "Ctrl-F", to use the Browser's "Find On This Page" function;
  5. Type your Callsign;
  6. Your Browser will highlight your callsign, in the vertical list on the left.
  7. Click on your Callsign, and the Map will show you your "pushpin".
  8. Click on your Pushpin, and, on the left side of the screen, all of the information you sent in, will be listed.

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