From Barry K3EUI of the FCDTN (Five County Digital Training Net):

Agenda for tonight’s Five County Digital Training Net at 7 pm Monday Sept 26th

Let’s meet at 7 pm on 147.270 (PL 77) repeater and check in by phone.

We will use tonight’s net to send an American Red Cross form using Winlink’s VARA FM mode (P2P) and if successful, then send the same message to one of the RMS Gateway stations in the region on 145.670 MHz (simplex) to a WINLINK address.

The VARA FM Gateways in our area hang out on 145.670 MHz (simplex of course).

These include:  K3FZT-10 (Mt.Airy) or N3MEL-10 (Chester) or KB3PCY-10 (Chester).

I’ll bet everyone on the net can hit at least one of these tonight for practice.

Since the EPA SET involves a severe weather event crossing NJ into Pa, please prepare an ARC form suitable for this event: ARC 213, weather information, daily shelter report, etc. You pick something suitable. 

When you start up the VARA FM modem, be sure your PTT method works BEFORE you load the Winlink Express app. The choices for PTT (send)  involve a CAT port (sending a “command” to the radio to transmit over a serial CAT COM port) or using the DTR or RTS pins on a “dumb” COM port, or using the new RA adapter method (sound card) that use the C-Media sound chips on the DRA (Masters Communications) sound card. The last choice is to use the TX audio itself to derive a VOX signal, which trips a relay and closes a PTT pin on a data port - SignaLink. Be sure to set the DLY knob to 7 O’clock to keep the “hang time” to a minimum.

By now, you should know which of these choices works for YOUR  2m FM rig.

Some multi-mode rigs need to be in the mode: DATA FM (rather than VOICE FM).

When you create a NEW MESSAGE using the VARA FM P2P mode, address the message to one of us on the net by CALL SIGN. You can’t use the CC option with P2P mail.  Be sure you have NOT selected a Winlink message - you only use a Winlink addressed message if you are linking to a registered GATEWAY (and then you can CC anyone you wish).

For any of you reading this who have NEVER operated VARA FM it is really not all that difficult (once you get the PTT to work). So tune in to tonight’s net to learn the basics.

If you need any help with the VARA FM setup, we will have ops on the net to help.

Most of the common 2m FM rigs are easy to configure for SEND (PTT).