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Old 06-10-2005, 02:50 AM   #1
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 58
Default Winlink or Sailmail with a Kam Plus HF Modem.

I use an old Kantronics Kam Plus HF Modem (TNC) with Pactor 1 capability (important), for doing E-mail from my laptop hundreds of miles out to sea and from the woods, using Winlink2000.

The Kam cost less than $100 on the used market, and I had the radio, cheap manual antenna tuner and laptop anyway. (Plus a Ham Radio license).

I connect it to my Icom Ham radio through the microphone socket, but it can also be connected to the accesory plug at the back.

If your wire interface or harness was professionally built, then you are definately good to go.

If you did it yourself, just check and double check your work and soldering.

Watch out for ground loops.

I would say, as a rule of thumb, if your transceiver and the tuner is grounded (they should be), then do not have any ground wires connected in your interface wire or harness. This causes a hum when the ground wire in the harness is connected, due to different phasing in the slower or faster ground wire connection, compared to your main ground connection to the transceiver and tuner.

If nothing works, I have disconnected all wires on my interface harness, and just left the transmit line connected. Now open the vox on your transmitter and set it to key the transmitter when you hit the green connect dot on Airmail's Terminal Window. This crude arrangement works. However, you could then reconnect your other wires one by one untill you get a workable arrangement without having to use the vox. Once again, try not to use the ground wire in the harness.

I assume you know how to tune your transmitter and load it up on a desired Ham radio frequency.

I assume you are a Ham. =)

I assume your computer talks to your Kam.

I assume your Kam can do Pactor 1 (important) - see the specs. You need firmware version 8.0 or there abouts, but if it says it can do Pactor, you are good.

I assume you downloaded Airmail version 3.2


Turn everything on.

Call up Airmail on your computer.

Open the Terminal window (Far right icon on your tool bar up top)

After a few seconds,it should say: "Kam modem initialized OK" in the Terminal window.

Tune your transceiver for the desired band (7Mhz, 10Mhz, 14Mhz, 21Mhz) Tune up the transmitter with the antenna tuner.

Run only about 60 - 70 Watts (or less). - Pactor has a very high duty cycle, and your rig will warm up, if you run full power. This is adequate power for 1000 NM or more.

Make sure you are on LSB (Lower Side Band ) for ALL bands

Click on the "Transmit icon in the Terminal Window (Green dot).

Your Kam should now make your transmitter cycle through transmit and receive.

Listen to your signal with a portable radio on LSB, or from another yacht (RF gain turned way down!). The signal should be a nice, clear audio chirping (Not hoarse). Hoarse, means RF in the system, or ground loop in action.

If you hit a PMBO, you will eventually, after a few seconds (up to about 15 secs), hear Pactor chirping coming back in your receive cycle.

Two green lights (Lock and Val) should come on, on your Kam. ("Val" only comes on, when an excellent signal is present - look for a frequency and time that gives you this, for a faster connection, but the system works (just slower) without "Val " on.

Read the message in the Terminal window.

You are in business !!!

Open any unread e-mails in the message index window after all activity stops.

Try all PMBO,s within 1000NM, on all frequencies at different times of the day, untill you find a good, clear, fast connection, and log all settings and times for future ease of use.

All the above might work for Sailmail as well, but since I don't have a Sailmail account, I did not test it yet.

Here is some more info:


> Definately read "A Pactor Primer",

> http://www.airmail2000.com/pprimer.htm

> Good general info here.


> See the "Help File" in Airmail

> Specific info about your radio and Kam and USB ports

> to serial ports, in the

> file.


> See more on Sailmail and download Airmail here:

> http://www.airmail2000.com/down.htm


> Also see:



> for Kam

> wiring info to radio.


> Also: http://users3.ev1.net/~medcalf/ztx/wire/


> And http://www.spaceyideas.com/ozzie/pinouts.html


> The system is not "Plug and play", and needs a

> little research and free

> consultation, but works excellent and inexpensively

> when done.


> Once all is set up, it could be tested on Winlink

> (free to Hams), or

> Sailmail.

Easy, and cheap.
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