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It's been a little while! Let's talk VARA

I am super excited to see more VARA-FM and VARA-HF stations popping up across Arkansas. Hams are recognizing the abilities and importance of having this capability, especially for emergency communications and AUXCOMM. In the NWA, we now have 4 Digipeater/Gateways and these cover quite a bit of area. Soon, you should be able to get into a Digi/Gateway almost from anywhere across the NWA and beyond. I am going to eventually take my portable setup and test NA0D-10 in Brentwood a bit harder and see where I can actually connect from. I may try and do a propagation map but would like real-world results also. I know we've had connections as far as Tontitiown and even Bentonville, but would like to know more. VARA cuts well through noise so off we test.

I "fixed" NA0D-10 to use both the digipeater and gateway functions on the same SSID. I was able to successfully test it this morning and was able to connect direct and through the digipeat function to a couple different sites. Ease is the name of the game and found my programming error. Yeah, I don't know why that happened. Oops.

Next, I have access to some sites with my GMRS and Ham repeaters that we may pop some more of these Gateways/Digis up. I am going to probably put one in Van Buren at a site to help cover the River Valley, as they have an active EmComm ham presence there, as well as possibly Mountain Home. There is a Gateway in MH now, but I have not been able to connect to it from multiple places and am told it's low level. We have a possible high-level site that would be a huge boom to Winlink there and we'll pursue it as time comes and the need arises. It is somewhat important that sites have decent internet access for the mail server functions, although its not necessarily needed as there is a post office function or store and forward when the web comes back up. However, if you pass messages through the digis, you wouldn't even need the Internet! Internet is good for "regular times". However, more importantly, Winlink believes (as do I) that gateways and digipeaters are battery backed up and/or have emergency power available. What's the use of having a Digi if it doesn't work every time the power goes off. If you're on the air when everyone else isn't, that's the value add. Something to think about.

Anyway, thanks to all the hams in Arkansas that are working on establishing VARA stations to pass traffic around. Many in NWA are on the same frequency of 145.050 MHz for now. As it proliferates, we can work on a band plan together. Right now, it's nice we're all here and you can chose. I will need to work on remote site access as far as changing frequencies on the radio. It can be done, I just need to get to work. Until then, I'm camping on 145.050 haha. VARA and Winlink do A LOT of stuff and we're going to continue to upgrade equipment to pass messages and data as fast as VARA allows. 9600 or bust!!

Got questions, send me a message. Thanks again to hams moving this mode forward!

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