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Winlink Amateur Radio Email via Paclink-Unix on the Raspberry Pi

Who needs Wi-Fi when you can route emails over VHF?

· IoT Zone

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This is my second attempt to get a Winlink client (see here for a high-level overview of Winlink) working on the Raspberry Pi. I first tried Pat /wl2k-go but it crashed (I created a ticket on GitHub to followup), so for my second attempt, I took a look at paclink-unix.

This site has a very detailed step by step install and config steps — follow exactly and pay attention to any errors: http://bazaudi.com/plu/doku.php?id=plu:install_plu

A few additional notes:

  • wl2kax25 did not compile for me with the ax25 version that I previously had installed, possibly from apt-get from the default repos. Once I noticed this was missing, I went back to the steps in the doc above and downloaded the ax25 packages from source, compiled, installed, rebuilt paclink and now I had the wl2kax25 app.
  • Editing the /usr/local/etc/wl2k.conf file: the email= value is your local user email address on your local device, in this case on the Pi (e.g. for me, pi@localhost). This is used when wl2ktelnet/wl2kax25 retrieves incoming messages and it sends them to this user. If you see the wl2k app downloading messages but they’re not showing up in your inbox, check this.
  • Checking /var/log/mail.log is very useful to see what’s happening to your outbound and inbound messages!

The usage sequence is:

  • Send outbound messages with mail client, e.g. Alpine.
  • Run wl2ktelnet to send over an internet connection if you have one.
  • Or run wl2kax25 to send over your configured ax25 stack.

The setup I got working is:

  • Raspberry Pi, with Alpine (regular email client), Direwolf (packet soundcard modem) and ax25 (to link paclink to Direwolf)
  • Rigblaster Advantage USB soundcard, connected to an Icom 880.

To send over VHF to my nearest Winlink gateway, I used:

wl2kax25 -a 1 -c KG6SJT-10 via KBERR


  • -a 1 is port 1 defined in my /etc/ax25/axports

  • -c is the call of the Winlink gateway I’m connecting to, and I’m connecting via a packet digipeater, KBERR.

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raspberry pi ,radio

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