Adding Winlink Access to Sailmail's Airmail Client

Updated Nov 13, 2016

Sailmail's Airmail software is also compatible with the Winlink system. Winlink is a ham radio system, and as such is limited to holders of appropriate ham radio licenses. Ham radio is also subject to some important limitations outlined below.

The simplest way to add Winlink access to a Sailmail configuration of Airmail is to download and run this setup file (for Win-7/8/10, with Airmail installed in the default "Airmail" folder):

This will install the Winlink configuration files without changing the Sailmail setup.

When you restart Airmail it will ask for a ham callsign, enter this and click "OK". You will also need to enter your Winlink "secure login" password: Open Airmail's "Tools" menu, "Options", and select the "Settings" tab. On the left, under the small "Ham" tab, enter your Winlink password as "Radio Password" under your ham callsign.

That's it! If you are not familiar with Winlink then continue reading ...

Secure login:   The Winlink system now requires a "secure login" password to connect via radio or internet, in addition to the "CMStelnet" password for internet/telnet access. For new users a password is not required for the first connection, and a password is then sent via return email to your Winlink address. Once received this password is then required for all subsequent connections: Enter it as "Radio password" in Airmail's Options page (under Tools menu), on the left side under the small "Ham" tab.

If you forget or lose your password then contact Steve (via Sailmail is fine). There is no way to connect to Winlink without it, and trying to use "password recovery" via the website won't work because it is sent to your address which you cannot access.

Posting outgoing messages:  

Outgoing messages can be sent either via Sailmail or Winlink ("WL2K"). This is determined by the "Post Via" setting in the upper-right corner of the message window (also shown as the "Via" column in the message index). With the outgoing message open, click the "Post Via" button and select (or enter) "Sailmail" or "WL2K". To change the default, check the "Always use this" box. You can also change the default in the Options window, Routing tab. In addition, you can can also enter "Sailmail" or "WL2K" for particular addresses in the address-book entry, in the Post-via box-- this overrides the default setting.

You can also change the posting from the message index, select the outgoing message and click the Message menu, "Change Posting".

Remember that your from-address will depend on which system the message is sent via, so being consistent causes less confusion.

Winlink internet (telnet) access:  

To access Winlink's internet (telnet) servers, open Airmail's internet/telnet window (Modules menu, or the "lightning" button). Select "Ham", then click the "New" button and enter the following settings:

Remote Callsign: WL2K

Remote Host:

Port: 8772

Timeout: (leave blank, default is 120 seconds)

Local callsign: your ham call (filled in by Airmail)

Passcode: CMSTelnet (not the same as the Winlink password).

Optionally, check "Include in Auto-Check".

Click OK to save those settings. This will cycle through each of the available servers, if one does not respond then you will get another server on your next attempt.

Frequency-list and Catalog updates:

The configuration files included in this setup file are current for Nov 2016. For Winlink catalog updates open Airmail's "Window" menu, "Catalog", then select "WL2K" then "Global" and check the box for "Update". The catalog is updated automatically when the reply is received.

To update the frequency list, open the Catalog and select WL2K, Global, WL2K_RMS, and check the box for PUB_PACTOR. When the reply is received, select it and then open Tools menu and select "Make Frequency List".

The Frequency List window will show the Winlink bulletin under the "Text" tab, listing each station active in the system. If you opened the correct list then click the "Update" button (at the bottom) to start parsing the list. Callsigns will be changed to red text, frequencies to blue, and ignored text remains black. Check that the parsing appears correct, and edit the text if required to resolve any ambiguities (and then click Update again). The callsign is taken as at least one letter and at least one number, and must be the first or second word on a line. Frequencies must look like amateur frequencies, and can be separated by anything. Successive station entries must be separated by a blank line.

If the parsed text looks correct, then the click the "Freq List" tab to view the list in tabular form. A check box appears next to each callsign, these are the stations that will appear in the Terminal Window Station List (carried over from the previous list). Click the check boxes to change the selected stations.

Finally, click the "Save" button to store the list and make it available to the Terminal Window. The edited list is saved (as FreqList.rtf) and can be reopened and changed at any time by selecting the View menu, Frequency List.

Important: Ham radio restrictions:

Ham radio is a hobby, dedicated to experimentation, education and emergency services. As such it is subject to a variety of restrictions that do not apply to commercial or marine systems such as Sailmail. The most important of these of course is an appropriate amateur radio license, for US licenses this is a General class license or higher (see CEPT below).

Business communications via ham radio are strictly prohibited. This was recently interpreted by FCC to mean anything that involved financial benefit or expenditure to either party. For example, free weather (e.g. Saildocs) is fine but paid weather subscriptions are not permitted via ham radio.

Operation in international waters generally follows the rules of the country that issued the ham license, see this page for details:

There are two important considerations when operating in foreign territorial waters: First, operation in territorial waters requires either a reciprocal license or an agreement with that country. See this page for details:

Note that most European countries (including their overseas territories e.g. French Polynesia and many Caribbean islands) are covered by the CEPT agreement, which requires a US Advanced or Extra-class license. See this page for details:

Also, third-party messages (which includes email sent to or from non-hams) are restricted in many countries, see this page for more info:

These limitations are specific to ham radio, and not marine systems such as Sailmail. Ham radio is voluntary and expected to be self-policing, please respect this.

Also note that ALL messages to/from US-licensed Winlink users via radio are posted publicly on the Winlink website to satisfy FCC rules that communications cannot be hidden. (Registration is required, which is available to anyone). Again, this is a ham-radio, and not Sailmail.  

Contact information:

Questions/comments about using Sailmail or Airmail software should be sent to:

Winlink support is found here:

updated 28-Jan-2020 by Jim Corenman KE6RK