[pskmail] PSKmail development status and plans

  • From: Rein Couperus <rein@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: pskmail@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 01 Jan 2009 13:11:13 +0100

Happy new year to all readers of the list!

We have had quit a turbulent year with PSKmail. Version 1 of the client has 
been released, 
and there have been experiments with new functionality of the server.

I think this is the right time to write a few words about where we plan to go 
with pskmail.
The first pskmail meeting in Zweibruecken, Germany in September 2008 organized 
by DK4XI of INTERMAR-ev was important to get all noses into the same direction, 
and we were able to agree on a long to medium term strategy for pskmail. And 
you will soon see some of the new developments which were started there quite 

The most important conclusion was that version 1 of the pskmail client is quite 
and that we split the development path into:

* Maintenance of version 1 of the client (bug fixing etc...)
* Porting the client to a windows version for Intermar-ev
* Porting the client to java?
* Further development of the protocol towards multi connect

What is actually happening at the moment?

* Windows client version *

Rolf, DK4XI and his crew are almost ready to release the windows version of a 
pskmail client especially made for use on yachts at sea and in harbour. 
Additions to the Linux client include integration with zyGRIB, a program to 
show weather charts based on GRIB files or IAC Fleetcodes. The idea is to 
broadcast this weather information via the INTERMAR network. These broadcasts 
are in PSK250, and PA0R is developing a special FEC protocol to make reception 
of the broadcasted files easier, and more free of errors.
The server will get the additional capability to grab the files from the 
internet (from NOAA). The coding is based on using only the 16 shortest 
varicode characters, which enables use of FEC without significant inclease of 
the duration of transmissions ( IAC fleetcodes use characters 0...9 which take 
twice as long to transmit :)
When the INTERMAR servers are not broadcasting they are standby for APRS 
messaging. All this will enable the use of pskmail for SWL's i.e. yachts and 
other mobile vehicles with only RX capability!!

* Platform independent client *

We are looking at a JAVA port of the client, which could run on all platforms. 
If we decide to do it this will mean lots of work, so don't expect anything 
useable soon. But first experiments show that java may be a practical platform. 
We will use the present server version as a reference application for the 

* Multiconnect on the server *

First testing is going on at PA0R with a protocol version where the server is a 
master and the client is a slave. (In fact, this also works peer-to-peer, the 
calling station is always slave). In this version (> 1.03d) the slave does not 
poll, and only transmits status info when it receives a poll or status block 
from the master. First experiments show less overlapping transmissions between 
server and client. The latest version  (1.03f) still does not work properly, 
more testing will be involved.
The server does not need to be changed for these experiments.
Long term goal is to use DAMA on the master (normally a a server), so more than 
one service can be connected simultaneously by more than 1 client without 
increasing chaos on the qrg...

* Waiting for Fldigi-3.1 *

Fldigi 3.03 has a serious bug when used with pskmail, resulting in unwanted 
memory dumps on the frequency.
In fldigi 3.04xx this has been solved. Moreover the new pskmail clients use the 
arq interface, which has not been officially released as it will only work with 
fldigi 3.04xx or fldigi-3.1 which will be the official release...
The fldigi interface in the server is still to be changed to the arq (tcp) 

* Packet radio network connectivity *

PSKmail server 7.21 contains a telnet agent which allows connecting the 
existing PR network via pskmail.
For this some special middleware is being developed. DA5UWG provides a platform 
to facilitate the testing 
necessary for this.

* Streaming agent e,g, for DX cluster connection *

We get many requests from contesters using remote locations without an internet 
Although it is already quite easy to provide this facility through the telnet 
agent I am looking 
into a more efficient (FEC) coding to use the broadcasting facility to set up  
a DX cluster link...

As you see there is still enough work to be done. Lets hope 2009 will allow us 
to develop pskmail 
further towards an HF digital network with even more practical use!!.
If you can help, just yell at us via this list...

Rests to wish you a happy, prosperous and healthy 2009!


Rein PA0R


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