What is PSKmail
PSKmail is a system that allows access to internet services such as email and web independent from infrastructure.
A sailboat on an ocean can read and send email, fetch weather reports, send direct messages and update the ships position through the APRS system. Friends and family can stay in touch and can also follow the ships movements seconds after position updates are sent from the ship.
PSKmail can provide access to internet services in rural and otherwise isolated areas.
Perhaps you'd like internet access on the North pole? No problem, pskmail provides that.
Wait, did I mention its free and open source?
Infrastructure independent ?
PSkmail clients access servers using HF. A mobile station can be battery operated, solar powered, and can be located somewhere off the beaten track (in a jungle or on the high seas for example). Naturally the servers need to be connected to the internet to fetch internet email. But, the servers can even be used without internet connection (where that is not allowed or for special purposes such as emergency systems). The servers are independent and do not fail if a central system should be unreachable. Should one server be off the air then feel free to use another.
E-mail is an essential communications medium. PSKmail allows mobile clients access to their e-mail whenever and wherever necessary. With PSKmail you access your email providers' pop server, meaning that your normal email account can be used. Support is also in place for popular services like gmail. The pskmail client application features a settings dialogue where your service providers' email settings can be entered, these settings can be sent on the air during a connection with a pskmail server. You can also store your settings in a centralized database and the server will use that if available.
Surfing the web
PSKmail provides text based web surfing. Clients can access their favourite web sites and, in order to save bandwidth, pskmail delivers these in text form (with images removed). This is a very useful feature. The sailor can, for instance, access weather reports, navigational warnings etc. News sites can be browsed and I can fetch the match report from my hockey teams latest game.
The Automatic Position Reporting System was designed to support rapid, reliable exchange of information for local, tactical real-time information, events or nets. PSKmail is able to send position reports and exchange station to station aprs messages. One nice way to use this is for instance to send the current position every ten minutes from a mobile station. Friends and family can follow the movements of the station on a graphical display (see the wiki for more on this).
PSKmail is an outstanding tool in emergency situations. The server network is loosely tied together and that means that if a server, or even large parts of the network, should be out of service then the remaining servers carry on business as usual. Of course one weak link is your email provider, should that server be out of service then fetching mail from it will be difficult.
But, you may have another account? Just point the server in that direction then and carry on.
What if the entire internet shuld go down then?
Well, all servers have local mailboxes that can be used to store and forward your messages to other pskmail clients.
So, how can I try this then?
To use PSKmail you need:
- A ham radio license
- An hf transceiver with a working antenna solution, for boats that may include an antenna tuner and an isolated backstay or a whip antenna.
- A computer running Linux, Mac OS or Windows.
- FreeBSD should also be fine but we lack test reports there.
- An interface for connecting the computer soundcard to the hf transceiver
- A narrow filter (500 Hz) in the transceiver is highly recommended. A dsp may be nice but is normally not a replacement for a real filter.
To install and use the jPSKmail client you will need:
1. The jPSKmail client, get an installer for it at this page: jPSKmail
2. The soundcard modem fldigi, get that here: http://www.w1hkj.com/alpha