Q: Can the amateur radio operator provide power for the smart phones of people wanting to send email?
A: Yes, he or she can. That is up to them.
Q: Can anyone use a PiGate?
A: Only a properly licensed amateur radio operator can operate and administer a PiGate. That operator can give e-mail access to other hams as long as they have a valid Winlink2000 account.
Q: How does someone in a disaster area connect to the PiGate device and send e-mail when there is no power?
A: Most people have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop computer they can use as long as the battery is not drained. If not, the amateur operator of the PiGate will have emergency power and can allow them to use his or her device to connect. The PiGate and amateur radio are also battery powered.
Q: How can I send e-mail using a long distance HF radio link?
A: The amateur operator must have a PACTOR modem connected to the PiGate, which in turn is connected to an amateur radio HF transceiver. He or she must supply this equipment.
Q: How long will a PiGate run on battery power?
A: It depends on the size of the battery. For a small 7AH emergency lighting battery, the PiGate will operate for about 10 hours. Larger batteries will of course last longer.
Q: How many e-mails can I send?
A: This is up to the amateur operator, but there is no real limit. The operator may ask everyone to send only one e-mail if there are a lot of people wanting to do so, to give everyone a chance.
Q: Can my family reply to my e-mail?
A: No. Replies to any emergency e-mail sent to family or friends will not be processed. This is designed to prevent replies from clogging the emergency radio channels and preventing real emergency traffic from getting through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I send a text message to a smartphone?
A: Yes, nearly all cell phone providers have a method to send an e-mail to a cell phone as a text message. Examples are given in the documentation for several cell phone providers.
Q: Is a PiGate system fully automated?
A: No, but it tries to automate as many tasks as possible to make it easier to use.
Q: How much does a PiGate cost?
A: Nothing (almost). The software is free to anyone that wants to buy the parts themselves and download and apply the software image. If you don't want to build one yourself, you can order a completed and tested system for a fee.
Q: How can there be an internet connection to the PiGate when the internet is down?
A: The PiGate as a built in WiFi hot spot and you connect through that.
Q: If my smartphone battery is good, how do I connect to the PiGate to send an e-mail?
A: You use the web browser app from your smartphone and connect to a web address that is given to you by the PiGate operator. Normally, this is http://10.10.10.10/email.php
Q: Is it legal to allow non-amateur radio licensed people to send e-mail using amateur radio?
A: Yes, as long as the amateur operator maintains control of the radio station.
Q: What is the range of an average PACKET station?
A: About 25 miles, depending on your location and antenna. With a good hill top location and a yagi antenna, your could reach a PACKET station 45 or more miles away. Of course this will vary greatly depending upon local topology and other conditions that effect radio communications.
Q: Can I donate money to help you?
A: Yes, there is a donation link on the Downloads page of the PiGate web site. I appreciate your willingness to help. Thank you!
Q: What if I don't want to build a PiGate myself? Can I get one already assembled?
A: Yes, I will build a system and test it for you. See Order Completed PiGate.