Communication via Digrig + FT-857

I’ve searched about any program to communicate with text but haven’t found anything other than JTAlert.
As I understand it, messages only go if both users are connected to the internet, but I want to communicate offline (with communication I mean like sending a text message or documents) is that possible?
I did some research a while ago and read that it exists, but I can’t find the documentation.


What you are describing is referred as “store and forward”. Similar concept was used in pre-internet times of dialup modems with BBS and FidoNet (My node was 2:462/62).

Few things come to mind on the spot when it comes to ham radio. There may be more:

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Hi K0TX!

I want to only use my Digirig + FT-857 and without internet connection but the link you have sent to me specially Winlink Express need internet connection to communicate…
I couldn’t start VaraAC in my computer (I’ll look at it later today)

Winlink Express is the messaging app, it relies on different transport methods. Additionally to telnet (internet connection), it can use a hardware TNCs and virtual TNCs like VaraFM to connect over the radio. Virtual TNC is what you’ll need with Digirig.

Once you are comfortable with Winlink and have everything working over the internet, go ahead with Vara/radio setup.

Here’s a quick tour of vara setup with HT:

Thank you, K0TX!

I need the setups for YAESU (FT-857) but I can’t find them… When I calibrate or send Ping can’t I get any response… And the Audio input dBFS is yellow when I screw the squarrell button to the end (-35 to 38 dBFS). I can’t find anything about VaraFM for FT-857.

I’m pretty new in this, I’m still learning so it takes time for me to setup and understand exactly how to do I hope you can help me!


For this to work you’ll need a connection to the remote station which may not be available in your area. I would recommend reaching out to somebody local to be your connection partner. This way you can fine tune your setup in the controlled environment.

For general understanding on Winlink/Vara combo, please check out youtube. There are countless videos on the topic.

You mean that if I’m connected to a station I can communicate without internet or do I still need internet connection to use Winlink + Vara?

No internet required on your end if you are using Vara as a transport for Winlink.

I can’t get the VARA FM to work. I don’t know if it is because of the settings or something else.
If necessery I can send some screenshot.

Please try narrowing down the issue:

  • no audio from your radio to computer?
  • no PTT?
  • no audio sent out?
  • no response from remote station?
  • no decode of the response?

I just use two different radios, not via remote station.
In WSJT-X it’s no problem I can see the band activity.

When I want to test the soundcard in VARA FM I got:
Even when I ping I got the same.

How would you describe “NO SIGNAL” condition in terms that I listed in my previous post?

It sends request but in the end it doesn’t got any response and answers with No Signal like this:

These screenshots do not show the station names, which may be important for this ping test or autotuning.

Like I said earlier I’m not connecting to an remote station.
Is it necessery to connect via an special station?

The positive thing when you are using the two local stations to test is that you can trust the RF connection will be good, but you also have two full systems to troubleshoot at the same time.

First thing is to make sure the fundamentals are good: check that you can have a reliable voice connection between the two stations in each direction before attaching any cables.

Then connect one station (#1) to interface and make sure it keys up and you hear VARA audio on the other side (#2). #1 should receive the static between transmits. You’ll need to check “listen” box on the recording component of Digirig to hear the incoming audio on the computer’s speakers.

After that connect #2 to the interface and make sure it hears the static and incoming audio from #1 with “listen” enabled.

Make #2 keys up in response and you can hear it on #1.

If all of the above works, the rest is the matter of adjusting the levels. Start with low levels and gradually increase.

Just noticed: since you are using and HF/SSB radio, the modem software should be VaraHF, not VaraFM.

I tested like you said and the result is that:
I called both radios from Winlink Express via Vara HF session and when I call #2 from #1 the sound changes in radio #2, it is the same when I call from #2. But after that the session ends on the both radio TX Busy LED stay red, it doesn’t return to green until I restart the software.


This could be an RFI issue (see “sticky PTT” section in the troubleshooting guide). Try the same with the minimum RF power. Also in the port configuration check that the hardware flow control features are disabled if this option is available.

I haven’t found anything that could fix this problem, it is still same.
In the beginning it say Free Channel but then it say Channel busy and the TX(Budy) LED is beeing red, it doesn’t blink - just red.