Winlink Packet to-go

Designed from the outset to be used with my Go-Kit, here’s my take on a Winlink UHF Packet Data Radio To-Go. I don’t own one of them fancy TNC-integrated HTs so this will have to do. For those times where packet UHF isn’t available, I have a Vara license and a SignaLink USB in my Go-Kit already.


I wanted a kit that would be in use at home but ready to grab and go. I already had on hand the Microwave Data Systems MDS4310, a 5W UHF Data radio, the Coastal Chipworks TNC-X (now the MFJ-1270X) Kantronics KPC-3+ TNC, the cabling, and a knockoff Pelican case. I just needed to assemble it and build some cables. This short project was a case of “work with what I have on hand”. The photos tell the story and I note I need to update them to show the Kantronics and not the TNC-X – but you still get the idea.

First, the exterior connectors – N F to F bulkhead, USB for the TNC (a 1 foot pigtail cable that terminates in a USB-B male at the other end), and a round 4-pin “mic” connector for the 12V input.

Seen here fitment of parts once the connectors were in place. It is tight but manageable.

In its kitted form I added RF Adapters – UHF to N, BNC to N, right-angle N and a 10W dummy load for testing. There is a 19″ dual-band antenna, you can just see the whip in the lid. Cables built and tested – one for USB and one for power, wrapped through a ferrite for good measure as from time to time this will be used near HF gear with the rest of my Radio Go-Kit.

Tucked away and ready to go

Seen here in its natural habitat on the top of my testing rack. Just unplug three cables, close the lid and go.


In the field it is paired up with a Panasonic CF-53 Toughbook laptop loaded with various bits of Ham Radio software and, of course, Winlink Express.