Digital Command Station

By Don Felgenhauer  K7BFL
August 17, 2009
Revised November 7, 2018

Question -- During a Emcomm event, what is a "Digital Command" station?   What does it do?

Answer -- The Digital Command (DC) station assists WL2K and peer-to-peer stations which are operating during the Callout or Training Event.  This is done in close partnership with the event's Voice Command station (NCS).  The DC is there to help, not hinder the operation.  It is recommended that the person assuming DC responsibilities NOT be the same person as the Voice Command Station Net Control; too much for one person to handle.   See a  paper on  Digital Messaging Strategy  ( and how  it  relates to the DCS.

The DCS is there to increase the production rate of the Digital Stations, thereby unloading the use of voice channels.   The need for a Digital Command station increases with a larger number of digital Field Digital Messaging Stations.    Tasks might include:

1. Upon becoming operational, each ARES/RACES Field Station would ask Voice Command for the email address of Digital Command.  The Field Station would then send a  message (and update when changed) to the DC, including participant's Contact information; location; purpose; capabilities (protocols, Bands)

Primary  Band,  RMS, and protocol being used (packet Keyboard, packet 1200, packet 9600, WINMOR,  pactor 1, pactor 2, pactor 3, pactor 4, ARDOP, VARA, etc); maximum message size (bytes) which the station will accept

d)    Changes to these items should be sent to Digital Command ASAP.

2.  All WL2K messages sent by each Field Station should be cc to Digital Command.   This will enable DC to "monitor" the digital traffic relating to the event.   DC would notify Voice Command of pertinent information from those messages.

3.  If possible, the email address of Digital Command should use the IMAP protocol,  directly accessable via internet, .  This would enable all messages received and sent by Digital Command to be easily retained as a record.   These messages would also be easily available to another person if/when Digital command duties are transfered.  Due to a high volume of mssasges going In and Out of the DCS email accout it be best if access to that account be done via ommercial internet, if possible. 

A good email address for the DCS would be something "non-personal" to the Digital Command person; appropriate to the organization sponsoring the event, or relating to the name of the event.  The "shelf life" of the address should expore several days or weeks after the event.    An email account with gmail would something to consider for the DCS account.

4.  Field Stations often do not know the CORRECT WL2K address of other Field Stations in the event.  Digital Command should send updated lists to each Field Station, containing the correct WL2K address of all other Field Stations.  

5.  All messages received by DC will be checked for "errors", particularly those related to spelling errors of Addresses in the message.   Feedback concerning the possible errors should be sent back to the Sending station and the message Forwarded to the correct address.

6.  DC should query each Field Station concerning which RMS Stations (and frequencies) they are primarily using.  Digital Command would then suggest the possible use of alternate RMS Stations, which would unload the use of "overloaded" RMS Stations.

7.  Digital Command should be very familiar with the use of WL2K software and systems.  Monitoring of the Winlink web page "status pages" may give useful information for Field Stations.

8.  Digital Field Stations may ask Digital Command to assist with solving "path problems" to desired email addresses.   Field Stations may ask DC to educate "outside" stations needing to send messages to Field Stations regarding the need for small message size, etc.   DC is a mentor for the Field Stations.

9.  If Peer-to-Peer operation is being used, DC should suggest to Voice Command frequencies which should work between Digital Stations. 

10.  DC and Voice Command should periodically get a "Mission Assessment" from each Field Station.  What is not working well?   Do you need more/different personnel or equipment?   What procedures should be changed, added, or stopped?