Using FLAMP on a Digital Net

I’ve recently started to focus on developing my skills on various digital methods and tools.  Every Friday night WA2NAN, hosts a digital net on the OVARC VHF Repeater.  This week we started to explore FLAMP.  FLAMP utilizes the AMP (Amateur Multicast Protocol) to send and receive files over the airwaves without the Internet.  We did multiple tests/trials to see how FLAMP performed and for each of us operators to “fail fast” and learn how to better operate with this really powerful tool on our own radios and laptops.

We did multiple tests:

  • Send/Receive a text based file that contained a weather report
  • Send/Receive an HTML file
  • Send/Receive a file that was tarred up and gzipped to simulate a binary file transfer
  • Send/Receive a file that was broken up into multiple transfers

In all of the tests that we tried, we used variations of the BPSK digital mode. This helped us  determine how the changing of the bandwidth impacted the speed and duration of the file transfer.

Overall the tests were all successful.  We also had an unplanned test of how to handle a situation when not all the blocks of the file were received.  FLAMP has a feature that allows the receiving operator to issue a “report” to the sending operator so he can resend the blocks that were not received.  We had one operator who consistently had missing blocks so we got to see this in demonstration quite a few times.

FLAMP has some very good use cases, especially when the Internet is unavailable:

  • ARES/RACES — the sending of files or forms that cannot be sent via FLMSG
  • Sending Operating Manuals or instructions. The file can be a word doc, pdf, html, or even xml.
  • Sending an executable file, while this kicks off a bunch of concerns it can still be done.

I am sure there are other use cases but this is all I can think of at the current time.

FLAMP does have its limitations.  For example, the program is somewhat challenging to setup and configure.  I had issues with autosaving.  Lastly the help and menus are pretty cryptic. But overall this is a very capable application for sending and receiving files when the internet is unavailable.

We plan on additional tests next week.  I will make another video and put up another post next week on this topic.



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