Linux Journal: Radio E-mail in West Africa

“Traveling outside the capital city of Conakry, one immediately
finds that Guinea has little infrastructure, especially in the way
of electrical grid and telecommunication systems–to say nothing of
Starbucks and broadband access to the internet. So IRC field
offices must provide their own infrastructure: diesel generators
for electricity and high-frequency (HF), two-way radio sets to
communicate with other offices and mobile units, up to hundreds of
miles apart.

“Expecting this isolation and general lack of connectivity, I
was quite astonished when we arrived in Kissi. Here I found the
radio operator using his equipment to make a binary file transfer
from his desktop PC to another field office, wirelessly!

This capability surprised and intrigued me. On top of the
operator’s radio set, connected to the serial port of his PC, sat a
dingy black box simply labeled 9002 HF Data Modem. I noticed the
operator used a proprietary, MS-DOS program to make his file
transfers, but I immediately began wondering: if this device is
truly some kind of modem, moving binary data over the ether of
radio, why couldn’t we set it up with Linux and network with PPP
connections as well…?”

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