RadioMail v1.3.0 Released — Delivering a Streamlined VARA Experience

RadioMail provides access to the Winlink amateur radio email system. Compose, read, and reply to messages from anywhere.

A valid amateur radio license is required to use this app.

NETWORK ACCESS・Send and receive messages via telnet using the main Winlink server or through the Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN).

RADIO ACCESS・Pair your device with a VARA or KISS packet modem using WiFi or Bluetooth. Radio control can be configured through rigctld. Note: An operational version of the VARA modem must be available on your connected computer. Packet mode supports the Mobilinkd, PicoAPRS, and Dire Wolf packet modems. Configuration of up to two digipeaters is possible for packet or VARA FM mode connections.

STATION DIRECTORY・Automatic retrieval of station details from Winlink, organized by proximity to your current location. Custom stations can be added for peer-to-peer connections. Note: Peer-to-peer connections are only outbound.

FAVORITES LIST・Save stations to your favorites list for quick access by modes and bands during connection initiation.

PHOTO ATTACHMENTS・Sharing photos is easy with RadioMail. Access your device’s camera directly or attach photos from your library. The app optimizes images to reduce transmission time. Preview and annotate received attachments, save to local folders or iCloud, or share via other apps.

FORMS・Compose and view 100+ standard Winlink forms. Forms are kept current with automatic updates. GPS coordinates are pre-filled according to user location. Received forms can be shared or printed as PDFs. Custom specialized forms can be installed by importing a zip file. Note: Form access is an optional premium feature requiring an in-app subscription.

POSITION REPORT・Utilize your phone’s internal GPS for accurate location data in position reports, which are posted to the Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS) network.

NOTIFICATIONS・RadioMail fetches new messages automatically and shows notifications while running in the background, eliminating the need to constantly check for new messages. Note: This feature is only available for telnet connections.

ADDRESSES・Send or receive messages with your primary Winlink account, tactical addresses, or secondary accounts. Seamlessly send messages to Winlink and regular email addresses. Look up contacts from the address book and access their email addresses when composing messages.

RadioMail is independently developed and not affiliated with the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. (ARSFI) who supports the Winlink Global Radio Email system.

RadioMail 1.3 – Delivering a Streamlined VARA Experience

Download on the App Store

As many of you know, VARA is a type of radio software modem that is used for transmitting and receiving digital data over amateur radio. RadioMail interfaces via TCP/IP with such software modem to connect to stations using the VARA protocol. The VARA software modem listens on two ports for commands and data payload.

Using a network protocol like TCP/IP enables the software modem to run on a radio-connected computer, while applications such as RadioMail can operate on a separate device, anywhere on the network. However, since VARA wasn’t designed to function as a service, this setup comes with certain limitations, particularly when you don’t have mouse, keyboard or display access to the remote computer.

In order to allow for VARA to run on a headless computer, its lifecycle and configuration need to be manageable entirely remotely. 

Introducing varanny, a command line helper tool that steps in to address these limitations, acting as a ‘nanny’ for VARA. It offers the following capabilities:

📢 Service Announcement for Zeroconf

varanny uses DNS Service Discovery to broadcast the presence of VARA modem services, making it easier for clients to locate an active VARA instance and automatically fetch its IP and port. This is similar to how your printer gets discovered on a network. Give your specific radio configuration a name and select it from the auto discovered list in RadioMail. No more fumbling with IP or port configuration.



🕹️ Remote Management

varanny allows RadioMail to start and stop the VARA program remotely. This is particularly useful for headless situations, when VARA FM and VARA HF share the same sound card or radio interface and should not be both open at the same time. It also solves the issue of needing to restart VARA because it’s failing to rebind its ports after a connection closes when running on a *nix system via Wine.

🔀 Multiple VARA Configurations

Since VARA doesn’t provide command line configuration options, varanny steps in to handle multiple configurations. It switches the .ini configuration file that VARA uses, allowing for smooth configuration changes before each session and restoring default settings afterward. Now, switching between different configurations for different radios is a breeze.

🎚️ Audio Level Monitor

varanny enables RadioMail to display an audio meter reflecting the audio level from the input sound card connected to the remote computer. This helps you set the radio volume at the optimal level.



😺 CAT Control Management

varanny can launch an instance of hamlib’s rigctld, enabling RadioMail to control PTT and frequency changes via CAT control. This is necessary for VARA HF, where radio control is not directly handled by the VARA modem, or when running VARA under Linux where Windows COM port emulation can be difficult to configure correctly.


Get Started

After upgrading to RadioMail 1.3, your next stop should be GitHub to install the latest version of varanny. There are executables for Windows, Linux amd64, arm and arm64. You can of also build it from source if you prefer.

Don’t forget to check out the README for details on various configuration options.

And of course, if you’re already a VARA pro, you can keep using your manual settings in RadioMail. varanny is here as an option, not a requirement.


✨ Get Inspired and Create Your Own VARA HotSpot

Imagine having a compact, portable device that connects directly to your radio, transforming it into a VARA “HotSpot”. RadioMail can then connect to this hotspot, creating a seamless, mobile communication setup.

I’ve recorded a couple of videos to give you a taste of this setup in action. Start with the VARA FM video, then move on to the VARA HF. See how this could transform your field operations.

  RadioMail :: Portable VARA FM HotSpot  
  RadioMail :: Portable VARA HF HotSpot  

Still Early Stage

We’re just getting started. If you’re having trouble with varanny, consider opening an issue on GitHub. Your experience could help others. And if you have ideas for improvements, I’d love to see your pull requests.



☝️ Password Recovery Email

RadioMail recently added the ability to view and edit your password recovery email address. Now is a good time to confirm that your email address is up to date. Your future self will thank you. 

Go to Settings > Account > Password Recovery Email


🪲 Bug Fixes & Improvements

This release also includes a few bug fixes and all the improvements since the last major release, 1.2. Most notably, it resolves an issue causing the app to crash when using TAB or arrow keys on iPad with an external keyboard. If you’re on an iPad, updating is a must!

Other bug fixes:

  • Resolved issue preventing connections to VARA HF stations at 500Hz.

  • Corrected display error showing VARA HF station default bandwidth as 2500Hz, should be 2300Hz. Refresh the station directory to get new values.

  • Ability to choose between ‘Stable’ (for reliability) or ‘Latest’ (for recency) form update channels.

  • Location can automatically be added to outgoing messages. Incoming messages with sender location information can be displayed on a map. 



I hope you’ll enjoy this release. If you have questions or feedback, let me know or join the conversations at

Mahalo & Mele Kalikimaka,
Georges WH6AZ

PS: 🥳 One year ago, RadioMail made its humble debut on the App Store. I’m so grateful for the journey, thanks to you. Here’s to another year of innovation and connection!