Here’s the latest edition of “The ARES Newsletter” from HQ ARRL.
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News update are those of the reporters and correspondents.
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Accessed on 21 October 2020, 1416 UTC, Post 1684.
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October 21, 2020
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs, Links
The Hurricane Watch Net, WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center and SATERN activated for Hurricane Delta. From the final sitrep filed by Louisiana Section Emergency Coordinator James Coleman, AI5B,Hurricane Delta made landfall as a category 2 hurricane at approximately 6:00 PM local time on Friday, October 9, near Creole, Louisiana. By 7:30 AM, October 10, there were 878,974 power outages across Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. Louisiana ARES was placed on normal status with individual Parishes activated on an as-needed basis. The Louisiana ARES Emergency Net was on normal status. ARES developed an extensive set of Incident Radio Communication Plans (IC-205) for the Delta response, consistent with the Louisiana ARES Plan.
From October 3-26, Department of Defense (DOD) Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) operators are participating in DOD Communications Exercise 20-4. The MARS focus is to intercommunicate with the ARRL field organization and amateur radio organizations who are conducting their annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test with state, county, and local emergency management personnel. MARS members will send a DOD-approved message to the amateur radio organizations recognizing this cooperative interoperability effort. MARS members will also be training with the ARRL National Traffic System and the Radio Relay International (RRI) organization to send a number of ICS 213 general messages to numerous amateur radio community leaders across the US. This exercise will culminate with MARS members sending summary messages in support of a larger DOD communications exercise taking place from October 20-26.
Throughout the month, MARS operators will also be on 60 meters and sending WWV/WWVH broadcast messages to the amateur radio community. — Paul English, WD8DBY, DA Civilian, U.S. Army NETCOM G3/5 Current Operations, HF/LMR Support Manager, Chief, Army MARS
The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is a national treasure of federal emergency communications reference information. Check it out. See also the DHS Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) and other federal government pubs. — Thanks, Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network, Los Angeles, California
Scott Yonally, N8SY, Ohio Section Manager, reports that there is a new ARES Connect Frequently Asked Questions and “Ask Your Questions Here” area online specifically for ARES Connect. Need help getting operators entered into ARES Connect? Help is available, too.
The Orange County (California) Hospital Emergency Amateur Radio Team (OCHEART) is formalizing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with KPARN, the Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network of Los Angeles to provide mutual aid in time of need to support ultimately about 40 Orange County hospitals. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) training is mandatory with the organizations seeking training free of charge. Readers having knowledge of courses are encouraged to contact OCHEART Operational Development, Training and Exercising EC Bob McCord, K6IWA
Early indications are that ARES support of ShakeOut 2020 has been a success. 175 Winlink-DYFI (Did You Feel It) reports were received by the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In California, there were 25 Los Angeles Section ARES (ARESLAX- Northeast District) reports filed with stations using shakeout_2020 as an identifier for USGS use in creating and updating earthquake intensity maps. ARESLAX Northeast District stations also sent DYFI messages via Winlink to Ventura County ACS/ARES for its purposes – Thanks, Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Winlink Administrator, Winlink Development Team
November 14: Nationwide Red Cross Emergency Communications Drill, Joint Exercise with ARES
The Nationwide Red Cross Emergency Communications Fall Drill is a joint exercise with ARES set for November 14, an evolution of the highly successful Spring Drill that had hundreds of participants from some 40 states and Puerto Rico.
The Fall Drill will be a Winlink-specific event with the following goals: (1) pass traditional Red Cross (ARC) forms from as many states and as many radio amateurs as possible to one of six Divisional Clearinghouses, and (2) bring as many radio operators as possible up to a “basic” level of Winlink proficiency. [To prepare, there is a twelve-week series of Winlink Workshops held each Thursday at 0100Z on Zoom. Join the SEC-ARES group for announcements and discussions. Include your name and call sign when registering on SEC-ARES.]
Winlink Proficiency Goals have been written, a Winlink Technical Support Team has been formed, and Metrics for Drill Success have been developed. The proficiency goals are established as a training guideline and references online training resources. Many hams new to Winlink should find these resources helpful.
Over 300 radio amateurs have signed up for the event and more than a hundred were on a Briefing Call on October 5. There will be one other Briefing Call, in early November. This event is open to all radio amateurs; if interested in more information, contact Mike Walters, W8ZY, for ARES-related questions or Wayne Robertson, K4WK, for Red Cross-related topics.
SKYWARN Recognition Day 2020 – Making Adjustments for COVID-19
Since 1999, the annual SKYWARN™ Recognition Day celebrates the long relationship between the amateur community and the National Weather Service program. The purpose of the event is to recognize amateurs for the vital public service they perform during times of severe weather and to strengthen the bond between radio amateurs and their local National Weather Service office. The event is co-sponsored by the ARRL and the National Weather Service.
Normally each year, radio amateurs participate from home stations and from stations at National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices with the goal of making contact with as many offices as possible. However, this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, participation from NWS forecast offices will be minimal at best. The focus will shift to contacting as many SKYWARN trained spotters as possible during the event.
Radio amateurs who wish to participate may sign up for a SKYWARN Recognition Day number by completing the form found on the SRD 2020 website. During the event, operators are encouraged to exchange their name, QTH, SRD number, and current weather conditions with other participating stations. See the event website for the full operating guidelines.
SKYWARN Recognition Day 2020 will be held from 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC December 5.
Florida Panhandle Counties’ ARES Activates for Hurricane Sally
The Escambia County ARES Emergency Net (ECEN) was fully operational throughout Hurricane Sally’s visit to the Florida panhandle’s westernmost county, even after losing the net’s primary 146.76 MHz repeater for 4-6 hours due to a county emergency generator equipment problem at the tower site. Several operators passed information on 146.76 MHz simplex to others and to the EOC. Later, operators on the ECEN transferred to the backup repeater on the Naval Hospital campus that had a fully operational emergency generator. Once the portable emergency generator was up on the main county communication tower site, the 146.76 repeater was back on the air.
While Hurricane Sally was still blowing through the county, the net took several check-ins and passed damage reports to the EOC. Operators gathered damage assessments, information on power outages and capabilities of the local area amateurs. After Escambia County ARES stood down, local radio amateurs checked in with status reports of commercial power outages and assessments on what services had survived to be available. Health and welfare checks of area radio amateurs not heard from were also conducted. — Gene Bannon, KB4HAH, Escambia County, Northern Florida ARES
The Santa Rosa County ARES team was requested to activate on Monday, September 14. Its mission was to staff the radio room at the EOC as well as at one shelter in the city of Milton. Within three hours of receiving the call to activate, operators were arriving at the EOC getting equipment powered on and deploying a go-kit to the shelter location for what would end up being a 72-hour activation. Over the previous several months, ARES team members were regularly operating from the EOC to ensure all equipment was functioning properly. Members had also recently checked the antennas at the shelter locations and tested simplex communications, thus the team was ready and prepared.
The outer bands of Hurricane Sally arrived in the county in the late hours of Tuesday, September 15, with worsening conditions in the early morning hours. As Sally approached, a SKYWARN net was activated and the Santa Rosa County ARES repeater was linked with the repeater that serves the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama. ARES leadership was able to monitor storm updates as they were released thanks to the NWS Weather Chat system that is used for SKYWARN reporting by net control stations.
Santa Rosa Emergency Coordinator Arc Thames, W4CPD, maintains an EchoLink and AllStar Link node at his home that provided the connectivity to the NWS repeater. The EchoLink connection was also used by amateurs outside of the area to check on their families inside Santa Rosa County.
Before and after the hurricane had moved through the area, ARES members tracked the current numbers of clients at the local shelter, providing updates to Emergency Management staff as requested. Amateur Radio was used as the primary means of communications to the shelter and assisted with communicating needs and requests from the shelter to the EOC. Other ARES members served as liaison stations between Santa Rosa and Escambia counties. – QST NFL, October 2020 issue
IPAWS-Winlink Demonstration Project
The SHARES HF Radio Program brought the FEMA Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) and the Winlink HF Email development team together to demonstrate that an IPAWS message could be delivered by HF radio in the event of an internet outage. The Ohio Military Reserve “Black Swan” exercise provided the opportunity to demonstrate this capability, with messages sent from September 29 to October 3, 2020.
Ideally, there would have been a SHARES Winlink station at the location where the IPAWS message originates. Since that could not be implemented within the time and budget constraints of the exercise, the internet was used to get IPAWS messages from the point of origination to the SHARES HQ program office in Arlington, Virginia, where custom software written by Phil Sherrod, W4PHS, chief programmer of the Winlink Development Team, detected the IPAWS message, and forwarded it by Winlink HF Email to exercise participants in Ohio.
The messages were relayed from FEMA through the SHARES Winlink Hybrid HF Radio Email Network, automatically, with no human intervention. Due to COVID-19, there were no station personnel present in the HQ SHARES Radio Station building. Messages were then retrieved by SHARES operators over SHARES Winlink, and the messages were then given to amateur radio operators who manually relayed them to county and city emergency management agencies. Involved were the ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES®), the ARRL National Traffic System (NTS) and amateurs involved through the Government’s AuxComm program.
Exercise messages were sent each day at various times to demonstrate that the Winlink system gets the message through under varying radio propagation conditions. The project was coordinated by Scott Johnson of Sawdey Solutions, a FEMA contractor, and Ross Merlin, WA2WDT, the SHARES HF Radio Program Manager, of the Cybersecurity and Information Security Agency (CISA) of DHS.
The SHARES Hybrid Winlink Radio Email Network is provided to the U.S. Government at no charge by the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. This is an example of communications technology developed by amateur radio operators advancing the state of the art and providing emergency communications for the public good. — Ross Merlin, WA2WDT, SHARES HF Radio Program Manager, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Emergency Response Operations (ERO)
Community Hospital and Amateur Radio Club in Washington Partner for Expansion of Amateur Radio Capability
The Forks Community Hospital and Clallam County (Western Washington) Amateur Radio Club have been working on a joint project for the past two years to improve and expand amateur radio communications, specifically using 2 meter radio and repeaters, to connect with as much area as possible outside the valley where Forks is located as part of the county wide emergency management efforts. Clallam County Emergency Management has been working to organize the county into “operational areas.” The West End Operational Area covers a lot of ground. Forks Community Hospital and Clallam County ARES are just two of the members of the emergency management group with the hospital providing more than just medical support.
The Clallam County Amateur Radio Club repeater, which is used by club and ARES members, was located at the Forks city hall. Due to the location within the valley, there was no radio contact outside the immediate area with the exception of LaPush to the west and Beaver to the northeast. The finished project will connect the area with Striped Peak and most of the rest of the county.
The finished project will be comprised of the VHF repeater and vertical antenna for standard communication within range. To extend range, the repeater will be linked to repeaters at Striped Peak and Octopus Mountain with a controller connected to the repeater and UHF radios that will be used in conjunction with the remote site links. Coverage from Forks to the outlying areas may then be reached. The UHF radios will transmit and receive using vertically polarized nine-element Yagi antennas.
Clallam County ARES members located in Forks and LaPush are active members of the county West End Operational Area emergency management group and will provide emergency communications assistance. Forks Community Hospital not only sponsors a radio room at the hospital for ARES but also sponsors the moving and installation of club and hospital owned repeater gear and antennas to their location on Gunderson Mountain. This is part of the emergency planning by the hospital and ARES. — Joe Wright, KG7JWW, Clallam County ARES AEC, Western Washington
Boulder (Colorado) ATV Group Transmits Video of Cal-Wood Fire
Colorado, California and Oregon have been experiencing major forest fires for the past couple of months. There was heavy smoke in the Front Range city of Boulder on occasions when the wind was right. Fire hit Boulder County on October 17 at mid-day. The Cal-Wood Fire broke out in the mountains north-west of the City of Boulder, near the town of Jamestown. The fire moved rapidly during Saturday afternoon. As of Sunday morning, October 18, 8 AM, the fire had already consumed over 7,000 acres of forest, along with an outbreak on the prairie at US-36.
The Boulder ATV repeater, W0BTV, has been transmitting views of the forest fire. The camera is located at the home of KH6HTV, south-east of the city of Boulder, and 13-15 miles from the fire. Using a long telephoto lens, the KH6HTV TV camera has been able to view the fire along the Front Range as it approached the first ridge of the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. The TV images are being received at the Boulder County ARES (BCARES) command post in the Boulder County Emergency Operations Center (EOC). There they are then being displayed on a large-screen video monitor for the EOC staff.
The W0BTV repeater video is being streamed live over the British Amateur TV Club’s server in the U.K. The right audio channel on the BATC stream is carrying the live audio from the BCARES, 2 meter, FM repeater, 146.76 MHz with the emergency net traffic. Fortunately, now there is nothing to be seen on the TV repeater’s video image, as a cold front has rolled in with light rain and fog — great news for helping suppress the fire. — Boulder Amateur Television Club TV Repeater’s REPEATER, October 18, 2020, issue
K1CE for a Final: Use or Lose the SHF Bands; Increase Data Speed, Modes for Keeping Up with Needs of Served Partner Agencies
The FCC’s decision to delete the amateur service from the 3.3 – 3.5 GHz allocation sent a chill down my spine. The message is clear: we must use our super high frequencies (SHF) or risk losing even more access. There is ever-increasing demand by our served partner agencies for higher speed data, digital voice and image transfer, the kinds of data rates that are made possible by the greater bandwidth afforded by our access to the SHF spectrum. There are many forward-thinking amateur groups around the country that are exemplary.
The 5 cm amateur band was recently used for filing a wildfire report – on September 8, 2020, two hams in the Puget Sound region of Washington State were watching the live camera feed from the Mt. Baldy HamWAN site and spotted and reported a wildfire in the surrounding forest. The Ham Wide Area Network is a system of commercial microwave radios tuned to the 5.65-5.925 GHz amateur radio band. Data speeds between the link sites vary depending on the path, but speeds four orders of magnitude faster than 9600 baud packet is common. Video cameras with PTZ control have been added to many of the link sites.
The use of HamWAN as a backup emergency communications system throughout the Interstate-5 corridor in Washington is growing. The Washington Emergency Management Division EOC, the Washington State Department of Transportation Southwest Region EOC, two county and four city EOCs, three hospitals, and one Red Cross office already have permanent connections (so far).
The Northwest Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (AREDN) Mesh Steering Committee (Lucas County ARES) conducted a drill focused on setting up individually-owned AREDN Mesh gear, troubleshooting and operating the ancillary gear (phones, cameras, laptops, self-contained power boxes) on an individual basis. Numerous law enforcement officers from Wood County as well as from Lucas and Monroe counties in Michigan were enthusiastic about the Mesh Networking capabilities.
In Colorado, the Boulder ATV club installed its new 5.9 GHz, FM-TV beacon transmitter on a government building for the purposes of encouraging microwave experimentation; to get hams to try ATV, especially with the really low cost FM-TV gear now available for drones; to be used as a known signal source for testing antennas and receivers; and to increase usage of our microwave bands, to help prevent their being taken away from us.
Use it or lose it. Add microwave apps to your ARES toolkits. There is a wealth of information from ARRL to get you started. A quick click on any search engine will lend more.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service® (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment, with their local ARES leadership, for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization is eligible to apply for membership in ARES. Training may be required or desired to participate fully in ARES. Please inquire at the local level for specific information. Because ARES is an amateur radio program, only licensed radio amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.
How to Get Involved in ARES: Fill out the ARES Registration form and submit it to your local Emergency Coordinator.
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