Here’s the latest ARES news compiled by HQ ARRL.
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio newsletter are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Content provided by HQ ARRL, Newington, CT, 06111.
Accessed on 17 February 2021, 1228 UTC, Post 1883.
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February 17, 2021
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs, Links
The Spring 2021 Red Cross Nationwide Emergency Communications Winlink Exercise will be held on May 8, which is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2021. Details and instructions are available; sign up for email updates. Ahead of the May nationwide exercise, the American Red Cross (ARC) Emergency Communications training group will continue its Winlink Thursdays training sessions on the second Thursday of the months of March and April.
A fine article on the Indiana ARES organization recently appeared in The Hoosier Responder — Jimmy Merry, KC9RPX, ARRL Indiana Section Manager
The Mississippi Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA) of Wisconsin acquired a full-sized bus and has been refurbishing it for emergency communications service over the past year. Recently, club members sought an opportunity to operate from the bus, test
improvements made, and assess their ability to setup a viable HF communications center in less than ideal conditions. The Minnesota QSO Party looked like the perfect answer, with sub-zero degree cold weather. The club is officially based in Wisconsin and holds the club call sign W9MVA, but for the Minnesota QSO Party the club applied for and was granted the 1×1 call sign WØM.
The club received permission to establish its operation in the parking lot of a TV station’s studios at a high location in Houston County. The news department staff couldn’t resist checking out the operation and it ended up being covered on the nightly news broadcast.
The club operation netted 57 US states and Canadian provinces, 54 Minnesota counties (out of 87 possible), and 10 DX QSOs. The operation set a new all-time record for the multi-operator category in the Minnesota QSO Party. Organizer Scott Neader, KA9FOX, said “We had a blast and are looking forward to more operations like this–we successfully tested the bus as a mobile tool to support our communities with emergency communication services, educate area students and the general public about amateur radio, and recruit new hams.” — Thanks, Scott Neader, KA9FOX, La Crosse, Wisconsin
ARRL Committees Report to Board on ARES Program, Related Topics
The ARRL Board of Directors–ARRL’s elected policymakers–held its Annual Meeting last month, and heard and considered reports and recommendations on public service-related topics from its committees. The Board’s Programs and Services Committee (PSC) reported that at its October 21 teleconference, ARRL Director of Emergency Management (EMD) Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, joined the meeting to introduce himself and share his initial observations of the ARES program.
Last July, the ARRL Board of Directors had added tasking to its Emergency Management Director Search Committee (EMDSC), charging it with (1) providing guidance and support to the incoming Emergency Management Director and Chief Executive Officer and (2) reporting on and making recommendations regarding changes to the League’s By-Laws and Standing Orders necessary for the creation of a Standing Committee [a permanent committee that specializes in the consideration of particular subject areas–Ed.] for emergency communications.
The emergency management committee reported back to the Board last month at its Annual Meeting–“With respect to task (1) above: Subsequent to the July Board meeting, [committee] members have provided input to, and collaborated with, Emergency Management Director (EMD) Paul Gilbert, KE5ZW, on multiple EmComm and Public Service topics, including participation by ARRL’s National Traffic System in the October 2020 Army MARS communications exercise (COMEX) and the MARS-hosted follow-up debriefing videoconference; assisting in review of the EMD’s planning effort; and discussing the impact of evolving AUXCOMM participation on ARES requirements. Most recently, the committee met with the EMD to review the current and future status of ARES Connect reporting software.” [see the article on the status of ARES Connect in last month’s issue. – Ed.]
With respect to task (2) above, it was noted that some portions of the current system of election or assignment of Officers, Directors, and Vice Directors to the various committees are codified in the By-Laws, while others are present-day customs that fall within Board and presidential prerogatives. Consequently, the committee determined that its final proposal for a standing committee on emergency communications would need to be drafted in concert with the Legal Restructuring Committee’s (LRC) overall review of the Articles of Association, By-Laws, and Standing Orders, which is also in process at this time.
The committee’s intent is to prepare and approve a proposal, consistent with the LRC’s work, for the establishment of a Standing Committee dedicated to Emergency Communications and Public Service, in the form of a Motion to be presented at the July 2021 Second Meeting of the Board, or earlier, if circumstances permit.
Separately, the PSC was asked at its January 2021 meeting by Bud Hippisley, W2RU, the Chair of the PSC’s Public Service Enhancement Working Group (PSEWG), to “sunset” that working group inasmuch as its role has now been subsumed by the emergency management committee, which is also chaired by Hippisley. PSC members agreed and by formal Motion discharged the PSEWG, with thanks to its members.
ARRL Board Recognizes Trio of Emergency Service-Oriented Clubs
Among the actions of the ARRL Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting last month, the League’s policymakers recognized the Garden State Amateur Radio Association (GSARA), which serves the public through the American Red Cross in Tinton Falls, New Jersey, which is in the ARRL Northern New Jersey section but has many members in both Northern and Southern New Jersey sections. The GSARA also has an outstanding record of learning and education programs including youth programs. The club was first affiliated as an ARRL affiliated club on January 22, 1951, and celebrated its 70th anniversary of affiliation.
The Board also recognized the Boeing Employees Amateur Radio Society – St. Louis (BEARS-STL), which was first affiliated as an ARRL affiliated club on May 6, 1971. The club has served the public and the Boeing community in St. Louis by supporting various needs for radio communications in times of emergency, requests for support of public service events, development and training in the field of radio communications technologies and the licensed amateur radio operators of The Boeing Company located in the metropolitan St. Louis area.
The club has a long history of supporting the emergency preparedness activities of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as state and local emergency management agencies through the provision of their VHF/UHF repeater systems and HF communications systems for use in both actual and simulated emergency tests such as TOPOFF exercises and the Great Shakeout with highly effective and reliable systems. The ARRL Board congratulated and recognized the Boeing Employees Amateur Radio Society – St. Louis on the 50th Anniversary of being an ARRL affiliated club.
The Board also recognized The Amateur Radio Club of the University of Arkansas (ARCUA), W5YM, formed in 1916 with the call sign 5YM. ARCUA continues to operate as a college club under the call sign W5YM, and is a long-time ARRL affiliated club in the Arkansas Section of the ARRL Delta Division. [Emergency preparedness is ARCUA’s top priority. Each year, members participate in campus-wide disaster drills. These drills familiarize members in emergency procedures and familiarize public safety officials with ARCUA’s communications capabilities.] The ARRL Board congratulated and recognized ARCUA, W5YM on their 105th Anniversary.
Northern California’s South Coast ARES Joins CERT in Evacuation Exercise Operation
In California, the SC4ARES group, sponsored by the SC4 Amateur Radio Club of La Honda, Loma Mar, Pescadero, San Gregorio, and South Skyline in the ARRL Santa Clara Valley Section (south of San Francisco in northern California), joined South Coast CERT in late January for a joint evacuation exercise. The scenario involved notifying residents in the CZU Lightning Complex burn scar areas of mandatory evacuations in front of a moderate Atmospheric River event that had the potential to cause debris flows in those scarred areas. [Atmospheric rivers are columns of vapor that move with the weather, carrying an amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River. When the atmospheric rivers make landfall, they often release this water vapor in the form of rain or snow].
Ahead of the exercise, Chief Ari Delay of La Honda Volunteer Fire Brigade — an SC4ARES served agency –called together ARES and CERT leaders on January 24 to evaluate the areas to be evacuated and identify and assess residents who hadn’t already left the area. Angelo Dragone, N6QAD, Bob Smith, W6RES, and Peter Chupity, KI6FAO used Radio Mobile to assess likely relay spots in the mountainous terrain of the areas of Whitehouse Creek, Gazos Creek, Butano Creek, Dearborn Park, and Loma Mar, and then tested these areas using UHF as a stand-in for the GMRS radios that CERT members would be using for the actual exercise.
On January 26, the CERT and SC4ARES members met at Pescadero High School to deploy teams to warn evacuees and leave literature describing the nature of the incoming weather. The CERT members communicated with the ARES team, and the ARES team kept in contact with the temporary operations center at the high school. In Whitehouse Creek canyon, all CERT members were also hams, so GMRS radios were not needed. The CERT/ARES operators communicated with KI6FAO, who was perched on a hilltop to relay to the operations center.
The exercise operation was a success, and under the exercise plan, the hourly rainfall rate did not reach the threshold to trigger debris flows in any of those areas. — Thanks to Lisa Short Chupity, W6LSC, PIO, SC4ARC/ARES; ARRL Santa Clara Valley Section News; Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, ARRL News Desk
Winter Yellowstone VHF Radio Rally Involves ARES
January 30, 2021 — The morning dawned dark and gray with heavy snow falling and the roads were slick. It was winter in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The North Yellowstone Amateur Radio Club/Park County Amateur Radio Emergency Service has 15 active members scattered across this sparsely populated area of northern Wyoming and southern Montana. Many more bison and elk roam the roads than do hams.
The critical duty in winter for the North Yellowstone operators is deployment to remote locations of winter emergencies. To train for these responses, the members devised the VHF Radio Relay, a radio scavenger hunt designed to get members out to remote road locations where winter emergencies may require radio communications
support. The group uses the Eagle’s Nest repeater located at 8,000′ on Electric Peak southwest of Gardiner, Montana, the north entrance to Yellowstone National Park; the machine covers the northern one-third of the vast park and southern half of Park County, Montana.
For last month’s exercise, with COVID-19 precautions rigorously observed, at 8:45 local time, the participating hams received their instruction set consisting of two pages. The first page contained the directions for completing their call out assignment and listed 15 carefully chosen locations requiring hams to go to the far reaches of the radio coverage area. The second page consisted of a map showing the designated general locations. There are only three roads in the area and conditions on one dirt road are normally difficult. Each route had five locations along the way to the terminal check point. The 15 widely spaced locations guaranteed that no operator could visit all of them.
A tactical call sign was assigned to each location. The communicators had to use GPS locating devices to verify that they were at the exact locations. At all locations, hams radioed Net Control to have their location verified before moving to the next location.
On two roads, there was an interpretive sign at the last check-in point. Hams were required to radio in from the sign and then were given instructions on how to find a code word hidden on the sign to verify their location. For example, when a ham called in, he might be told to find the seventh word in the third paragraph and relay it to net control. There was a different code word for each ham.
Locations were chosen such that hams needed to plan their route strategy — ideally before leaving the starting point. Hams also needed to have their GPS devices working. At the start point, participants’ odometer readings were recorded. Directions included a safety warning about bison and elk on the road, and bad driving conditions due to snow. Hams were reminded to obey speed limits and modify speeds as necessary for safety.
All were off at 09:00 on their quests. Hams were required to be back at the starting point at 11:30. A prize was awarded to the ham who visited the most locations with the least mileage on his vehicle’s odometer. The winners: First place, Doug MacCartney, K7GRZ; second place, Reve Carberry, KX4LZ. Jim Halfpenny, K9YNP, served as Net Control Station. — Jim Halfpenny, K9YNP, ARRL Public Information Coordinator, and Emergency Coordinator, Park County ARES, Montana
Duval County (Jacksonville, Florida) ARES Winter Field Day Educates Visitors
Thirty-one hams and community members visited the Hogan Baptist Church ball fields and picnic area in Jacksonville, Florida, to operate radios, educate visitors on amateur radio, view antenna displays, and for the operators, complete ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book training objectives. The Duval County ARES group’s 2021 Winter Field Day event was held outdoors with four amateur radio stations set up around the ball fields and pavilion providing phone, FT8, Winlink, satellite and JS8Call communications.
Several Duval ARES members tested new antenna designs with satisfactory performance. A Yaesu FT-817 QRP station and a Yaesu FT-991A 100 watt station were powered completely by solar power.
Several position task book training objectives were approved/recorded, marking significant progress towards getting members fully qualified. [See article on the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book below]. — Brian Schultheis, K4BJS, Assistant DEC, Crown District Assistant EC, Duval County, ARRL Northern Florida Section
MARS Announces Schedule of Dates for 60-Meter Interoperability
The Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) has announced dates in 2021 during which MARS members will operate on 60 meters or interoperability with the amateur radio community. Some dates coincide with quarterly Department of Defense Communications Exercises (COMEX). All exercises will begin on channel 1 as the initial calling channel and move to other 60-meter working channels as may be appropriate.
“In addition to voice calls, I want to introduce passing ICS-213 messages in both voice and digital modes to enhance the overall interop experience,” said US Army MARS Chief Paul English, WD8DBY. “Our exercises will yield the frequencies to other scheduled exercises or mission activations, which may be called by other agencies for interop support (e.g., hurricane, wildfire, etc). We regularly instruct MARS members to work cooperatively with the amateur radio community during the use of the 60-meter interop channels. We will continue to track our 60-meter usage and activities. English said he plans to provide a quarterly usage report of 60-meter interoperability activities.
Letters: A HamWAN and Red Cross Drill Connection
Combining the technology described in the article Upgrade Your Emergency Data Communications Toolkit with HamWAN [December 2020 QST] with the Red Cross drills discussed in Major Drills Demonstrate Evolving Partnerships with Red Cross and USGS [February 2021 QST] seemed like the logical thing to do. So, in mid-January I moved my Winlink setup (PAT client on a Linux computer) from UHF to SHF and participated in the Red Cross Winlink practice session on January 28th. My Winlink messages now leave my home on a 5.9 GHz radio connected to a HamWAN node, and then travel by amateur service microwave frequencies for 181 miles to Seattle for handoff to the internet. My SHF client connection typically runs around 14.4 Mbps, which is significantly faster than connecting to the 9600 baud Radio Mail Server (RMS) on UHF. — Steve Aberle, ARRL Official Emergency Station, Washington [HamWAN is a non-profit organization (501c3) developing best practices for high speed amateur radio data networks. HamWAN also runs the Puget Sound (Washington State) Data Ring, which is a real-world network implementation of the proposed designs. The system is described on the group’s website as a modern, multi-megabit, IP-based, digital network for amateur radio use. – Ed.]
Note Your Successful Training Completions in the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book
Published by ARRL, the ARES Emergency Communicator Individual Task Book is a working document that enables those ARES communicators in the ARRL-approved training plan to track and document their training plan elements as they are completed towards the various levels of increasing proficiency. The Task Book should contain all training plan items, completion dates and sign-offs as the ARES communicator transitions through the three skill levels. The communicator is responsible for maintaining his/her Task Book and having it with him/her during training and assignments. The Task Book also contains sections with definitions of the communicator levels, as well as common responsibilities.
Since the Task Book is personal to each ARES Communicator, each user should feel free to adapt it to their needs and requirements of their geographical region.
Recommendations of minimum proficiencies and skills per level are listed. ECs, at their discretion, can add or substitute skills that they consider important. Prior known experience may be substituted for some listed tasks. It is suggested that items in the proficiency/skills section be used in training sessions or for meetings/events presentations. [See, for example, the story above on the Duval County (Jacksonville), Florida Winter Field Day – Ed.]
The approving EC should meet/exceed the qualifications for each level they are signing off on. At the end of this Task Book is a change log page that communicators should use to keep track of changes to the Task Book.
Skill Levels: Level 1 -â Entry level into ARES, includes skills learned when obtaining an Amateur Radio license; Level 2 -â Set of Skills desired by ARES obtained through coursework and training; Level 3 -â Increased skill set that initiates a pathway to leadership positions and assignments.
Responsibilities: Individual — Review and understand Task Book requirements; identify desired objectives/goals; satisfactorily demonstrate completion of tasks for each level; assure the evaluations are completed; maintain and keep the Task Book up to date; make Task Book available during assignments; submit completed Task Book to Section Management
Evaluator — Be knowledgeable and proficient in the tasks being evaluated and approved; meet with Communicator and evaluate past experience; current qualifications and desired objectives/goals; review tasks with Communicator; Document completion of tasks with Task Book sign-offs; complete the sign-off, comments and qualifying Section.
Download the ARES Emergency Communicator Task Book. There are two forms: fillable, and a Word document.
2021 “Whirlwind Boom” Exercise Planned for Next Month to Involve Amateurs from Southeastern US
March 19, 2021, 7 PM-9PM EST, is the date and time for the full scale, deployment exercise dubbed Whirlwind Boom, planned for 2 hours at multiple locations throughout northern Florida, The exercise will involve include participants from throughout the southeastern United States. Exercise play is open to a wide array of volunteers including traffic net volunteers, and volunteers participating in the 2021 Florida Baptist Disaster Relief (Jacksonville) on-site training. Other participants will include Florida state emergency management personnel, County staff and volunteers, ARES® communicators, SHARES personnel (federal, state, local, or volunteer), and any other interested amateur radio operators.
The exercise threat-hazard is an extreme weather event complicated by human terrorist effort, resulting in infrastructure failure of multiple types leading to communications failures and risk to population.The scenario is multiple tornadoes damaging a swath across the peninsular state of “Roflida” from one coast to the other as a result of a fast moving cold front with large numbers of displaced persons seeking shelter. The scenario involves widespread power and communications systems outages. The scenario’s second event is a massive explosion near an “NT&T” central switching site in “Johnsonville, Roflida,” leading to massive loss of public switched telephone system performance and damage to the “SuperNet” emergency-response cell-phone based emergency communications system.
Core capabilities are Mass Care Services and Operational Communications. Exercise objectives to be met include antenna deployment; emergency power usage; communications planning; voice communications; establishment of a Command Net; handling formal Status Reports; tactical communications; Survivor Messages handling; data communications; writing Status Reports; handling Resource Requests; efficient Response Times; promoting interoperability; and Volunteer management.
Exercise sponsors include the Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, Communications & Technology Ministry. Participating organizations include Alachua County (Gainesville) Emergency Managemen, ARRL Northern Florida Section ARES®; and multiple county ARES® organizations including groups from Alachua, Santa Rosa and Flagler counties, among others. Also participating is the SHARES (Southeast) organization — SHAred RESources (SHARES) High Frequency (HF) Radio program. For more information, Point of Contact.
K1CE for a Final: Solar Cycle 25 Implications
Dave Davis, WA4WES, Net Manager for the ARRL Northern Florida Section ARES net, which meets daily on 3950 kHz, reported that HF conditions in recent years have been a problem for the net: “By 1000 hours 80 meters has shut down, and will not open again until late afternoon,” adding, “when that happens we try 40 meters, which can be useful. In an emergency, net control stations will use propagation charts to find the best frequencies. Net managers have been exploring use of digital modes, especially weak signal-capable Winlink. Net members are also exploring the use of CW, which can work given programs that will read the Morse code.”
There may be help for HF public service nets like Dave’s, coming from Solar Cycle 25. With the solar minimum behind us roughly two years ago, the net and other HF voice ARES and public service nets may get a boost from new Solar Cycle 25, bringing better conditions on the low bands. The zenith of sunspots in Solar Cycle 25 is predicted for 2025.
It’s time to renew support for, and activity on, the low band ARES and public service nets.
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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