Here’s the latest edition of “The ARES Letter” from HQ ARRL.
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio News summary are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Content supplied by HQ ARRL, Newington, CT, 06111.
Accessed on 21 April 2021, 1256 UTC, Post 1992.
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April 21, 2021
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs and Links
Radio amateurs were invited to take part in a MARS exercise on 60 meters earlier this month in support of the US Department of Defense. The five USB channelized 60-meter frequencies are available for interoperability (communication between services). By convention, Channel 1 is designated the calling channel. This convention is established to train the amateur radio community to reach out on Channel 1 in times of national emergency, for information from the federal government. The amateur radio community uses 60 meters on a secondary basis with federal agencies. This and similar 60-meter interoperability exercises are conducted during the first full week of each month. More information here. – ARRL News
Check out the New England ARES Academy channel on YouTube for a series of excellent training videos.
Comm Academy 2021 Live Event Held April 10-11 A Success — Comm Academy 2021 has been archived and is available as a YouTube playlist on the Comm Academy YouTube Channel. Subscribe to stay up to date on extra content, and future videos. In addition, all session slides and supporting material will be available shortly on the academy’s Archives Page. You can browse the archives of previous Comm Academy events there also. Continue the conversation year round in the Cascadia Radio Shack. Organizers thanked attendees: “Thank you to all of our attendees! We have had an amazing turnout and we couldn’t be happier with how the event went.”
National Hurricane Conference Slated for June in New Orleans; Amateur Radio Workshop to be held Virtually
June 14 – 17 are the dates for the 2021 National Hurricane Conference. The event will be held at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, New Orleans, Louisiana. According to organizers, “the primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific. In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management.”
Amateur Radio Session Scheduled for Tuesday Afternoon
The traditional Amateur Radio Workshop scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, June 16, from 1:30 to 5 PM will be held virtually, moderated by Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations, VoIP Hurricane Net, and will include Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant Coordinator of the National Hurricane Center’s amateur radio station WX4NHC. In 1979, the Miami Amateur Radio Public Service Corps recognized Julio for his volunteer work for the EOC and Red Cross during Hurricane David, and recommended him as the first coordinator of the National Hurricane Center station for a 2-year appointment. Forty years later, Ripoll continues as Assistant Coordinator.
Macedo has served as Emergency Coordinator (EC), DEC, and SEC for the ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section. He focuses on the National Weather Service and the SKYWARN program and the relationship between Eastern Massachusetts ARES and the Massachusetts EMA and FEMA. Macedo is the current SEC and has served as SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Boston/Norton (formerly Taunton) since 1996.
National Hurricane Center’s WX4NHC Station Test is May 29
The WX4NHC Annual Station On-the-air Test will be held on Saturday, May 29, from 9 AM to 5 PM PM EST (1300Z-2100Z). A formal announcement will be made soon. This hurricane season, WX4NHC operators plan to be working remotely again. The National Hurricane Center is planning to maintain all CDC pandemic protocols until the end of 2021. The National Hurricane Center is allowing only the main meteorologist and staff to enter the building.
WX4NHC Assistant Coordinator Julio Ripoll, WD4R, said, “Last year’s season was an incredibly busy one, but the remote WX4NHC operations were successful, collecting many important reports via the Hurricane Watch Net, VoIP Hurricane Net, Winlink, the online hurricane report form as well as many other means and modes.” Ripoll offered his group’s thanks to all who helped collect, send, and relay hurricane surface reports.
Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 9-15, 2021
Be ready for hurricane season. Determine your personal hurricane risk, find out if you live in a hurricane evacuation zone, and review/update insurance policies. Make a list of items to replenish hurricane emergency supplies and plan how you will prepare your home. If you live in hurricane-prone areas, you are encouraged to complete these simple preparations before hurricane season begins on June 1. Adjust any preparedness actions based on the latest health and safety guidelines from the CDC and local health officials.
Now is the time to harden and prepare your station for power outages: have multiple sources of backup power including batteries and gas-powered generators. Test them now. Ensure your ability to take down and put back up antennas quickly and efficiently when storms threaten your area.
Hurricane Season 2021: Nets to Know
Caribbean Emergency Weather Net – Meets daily at 1030Z and 2230Z on 3815 kHz.
Hurricane Watch Net — 14.325 MHz, 7.268 MHz — Activated whenever a hurricane is within 300 nautical miles of expected landfall. Disseminates storm information and relays meterological data to National Hurricane Center via embedded NHC station WX4NHC. Also relays post-storm damage reports and other relevant information.
Intercontinental Net operates from 7 AM to noon US Eastern Time on 14.300 MHz, providing a means of emergency communications to any location where normal communications are disrupted.
Marine Maritime Services Net — 14.300 MHz — The network acts as a weather beacon for ships during periods of severe weather and regularly repeats high seas and tropical weather warnings and bulletins from the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) — 14.260 MHz — The purpose of the SATERN net is to support the Salvation Army operations in local, regional and international disaster situations. – ARRL US Virgin Islands Section News
Florida Emergency Communications Exercise Combines Hams, Agencies, State, and NGOs
“Whirlwind Boom,” a 2-hour emergency communications exercise held on March 19 in Florida, was deemed “wildly successful,” while resulting in 21 specific suggestions for improvement of issues recognized. Sponsored by Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, a non-governmental (NGO) “served organization,” the exercise simulated a combined disaster of multiple tornadoes crossing north central Florida, closely followed by a terrorist attack on telecommunications, which took down large chunks of internet and telephone service.
Pop-up situations, called “injects” by event planners, simulated instant situations and hinted at even larger attacks designed to create possible rumor issues. Multiple counties arranged for volunteers to help with the simulation, working in shelters and transmitting status reports of individualized disaster scenarios to county emergency operations centers (EOCs). Volunteers directed by actual or simulated EOC officials aggregated situational awareness reports and formulated status and resource request messages, sent by voice or digital mode to a volunteer from the actual Florida agency that handles disaster communications. Appropriate responses were sent back by radio.
The exercise picked up additional support from multiple out-of-state volunteers, who relayed traffic from voice to email and vice versa. Amateur radio also conveyed simulated outbound welfare messages from survivors in stricken cities and counties.
All told, 431 messages were passed, including 53 to the state and 31 replies. Messages were passed using digital email or radiogram.
Two of the seven exercise goals addressed interoperability between agencies and volunteers. Agency emergency management and communications groups participating included Florida Division of Emergency Management, Florida Baptist Disaster Relief, the federal SHARES Southeast Regional Net, Alachua, Columbia, Flagler, Madison, and Taylor Counties, as well as Homestead City.
Volunteer communications groups included the Northern Florida ARES Net, Northern Florida Phone Net, North Florida Phone Traffic Net, and the counties’ ARES groups.
Multiple county emergency managers injected their own specific plans and overlay exercises, as provided by the open-exercise design. Ross Merlin, WA2WDT, director of the federal SHARES program, arranged for a 60-meter interoperability channel to be made available, and leaders from the SHARES Southeast Regional Net provided coverage that resulted in formal message transfer. Florida net trainer Dave Davis, WA4WES, rounded up volunteers to staff multiple voice nets, and he supervised a PSK31 net. Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Karl Martin, K4HBN, also took part.
Exercise planning was carried out as much as possible in accordance with DHS Homeland Security Exercise Evaluation Program (HSEEP) protocols.
Post-exercise feedback — both through a 1-hour Zoom “hotwash” session and an anonymous feedback form — were very positive and also suggested possible improvements. All are included in the detailed and candid After-Action Report/Improvement Plan. – Whirlwind Boom press release
May 8 is World Red Cross Day: Participate in Nationwide Spring Drill
The Red Cross Emergency Communication Training Group is holding its nationwide Spring Drill on World Red Cross Day, May 8. Individuals are invited to participate.
In February 2020, an organizing phone call was held with a dozen Red Cross-affiliated radio amateurs to consider creating a nationwide radio drill. By May, the group had more than 100 people on the team calls, and more than 1,000 participated in that first Spring Drill. Synthesizing lessons-learned from the first event, the managing group simplified and narrowed the focus for a Fall Drill last November, choosing to concentrate on Winlink involvement.
Red Cross forms are built in as templates in Winlink Express, and hams using Winlink can also send messages to non-hams. The group’s goal for the Fall Drill was to attract as many hams as possible using Winlink at a basic level. Over 1700 participated from over 40 states and a few foreign countries.
For next month’s Spring ’21 Drill, the goal is the same, but now the bar will be raised in Winlink Proficiency, and, being World Red Cross Day, more international participation will be solicited. The group has been holding regular Winlink training sessions, with the last one occurring April 8. Winlink Thursdays have been attracting over 500 participants. – ARC Emergency Communications Training Group
ARRL Section ARES News
Western Massachusetts Section
Western Massachusetts ARES is planning a Section-wide Simulated Emergency Test (SET) early next month. Leaders are looking for volunteers with HF station capabilities across several bands to enable an inter-county relay system in the event of a major disaster. Localized preparation drills will be conducted prior to the formal SET. Volunteer operators with VHF simplex station capabilities will also develop a relay system based on these capabilities. – Bob Meneguzzo, K1YO, Western Massachusetts Section Emergency Coordinator
Santa Clara Valley Section
On Saturday, February 20, in California, the Half Moon Bay ARC and the Coastside CERT organization (sponsored by the Coastside Fire Protection District) conducted a successful test of 2-meter simplex (point-to-point) communication along a 10-mile stretch of the northern San Mateo County coast. The number of stations participating in this drill (37) roughly doubled from last year. Simplex frequencies are tactical channels under the Coastside Band Plan.
About half of this year’s participating stations employed external antennas (more than half were J-poles). After conducting last year’s simplex test, subsequent installation of these antennas greatly increased Coastside connectivity and signal strength. Based on this year’s results, the group intends to repeat this strategy for the benefit of the area’s rapidly growing group of new hams.
Like many California coastal areas, the north San Mateo County coastside has many ridges and canyons, which results in “dead spots” for 2-meter simplex transmission and reception. One strategy for dealing with them was dispatching a mobile station with a strong (20 W-50 W) transceiver up to a high point along a ridgeline, which pulled out many otherwise inaudible signals. As a result, for future emergencies the club will dispatch a “highpoint relay” station and consider deploying a temporary mobile repeater.
The group used the California Amateur Radio Linking System (CARLA-32) repeater on nearby Montara Mountain to call the roll of participating stations, and then each station made a simplex transmission on 147.555 MHz to be evaluated and reported on. For more information, email N1HEL. – Paul Grigorieff, N1HEL, PIO, Half Moon Bay ARC, ARRL Santa Clara Valley Section News
West Central Florida
In February, Section Manager Mike Douglas, W4MDD, appointed Norman Xanders, WX4NEX, as Assistant Section Manager for liaison to the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Ruskin. Xanders is Assistant EC for Polk County and can be heard every week on the Polk County ARES and Information Net. Xanders has been a storm chaser for over 20 years in central Florida. He has served Polk County ARES as net control operator, Assistant Net Manager and Net Manager for the county’s ARES Net. Xanders also serves as a net control station for the National Weather Service SKYWARN Information Net. — WCF Presser, March/April, 2021 issue
The Ohio Section’s Buckeye Net was working in regular daily 60-meter operation on February 27 while MARS COMEX 21-1 was running. During call-up by Steve Judd, WB8YLO, government stations entered the net from the DOD MARS and DHS SHARES services and exchanged traffic, supported by amateur operators. ARRL Ohio Assistant Section Emergency Coordinator C. Matthew Curtin, KD8TTE, recorded the net to pick up audio clips for training, and made a video for demonstration of 60-meter interoperability and training for amateur operators working government stations. The Buckeye Net typically operates on 60-meters during National Traffic System Cycle Two because it provides the best quality path for stations from across the entire state. – Thanks, C. Matthew Curtin, KD8TTE, Assistant SEC, ARRL Ohio Section
Indiana Section Emergency Coordinator Jim Moehring, KB9WWM, reported on the great turnout for the March 16 Indiana Statewide Tornado Drill. Moehring was recently contacted by the State RACES group, which is reinvigorating the State Operations Center. The group will also be restarting the Statewide Net on HF and VHF/UHF in the near future. FEMA Region 5 contacted Moehring and has joined the group that is organizing the region’s communication recommendations. – Indiana Section News, Jim Moehring, KB9WWM , Indiana Section Emergency Coordinator
Northern Florida Section
On April 8, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the Tallahassee, Florida, Weather Forecast Office of the NWS requested activation of radio amateurs for a “major squall line that will sweep across the region” over the weekend. ARRL Northern Florida Section ARES Net Manager Dave Davis, WA4WES, promptly notified Emergency Coordinators and NWS Chat members of the activation and called for stations with weather reports — high winds, flooding, downed trees or power lines, etc., — to call in the reports on the Tallahassee Amateur Radio Society 147.03 MHz repeater. Pat Lightcap, K4NRD, EC for Madison County (east of Tallahassee) ARES, notified his ARES team members and monitored the SARNET and area repeaters, including 147.03 MHz.
ShakeAlert went live on March 11 – providing early warning of seismic events in Oregon. No sign up is required to receive ShakeAlert notifications, and no action needs to be taken other than enabling emergency alerts on cell phones. [The Cascadia Subduction Zone passes through Washington and Oregon, with major cities including Portland and Seattle potentially affected. Radio amateurs have been involved with Cascadia Rising, a multi-state effort involving agencies from the federal, state, local, tribal, international and private sectors in a set of exercises centering around a subduction zone earthquake and subsequent tsunamis. See Cascadia Rising 2016: Pacific Northwest Amateurs Called to Serve, September 2016 QST, pp. 65-68.]
North Texas Section
The ARRL North Texas Mentor Fest scheduled for April 24 will be held virtually. Seven presenters will cover diverse topics including Winlink by KF5PFP and Portable Emergency Communications by N5REG. It will be hosted on The ARRL NTX YouTube Channel.
K1CE for a Final: My April 8 Red Cross Winlink Thursday Experience
One of the goals for the April 8 Red Cross/ARES Winlink Thursday Drill was to send a message via Winlink to a Red Cross clearinghouse while operating on emergency power. I drafted the check-in/location with GPS coordinates/comments message as prescribed by the drill designers, and uploaded it to my Winlink Express outbox. I found an RMS station with a good (green) path reliability and quality estimate, and after a few tries, I was connected and sent my message to the ARCSOUTHEAST clearinghouse tactical call sign, with a copy to the mapping application email address. The channel had some congestion, perhaps busy with other drill participants trying to do the same thing: total bytes sent were 1,323, time it took to send it: 09:32, for a transfer rate of 139 bytes/minute. The signal-to-noise ratio was poor, in the red zone as indicated by my VARA HF dashboard, but my message transfer was successful.
The primary lesson learned for me was that my 12 V batteries (two in parallel) were not enough to power my transmitter at a reasonable RF output, which reportedly likes a nominal voltage of 13.7 V. I switched to my gasoline-powered generator and that did the trick. I will look into procuring a battery voltage booster.
Congratulations to the American Red Cross Emergency Communications Training group for another good exercise. See you next month for the May 8 nationwide drill, which is World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day 2021. – Rick Palm, K1CE
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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Aloha es 73 de Russell Roberts (KH6JRM)
Public Information Officer
Hawaii County, ARRL Pacific Section