Here’s the latest Amateur Radio News compiled by “The ARES Letter”, 16 March 2022.
Views expressed in this Amateur/Ham Radio update are those of the reporters and correspondents.
Accessed on 16 March 2022, 2018 UTC.
Content provided by HQ ARRL, Newington, CT, 06111.
Editor: Rick Palm (K1CE).
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March 16, 2022
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE
ARES® Briefs, Links
Over the weekend of February 19-20, 2022, San Diego (California) ARES joined with local Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) and other AUXCOMM groups to participate in the quarterly Military Auxiliary Radio Service (MARS) national exercise, which tested interoperability across amateur and AUXCOMM services. During the 2-day exercise, San Diego amateurs used the 60-meter band and other amateur frequencies to send simulated reports of critical infrastructure damage to local MARS station AAM9S/W6RDF located at Naval Base Point Loma, which, in turn, forwarded the reports to Department of Defense (DoD) contacts.
At the commencement of the exercise, MARS initially reached out to the amateur community requesting damage reports on 60-meter Channel 1, which was followed by change of frequencies to other bands to test connectivity. The exercise introduced hams to a variety of MARS forms, including the MARS SWEAT-MSO infrastructure report — SWEAT-MSO is a memory aid referring to infrastructure categories in an assessment. — Dave Kaltenborn, N8KBC, Section Manager, ARRL San Diego Section
On February 18, at 0100 UTC (the evening of Thursday, February 17, in North American time zones), the US Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM) hosted a Zoom call to discuss amateur radio and AUXCOMM support to the US Department of Defense. During this presentation, the NETCOM representative discussed: the authorities for these operations; upcoming DOD exercise opportunities for 2022, where outreach to the amateur radio/AUXCOMM community will be a primary training objective; use of the five 60-meter channels; and the concept for the types of amateur/AUXCOMM outreach. There was an opportunity for Q&A throughout the presentation.
Slides from the February 17 US Department of Defense NETCOM Amateur Radio Zoominar can be reviewed on YouTube.
The 5 MHz Newsletter Celebrates its 10th Birthday — The latest edition of The 5 MHz Newsletter (No. 28 Autumn/Winter 2022) – its 10th anniversary issue — is available for free pdf download from the External Links section of the Wikipedia 60m Band page and the RSGB 5 MHz page. This edition includes 5 MHz news from six countries, Malaysia Emcomm Response, 10 Years of The 5 MHz Newsletter, Exercise Blue Ham 22 – 1, World of 5 MHz Autumn-Winter 2022 and the Wiki 60-meter band page. — Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, Editor, The 5 MHz Newsletter
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) ESF #2 [Communications Emergency Support Function] Emergency Response Operations Branch Training and Exercise Section hosts an annual spring training workshop to promote the interagency coordination and communication with federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government agencies/organizations and private sector communication and infrastructure partners. The dates for this year are March 28-April 1. This year, the State of North Carolina Department of Public Safety Office of Emergency Management and New Hanover County Office of Emergency Management are co-hosts.
The workshop will provide an overview of ESF #2 roles and responsibilities during disaster response and recovery operations, as well as cybersecurity and infrastructure issues across all levels of government. Topics on this year’s agenda include: Hurricane Ida Lessons Learned; DIRS 101; Review of Cyber Threats and the Geo-Political Landscape; Nashville Bombing AAR Follow Up; ESF #2 Annex Updates; ESF #2 Deployment Teams: How NC Manages COMMs Issues in the Field; IPAWS 101; NC Joint Cyber Task Force Update; ESF #14 Updates and Information; How Severe Weather Impacts ESF #2 Operations; and Power Sector on Disaster Operations in the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Training will be delivered virtually through HSIN Adobe Connect. The link for the workshop will be emailed to registants prior to the event at the email address used for registration.This workshop is not open to the public, and those wishing to participate must register in advance to receive the event link.
FEMA offers Exercise Assistance through the National Exercise Program — The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is accepting requests for exercise support through the National Exercise Program. State, local, tribal, and territorial partners can request no-cost assistance for exercise design, development, conduct and evaluation to validate capabilities across all mission areas. FEMA is hosting webinars for all interested government and other community partners on the exercise support process. Spring 2022 requests for support are due no later than April 1. To submit a request for exercise support, follow the instructions and email the completed form with supporting documentation to NEP@fema.dhs.gov.
IWCE Expo, March 21 – 24, 2022 –This year’s comprehensive conference program will focus on industry trends, executive discussions, regulatory reviews, technical instruction, cybersecurity checks and other discussions in various formats from informal roundtables to in-depth training classes. With 12 tracks, IWCE 2022 will cover all the major industry progressions as the technology changes every day. From updates to push-to-talk technologies, to in-building wireless, to smart and safe cities, the program offers plenty of opportunities to expand knowledge and discover emerging technologies in critical communications.
The State of Illinois has produced the Illinois Interoperability Field Operations Guide (IIFOG), which contains a good amount of information on the amateur radio service as an interoperability resource. – Thanks, Duane Mariotti, WB9RER, Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN)
Santa Cruz ARES Runs Another Successful S.A.F.E. Event
Santa Cruz (California) area ARES organizers ran their fourth SAFE (Scavenge Around Field Exercise) on January 9, 2022. Designed in the early days of the pandemic with social distancing in mind, this event allowed participants to get outdoors and communicate with a multi-location incident command team while honing their emergency radio skills.
The first three SAFE events were run in 2020 and early 2021. Any local licensed radio operators interested in emergency preparedness were invited to participate. At event start time, participants checked in to a resource net. Once checked in they were directed to one of two tactical nets to receive a series of assignments to drive to locations and report specific information about them. The observation questions were simple, such as, “what color is the welcome sign at this particular address,” and the assessment could be done without leaving the vehicle. Upon completion of their assignments, participants returned to the resource net to demobilize, drove home, and contacted the resource net one more time to report safe arrival. A few field operators’ locations were tracked through APRS, bringing a new dimension to the event. This aspect of the exercise will be covered next time, as more participants will learn this technology in the coming year.
Preparation for SAFE IV was started in the fall of 2021. After Santa Cruz ARES members expressed interest in repeating the exercise, Santa Cruz County DEC John Gerhardt, N6QX, recruited volunteers to form a core organizing committee that met online and exchanged emails. Many of the materials were already created in previous events and kept in a shared Google Drive folder: ICS (Incident Command System) Forms 202, 205, 214 for instruction and reporting, vetted participant assignments, scripts, radio protocol pointers, and the all-important Exercise Location and Tracking Sheet. This shared Google spreadsheet was created by JoMarie Faulkerson, KM6URE, to be the “whiteboard” of central operations, displaying the progress of every participant to the core team in their virtual incident command center. Entries made by any team scribe (spreadsheet editor) would be displayed instantly.
There were a dozen planners involved, but the core Incident Command team during the event involved six people. Alex Hays, AJ6QY, and John Kienitz, NS6K, ran the resource net on the WB6ECE 70 cm repeater.
The resource net opened the exercise, checked in radio operators, and directed them to the tactical nets for assignments. At the close of the exercise, they received check-outs and home-safe communications. Bill Tyler, AJ6CQ, and Stephen Betita, KM6NEP, ran Tactical Net A on the K6BJ/KJ6FFP repeater. Bruce Hull, KN6DBR, and JoMarie Faulkerson, KM6URE, ran Tactical Net B on the WR6AOK repeater.Tactical nets fielded subsequent communications with radio operators, gave and tracked assignments, received and logged reports, transmitted periodic reminders, and solicited wellness reports. Each net partnership consisted of a radio operator and a scribe. It was up to each team as to whether the players stayed in assigned roles or switched roles part way through the exercise. All three teams opted to take turns for a more rounded experience. DEC Gerhardt was present as observer and advisor during the operation, while Allison Hershey, KM6RMN, observed and took notes.
Several features of the event would seem counter to good planning. But in this case, net control operators were being trained to set up emergency nets and field all the problems that might occur in an emergency situation and circumstances. So, there was no prior registration for field participants. (Net traffic and operators being unpredictable in a disruptive event.) Also, any amateur radio operators, not just ARES members, were allowed to take part, simulating the untrained operators rushing to their radios during an emergency.
Field participants were instructed to check in as soon as they could sense an opening at start time. (Net control operators needed to sort out pileups as efficiently as possible.) The secondary tactical nets were not assigned, but chosen at the field operator’s discretion, risking crowding on one channel and inactivity on the other. (A one-off experiment to see how the distribution would fall.)
The event was highly organized in other ways, with scripts and instructions honed over the last 2 years. All field assignments were grouped by general location, codified, numbered, had reference photographs, and were easily accessed by the team online. The Exercise Location and Tracking Sheet (a Google spreadsheet refined over several exercises) was technically in two sections: one side filled out by the resource net team, the other by the tactical net teams. Yet its information was instantly available to everyone on the command team. It was constructed in such a way as to require all participant field operators to check-in through the proper channels before they could receive an assignment. Standard ICS forms were also used so that all participants would gain experience in gathering and disseminating information in a way most useful to emergency services.
Check-in time was 1:00 PM.Twenty minutes prior to check-in, the net operators connected from their homes via Zoom in their virtual command center. Exercise frequencies were monitored on home radios.
Though an operator’s Zoom mic was muted during transmissions, Gerhardt and the net control operators talked freely between transmissions to correct or instruct as the exercise went on. They practiced using clear language conventions learned in ARES meetings and nets, such as phonetic spelling of names when requested, careful parsing of numbers, keeping messages brief, and using efficient call and response methods with field operators.
The expected pileup was sorted out in the first 20 or 30 minutes, but straggling check-ins continued to the end of the first hour of the two-hour event. Field operations went fairly smoothly, with a few minor mishaps in execution as expected. After all, it was a training exercise. Eighteen participants checked in, completed tasks, and checked out. Almost all of them remembered to notify the resource net when they arrived home safely, an improvement over previous SAFE events.
The core team learned a few lessons as well. One was that allowing participants to pick their own tactical net without guidance caused extremely lopsided distribution. Net controls on K6BJ fielded most of the calls, while those on WB6AOK had very few. This was due to participants being more confident in one repeater than the other, as well as some reception issues in the area’s mountainous terrain.
There were a few cases of perceptual disconnect between apparent map distances and travel time. Tactical net controls had been instructed to make a participant’s later assignments close to their initial ones to reduce driving distances. But some locations that appeared close together were difficult to traverse — the maps did not show uncrossable canyons and gated roads.There was also an APRS issue during the exercise.
The biggest learning opportunity occurred when two radio operators checked in separately while riding in the same vehicle. The tactical net control operator didn’t realize this and gave them separate assignments far apart. Not immediately informed of the issue, the command team experienced some confusion about the companion’s whereabouts until one net control operator recognized the two were connected. This was discussed afterwards, and suggestions taken how to prevent this kind of misunderstanding in the future.
Two problems they prepared for didn’t happen.The net operators kept paper versions of all forms and a hard copy of the Exercise Location and Tracking Sheet, instructed to “use them as best they could” if internet connections were interrupted. In an emergency event, lack of internet access would be a real possibility. Similarly, if a repeater went down, operators were instructed to move to one of the other repeaters and carry on. Neither glitch occurred, which Gerhardt seemed to find mildly disappointing–a lost learning opportunity.
Was the exercise a success? Yes. Was it fun? Yeah! Those in the field enjoyed their adventures exploring Santa Cruz County. Net control operators were pleased to master a few more radio wrangling skills. Organizers improved their lesson plans and added another feather to their collective cap. It looks like SAFE will be a regular event going forward, even as pandemic restrictions ease. [The author is Santa Cruz County, California Public Information Officer and Assistant Emergency Coordinator]
Puerto Rico ARES, Radio Amateurs Take Part in 2022 Caribbean Tsunami Exercise
As they have done in past years, radio amateurs in Puerto Rico took part in the Caribe Wave tsunami exercise, conducted this year on March 10. Caribe Wave is the annual tsunami exercise of the UNESCO Tsunami and Other Coastal Hazards Warning System for the Caribbean and Adjacent Regions (CARIBE-EWS). Its major objective is for countries, emergency managers, and communities at risk to test, validate, and update their tsunami response plans.
In Puerto Rico, Caribe Wave is conducted in coordination with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (Red Sísmica de Puerto Rico — PRSN), UNESCO, NOAA, and the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau (PREMB). This year’s scenario was an 8.0 magnitude earthquake, with an epicenter at the Western Muertos Trough south of the Dominican Republic, generating a tsunami incident for the entire Caribbean. Exercise information can be found on the Tsunami Zone website.
During a Zoom meeting the day before the event, Section Emergency Coordinator William Planas, NP3WP, with PRSN Director Victor Huerfano, WP4VH, and others, devised a plan that included using various radio systems, first creating a message in Radiogram form and then converting it to IC-213 format for use with the other radio services to be disseminated.
Planas planned with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network and ARES Zone 5 Emergency Coordinators to pass the messages sent from the PRSN via Winlink on HF and to GMRS systems of various Municipal Emergency Management Agencies of the Zone. Later, it included sending the messages to US Army MARS and the National Guard via Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). They were also sent on 40 meters so other EC’s around the island could receive and process the messages.
The special activation was started via the WP4CPV repeater with Frank Torres, WP4QNQ, as Net Controller, and Maria Torres, WP4QZM, Juan Lugo, NP4QF, and Alberto Lopez, NP3AL, serving the PRSN as backup. Calls for welfare and emergency traffic were made, and other
stations signed in. Radiograms were read and ready to be sent via Winlink. All activity was logged on an IC-214 form. Messages were sent and received island wide up to the island of Vieques. Some messages were also sent via an AREDN Mesh Post Office RF connection.
Other participants included Emmanuel Cruz, NP4D, Section Traffic Manager and ECs Hector Morales, NP3IR, and Alberic Medina, NP3MR. Later that night, the monthly ARRL Puerto Rico Section Net was held, and a summary of the exercise was delivered by SEC Planas.
The exercise commenced at precisely 10:07 AM on March 10 with an Emergency Alert System (EAS) activation over radio and television media on the island and with cellular companies sending severe alert messages, all with caveats that this was a test. Sirens were tested in all of Puerto Rico’s coastal cities and towns. Many government and community administrations co-conducted evacuation drills in public schools and housing projects.
The Federación de Radio Aficionados de Puerto Rico (FRA) conducted a special VHF/UHF net to collect information from amateur stations on how they received the alert, and conveyed a special electronic certificate of participation. — Angel Santana, WP3GW, ARRL Puerto Rico Section Public Information Coordinator
Southeast Amateurs Support South Carolina’s Sandblast Rally
The 2022 Sandblast Rally wrapped up with much amateur radio support for the March 5 event. Held outside of Cheraw, South Carolina, with the central rally point of Patrick, many ham operators were there to help provide coverage of the large area of off-road rally courses in the sandhills of the state. Nine stages of the rally are spread out across roughly 50 square miles, sharing three linked repeaters on the PALSNET (Palmetto Amateur Linked System NET) to help cover the area of the Sandhills State Forest. Leaders of the totally forested rally used ham operators from around the state, with others traveling from outside the state, to be able to connect the rally courses to the central Net Control in Patrick.
Mary Hunt, N4MH, and husband Tom, KA3VVJ, served as the net control operators for the day, keeping order among the 55 amateur radio operators who volunteered 12-hours for this event. Hams provided the necessary safety functions including blocking roads and limiting access to the rally course, monitoring any safety concerns with the track, keeping up with rally cars and motorcycles as they passed, and ensuring spectators were safely out of the way while enjoying the event.
It all started with two pre-race online meetings earlier in the week. The first was for just radio operators and the second was for all volunteers including radio operators. On Friday, March 4, the volunteers signed in and confirmed their involvement. Saturday morning started early, with report time for the caravan out to the course at 6:20 AM. Once there, the operator set up a roadblock to ensure no one passed to get on the course. The operator held their spot until released by net control or the Rally Officials released the course back to public use.
The York County Amateur Radio Society (YCARS) provided eight hams to support Sandblast. They met the night before, and discussed the plans for those who were new to the rally. The group was excited and ready for Saturday morning.
This year’s rally was full of exciting moments. One of the course cars — the “Zero” Car that makes a pre-run of the track before racers — wrecked and rolled on to its top. All were okay, and the Heavy Sweep truck was able to come to get it off the course before that stage got started. A competitor’s car caught fire on a different stage, causing some excitement for the team, the rally sponsors, and the other competitors trying to get past it.The car was a total loss, but the driver and navigator got out safely and were okay.
Without the hams communicating in this remote area with limited (or no) cell service at given points, it would have made this event nearly impossible to operate. The radio amateurs were able to assist the rally sponsors in bringing off an event that was safe and fun for all. The experience gleaned from being part of the event left the hams with a better understanding of the complexity of a race logistics. On a social level, old friends reunited and new friends were made, enjoying the fun of watching a live race. Racers passed the ham operators at speeds up to 80 MPH. — E. Gordon Mooneyhan, W4EGM, Public Information Coordinator, ARRL South Carolina Section; photo by Steve Czaikowski, W3SPC
Emergency Communications Trailers Aren’t Just for Emergencies
In 2021, the Rural Radio Preparedness Association, an ARRL affiliated club and sponsoring organization of Santa Rosa County (Florida) ARES, was donated funds to purchase a cargo trailer for use in emergency communications. Several members of the ARES team donated time and money to outfit the trailer.
In addition to emergency communications, one of the main goals was to use the trailer for public education of amateur radio and on February 18-20, operators had that opportunity at Pensacon. Founded in 2013, Pensacon is the premiere comic book and pop culture convention serving Pensacola and the Gulf Coast.The event draws 10,000 or more people each year with guests lining up for hours for a chance to meet their favorite writer or celebrity.
Recently the ARES group was donated a 50′ pneumatic mast that was installed on the trailer to get height for antennas. Operators attached a dual-band J-pole antenna as well as a 60′ end-fed long-wire antenna for HF operations. Inside the trailer is an Icom IC-7100 transceiver connected to a laptop. Over the course of the 3-day event, operators had the opportunity to show visitors how email can be sent without a local internet connection by utilizing Winlink.Visitors were amazed that this capability existed, and many were interested in learning more.
Setting up at conventions, festivals, and other events is a great way to help promote amateur radio in your community as an avocation and for emergency communications. If your club or ARES team has resources available, reach out to event organizers to see if you could set up a booth or your team’s communications trailer. Most events allow volunteer organizations to set up for free. While you’re at it, see if their event could benefit from volunteer communicators. Before committing, be sure that you have enough volunteers to support the event.
The easiest way to find opportunities is to get in touch with your local area chamber of commerce. Many chambers have event calendars and some even have monthly meetings you can attend to connect with organizations having events. Not only is this a great way to connect with other local organizations but it also might connect you with opportunities to help other served agencies in your area. — Arc J. Thames, W4CPD, ARRL Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator
Letters: Clubs Need to Work Together
Several area radio clubs are small and lack critical mass to adequately do much more than their ARES-related tasks, which many of them accomplish in a role-model way. One club president noted that the clubs need to work together for larger activities and so a channel for dialogue was created to foster communications about activities, projects and questions. Also, there are many active area hams that are looking for avenues of dialogue even though they are not members of any club. Bringing them into the information loop can be good for all concerned.
groups.io/g/GGAR is the Gulf Gateway Amateur Radio channel for communication about amateur radio. Clubs and individuals everywhere are welcome to participate. The group would gladly add others as moderators. — Gordon Beattie, W2TTT, Live Oak, Florida
Passages: Kyle Pugh, KA7CSP, Section Manager and Friend; Joe Ames, W3JY, Section Manager and ARES/RACES/NTS Leader
Kyle Pugh, KA7CSP, my friend, and former ARRL Eastern Washington Section Manager from Spokane, passed away February 13. Kyle was SM for the 11 years prior to me assuming the job. He continued to be active and involved in amateur radio right up to the end. RIP Kyle, you will be missed. – Mark Tharp, KB7HDX, ARRL Northwestern Division Vice Director
Former ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section Manager Joseph A. “Joe”
A ham since 1977, Ames devoted many years to amateur radio public
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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.
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