ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-03-12

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Mar 17, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

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    An Emergency Net - the fishing kind!

    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments
    LCARES Meeting...
    - There is a need for some face time for the LCARES. I hate dragging people out of their homes to a meeting but there are times when it is just a necessary evil. I had hoped to have this set and going in March but events have overtaken me. The weekends have been busier than the weekdays lately. And it is church records auditing time again. So I have added the item to my to-do list. Since it is difficult for every one to make the same nights I plan to do this a bit differently. I will have one on a week night and one on a Saturday Afternoon. I plan to make it technical to the point where everyone gets to take something home from it. I am going to try to get K3TOW and his analyzer to come to the meetings to check out the radio equipment of the attending members. Topics will include on-the-air operations and installation of Fldigi on the attendees computers. I think the most important topic is that of establishing the alert method. Those two items need to be worked out and I hope to have them worked out quickly and get the available dates confirmed with the LCEMA EOC. Those are my intentions. Stay tuned to see if it works out.

    Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Phone and Traffic Net...
    - The EPAEPTN has been starting at 5:30PM because of propagation conditions on 75 meters. On March 12th with the beginning of Daylight Saving Time the EPAEPTN will return to its normal 6:00PM Eastern start time. EPAEPTN meets on 3917KHz for the purpose of passing traffic into, out of, and around the ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section. This net is the official EPA Section Net and is always looking for more members. New Hams are welcome as well as old Hams who are interested in trying traffic handling. It is a very low pressure net. So try it and you might just find out it is fun.

    New Traffic Net Forming in Northeast PA...
    - On March 20th a new traffic net will be opening for business. The Northeastern PA Regional Traffic Net will be held on the 146.880 (77.0) repeater on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7:00PM local time or 1900 hours for you military types. The repeater has a wide coverage area and it is hoped that the net will provide outlets for traffic that comes into Northeastern PA from the Section and Region Nets. It is a good opportunity for Technician Class licensees to dabble in the "art" of traffic handling. So listen on 146.880 (77.0) on March 20th at 7:00PM for the start of the new net. It could be something interesting.

    Myths that I have heard...
    - I hear a lot of funny things as I travel through the section. The latest one touched on a topic that I mentioned last week and that is the "red lights" and who can use them. The latest myth as I was informed of it is that if you are a member of RACES you can run a red light and siren on your car. I attempted to explain that in Pennsylvania that was definitely not the case and unless the Ham is a volunteer fireman the Ham cannot even have a "forward facing" blue light. I promised that I would send a copy of the particular parts of the rules and regs dealing with the subject to the fellow but he informed me that he would not believe it anyway. I just had to ask why and his response was "those law guys get the rules screwed up all the time." Just have to wonder.

    LCARES Challenge: Send the frequency of the new traffic to

    Nets Under Duress or Exactly What Do I Need to Say When Time is Short...
    - Empirical Data collected over my many years of being a Ham has confirmed the fact that we Hams love to talk. Yep, there is absolutely no disputing that fact and I would be willing to bet a two Abe's Hot Dogs on it. And we can expound on anything from the thickness of the asphalt on the Dallas Harvey's Lake Highway to the effectiveness of this year's Flu Vaccine to existence of Sasquatch in the woods of Pennsylvania. And we can do it ad infinitum paying only due respect to the 3 minute repeater time-out. And in case you are wondering I am sitting here and waving my hand in the air saying guilty as charged. Look when I visited Ireland I didn't only kiss the Stone Of Eloquence I bit off a chunk. Which is why I tend to be a bit verbose not only with my speech but my typing. It got all the way into my fingers.

    But my loquacious friends there is a time when brevity is really of the utmost importance.

    There will be times when a condition warrants the most efficient use of a frequency. Transferring only the most important information that is germane to the situation at hand is crucial. That important information cannot be transferred if the frequency is being occupied for information that is not germane to the situation. There is a time for enjoying the art of conversation but when there is a need for urgency then the art of conversation needs to be consigned to the back of the flaming stove for a the duration.

    Here is some advice for operating during those stressful times.

    1. Keep your transmissions brief and to the point - be succinct. This means that you say what you have to say accurately and quickly making sure that everything you say has some direct impact on the situation. This includes stating to the NCS on a resource net that you are available without adding a sermon on the conditions of your availability. When you are no longer available call the NCS and simply state that you are no longer available. No need to say why - it is not germane to the situation.
    2. Avoid making unnecessary transmissions. Push-to-talk only when you have something relevant to contribute to the net. This means that if the net is covering a specific area and cannot help in that area stay off the air. If you are not sure that what you have to say is significant wait until the net is free of activity and then call the NCS and offer the info quickly, accurately, and without any sermon. If it is needed the NCS will tell you otherwise you will be thanked and let you go.
    3. Speak clearly and distinctly using COMMON LANGUAGE appropriate to the net's purpose in order to avoid confusion or the need to re-transmit your message. This means no Q codes, no 10 codes, no jargon, just plain English.
    4. Answer questions directly and succinctly. Do NOT include unnecessary elaboration, details, or explanations. If such additional information is required then the NCS or other station will ask for it.
    5. If you have not been paying attention to the net for several minutes due to other duties then LISTEN for a few seconds before transmitting to insure that you are not interrupting an ongoing exchange. There may be times when there is an exchange going on that causes pauses for 30 seconds while one of the operators acquires an answer or more information.
    6. Avoid overusing FCC assigned call-signs and language not directly associated with the net, such as stating "clear" after the transmission. Identification needs only to be done at the end of the exchange. Stating your call is a good indication that you and the other station have completed your business on the frequency.
    7. Before keying your microphone to respond to a call pause for a second to allow someone with an higher priority or even an emergency to interject if needed. Don't consume air time on a non-stop basis. Allow for others with potentially important information to get it on the air.
    8. Stay alert. Keep your ear tuned to the radio no matter what is going on around you. Respond to any calls to your station quickly.
    There are 8 items to remember during a Net Under Duress operation. This net could be a resource net which is gathering operators for the incident, a tactical net for those working at the scene, or a traffic net moving messages. Under "normal" conditions talking is fine. When time is short and there are things happening then the time for talk becomes a seriously limited commodity. The net that you are assigned to may be quiet most of the time but that does mean you should tie it up with talk just because you have the need to press the mic button and talk. There are times when our hobby as we like to see it needs to be the service that it really is. The old warning about "loose lips sink ships" is modified for us as "loose lips steal time".

    FLDigi Signal Browser...
    - I sent this on a previous Tuesday Night Luzerne County ARES Digital Net. I think the net members found it interesting so I am repeating it here.

    When working with PSK-31 and RTTY you can use the FLDigi signal browser.

    There are two browsers in FLDigi than can accomplish the same thing.

    One is the floating browser. You can activate that by going to View on the Menu Bar and on the drop down select the Signal Browser. A window will open with the Signal Browser. It is floating so it takes up more desktop real estate.

    The other is an embedded browser that you can view by selecting the View/Hide Channels on the View option on the menu bar.

    You can configure the number of channels that the browser displays by using the Config option on the menu bar and select UI and then Browser. The embedded browser can only effectively display so many channels before you have to scroll it. The Floating Browser can handle as many as your desktop space permits.

    There is a “Find” field on both browsers. Keying text such as CQ into the Find field will cause the browser to highlight the line when it detects it.

    Warning to contesters – using the signal browser may put you in the “assisted” category. Be sure to check the rules before the contest.

    Lessons from Sherlock Holmes...
    - The mythical Consulting Detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle has long been a favorite of mine. I often wish I had an "orderly mind" like that Detective had in what is known to the "Baker Street Irregulars" as the Canon. Things get lost in my mind as often as change gets lost on a SEPTA bus. Just happens that way. But still and all I pride myself on still having a good memory for things. The other trait that I prize highly is my ability to not just see but observe. Be mindful of our surroundings and what is there. Or in some cases not there. I think that it is a trait that those of us who dabble in emergency communications or emergency work of any kind should cultivate to a degree. I found in interesting article at the Scientific American web site written by Maria Konnikova in 2011. The article is titled: "Don't Just See, Observe: What Sherlock Holmes Can Teach Us About Mindful Decisions". It is a short read but it a good one. It might stimulate some changes in your way of looking at your surroundings.

    Keep Fldigi Up to Date...
    The Sunday Night Bulletin contains a reference to the current versions of the Fldigi suite of programs. Please, before you ask for help, make sure you are up to date on the current versions of Fldigi. This is especially true if you seem to be having a "unique" issue. Debugging a "one off" problem can be time consuming and fruitless. Get current and work with that before you start blaming FLDigi and its parts.

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    If you have not do it yet then what are you waiting for? Get to the EPA-ARRL web site and either submit your email address or like it on Facebook. It is the place to get the information and news about the EPA Section.

    Ham Radio Links
    N3LLR's Ham Radio Forum
    ARRL Eastern PA Section Web Site
    Luzerne County ARES©
    Harris County Texas ARES - A great training resource
    Lake County (OH) RACES Personal Go-Kit for Emergency Operations - KE7LHR
    MecklenBurg County ARES and RACES
    K0BG - The Website for Mobile Amateur Radio Operators (Perhaps the best web site on mobile operations I have found!)
    Origins of Ham Speak - Fact, Legends, and Myths??? - Compiled by AC6V from the Internet and other unreliable sources
    The Petite Prepper
    The VOA Radiogram
    Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators.

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    Have a good week everyone!


    ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL ARES Emergency Coordinator
    Luzerne County ARES

    ARES and "Amateur Radio Emergency Services" are trademarks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Organization of Amateur Radio. Use of these trademarks is by permission only.

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