ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-03-26

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

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

    Weekly Image
    Girl Guide on the lookout for a message during a communications exercise.
    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments
    The LCEMA Commex...
    - The upcoming LCEMA Commex promises to be an interesting exercise for us. It is ambitious but it is something that will do some technical good for us. If all of us participate then it will be something that gives us a real feeling for what we can do as far a communications. I have given N3SRO the parameters as far as KC3IMJ sees them. I am leaving it up to him to come up with the exercise plan and goals. I am not going to be easy on him. If he wants to do something then it will have to have a definable and measurable metric to indicate success. Or failure as the case may be.

    The Fldigi Training Class (or what ever good name I can think of to call it)...
    - The main page of the LCARES has been
    updated with the following information:


    There will be two special meetings for the Luzerne County ARRL ARES (LCARES) members during the month of April.

    The importance of Digital Communications for the 2018 SSES Drill cannot be overstated. For that reason all the volunteer amateur radio operators who participate in the SSES Drill will be invited as well. It is an extremely important meeting and all those that are invited are urged to attend. If you are not invited you can still attend because you will receive some valuable information and help during the meeting.


    Thursday Night, April 20th - 7:00PM to 9:30PM

    Saturday Afternoon, April 22 - 1:00PM to 3:30PM

    1) Assist all attendees with the installation of Fldigi and its components on the attendees' computers.
    2) Instructions and demonstrations on how to download the Sunday Bulletin and recover its contents using Fldigi.
    3) Instructions on how to use 'acoustic coupling' to receive SSES Priority Messages and display them.
    4) Provide hands on assistance for those who require a little hand holding to get the above done.

    1) A portable computer running a version of Windows (XP or later) or running a version of Linux that is compatible with Fldigi.
    2) Sufficient space on the portable computer's disk drive to accommodate the Fldigi Programs (approximately 1 Mb).
    3) A sound card with speakers and microphone that are running (troubleshooting of your portable computer will not be part of this meeting) for the 'acoustic coupling' between the computer and radio.
    4) A working wireless network card.
    5) Up to date with any security patches.
    (Note: This meeting is limited to portable computers only! If you only have a desk side or desktop computer you will be provided with the Fldigi Software and instructions for installation and testing.)

    Android Users: APRSDroid is available to receive the messages for the SSES Drill but it cannot receive the Flamp transmissions that are used on the Sunday Bulletin. We do have some LCARES members who are familiar with APRSDroid. If you are bringing a Android device please contact the EC via email to let him know that you'll be there and may need some help.


    One of the requirements for LCARES Members is to be able to read the Sunday Night Digital Bulletin on a weekly basis. This will provide all the tools required to do that. There is NO cost and no additional equipment required. No Signalink, no Rig Blaster, no home brew sound interfaces. Nothing. Just your computer with a working sound card, speakers, and microphone.

    Many of the LCARES Digital-oriented Members will be available at these meetings to assist with the installation process and answer questions. It is a great chance to ask about our digital fun that we have and to become acquainted the software that will be used during the 2018 SSES Drill.

    There will be coffee and cookies so that should help you with the dull and boring stuff.

    The technical level? If you can play solitaire on your computer, look at a web site, and use a mouse then this is not above your technical level.


    This is the first real effort that has been made to promulgate the Fldigi program outside of the current LCARES Fldigi Group. Previously it was offered and others were enticed to join. The fact that this Sunday Bulletin is the :CARES EC's main way of getting information out to the LCARES group makes it necessary that all of them become familiar with Fldigi. The other issue is the SSES Drill in 2018. That Drill really needs to be done using Fldigi. The complexity of the forms has gone beyond the ability of the voice operations.

    There are only two goals for the meetings. First, to install Fldigi, Flmsg, and Flamp on the LCARES members computers, show them how to download the wav file from the website, play it back, and display the Sunday Bulletin. Those that use Fldigi know that is simplicity itself.

    The Second Goal is to have the attendees copy an Flmsg using acoustic coupling in MT63-2KL mode and display it. Nothing fancy. Simple and straight forward operation.

    So the people need a portable computer and, if they bring one, an HT. If all goes well these meetings should be done and over in the 2.5 hours that I have allowed for them.

    The one thing that is NOT going to be done is diagnose problems outside of Fldigi. This is not a "dial-a-tech" session for the Windows or the Linux OS. The requirements are listed above and any they are not that rigorous. If the LCARES member shows up with a system that is not functional and meeting the requirements as listed then that person will be given the instructions, allowed to see how it is done, and sent on their way to contact Microsoft to solve the computer problems. This is a hard deck and the agenda and activities of the meeting will not go below it. There is no need for these meetings to degenerate into show stoppers because of non-Fldigi problems. There is a need to stay focused and get those that arrive ready to go up and running on Fldigi.

    These sessions are important but you can choose not show. However, if you are a no-show then the EC will have to assume that you have the knowledge and ability to do the installation, download the bulletin, and read it yourself. The EC will be pinging all LCARES members 30 days after the last session if he has not heard from them asking one simple question.

    It is not "Winter Storm Stella!"...
    - I have prepared certificates for those who responded with Snow Reports on March 14th. When finished I had added words of gratitude from the various agencies that we sent snow reports to on March 14th. One of them being the National Weather Service. I had used the title that the Weather Channel used and that was "Winter Storm Stella". That is a no-no according to the NWS. They do not name winter storms nor do they grant any association to any commercial entity that does so. So the point was well taken. It is the Winter Storm of March 14th, 2017 as far as we are concerned. We owe allegiance to the National Weather Service and not to the Weather Channel. The certificates were changed accordingly with the NWS' blessing I might add and their thanks for recognizing those Amateur Radio Operators who helped out.

    (LCARES Challenge - based on information in this bulletin email your tactical call to

    What are our nets named...
    - I know that may sound like a dumb question but since I have had to correct several folks from surrounding counties about it I thought I would make it clear here. Our nets, both regularly scheduled ones and disaster ones such as on February 25th and March 14th-15th, are always to be identified as "Luzerne County ARES Nets" without exception. The purpose of the net may be added by the NCS such as this:

    "This is Luzerne County ARES looking for Skywarn Reports from any station on frequency."

    "This is Luzerne County ARES. This is net is active in support of {name the incident} and all amateurs radio operators are requested to keep this frequency clear until the net is completed. Any station not currently assigned to this incident should report to {give the frequency of the resource net} and check-in there for assignment."

    If the net is a resource net then the following could be used:

    "This is the Luzerne County ARES. This net is active in support of {name the incident} and is taking check-ins from any amateur radio operators willing to volunteer. Please monitor this frequency as status and information on the incident and dispatch of volunteers will be done here."

    In all instances use the name of our organization which is the Luzerne County ARES. The net may be operating in support of Skywarn or LCEMA or other organizations but we are the Luzerne County ARES. There are several good reasons for this. First, it identifies the area that we are primarily associated with and concerned about. In some instances information from outside of our area is welcome but we are primarily concerned with things happening here and not there. Next, it lets the listeners know that the net is not just happening by some ad hoc means and that it does have a structure surrounding it. Finally, it allows someone listening to identify the players and the hierarchy of the organization if they need to contact us by some means other than radio.

    Tactical Operations...
    - "White Rook this is Checkmate King 2" - remember where that came from? Those were probably the first tactical callsigns I can remember from my youth. They were from the TV Series 'Combat' with Vic Morrow. In real life I had many tactical calls because they were changed all the time. The funniest one, at least I thought it was funny, was "snow angel 2 6" because when it is 108 degrees and the humidity was 110% anything that had to do with snow was funny.

    OK, lets face it. We love to say our calls. W N 3 LIFE IS FUN! But the past several incidents have shown that we really do need to bear down a bit on tactical operating. It is not hard. If I pick up the mic and say "Hey John are you listening" I have just done a tactical call. I don't really like calling a "tactical call" but that is what it is known by in the greater Amateur Radio World so we'll run with it. I wonder if there is something called a strategic call?

    The use of a tactical call for a military type situation is to mask the identity and location of the station. It is just the opposite for us. We know the location but we may not know the operator or the call of the station manning that location. So instead of something cryptic like "white rook" we use a location or the purpose of the location. The operators may change during the incident but the function, purpose, and location probably will not change.

    So I am planning a bit of fun for one of our upcoming nets. Not the one on March 28th because I have another Lenten Church Service to attend with the Lady of the Jones Manor. Her friend can't make it so I said I would go with her. Remember my priorities here. God; Country; Family; and then everything else. Jan is Family so she comes before Ham Radio. Just for reference, Taffi is also family so if she needs me she comes before Ham Radio too.

    Anyway, on one of the upcoming nets, and it may just be on April 11th, we'll do some practicing with Tactical Calls. Instead of the NCS assigning tactical calls we'll just use the stations' town where they are located. So for WN3LIF it would be Duryea. For WB3FKP it would be Alden. For K3DBG it would be West Wyoming. If there are two stations from the same town we'll just have to improvise. Wilkes-Barre stations come to mind. If you are in Wilkes-Barre then use the section of Wilkes-Barre that you are in such as "South Wilkes-Barre" or Parsons or Heights section. For the purpose of the net you would be able to choose what ever you think is appropriate for your tactical call sign.

    Lets just take an example and use AB3ZI who will probably need a training message. John could check in as follows "This is AB3ZI south wilkes-barre no traffic need training message 12 over" and that will give the NCS all that he needs. The NCS should respond "South Wilkes-Barre Roger No Traffic need training message 1 2 KC3FKW out" and I know that this is just going to give our NCS fits.

    So let us surmise that John, K3DBG, brings a message for WN3LIF. He would list it as "1 Routine for Duryea" since the station in Duryea could really be anyone. The NCS would instruct "Duryea" to call "West Wyoming" and pick up 1 Routine for Duryea. And it would continue...

    "West Wyoming this is Duryea Ready to copy Over"

    "Duryea this West Wyoming please copy number 9 routine ... End of Message No More Over"

    "West Wyoming this is Duryea Roger Number 9 Routine WN3LIF Over"

    "This is West Wyoming thank you K3DBG back to NCS"

    Notice the call signs at the end of the exchange and they are given only once.

    Get the idea? It is practice and it should work out well as a training effort. And I think it should be some fun. Frustrating at first but fun.

    I'll try to do this when I am the NCS for the first time just to keep confusion to a minimum. Hey its supposed to be fun!

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    If you have not done 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 ARESĀ©
    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.

    Send reception reports and comments to

    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.

Share This Page