ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-04-02

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Apr 6, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

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

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    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments
    The LCEMA Commex...
    - The upcoming LCEMA Comm-ex promises to be an interesting exercise for us. It is ambitious but it is something that will do some technical good for us. Dave, N3SRO, has done his planning and I hope to have spoken with him on the phone by the time you read this but he is fired up about this. There will be a job for all of us so be sure to let him know that you are going to participate. His email is

    The Last Week of the Month...
    - The last week of the month takes a lot out of my time bank. The last day of the month is especially draining on the time resource. The Monthly Update needs to get out and there are pending issues for drills and exercises that need to be addressed through out the Section. So this bulletin will be a bit abbreviated. In addition to all that happens between now and the 8th of the month I have a Skywarn Meeting in Binghamton on Sunday. So if I don't seem to be around or on the radio it is just that there are a lot of things pulling me in different directions.

    The April 4th Nets are cancelled...
    - I think that the Skywarn Training that is being held on April 4th is important so I am cancelling the LCARES nets on Tuesday, April 4th. Make the Skywarn Training at the EOC that night. Dave Nicosia from the Binghamton NWS Office will be presenting and it is usually an informative session. Skywarn Training needs to be repeated every two years at a minimum but doing it once a year won't hurt you one bit.

    I know that this question will be asked - will the net controls for this week be the net controls for next week. The answer is no. The next date for the nets will be April 11. The NCS for that week is listed on the schedule. The NCS and alternate for the 4th get the week off without any requirement to pick up a net to replace the canceled one.

    Speaking of our Nets...
    - I have had plans for a simplex version of our voice net rolling around in my head for some time. Events keep overtaking my plans but we will be doing the simplex test eventually. The next specialty net will be our Tactical Operations Net. There will be no difference in the operation of the net. The only difference will be that we will be using the Tactical Call format. Training messages will still be sent, traffic will be handled, and the comments will still be taken. And we will have having another "Battery Night" in the next month or so. About time for that again.

    The Comm-ex will test some of our abilities and be a good substitute for some of the special ideas that I had. The next several months will be busy with public service events so I am going to try to calm things down a bit for a while after the Comm-ex. We have had a busy 35 days as of the time I am writing this and we need to fix the issues that we found from the Tornado and the Winter Storm. May has a Duathlon as does June which as Field Day too. July looks a bit quieter. Some times you have to step back, get out of the line, and mend the equipment. That will put us in a better position if and when some thing else comes up.

    - I have heard from K2OZO and he is up on APRS with his VX-8. That is great. I think that N1ZZZ is also contemplating an upgrade in his APRS station. If you have APRS abilities then please try to get it on the air. It is a useful tool. If you have APRS messaging try to get that running as well. Send an APRS message to wn3lif-1 for a test.

    (LCARES Challenge - email Dave Nicosia's amateur radio call to

    Skywarn Leadership Meeting...
    - I traveled to the Binghamton National Weather Service Office to attend the Skywarn Leadership Meeting. It was well attended but I think the biggest contingent was from our friends in Wyoming County. It was good to see them there.

    There was a lot of material covered. Enough that I ended up with 4 pages of notes. It was definitely not a "yawn lets to get to something interesting" type of meeting. My hat is off to Dave Murford, KB2TTT, Dave Nicosia, KC2PLQ, and Ford Drake, AB2HS, (Skywarn Operator), for putting on a very informative and interesting meeting.

    So I am going to put this in bullet points so that I don't miss anything from my notes.

    • The NWS Office is short staffed at this time. They will soon be down 5 more employees due to retirements and transfers. The NWS is not part of the hiring freeze but it does take time to find new hires. Anybody in business knows that is a problem and our friends at the NWS in Binghamton are no exceptions.
      • A comment heard later on in the meeting plays direct to this information. The Skywarn Amateur Radio effort is critical to the BGM NWS office because of the short staffing. The social media, email, and telephone have to be monitored by the personnel on duty. Many of the BGM NWS have their amateur radio licenses and there are amateur radios in the BGM NWS Office. Even when Ford is not called in they can turn on the radios and listen to activity related to Skywarn. So if Luzerne County was put on a watch or warning they would monitor our repeaters and even though they were not on the air the information would still be flowing to them. This is something that is really good to know.
    • New Phased Array Radar is coming. It updates every 30 seconds compared to every 3 to 4 minutes for the current radar. Bad news is that it is still 15 years away. I know I won't benefit from it but I know that our future Hams will.
    • They encouraged us to hand out material on Amateur Radio at every Skywarn Training Session. The Skywarn Training Sessions are for the general public and for Amateur Radio so it is a great recruiting opportunity for us.
    • Skywarn Radio Operation is up to us. That means inside Luzerne County we do it or we don't do it. The station at BGM NWS is a harvesting station in that Ford will search the repeaters listed in the counties that are affected for reports. Don't expect WX3BGM to come up on our repeaters and run a net looking for reports. We need to be there to give them to him.
    • The social media options were discussed. There are Youtube Video briefings posted twice a week. These are available to all. You just have to go get them. Facebook is available at NWS BINGHAMTON. The issue is the NWS is characterized as a business and the Facebook owners want them to chip in with dollars. So some of the postings may not get pushed out to all those that follow the BGM NWS Facebook page. So much for civic responsibility on the part of the Facebook Corporation. The Twitter (I really have to look into that) account is much more active and there is no restrictions on distribution. The id is @NWSBINGHAMTON and Dave Murford recommended its usage. He did say that it is less popular than Facebook but definitely a better choice to monitor weather notifications.
      • The BGM NWS web page is the BEST place for information. It often goes overlooked but it is the place to get the current and most accurate information. The address for it is but what I do is get my location and then save the hyper link for my home. That kind of personalizes it.
    • There is a Yahoo Group. Search for it with NWS BINGHAMTON. This is for non-emergency and routine information. Feel free to join it.
    • NOAA Weather Radio is the absolute best bet for fast information. Personal experience shows that those handheld devices get the warning almost 3 to 4 minutes after the NOAA All Hazards Radio (to use the best name for it) sounds off. Get a NOAA WX Radio! I have 3 of them. Would not be without my access to it. Even my Subaru as the WX Band in the car radio.
    • The amateur radio call for the NWS BINGHAMTON is WX2BGM. Never knew that before.
    • KB2TTT mentioned that they NWS Office may check into local nets as time permits. I'll make sure they know about our voice net on Tuesday nights.
    • Dave Nicosia, KC2PLQ, covered the recent severe weather. He had pictures and talked about the February tornado. Officially it was ranked as an EF2 with winds of 120Mph. The warning went out 10 minutes before it touched down. Our problem was it took us 10 minutes + to figure it out. Not the NWS's fault.
    • Again, the WX radio is your best and fastest method of getting the warnings.
    • Dave again emphasized that NWS does listen to the repeaters. They get their best info from "eavesdropping" during severe weather.
    • The Winter Storm of March 2017 was discussed. The snow reports were invaluable. I now have a better idea of that is needed and I'll be pushing that information out later. Right now a snow storm doesn't really have a high place in the priority list. One of the items Dave listed that was necessary was the location. The good thing about amateur radio is that callsigns give them information about where we are. So it is something that we need to make sure we supply. In lieu of that a good location reference. Wilkes-Barre is nice but a street address would be better.
    • The fact that NWS BGM listens to our repeaters even if nothing is happening tells them something. It also correlates the reports from other locations. So in this instance it would be a "negative report" that is useful.
    • The collection of data by our county weather nets is good and it can be forwarded to NWS BGM using email or via telephone. HOWEVER, there are certain things that should not be delayed. What are they? Come to the Skywarn Training on Tuesday night and find out.
    • I know that I have stated that LCARES is NOT self activating. Guess what? I now have a condition that requires self activation. That is a Skywarn Alert. If there is a Skywarn alert then start the net up. Collect reports and if there is something critical send it to the NWS via email at or via telephone. I will supply the 800 number to those that need it.
      • The report should contain the following:
        • Time of observation
        • Location
        • What was observed (hail, high wind, etc.)
        • Your call and that you are a "trained weather spotter"
    • The last thing and this is my responsibility is to update our frequencies with the BGM office. I will do this as soon as I can.
    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
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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
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