ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-05-14

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, May 14, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

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

    Weekly Image
    WA3YZD's Assistant Operators is ready for the net! Click for a larger image.

    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments
    A Rather Short One Tonight...
    -I am keeping this short tonight. First, it is my Birthday and I was contemplating just cancelling the bulletin for tonight but I have an unbroken string running for 2017 so I thought I'd make it happen even if it is a short one. I do have one topic that I want to put out there and that is the status of LCARES in terms of those who are 100% operational in terms of their training. So lets go on that topic.

    The State of the LCARES or Sometimes Numbers Do Not Mean Too Much...
    - There are a total of 30 registered ARES members in the Luzerne County Amateur Radio Emergency Service Net. That sounds like a good number but lets look at the details.

    I guess I should tell you what I consider 100% operational. The 4 ICS courses completed and the LCARES Message Handling Course Complete.

    There are three members that are not operational due to physical issues. These are long term issues so I cannot count on these three even though I know if it were up to them they would be there for me. So now we are at 27.

    We have one person on the roster who has declared to me that the ICS tests are impossible and will not be attempting the exams. He will not remain on the roster much longer. So we are now down to 26.

    There are 5 members who have filled out the application and have not been heard from other than to attend a meeting where it was mandatory or because they could get some equipment. I definitely cannot count on them for anything other than doorstops.

    And we are down to 21.

    Next there are 3 members who started their ICS Training but have not completed it. The ICS training is a requirement to work with Luzerne County EMA. It is not a joke nor something that can be waived by me.

    We are at 18 now.

    I have one member who is away for 4 to 6 months are at time. While this members experience and knowledge is valuable he is not available for a response most of the time. It is 17 at this point.

    One member is the Deputy Director of LCEMA - so he is not available for anything that involves LCEMA. 16 it is.

    So now being at 16 members who have taken their ICS training I should feel pretty good about the numbers.

    Lets consider them and see how that works out....

    One works in the media and more than likely if the fit hit the shan he'd be with them. Down to 15.

    Of that remaining 15 I have 6 who have completed their message handling training for 100% operational status.

    Of that 6 one of them is me. The person that has to make things happen with the rest of you.

    So the net effect is there are 5 LCARES members that fit the description of 100% operational.

    I know that many of the 15 would run to the sound of the guns if there was a need. But I have to wonder how many would be effective.

    The training is being offered. It is there. If you have an excuse not to take it so be it. I am the one that will have to make the excuse to the people that need us and I don't have enough to go around.

    I should make one note here. I still have one applicant who completed all of his ICS training but is still walking around with his application in his pocket. I don't know what to make of that.

    (LCARES Challenge - email the call of the person's whose assistant operator is pictured in the weekly image to

    HF Re-transmission of the Sunday Night Bulletin...
    - I was the featured speaker at the Phil-Mont Mobile Radio Club on Wednesday Night. The talk was strictly on ARES but the after-talk questions included Fldigi. It seems that there was a significant number of people in Southeastern PA copying the Sunday Night Bulletin and were wondering if we are going to do it again. I told them I might but it would depend on the assistance I get. If you are reading this and would like to help then let me know via email to and this help is not just sending the bulletin. Writing this takes time so I would be looking for some of you to write something to be included in the Sunday Bulletin. And it also means that if you send the bulletin you have to handle any fill requests that are sent. You cannot send it and walk away from it. So given that description of help let me know if you are interested.

    Setting the Sound Card Values...
    Since the inception of the Luzerne County ARES Digital Net the setting of the sound card levels and the accuracy of the sound card have been a big bugaboo (read that as an old guy saying an ongoing problem) for us. Each sound card is different. Each computer is different. The Operating System introduces variables that are hard to control. We can get close but we will never be exactly the same. If, in the happy instance, we all get on the same levels and settings then we are Hams and we twiddle with the settings. Then we are off to the races again chasing that elusive correct level.

    There is a method in Fldigi to check the sound card to see if it is working properly and I have relied on it for many years. Well, 9 that I can count. But I read the following this morning which makes me think getting things right using that method might not be all that valuable.

    This is from W1HKJ, Author of Fldigi, and it was written to another NBEMS forum member.

    I am the principal author of fldigi etal. I wrote an application very similar to CheckSR and having done so I can report that I am highly skeptical as to it's ability to correctly measure the sound card oscillator errors. If the operating system were single user, single threaded as was the very out of date DOS and CPM then it would be possible to write a program that compared the internal CPU oscillator and the sound card oscillator thus deriving the sound card PPM relative to the CPU. Current versions of Windows, Linux and OS X are all multi-tasking operating systems. No single application can command 100% of the cpu time and that is needed to make the measurement that CheckSR (and my own version of the same) requires. Thus the introduction of the WWV time tick comparison routines that measure the PPM of the oscillator by a visual analysis of drift between the highly stable WWV time reference (derived from multiple Cesium oscillators) and the sound card oscillator. The drift of the WWV time tick display only depends on those two oscillators and not on CPU accessibility. If operator A and operator B both calibrate their sound cards to WWV (or a similar time distribution standard) then image transfers between the two will be stable and exhibit little if any slant. Other mode decoding will also be improved, but for most QRN and QRM will the limiting factor.

    Refer to these on-line help sections for more information and,

    73, David, W1HKJ


    So as you can see there are so many factors that affect the sound card and even though Dave is referencing image transfers it is applies to all the modems that Fldigi uses. But! It is is still a valid idea to calibrate your sound card using your HF radio. It is not that time consuming and it does help identify any errors. I have found that the internal sound cards have the most problems. The Signalink, not so much. I have not tested a Rig Blaster but I probably should when time permits.

    K3DBG's scope program and K3EUI's scope program have shown some valuable information as far as setting levels. I think I may ask John to start monitoring the levels during the net and reporting on them. If someone is too far outside the normal then it might pay to work the settings a bit with John until they are close to the rest.

    It is an ongoing issue for us and something that we really need to stay on top of.

    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.

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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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