ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-10-15

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Oct 15, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

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

    An ARRL ARES® Communicator's Comments
    Why Li-ion Batteries Die? And how to improve the situation...
    - Thanks to John, AB3ZI, for this interesting Youtube Video on Li-ion batteries by Professor John Dahn, Dalhousie University. The video is interspersed with Ads but you can skip them with a single click.

    Safety with LiPo Batteries...
    - While looking for something else I stumbled across this YouTube Video. Rather interesting info on how dangerous LiPo batteries can be.As the presenter says "If you do something stupid then bad things can happen." Pretty much the way life is...

    Just thought that was interesting.

    Complaining About the ARRL...
    - Friday night found me at another radio club doing my standup routine again. This time it was about Fldigi and not emergency communications. Not much of a diversion from the norm but still something different. It was an enjoyable session though and I tried to make it interesting to the group.

    Since I have that honor of representing the ARRL I usually hear about things that the members like and I really hear about things that the members don't like. There has been another recent upheaval in our normal easy going Amateur Radio life and that was K3RF from being permitted to run for Division Director this time around. The stated reason was a "conflict of interest" even though K3RF doesn't know what the conflict is and it seems that Gallagher and the Directors that sit on the Ethics Committee don't want to tell him. OK, that is politics and I'll leave it at that. It needs to be addressed by our members but the major problem is we need to get the other Divisions on board with our pet peeve or nothing will happen. Until we as members figure out how to do that we're stuck.

    So I keep hearing about that topic. Has nothing to do with emergency communications or ARES which is what I am charged with taking care of but none the less I hear about it. The problem is the "shotgun approach" of blaming the ARRL en mass when it isn't the ARRL as an organization but one nefarious person abetted by a few. The Federal Government has been like that for years and who the nefarious person is depends on your political leanings.

    Lets take Puerto Rico and the request by the American Red Cross for Amateur Radio Operators to respond. It has taken years for something like that to happen. It is a first in case you didn't know. Never happened before.

    Now, the word that went out went out from the ARRL to fill the request. If the ARRL had not taken all those years to develop its membership and organization that request for the "Force of 50" would not have gotten far. It was the ARRL that got the word out quickly and handled the logistics of getting that "Force of 50" organized. Think about that. No ARRL then how would the American Red Cross get the word to the operators? Put it on the nets? I doubt that would have helped all that much. It was email, Facebook, and Twitter that did the heavy lifting to get it the word out. The ARRL was the one stop shopping spot for this effort.

    And how about HamAid? How much equipment has the ARRL sent to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and the other islands to help out. HamAid was around during Katrina. HF, HTs, and antennas. Here you go! And when the supply started to run low there were people and companies out there who donated to HamAid through the ARRL. DX Engineering and Ham Radio Outlet were big donors of equipment. Even I contributed my little paltry amount.

    What would have happened if the ARRL didn't implement the HamAid concept. There would still be donations but getting the money and equipment organized and shipped to those who needed it would have been an ad hoc logistical nightmare. It was in place because of the ARRL.

    The ARRL organized the ARES way back when it wasn't the ARES but the Public Service Corps. The whole shooting match is the ARRL's child. The result of that organization is the training, the people, and the willingness to go and help. It is a unified structure from the bottom up. The Mutual Assistance concept of ARESMAT means that if a section runs out of resources there is a means to get more. It is all because of the ARRL.

    There is a lot of good in the ARRL. The organization is still sound and the programs and services are still top notch. The rank and file that I have to deal with are still some of the best people that I know and they do a good job.

    There is trouble in River City but bashing the ARRL as a whole is not right. Put a name on the problem the next time you talk to me about your pet peeve. Don't say the ARRL is doing things wrong. Take the time to find the person who made the decision and put the name on the problem. To me The ARRL is still a worthwhile organization and I am not about to abandon it because of the foolish and irresponsible acts of some of the leadership. And tell your friends in other states that those persons need to go. This especially goes for those directors who sit on the special committees and don't have spines.

    Nuff said...

    THOR22 and secondary text...
    THOR22 proves to be a very fascinating mode and the paNBEMS net is having some very good results with it. I don't know if it will replace the steadfast acoustic coupled move of MT63-2KL but only testing will prove that. The ability of MT63-2KL to copy in a noisy environment is one of its key strengths for us.

    There is an interesting "back channel" in THOR22. If you start Fldigi and then select configure->Miscellaneous->Misc and then select the Modems Tab you will see all the Modems that have configurable settings. If you select the THOR modem you'll see a field named "Secondary Text". You can put information about your station in that field. When you are transmitting that secondary text is decoded at the bottom of the main Fldigi Window. Not the receive pane but all the way down at the bottom. I put "WN3LIF - ARRL EPA SEC" in my secondary text. You can put what ever you like in it.

    DOM or Domino modes also have a secondary text so you might want to put something in there.

    Make use of the entire modem when you use it. Putting the secondary text in does not slow down your transmission. Give it a try.

    Polite Net Controls...
    "WN3LIF Please call N3RN and pick up the message for Duryea Over"


    "WN3LIF call N3RN pick the Duryea traffic Over"

    Which one is correct?

    Actually, both of them are correct. One just takes longer than the other.

    Being polite is a good thing. Makes for good relations among friends and can keep you out of trouble. There is a time for politeness.

    Brevity and efficient operating some times have to take precedence over politeness.

    Think of it this way. If the net control has 10 pieces of traffic to move. Every time he (or she as the case maybe) instructs a station to call another station to pick traffic extra words are being used. Extra usually means slower. The difference might be minuscule to you but in the long run it adds up.

    Avoid the pleasantries until the traffic is moved and the net is over. The net control will be everyone's friend if the traffic is moved quickly so the pleasant part of the net can start.

    ICS Forms in Flmsg...
    - Do you ever go poking around in any of your programs to find out what does what or what special abilities it has? If not why? That is the way to learn about your programs. If you use anything only once in a while you won't feel comfortable with it when the time comes that you HAVE TO USE IT! When I taught people how to shoot, and this wasn't target shooting, I told them that they much handle the pistol at least 3 times a day so that it becomes natural to them. It is like a carpenter and a hammer. When the carpenter first uses a hammer he has to think more about the hammer than getting the job done. After a while it is no longer thinking about the hammer. It is drive the nail and get on with the job. It is a natural thing.

    The same goes for programs and in this case it is Flmsg. I have been having as many people as possible send messages on the LCADN. The more they send the more comfortable they are with sending. They are getting used to the program.

    One comment on being asked to send the messages. I am not trying to embarrass you when I ask you to send. The LCADN is the place to make mistakes with guilt free consequences. It is the time and place to improve your skills with Flmsg and Fldigi. Most LCARES members don't do anything to improve their abilities outside of the nets. You have use them to be good with them. Like the carpenter with the hammer - if you are tasked with sending a message you should not have to think how to send it. You should just think that you have message to send and, like eating a donut, it happens naturally. It would not hurt an LCARES member to turn off the radio (or TV), start Fldigi and Flmsg, and practice creating a few messages and sending them. They don't go anywhere but you are getting some practice.

    Back to what I was talking about. Flmsg contains a lot of FORMS. Just click on the Form option on the menu bar and you'll see a bunch of topics that contain special forms. Ever wonder what they are all about? Have you looked at them? What happens if I need one of you to send an ICS 205 form for me? Do you know where to find it? Do you have any idea what an ICS 205 form is?

    Just for the sake of conversation here are the Built-in ICS Forms in Flmsg.

    ICS-203 - Organization Assignment List
    ICS-205 - Incident Communications Plat
    ICS-205A - Incident Communications Contact Methods
    ICS-206 - Medical Plan
    ICS-213 - General Message
    ICS-214 - Unit Log
    ICS-216 - Radio Requirements Worksheet
    ICS-309 - Incident Communications Log
    The list contains only the ones in Flmsg. There are others but I'll keep it to these for now. Each one has a special purpose. These are used for control of resources. The ICS-205 is based on what we have in our ICS-217A form. You do know what the ICS-217A form is? If you don't I would suggest you find it on the web site and take a look.

    Poke around the Fldigi programs and see what each contains. You might be surprised at what you find.

    Winter Is Coming (I think)...
    I am pretty sure it is. At least I think so. Today's high was 77 and next Sunday's predicted high is 76. It might be coming one of these days.

    And with Winter there will be Winter Skywarn. So it is time to get in practice sending those messages. Of course practice sending messages is something all LCARES members need.

    We are going to make use of Flmsg for doing this. Don't have Flmsg? If you are an LCARES member you should have it. Get it if you don't have it.

    Start your Flmsg. Under forms go to WX and under WX select the Storm Report Form. You'll see this but not filled in....


    The Storm Report has some features that make life easier for you. Fill in the Date, Time, Time zone, State, County, Location, Name, Phone, Email, and Profile (will always be HAM Operator). Go back to the top and press the STORE button.

    This will save everything but the Date and Time so that you do not have to enter it again. The next time you start your Flmsg program and select the Storm Report you can press the DEFAULT button and Flmsg will load the constant data for you from the configuration file.

    The first page of the Storm Report has the urgent and immediate items for a real storm. If we are in a snow condition like last March you can click on the SNOW checkbox and then use the drop down menus to select the amounts. They are not in the detail that Skywarn likes them but it is close enough.

    Then click on the DETAILS tab at the top. That will take you to a free form entry area. LCARES is going to use the following format.


    Skywarn needs an address so the first line will always be Location followed by your address.

    The Temperature sent without the word degrees. I think we can safely assume that if you are sending the temperature it will be in degrees Fahrenheit.

    Windspeed in Miles Per Hour or a descriptive term like Calm. If you don't have a method to measure the windspeed it would be N/A for not available.

    Wind Direction will in degrees or standard compass points of N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. There is no need to spell out the direction. N will suffice for North. Remember - initial group S E for Southeast.

    Last is WX for weather. A simple and SHORT sentence describing the current WX at the observation location. The 3 letters, N T & R, mean Nothing To Report.

    If the reports are given in this format then it will be easy for the report taker to collect the data on a simple spreadsheet for transmission to the NWS as needed.

    The ultimate goal would be to send these reports via Flmsg and Fldigi. Makes for easy collection and compilation for sending to NWS Binghamton.

    Here is what the HTML Delivery View would look like.


    All the information ready to send in cut and paste format.

    There will be more details to follow on this. Of course there will be times that an LCARES member will not be in a position to send using Flmsg so we will practice sending this information on voice.

    In order to practice this so that it becomes normal we will have every one who checks into the LCARES send a WX report. Maybe if we do this enough it will become like the carpenter and the hammer. Natural and normal.

    100% Operational...
    - Some suggestions have come in for a new name for those of you hardworking LCARES members who are "100% Operational". Here are the suggestions so far:

    Primary Response Team (PRT)
    Alpha Team (AT or A-Team?)
    Alpha Response Team (ART)
    First Call Group (FCG)
    Communications Strike Team (CST: Which, believe it or not, follows with the ICS nomenclature. Strike Team: A specified combination of the same kind and type of resources with common communications and a Leader. OK, so maybe we are a little shy on the Leader part.)
    ARES Strike Team (AST: uses the Strike Team name but makes it more specific to ARES. I thought of this one!)
    ARES Communications Unit (ACU)
    ARES Ready Group (ARG)
    Ready Communications Response Team (RCRT)
    ARES Single Resource (ASR A single resource in ICS nomenclature is: An individual, a piece of equipment and its personnel complement, or a crew or team of individuals with an identified work Supervisor that can be used on an incident.)
    So there are some options and thank you to all who replied. Any more before we vote? Yes, I am letting the LCARES members choose.

    However, after some thought I may keep the 100% Operational (the 1O's) and make the new name a separate identifier for those who have demonstrated the ability to go when called with all the resources necessary (CW, Voice, & Digital) to communicate during an emergency. Just a thought for now.

    And Now For Something Entirely Different...
    Six Small Stories:

    1. Once all the Villagers decide to pray for rain. On the Day of Prayer all the Villagers gathered but only one small boy brought an umbrella. That is FAITH.

    2. When you toss a baby into the air they laugh because they know you will catch them. That is TRUST.

    3. Every night we go to bed without any assurance of being alive the next morning, but we still set the alarm to wake up. That is HOPE.

    4. We plan big things for tomorrow in spite of zero knowledge of the future. That is CONFIDENCE.

    5. We see the world suffering but we still get married and have children. That is LOVE.

    6. On an old man's shirt was written "I am not 80 years old; I am sweet 16 with 64 years of experience." That is ATTITUDE.

    Have a great week and live your life like the Six Small Stories.

    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 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.

    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 registered service marks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Association of Amateur Radio. Use of these service marks is by permission only.

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