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

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Dec 8, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Sunday Night Bulletin for November 26, 2017 Responses
    First Response
    John, K3DBG

    Second Response
    Bill, KC3HLT

    Third Response
    John, AB3ZI
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 10
    Weekly Image
    Photos contributed by N3SRO!
    The Capital Near Reagan International Airport
    The Capital Near Reagan International Airport
    Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean
    One of N3SRO's friends found old newspaper photos of the Agnes Flood.
    The Communications Center at Dallas High School. Note the Gonset Gooney Box!
    Setting up a 6 Meter Antenna at the Lake-Lehman High School
    Thank you Dave for these really interesting and memory provoking photos.
    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments

    Correction From Last Week's SNB...

    - The section titled "The Radio Is In The Car" erroneously listed WB3FKP as a repeater owner. While WB3FKP has been a great resource and a good LCARES member he does not own a repeater. That call should have been WB3FKQ, George Gannis, who has forever maintained the 146.61 repeater.

    Skywarn Spreadsheet...
    - After some work and some testing the long awaited LCARES Skywarn Spreadsheet is available for download from the web site. Now before you go rushing to the web site to get it just wait a minute.

    The spreadsheet contains calls, names, addresses, and email addresses for the LCARES members. That information needs to be protected somewhat. Most of it is available on but there is no sense making it easy for anyone, human or spider, to just grab it when they visit the web site. I have placed it in a protected directory so that a user and password needs to be supplied to gain access to it. It is not a big secret but I am going to ask that you email me to get the user ID and password. Just to keep the robots away from our doorstep.

    I have created a video on how to use it. The link is on in the Skywarn Section. It takes about 10 minutes of your precious time to view it but take the time. That way you won't have to ask me questions about the spreadsheet..

    There is one error in the video. I state that the spreadsheet will work with Excel, LibreOffice, and OpenOffice. It will not work in its current state in OpenOffice. I use a function named IFNA to keep an error showing in the fields that are supplied by the spreadsheet lookup. I have a work-around done but I need to test it. I'll release a new version of it late next week. If you are using Exel or LibreOffice then you are good to go.

    LCARES Activities Schedule...
    - I have spent some time updating the Activities Schedule for 2018. I have an email out to Rob Gould to get him to supply the dates of upcoming activities for 2018. It is hard to believe that in less than 28 days it will be 2018. I encourage all of you to look at the Activites Schedule and note any mistakes.

    LCARES Member Operational Status, Net Stats, etc....
    - I have created a new web page containing the LCARES Members' status as far as ASRT, Ready Reserve, and Training Reserve. I have added the Net Stats for the members as well as some other interesting items.

    It should be noted that KC3FKW is at the top of many of the lists of statistics. Rich has been exemplary in his support of LCARES and I thank him profusely for his efforts.

    Monthly Message Challenge for October...
    It is off to a slow start. October was only the 2nd month for it. Here is a look at the results.

    Number Message LCARES LCADN
    1 EOC needs to send out a Swift 911 message to ARES to respond to the EOC.

    2 Cache radios are needed at the scene from the EOC to supplement the fire radio portables.

    3 Antenna trailer for relay work needs to move to parking area off Polakowsky Road

    4 2 additional ARES communicators are needed for relay work at antenna trailer.
    5 Additional manpower needed for ground search.

    6 Portable heaters and tenting to warm relieved search teams to incident command post.

    7 Child found but in well and need confined space rescue team to report to scene.

    8 Inform EOC that access to rescue scene is via Abercrombie Road at Main Road.

    9 Additional ARES communicator requested for rescue scene with 222mHz Radio.
    10 No more search personnel are required and unused resources are released. Child safe and well.

    There are 7 calls listed for last month. There were 10 questions listed. November will have 11 questions since we have 11 people who are qualified for the ASRT. Remember that starting in 2018 every ASRT member must send at least one message per quarter to maintain their ASRT status.

    LCARES Room Work...
    - Right now I am breathing a sigh of relief that we did not need the FT2DRs, the laptops, or the Fldigi pieces of the go-kits. The FT2DRs were pretty much dead. The laptops were in need of updating so badly that they would hardly give the keyboards any time, and there were pieces that were missing (as in not ordered and not discovered) for the Signalinks that we do have.

    Starting on Tuesday, December 5th, there is a procedure that will be followed for every TM@EOC session. If there is only one LCARES member present then that member will run the Equipment Checks and do the Maintenance routines.

    The procedures have been documented to the best extent I can do right now and they are in the LCARES Guidelines and Procedures Manual. The Guideline and Procedures are listed here.

    Standard Equipment Check
    Effective Date: December 3, 2017

    The equipment in the LCARES Room at the EOC is static for 99% of its life. Batteries discharge, computers need patching, and applications need upgrading.

    If these items are left untended for too long the time required to get them ready to go results in a no-go situation if LCARES communication support is needed. It could also mean that certain items will fail due to neglect. Batteries left to discharge beyond a certain point will result in something that is only good for the recycle bin. Applications may change so radically that upgrading them because an extended process requiring much more than just running a program.

    It will be the practice of the LCARES members who attend the Tuesday Morning @ the EOC sessions to perform maintenance on the LCARES equipment EVERY Tuesday.

    This is a PRIORITY item and will not be neglected.

    The Procedures for this will are listed in the LCARES Procedure Section under “TM@EOC Equipment Checks & Maintenance”.

    Procedure L – TM@EOC Equipment Checks & Maintenance
    NEW – December 3, 2017

    The following Equipment Checks and Maintenance will be performed by the LCARES Members during their weekly TM@EOC session.

    LCARES Main Computer

    • Check the computer display for any indication that Operating System Patches are waiting to be installed. If patches are waiting install them.
    Close all open programs

    Power down the computer system

    Restart the computer system from power down

    After the APRS programs have started restart the Fldigi and Flamp programs

    Test the Fldigi program by clicking on the “tune” button and insuring that the Signalink for the FT-8800 goes into transmit.

    Spectrum Handi-Talkies

    Each Spectrum HT will be removed its charging base and turned on.

    A simplex frequency will be selected and a radio check will be done to insure that the HT does indeed transmit.

    The HTs will be left turned on, out of the charging bases, for at least 15 minutes.

    At the end of 15 minutes and other transmit test will be done to insure that the HT still transmits.

    Any HT that does not transmit will be marked with a piece of blue masking tape with the current date written on it. The HT will not be returned to the charger. The HT will be placed in the desk cubicle under the HF APRS radio.

    If the HT passes the 2nd transmit test it will be returned to the charging base.

    If the HT does not begin a charge cycle it will be removed from the base, marked with a piece of blue masking tape, and placed in the desk cubicle under the HF APRS Radio.

    Laptop Computers

    All laptop computers will be moved to the EOC meeting (if the EOC meeting room is occupied then this procedure will be done in the LCARES Room), power cord inserted, and the laptop powered up.

    Each laptop will be observed to ensure that the laptop powers up, automatically logs on, and starts the Fldigi program. Any laptop that does not complete the power up process will be brought to the attention of the LCARES EC.

    Close the Fldigi program.

    The LCARES member doing the testing will connect the Laptop to the EOC’s wireless node. This should happen automatically. If it does not then bring it to the attention of the LCARES EC.

    The LCARES member will run the “Software Updater” from the menu start bar. If the “Software Updater” indicates that patches are available then they should be installed.

    If the “Software Updater” indicates that a reboot is necessary reboot the Laptop and ensure that the Fldigi program starts as was mentioned above.

    The LCARES member will perform a special upgrade to insure that any Distribution Software Upgrades are applied by doing the following:

    Press CTRL-ALT-T to open a terminal window

    At the prompt key the following commands and wait until each completes.

    sudo apt-get update {enter} (Note the password is the name of the computer)

    sudo apt-get upgrade {enter}

    sudo apt-get dist-upgrade {enter}

    sudo apt-get autoremove {enter}

    sudo apt-get autoclean {enter}

    exit {enter}

    If an update to the Fldigi programs was indicated in the Sunday Night Bulletin then the following procedure should be run to update the Fldigi programs.

    Current Versions of Fldigi Suite







    Current as of: November 26, 2017. *Indicates an update in the past week.

    (Note any of the programs with an * and the version number)

    Using the File Manager utility open the “fl_build” directory in the home directory.

    In the “fl_build” directory locate the fl_install_script file.

    Double-click on the fl_install_script and it will open in the editor.

    FLDIGI=4.0.12 #<-- change to current version

    FLAMP=2.2.03 #<-- change to current version

    #FLWRAP=1.3.4 #<-- change to current version

    FLMSG=4.0.3 #<-- change to current version

    The bold numbers are the program versions. Change any program whose version numbers do not match the information in the Sunday Night Bulletin.

    After making the changes:

    Save the fl_install_script file.

    Exit the editor program

    Exit the file manager

    Press CTRL-ALT-T to open a terminal window

    Type the following commands:

    cd fl_build {enter}

    ./fl_install_script {enter}

    When the script finishes indicating a successful upgrade. If this message is not present notify the LCARES EC.

    When the Laptap updates have completed power down the Laptop and return it and its power supply to its Go-kit

    FT-2DR Handi-Talkies

    Every FT-2DR Handi-Talkie will be power up and the battery indicator checked. If the battery indicator shows that some discharge has occurred then the Handi-Talkie will be put on a charger for the duration of the time of the TM@EOC.

    If the FT-DR’s battery has not discharged check to see if the go-kit contains a backup battery pack of the same type that is mounted on the FT-2DR. If one is available swap the batteries and power up the FT-2DR to check to see if the backup battery has been discharged. If it has then put it on a charger.


    Inventory the Go-Kits

    All go-kits will have an inventory sheet inside the side pocket. Each go-kit will be inventoried and any discrepancy reported to the LCARES EC.

    At the completion of the Equipment Checks and Maintenance all components will be returned to their respective go-kits.

    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
    Luzerne County ARES Facebook Page <-- New
    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.
    wedgar likes this.
  2. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Love the idea of putting some of the local procedures in the news letter.

    Sharing information is a wonderful thing.
    W.T. Jones likes this.
  3. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Only problem is that now I know there are simpler and better ways to do it so I'll be writing it again.

    The never ending battle for documentation that the members can really use.
    wedgar likes this.
  4. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    We have to be flexible as new methods and technologies emerge/develop.
  5. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Well it is not really about the new technology in this case. It is more the old EC didn't think things through and make the best use of the tools that he has. Computers are wonderful tools and when the ability to program is one of your gifts it is wrong not to use them to the fullest.

    My Grandfather used to say "Your feet have to pay for what your brain forgets" because you have to walk back and get it.

    So in this case my fingers will pay the price for my brain not being smart enough the first time through.

    I hope your Tax Season is successful and you see April 16th with some free time to join us on the forum.
  6. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Your Grandfather was a wise fellow. Have had to take walk more times than I'd like to admit.

    Thank you on the tax season... I think it will be an interesting one trying to explain that the affordable care act penalty is still in place until 2019.

    Just thankful that the snow that Erie got, missed us for the most part.
  7. Tony

    Tony Moderator Staff Member

    You’re welcome.
    wedgar likes this.
  8. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    You are a splendid fellow for holding all that snow from going east.

    Bower you make out with the snow? We woke this morning and found no water in our house. Temps were -8° so don't know why our water line froze. Called plumber to find out why.

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