Luzerne County ARES® Digital Bulletin "We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training." Archilochus - Greek Poet and Soldier Current Versions of Fldigi programs Luzerne County ARES® Announcements Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule Luzerne County LCARES Announcements... Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 10/2/2017 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses... Weekly Images An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments New Version of Fldigi Announced This Week... Shack Photos for Facebook... The End of Another Year... Training Responses/Public Service... Talen Practice Drill in September 2017... Social Media... TM@EOC.. Ham Cram... LCARES Net and LCADN... Bulletins... The Go-Kits... Next Year... Happy New Year.... EPA-ARRL Web site... Ham Radio Links Closing Bulletin Date: December 31, 2017 Bulletin Number: 179 This Bulletin is for all Amateur Radio Operators in Luzerne County and any interested Amateur Radio Station anywhere. Note: A copy of this Bulletin is stored on the www.w3luz.org web site in .wav file format. This file can be replayed by Fldigi and Flamp to get the complete Bulletin. Current Versions of Fldigi programs Current Versions of Fldigi Suite Fldigi Flmsg Flamp 4.0.13* 4.0.3 2.2.03 Current as of: December 31, 2017. *Indicates an update in the past week. Latest versions available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/fldigi/files/ Luzerne County ARES® Announcements - Important: The Sunday Night Bulletin is required reading for all LCARES Members. Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule The Rotation Schedule for the LCARES Voice net has been posted on the www.w3luz.org. Last update: December 26, 2017 K3NDB & WB3FKP are temporarily out of the NCS rotation. Please be sure to review the NCS schedule before the upcoming nets. Luzerne County LCARES Announcements... (These will be read by the Alternate NCS during the regular weekly session of the LCARES Voice Net.) * - indicates that announcement should not be read on the LCARES Net. N3SRO is looking for shack photos for posting to the LCARES Facebook page. Send your photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. Fldigi was updated on December 28th. All Fldigi users should update as soon as possible. Net control volunteers are needed for the LCARES Net. Volunteers can try one net to see how they like it without committing to a permanent place in the rotation. Check the NCS Schedule on www.w3luz.org. The January Monthly Message Challenge will be activated on January 1st. Reminder: Starting on January 1st LCARES members who are listed as part of the LCARES Single Resource Team are required to send one message per calendar quarter to remain on the LSRT. You have to keep the edge. Training topics for the LCARES net are being solicited by the EC. If you have a topic to want to see in the training send a radiogram to the EC or, if you must, an email. These will be used on days when there is no volunteer net control for the LCARES net. If you have any LCARES/LCEMA equipment please send an email to the EC listing the equipment and the county asset number (if available). Include a general statement of condition in the email. This should be to the EC no later than January 31st. Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 10/2/2017 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses... Sunday Night Bulletin for December 24, 2017 Responses First Response Bill, KC3HLT 2105hrs Second Response Rich KC3FKW 2108hrs Third Response Ian, K3IK 2112hrs Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 6 Weekly Images Auld Lang Syne = Old Long Since = Long time ago = Long Ago May the the "first-foot" through your door bring you prosperity, food, flavour, warmth, long life, and good cheer! An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments New Version of Fldigi Announced This Week... - The Fldigi Development Team has been at it again. On December 28th a new version of Fldigi was announced. It looks stable after playing with it today. There is one big change because W1HKJ got a little upset about an idle carrier from a station that was running MFSK on 20 meters. I'll cover the changes quickly here.... Language Improvements - Greek has been added as a new language and the Polish files have been updated. Won't do me much good. Its Greek to me. I just had to say that. Documentation update for CW. Spectrum Analyzer function has been improved - versatility added which added to the lines of configuration in fldigi_def.xml. TS990 changes - since most of us cannot afford that rig it doesn't make any difference. OS X CW processor improvement - I don't think anyone around here is running an Apple OS X operating system. FSQ/IFKP Clear TX panel - again I don't think anyone is using FSQ all that much around here except me. Image Transmit - IFKP improvements and Avatar controls for macros. Nice addition. Flrig Race Condition in OS X - Again unless you guys are holding out on me I don't know of any using OS X or Flrig. I do but I don't use OS X. CW Sweepstakes - Added support for CW Sweepstakes and N3FJP enhancements. CW no TX Character fixed timeops - another solution to improve the get-time function. Deadman Timer - A deadman timer has been added. If the transmitter is on for the configured length of time it Fldigi will automatically shut it down. It is set to 5 minutes by default. That is a relatively good time for us. Since I have some things on HF that run longer I have upped the time to 8 minutes which should be more than enough. Remember that the deadman timer does not care if you are sending something or you just forgot to turn off the transmitter and fell asleep. When the time is up it shuts it down. I have tested leaving the old configuration files in place and starting Fldigi 4.0.13. All the new configuration values seem to be in the right places including the dead man timer. I don't think there will be any problems or need to create a new configuration file. Remember, if fldigi starts doing strange the things the first thing to do is move the configuration files out of the way and rebuild them. That solves 99% of the problems. Shack Photos for Facebook... Dave, N3SRO, the keeper of our Facebook page has come up with an idea to entice people to become Hams and better yet to join ARES. Dave would like to have photos of our shacks to post on Facebook. I like the idea and I will be contributing a photo or two. One caution here... Do not include anything in the photo that might be controversial. Try to keep it just to your equipment. Make it a candid shot if you like. N3SRO will be the final judge of what gets posted and he will have your best interests in mind when he chooses. You can send the photos via email to email@example.com. You know what that means don't you? I have to clean up this mess! The End of Another Year... - Tonight 2017 leaves and 2018 starts. 2017 has been in all respects an eventful year. 2018 is starting off with an unusual event. This is the first time in 3 years that the Sunday Night Bulletin will be transmitted by another operator. It has been transmitted by another station (W3LUZ) but never by another operator. So K3DBG is making history tonight by transmitting the bulletin so that the Old EC can take the night off and go out with friends to celebrate New Year's Eve with the Lady of the Jones Manor. Thank you John! I appreciate the night off even though I don't get out of the preparation of the SNB. I thought I'd run down some of the events of 2017 and what they meant to me. The significance of some of the items may mean more to me than to those reading this. If I look at my history (all 49 years of it) in Amateur Radio it is heavy on Traffic Handling (now disappearing), was heavy on DX (now not all that interesting), a distinct bent toward public service (supported one of the first Century Tour Bike Rides in Lackawanna County from my 1972 Vega from a position at the end of Lake Ariel using a Drake TR-22C), and digital when digital was called RTTY. I had the "luxury" of handling messages during Agnes and many of the flooding events in Luzerne County right up to the present time. I have seen the Amateur Radio Public Service Corps become the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. I have held the Section Emergency Coordinator position for EPA twice. I have run a Hamfest (never again - that was work). I have operated in other states and other countries most of the time for fun but sometimes for disaster work. I've seen the Wyoming Valley when there was a new thing called a repeater located on West Mountain in Scranton. I have purchased a frequency counter to 'net' crystals in old 2 meter rigs. I have seen the tubes, the paper capacitors, and other now antique technology give way to the new truly solid state rigs we have today. I can remember hearing WB3FKQ say that the only things that should be used as finals are tubes. And computers. I can remember doing a Field Day with Murgas ARC when WA3JWP had his Radio Shack TRS-80 doing the logging with a BASIC program. So forgive me when I look at some of these things that happened in 2017 with a different view than some of you might have because my view is jaundiced with age and experience. Training - In the beginning "Training" for ARES was what the EC dreamed up. Really, the only "formal" training was what ever the EC figured we needed. At the end of 2017 we have 26 members who have completed the ICS training. That is training that we would have cut throats for back in 1993. And the willingness that the members have taken to the training has been nothing short of outstanding. I am truly grateful for their efforts to do that training. In addition to that several members have taken the training offered by LCEMA to go farther than just what is required. The fact that LCEMA is offering LCARES the opportunity to take this training is nothing short of a miracle that came in the form of Lucy Morgan, LCEMA Director. Lets face it. Lucy has stepped up and given LCARES opportunities to excel and be part of the EMA Team. She has always had faith in the ARES program and since she has become our Director she has doubled that faith in LCARES. She has been terrific to work with and for. Her support of Amateur Radio goes beyond LCARES and out to the Murgas ARC. This county is truly benefiting from her leadership and LCARES is benefiting from her faith in us. And I can't let the subject go without mentioning Dave Elmore, KC3IMJ, who has not only joined out ranks as a Ham but makes sure that we know about all the good training topics. Dave makes an extra effort to include LCARES on anything that seems interesting. I am going to go out on a limb here and I'll say without reservation that in previous LCEMA management tenures that support of Amateur Radio was given lip service only. Today, under Lucy Morgan and Dave Elmore, LCARES receives support, backing, and it is utilized to make the mission of LCEMA successful. That is quite a lot for LCARES to live up to but we have so far. The Training that goes beyond our ICS Training is our Message Handling Training. This training has its roots in the early 90's and was developed under the guidance of Joe Smalley, WA3CKA. LCARES has taken it forward to today. The old path is still there. Taking the training messages over the air but as with all things there is now a streamlined path to accomplish the goal in less time. This makes more members available for emergency communications. We have 12 LCARES members fully qualified at this time. And I know that in a short while AB3ZI will reach his goal of 73 messages. In 2018 there will be a requirement for those 12 so they can maintain that fully qualified status. That will be the Monthly Message Challenge. As long as there is participation every quarter the member will be considered as maintaining their status at the top level. Training is not popular but it is necessary. The goal in 2018 will be to make in more interesting for those that have met the standard so far. Responses/Public Service... - 2017 saw LCARES actually "respond" to a situation. The Tornado in Pittston Township was unfortunate for the residents but it was good fortune for us. It was serendipity from start to finish. Many of our members were at the EOC and ready to go. Dave Elmore realized that he needed us for both eyes and ears and for communications. So we got to shine. Something that does not happen all the time to an ARES group. The story of the response has been well told not only by me but by others. We are not a 1st Response team. LCEMA is not a 1st Response team. But for once in my 41 years of being the RO, EC, ACS Officer, DEC, and SEC we got our chance to shine. We didn't blow that chance and we learned a lot from it. The learning has changed things not only for us but for many of the other ARES groups in EPA. It was without a doubt a job well done by the LCARES. The Blizzard of March 2017 was another response. Mainly it was Skywarn snow fall reporting but there was a possible need and everyone stepped up to do the job. The County thought we were good enough to include in a Proclamation which pleased me more than you know. Recognition is a fleeting thing but it is nice when it shows up. In the Public Service area we have had 11 responses/public service events. A total of 798 man hours were logged according to the reports that I have sent to the ARRL. The average hourly cost for a volunteer communicator according to the ARRL $19/hour. So for the accounting it is $15,162. That is the value returned by our participation. Note that does not include the work to move around the ARES room furniture nor our other TM@EOC projects. If you add them in there is another 141 hours to be included in the total. 2017 did not have the Wilkes-Barre Triathlon but hopefully 2018 will. Our help of the YMCA Duathlons has been well appreciated by Rob Gould and others of the YMCA family. They can't respond with any thing other then their thanks but they are profuse with it. Luzerne County did not have a significant number of major responses this year. We were fortunate. LCEMA had routine runs but for the most part it was a quiet year after the March Blizzard. We may not be so lucky in 2018. Talen Practice Drill in September 2017... Fldigi made its debut in the Talen Practice Drill in September. It worked. Better than I had hoped. The forms worked and the layout of the forms that we used made a hit with the Talen folks. Our friends at 911 were impressed and finally got the message that we are not playing games but bringing technology that they would like to the table. The downside is the bar has been set higher than before. That means we have to put up or shut up this time around. That means an all out effort with Fldigi. The problem is not Fldigi as most of you realize. It is not hard to use. The problem is getting the warm bodies to the municipalities to get use Fldigi. Well, that and the printing problem. From my standpoint I have to say that it was rewarding. Long before many of you except for maybe N3RN, KA3EEO, and K3TOW we did this same thing using a packet TNC at the municipalities with a Kodak inkjet printer. It worked but the maintenance of the system was just too much. The success resulted in the EMA Director, Jim Siracuse, wanting to use the printers for more than they could produce. The printers were so unstable that many times the paper jammed and it was a mess when it came time to use them for the drill. It was just a nightmare even with the initial success. There was even experimentation with an over the air fax that turned out to be much less than successful. So seeing Fldigi work was a mixed blessing to me. It vindicated my belief in it and in our operators but I knew that now it was going to be a race to make it work everywhere and the hardest thing would be to get the operators out to the municipalities to operate it. The technology is fine. Never a problem. The problem is always the humans. Social Media... - As much as I know about computers I have to admit that I know absolutely nothing about social media. There are courses in the ICS catalog about it and how to use it but I will be the first to admit that I am really in the dark about it. But it is a necessary thing to have these days. LCARES does have a Facebook page. That is entirely due to the efforts of N3SRO who I thank for stepping up and creating and continuing to update that page. Dave has been an asset to LCARES in more ways than the Facebook page and I want to thank him for his valuable contributions over the year. TM@EOC.. - What started out as a convenient way to have some time at the LCEMA EOC to work on projects has turned out to be a weekly happening. I thought it was going to be a "meet a few times" and then it would be just me. It has not. If nothing else it has grown. And even though at times it seems that the TM@EOC participants are all going in different directions there is sound evidence of work getting done. Things have happened. The entire LCARES room was rearrange. The room was emptied for carpet installation. I balked when they wanted it emptied again for painting. Last time I checked painting wasn't going to improve out signal to the outside world. Shelves have appeared on top of the cubicles and on the walls. Just a fantastic amount of work was done over the year. KB3VS, N2PQP, and KC3FKW have been more than helpful with everything in the LCARES room. Those three have wired and changed the network hub, put up shelves, been up in the ceiling running wires and coax, building things, and you name it they have been into it. N1ZZZ has poked his head up under many of the cubicles to install the rig runners and keep the HF APRS up and running. KB3FVF has been a work horse for us. No matter what you need Tony has been there to lend a hand. N3SRO and N3SMC have been there to help when their work schedules have permitted it and always have been a big help. KA3EEO and N3RN have kept the filing cabinet in some kind of shape and worked on the go-kits and the big shipments from Ham Radio Outlet. And N3RN has finally gotten the Hex Beam working! K3NDB manages to join us when ever he is able to get to Wilkes-Barre. His fertile mind and skills are always appreciated. All of us look forward to the day when he'll be able to join us more often. K3IK and K2OZO often show up to lend moral support to our efforts and we are always glad to see them. Ham Cram... - There were 5 Ham Cram sessions run this year with mixed results. The good news is that we did garner at least one new member for LCARES. Welcome to KC3JXL. The preparation for the Ham Cram is about 4 to 8 hours per session and the sessions usually last 8 hours. Every time a new set of questions arrives for a license class that time grows exponentially. It usually takes between 48 and 60 hours to set up. For that reason LCARES will end the Ham Cram after 2018. This is a project better left to an Amateur Radio Club. I will be passing it off to them. The EOC will be available and it would probably be a good idea if the Murgas Club picks this up or at least starts a monthly testing session such as the JMRA and the SPARK does. LCARES Net and LCADN... - The Tuesday Night LCARES Net had 47 sessions this year with an average of 11 participants per net. That is very respectable for any county ARES organization in EPA. It is one very well attended net. The need for Net Control Operators is at a critical point. With K3NDB and WB3FKP on the injured reserve list and KA3EEO and N3RN departed for their winter home that leaves only 3 regular net controls. K3DBG, KC3FKW, and WN3LIF. This net has been active since 2014 and the procedures should be well known to all. I will not ask the 3 remaining net controls to take more than one net per month. So beginning in 2018 if a Net Control Volunteer does not step for the net then it will net will be canceled for that week. A volunteer can take one net to see how it goes and then volunteer for any open net slot. I understand that work does take its toll but if the volunteer happens to be available then they can just volunteer with at a moments notice. And they won't be there alone. If all they want to do is read the preamble and let one of other stations handle the check-ins that will work. They just need to make the effort. LCADN is functioning well. At a slower pace but I think it will pick up after the Holidays. LCADN had 45 sessions this year with an average of 6 check-ins per net. The fact that the LCADN members can function at the highest data speeds with little or no effort is remarkable. I think that we have come a long way in the past 3 years. We have had some fun and some interesting challenges. For the time being I will remain as net control but I'll work on giving some of the others the opportunity to try it. After all it is the place to make the goofs so that we don't make them in the field. I can't let this go because why the heck would I be keeping the stats. KC3FKW lead both nets in attendance with 44 Check-ins for the LCARES Net and 42 Check-ins for the LCADN. In second place for the LCARES net is WB3FKP. Despite his illness he managed to make 42 nets for the year. Right behind him is K3DBG with 41 Check-ins. Second place for the LCADN Net is K3DBG with 38 Check-ins and right behind him is N3PQP with 22 Check-ins. Thank you to all of those who have made the effort to join our net and do some training with us. Bulletins... - I started monitoring the Bulletin responses on February 12, 2017. There were 45 bulletins sent in that period. A max of 15 responses were logged in one week. The split from the Over The Air vs the Download has been interesting with over 92% of the responses coming over the air. However, the download count on the web site indicates that there are regular listeners downloading it but not responding. That I find interesting but not unexpected. Anyone who has ever run a survey knows that if you put out 100 surveys you might get 5 responses. It is just the way people are. The end of March when my tenure as SEC ends will see a scaling back of the bulletin. I have tried to keep it general but I don't think that sharing it with the world has worked as well as I had hoped. So I'll scale back on the distribution including the emailing to the section and division people as well as the N3LLR forum. That will cut back some of the time needed to prepare it. However, to replace it I may start sending an abbreviated version on HF again. That was always a fun thing to do. On average the SNB takes 5 to 7 hours to get ready. The sending is the easy part. The typing takes a lot of work. Some of the 'fluff' in the bulletin will go too. The WX was put in as an example of our Fldigi could retrieve it. It grew with the addition of the Hazardous WX statement. To be pertinent it had to be put in right before it was sent on the air. As a demonstration it has outlived its usefulness so tonight it is gone. It is one less thing that I have to hurry up and do right before transmission time. The bulletin response has been fun. I started announcing the first, second, and third place responders and that seems to have started a bit of a competition. I like that and nothing wrong with it. As long as the rest of the bulletin is read eventually. The top bulletin responder is, you guessed it, KC3FKW! 44 responses for 98%. If his computer hadn't broke he probably would have been at 100%. Right behind him is KB3VS with 43 responses for 96%. KB3VS had to download more bulletins so that caused his percentage to go down a bit. 2 points are awarded for an OTA response and 1 point for a download response. So out of 45 bulletins Rich missed 1 and Bob missed 2. In 3rd place is K3DBG with 40 responses for 89%. And while I didn't want to go past 3rd place I think that I should mention N3PQP with 39 reponses for 87%. Thank you to all of you who have responded. I think my "your response is correct and noted" is the most read email phrase for the LCARES. The full stats on the LCARES Net, the LCADN, and the Bulletin responses are on the LCARES Member Stats link above. The Go-Kits... As many of you know the Go-Kits have been my pet project this year. The lessons learned from the Tornado have made it a priority for me. Thanks to the recent efforts by the TM@EOC they are in good shape. KB3FVF and I spent Thursday morning at the EOC putting in the final updates for scripts which will result in yet again a change to the Guidelines and Procedures manual. I would not have gotten it all done without KB3FVF's assistance and my thanks to Tony for giving me a hand there. So with the available budget that I get I'll try to finish off the 4 go-kits that we have and maybe get 1 or 2 more. That should put us in a position to do just about anything. At that point we'll work with them until we get a procedure down that lets all of the LCARES members put a go-kit into operation. That will be a lot more fun than what we have been doing with them. Next Year... The big plan for next year is to have enough laptops ready to go for the upcoming Talen Drill (formerly known as the SSES drill). The idea will be that every municipality will have an operator, a laptop with Fldigi, and a USB microphone. A printer would be nice but it remains to be seen what can be acquired to do the job. I am hoping that KC3HLT will be able to work his magic for us. That is the goal and if we accomplish that I will be very happy. In April we will be having our annual comm-ex on the last weekend of April. We have also been asked to put up a station at the 911 center weekend exhibit. Lots to do. The Talen Drill right now is the 800lb Gorilla staring at us for 2018. We were really successful for the 2017 test drill. There will be another test drill in September with the real drill to follow in October. There are a maximum of 18 locations to be covered. More than likely less but we have to plan for all 18. There are 32 members in LCARES. Take out the LCARES Room staffing and we have 26. Take out the injured reserve and we have 24. That looks like enough but not everyone will play. If we miss one municipality then we have FAILED! If the municipality is playing then I really don't want them listing an ARES operator as an unmet need. In the next bulletin I'll detail what I need from every LCARES member in regards to the Talen Drill. There are 10 months to the big show. Lets use that time to get comfortable with what we need to do. And last - I hate to admit it but I am at a time in my life that I have to start looking at ends instead of beginnings. 2018 will probably be my last year as your EC. I have done it for over 41 years with only a slight interruption and I will remain as the District EC for the next 3 years. I have grandiose plans such as building out an HSMM network to the municipalities but that is a beginning. I really need to let someone else handle a beginning. So it is time for someone to decide that they want the job. It is better to start out while the Old EC is around to help. So the door will be open following the October Talen Drill for some one in the LCARES group to decide that they want to make the decisions. All of you have seen what it takes. I think there are many of you who have what it takes. I guess it is time for you to decide if you have what it takes. Happy New Year.... - If John is on schedule and you are reading right after he sent it then there is probably 2 and one half hours remaining in 2017 for our locale. I want to thank all of you for your great support, for putting up with my irascibility, for making efforts above and beyond, through out the entire year of 2017. You are without a doubt one of the best ARES groups that I know of. I am very proud of all of you. As I have said many times - you make me look good! A very Blessed and Happy New Year to all of you. May it be a prosperous one, a joyful one, and one that you will look back on with fond memories. 73 from the Old EC... 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 Closing Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators. Send reception reports and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a good week everyone! 73, W.T. WN3LIF ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator ARRL ARES® Emergency Coordinator Luzerne County ARES® email: email@example.com 3:16 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.