ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-01-14

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Jan 14, 2018.

  1. W.T. Jones

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

    Luzerne County ARES® Sunday Night Bulletin
    "We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."
    Archilochus - Greek Poet and Soldier

    "Success is not Final. Failure is not Fatal. The only thing that matters is the courage to carry on."
    Winston Churchill


    If you are an ARRL member and you have at least noticed what the ARRL Board is doing then here is the information you need to react to it.
    If you are not aware of what the ARRL Board is doing then it is time for you to get informed!


    • Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    • Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    • 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 11/11/2018
    • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 1/12/18)...
    • Weekly Images
    • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
      • KB3VS, Crime Watch Meeting, Spreading the Word About Ham Radio...
      • Flmsg has been updated to 4.0.4...
      • Disaster Resistant Communities - Just In Time Disaster Training Videos...
      • LCARES Net Battery Night...
      • Change In Policy...
      • Tone Search on a Baofeng HT? Yes.
      • Six Month Review Time...
      • Wonder Loop Antenna...
    • EPA-ARRL Web site...
    • Ham Radio Links
    • Closing
    Bulletin Date: January 14, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 181

    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 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 4.0.4* 2.2.03
    Current as of: January 14, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.

    Do Not Upgrade to Flmsg 4.0.4 - There is a bug in the custom forms processing!
    Latest versions available at
    Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    - 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 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.

    1. N3SRO is looking for shack photos for posting to the LCARES Facebook page. Send your photos to
    2. *Tuesday, January 16th - 9:30AM breakfast at Ollies in Kingston and at 11:00AM will be a 10 meter test. See the Activities Schedule for information on both. No TM@EOC this week!
    3. AB3ZI will be the LCARES Net Control for January 23rd. The net is on.
    4. The January Monthly Message Challenge is active.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. The LCARES Skywarn Reporting Spreadsheet has been updated and is available on If you need the user id and password email the EC.
    8. Do not upgrade to Flmsg 4.0.4 until further notice - There is a problem with custom forms handling!
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 11/11/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 1/12/18)...

    Sunday Night Bulletin for January 7, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    Rich, KC3FKW
    2nd Response
    Bill, KC3HLT
    3rd Response
    Bob, KB3VS
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 9
    Weekly Images
    I was planning on attending the Montgomery County ARES meeting on Saturday morning. Right up until I walked out the door at 7:00AM. Even with the bitter cold around Christmas when I walked on the snow it crunched and I sunk to ground level. Today nothing crunched and the layer of ice below the thin layer of snow was pure, unadulterated, ice! And it was still snowing. So being a wiser person than I was many years ago I said it is better to stay home and live to attend another meeting on another day.
    So I stayed home and had some fun on the radio and worked on the SNB!
    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    KB3VS, Crime Watch Meeting, Spreading the Word About Ham Radio...
    - Bob, KB3VS, visited the Sweet Valley Neighborhood Crime Watch meeting in December. Despite a recalcitrant laptop Bob put on a great demonstration about Ham Radio, communications, and emergency preparedness. The Sweet Valley Neighborhood Crime Watch Newsletter has the details and pictures of KB3VS doing the presentation.

    Bob's talk included the essentials for a go-bag in case of a disaster, the Tornado in Pittston Township, and a demonstration of Ham Radio by talking with N3PQP at Promised Land State Park. Hopefully, some of the SVNCW will take Bob's offer about becoming Amateur Radio Operators. We know that cell phones don't always work. Hopefully, they got the message from Bob.

    Flmsg has been updated to 4.0.4...
    - The Flmsg Development Team has been busy and has issued an update to Flmsg 4.0.4.

    Here is a list of "fixed" problems:

    Version 4.0.4
    * Maintenance release
    Documentation update
    * Update documentation describing file transfers
    File Transfer
    * Add user configurable compression of file transfers unlikely define for OS X G4 build
    * Insure that utils.h and utils.cxx are included in build
    Calendar widget
    * Fix to year display bug This was the one that was found during one of our LCADN sessions.
    Min Mode List
    * Update list of compatible fldigi modes
    All LCARES members using Flmsg should update as soon as possible.

    Disaster Resistant Communities - Just In Time Disaster Training Videos...
    - I posted this as a resource 3 years ago to the N3LLR Forum. The Disaster Resistant Communities Project is from Tallahassee, FL, but it is applicable world wide. The training videos run the gamut from the Rules of War (Yes Virginia there are Rules about War!) to Emergency Communications to Mine Disaster Management (I watched the that and I was enlightened by the practices). The web site has a Training Library that consists of videos that are without a doubt the easiest way to refresh yourself on things from First Aid to Winter survival. I recommend it highly.

    The main page is at

    I think that bookmarking that link and when you are sitting there staring at something useless you go to the DRC web page and pick a topic and watch the video. It is really worth the time.

    Now, I am going to give you an assignment. It will take about 20 minutes of your time but it will be a well spent 20 minutes. There is a training video on Fire Communications. OK, most of us are not fire fighters but the concepts on how to communicate in the video are what we should be considering when we are using "tactical messaging" during our public service and emergency communications support. It is what I try to do but usually am told I am not being "friendly" when I do it on the air. Sorry but being friendly is for times when efficiency is not required.

    We talk on the radio. I had a great QSO with KB3VS last night when he was on the way home. No formality. Just plain old rag-chewing about cars, potato chips, and getting milk from the store. We talk to our spouses, our friends, our harmonics, and the checker at the super market. None of these conversations require the 4-C's. What are the 4-C's. Watch this video and tell me. Those that respond correctly will get a Training Credit for this year. Here is the link to the video even though I should make you go to the main page and search for it.

    LCARES Net Battery Night...
    - Now that the Holidays are gone its time to ramp up the training. I have let it slide a bit after the Talen Practice last September. Time to move on to honing the edges a bit. We have not had a battery night in a while. LCARES Net on February 6 will be a Battery Night. You can check in on an HT on batteries for 1 point, from your mobile rig for 1 point, from your home station on e-power for 2 points. If your entire station including your lights, laptop, coffee maker, and anything else in your shack is on e-power you get 3 points. You will earn 3 additional points if you used solar power to charge your batteries. You can earn 2 additional points for sending a message to the LCARES EC stating your e-power status.

    Note: For the purposes of the net and to level the playing field - e-power, in this case, must be portable enough to move out of your home and go somewhere. Remember, having a home station that has emergency power is a great thing but the odds are you will be needed to go somewhere to operate. Yes, you could be a net control station from your home but we would only need 1 of them at a time.

    Change In Policy...
    For almost a year I have been sending out 3 versions of the Sunday Night Bulletin. The "On The Air", "Download", and the "Forum" versions have gone out every week. The laziness factor seems to keep the majority of our LCARES members from even going to the web site and downloading the wav file to play it back and then sending in a response to it. There is no cost associated with doing that so it can't be money that is keeping them from doing it. Fldigi and flamp are free. Everyone seems to have a computer and I don't think that the technical issues of installing the Fldigi and flamp programs is all that great of a deal.

    If you don't care please let me know. I don't expect everyone on the LCARES roster to have the same dedication to ARES that I do. I do however expect that if you signed up that you stay informed. If you have lost interest please let me know so I can remove you from the roster.

    The info in these bulletins needs to get out to those that signed up. I am going to set up an autosend of the Sunday Night Bulletin on Thursday Morning. That is late enough for all that care to do the 15 minutes of effort and respond. The Forum version will go out in the email and the challenges are not included in the Forum version. No credit for not working to get the bulletin.

    BTW, if you have a reason for not getting the bulletin let me know. It might be something that I can help overcome.

    Tone Search on a Baofeng HT? Yes.
    - AB3ZI found a feature on the Baofeng HTs and has provided this write up on the feature. I am going to find a spot on the web site for it.

    I first used a tone search feature (my FT-857D's) in November 2017, and was pretty pleased with the results, as I mentioned on a few nets at the time. The feature is not quite as exotic as I had initially thought. I haven't researched this yet, but apparently some (most?) repeaters today include the access tone frequency component in their transmissions (more seasoned hams, please weigh in here). I don't know the mechanism, but suspect that the intent is to enable a tone search using radios' Rx coded squelch (whether continuous tone or digital). From what I observe, a rig like my 857D simply cycles through the squelch codes during a repeater's Tx until the squelch opens . . . the repeater's access tone has been discovered. Of course, the same operation may be performed on inbound repeater signals (which open it), if they're strong enough to be detected directly.

    Now, the 857D implements the tone search function in such a manner that only a few key presses are required from the operator before he's breaking into a repeater QSO. While it's not quite so easy on the Baofeng UV-5R line, I was awfully intrigued back around Thanksgiving when I first came across (I believe it was the first time) the tantalizing possibility of tone search on my first radio, and still my go-to hand-held, the UV-5R. The reference came in the "Baofeng UV-5R Series Manual" I happened to find at while searching for a GT-3TP manual (I believe was the circumstance). The manual's cover lists the UV-5RV2+, UV-5R E, UV-5R A, and the UV-5R AX+. Perhaps tone search was added to these successors to the popular UV-5R, but not included in that earlier iteration. I sure hoped that was not the case.

    While the "Baofeng UV-5R Series Manual" includes an entire section on page 25 under a prominent and clearly worded "Tone Scanning" header, the problem is that the listed procedure only worked for me on a few occasions (when I managed to execute it to the letter), and did not work as advertised most of the time. I was going to write in this article that the stock UV-5R manual (since updated by Baofeng) made no mention of the tone scanning feature, but I decided to take a fresh look at that document first. As it turns out, one of the bullet points for the [*SCAN] key does state that "while setting RX CTCSS/DCS, press the key [*SCAN] to scan the RX-CTCSS/DCS." A more experienced ham might have understood the implications of this cryptic sentence, but when I read it as a brand-new licensee it was clear as mud.

    In any event, it was on an early January 2018 business trip that I decided to revisit the matter and experiment some more. I am now confident that I've found the few missing steps of the procedure, presented here in its entirety:

    1. Press the [MENU] button to enter the menu during a repeater Tx.

    2. Enter [1] [1] on the numeric keypad to scan for CTCSS sub-tones (or [1] [0] on the numeric keypad to scan for DCS codes, as the procedure is analogous for DCS).

    3. Press the [MENU] button to select and adjust the setting.

    4. If the R-CTCS/R-DCS setting is OFF, press the up arrow once, merely to select some tone/code, thereby activating coded squelch. If a tone/code is already selected, jump to STEP 7.

    5. Press the [MENU] button again to accept the setting. The letter pair "CT" (or "DCS") should now be visible on the display just to the left of "R-CTCS" (or "R-DCS).

    6. Press the [MENU] button once more to adjust the R-CTCS/R-DCS setting. Now the tones/codes may be cycled.

    7. Press the [SCAN] button momentarily. Scanning may be manually interrupted only by pressing the [MENU] button.

    8. CT or DCS will start flashing in the display as the radio starts scanning. When the coded squelch opens, those characters will stop flashing, indicating that a successful tone/code has been discovered.

    9. Press the [MENU] button to confirm.

    10. Press the [EXIT] button to exit the menu.

    The just-discovered tone/code will need still to be stored in the T-CTCS/T-DCS menu item for the repeater Rx frequency (after determining the repeater shift), but the hard lifting's been done. Of course, the scanning procedure can be performed manually on any rig which offers Rx coded squelch (and which modern ones do not?), but I prefer to leverage all the functionality a piece of gear has to offer.

    73 de AB3ZI

    Thanks John for the great information!

    Six Month Review Time...
    - I will be going through the records from last year and emailing the evaluation results out. These are not shared with anyone. They are between you and me. They are just away of judging your readiness for what we are supposed to do and that is be prepared to provide communications. "Providing Communications" today means more than operating a radio from your home or participating in our training nets. There are additional factors that need to be considered such as meeting the training requirements of our served agencies. Most of you have done well and are continuing to do well. There is a new ARES coming this year. I don't have all the details but judging from what I hear in the scuttlebutt it will not be the old "as long as you have an license you're in" concept. And it will require you to register through the ARRL to maintain your ARES registration. Blame Puerto Rico for that.

    Wonder Loop Antenna...
    - OK, being up front here. Pete, VE3HOH, sent this to me and I have not tried it but I am seriously thinking of plunking down some of the reserved funds for this antenna. If for nothing else to see if it really plays as advertised. There are several names for this box: Wonder Loop, Moonraker Ltd Whizz Loop, and Wonder Wand. Just depends on where you look.

    DX Engineering has Moonraker Whizz Loops and they look the same as the one in the Youtube Video.

    With a cost range in the $100.00 range it is affordable. My main thought is my wandering treks in Suscon. While the fishing pole setup has served me well I like the compactness of this. I would go for the 40 meter to 10 meter version.

    The Wander Loop, sold by HRO, has a frequency range of 7mHz to 50mHz with a price in the $160.00 range.

    The loop that everyone compares other loops to is the Alex Loop WALKHAM. I have worked stations using the Alex Loop on QRP and have been surprised by the performance at the receiving end. No experience with it on the transmitting side. The cost of the Alex Loop is quite a bit more than the Whizz Loops at $400.00.

    The one that OH8STN always uses is the Chameleon Antenna's CHA F-Loop 2.0. I have had my hands on one of these and I can say that it is built like a battleship but I have never found any product made by Chameleon Antennas to be anything less. The cost is the same as the Alex Loop at DX Engineering and that is around $400.00. The fact that OH8STN likes and recommends it means that I rate it highly and worth the $400.00.

    So right now I think I will probably get the Whizz Loop just for the sake of testing. Just the thing to try in the Gazebo in the dead of winter.

    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. Total prep time for this bulletin - 5 hours.

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