ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-03-18

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Mar 18, 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 2/17/2018
    • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 3/11/18)...
    • Weekly Images
    • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
      • I am still the SEC...
      • ARES Connect...
      • New modes for Winlink...
      • Getting Ready for Wildfires Early...
      • Enhancements to "The Rock"...
      • New Stuff from OH8STN...
      • Real World Emergency...
      • Simplex Test Results...
      • Spring Skywarn Training...
    • EPA-ARRL Web site...
    • Ham Radio Links
    • Closing
    Bulletin Date: March 18, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 190

    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
    4.0.16 4.0.6* 2.2.03
    Current as of: March 18, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.
    Latest versions available at

    LCARES Members are requested to stay at Flmsg 4.0.5 until the new version is tested with the SSES Forms.
    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: March 11, 2018

    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. The 2018 Communications Exercise is set for April 28th. The planned frequencies will be on 2 meters and 10 meters. There are plans for 2 fixed locations and at least 3 mobile stations.
    2. A dry-run of the proposed locations for the April Commex will be held on March 31st. The EC would like as many LCARES members who can make it come and try it out.
    3. * the TM@EOC session for March 20th is canceled due to a Training Class at the EOC.
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 2/17/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 3/18/18)...

    Note: Credit is given for responding but to win, place, or show the answer has to be correct.
    Sunday Night Bulletin for March 11, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    Bill - KC3HLT
    2nd Response
    Dave - N3SRO
    3rd Response
    Rich- KC3FKW
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 10
    Weekly Images

    Tech Day at the EOC on March 17th - KC3JXL, KA3GRS, KC3JMO, KB3VS, AB3ZI, K3IK (in the door), KC3IMK, KB3FVF, and KC3FKW in the LCARES Room and out of view.
    10 Meter Dipoles, Tape Measure antennas, and other things were worked on.
    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    I am still the SEC...
    - Sigh! As much as I was hoping to shed the responsibility for the EPA Section it appears that my pledge will keep me on until October 31st. I could have just walked away but I made a promise. I keep my promises. So our Section Manager, WB3W, is stuck with the position until October 31st and I said I'd stay on for the duration of his term. Hence I stay.

    So what happened? The process of electing a new Section Manager is well defined in the ARRL Rules and Regulations. The dates for doing things are well defined too. The candidates who submitted nominating petitions were late. Simple as that. So the ARRL has to re-solicit nominating petitions, have the members of the section vote, announce the results, and then install the SM. The new nominating period starts now and ends in June. I think it is the 10th but don't hold me to that. The balloting which takes a while will end in August with the announcements of the results to follow. So on October 31st the term of WB3W ends and the next day the EPA Section will have a new Section Manager and I will be old news.

    ARES Connect...
    The ARES Connect project moves forward. The beta testing starts soon. This, I am sure, will turn up modifications that need to be made. All that will take some time and I am expecting to see the rollout of ARES Connect some time in the Fall time period. I would hope it is earlier but I would rather not anticipate it.

    ARES Connect will directly affect all of you since you will be required to logon and provide your information. This will not be difficult but it will require that you do it. I am sure that I won't be the only EC in the country chasing members to register. But that is in the future so don't worry too much about it right now.

    New modes for Winlink...
    - There are new modes available on winlink called ARDOP and VARA. These new modems are integrated into the beta test versions of Winlink Express. According to N1ZZZ, my purveyor of winlink knowledge, these new modems will challenge the Pactor P3 modes as far as speed on a clear channel. They are really new developments and something to take notice of as far as we are concerned. Winmor, long the software modem standard for Winlink Express, has pretty much been tagged for deprecation because of these new modems.

    You can read about these new modems and their integration into Winlink at these web sites: (Winlink Main Website) (EA5HVK's VARA web site) (winlink's ARDOP overview page)

    Getting Ready for Wildfires Early...
    - EM Newsletter Editorial - This article talks about the California Wildfires that happened last year and the need to be proactive with resources or as one Fire Chief said "we have to be more nimble at the start!"

    Some of you might remember that I wrote about the communications problems in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, last year. That was one very big mess to say the least.

    So... I have decided to make the 2018 Communications Exercise a major fire outbreak in Luzerne County. This is an exercise! Only an exercise! Not saying it is going to happen and even if it does I have faith in our fire fighters to deal with the situation. But it makes for an interesting exercise for communications.

    In Gatlinburg the fires literally wiped out the state wide communications system. Fiber cables melted, overhead cables got hot and failed, everything that could go bad did.

    So the scenario that I have come up with (as of right now) is this:

    Major Forest Fire outbreak has resulted in major outages in public service communications. Repeater, remote base, and all mountaintop supported communications have been impacted. In order to deal with the situation LCEMA has established an Incident Command Base in a section of the county to support fire fighting, search and rescue, and relief efforts. Communications are at a premium and Amateur radio is being called upon to fill the gaps.

    At location X the fire has caused a resort hotel to collapse and entrap several guests in the basement of the hotel. The fire threatens the scene again and requires fire crews to deploy to maintain the integrity of the rescue area while search and rescue function is performed to locate the trapped victims of the collapse.

    A stable housing the resorts horses has been burnt causing the horses to panic and several of them to be trapped in the marsh. The County Animal Rescue Team (CART) has been called to rescue the horses.

    The scenario is rather straight forward. Nothing fancy but it gives a plausible reason to build on for the exercise. We can't communicate for ourselves without getting really bored really quick. We go to a spot, set up, talk to the other station, pack up, go home, end of exercise. Been there and done that. Time to do something different.

    Our simplex test proved that we can talk on 2 meters over most of the northern section of Luzerne County. We really need to get the southern part of Luzerne County going but that is another story. So again, we need to take it to another level. Something that we have not done before.

    So based on the scenario there are 3 communications links needed for the exercise.

    Since it is a really "big" incident an Incident Command Post (remember your ICS training) will be established to control the situation because the County EOC will be handling other incidents through out the county. That means that we need point to point from the ICP to the EOC. This will be record traffic so it will be an fldigi circuit.

    There will be 3 "Single Resource Teams" or SRTs involved. The Fire Fighters, the Search and Rescue Team, and the Animal Rescue Team. These will need communications back to the ICP. The SRTs will need intra-team communications as well. A diagram will look something like this.

    The diagram is a "first go" and it will be fleshed out a bit more. The links between the ICP and the SRTs will be 10 meter HF links. The link back to the EOC may be an 80 meter NVIS link courtesy of KA3GRS. It does paint a high level picture of what is planned.

    As they used to say on the radio - Stay Tuned Loyal Listeners! There is more to come!

    Enhancements to "The Rock"...
    - N3VTH has been busy working on the 146.88 repeater located on Red Rock. The transmit and receive antenna have been split. This was done to remove the "noise" that plagued the 88 repeater. N3VTH supplied some photos of the effort.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    I don't know about you but I sure would not like to be climbing a tower on the top of Red Rock in the Winter!

    N3VTH has asked that I try to get some more traffic on the 88 repeater. So I will be retransmitting the SNB on 146.88 for the next several weeks. One of the other things that I plan to do is to make use of the practice of sending stations off the main net frequency to pass traffic. This is a very common practice on High Frequency traffic nets.

    What happens is this. Two stations, one with traffic and one that needs to get it, are on the main net frequency. The Net Control Station (NCS) will find an open frequency and tell the two stations to go to that frequency, exchange their traffic, and return when done.

    The exchange would be something like this with W3ABC having a piece of traffic for Hazleton and W3XYZ taking it.

    "W3ABC and W3XYZ 3905 and down pass 1 for Hazleton"

    "W3ABC Roger"

    "W3XYZ Roger" This tells the NCS that each station heard the instructions and would carry them out.

    The two stations go to 3905 (a 75 meter frequency) and establish communications. If 3905 is busy they will work "down" the band to find an open spot to pass the traffic. Once the traffic is passed the two stations return to the main net frequency.

    At a convenient break the sending station (the station who had the traffic) will break in with the following:

    "W3ABC back passed 1 for Hazleton"

    The NCS will immediately acknowledge the returning station and note that the traffic is passed.

    Protocol would be for NCS to immediately call W3XYZ to see if that station is back on frequency. If the NCS does not then the receiving station should wait for a break and announce that the station has returned. If W3XYZ is back fast enough he can do it right after W3ABC checks back on the net frequency.

    For the LCARES net the NCS can just send the two stations to the 88 repeater to pass their traffic.

    This will be good for the 88 repeater and good practice for us.

    New Stuff from OH8STN...
    - Julian has been busy.

    First up is the Yaesu FT-817ND Go-Kit. I am a big fan of the FT-817. Just love it. Julian gives a list of the contents of go-kit built around the FT-817ND.

    Julian's next effort is a DIY (Do It Yourself) QRO (yes that means high power) 10Ah LiFePO4 Pack for the Yaesu FT-891. The FT-891 is the replacement for the FT-897. The FT-897 is the HF Rig that is in the LCARES Room at the EOC. Julian's take is that you can never have too much power when you are out and about. This is not a project for the faint of heart or sloppy of hand.

    Data Modes and Filters are Julian's offering on the value of Filtering. Julian does it with the FT-891 but the concepts are the same for any radio. I have found that the filters on the FT-991 really do make life a lot better on HF.

    The last entry is an effort to say that FT-891 doesn't consume all that much current. The FT-891 Current Consumption Test is just a video showing an ammeter showing the current use on the FT-891 at various power levels. I have a little problem with this test. While the first test showing the current consumption at various output levels on only band is interesting the real test would have been to pick a power level and do it on each band that the FT-891 has available. The reason I say this is that finals especially MOSFET can be finicky at different frequencies. While they may loaf along on 75/80 meters they may heat up a bit and chew on more current at 10/6 meters. So it is a nice test and may disprove the ARRL findings but I think the test only goes halfway to proving anything other than the ammeter looks neat.

    Real World Emergency...
    - "This is not a drill. This is not a drill. General Quarters General Quarters Man your battle stations."

    The words "This is not a drill" has long been the way to inform participants of an exercise that what is to follow is not part of the drill. The statements "this is a drill" or "this is an exercise" have long been inserted in messages, and will continue to be, have been the way of telling the non-involved that what is going on is just for practice.

    In talking with Dave Elmore, Deputy Director for Luzerne County EMA, I have been informed that there has been a change. If there is an emergency during a drill or exercise the way of announcing that fact will be "This is a Real World Emergency!" It does eliminate some chance of misconception because "This is a Real World Emergency" sure does not sound like "This is not a drill!"

    Searching for the rationale for this change I can see that the term "real-world emergency" has become prevalent in many learned papers and articles. The interesting thing is that most of these learned papers and articles still state that drill/exercise traffic should start with "this is an exercise/drill" in the messages. I can see this appearing in the HSEEP (Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program) training. So I guess some where along the line this new term has been creeping in because of that training.

    It is a strong recommendation from PEMA that it be used in the event of a "Real World Emergency" so we will comply with it. However, I doubt that the first radio traffic from Hawaii on December 7, 1941, would have sounded the same if it said "Air Raid Pearl Harbor X This is a real world emergency!"

    Simplex Test Results...
    - The March 13th simplex test was a success. Well, it was a success for those of us who took part in it. Those of you who didn't join us missed out on some fun. Stations that took part in the Simplex Test were: W3LUZ (LCARES EOC), AB3ZI, K3DBG, K3IK, K3TOW/M, KA3GRS, KB3VS, KC3IMK, N3SRO, WB3FKP, KC3FKW, KC3KRE, and KB3FVF assisted at the EOC.

    As expected the results show that the amount of metal in the air makes the biggest difference. We had several stations who participated with only HTs but they were heard. One of our newest members, KC3KRE, wasn't quite sure what was going on but he got in there are played. Good for him and for KC3IMK. It was a "never know until you try" situation. They tried, they made it. That is a great attitude to have when it comes to Ham Radio.

    Here is a picture of the stations that was constructed using Google Earth. Need to lighten the background up but I have not figured out how to do that with the Linux version of Google Earth.


    Click on the image for a larger version. The north end of the county was well covered but we need to get more stations from the southern part of the county on for these tests. I doubt highly that W3LUZ could hear them there is a good chance the KB3VS or N3SRO might.

    Analyzing things is always a favorite pastime for me. One of the features of Google Earth is the elevation profile. KC3FKW did not hear many of the stations for many reasons. He was not heard at W3LUZ. The elevation profile shows that he has some significant obstacles to overcome. But he was heard by at least 4 stations which means he is not out of the game because relays will make it happen.


    KC3FKW's call got a little cutoff but his marker is the yellow one above K3IK.

    As you can see there is significant dirt between him and the EOC. These profiles did not take into account any elevation of the antenna above ground. That elevation does make a big difference.

    And a big thanks to KC3FKW for taking the NCS slot for the LCADN following the test.

    Spring Skywarn Training...
    - Well, I know it is hard to believe but Spring is just around the corner. As I am typing this on Monday night there are 35 days until Spring arrives. As long as the ice goes away I'll be happy. Snow can stay but I really don't want to see any more ice. And I think my YF will agree with that.

    The Luzerne County edition of Spring Skywarn Training will be held on April 17th. Just about 2 months away. I am getting this out in front of folks and will keep it out in front them because I want a good turn out from our Luzerne County Ham Community. It is required for LCARES members to attend one every 2 years but I think that it would not hurt any of us to get to the training as a Refresher.

    Personally I would rather report some summer weather than more ice and snow. Sure would be nice.

    There are other courses being held through out District 3 so anyone not in Luzerne County reading this get to a Skywarn in your county. Skywarn is a "Meat & Potatoes" service that Amateur Radio operators can perform. We are very lucky in this area since we have a Weather Office that supports our efforts. The least we can do is support them.

    Here is the list of Skywarn Classes and the links to register for them. All classes are from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.

    March 21st
    Wayne County PA Emergency Management Agency
    43 Volunteer Drive
    Honesdale, PA 18431
    Wayne County Registration

    April 17th
    Luzerne County EMA
    185 Water Street
    Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702
    Luzerne County Registration
    Be sure to register because the presenter needs to know how much support materials to bring.

    And more classes for Lackawanna County, Wyoming County, and Susquehanna County will be coming.

    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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