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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
April 15, 2015
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

In This Issue:


News Digest

Amateur Radio weather spotters were on alert April 9 as severe weather and at least two tornadoes ripped through North-Central Illinois. At least one person died in DeKalb County, and at least seven others were injured. A tornado watch was in effect for parts of three states as severe thunderstorms moved through the region ahead of an advancing cold front. More here.

A shipment of ham radio equipment, tools, and supplies will head from Hawaii to the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) this week with John Bush, KH6DLK/V63JB. The radio gear will support communication for relief efforts as the FSM recover from Tropical Cyclone Maysak, which ravaged many of the nation's islands in late March and early April, wreaking major damage and causing some deaths. Bush plans to leave April 10. More here.

Amateur Radio will be part of the program when Preparedness Summit 2015 convenes April 14-17 in Atlanta. Special event station N4P also will be on the air from the conference location. The theme of this 10th Preparedness Summit is "Global Health Security: Preparing a Nation for Emerging Threats." More here.

ARES® volunteers in Puerto Rico took part in the 2015 Caribe Wave Large Atlantic Tsunami Exercise (LANTEX) -- an annual tsunami drill for the US East Coast, Canada, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Basin. The exercise involved some 50 nations. The aim of the March 25 exercise was to test the reliability of communication systems and protocols between centers of tsunami alerts and to help emergency management agencies to improve their preparedness in the event of a tsunami alert. More here.

Amateur Radio SKYWARN volunteers in Oklahoma went on alert March 25 as severe thunderstorms sparked tornadoes. The Southwest Independent Repeater Association (SWIRA) and Tulsa Region SKYWARN nets were active in support of tornado warnings in both the Oklahoma City and Tulsa Metropolitan areas. More here.


TEMA AuxComm Exercise at End of Month

A Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) auxcomm exercise slated for the end of this month will involve all of the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) States (Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi) along with other FEMA Region IV states. [FEMA Region IV serves the southeastern states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.] Amateur Radio, the Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) and the federal Shared Resources HF Radio Program (SHARES) are all participating. The exercise will be a follow-up to the Capstone 14 exercise. Winlink training will be a key mission objective.

There are three pathways used for interstate contingency communications under EMAC. [The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) is a state-led effort that provides a legal mechanism and framework for sharing resources across state lines during a governor-declared disaster.] The three pathways are LightSquared, a trunked voice/data satellite system; the National Warning System (NAWAS), an automatic telephone call-up system to warn federal, state and local entities of emergency/disaster issues; and Winlink over various pathways all usually operated by either an agency employee who is also a radio amateur, or auxiliary communications radio amateur-volunteer. Participating government agencies at all levels as well as public NGOs (Non-Government Organizations) are encouraged to make use of volunteers. - Steve Waterman, K4CJX, Winlink 2000 Network Administrator


Hurricane Season 2015: D-STAR Hurricane Net a Resource

The Florida Hurricane Net is a D-STAR net that meets each Monday night at 2100 eastern time. The net is currently held on D-STAR Reflector 037C, a major southeastern US network of D-STAR repeaters. The primary purpose of the net is to provide training and information to D-STAR operators in the three Florida ARRL Sections and greater southeastern portion of the country, and to check connectivity for the Central Florida Ratflector. This net is used during emergencies to supplement ARES and State EOC assets by passing ARRL Radiogram messages, Ham Watch weather reports, and humanitarian traffic. During emergencies, ARES and emergency traffic will be passed on Reflector 046C and the Northern Florida Ratflector.

In addition to hurricanes, the net can be activated for any major emergency or an event that has regional significance where it would be necessary to provide ARRL routine or humanitarian communications. Although this net is focused on training and support for ARES and its partner agencies to pass this type of traffic, any Amateur Radio operator or organization is welcome and encouraged to participate in the net.

A data base of operators has been established for the hurricane net. An e-mail notice of an approaching storm or hurricane and the planned time of net activation will be sent to all data base registrants. A data base map is available for all data base members. Click here for the data base application. Complete the form and e-mail it to Bob Jones, N6USP, net manager, and to ARRL Northern Florida Section Manager Steve Szabo, WB4OMM.

Net Control operators are being sought to help run the Florida Hurricane Net. If you are a Florida ARES member and wish to help with Net Control duties, please send an e-mail to the net manager Bob Jones, N6USP and he will provide your contact information to the appropriate Florida ARRL Section contact. Net Control responsibility is rotated among the three Florida ARRL Sections. - ARRL Northern Florida Section Newsletter


Hurricane Season 2015: Governor's Hurricane Conference Next Month in Orlando

While it's now been 10 years since the last hurricane crossed the Florida coastline, that same period has seen storms such as Sandy, Ike, Irene and Isaac devastate other areas. Learning the important operational lessons from these storms is important for future response efficiencies and effectiveness. The 29th Annual Governor's Hurricane Conference® (GHC) to be held in Orlando, May 10-15, is a good way to gain knowledge from lessons learned.The 2015 GHC theme is "Rethink Resilience...Connecting Capabilities for Stronger Communities." Over 300 hours of training and workshops covering all aspects of hurricane readiness, full of the latest trends, topics, tools and technologies to best improve your disaster response/recovery processes will be offered.

The Evolving Emergency Communications Landscape and How Our Federal Partners the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Can Assist is a workshop of special interest to radio amateurs to be held on Thursday, May 14, 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM. From its description: With the development of the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN), Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1), and Internet Protocol-based technologies, today's emergency communications networks are experiencing a wave of modernization. Learn how FEMA and the DHS Office of Emergency Communications assist the emergency response community in the use of these evolving emergency communications technologies, including emergency alerts, NG 9-1-1, Reverse 9-1-1, social media, GETS, WPS, IPAWS, CMAS, broadband, data, video and more. Conference information can be found here.


Hurricane Season 2015: Florida Statewide Hurricane Exercise Next Month

The Florida Statewide Hurricane Exercise is scheduled for next month. Northern Florida Section Manager Steve Szabo, WB4OMM, reports that the ARRL Northern Florida Section will be participating. An Exercise Plan (ExPlan) with specific participation requests to the Section ARES leadership will be released by mid-April. Szabo states that he will be asking each county ARES group to activate their local group, deploy members to partner agency locations in the field, and communicate specific information back to a central location.

Participants should plan to use HF, VHF/UHF, Pactor, D-STAR, D-RATS, and EchoLink modes, and will be required to use an ICS compliant message form (that will be provided). Contact your county ARES Emergency Coordinator (EC) ASAP for local information. Expect the ExPlan to be distributed before the 20th of April. - ARRL Northern Florida Section News


Write Now: HR-1301 Has Special Significance for Emergency/Disaster Operators

The Amateur Radio Parity Act of 2015 -- H.R.1301 -- has been introduced in the US House of Representatives. The measure would direct the FCC to extend its rules relating to reasonable accommodation of Amateur Service communications to private land use restrictions. HR 1301 would require the FCC to amend its Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply the three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to include homeowners' association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as "covenants, conditions, and restrictions" (CC&Rs). At present, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The FCC has been reluctant to extend the same legal protections to include such private land-use agreements without direction from Congress.

ARES members are urged to contact their US House members and ask them to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. We provide, on a volunteer basis, public service, emergency, and disaster relief communications using radio stations located in our homes. Our services cost taxpayers nothing. They are provided at no cost to any served agency or to any government entity. FEMA has stated that when Amateur Radio operators are needed in an emergency or disaster, they are really needed.

Land use restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems are the largest threat to Amateur Radio emergency and public service communications. -- ARRL


ARES Participates in Indiana Health Care Department Exercise

On March 14, 2015 the Hendricks County (Indiana) ARES group (HCARES) was invited by the Hendricks Regional Hospital to participate in the county's Family Assistance Center (FAC) exercise. This exercise was sponsored by the Hendricks County Health Department.

The hospital has had an Amateur Radio station installed at its facility since 2012. Administrators wanted HCARES to participate in passing health and welfare messages between the hospital and the Danville Community High School, where the FAC was located.

The hospital's Emergency Planning Facilitator and Hendricks County ARES Emergency Coordinator and Assistant RACES Radio Officer Ron Burke, KB9DJA, had put together a plan to set-up an Amateur Radio station at the high school that would send health and welfare messages to the radio amateurs positioned at the hospital.

Burke and operators deployed one of their remote portable go kits, (a "Pig") to set up in a classroom at the high school. Commercial power was employed and a Jetstream JTB3 dual band antenna was put up.

Chris Harrison, KD9BIX, operates the "Pig," Family Assistance Center 2015 exercise. (photo courtesy KB9DJA)

The JTB3 is a short base antenna with excellent gain for its height of six feet.

All radio amateurs were positioned at their assigned posts when the exercise commenced. The scenario was that a school bus of forty children overturned, causing casualties and several deaths. This was a mock disaster where over forty participants from local and state government along with Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) volunteers played a part, including the County Coroner.

During the exercise at the high school, a walk-in tour by several local and state officials involved observation of the Amateur Radio station operation. Burke explained to the group what they were hearing when a hand went up and an official asked, "So you can use Amateur Radio to pass messages when normal lines of communication are up but busy?" Burke replied affirmatively, but only if the other end of the communication had an Amateur Radio station nearby to receive the message/information. Last year, the hospital was trying to get through to another hospital during an exercise, when all they got was a busy signal and could not reach the intended recipient with an emergency statement. They used Amateur Radio instead to get the message through. Burke also explained that "we would also be called on during an emergency when the normal lines of communication are completely down." - Thanks, Ron Burke KB9DJA, Hendricks County (Indiana) ARES EC and RACES Assistant RO


Broadband-Hamnet Issues New Release of Firmware for Linksys and Ubiquiti

Broadband-Hamnet (BBHN) has released version 3.1.0 firmware for the Linksys WRT54G and Ubiquiti families of products. This firmware returns to the use of patch updates, while also supporting add-on tools such as HamChat created by VE3NKL and a tunneling solution optimized by K5DLQ. This firmware release continues support for emergency communications data networking in the 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 900 MHz bands using Ubiquiti equipment and in the 2.4 GHz band using Linksys equipment. By creating solutions with Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) hardware and Broadband-Hamnet firmware, a high-speed IP network can be deployed in the time required to set it in place and power it on.

There have been many requests for tunneling capability to allow interaction between remote Broadband-Hamnet networks. While this has been done before, the resources and complexity were quite high. With the new VTUN capability this feature becomes feasible for all Broadband-Hamnet users.

The HamChat server is a real innovation that allows keyboard-to-keyboard chats between any connected users on the same mesh. By using your web browser instead of chat client software, the complexity is reduced and the speed to deploy is increased. The HamChat server is not installed but is a downloadable package option for the Broadband-Hamnet 3.1.0 firmware.

The organization hopes that hams interested in high-speed data networks will look at the new Broadband-Hamnet 3.1.0 firmware. For more information, click on the group's website:


Letters: On-Line Training Courses Compendium

I know that there have been several instances where on-line training programs developed by ARES and/or RACES units in various states and counties have been mentioned either in QST or the ARES E-Letter. As I recall, these have generally been descriptions of individual programs, but I don't remember ever seeing any list covering multiple programs all in one place.

I was wondering if there is such a list. If not, would you consider soliciting such information via the ARES E-Letter and then making the list available through a latter issue of the letter?

From what I have seen, many of these on-line programs are open to all licensed amateurs with an interest in emergency communications, not just members of the specific unit. I think a compendium of such training resources would be valuable to the entire emergency communications community. -- Tom Currie, N4AOF, Louisville, Kentucky [Currie is a member of the Louisville-Jefferson County (Kentucky) RACES; Communications Officer, Southwest Branch, Louisville Area Chapter, American Red Cross; Secretary, Kentucky Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (KyVOAD); and President, Louisville METRO-REACT Team].


Feedback: Lubricating Ends of Mast Sections

Regarding the following that appeared in last month's issue: "When setting up a field antenna, use a spray can of silicon or graphite to lubricate the ends of your mast sections. You will find it much easier to disconnect the sections when you are ready to tear down. -- KB0H"

Most graphite compounds that I've seen are conductive, and should not be used on any kind of electrical connection. Granted, that with extreme care to insure there is NO graphite bridging the shield to the conductor in a coax or other connector, it would not be a problem. BUT, with typical "seepage" and lack of care when applying graphite to an RF assembly, I would advise against using graphite. I use pure silicon grease, available at many auto parts dealers. -- Alton Higgins, W4VFZ, ARES Emergency Coordinator, Towns County, Georgia; FEMA/Georgia state EMA ESF2 for Towns County


Profiles: Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV

Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV, has been the Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) since January 2009. CT ARES currently has over 750 registered members supporting the five Connecticut Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security (CT DEMHS) Regions and SKYWARN. From 2005 to 2008 he was the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) for Region 4 (Eastern Connecticut). During TOPOFF 3 in 2005 he was the primary tactical Net Control Station for the nearly 100 amateurs who supported this week long national level exercise.

Annually, Wayne is the organizer of Amateur Radio support for numerous public service events including AngelRide, a 135 mile charity bike ride that supports Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, a specialized summer camp for children with life-threatening diseases. Wayne assisted Region 4 ARES in obtaining grant funding to build a mobile communications unit (MCU) that deploys to support public service events and is available for emergency response if needed by the American Red Cross and other partner agencies.

Thanks to the Connecticut State Police Amateur Radio Club (W1SP) and many other Amateur Radio clubs, individual amateurs, and a few municipalities, CT ARES now has a Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) network to support emergency and disaster operations. Thirty networked repeaters provide nearly complete coverage of the entire state. In addition to a statewide Talk Group, several user activated Talk Groups permit the configuration of tactical sub-networks at the Region and local levels. More details about this network can be found here.

First licensed as a Novice in 1963 with call WN2GID, Wayne currently holds an Amateur Extra class license. He is active in emergency communications, data, and digital voice communications. He is

ARRL Connecticut Section Emergency Coordinator Wayne Gronlund, N1CLV.

certified as a FEMA Type 3 Communications Unit Leader (COML) and Communications Technician (COMT). He is Secretarial Administrator for the Region 4 Incident Management Team (CT-IMT4) and a crew member for the Region 4 Mobile Communications Vehicle (MCV4). He is currently Co-Chair of ESF-2 Communications for Region 4. In his role as CT ARES SEC, he sits as a member of the state's interoperability executive committee.

Wayne is a retired U. S. Coast Guard Captain, having commanded Coast Guard Cutter CAPE GULL and Coast Guard Group Atlantic City, New Jersey. He is Professor Emeritus from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy where he taught chemistry for 25 years. He has served as Navigator and Deck Watch Officer on Barque EAGLE, the Academy's square-rigged training vessel. After retiring from active duty in 2000, he was President of the Coast Guard Academy Alumni Association for four years where he raised funds to support excellence at the Academy. In 2004 he became Manager of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Lab, the Coast Guard's forensic laboratory for fingerprinting oil spills and determining their source. He retired in 2013 with a total of 48 years of service to the Coast Guard.

Wayne has a Bachelor of Science in General Engineering from the Coast Guard Academy. He earned a Master's in Physical Science and a PhD in Chemistry from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.

ARRL Connecticut Section Manager Betsey Doane, K1EIC, says "It's really been a privilege having Wayne as my SEC. He's got lots of support here. He's amazing."


What is DMR?

Digital Mobile Radio (DMR) was developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and is used worldwide by professional mobile radio users. Voice and data are supported.

There are three levels of involvement in DMR. The first is as a user, where you begin with a single radio, and later, possibly you'll add a second or third. The next level is as a repeater operator. You generally undertake this because there are no repeaters in your area or because you want better coverage. The third level of DMR participation is as a network operator -- you purchase and manage your own c-Bridge™ and build regional networks that interconnect to the other DMR networks.

Amateurs are implementing Mototrbo™ and Hytera infrastructure networks. These networks, from the end user standpoint, operate the same. Amateur Mototrbo™ networks are much larger, cover many more areas, and most are interconnected. Not all the amateur DMR repeaters are connected to the wide area networks; some are standalone either because amateurs have yet to obtain an ISP connection at their repeater site or because they just want to use the repeater for local communications. Some standalone systems are operating in dual-mode (analog/digital).

Talk Groups (TG) are a way for groups of users to share a "time slot" (channel, one-to-many) without distracting and disrupting other users of the time slot. It should be noted that only one Talk Group can be using a time slot at a time. If your radio is not programmed to listen to a Talk Group, you will not hear that Talk Group's traffic.

There are many sources of new and used DMR radios. As of this date, you can't walk into an Amateur Radio store and buy a DMR radio, but that may soon change. Presently all DMR radios are professional (commercial) radios marketed primarily to commercial radio users. If you want to purchase a new DMR radio for ham use, you can easily find a dealer, and some dealers are "ham friendly" and will offer reasonable discounts to hams. Check with other DMR users or on DMR related websites for further information.

When you make an initial transmission to announce your availability, to place a call to another station, or to make a general call, you should also announce what Talk Group you are on because some users may be scanning or have radios without a display. When you are talking on one of the wide area Talk Groups, hundreds of repeaters will be tied up. If you are unable to move to a more localized Talk Group, be considerate of the other users on the network. Talk Groups share time slots. When one Talk Group is active; other Talk Groups on the same time slot will be blocked. Leave space between transmissions so others can break in. Remember that emergency traffic always has priority over all other traffic.

[The above was excerpted and reproduced from the Amateur Radio Guide to DMR by John S. Burningham, W2XAB, October 2014 edition, with permission of the author. You can read the entire guidebook here. - ed.]



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