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ARES Letter Issues

The ARES Letter
November 18, 2020
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES® Briefs, Links

As this is written (November 17, 2020), ARRL has released the following bulletin: "Stations handling emergency traffic during the response to Category 5 Hurricane Iota, just off the eastern coast of Nicaragua, are requesting clear frequencies.

"Radio amateurs not involved in the emergency response are asked to avoid (plus/minus 5 KHz) the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) and WX4NHC (National Hurricane Center) frequencies of 14.325 and 7.268 MHz, as well as a Honduran emergency net operation on 7.180 MHz (net control station is HR1JFA), and a Nicaraguan emergency net operating on 7.098 MHz." With maximum sustained winds of 160 MPH, Hurricane Iota is expected to bring catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and torrential rainfall to Central America.

Officials at the WX4NHC Amateur Radio Station at the National Hurricane Center, Miami, Florida, announced Sunday that Hurricane Iota was forecasted to strengthen into a major hurricane and make landfall along the Nicaraguan coast. The area that will be affected by Hurricane Iota is the same area affected by Hurricane Eta that killed over 160 people. WX4NHC was planning to be on the air starting on Monday at 1700Z, monitoring the Hurricane Watch Net on HF frequencies of 14.325 and 7.268 MHz as well as the VoIP Hurricane Net, Winlink, APRS and other modes listed on the WX4NHC website. Amateurs were asked to relay any reports from stations or ships at sea in the affected area with or without weather data for use by NHC Forecasters. -- Thanks, Julio Ripoll, WD4R, Assistant Coordinator, WX4NHC

Hurricane Zeta -- ARES teams in Louisiana went on standby status on October 27, ready to activate at the request of local emergency management officials or served agencies. At midday on Wednesday, October 28, the Louisiana Emergency Net was placed on active standby status on 3.878 and 7.255 MHz, concluding operations at 2100 UTC the same day. The Northern Florida ARES Net convened October 28 on 3.950 MHz for about 12 hours in anticipation of tropical storm winds and a risk of tornado activity. "Our HF net shut down this morning," Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinator Karl Martin, K4HBN, said. "The counties closed shelters and had their ARES groups stand down soon after." Martin said operators did cover three shelters. "We had challenges due to HF conditions, and one of the ARES groups lost a repeater and had to go to a back-up plan."

In George County, Mississippi, ARES Emergency Coordinator General Dailey, KD4VVZ, suspended routine net traffic to take storm-related reports including weather data, property damage, and power status. Dailey said a repeater net would remain active for 12 hours, and the information would be relayed to weather forecasters. The net prepared to carry occasional digital traffic. "As the sun comes up, damage assessments are still ongoing," the George County Sheriff's office announced on the George County ARES Facebook page. "Currently a majority of the county is without power." The sheriff reported many downed trees and power lines and advised against nonessential travel. See below for after action reports out of Mississippi.

WX4NHC at the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami activated at 1600 UTC on October 28, monitoring HWN's frequencies of 14.325 and 7.268 MHz as well as the VoIP Hurricane Net (VoIP WX) and other resources. The net funnels "ground truth" reports to NHC forecasters.

Ham Aid emergency communication kits from ARRL had been pre-positioned in Louisiana in preparation for this event. - Thanks, Rick Lindquist, WW1ME, ARRL News Desk


There is a plethora of comprehensive, additional reporting on this year's extraordinary hurricane season from the ARRL Field Organization, as well as an extensive array of hurricane response resources from ARRL.


ARES groups continue their ARRL Simulated Emergency Tests (SET) into this month and until the end of the year. It's not too late to conduct your SET. Instruction and forms can be found here. (Scroll down to find the SET documents). Please see the stories below on the Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and Clark County, Western Washington SET efforts.


Boulder County (Colorado) Director of the Office of Emergency Management Mike Chard thanked Boulder County ARES (BCARES) for its contributions in support of the emergency efforts on the wildfires in the county recently. During a call with Chard, he told BCARES Emergency Coordinator Allen Bishop, K0ARK, that "with the fire's lack of expansion and the fact that the snow has provided a significant lowering of the fire danger, he feels BCARES can take a breath for the foreseeable future. However, as the temperatures begin to return to normal and the possibility of winds increasing, the danger has not gone away. The need for BCARES services may return at any time." -- Boulder Amateur Television Club TV Repeater's Repeater, November, 2020 issue


The 2020 California Interoperability Field Operation Guide (IFOG) is now available -- The guide provides information on multiple county and California state interoperability communications plans. Rules for operation, frequencies and multiple telephone numbers as well as system guides for reference and education are included. IFOGS are available on the Kaiser Permanente Amateur Radio Network (KPARN) web page. The California Interoperability Field Operation Guide (Cal-IFOG) has been updated and the document is now available in electronic form as an application available for download in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store. Simply search "Cal IFOG." A hard copy of the Cal-IFOG can also be obtained.

The IARU Region 2 (the Americas) Executive Committee has appointed Dr. Carlos A. Santamaria, CO2JC, as the new R2 Emergency Coordinator (EMCOR). The Executive Committee made the appointment after a call to all Member Societies for candidates after the recent retirement of Dr. Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, after 12 years of service. Dr. Santamaria has extensive experience serving as Federacion de Radioaficionados de Cuba coordinator of the National Emergency Network (REN) both in exercises and communications during activations in the event of hurricanes and even earthquakes, maintaining contact with the coordinators of other Caribbean countries to protect emergency frequencies. He also advises the Cuban headquarters of the United Nations Organization on Emergency Communications during disasters. Emergency Coordinators in Member Societies are encouraged to contact Dr. Santamaria to introduce themselves and make any recommendations they may have to improve emergency responsiveness within the Region. Dr. Santamaria's e‑mail address is

Highly-Anticipated Red Cross Nationwide Drill Held November 14

A Red Cross nationwide emergency communications drill was held on Saturday, November 14, with ARES and other operators asked to demonstrate the ability to deliver digital messages to specific addresses via Winlink. Participants were tasked with sending one message to the Red Cross Divisional Clearinghouse for their geographic area.

Only Winlink-generated messages were requested. This drill was an exercise in sending messages from local sites to a group of Divisional Clearinghouses to simulate and demonstrate the capability of amateur radio operators across the country to relay information in times of need. This drill used the messaging program Winlink as the primary method of delivering preformatted messages. Operators were free to use any connection mode that they had available, including the variety of digital modes on HF, VHF, UHF and Telnet. The goal was to encourage more operators to become familiar with Winlink and its associated message templates. The primary message template for this exercise was the ARC-213 found in the Winlink catalog of forms templates. This message format allows for standardized messages to be sent and allows for the messages to be easily evaluated for correctness.

The drill started at 9:00 Eastern time and continued until 18:00 local time in each time zone. Thus there was a minimum of 9 hours for each operator to create and send their message to their Divisional Clearinghouse was provided.

The scenario involved major weather events that caused outages and hazardous conditions across the country and the messages were formatted using the American Red Cross ARC-213 template. [See K1CE for a Final at the end of this issue for an editorial on your editor's personal experience in this exercise.]

Zombies Rising Exercise Held on Halloween in Clark County, Washington

"The annual Leonid meteor shower arrived several days ago, about a week earlier than normal. The meteoroid particle stream of frozen gases entered the Earth's atmosphere as meteors and dissipated their primordial goo over Clark County, which mixed with the rain as it fell to the ground. Wherever this mixture seeped into the soil at a burial location, the undead began to rise." So began the scenario for the 2020 Simulated Emergency Test (SET) held on Halloween by Clark County ARES/RACES.

The idea of using zombies in an exercise was brought to the group by Toby Clairmont, KH7FR, who had successfully used this type of scenario in an "all hazards" communications exercise in Hawaii. His idea developed into an activity that had ARES members traveling to 50 burial locations in the county and radioing in situation reports (number of zombies observed, direction of travel, and approximate speed). If met at the cemetery by a representative of that "served agency" (played by volunteers from the Clark County Genealogical Society and the Clark County Historical Cemetery Foundation), ICS-213 forms and Radiograms were also transmitted. The EYEWARN program, sponsored by the Clark County Amateur Radio Club, spun up a separate coordinated net for non-ARES hams to give zombie sighting reports from their homes.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, adaptations to a standard exercise plan had to be made. All members who were not operating from their home needed to wear face masks at all times, because air currents can carry zombie pathogens, and there is no known cure for zombieism. Members at fixed locations were advised to not locate their portable station under a structure where zombies could reach down and grab them. Fortunately, no ARES members were infected by zombies during the exercise.

Several new (at least to the organization) processes were tried during this SET. Recent training included the use of tone squelch on members' radios, and this was tested during the initial callout using an alternate tone on the repeater. Net control was divided between three local repeaters, each of which favored a different area of the county. Locations that had never before been visited by members tested their ability to understand the county address numbering scheme and to either read maps or use a GPS navigation system.

Michael Barnhart, AE7GQ, who just became EC/RO for Clark County in August 2020, experienced his first SET in his new position. He indicated that while he was generally pleased with the exercise, not all went as expected, and the organization now has a list of items where new protocols need to be developed and documented and where new and refresher training may be necessary. - Steve Aberle, WA7PTM, ARRL Official Emergency Station, Western Washington Section

ShakeOut 2020 -- an Amateur Radio Service Success Story

ShakeOut 2020 was a success for amateur radio operators throughout the United States. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) received 175 "Did You Feel It?" (DYFI) reports sent via Winlink on ShakeOut Day, October 15. Most of the reports were received from Southern and Central California, Washington and Hawaii.

Amateur radio operators practiced sending DYFI reports to USGS from simulated "donut holes," i.e., areas without internet access. A variety of techniques were employed: ARES LAX Northeast, for example, aggregated DYFI reports via VHF using a gateway, which then autoforwarded the reports on HF to out-of-area gateways with internet connections. Ventura ARES/ACS and ARES LAX High Desert, by contrast, relied on individual HF stations to send reports out of area. These varying approaches demonstrate the flexible and creative responses of operators in the Amateur Radio Service based on variations of local conditions.

USGS generously created an event website for ShakeOut 2020 which shows the amateur radio responses in Southern and Central California. Note the clusters of responses in Los Angeles County, Ventura County and San Diego County. For a given area, 20 or more responses allow for a decent estimate of earthquake intensity in that area.

Transmitting a critical mass of DYFI reports to USGS in a timely manner was a core objective achieved during ShakeOut 2020. Timely information is of the essence, as DYFI data informs ShakeMap and Pager, two USGS products that are used by governments, NGOs, public and private companies, and the public to assess the impact of seismic events and organize their responses.

During ShakeOut the bulk of DYFI reports were sent in the first hour after the simulated event had occurred, achieving a second objective of ShakeOut 2020 for amateur radio operators.

Astute amateur operators will notice that a circuit (or radio network) that can move DYFI reports out-of-area reliably can also move other traffic reliably. It is therefore critical for operators in earthquake country to become familiar and comfortable with DYFI reports, if they want to help guide high level responses and provide added value to the communities they live in.

Check out the ShakeOut 2020 event website and learn about how the data provided by amateur radio operators contributes to ShakeMap.

The USGS was thanked for their support, collaboration and guidance and for providing data for ShakeOut 2020, as was ARES LAX, Ventura ARES/ACS, San Diego ARES and Hawaii ARES for providing DYFI training to their operators and making this exercise so successful. The Winlink Development Team was also thanked for coding the DYFI form and making it available to all amateur operators.

If you or your group are interested in a "Did You Feel It? for Winlink" online workshop, please contact Oliver Dully, K6OLI; or via Winlink at K6OLI. - Oliver Dully, K6OLI, District Emergency Coordinator, ARES LAX Northeast [The author is interested in digital modes of communication, including AREDN MESH, NBEMS and the many modes of Winlink on VHF/UHF and HF, and has recently been exploring NVIS. Dully is a lecturer and instructor. - Ed.]

SKYWARN Recognition Day 2020 - Making Adjustments for COVID-19

Each year, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the day where radio amateurs celebrate the long relationship between the amateur radio community and the National Weather Service SKYWARN™ program. The purpose of the event is to recognize amateur radio operators for the vital public service they perform during times of severe weather and to strengthen the bond between radio amateurs and their local National Weather Service office. The event is co-sponsored by ARRL and the National Weather Service. Normally radio amateurs participate from home stations and from stations at National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices, and the goal is to make contact with as many NWS forecast offices as possible during the event. However, this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions, participation from NWS forecast offices will be minimal at best. So, the focus will shift to contacting as many SKYWARN™ trained spotters as possible during the event. New for this year, SKYWARN™ Recognition Day will be open to all SKYWARN Spotters. Additionally, a SKYWARN™ Recognition Day Facebook page has been created and will host a variety of live and recorded segments throughout the day. All SKYWARN™ Spotters who wish to participate may sign up for a SKYWARN™ Recognition Day number by completing the form found on the SKYWARN™ Recognition Day 2020 website. During the event, amateur radio operators are encouraged to exchange their name, location, SRD number, and current weather conditions with other participating stations. See the event website for the full operating guidelines. Additionally, all SKYWARN™ Spotters will be encouraged to participate by sending weather reports, images and attending various live stream events via social media. SKYWARN™ Recognition Day 2020 will be held from 0000 UTC to 2400 UTC December 5. To learn more, visit the SRD website.

New Edition of Storm Spotting and Amateur Radio Now Available from ARRL

A new edition of the publication Storm Spotting and Amateur Radio is now available from the ARRL store. Storm spotting gives amateur radio operators another way to use their skills as communicators. In an average year, the US experiences more than 10,000 severe thunderstorms, 5,000 floods, and more than 1,000 tornadoes, often causing hundreds of injuries and deaths, as well as billions of dollars in damages. During these weather events, thousands of ham volunteers provide real-time information to partners like emergency management and forecasters at the National Weather Service. The information they get from hams helps them issue weather watches, warnings, and advisories. Storm Spotting and Amateur Radio can help you become one of those volunteers, providing ground-truth information when it is needed most.

New in this edition are lessons learned and response reports from the 2017 hurricane season; Apps and social media resources; new SKYWARN training requirements; and expanded information on digital voice modes such as DMR, D-STAR, and Yaesu System Fusion. The co-author is University of Mississippi Professor of Emergency Management Michael Corey, KI1U.

Handheld Radio Field Guide -- Second Edition Released

Leaders and responders alike at incidents and public events need to change radio programming on the fly. For modern handheld radios (HTs), the way it's done varies from radio to radio. The second edition of the Handheld Radio Field Guide has just been released and includes more clear pictures and straightforward instructions for front-panel programming (FPP) of the handheld radios you might see at events and incidents today - or in your new ham class. With programming information for 85 radios, that's 30% more than the first edition, and 60 more pages.

The Handheld Radio Field Guide explains how to set frequency, offset, tone, and power level for each radio. It describes how to write to a memory and select that memory. It also provides instructions on locking/unlocking, adjusting volume and squelch, and resetting the radio to defaults. The Guide includes instructions for resolving problems specific to each radio.

When a new ham has a radio that's stuck in a strange mode, you'll be able to help out. The second edition of the Handheld Radio Field Guide (ISBN 978-0-9996609-1-1) is published by Listening Bird Press, and is available on Amazon, $22.95. For further information, click here.The author, Andrew Cornwall, KF7CCC/VE1CCC, is active in the emergency communications community in Arizona. He has managed and taken part in large scale communications exercises and public service events. He is an ARES Emergency Coordinator, a manager of the Arizona Emergency Net - Maricopa training net, and an ICS Incident Communication Center Manager (INCM) and Auxiliary Communications (AUXCOMM) resource. He is a trainer and volunteer examiner. [A book review will appear in the next issue. -- Ed.]

Mississippi ARES Reports on Hurricane Zeta Responses

From Mississippi Section Manager Malcolm Keown, W5XX -- Gulf Coast District EC General Dailey, KD4VVZ, reported that Harrison and Jackson Counties ARES teams did a great job during the storm maintaining their nets and providing crucial information on weather stats and road conditions for first responders. The Southeast Mississippi Wires-X Link was maintained for most of the storm period and relayed traffic from Harrison, Jackson, and George County operators, with the addition of operators from the Hattiesburg area who were also connected. The Lucedale VHF repeater never lost power.

Harrison County EC Jason Purvis, AG5RI, reported a tremendous turnout and response from the Harrison County and Jackson County ARES teams, along with operators along the Gulf Coast. Harrison County was activated by the EMA director, and ARES ran the local net from W5SGL at the EOC and from remote stations -- KJ4NJT, KC5IMN, W4WLF, and AE5MI - who were instrumental in pulling off this response. Thanks also went to W5THT as a relief operator.

Harrison County ARES was able to get their repeater up on emergency power until commercial power was restored thanks to N5LBZ with traffic being passed via W5JGW. Hams provided updates on weather, power, road closures, etc. when there were no commercial communications available.

Purvis thanked the net control operators of Jackson County who provided critical road and weather conditions during the storm so ARES could advise an ambulance regarding transporting a patient to Mobile.

Purvis also thanked K9EYZ for getting W5SGL linked with George County. While the link was tenuous, "it was effective, allowing us to link with Stone County EC during the onset of tropical conditions," said Purvis.

Jackson County AEC Laurence Galle, K9EYZ, commended the ARES group for exemplary service during the landfall of Hurricane Zeta. All stations on the net were professional and dedicated, and cited the dedication and professionalism of net control stations N2PKW, KI5JJP, and KM4EWZ.

Mississippi ARES repeatedly adapted and reassigned net control duties during power losses and kept nets running continuously during hurricane conditions.

Damage Reports

In damage reports from around the state, K5YG, of Ocean Springs, said that his towers survived, although one rotator could not handle the wind load and the antenna array went "wherever the winds wanted it to go." K2FF reported several gusts had antenna elements "looking like noodles."

From George County, ARES Emergency Coordinator General Dailey, KD4VVZ, reported 32 trees down on his property, with three big pines missing the house by inches, two pine trees taking out his power lines, eight pine trees across his driveway, and several on his fence. He had to literally cut his way out (600 feet) to the main road. Robert Rand, WV5Q, reported from Vancleave that he lost all of his antennas and commercial power for 6 days. Fortunately, his backup generator kept him on the air.

Tulsa County, Oklahoma Conducts SET on a Severe Weather Scenario

On Saturday, October 3, 2020 the Tulsa County ARES organization conducted its annual Simulated Emergency Test. Using guidelines from Section Emergency Coordinator Mark Conklin, N7XYO, the group prepared a multi-faceted exercise based upon a severe weather scenario with impact across the county.The principal objective of the exercise was to test the suitability of a newly configured Emergency Communications trailer for Incident Command and Net Control points. The trailer is funded by the Tulsa Amateur Radio Club, W5IAS.

Key aspects of the 2020 SET:

 Resource Net: this net is where volunteers first checked in and received tasking orders. Some volunteers were tasked to change frequencies and check in on other nets for assignments. Other resources were giving specific tasks to work and report back.

 Command Net: this net is reserved as the main communications frequency between Incident Command and served agencies. The resource net and command net operated out of the emergency communications trailer on generator power. Ray Young, K5CFY, and Russ Doden, KF5UZG, functioned as net control operators (NCO).

 Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA) net: a tactical net with assigned volunteers dispatched to specific locations and purpose. The TAEMA NCO operated from the Emergency Operations Center in downtown Tulsa. James Plumlee, KI5DAZ, functioned as NCO. TAEMA is the group's principal served agency.

 Digital Net: a Winlink net was set up to send and receive digital messaging during the exercise period. NCO for the Winlink net was Jeff Scoville, AE5ME.

 All four nets operated simultaneously once the incident briefing was given on-air and the resource net was established.

 ICS documentation: The ICS 205 comms plan was published ahead of the exercise to allow operators programming time. All activity was recorded on ICS 214s.

 Exercise briefing: a comprehensive exercise briefing was published to the NCOs ahead of the event.

COVID-19 had a big impact on the SET this year. Organizers restricted the number of people at the net control points to maintain proper social distancing. All volunteers were advised to adhere to CDC guidelines for sanitization, masks, and social distancing. As a result the majority of volunteers participated via on-air communications.

Lessons Learned

 Equipment will fail and you need a plan to mitigate the impact of that. One of the dual-band radios in the trailer failed during the initial phases of the exercise and was replaced quickly to keep the net control function on the air. It's important to have a backup plan for every aspect of your exercise.

 Running simultaneous nets can be somewhat confusing. This is solved through comprehensive communications ahead of the exercise. Also, training will help build "muscle memory" among the volunteer population and everyone will know to start on the resource net.

 Multiple NCOs in a trailer produce a lot of noise that can interfere with accurate message transmission and confirmations. This will be solved by purchasing headphones for each NCO station.

Tulsa County, Oklahoma ARES SET trailer in a public park on an elevated site in the county. The test focused on VHF/UHF and Winlink operations on Saturday. The statewide ARES HF net was conducted on Sunday. From left to right, Paul Teel, WB5ANX, Tulsa County EC; Ray Young, K5CFY, NCO; Russ Doden, KF5UZG, NCO, and Steve Childers, KF5VCQ, President, Tulsa Amateur Radio Club [Paul Teel, WB5ANX, photo]

In summary, the 2020 SET was a success and accomplished all objectives. Thirty-two operators participated throughout the 2-hour exercise including communications with other ARES groups operating in adjacent counties. We also saw Winlink communications with ARES organizations in the state and between adjacent states. -- Paul Teel, WB5ANX, ARES Emergency Coordinator, Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and Incident Commander for the 2020 SET

ARES Connect Update: Connecting Amateur Radio Volunteers with a Purpose

ARES Connect is ARRL's tool for registering operators and their credentials, recording training and activity hours, and generating reports. It's not just for ARES personnel any more. It is a total management recording system that allows a more robust and efficient way of leading all of our amateur radio volunteers throughout the country. This system is designed to track the hours of participation for every amateur radio volunteer. You don't have to be an ARES member to contribute.

The most important report generated by the system is the "Category Report." This one report is what standardizes all 71 Section reports. Standardization is essential to yield a credible nationwide activity report. See, for example, the table for a summary of activity tallied nationwide for the month of October.

National Volunteer Amateur Service Activity for October 2020
Category of Event# Events#Participants#Hours
Communications Emergency838238
Community Event502341,318
Totals5,42018,77123, 486

Referring to the table, there were 48 Sections reporting for October. The data can be filtered down to individual Sections, Districts, or even Counties. The data is available instantly whenever data is entered into the platform. There is no longer any wait for the old monthly reports to be mailed in. This is all live data.

ARES Connect also gives ARES/ARRL leadership teams the ability to promote their events throughout the entire Section, reducing scheduling conflicts of upcoming activities and making it easier to direct volunteer resources more effectively. It's truly a much more robust way to monitor volunteers' activities as they register for and record their public service time.

There are currently over 15,000 registered users in the system. Are you one of them? If you aren't, you really need to be. Not sure where to sign up? Click on your Section's link listed below. (If you receive an error message, please copy and paste your section's URL below and paste it into your browser.) Please make sure that you only sign up for the section in which you reside. - Scott Yonally, N8SY, Ohio Section Manager

East Bay
Eastern Massachusetts
Eastern New York
Eastern Pennsylvania
Eastern Washington
Los Angeles
New Hampshire
New Mexico
North Carolina
North Dakota
North Texas
Northern Florida
Northern New Jersey
Northern New York
NYC - Long Island
Puerto Rico
Rhode Island
Sacramento Valley
San Diego
San Francisco
San Joaquin Valley
Santa Barbara
Santa Clara Valley
South Carolina
South Dakota
South Texas
Southern Florida
Southern New Jersey
Virgin Islands
West Central Florida
West Texas
West Virginia
Western Massachusetts
Western New York
Western Pennsylvania

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K1CE for a Final: My Nationwide Red Cross Drill Experience

I participated in the November 14 nationwide Red Cross drill described in this issue. In anticipation of sending my ARC-213 templated message via Winlink to the American Red Cross southeast divisional clearinghouse, I rehearsed my effort on the previous day by successfully and quickly sending a test message to my regular email address using the WINMOR protocol on the Winlink Express software. There were a number of 40-meter Radio Mail Server (RMS) stations available with predicted good paths. I connected via an RMS station in Texas, and my message was almost instantly routed to my home email account.

I used the ARC-213 template - the American Red Cross message form - according to the easy-to-follow instructions provided by the drill organizers and I uploaded it to my Winlink message outbox. On the day of the exercise, I spent the morning trying to connect to an RMS to send my ARC-213 message with no luck. All of the 40-meter band RMS stations were clearly busy with other traffic, so I tried again later in the day in hopes of finding a free station, again with no luck.

WINMOR was retired as a Winlink mode earlier this year, although reportedly there were some RMS stations that still accepted it, so I decided to try the ARDOP mode, a more efficient, faster, and robust virtual TNC mode. I was unable to configure the mode to accept my PTT com port, COM3. (Where I should have been able to select or enter "COM3" in the com port, there was only a pulled-down empty white box with no choices listed nor ability to type it in.) I went back to WINMOR with no luck in sending my message. At the end of the day, I did send my message via the Winlink regular internet mode Telnet Winlink, but it felt like a bit of a hollow success.

I deemed my effort a success, however, in that I had brushed up on my Winlink operation, which I had sidelined after discovering FT-8 last year, and I had illuminated issues to be corrected for the future, which is the purpose of drills in the first place. I was limited to the 40-meter band as that is currently the only HF antenna I have up. And it is surrounded by woods. I might also have been limited by my decision to use lower RF output of 50 watts, given that the mode's duty cycle was somewhere around 50% it seemed.

I need to put up a multiband antenna and get up to speed on how to set up and use the more robust Winlink modes. And, simply use Winlink more for experience. It has emerged as the most popular digital mode for emergency communications, with agencies such as emergency management and the Red Cross, offering a connection to the internet for hybrid radio and internet message handling.

The Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc., has done an amazing job of developing Winlink as a service to the amateur community, and to federal government stakeholders.

At the beginning of every Winlink Express session, a small window pops up asking the user to register their name and call sign, and make a donation to the ARSF of $24. They graciously give the program and development free of charge to the amateur community, and you can simply click the "Remind me later" box, and the software continues to the operating platform. As I type this editorial, however, I started my Winlink Express, registered my name and call sign, and made the $24 donation instead of clicking the "Remind me later" box. I am grateful for the ARSF's monumental efforts on behalf of all radio amateurs, and also for the lessons I learned from my personal efforts on this past weekend's excellent Red Cross Winlink drill: it was well worth my time.

Special thanks to Wayne Robertson, K4WK, of the American Red Cross, Mike Walters, W8ZY, of Connecticut ARES, and the other organizers of this past Saturday's American Red Cross Nationwide Emergency Communications Drill. From what I heard, it was enormously popular and successful. - Rick Palm, K1CE


ARES Resources

· Download the ARES Manual [PDF]

· ARES Field Resources Manual [PDF]

· ARES Standardized Training Plan Task Book [Filla




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