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Canceled Ohio ARES State Conference Morphs into Statewide Communication Exercise


Ohio Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) canceled the Ohio ARES State Conference set for April 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic and repurposed the date for a statewide communication exercise, with an emphasis on communicating from home.

“Ohio has a high-profile station at the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC), with regular weekly EOC nets,” ARES Section Emergency Coordinator Stan Broadway, N8BHL, said. “But with the national emphasis on staying home, we turned the vacated day into a 2-hour series of nets designed to have amateur operators check in using their home stations.”

The exercise was the brainchild of Assistant SEC Tim Price, K8WFL, who suggested it would be a great way to showcase amateur radio’s capabilities for state and community leaders. The Ohio HF Emergency Net will take check-ins on 40 and 80 meters (SSB), with the Ohio Digital Emergency Net (OHDEN) operating on 80 meters. Then, around 1 PM ET, a linked digital radio system will be brought into play, using DMR’s Ohio talk group linked to the Fusion “Ohio Link” group. Broadway said stations will simply check in; no traffic will be handled. “It’s just designed to prove we can communicate from home, while locked down, and still get the job done,” he told ARRL.

“This is the same network topology used for the Ohio Watch Desk Project, providing statewide reporting during such events as the Memorial Day tornado outbreak last spring,” Broadway said. The reports are fed directly to the watch desk at Ohio’s state EOC, to enhance situational awareness for state emergency managers. “We plan to video an operator on the Statehouse steps, talking statewide using a small handheld,” Broadway said. “This demonstration can be used to enhance our discussion of amateur radio with local and state officials.”

Broadway said HF can be problematic most of the time if storms are moving across, producing static, and digital modes fill in the gap. “We used this [approach] during a couple tornado outbreaks to bring real-time local observation to the Ohio Emergency Management Agency Watch Desk,” he said. — Thanks to Stan Broadway, N8BHL



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