The November, 2008 EMA Station Activity Report and Public Service Honor Roll totals have been posted to nts.ema.arrl.org under STM Monthly Report.
The November, 2008 EMA Station Activity Report and Public Service Honor Roll totals have been posted to nts.ema.arrl.org under STM Monthly Report.
On Friday evening, December 5 and Saturday morning December 6, 2008, Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) operators from the Northeast US participated in the Operation Snow Shoe ’08 exercise. The scenario was a major Nor’easter with 24 inches of snow and heavy ice. The weather results in catastrophic damage and disaster area declarations. Operators from Virginia to Maine to Illinois participated. Multiple communication modes were used including HF voice, military VHF frequencies, Winlink2K, MT63, and phone patches.
A drill objective was to practice station survivability with operations using emergency power and back-up antennas. “Severely austere” conditions of no phone, internet, and commercial power were practiced in some locations. Message traffic from coastal areas with major damage was passed as far west as Iowa. Mike Neilsen, W1MPN provided the point of contact for the MA State EOC for the drill in MA. Reports were also collected from Carl Aveni, N1FY at the SKYWARN desk at NWS Taunton. Reports from Army, Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps MARS members in MA were collected, formatted as “spot reports” and forwarded. This fulfilled another drill objective of sending the disaster assessment reports to provide military and civilian federal response planners with “ground truth” that they may not be receiving from any other source. It was a challenge to co-ordinate the drill around the Skywarn Recognition day activities!
–Thanks, Phil McNamara, N1XTB
The winner of the QST Cover Plaque Award for November is Larry Coyle, K1QW, of Needham, MA, for his article “A Modular Receiver for Exploring the LF/VLF Bands.”
The winner of the QST Cover Plaque award — given to the author or authors of the best article in each issue — is determined by a vote of ARRL members on the QST Cover Plaque Poll Web page. Cast a ballot for your favorite article in the December issue by Wednesday, December 31.
Bruce Hayden, NI1X writes:
The Whitman Amateur Radio Club conducted a two-day special event from the Plimoth Plantation over the weekend following Thanksgiving.
Paul Burbine N1VTI, President of the Whitman Club reports that 22 area amateur radio operators set up six base stations and portable antennas at the re-creation of the 17th century Pilgrim settlement and Indian homesite and exchanged contacts with 216 other amateur radio operators in 32 States, 8 foreign countries and 3 Canadian Provinces.
The HAM operators spread the word of Plimoth Plantation over the airways, explaining about the living museum and how they found the visitors, especially the children, amazed by the actors, dressed as Pilgrims and trained to speak in the language of the time and who did not acknowledge the existence of any of our modern technical wonders as they explained about the harsh reality of early Pilgrim life.
The crew operated using both voice and Morse code and made a special contact linking the Hams in Plymouth, Massachusetts with a HAM, Laurie Hummerstone M0VRT, in Plymouth England. The crew found amateur radio operators from all over the world eager to make contact with Plimoth Plantation. Each amateur who contacts the club station WA1NPO is entitled to receive a certificate, suitable for framing, which includes a picture of Mayflower II, docked in Plymouth harbor, and confirms the date and time of the two way radio contact.
The adults visiting the Plantation were encouraged to send a radiogram message free of charge to friends and relatives via amateur radio. We were able to explain how amateur radio operators practice sending routine messages, via radio to amateur radio operators in the local neighborhood who pick up the phone and deliver the message free of charge. We also explained how these routine messages could quickly change to priority or emergency messages in times of National emergencies.
The licensed operators who were able to participate in this special event were: Roy Logan KB1CYV and Pete Carlson N1POO of Bridgewater; Paul Burbine N1VTI of East Bridgewater; Ron Smith N1PXX of Bryantville; Al Drollett W1SM and Bob Loring K1REL of Carver; Jeff Lehmann N1ZZN and John Murphy KB1PHN of Hanson; Matt Paine KB1OSV of Mansfield; John Coombs WQ1L of Marshfield; Mark Loring KC1ML of Plymouth; Dave Polk N1YIA of Quincy; Bruce Hayden NI1X of Raynham; Neal Harrington KBLXL of Rehoboth; Byron Piette K1YCQ of Somerset; Don Burke KB1LXH, John Miller N1UMJ, Jim Tynan KC1JET of Taunton; Bill Hayden N1FRE, Mike Supple KB1OEP, Paul Moss KB1MTW and Ron Stundze KB1OEQ of Whitman.
Donald A Rosinha, WA1BXY writes on the SEMARA Discussion List:
“I will be starting the weekly 80 meter cw night again starting 12/08/08 at 8:00pm (0100z) will be on 3.545 +/- QRM. This will not be a QRS (slow speed) “net” but a comfortable speed; but will QRS for anyone who wishes. I hope to hear more local/club members this time around.
After six years of operation using the phpWebSite content management system (CMS), this site is now powered by Drupal, a powerful, database-driven open-source system in widespread use on the internet. Over the next few days, you might see minor changes to the home page and some added functionality.
Thanks in large part to the efforts of Phil McNamara, N1XTB, thousands of posts from previous years have been converted over onto this new site. You may find a few things missing and/or broken links over the next few days, but we’ll endeavor to fix all problems you bring to our attention.
You’ll note that any web story links from the old site will automatically map over to the new site; e.g., a story with a URL of http://ema.arrl.org/article.php?sid=123 will display in your browser as http://ema.arrl.org/node/123. So if you’ve linked to any of our stories, there’s no need to make any edits on your own site.
The move to Drupal also fixes a major problem where accounts were restricted earlier in the year due to spamming. (See “Web Site Comments Feature Disabled“.) Old accounts have been removed, but you’re welcome to re-apply for a user account and comment on stories, or submit material for new stories to the site. 73, K9HI
“TAUNTON — Amateur radio isn’t just a unique high-tech hobby to chat with other individuals in near or faraway lands, but in times of crisis it can be seen as a call of duty.”
The online edition of the Enterprise carried a story focusing on Taunton Area Communications Group members’ work in emergency preparedness but also about the Amateur Radio hobby in general in a September 26, 2007 story entitled “This Group ‘Hams’ It Up”.[Full story]
There were 12 attendees at the seminar and they were as follows:
KB1EKN-Mark Duff Metro Boston ARES District Emergency Coordinator
WQ1O-Frank Olaughlin Cape Cod ARES District Emergency Coordinator
N1XTB-Philip McNamara Bridgewater ARES Team Member
K9HI-Phil Temples Eastern Massachusetts ARRL Section Manager
WA1IDA-Bob Salow Eastern Massachusetts Assistant Section Manager
N1LKJ-Jim Ward Eastern Massachusetts Section NTS Traffic Manager
N1BDA-Steve Telsey Middlesex County ARES District Emergency Coordinator
KW1U-Marcia Forde NTS EAS Chairperson
W1GMF-Gil Follett NTS Traffic Handler
W3EVE-Steve Schwarm Norfolk County ARES District Emergency Coordinator
N1FY-Carl Aveni Bridgewater ARES Emergency Coordinator
KD1CY-Rob Macedo ARES SKYWARN Coordinator for NWS Taunton
The first topic of the meeting was an ARES Program Overview. During the program overview, introductions were made and each person was asked about what they would like to get out of the meeting. The overview described how the ARES program has progressed over the last several years and how ARES has expanded relationships with different served agencies. It also talked about existing working relationships with MEMA and the National Weather Service. The presentation was well received and some suggestions on enhancements for the NWS Taunton station and for an additional project involving receiving AM Radio Stations was discussed and will be reviewed with NWS.
Following the ARES Overview, numerous items were discussed. Gil Follett-W1GMF requested what Clients/Served Agencies might need NTSD (National Traffic System Digital) or Packet support. This included the following agencies:
It was noted in these discussions that any agency could need support in an emergency but the various agencies listed above would be some of the main agencies to service for potential ARES activations. Several additional ideas were also noted:
Instruct all NTS traffic that is going to a different ARES team either within district but especially outside of the district to pass their traffic via an active NTS traffic net using voice for all future ARES exercises.
Jim Ward-N1LKJ gave an overview of the voice and CW network. He explained what nets are run at run times and how the local nets interface with the region and area nets.
All these nets are available and need to be utilized further.
Gil Follett-W1GMF gave an overview of the digital system of NTS traffic. He put up a diagram using post it signs on the whiteboard to describe the Packet network. Learned that KW1U-Marcia is a Winlink PMBO node that can be utilized as part of the NTSD network. MMRA is attempting to put this together and we need to refer MMRA to Marcia for technical/logistical support.
Gil then walked through how to format a NTS message via Packet. With Digital, messages can be handled at any length within Gilâ€™s system. Outside of Gilâ€™s system, you have to follow normal NTS traffic rules. Keep in mind, that you can send regular messages at any length in and/or out of the Mass. system.
Gil-W1GMF discussed the NTS program. He discouraged the use of WinRC Packet because itâ€™s only compatible with systems in Colorado. Gil discussed the NTS system being developed by KA1VGM and Beta tested by Gil. The system has most if not all of the bugs worked out. The system should be compatible with any BBS system and include the Winlink systems. The program should now be up on the KA1VGM web site. It is meant for anyone writing NTS traffic. It has several views for NWS messages, NTS traffic and other types of messages and will be passed to the various stations on the Packet network.
Several suggestions have come out of discussion:
1.) Have Jim-N1LKJ and Gil-W1GMF involved in ARES Meetings/exercise discussions. (Add them to all ARES Meeting invitations)
2.) For regular NTS nets, get listeners and anyone else to check into the net and encourage them to get out there and check-in and try to slow down on traffic for new people that are interested. Make sure that NTS people slow down to pass traffic to newcomers.
3.) Need to encourage Amateurs to utilize NTS traffic messaging via the Packet/Digital network even if its for routine traffic as its good practice for activations.
4.) Ask Jim to contact the local Net Managers, one night a month or one night a week to conduct a very basic training net to pass traffic. Jim to put together the scenario to run the basic NTS training across all the traffic nets.
5.) Jim asked that all ARES/RACES personnel encourage their members to check into the NTS Traffic Nets and generate and pick up traffic whenever possible and check into the local, and region traffic nets.
6.) Make sure NTS personnel are invited to the MRAS Meetings.
7.) Put together an all day NTS workshop that would encompass the existing slide sets from the basic and advanced Emergency Communication Workshops and include running a NTS Traffic Net on simplex or a repeater with everyone checking in using HTâ€™s.
8.) Recommend NTS utilize Echolink/IRLP capabilities for in addition to their Region and Area nets and be part of the NTS national infrastructure.
9.) Supplying creative NTS traffic throughout the network via voice or digital nets. Use the key NTS traffic handlers to get this accomplished.
10.) Look into a formal DEC appointment for NTS.
After lunch, continued brainstorming continued and the first part of the afternoon focused on the ARESCOM proposals and the NTSD system. Marcia discussed the NTSD (National Traffic System Digital) System in reasonable detail. Marcia is able to get bulk traffic (2500 messages plus per month) sent across the national digital network using her WinLink node.
Marcia knows several members that are on the ARESCOM, which is a committee setup by Board of Directors concerning nationwide emergency communications and how to improve it. There are two NTS people are on this committee. ARESCOM is working closely with the Winlink Classic and the Winlink 2000 programs. The Winlink Classic program allows single user text messages using conventional forms of Packet. Winlink 2000 is an enhancement to Winlink Classic that would allow traffic from ARES clients including attachments, email and more. The protocol being utilized is called B2, which can handle attachments and has much higher compression rates and makes the message relatively secure.
The idea is to improve ARES capability to expand beyond the local area and to handle anything the client wants to send out. They want a flat â€œinvisibleâ€ network with traffic coming in and out of Internet/Digital without knowing where the source is. The National Connection is through the Internet backed up with HF. It was noted that Doc-W1EO might be an excellent resource in the NTSD discussions going forward. The goal is to have regular messages and email with or without attachments to be able to be accepted through the NTSD system utilizing PMBOâ€™s (Participating Mail Box Operators) when needed with the Winlink Classic program via Internet backbone or HF backbone whenever needed.
The EMCON proposal was proposed by W3YVQ-Jim from the Baltimore, Maryland area. Marcia stated that in direct discussions with Jim, they do not consider what they are proposing to be an ARES-NTS merger although at times the document comes across like it should be an ARES-NTS merger. Marcia stated that there is a Message and Procedure Guide on the League web site concerning Winlink and the EMCON proposal and you can click on topics of interest to gather information.
Marcia-KW1U highlighted the following items from the proposal documentation and in direct discussions with W3YVQ-Jim, which is one of the NTSD/EMCON proposal writers:
Based on this discussion, the ARES-NTS Workshop participants drew the following conclusions:
Additional discussions surrounded increasing NTS participation. A suggestion was made to take a NTS net, record it and put it on the NTS web site and the ARES web site as well. There should be recordings of one voice net and one CW Net. After putting these recordings, commentary to explain the various portions of the NTS Net, voice or CW could be done as well. Jim and Gil will attempt to put together the recording via .wav or other audio type file that can be put on the web-site, put in workshops and bring to club meetings etc. Gil-W1GMF, Phil-N1XTB and Phil-K9HI will check with Elliot Mayer-W1MJ as he may be an expert in utilizing audio files and could help with breaking up the audio files to allow commentary to be put into the audio files to help describe what various items that happen in the net are so that Hams can learn about NTS Nets quicker.
The next item discussed was a recommendation on a potential name change from ARES to a more generic â€œEmergency Communicator, Emergency Communications teamâ€ type of name. The recommendation was taken under advisement for a future meeting.
Phil-N1XTB brought up a generic point about technical considerations of what MARS is running into for their digital system and how NTS may run into some of the same issues. Some corroboration between MARS and NTS in this area maybe very helpful for both Digital networks to work well and potentially have a path to connect to each other if needed.
The next meeting will be scheduled in the late Summer/Fall of 2004 to review actions generated from this meeting and assure that the plan for expanding the cooperation of ARES and NTS goes to the plans laid out during the meeting. The next meeting will also assure that the recommendations to the ARRL Board of Directors and HQ on ARES and NTS are heard and taken into account on the future of ARES and NTS going forward.
The Massasoit Amateur Radio Association was recognized by the Bridgewater Town of Selectman in a special proclamation on March 20. Noting the club’s “technical and communications expertise” to the emergency management department, police, and fire departments, they declared March 20, 2001 as “MARA Day.”