The ARES E-Letter for March 16, 2016

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March 16,
2016
Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE

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In This
Issue:

 

Amateur Radio Sessions at the
National Hurricane Conference, Orlando, Next Week

Communications Support for the “Greatest Free Show
on Earth”

Wisconsin’s Sawyer County ARES/RACES Receives
Donation from Ski Race Foundation

Letters: W1HKJ fldigi Suite’s flmsg

Florida Amateurs Take Part In Severe Weather
Awareness Day

Letters: Mass Alert Systems

Boston Marathon Communications Committee Seeks
Amateur-Volunteers

Biennial Radiation Drill Supported by Southern
Florida ARES

Tech Tips: Crimping Tools

Letters: Solar Panels

Maryland-DC ARES Statewide ARDF/SAR for Missing
Person

ARES Briefs, Links

Special
Deputy John Krawczak, KJ0P, of Minnetonka, Minnesota, was recently presented
the 2015 Hennepin County Sheriff’s Distinguished Service Award and the
2015 Minnesota Sheriff’s Association Volunteer Of The Year Award. Krawczak is
a member of the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Services
Division on the Communications Response Team. Twenty radio amateurs are members of
the team that provides public safety and amateur communications support in
emergencies/disasters and community events.

The Puerto
Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) and other agencies will
participate in a communications drill simulating a tsunami incident, along with
radio amateurs in supporting roles. The exercise is slated for tomorrow, March
17 at 10 AM local time.The Puerto Rico ARES organization will be active,
and registered on http://www.tsunamizone.org where more information can be found. The aim of the
exercise is 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 an alert. Since 2010,
Amateur Radio operators have played a role in the exercise, executed in
conjunction with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network (RSPR), the Caribbean Warning
Tsunami Exercise (Caribe Wave), FEMA, the Puerto Rico Emergency Management
Administration, and NOAA.

ARRL Officials at Michigan
Communications Conference: The 2016 Michigan
Statewide Interoperability Communications Conference held at Great Wolf Lodge
February 22-25 in Traverse City, Michigan,

ARRL officials
attend Michigan conference, l to r, Dale Williams, WA8EFK, Great Lakes
Division Director; Larry Camp, WB8R, Michigan Section Manager; John McDonough,
WB8RCR, Michigan Section Emergency Coordinator.

featured the state’s auxcomm protocols, with amateurs
playing a significant role in many presentations and discussions. From the
conference summary, “In an emergency, every link in the chain is critical
and those links must be firmly connected. That means every agency, every
leader and every employee needs to be on the same page and committed to our
shared strategic vision of interoperability.”

Armed
Forces Day 2016 Communication Test to Include Direct Military-Ham Contact on
60 Meters (3/1/16); ARES Groups, Individual Hams Support Army and Air Force
MARS Communications Exercise (3/1/16); ARES Team Leverages Radio Services, Local
Media, Internet in Missouri Flood Watch (2/22/16)

Amateur Radio Sessions at the National Hurricane
Conference, Orlando, Next Week

Amateur Radio
capabilities will be presented at the 2016 National Hurricane Conference,
which will be held next week in Orlando, Florida, at the Orlando Hilton
hotel. The conference theme is to improve hurricane preparedness as it has
been in past years. All Amateur Radio sessions are free, and all will be
held on Tuesday afternoon, March 22, 2016 from 1:30 to 5:00 PM. Here is the
session breakdown:

NHC Session #1 – 1:30 to 3:00
PM: Dr. Rick Knabb, Director, National Hurricane Center will discuss the
importance of Amateur Radio surface reporting. Bob Robichaud, VE1MBR, of the
Canadian Hurricane Centre, will present on hurricane meteorological topics
and an overview of Canadian Hurricane Centre operations. Julio Ripoll,WD4R,
Assistant Amateur Radio Station Coordinator will present on National
Hurricane Center station WX4NHC operations.

NHC Session
#2: 3:15 to 5:00 PM: Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, Hurricane Watch Net Manager,
will present an overview of the net, use of personal weather stations and
backup power/antenna. Rob Macedo, KD1CY, Director of Operations, VoIP
Hurricane Net and ARRL ARES Eastern Massachusetts Assistant SEC, will discuss net
operations, and best practices in SKYWARN tropical systems reporting. Ken
Bailey, K1FUG, ARRL Assistant Manager of Preparedness and Response, will
present the ARRL Beginner’s Course in Ham Radio Hurricane Preparedness.
Finally, a Q&A session and door raffle prizes will be offered.

Amateur Radio presentations will be recorded and live streamed. The
livestream for 2016 will be on You Tube. Livestream links will be as follows:

http://ift.tt/1Ufq1ZN

http://ift.tt/1lNbm42

Communications Support for the “Greatest Free
Show on Earth”

Mardi Gras is an annual celebration in
New Orleans that’s tied to the Christian tradition of Lent before Easter.
Sixty-four parades with up to 50 floats each are enjoyed by locals and
nearly 1.2 million visitors over the course of 2 weeks leading up to Mardi Gras
day (literally, “Fat Tuesday,” the day before Lent starts on Ash
Wednesday). The multiple daily events of the Mardi Gras celebration have been called
“the world’s largest planned natural disaster.” Eric Pickering, KE5BMU, is
the City’s Deputy Operations Chief in the New Orleans Office of Homeland
Security & Emergency Preparedness (NOHSEP), and his team is responsible for
responding to unplanned events that are real, likely, or feared.

Of course, a communications infrastructure failure is high on the
list of likely disasters that can be mitigated with planning and practice.
And so Pickering began working closely with two local hams, Rafael
Shabetai, W5BAI, and Cedric Walker, K5CFW. Together they re-activated a station in
City Hall that had been built for NOHSEP by Bob McBride, AE5RN (SK) and
began planning for an expansion into the NOHSEP mobile command post bus. The
three had two goals: involving local hams who could serve as the “eyes and
ears” of NOHSEP in a disaster or emergency, and ensuring that a robust
backup communications network was trained and prepared to take over if the
state-wide primary trunked 800 MHz network stopped working.

Because New Orleans residents still vividly remember the wrath of
Hurricane Katrina in 2005, it’s easy to convince them that the goals of operator
preparedness and equipment readiness can mean the difference between life and
death. After Katrina, the trunked public safety network and all cellphone
voice capability shut down. The only

Rafael Shabetai, W5BAI, operating Net Control at the
Mobile Command Post (Photo credit W5BAI)

remaining communications channels were via
ham-operated VHF and UHF repeaters. And so Pickering, Shabetai and Walker decided to
create a repeater-based training exercise, centered around Mardi Gras when
so many residents/hams are out and about and likely to be carrying their H-T
radios anyway.

Of the 64 parades in the New Orleans
area, 29 follow a similar 3.7 mile route down St. Charles Avenue and along
Canal Street in the Central Business District. Three first aid stations along
the route are in operation during the parades, and arrangements were made
to credential ham volunteers to give them access as bases of operations.
Three repeater owners (Southeast Louisiana Emergency Communications Service
W5MCC, Jefferson Amateur Radio Club W5GAD, and the Greater New Orleans
Amateur Radio Club W5UK) granted access to their machines for the duration of
the Mardi Gras exercises. A mobile command post along the route serves the
many city departments that keep the parade route safe and clear. An operating
position in the mobile command post bus was set aside for net control, and
a street sign next to the bus’ parking place served as a convenient
temporary mast for a dual-band vertical antenna. A transceiver from the City Hall
station was temporarily relocated to the mobile command post, but next
year a dedicated transceiver and antenna will be installed.

With operation locations and equipment in place, the team’s next task was
recruiting a cadre of volunteers. Pickering made a successful recruitment
presentation at the W5GAD club meeting. The Assistant Section Emergency
Coordinator Matt Anderson, KD5KNZ, plus ARES Emergency Coordinators for New
Orleans Joel Colman, NO5FD, and neighboring Jefferson Parish Nick Frederick,
W4NDF, all stepped up to recruit operators for both field and net control
positions, and all three volunteered as operators. It was decided to limit
operations to the weekend immediately before Mardi Gras day, and to Mardi
Gras day, as these dates have the biggest parades with the highest
attendance. Ten volunteers participated, and check-ins from other hams along the
parade route added to the numbers compiled by each net control shift. No
emergencies were handled, and we were fortunate that the city’s regular emergency
communication infrastructure did not need a backup.

The ham community demonstrated that it could serve NOHSEP professionally and
reliably. This was the first year of an organized effort to bring hams into
the NOHSEP operation, and it was incomplete because many parades were not
covered. With the success of this year’s demonstration and the goodwill
that was generated, it will be possible to mount a bigger recruitment effort
and provide coverage for more of the 64 parades that make Mardi Gras the
greatest free show on earth. — Cedric F. Walker, K5CFW [The author is
Professor Emeritus, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tulane
University].

Wisconsin’s
Sawyer County ARES/RACES Receives Donation from Ski Race Foundation

The American Birkebeiner Ski Race, known as the Birkie, is North America’s
largest cross-country ski race. Held in northwest Wisconsin, the race is 33
miles long, starts in Cable, and ends on Main Street in downtown Hayward.
This was the 43rd year for the Birkie and 10,500 skiers came from the US and
Canada, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Italy, Japan and many other
countries.

Eighteen years ago the Birkie Foundation asked
the Amateur Radio community to help with communications along the race course
and amateurs from a five-county area around Hayward in Sawyer County have
been doing it ever since. There are nine medical and nine food stations
along the race course that provide medical help to those who need it, with the
food stations providing power drinks and refreshments to the skiers.
Amateur Radio operators are at these stations to relay information regarding
medical issues (dropouts, injuries, etc.) and food station needs (low on
supplies for skiers, etc.) back to a net control station, which gives the
information to the Birkie office during the event.

This year
the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation donated $2,500 to the Sawyer County
ARES/RACES group to purchase and maintain two new amateur VHF repeaters in
Sawyer County. With this donation, Sawyer County ARES/RACES is able to
replace two old repeaters and the accessories for them. — Wally Kruk,
N9VAO, Sawyer County ARES/RACES, Wisconsin, Emergency Coordinator

Letters: W1HKJ fldigi Suite’s
flmsg

Many digital mode operators familiar with flmsgthink of it as a forms
utility for use only with fldigi. However, it’s also a great cross-platform, stand-alone
program. We have used it to prepare and move forms (ICS, radiogram, etc.) within
our EOC by thumb drive, shared drive and mesh network. Our county
officials can put flmsg on their computers and send the files to the radio room
without any need for transcribing or cut and paste. We also send flmsg files
as attachments to email and radio-email messages and they may also be placed
on store-forward bulletin board systems. Additionally, amateurs have been
working with W1HKJ to make the flsmg ICS-213 form FEMA compliant and
completely compatible for use within the National Traffic System (NTS). The text
can be transported within NTS via voice, cw and digital modes using the
standard radiogram format as a “wrapper” for the file. NTS-Digital can also
handle flmsg files as attachments to radiograms. — Steve Hansen, KB1TCE, Knox County
ARES/RACES-CERT, Owl’s Head, Maine

Florida Amateurs Take Part In Severe Weather Awareness
Day

The Lake Amateur Radio Association (LARA) of
Lake County, Florida, and its ARES group were invited to take part in the
county Public Safety Department Emergency Management Division’s Severe Weather
Awareness Day Exposition held at the Lake County Fair Grounds in Eustis,
Florida on Saturday, February 20, 2016.

The purpose of
Severe Weather Awareness Day is to acquaint the citizens of Lake County with
the need to prepare for severe weather events such as hurricanes,
tornadoes, floods or forest fires. The Lake

L to r, Strait Hollis KT4YA, ARRL
Northern Florida Section Emergency Coordinato; Al Richter, W4ALR, Lake County
Emergency Coordinato; and Frank Anders KK4MBX, Assistant Emergency
Coordinator for Equipment, were on hand to explain Amateur Radio’s role in disaster
communications, Lake County Severe Weather Awareness Day. (K1AYZ
photo)

County Emergency Management
Division invited various disaster relief groups to display their emergency
equipment that could be used in such events.

Along
with the LARA and Lake County ARES organizations, present were other groups
such as the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake Emergency Medical Service,
Lake County Fire Rescue, Southern Baptist-Disaster Relief, Salvation Army, and
the Red Cross. These groups brought had their officials available to
explain their organization’s roles. Tours were also conducted.

LARA had their communication trailer on display along with a booth where
ham volunteers explained their role in assisting professional responders
in the event of an emergency. LARA and Lake County ARES members were glad to
be included by the Lake County Emergency Management Division and be given
the opportunity to tell the general public about their roles in disaster
relief. — Ted Luebbers, K1AYZ, Lake County, Florida ARES PIO

Letters: Mass Alert Systems

Our ARES unit researched various mass notification (alert)
system vendors for a system that would work for us. After two no-cost
trials, we have gone with One Call Now, and their basic pay-as-you-go package for $90
for 1000 “credits” – each notification call or SMS text counts as 1 credit,
so our 70 member ARES group with a total of 122 contact numbers would be
122 credits per notification, giving us eight phone and SMS notifications.

For my first test, I sent Winnipeg ARES Emergency
Coordinators, AECs, PIO and two special tech savvy members (eight in total) an
alert exercise message with request to meet me on the air on a local
repeater. It didn’t work well — I only heard from one of the eight: The recipients
were leery about answering calls from 1-877 numbers. I now have the system
set up to display the “local” number for my ARES pager. For a wider
audience test of Winnipeg ARES members who knew I was looking at a mass
notification system vendor and that I was targeting a specific day for a test (a
provincial holiday in Manitoba), I used the messager to distribute a draft
exercise plan. As a result, for the actual test notification/on-air exercise
net, I heard from half of the Winnipeg ARES membership (many were away for
the long weekend).

A group leader gets a report from the
provider for each notification, and can log in and see a detailed report
of which recipients answered and when they did so. I have made my AECs and
PIO “messengers” so they each have a discrete log-in and can transmit a
notification.

This system sure beats our cumbersome,
suboptimal, time-consuming telephone tree fan-out protocol. — Jeff Dovyak ,
VE4MBQ, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada ARES

Boston Marathon Communications Committee Seeks
Amateur-Volunteers

The Boston Athletic Association
(BAA) begins its Boston Marathon volunteer communications work with the
slogan “Volunteers Run This Event.” Indeed, the Amateur Radio
community has a role in nearly every aspect from Start to Finish. Preparations are
in high gear as Amateur Radio continues to serve in this extraordinary
event — we need you! Each year around 300 communications volunteers organize,
plan, train and serve the BAA, some 30,000 runners, 10,000 volunteers, and
their communities. Registration for Amateur Radio volunteers remains open
with assignments available for new volunteers who have a passion for public
service, and for experienced hands at this longstanding event. Registration is easy and one-stop. For
more information, click here. — Brett Smith, AB1RL, BAA Communications Committee
Volunteer Coordinator

Biennial
Radiation Drill Supported by Southern Florida ARES

Every two years the St. Lucie (Florida) Nuclear Power Plant is required to
hold an exercise that is chiefly evaluated by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The purpose
of these exercises is to test and evaluate the responses of plant
personnel, law enforcement agencies, emergency management officials, and
communications personnel. This year, the exercise took place on February 24. The
scenario involved overloaded communication systems normally used by the public,
rendering them unusable. ARES would provide radio communications among the
county EOCs and other critical assets/support locations.

ARES teams came and participated from St. Lucie, Palm Beach, Martin,
Indian River, and Brevard counties. Operators successfully employed the UHF
repeater-based Statewide Amateur Radio Network (SARnet) for most communications as well as
an HF net on 7.245 MHz. The dual nets backed each other up for
redundancy/reliability for the ARES mission of supporting each of the EOCs.

SARnet is a network of linked UHF voice repeaters that serves the
State of Florida. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) network
that connects these amateur repeaters is a stand-alone carrier class microwave
network. The use of this dedicated bandwidth provides a network much more
likely to remain operational during a severe weather event like a
hurricane.

All ARES communications tests and requirements were
successfully passed and met, with the use of the dual nets for backup
capability being noted and praised by the evaluators. Martin County ARES also
had a display of Go-Kits that illustrated what they do upon activation. It
drew a good audience and plenty of questions from the responders. The FEMA
representative visited ARES EC Steve Marshall, WW4RX, who discussed the kits
and answered questions about SARnet and a map of its coverage and
implications for its usage.

The excellent performance of these
county ARES teams could not have been possible without the leadership and
efforts of their county ECs, their respective net control operators, all
other ARES operators and their assistants, and their respective county
Emergency Management personnel. Thanks also go to the other amateur operators who
kept the SARnet and HF frequencies clear for the duration of the exercise.
— George P. Geran, KK4AXV, Brevard County Assistant EC; Willie Thompson,
KB5FKG, Indian River County Assistant EC; Steve Marshall, WW4RX, Martin
County EC; Charles Benn, WB2SNN, Palm Beach County District EC; and Steve
Lowman, N4SGL, St. Lucie County EC

Tech Tips: Crimping Tools

A few years ago
when Powerpoles started to emerge as the standard
connector for ARES and RACES applications, it was time for me to change out
my Molex connectors. Having no initial success in finding a die set for my
Paladin CrimpALL tool, I noticed that DX
Engineering was not only selling a crimp tool, but also individual die sets
for PowerPoles, RG-8, RG8X and uninsulated and insulated wire connectors.
After an exchange of e-mails with DX Engineering staff, I ordered the
PowerPole die set. DX Engineering was not sure if it would fit my crimp tool but
offered to accept its return if it did not. Eureka — it fit perfectly as if
Greenlee manufactured it! Subsequently, I purchased the RG-8 and RG-8X die
sets for UHF and BNC connectors.

If any readers owns a
Paladin/Greenlee 8000 series CrimpALL tool, they can be safe in
ordering the dies discussed above from DX Engineering. I am in no way connected
with DX Engineering, just a satisfied customer.– Joseph Walc, W4EEI,
Asheville, North Carolina

Letters: Solar Panels

When looking at solar
panels, there are three basic technologies: Amorphous, Poly-Crystalline, and
Mono-Crystalline. Amorphous panels are common for small panels because they
are inexpensive and can be cut to any size, but they wear out more quickly
and/or not very efficient. They are usually a deep brown color. I recommend
avoiding them. Poly-Crystalline is a good technology and should be the
minimum acceptable.They are typically bluish tint and usually have a fractured
pattern. Mono-Crystalline are the best. They last a very long time and have
the best efficiency.These typically look black and usually have cells that
look like rectangles with two clipped corners. There are some flexible
panels, but their efficiency is usually not very good. For my heavy deployable
go-kit, I use a solar package similar to the USA STOCK
100 watt 12 volt Folding Solar Panel with one or two 50 Ah batteries,
depending on the circumstances. — John Bloodgood, KD0SFY, Pikes
Peak (Colorado) ARES

Maryland-DC ARES Statewide ARDF/SAR for Missing Person

The mission presented to ARRL Maryland-DC Section ARES: Find a radio
beacon and save a life. It started on Friday, February 26, when an autistic
adult was discovered missing. By Sunday, Section Manager Marty Pittinger,
KB3MXM, and SEC Jim Montgomery, WB3KAS, received an e-mail from Joe Cotton,
W3TTT, explaining the serious situation: “I was called last night by a member
of the Northwest Citizen’s
Patrol, a partner with Project Lifesaver. An autistic man was discovered missing
by his caretaker on Friday morning, two days ago.” Cotton asked Pittinger
and Montgomery if their organization had the means to locate a Project
Lifesaver radio beacon leg bracelet, issued to incapacitated adults for rapid
location, response and safe return. The local Project Lifesavers
point-of-contact in Baltimore needed help.

Pittinger, Montgomery
and Cotton, with the CEO of Project Lifesaver, coordinated action using
brief e-mail correspondence and telephone chats to define search criteria and
share technical information. Contact was also made with local law
enforcement agencies handling the missing-person case in order to set a
protocol/format for Amateur Radio operators reporting to the police departments.

ARRL Atlantic Division Director Tom Abernethy, W3TOM, was
consulted and a plan was created and coordinated to handle this rather unique
request. Section officials contacted local clubs to secure phase doppler radio
direction finder equipment, and acquired the beacon frequency, radio range, and
tone signatures. The goal was to activate the entire Maryland-DC Section’s
ARES statewide to perform a QTH-QTV (“stand guard,” or listen on
frequency) from every Amateur Radio operator’s home station to detect
the beacon and relay its location to local police. Amateur Radio mobile
assets might be needed to determine the beacon’s precise location.

Once permission to activate was secured, Section Manager
Pittinger issued an “Activation Announcement” to SEC Montgomery, who alerted and
activated all ARES members to initiate the search plan/protocol. Pittinger
then informed Project Lifesaver coordinators and police that the state-wide
ARDF search was underway.

The Maryland Port Authority
identified the missing autistic man at Baltimore Washington International
Airport, and MDC ARES was told to stand down.

Pittinger concluded “We were grateful to learn that the missing
man was located and that we were given the opportunity to assist in a
massive safety of life search.” He said “Our knowledge, experience, agility and
huge presence across Maryland and the District of Columbia show our ability
to serve multiple agencies and organizations jointly, seamlessly and
rapidly as an organized team.” — ARRL Maryland-DC Section

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