The ARES E-Letter

The ARES E-Letter

Published by the American Radio Relay League

September 18, 2013

Editor: Rick Palm, K1CE <>

In This Issue:


– Docket of Disaster
– Major Conference in Michigan Involves Planning for Amateur Radio
– Fireball 2013: Tennessee EMA Exercise
– Florida Amateurs Support Kiwanis Midnight Run Public Service Event
– Field Day 2013: Virgin Islands EMA Director Lauds Amateur Radio
– Trans-Pacific Exercise: “Great Showing”
–  FEMA: 10th Annual National Preparedness Month
– Got Water?
– New Twitter Address for ARRL ARES
– K1CE For a Final


A spate of natural disasters and resulting ARES responses have been
reported by ARRL recently. Here is a digest:

Colorado Storms and Flooding

More than five dozen ARES volunteers have deployed in and around
flood-stricken counties of Colorado, providing critical communication
for Red Cross shelters and state and local emergency operation centers.
Recent heavy rains have caused veritable mountainside tsunamis that
have caused rivers and streams to overflow their banks, ravaged roads
and property and displaced an undetermined number of residents. At
least three people are known to have died. ARRL Colorado Section
Manager Jack Ciaccia, WM0G, says that with power cut off to affected
communities and many cell telephone towers along the Big Thompson River
toppled by the flooding, ham radio is providing medical and
health-and-welfare traffic between evacuation centers and the EOCs. The
complete story, updated as of September 14, can be found here

Morgan Incident Fire, California

The Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES
<>) went on standby alert, and the
Red Cross and the Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN
<>) were called out in the wake of the so-called
Morgan Incident Fire
in chaparral southeast of Clayton, California. The blaze, on the
eastern flank of the north peak of Mount Diablo, put at least four
Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club (MDARC <>)
repeaters off the air September 8. More here

Hurricane Watch Net Activates for Hurricane Ingrid

Hurricane Watch Net (HWN <>) manager Bobby Graves,
KB5HAV, announced that the net planned to activate Sunday, September
15, at 1500 UTC on 14.325 MHz in response to the approach of Hurricane
Ingrid, only the second hurricane of the 2013 season. More information

ARES/RACES Stands Down After Rim Fire at Yosemite

Amateur Radio volunteers supporting the Red Cross and local government
in the wake of the gigantic Rim Fire, in and near California’s Yosemite
National Park and the Stanislaus National Forest, have stood down after
16 days on duty. The initial callout on August 19 responded to a
request to assist the Red Cross in setting up an evacuation center in
Groveland, California. More information here

(All sources are ARRL).


John J. McDonough, WB8RCR, Michigan’s Emergency Management Coordinator,
RACES Officer, and ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator filed a report on
a major state planning meeting that had wide ranging implications for
Amateur Radio.

The conference was sponsored by the state’s emergency management
agency, which is the Michigan State Police. The Emergency Management
and Homeland Security Division of the Michigan State Police (EMHSD)
hosted the conference at the Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City, August
21 and 22. There were representatives from ARES, RACES, MARS, SATERN
and CAP from each District, as well as county emergency management
coordinators and the State Police District Coordinator.

The conference was kicked off with a keynote speech by Tony Katarsky,
the Assistant Division Commander of EMHSD, who pointed out how the
involvement of Amateur Radio has become more important as the reliance
on technology grows. Katarsky said he recognizes the fragility of the
state’s infrastructure, particularly in the face of growing cyber
threats. Conference organizer and State EOC engineer Don Bouffard
reviewed how we might coordinate and work together on this point in the
future. Forums followed giving county emergency managers and volunteer
radio operators the opportunity to share their perceptions and
potential opportunities on this theme.

McDonough gave a presentation reviewing the breadth of Amateur Radio
and trained volunteers’ capabilities for the benefit of emergency
managers who were unaware of current technologies like NBEMS
<>, packet and SSTV, or of the incredible
range of frequencies (and RF propagation aspects) that amateurs are
privileged to use in emergency and disaster response communications,
and service to the public interest.

The conferees closed the first day with a presentation from the State’s
technology department on their interoperability initiatives, and
discussed the state’s evolving communication system, the Michigan
Public Safety Communications System (MPSCS
<>), and how dependent the state is on it.

The next morning, an EMHSD District Coordinator outlined the role of
his position in emergency management: In addition to managing the
various county emergency management coordinators, the District
Coordinators attend every EOC that is activated and provide “eyes and
ears” for the Governor, who keeps close watch on any event in the
state. “The current governor pays particular attention to any incident,
and I have been privileged to participate in an exercise where the
governor himself was an active player,” McDonough said.

Randy Williams, KD8MOK, from the Department of Technology, Management
and Budget then gave a presentation on Michigan’s interoperability
initiative and made a plea for amateurs to get involved with the
initiative for better understanding of the needs of the state for
communications support in the event of an infrastructure disruption.

The conferees broke up into groups by Districts to discuss how to move
forward, and the opportunities posed by potential grant projects.
McDonough said that “Michigan is a diverse state, and each District is
quite different, but more attention was paid to improvement, simply
sitting down and talking about issues raised in the “just do it”

McDonough concluded “As we closed, each District reported back to the
entire group, and it was clear that every District’s discussions were
very productive. The State Police indicated that they would like to see
this conference become an annual event, and I think everyone was
pleased with the progress made over two short days.” [John J.
McDonough, WB8RCR, is Emergency Management Coordinator; RACES Officer,
State of Michigan; ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator and Section
Traffic Manager; and ARRL Emergency Communications Advisory Committee
Representative, Great Lakes Division]


Dubbed Fireball 2013, this exercise was planned for September 12-14, at
press time. Sponsored by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency
(TEMA <>), the purpose of the exercise is to
provide a forum for participants to practice passing messages and
conduct simultaneous nets with all three MARS branches and Amateur
Radio for emergency response to a large scale or catastrophic event. It
includes passing messages between all of these services using both
voice and data. Goals are to consider medical facility evacuation needs
and present possible solutions; consider shelter and evacuation needs
and opportunities; provide practice and training in field deployment;
and identify logistical challenges and opportunities and suggest
solutions – all for the benefit of local, and state EOCs. Consideration
of additional communications needs and support for existing systems was
also to be a priority.

The scenario involves the drought conditions in Tennessee and the
consequent threat of wildfire, which are seen as “cascading events.”
Responders will be tested on their ability to support evacuations of
more than 5000 citizens, with MARS and Amateur Radio used for
communications functions. – from a report forwarded by Steve Waterman,
K4CJX, Nashville, Tennessee (Waterman is Winlink 2000 network


Dunedin, FL, July 15, 2013- Amateur Radio operators from Pinellas
County, Florida, ACS/ARES, Eastlake CERT, and the Tampa Amateur Radio
Club manned critical communications posts along the Kiwanis Midnight
Run race route to ensure the safety of the participants during the
event held on July 3-4, 2013. In all, 22 hams manned 13 positions that
evening including shadowing Dunedin EMS personnel. There were 3
separate events, a 1-mile run with 199 participants, a 5K run with 1261
participants, and the 10K run with 570 participants, a total of 2030

During the 4-hour event, hams assisted in alerting EMS teams of two
runners in need. One runner had fallen and the other was experiencing
breathing problems. Both runners had to be transported by ambulance to
the hospital.

“Not only does an event like this provide a means to test our emergency
communication preparedness, it also provides a great service to a
worthy cause. Providing communications and EMS support for the runners
helps to keep them safe but also helps us in the long run to insure we
are ready when called upon in a large scale emergency event,” said
David Moore, KK4DLX.

The Kiwanis Morton Plant Mease Midnight Run
<>is held annually on the evening of
July 3 and the morning of July 4. The previous 33 Midnight Run events
have raised more than $640,000 for the Kiwanis clubs of Dunedin and Top
of the Bay community service activities. The Pinellas County Amateur
Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is proud to serve the Pinellas County
Auxiliary Communications Service (ACS) and meets on the third Thursday
of the month at the Pinellas County EOC. – Kevin Poorman, KV4CT, ARRL
Public Information Officer, Assistant EC


Fred Kleber, NP2X/K9VV, President of the St. Croix ARC and ARRL US
Virgin Islands Section Manager, relayed this quote from the USVI
Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) director, on the
occasion of Field Day 2013 there:

“As an emergency management agency, building a strong relationship with
the ham radio operator community is critical,” said Elton Lewis, VITEMA
Director. “They can come through in catastrophic events where even our
best communications infrastructure may not survive. This was very
evident in Hurricane Hugo when our communications capabilities were
wiped out. VITEMA continues to work and train side by side with VI
amateur radio clubs and, in fact, they are imbedded in our
organization. I encourage everyone to take a moment to see the public
demonstrations and to learn more about amateur radio.”

VITEMA was also kind enough to greatly enhance the operation by
allowing the Field Day group to use their emcomm van, Kleber noted.


Fort Huachuca, Arizona — Everything about Pacific Endeavor-13
(see background in last month’s issue
<> ) was simulated
except for one big surprise: Electric power actually failed in
“Pacifica,” the simulated disaster-battered Asian nation that a small
band of amateurs around the globe were seeking to assist. It happened
right at the start of the globe-spanning exercise organized by the U.S.
Defense Department Sunday night into morning (August 25-26).

At 9N1AA in Nepal, the real “Pacifica,” Dr. Sanjeeb Panday and fellow
operators kept going on battery power with only 25 watts output. But a
stroke of the other kind of luck provided a low-power digital link to
an amateur in Afghanistan. He had joined Army MARS only days before the

Although the operation only lasted under three hours, months had gone
into preparing PE-13. The Pentagon and U.S. Pacific Command set it up
as a test of amateur emergency support in Asia after Japan’s tsunami
catastrophe, using procedures of the International Amateur Radio Union.
MARS, military stations and amateurs all collaborated on this exercise.

“We had stations monitoring in the continental US, Hawaii, Japan,
Germany, and Afghanistan,” reported Paul English, Army MARS program
officer. “There was only intermittent reception in Germany and the US
on PSK31, but we had a solid connection between Nepal and Afghanistan.
Approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes into the exercise, power was
restored in Nepal and we did have marginal voice communications from
Nepal to Afghanistan and Germany.

“We were able to submit a number of spot info reports to the Pacific
Command and responded to a number of information requests in a timely
manner,” English said. “This was a great showing by all.”

A star of the show was PSK31, the very basic digital mode that travels
well on low power, even in the otherwise grim propagation conditions
during PE-13. “When power was restored in Nepal,” English said, “we did
make limited voice contacts with Afghanistan. Germany and Hawaii could
hear but not talk to Nepal. Propagation for voice only lasted a few

A preliminary account had a total of 60 stations logged at MARS
headquarters at Fort Huachuca and the station in Germany of MARS region
director Daniel Wolff. Participants, including MARS stations in the
U.S., and Japan, used their amateur call signs.

One unique feature of PE-13 was use of the Defense Department’s open
bulletin board for civil emergencies, APAN (All Partners Access Network
<>). Army MARS Operations Chief
David McGinnis coordinated information flow via APAN to the DoD and
U.S. Pacific Command. Stations avoided public alarm from use of usual
emergency language by using terms from the game of cricket instead.

“There are many lessons learned from this exercise and I hope for a
great learning process for all participants,” English commented.
“Propagation was challenging throughout the exercise. We had real-world
challenges just as one would expect in a natural disaster.” 9N1AA had
the last word: Dr. Panday messaged his relay station just over 1,000
miles west along the Himalayas, “I am very thankful to you. You did a
great job.” – Bill Sexton, N1IN, Army MARS


On September 4, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, kicked off the 10th annual National
Preparedness Month (NPM), joining local New York City Emergency
Management officials and New York City Citizen Corps Council, at the
Children’s Museum in Staten Island to talk about the importance of
family and community emergency preparedness.

“Each September, we commit to focusing our collective efforts on
raising our level of readiness to be prepared for any potential hazard
with National Preparedness Month,” said Fugate. “It is a time for us to
promote individual and community preparedness. Events like the one
today in New York serve as a reminder for all Americans to be prepared
in order to successfully respond to and recover from emergencies and

NPM is led by FEMA’s Ready Campaign in partnership with Citizen Corps
and the Ad Council, and is a nationwide effort encouraging individuals,
families, businesses and communities to work together and take action
to prepare for emergencies.

In June 2003, ARRL became an official affiliate program of Citizen
Corps <>. The Statement of Affiliation made
ARRL an affiliate under the four charter Citizen Corps
programs–Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers in Police Service, Community
Emergency Response Teams and Medical Reserve Corps.

NPM is an opportunity for ARES and other radio amateurs to disseminate
emergency preparedness information and host sponsor activities across
the country to help Americans understand what it truly means to be
ready, and that they should be cognizant of neighborhood CERT and
Amateur Radio operators for potential communications with the outside
world in a disaster or emergency.


Has the water run dry in your emergency supply kit
If so, it’s time to fill ‘er up! One of the most essential components
of a disaster-ready kit is water. A well maintained kit prepares you
before disaster strikes.

After an emergency, clean drinking water may not be available if your
usual water source is cut off or contaminated. When replenishing your
supply remember that individual needs may vary depending on health,
age, diet and climate. As a general rule, store one gallon of water per
person per day to last for at least three days.

There are several options for building your water supply. The safest
and most reliable choice is to buy commercially bottled water and open
it only when you need to use it. Store the containers in a cool, dark
and note the expiration date.

If you choose to prepare your own containers of water, purchase food
grade water storage containers from a surplus or camping supply store
or two-liter plastic soda bottles – not bottles that contained milk or
fruit juice. Keep in mind these containers must first be properly

To learn more about maintaining your kit, click here
Information about water treatment is also available at


Effective September 16 the Twitter address for ARRL ARES has changed.
The new address is
<>. This feed is for ARES, public
service communications, and other announcements of interest to ARES
members and those interested in public service communications. It is
managed from ARRL HQ by League staff.


I wrote the following in this column in the June 2013 issue: “I
recently loaded the software for RMS Express/WINMOR and managed to send
an e-mail message to myself via the Telnet mode, and have moved on to
adjusting the sound card and software for transmitting e-mail messages
over the air on the HF bands. WINMOR is a sound card mode that is a
less expensive alternative to the hard multi-mode data controllers
while admittedly sacrificing some efficiencies. The RMS Express/WINMOR
combo sees a lot of use in disaster response communications planning
and operations.”

I wanted to follow up on my experience: After some initial failures in
connecting to a Winlink hub to send my drafted Winlink e-mail message,
I bought a superb little piece of equipment – a SignaLink USB
<> digital interface that also
incorporates a high-quality sound card, on the basis of a
recommendation I had read somewhere. The on-board sound card greatly
simplifies the processing of the signals back and forth between the
laptop computer and radio, in my case, an ICOM IC-7000. An inspired
part of the overall RMS Express/WINMOR suite is the incorporation of a
propagation utility, ITS HF (the ITS is the Institute for
Telecommunications Sciences <> of the
NTIA), for help in choosing the best hub based on best path for sending
your messages. It’s all a bit intimidating at first, but the thrill of
connecting to Bud Thompson’s, N0IA, system on forty meters here in
Florida and uploading my first Winlink messages was not to be denied.
It worked very well, efficiently sending my message to my own regular
e-mail account within seconds. The advantage of a global e-mail network
independent of local Internet infrastructure is without a doubt a huge
potential asset in major disaster response communications planning and

Just a tip or two: To set up the SignaLink unit for your specific radio
and application, you need to open the case and push some jumper wires
into some small sockets. As the original appliance operator, it made me
nervous to have to perform this set-up procedure with my 60-year old
eyes and hand/finger coordination, but I had no problem. Just take much
time and concentration to do it right the first time: You don’t want to
bend those itsy-bitsy wires too much, or you could end up breaking them
off in the sockets with no hope of retrieving the stubs. Just be
careful, that’s all.

And lastly, to run CW with the unit, the wires have to be reconfigured
with different sockets. Don’t bother futzing with it. Do what I do:
have another unit pre-configured for Morse code sending, and simply
swap units as necessary. For CW sending, I use my tried and true
Rigblaster Plug and Play
another great little product: It plugs into your USB port and into the
radio’s key jack. It works like a champ. I use the CW Type software
with it.

I received a letter from a reader who was disheartened about my
apparent lack of attention to the NBEMS suite, and in response, I
downloaded the primary program files and will experiment with them as
my next project. I’ll report my experience here in a future issue.
There was a good two-page article on NBEMS in this month’s QST – check
it out. – K1CE

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