ARRL East Bay Section

Archive for the 'Emergency Communications' Category


Posted by af6aq on 14th July 2014

To: All SMs, SECs, STMs, Directors and Vice Directors

Jim Cross WI3N
Chair of the former ARRL Emergency Communications Advisory Committee

Dave Colter WA1ZCN
Vice Chair of the former ARRL Emergency Communications Advisory Committee

ARRL members who participate in the ARES® and NTS programs have long lamented the lack of sustained or meaningful guidance and support from the Board of Directors and headquarters staff. Many feel the two programs are undervalued and under supported. Aside from expensive online emergency communication courses and a few books, little else of substance has been done in many years.

That may be what inspired the board’s Programs and Services Committee (P&SC) to task the ad hoc Emergency Communications Advisory Committee (ECAC) with looking for ways to help both programs advance and cooperate. ECAC consisted of seasoned public service communication experts from every ARRL Division, each recommended by their director.

Thousands of man hours were expended in research, discussion, meetings, writing, and rewriting. The result was an extensive twenty-four page document covering recommendations in a variety of areas.

The committee presented its report to the P&SC in mid November, 2013. Members of the P&SC almost unanimously lauded it as the best researched and written ARRL committee report they’d ever read.

Among other things, we proposed creating a permanent, unique support and advisory committee (working name: Joint Emergency Communications Committee (JECC)) to provide guidance and develop consistent and up to date resources to both programs. The JECC would be tasked with developing best practices standards, training materials, coordinating national exercises between ARES and NTS, voluntary certification programs, and more. What it would not have is command authority over anyone, or any part of the Field Organization.

We also provided language for motions that would allow the Board to act on it right away. Rather than immediately approve the proposal however, the Board opted to send it to a newly re-formed P&SC for further study. This is understandable in that we proposed a structure that differs significantly from the way things have been done over the last one hundred years.

Except for the Executive Committee, which is elected by the Board, all Board committees, advisory committees and any temporary ad hoc committees are appointed by the President. ECAC proposed a novel elected committee structure consisting of six highly qualified members, equally split between ARES and NTS, with staggered three year terms, and elected by all Field Organization appointees and elected leadership. A seventh member would be appointed by the Board or the president.

It bears noting that ARRL is ostensibly a member-driven organization. Through our elected Directors and Section Managers, the Board makes decisions that reflect the needs and desires of the members. HQ staff is hired to implement and support the board’s decisions and directives. As was made clear to ECAC several times in the course of its research, HQ staff is not supposed to act on its own or without specific guidance from the Board.

Since the position of HQ Emergency Manager was created, this dynamic seems to have changed. Staff now seems to be making unilateral decisions regarding the future and direction of ARES. NTS, meanwhile, is suffering from benign neglect. Staff is not permitted to make unilateral decisions about any aspect of the Field Organization’s activities, form, goals, or actions. Under the bylaws, that privilege is reserved to the Board of Directors.

The danger in unilateral action by staff is that they are working with a necessarily limited set of facts, experience, and opinions. No matter how qualified any one or two individuals are, it is unreasonable to expect they will be able to know or fully understand the wide variety of situations encountered by ARES groups around the country. The input and guidance of a more diverse group is needed. It is also unreasonable to expect a staff of two to produce the types of best practices and voluntary standards needed to effectively promote readiness and interoperability, meaningful and robust networks, training materials, and more that is so badly needed. In this regard, JECC would be a force multiplier for the entire organization.

Staff’s primary role should be providing support to the Field Organization, and handling high-level MOU negotiations as well as implementing programs and initiatives at the specific direction of the Board. It should also provide meaningful input and feedback related to its efforts to the decision makers in the Board and Field Organization. The HQ Emergency Manager is officially tasked with coordinating direct HQ support during major disasters and disseminating critical operational and situational awareness information to the Field Organization. Creation of the JECC would allow staff to focus on these and other critical support tasks.

In a discussion with Dave Sumner K1ZZ last fall, he suggested that after the Board had the opportunity to take action, releasing the reports to the membership – who would, after all, be most affected by any decision – would be reasonable.

In that light, and with the knowledge and consent of ECAC’s former members, we have made the ECAC report available for download by anyone who wishes to read and study it. Our hope is that you will develop an informed opinion and make it known to your Director and the P&SC’s members. We believe your comments will be helpful as they evaluate the ECAC report and formulate decisions.

Please let the P&SC and your Director and Vice Director know what you think. A link to the Directors and Vice directors is:

To download a PDF of the report, a PowerPoint® explanation of the report, contact information for the Programs and Services Committee, and links to the reports to the Board over the course of the ECAC’s tenure, please click this link:

Posted in Emergency Communications, Field Organization | Comments Off on ECAC REPORT

ARRL Field Day 2014 is at Hand, and Everyone is Invited!

Posted by ks6m on 19th June 2014

If you have not already made plans to get on the air for ARRL Field Day 2014, tick-tock, tick-tock. It’s just days away, but it’s not too late to participate. Field Day 2014 is Saturday and Sunday, June 28 and 29. Field Day is the year’s most popular operating event, and more than 35,000 radio amateurs will be setting up stations — sometimes multiple stations — in the field, at campsites, in public parks, and even on their decks or in their backyards to get in on the fun. Think of it as the first weekend of Amateur Radio’s summer. Last year, more than 2500 stations submitted entries.

Field Day is primarily a group activity, though, and if you’re not yet on the roster to operate from your club’s Field Day site, volunteer now! If you don’t belong to a club or don’t know if there’s a Field Day operation setting up in your area, check the Field Day Locator to find one. Clubs welcome new operators, especially if they are willing to take the graveyard (overnight) shift or other less-desirable time slots or if they bring some special talent or expertise to the picnic table — top-notch CW proficiency, satellite expertise, or antenna skills.

If you’d rather just stay at home, you can operate your own station as is, and work stations in the field, or you can set up to operate from an emergency power source, such as a generator, batteries, or solar panels, and work everyone else. Field Day got its start in the 1930s as an emergency communication exercise, and that tradition continues today. Some stations will be on the air from emergency operations centers.

The object is simple: To work as many stations as possible on any and all Amateur Radio bands — excluding 60, 30, 17, and 12 meters — and to learn to operate in less-than-optimal conditions. The camaraderie is special, and there’s a place for operators at all skill levels — from newbies and even prospective licensees to grizzled veterans.

Find your place at Field Day 2014, and enjoy Amateur Radio to the max!

Source: The ARRL Letter for June 19, 2014

Posted in Contesting, Emergency Communications, Field Day, Operating, Volunteer, Youth | Comments Off on ARRL Field Day 2014 is at Hand, and Everyone is Invited!

ARRL Centennial QSO Party (more)

Posted by ks6m on 17th January 2014

Hams in the ARRL East Bay Section,

I am taking this opportunity to “second” the recent message from Assistant Section Manager Chris Tate N6WM about the ARRL Centennial QSO Party and its Centennial Points Challenge. Chris’s assignment is DX and contesting. Mine is emergency communications, so I have a stake in activities that improve and maintain ham radio operating skills and experience. Operating events like the Centennial QSO Party are among the best of such activities.

The leadership in the ARRL East Bay Section encourages all hams to participate in the Centennial QSO Party. We have a page of information about this operating event, and especially about its Centennial Points Challenge, on the ARRL East Bay Section Web site.

Let me underscore Chris’s point about the bands above 50 megahertz — VHF and UHF. As in ARRL Field Day, these bands are available but sometimes overlooked. ARRL East Bay Section encourages Centennial Points Challenge participation by hams in the Technician class and by hams in any license class who have only VHF and UHF equipment easily available. We are offering a “concentration plan” to bring East Bay Section Amateurs together on selected VHF and UHF frequencies and at selected days and times to make it easier to make contacts in this event. We will also be providing helpful tips to enable Amateurs to move beyond ordinary FM voice on these bands, both increasing point totals in the event and further improving operator skills. We also have a set of frequently-asked questions and their answers.

See our page about the Centennial Points Challenge on VHF/UHF in our section. It includes details of the concentration plan.

These pages, and especially the details of the concentration plan, are subject to change, so keep an eye on them.

Assistant Section Manager Chris Tate also mentioned the upcoming VHF Sweepstakes. The ARRL holds three VHF Sweepstakes and one UHF Sweepstakes each year. The first of the VHF Sweepstakes of 2014 begins this Saturday, January 18 at 11:00 am PST (1900Z) and continues until Sunday at 7:59 pm PST. Many of your contacts in this sweepstakes can also count in the Centennial QSO Party. Give it a try! Our VHF/UHF page explains how. And, during this event, our section’s “concentration plan frequencies” may be good places to look for Sweepstakes contacts.

Meanwhile, I will be monitoring on 146.460, 223.440, and 441.000 MHz, which are for now our primary VHF/UHF FM voice concentration plan frequencies. If I can’t hear others using those frequencies, I will be calling on them. I hope to make contact with many of you there in the Centennial Points Challenge and in the VHF and UHF Sweepstakes too.

John Rabold KS6M
Section Emergency Coordinator
ARRL East Bay Section

Posted in Contesting, Education and Training, Emergency Communications, Events, Operating | Comments Off on ARRL Centennial QSO Party (more)

ARRL Centennial QSO Party

Posted by ks6m on 15th January 2014

Greetings East Bay Amateurs.

Many of you are aware that the ARRL is sponsoring a number of events for its 100th anniversary. More information on the overall Centennial QSO Party program is provided here.

One of the programs you may or may not be aware of is the Centennial Points Challenge. ARRL members can work other ARRL members and leadership for points. Different awards can be applied for at the end of the year, and the awards will be handed out in 500pt increments.

Different membership levels equal different point levels, starting with 1 point for ARRL members, to 300 points for the ARRL president. All Section Managers, including East Bay SM Jim Latham AF6AQ, are worth 175 points. All Assistant Section Managers, like me, are 35 points, VEs 5 points. Hopefully you get the picture. A complete chart and point matrix is available on the above provided link. All of the QSO’s need to be simplex (e.g. No repeater contacts), but they can be in the mode/band of your choice otherwise.

There are some thoughts I would like to pass along to arm you for success.

If you wish, you may keep simple records of your QSOs on your own paper or computer documents and score them yourself. If you do this, though, your score will not be published. If you’d like to get the maximum benefit from this event, here are two points to observe:

1. All of your QSO’s need to be logged properly with a program that can generate an ADIF file. There are plenty of logging programs out there that can do this; here are a couple of links to some.

a) N1MM logger

Probably the most comprehensive and well supported contest loggers, and the best part, its free! There are extensive support documents for this program, and comes highly recommended for this and most contests out there.

b) N3FJP logging software

I find N3FJP Softwares VHF contest logging software particularly well suited for VHF contests such as the upcoming January VHF sweepstakes. It is worth a look for sure.

c) Wintest

Wintest is another popular logging program used by many, if you like the layout this one may be for you.

There are many more out there, but this is a good start. Check them out and see what works for you!

2. All of your centennial point QSO’s and QSL’s must be uploaded and verified by the ARRL’s Logbook of the World (“LOTW”).

LOTW is simply awesome. Getting set up takes a few steps, but once done takes all of the work that used to be done by mailing qsl cards, and handles the tasks electronically. Both parties upload their QSO data to LOTW, and if there is a match.. BAM! Your QSL is confirmed and fully supported by all ARRL awards programs. You will want to upload all your data to LOTW by the end of the year, so get started with your setup as soon as possible.

ARRL’s Logbook of the World can be found here, and specific instructions on getting set up can be found here.

Coming up this weekend (January 18-19) is the ARRL January VHF sweepstakes. This could be a great opportunity to get your feet wet by a) working and learning about contests, and b) working other ARRL and leadership for centennial QSO points!

Complete information for the January VHF sweepstakes can be found here. Here you can find rules, bands, modes, log submission instructions and everything else to start having fun contesting VHF style. And the best thing, its VHF and most will have equipment, even an HT to get on the air and work some contest QSO’s.

Look for more information on East Bay centennial QSO points challenge activity throughout the year. Remember the most important rule in contesting and any award program is. HAVE FUN!

If you need assistance with any of this, please don’t hesitate to contact any of the East Bay Section leadership, and we will do our best to help you have fun on the air.

73 and good luck!

Chris Tate N6WM
Assistant Section Manager (DX and Contesting)
ARRL East Bay Section

For current information throughout 2014 about the ARRL Centennial QSO Party here in the ARRL East Bay Section, see the “100QP” tab here on this Web site.

Posted in Contesting, Education and Training, Emergency Communications, Events, Operating | Comments Off on ARRL Centennial QSO Party

ARRL East Bay Section ARES® at Pacificon

Posted by ks6m on 27th September 2013

There will be excellent learning opportunities, gear for sale, and networking at Pacificon, the annual ARRL Pacific Division convention, on October 11 through 13 (less than 2 weeks away). Hams from all seven sections in the Pacific Division will be present. You must register to attend; registration is available on the Pacificon Web site. Volunteers are still needed and can sign up on that Web site as well. (See also this earlier post.)

The ARRL East Bay Section ARES® (“EB-ARES”) leadership will be presenting three sessions at Pacificon, including an open meeting of EB-ARES. Please attend and participate. These three sessions will be offered one after the other on Sunday morning, October 13, in Salon C. You can find them on the Pacificon Web site by going to the schedule for Salon C and looking under “Sunday”. (If they are moved to other times or locations at Pacificon, we will try to let you know!)

Here are the three sessions as currently scheduled:

Workshop: Digital Emcomm with NBEMS

Sunday at 8:15 am: This drop-in workshop will enable you to observe and experiment with the digital emcomm applications in the NBEMS software suite (fldigi, flmsg, flwrap, and more). We will have laptops set up with the software and a few sample messages, and we will demonstrate the sending and receiving of messages and then coach you as you do it yourself. Or bring your own laptop; we’ll have the software available for you to install. We will be available to chat about the pros and cons of this and similar techniques for messaging in support of our served agencies. Session leader: Bernhard Hailer AE6YN, Assistant Emergency Coordinator, ARRL East Bay Section.

ARRL EC-001 Exam Session

Sunday at 9:30 am: Amateur Radio operators and others who are studying the ARRL’s Introduction to Emergency Communication Course (EC-001) can take the course’s examination at this session, earning the ARRL completion certificate. EC-001 and its prerequisites, IS-100 and IS-700, are among the course training requirements to qualify for the Full Member designation in the ARRL East Bay Section ARES program. See an earlier post for important information.

Open Meeting: ARRL East Bay Section ARES

Sunday at 10:45 am: This session begins with a brief introduction to the ARES program in the ARRL East Bay Section. That will be followed by a report on progress during the past year and a review of several current challenges and opportunities for this East Bay Section program. The remainder of the session will be devoted to questions and discussion. Session leader: John Rabold KS6M, Section Emergency Coordinator, ARRL East Bay Section.

Posted in Education and Training, Emergency Communications, Events, Pacificon | Comments Off on ARRL East Bay Section ARES® at Pacificon