ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2017-07-16

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Jul 16, 2017.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    Weekly Image
    An ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments
    ARISS Celebrates its 20th Anniversary through SSTV Event...
    - In commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of ARISS, a Slow Scan Television (SSTV) event is planned for Thursday, July 20 starting around 21:25 UTC. The event plans to feature images from ARISS activities both past and present. This opportunity should cover most of the world during the operation period.

    The event plans to use a computer on the ISS Russian Segment, which stores images that are then transmitted to Earth using the ham radio, specifically the onboard Kenwood TM D710 transceiver. Those receiving the images can post them at for viewing by the public.

    The 20 year history of ARISS will be displayed through a collection of 12 unique images sharing the amazing accomplishments of ARISS over the last two decades. SSTV signals will be sent to earth at 145.80 MHz using FM. The SSTV mode of transmission is expected to be PD 120 (PD 180 may be a second option). The event is expected to continue over a two day period.

    Since it’s inception, Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) has provided students an opportunity, through ham radio, to engage in conversation with orbiting astronauts and inspired many to seek careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Consider how you might inspire students in your area through this chance to capture images directly from space to their computers.

    Please note that the event, and any ARISS event, is dependent on other activities, schedules and crew responsibilities on the ISS and are subject to change at any time.

    While preparations are being finalized please check for new and the most current information on the and websites, the, the ARISS facebook at Amateur Radio On The International Space Station (ARISS) and ARISS twitter @ARISS_status for the latest information on this event.

    Many Thanks to Mark, WB3FKP, for sending this along for tonight's bulletin.

    NUE-PSK Digital Modem...
    - Saw this on the HP Pack Forum and thought it might be of interest to those of you who like to get out and about with your rigs. This particular modem comes in kit form for some practice with the soldering iron. It has some interesting features including a keyer for CW and now an option for an external portable monitor. (LCARES Challenge - According to Teddy Roosevelt what is the second best thing you can do in a decision making situation? Email your answer to It also has the option of logging the contacts via a USB memory stick for those that want to upload them when they get home. That is versus writing them down and keying them in on the home computer. Here is the web link. Another reason to get out of the shack and find out how it works.

    Get out of the Shack and try things under some more demanding conditions...
    - My (and many others) favorite field tester, Julian, OH8STN, posted an interesting blog article about his 16KM hike to test out his gear. Julian's opening statement says a lot to me. I do get out, usually once per week, to the woods with my FT-817 and make at least one or two contacts with it. How many depends on how good the bands are at the time of the excursion. Here is Julian's opening statement.

    "I can never stress enough the importance of getting outside with our gear to test in the real world. That doesn't mean getting in our cars, unloading the gear at some new location, setting up, then putting it all back in the car before going home. It actually means strapping our gear to out backpacks, walking or cycling 5-10km, setting up, seeing how it all works, tearing it down, packing it up, then heading home on foot, by bicycle, ... but not in a car." --> OH8STN

    Here is the link:

    OK, I know that is a lot for many of you to take in but it says something that needs to be taken to heart. I asked a club on Thursday Night how many of them thought their home station would be of value to the community during a disaster? I then asked the 4 or 5 that put their hands up how their station would be of value. Well, the standard answers apply here. "I can handle traffic for those in distress" or "I can relay information for the (insert your favorite agency here)" or "I'll be able to be on the air and ready to do what is needed." My response to that was that may mean 1 station may be important during our supposed disaster. The rest of the stations need to be able to go to where they are needed. I am sorry but sitting in your big chair in your comfortable station just won't cut it. At least for the majority of the needs that will arrive.

    "I can handle traffic for those in distress" - Rebuttal - who is going to be there sending it to you to handle?

    "I can relay information for the (insert your favorite agency here)" - Rebuttal - how is the agency going to receive the information from you and who is going to be out there getting the information for you to relay?

    "I'll be able to be on the air and ready to do what is needed." - Rebuttal - Do what? You won't know what is needed unless you go and find out.

    It is a get up and go world any more and for many reasons. The old thoughts were that the Ham would sit in his station and collect messages and send them on to distant places. That used to be true. In the 1930's, 40's, 50's, and even the 60's and 70's. In those days putting the wires back on the poles was a major effort and linemen were few and far between. Getting to the break was even harder.

    That has changed. This may come as a shock but there are corporations running the communications infrastructure in this world and they can muster material, employees, and a bunch of other resources that would make the U.S. Military establishment salivate. And there is built-in redundancy up the wazoo. The major problem for them is not fixing a broken wire. It is overloading which they still have not fixed as far as I can tell.

    What is needed today is a lot different than what was needed in the world 50 years ago isn't what is needed today. Unfortunately, there are still too many hams that still believe the need for emergency communications is the same as it was 50 years ago.

    Situational Awareness...
    - Darn big words! The United States Coast Guard's definition of Situational Awareness (SA) is "is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening to the team with regards to the mission. More simply, it's knowing what is going on around you."

    That last sentence says more than you will ever know. Ever hear of the OODA loop? I have mentioned it before. "Observe, Orient, Decide, Act" It is usually followed with "repeat as needed." It applies to many things in life but I'll let you Google it to find out more. The first two words - Observe and Orient are key parts of SA. You are "observing" the environment and the actions in it and "orienting" yourself to the situation. It just like having a map. The map information but without orienting it to your location it can be interesting at best or meaningless at worst or it can be extremely useful with orientation.

    Emergency Managers require information which is basis of SA. Decisions cannot be made in a vacuum and if they are they are usually bad decisions. Well, Teddy Roosevelt has said that "In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is to do the wrong thing, the worst thing is to do nothing." So Emergency Managers with information so that they can develop SA will hopefully default the first option and to the right thing.

    Now SA is different for every kind of environment and gathering the information to be SA and maintain SA takes many forms. One example of SA is from the USCG's Auxiliary Training program. However for the Emergency Manager there is less of a immediate connection with what is going locally versus what is going on outside of what they can see.

    Most SA that you can read on the Internet is oriented to personal security. It is good thing to be aware of if you ever step outside of you home. Security "Weekly has a good article on Practical Security Awareness if you care to read it. But again this does not speak to what we need to do as ARES in support of our served agencies and Emergency Managers.

    As far as ARES is concerned we need SA to keep ourselves safe and to understand what the assigned mission/goal/reason for our activation is at the time we are out their with our radios. Remember we can be the eyes and ears for our Emergency Managers if we stay up with the situation, understand it, and understand what we have been asked to do.

    Before I say much more let me say that developing SA is a two way street. We can be SA of what is going on but if the people we are working with don't share information then it becomes a problem. We won't know the situation they are trying to become aware of or what they goal have they set. Lets take a quick example.

    "Check out the composition of the parking lot at Nescopeck State Park." That is a nice clean simple directive. The ARES member can get there, look at the parking lot, and report what it is made of back via radio to the EOC. But it is a completely SA report. There is no reason for the request. No elaboration on why it is wanted. Lets expand the request.

    "Check out the composition of the parking lot at Nescopeck State Park for use as a possible helicopter landing pad." OK, now we know why they want to know the composition of the parking lot. A helicopter kicks up a lot of wind and if the parking lot is gravel it might be a problem. The point that it is an aircraft usage should make the SA ARES member think of other things. The response to the EOC might be "Parking lot is paved. Note power lines running east to west at the northeast end of the parking lot." That last part is something that a helicopter pilot might like to know.

    So the ARES member has been SA in reporting about the power lines and increased the information available to the emergency manager at the EOC. What did the ARES member need to make that statement about the power lines? The ability to think and observe what might influence the use based on the information given to him about the reason for his mission. He also might have needed a compass to determine North, East, and West. Do you have a compass in your kit?

    Now lets change the mission statement one more time.

    "Check out the composition of the parking lot at Nescopeck State Park for use as a possible medical evacuation helicopter landing pad." Two more words were added. The words "medical evacuation" means that there are going to be vehicles coming in carrying patients to be loaded on to the helicopters. The SA ARES member just might want to take a look at the access roads to the parking lot and make a further evaluation. "Access to the parking lot is via a single road. Traffic Control might be necessary." So more information has been passed back to the EOC for planning. The EOC might then divert sparse police or fire resources to this necessary medical evacuation. That info might prompt the Emergency Manager to also call on the resources available at the Park to help with traffic control. But the point is they are now making decisions with information that they did not have before.

    Situational Awareness and being Aware of the Situation at all times provides our served agencies with a tremendous edge in managing an emergency. It does not come easily but it is possible to develop it and it is fun. The web site "Art of Manliness" has some fun examples on developing Situational Awareness. Try the 10 question test to see how you do.

    10 Tests, Exercises, and Games to Heighten Your Senses and Situational Awareness

    How to Develop the Situational Awareness of Jason Bourne

    Signal Levels and Signal Range in Fldigi....
    - N3PQP and I had an interesting QSO on 46 Friday night as I was heading to the Schuylkill Amateur Radio Association meeting in Pottsville. Among other questions he asked about the values. These are the values in the lower left of the Fldigi main window. They are "Upper Signal Level (db)" and "Signal Range (db)". Bob mentioned that he had changed these and wondered what the default settings were for them. Well, I checked mine and the "Upper Signal Level" is set to -21 and the "Signal Range" is set to 70 but I had to ask myself that age old question - why? And the second question is what do these settings really affect which is not an age old question but as I am writing this it is a burning question.

    So I dug out the manual and read. Here is the explanation from the manual...

    "There are two controls that ONLY adjust the visual appearance of the waterfall and DO NOT effect the a/d or the signal decoders. These controls are below and to the left of the waterfall, "Upper signal level (dB)", and "Signal range (dB)"."

    So as far as improving, changing, or worsening the audio decoding of a signal they do absolutely nothing. The only adjust the appearance of the waterfall.

    There is another setting on the same line and that is the TX Level Attenuator setting. This does have an effect on the transmitted signal. Here is the explanation from the manual.

    "It is often difficult to adjust the audio drive for the point where ALC is just barely active. Mixer controls are OK, but not usually designed for very small changes. They are after all designed for adjusting listening levels. fldigi provides the ability to control the audio drive in increments of 0.1 dB over a 30 dB range. This control is located in the bottom right corner of the main dialog"

    So again the reference is to a SSB signal on HF. On my HF version of Fldigi mine is set to -3.0 db. I have never changed it. I am using the internal sound card of the FT-991 but it is the same setting that I have used for a Signalink and the FT-450.

    I checked the FM Fldigi and it is also set to -3.0 db. I have never changed it. So it works for me at these settings and they are as they came "out of the box" so to speak because I have never really fooled with any of the three mentioned settings.

    So there is the answer to the age old question and the not so age old question and N3PQP has his answer but not in an email.

    EPA-ARRL Web site...
    - If you have not done it yet then what are you waiting for? Get to the EPA-ARRL web site and either submit your email address or like it on Facebook. It is the place to get the information and news about the EPA Section.

    Ham Radio Links
    N3LLR's Ham Radio Forum
    ARRL Eastern PA Section Web Site
    Luzerne County ARES©
    Harris County Texas ARES - A great training resource
    Lake County (OH) RACES Personal Go-Kit for Emergency Operations - KE7LHR
    MecklenBurg County ARES and RACES
    K0BG - The Website for Mobile Amateur Radio Operators (Perhaps the best web site on mobile operations I have found!)
    Origins of Ham Speak - Fact, Legends, and Myths??? - Compiled by AC6V from the Internet and other unreliable sources
    The Petite Prepper
    The VOA Radiogram
    Thank you for copying our weekly digital information Bulletin to all Amateur Radio Operators.

    Send reception reports and comments to

    Have a good week everyone!


    ARRL EPA Section Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL EPA District 3 District Emergency Coordinator
    ARRL ARES Emergency Coordinator
    Luzerne County ARES
    ARES and "Amateur Radio Emergency Services" are trademarks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Organization of Amateur Radio. Use of these trademarks is by permission only.
    wedgar likes this.
  2. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Great article and something that ARES units need to keep in mind. Bad things happen to good people and also to those who are trying to be of assistance. We need to keep safe and not become part of the problem...

    Loved the picture with the polar bear peeking above the ice...
  3. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    SA is becoming more important to the served agencies. Too many have been faulted for making decisions based on hearsay.

    If ARES can transition from Data Movers to Data Providers our usefulness will increase as will our recognition and value.
    wedgar likes this.
  4. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Looking at the "data providing" angle, I wonder if our ARES units might be able to help with using drones to provide video support or that something that the EMA agencies are looking to do on their own?
  5. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    Well, funny you should ask that.

    Post February Tornado I contacted a Ham in the Wyoming Valley who is a retired PSP trooper. He is now a professional drone operator. Provided us with some great footage of the path of destruction. I'll have to find the link for you.

    And here it is:

    EMA has him on the hook for future work.

    The Asst Director of PEMA has stated that professional drone operators should be recruited for service. Problem is they are professional and that means someone has to pay for their services. Licensing can be a bit of an issue. I really need to do some more investigation on that subject.
    wedgar likes this.
  6. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Fascinating video. Looking at the trees it almost looks like straight line wind-burst damage with little twisting damage on the trees.

    I'll bet this would be very helpful to the agencies using this type of data.

    I have a friend in Georgia who uses a drone for real estate agencies for home and property sales (and even weddings) and I've send him this link for him to view this video...
  7. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    The flight over the tornado path took a lot of coordination since it is in the controlled airspace around the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre airport. I was really surprised at the professional way the drone pilot handled the requirements before the flight.

    There was one story that was not included in the presentation.

    There was a brand new horse barn that had been built to hold racing horses for Pocono Downs. About 22 of them. The barn, valued at $1.1 million was completely destroyed. To the point where the concrete was scored by the tornado.

    If it had happened a week later those horses would have been "home from Florida" and in the barn during the tornado. God must love horses.
    wedgar likes this.
  8. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Good thing the horses weren't home then. I have a friend in Savannah who flies his drone for commercial photography and has worked closely with the Savannah airport for doing work near the airport. He's said the Savannah airport is good to work with. I suppose it is due to David's professional manner that Savannah airport has been working with him. Of course, that type of attitude carries forward in many other applications...
  9. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    It is without a doubt true. Treat people as you want to be treated and you will usually find the experience rewarding.

    Speaking of airports. The Airshow was at the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Airport this weekend. The F-22 Raptor put on quite a show. Noisy but still quite a show.
  10. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    To see the Raptor would have been awesome. ..
    W.T. Jones likes this.
  11. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    It is a strange looking aircraft. You can tell it was built for speed but it has a boxy looking shape which I guess is for the stealth ability.

    Did some wild moves on Sunday afternoon. The sonic boom was not really appreciated by the residents of Duryea who voiced their disapproval on Monday. The pilot really should have done that to the East of the airport over the wooded terrain.

    But it was still cool to watch.
  12. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    The camp site that that I have for my camper would have the ground shake at night and sound like thunder. Found out it was from Fort Stewart when they had mortar practice. The fort is across the highway from our campsite.
  13. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient

    I did some work at Ft. Stewart. Now I know where you are located. Some what because it is a big place.
  14. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Yup, right off of US 17...

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