ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-07-08

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Jul 8, 2018.

  1. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Luzerne County ARES® Sunday Night Bulletin
    "We don't rise to the level of our expectations. We fall to the level of our training."
    Archilochus - Greek Poet and Soldier

    "Success is not Final. Failure is not Fatal. The only thing that matters is the courage to carry on."
    Winston Churchill
    If you are not aware of what the ARRL Board is doing then it is time for you to get informed!


    • Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    • Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    • Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
    • !Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
    • Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    • Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 4/8/2018
    • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 6/24/18)...
    • Weekly Images
    • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
      • Training and Participation...
      • What's on W3LUZ.ORG...
      • Emcomm Grade HT...
      • ARES Connect...
      • SSES Laptops...
      • K3DBG is Right...
    • Ham Radio Links
    • Closing
    Bulletin Date: July 8, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 206 (This is the Forum Version - Challenge not included!)

    This Bulletin is for all Amateur Radio Operators in Luzerne County and any interested Amateur Radio Station anywhere.

    Note: A copy of this Bulletin is stored on the web site in .wav file format. This file can be replayed by Fldigi and Flamp to get the complete Bulletin.

    Current Versions of Fldigi programs
    Current Versions of Fldigi Suite
    Fldigi Flmsg Flamp
    4.0.17 4.0.6 2.2.03
    Current as of: July 8, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.
    Latest versions available at
    or at

    Fldigi 4.0.17 is approved for LCARES installation.

    Luzerne County ARES® Information...
    - Important: The Sunday Night Bulletin is required reading for all LCARES Members. If you are busy look for the things with the ! in front of them.

    Luzerne County ARES®Net Control Schedule
    The Rotation Schedule for the LCARES Voice net has been posted on the Last update: April 24, 2018

    Please be sure to review the NCS schedule before the upcoming nets.

    !Luzerne County LCARES Announcements...
    (These will be read by the Alternate NCS during the regular weekly session of the LCARES Voice Net.)

    * - indicates that announcement should not be read on the LCARES Net.

    1. The LCARES Membership Roster is being reviewed. There is the usual 20% doing the 80%. With the advent of ARES Connect the activity of the members will be reviewed and those that have not been active will have their membership gratefully acknowledged and their entry removed from the list. Reapplication is always welcome but without any activity or other contact then the reliability factor becomes doubtful. I hope everyone understands.
    2. *Tuesday Morning at the EOC July 10th will be busy. Just like the 3rd was but hopefully more productive. Be ready to work so we can finish up the process.
    3. The next quarter's Message Challenge is still in my computer. The time went to overcoming the network problems at the EOC for the SSES Laptops. I finished them today to the point that the Fldigi and other programs can be installed and the configuration completed. Those without CD Drives I just completed to the point of installation of the custom message files and the testing.
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 4/8/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 6/24/18)...

    Note: Credit is given for responding but to win, place, or show the answer has to be correct.
    Sunday Night Bulletin for July 1, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    2nd Response
    3rd Response
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - X

    Weekly Images
    There are times when an image just reaches out and grabs me! You know. That moment when you first see it you say "WHOA!" This image was the one this week. When I received the MRHS Bulletin and this image it I thought "says it all!" Here you go!


    Click on the image for the Maritime Radio Historical Society Bulletin!

    I usually don't tell you to go and read something that is not ARES oriented.

    But this time around I am telling you Newbies (any one licensed less than 2 years) to click on the link and read the newsletter.

    I think it will do you good to get a perspective of what radio, traffic handling, and the immense operation that was in place before World War II. Is anything in the newsletter pertinent to today and emcomm (oh I hate that word!) that we know? Probably not. However, it just might give you a greater appreciation of that box that transmits and receives and takes up so little space on your desk.

    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    Training and Participation...
    - Getting on to the time when the EC has to purge the membership list. There are quite a few members on the list. It was easy to sign up and for the time being it has been easy to stay. There is an issue if the EC hears your call or sees you in person and has to say "who is that?" Not a good scenario. But there are members on the list that the EC would have to jog his memory like the an earthquake jars Japan to remember who they are.

    The Notification and Resource Manual (NARM) that LCEMA keeps requires an accurate list of those ARES members who respond and are available. It is coming time to update the NARM again. If the EC has not heard from you in a year, you have not checked into one of the LCARES nets in a year, have not reported into a Skywarn Net, you have not completed your training, or you have not shown any interest in any of the offered training then you are a candidate for being removed. If you have completed the ICS training but have not completed any other training then you are still a candidate for deletion.

    If you receive a notice from the EC then his records show no activity or very minimal activity for the past year.

    This does not mean you cannot participate in drills or exercises such as the SSES Drill. It does mean that your usefulness to ARES is very limited.

    It is not something that is an enjoyable task but if you are not participating then you probably won't mind anyway.

    What's on W3LUZ.ORG...
    - You know there is something that really makes me wonder why. As in why do I work at keeping the LCARES web site up to date and add things so that not only our LCARES members can get to them quickly but so that others can do likewise. Good advertising for LCARES you know. But I still get those interesting emails that say "Hey WT where can I find the nets for Thursday night?" or " do you know when such and such is happening?" So I thought I'd just give you a rundown of what is on the front page of W3LUZ.ORG. Besides it fills space.

    • First up is which is the outside voice of members and what the ARRL is doing. It is a good resource to just take a look at once a month or so. If you are an ARRL member it is a good idea to do so.
    • Propagation Conditions - right there in front of you. You don't even have to search space wx or other sites.
    • Here is something you'll only find on The link to the Bear Creek Mountain WX station at the N3FCK/N3VTH 146.46 repeater site! Interesting to see what the difference is between the Valley and the Mountain. Courtesy of N3VTH.
    • In small letters there is "email the Luzerne County Emergency Coordinator" but if you don't know how to email the EC by now then something is really wrong.
    • The Activities Schedule - everything that the EC knows about that is coming.
    • Photos from the 2018 Communications Exercise. OK, these will be coming down soon.
    • The Table of Contents and right at the top is the link to take you to the ARES Manuals and Resources. How easy can it be?
    • VE Exams for Jonestown and SPARK. OK I really need to add the Murgas ARC's new VE information.
    • Technical Session announcements.
    • Weather and River Information that affects Luzerne County - River gauges right from the Corps of Engineers! Easy info! Just go and get it.
    • Our Net Information - macros for the LCADN net, schedules, who the NCS is, and much more. Even the Quarterly Message Challenge is in these boxes.
    • The Sunday Night Bulletins - For the past year! Along with instructions on how to down load them. No signalink or other equipment. Get Fldigi, Flamp and have at it.
    • Luzerne County ARES Information...
      • How to register with us and perform valuable service and have fun too.
      • Our LCARES Public Service Activity Reports - still have to add the one from the Tornado
    • Net Information - not only about our nets but some interesting other nets. There is even an ARRL net search link.
    • ARES Manuals and Information---
      • Reddit Guide to Extreme Communications
      • LCARES Guidelines and Procedures Manual - BTW, just got a request from NJ to copy it! Must want it as a bad example.
      • LCARES Message Handling Training
      • LCARES ICS-217A - every frequency we care about
      • ARRL ARES Field Resources Guide
      • Flmsg Custom Forms
      • Flmsg configuration talk - right that one will put you to sleep.
      • Example Message Form
      • ARRL Radiogram
      • ARRL Numbered Radiograms - don't worry if you don't know what that is. You will eventually.
      • EPA ARES Reference Manual - Old but still useful
      • The "New" ARES Manual - New as in 2015
      • ARES General Voice Operating Procedures - still valuable.
      • IARU Telecommunications Manual - Might go international some day.
      • LCARES Briefing to EMA - a must read for all LCARES members.
      • SSES Population Circle - Just the thing for a power plant emergency
    • On the other side is the Propagation information - trust me - the news is still bad.
    • Skywarn Reporting Information - Please for the love of Taffi read this!
    • More Skywarn Training than you'll ever need.
    • ICS Forms - get used to them.
    • Training and Support Area
      • A tour of Fldigi - I really need to get rid of that. It is way out of date.
      • Official Fldigi Wiki - Everything you need to know about Fldigi and its parts. Just remember that parts is parts.
      • Washington State Digital Training - very nice
      • RERP Custom Flmsg Forms.
      • NIMS Information for study! Study it.
    • Chirp Programming - don't ask - get it here
    • EPA Section Emergency Coordinator Monthly Updates - Soon to be gone. Read 'em now.
    • Miscellaneous web sites
    • ACS (Auxiliary Communications System) information
    And that is it. Enough? Try checking the web site and what is on it. Make the work worth it by using it.

    Emcomm Grade HT...
    - As per usual AB3ZI got me thinking with one of his good questions this week. Essentially, he stated that he was ready to upgrade to an EMCOMM (Oh I hate that word!) grade HT. That kind of took me back a bit. I had never really thought about an "EMCOMM" (you know how I feel about that word) grade HT. John was looking for some recommendations but I didn't feel right about giving him any. I never thought about it. And truth be told I gave it some cursory thought to answer him. It was cursory and not in depth. Here is what I came up with....

    Long Battery Life

    Low power mode for battery conservation

    Rapid Recharge for the battery

    Easy replacement of the battery

    Commonality (how many of the same kind are available in the immediate vicinity - think share batteries for one thing)

    Easy of manipulation (can you work it with gloves on?)

    Ease of manual programming

    Multiple bands.

    Antenna interface (can it be connected to an external antenna)

    Output power (5 watts minimum)

    Construction (able to take the bumps and bounces)

    Clean signal/adjacent signal rejection

    Loud/Clear speaker audio

    Interfacing with external devices

    Good quality Accessories (headphones - external microphone)

    Can you easily read the display? (Hey some of us are getting old!)

    Requirements of any organization that you associate with for emcomm.

    This is by no means all inclusive. It is just what I came up with on the fly. For some things like commonality the Baofeng is the hands down winner. I mean they are all over the place. If all you need is voice comms then you are good to go and at a very low price. I have bounced mine around quite a bit and it still works. The audio is something close to a 3" speaker in a bucket at the bottom of a dry well but it works. But if you are looking for rugged then buy 2 and have a spare for a New York Reload. Does it have bells and whistles, no. Is it easy to manually program - that is a big H*LL NO! Will it handle digital modes? Ya if you don't push it too hard which is why I have my second Baofeng. Melted the first one.

    "Ease of operation with gloves on" hopped into my head. I like being outdoors and in the cold weather that means gloves. I have yet to find an Amateur Radio HT that can be used easily with gloves on. In fact my VX-8 has a tough time being used with gloves off. Just try and change the audio level or squelch with gloves on that little beastie.

    There are a lot of parameters that need to be considered. It is just the fact that you usually can't handle one of these without buying it. The FT-2DRs that were purchased last year are fantastically versatile HTs. Complicated to the Nth degree. Too each to change things because of the touch screen which means you have to lock it or have the HT go off to la la land when you least expect it.

    N3SRO and N1ZZZ have looked hard at HTs this year. Their choice was the Kenwood TH-D72A. I am unfamiliar with it. N3SRO has played with it and is satisfied that it meets his and N1ZZZ's requirements. I trust both of them so as far as I am concerned it was a good decision. If I end up owning one then you know it was a great decision. Only time will tell.

    If you want to look to police, fire, and public safety for a solution to this dilemma don't. Their requirements are completely different from ours. Short and quick transmissions is the order of the day. Ruggedness is paramount. But there is a price to pay and they are not frequency agile. What you get is what is programmed. No manual programming available. In fact it runs afoul of the FCC R&Rs to give a radio that ability in the Public Safety world.

    So what makes a good emergency communications HT? All depends. There is no hard and fast answer here. In LCARES it is one thing. In the South Central SAR Team it is another. The evaluation is up to you. After all you are the one that is going to pay for it.

    ARES Connect...
    - Its coming and from what I am told it will be coming next week! Amen! You will be getting the word as soon as I get it. Just for reference - Luzerne County's ID is 079PA01. Write that down some place and commit it to memory. I have a feeling you'll be needing it in the near future.

    SSES Laptops...
    - As suspected it was the Internet that was the major problem last week. When installing Ubuntu Linux having the Internet is a good thing. If anything that is on the LiveCD needs to be updated it is done during the install process. The worst though is not selecting the option to install the 3rd party software. Why is that an option? Let me tell you.

    There are people out there that believe that Linux is free. As in no money. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are some things that if you want them to work you have to use the "paid for" software. Network cards, sound cards, and the touchpad are a few of them. The good people that developed the Ubuntu distro have paid that price so you essentially get it without cost. However, there are some people that think that by using a proprietary driver they are some how tainting the "freeness" of Linux. Well, they can think that if they like but the fact of the matter is Linux is free only in the sense that you can modify it and change it to your heart's content. Its like Liberty. It is freedom but it sure isn't free. There is a monetary cost to be considered. We, the end users, are just lucky that Ubuntu and others have decided to make their money at the high end and let us alone.

    Most of the laptops are now at the point where Fldigi can be installed and then the configuration completed. Once that is done we can put the Flmsg custom forms on the laptops and run the on the air test using the USB microphones.

    One of the laptops does have a hardware problem with the keyboard but other than that all of them performed well. Doing 13 installs over the past week was not what I expected to be doing but it was successful.

    K3DBG is Right...
    - In the recent MARC Times K3DBG, Club President, said that "we're all old" in reference to the Hams at Field Day. He is 100% right. Even our "young members" are in their 30s for the most part. It is a frustrating thing.

    I read on a QRZ page how a fellow got his start in radio because he discovered an old radio in a trash bin in front of his neighbor's home. Broken wire to the whip antenna which he fixed and began to listen. Got him hooked in a hurry.

    Fast forward to 2018. Can you imagine a youngster walking home today and finding a discarded cell phone in the trash. First, youngsters are carted around by their parents today for their safety. Second, a discarded cellphone has nothing in it that most people can fix. Third, if a youngster was seen trash can diving he would be arrested for trespass on the trash can owner's property.

    The opportunities are not there for the "youngsters" any more. Unfortunately, I'll be darned if I can think of any way to dangle the hook in front of them in this day and age.

    We, the gray heads, don't look at things the way that youngsters look at them any more. We are really the wrong people to be choosing the bait for this kind of fishing expedition.

    I would think that a well publicized balloon launch tracked by APRS might be the thing. I have no idea how to launch a balloon.

    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
    Luzerne County ARES Facebook Page <-- New
    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 registered service marks owned by the American Radio Relay League, The National Association of Amateur Radio. Use of these service marks is by permission only. Total prep time for this bulletin - 5 hours.
  2. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Good comment. Hate to drop people, but they need to be involved.

    Must be the latest model shown.
  3. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Not quite but darn near close. $2700 for laptops, usb mics, and a case. 18 of them.

    But if the plan works it will be worth the time, effort, and $ to show it off.

    The hardest part as explaining to the County Purchasing department why we wanted used laptop computers. There were some really confused people there. The clincher was $36,000 vs $2,700. They bought that in a heart beat.

    So far all of them save one is working as expected. If they perform in September and October I can retire a happy EC.
    wedgar likes this.
  4. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Ha! That would have been fun to watch behind the scenes.

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