ARRL ARES Communicator's Comments - 2018-08-12

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio Emergency Communications' started by W.T. Jones, Aug 12, 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
    Forum Version
    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 8/4/2018
    • 2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 8/5/18)...
    • Weekly Images
    • An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
      • Training...
      • ARES Strategic Plan Response...
      • Suggested Training for Us...
      • Baxter And Bailey...
      • SSES Drill Assignments...
      • Thoughts and Impressions on a LiFePO4 Battery Pack by AB3ZI...
    • Ham Radio Links
    • Closing
    Bulletin Date: August 12, 2018
    Bulletin Number: 211

    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 4.0.7 2.2.03
    Current as of: August 5, 2018. *Indicates an update in the past week.
    Latest versions available at
    or at

    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: August 1, 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. ! No nets on August 7. Quarterly Training (QT) at the LCEMA EOC. Attend if you can make it. Please put your Amateur Radio Call on the sign-in sheet so credit can be given for attendance.
    2. ! The Net Control Schedule has been updated on the LCARES web site. If you are an NCS then be sure to check it as the schedule has changed due to the QT.
    3. ! There will be an SSES Laptop Training and Distribution Session on Thursday, August 30th, from 1900hrs to 2000hrs at the LCEMA EOC. The training should not take long. All those who volunteered for the SSES Drill should attend.
    4. ! The SSES Practice Drill is scheduled for Thursday, September 6th. Details will be published soon as to the times the operators need to be in place.
    5. The Lackawanna County ARES and the Wayne-Pike County ARES Net are now active. See the Net Schedules of Interest below for dates, times, and frequencies.!
    6. The New (as of October 1st) Section Manager may be joining our Tuesday Night nets. He is a traffic handler and even after the October 1st date will be glad to take the SARs. You may want to exert yourselves and send him a radiogram congratulating him on becoming the Section Manager (SM).
    7. The 3rd Quarter Message Challenge is now on the web site. The Single Resource Team Members can begin sending their messages to the EC at any time. Remember that each member of the SRT need to send one message per quarter to remain that their SRT level. If any member of the LCARES wants to try to send one of the messages they will be accepted, critiqued, and appreciated.
    Click Here for the Luzerne County ARES®Activities Schedule
    Click Here for Net Schedules of Interest - updated on 8/4/2018
    2018 LCARES Members Operational Status - Net Stats - Bulletin Responses (updated 8/5/18)...

    Note: Credit is given for responding but to win, place, or show the answer has to be correct.
    Sunday Night Bulletin for August 5, 2018 Responses
    1st Response
    Rich KC3FKW
    2nd Response
    Dave - N3SRO
    3rd Response
    Total Bulletin Responses for Last Week - 10

    Weekly Images


    The View from KC3KRE's campsite.

    An ARRL ARES®Communicator's Comments
    - I like showing some of the training that other ECs put out because some are doing some very good work. Hank Grilk, WA2CCN, EC for Wayne County, works on Traffic Handling with the Wayne-Pike ARES Thursday night net. In addition to that he puts out the tip of the week. Generally it is about traffic handling. I thought I'd share it with you and give Hank a pat on the back at the same time.

    Hi All,

    This week’s tip relates to the use of “ PLAIN LANGUAGE” on ARES Nets…

    Here’s the deal…

    Ever since ham radio began, that is, back in the spark-gap era and crackly morse code, hams have used various CODES to simplify transmission and speed up the flow of information. Back then – when the American Radio RELAY League began – the method of getting info back and forth across the country involved RELAYING the message from point-to-point… some time through dozens of stations to get a message across the country. So, the use of codes tremendously increased message rate.

    That’s were simple codes like “73” (Best Wishes) and “88” (Love and Kisses) plus all the “Q” codes (QRM, QSL, QRT, QTH, QSB, QRN, QRZ, QST, etc., etc.), and – more recently – the “ARL” codes. Most of these codes are really not necessary when operating phone (AM, SSB, FM) but our hobby is rooted deep in tradition, and these codes have become part of our everyday language (especially when chatting with other hams). Even my XYL (another code!) knows the meanings of a lot of these codes.

    However, on ARES phone nets we will quite often be operating in an environment where there are a lot of “lay-people” listening, and perhaps even copying and jotting down the messages they hear. To them, these codes are a mystery. Because of this, FMEA / DHS / RACES / ARES are strongly discouraging the use of codes in preference of PLAIN LANGUAGE. So, all ARES MESSAGE TRAFFIC, and all ARES TRAFFIC TRAINING will focus on the use of PLAIN LANGUAGE.

    Understandably there is some resistance to this policy on the part of “OT’s” (Old Timers) who actively participate on the National Traffic System (NTS), and the use of codes is still commonplace on NTS nets such as the EPAEPTN (Eastern Pennsylvania Emergency Phone Traffic Net, daily on 3917 KHz at 6PM), the 3RN (Third Region Net, daily on 3918 KHz at 4PM), etc. If you use plain language on these nets, you really can’t go wrong.

    Some codes will still be used, such as “X” for a period at the end of a sentence, ARL codes for routine messages, or “R” for a decimal point… things like that could be misinterpreted even on voice… but – who knows – maybe that’ll change too.

    73, Hank – WA2CCN

    Thank you Hank.

    The impetus for plain language in emergency services started before the turn of the century. It was codified and explained in a document from FEMA entitled "Making the Transition from Ten Codes to Plain Language". As the title states it was more for Public Safety than for any other service. But the thought and intent was too good to pass up for other services.

    In the language in the body of a message should never contain any cryptic, brevity, or shorthand language. Instead of stating that the Hollenback EOC Radio is going QRT just say that the Hollenback EOC Radio is leaving the air.

    The services that handle these messages are still permitted to use operational codes to facilitate their operation. The CW prosign 'de' meaning from should not be replaced with the word 'from'. It is CW after all and believe me the general public will not notice it. The important point is that it is a recognized operational symbol. Changing it for the sake of plain language would be as smart as making all the network codes on the Internet use plain language. <ACK> would have to be spelled out as "Acknowledged" and the amount of work that the Internet would have to do would be quadrupled just to handle the control overhead.

    But to reiterate - the message itself should never contain anything but plain language.

    ARES Strategic Plan Response...
    - The ARRL released its ARES Strategic Plan in the past week and opened up a 90 day window for comments regarding the Plan. I have been working rather hard on a response in conjunction with our current Section Manager, WB3W, and our incoming Section Manager, W3GWM. I think that all of you know me and I can be the definition of undiplomatic when I am irked. Having the two calmer heads of our Section Managers involved makes sure I don't say what I think without a little tempering.

    The main rock in my craw and apparently in others is the required training. It does not go far enough in some cases and too far in others. In the Plan, the new ARES members get nothing which is the same as it is now. The ARES members that aspire to be Emergency Coordinators at the County, District, or Section level are required to take a bunch of ICS courses. Too little at one end and too much of the wrong stuff at the other end.

    Take a moment and think about where you sit when you are in the EOC. Are you out at the main table with the front office people or are you in the LCARES Room? And think about where you want to be. If the ARRL has its way the only way up is to train to be one of the people at the table. Not a Ham doing his communications job.

    In the middle the Plan jives with our current planning. The 4 Basic "everyone wants you to have them so we want you to have them" ICS courses. That's it. If you want to take more then have at it. But for ARES it is just the same ones that everyone else wants.

    The intermediate and advanced training would require the ARES members to take at least 5 working days out of their lives along with the expenses to get to the classes. And there is no reward for that kind of effort. Those classes are for the Command/General Staff of the EOC. Not for ARES communicators.

    What is needed is what I stated last week. Communications training for the Level I members that makes sense and promotes a standard among ARES entities. For the leadership there should be communications management training. We are after all specialists in communications and that is what we should be trained to do.

    So the work will continue until the 2 Section Managers think it is good and then I'll share it with the ECs in EPA. This would land now. Just when the SSES stuff is starting to heat up. Got to love this job or it will drive you crazy.

    Suggested Training for Us...
    - The training that is most appropriate for ARES is the Auxiliary Communications (Auxcomm) course. There are others such as Communications Unit Leader and Communications Technician. Both of those courses are kind of above and beyond for ARES but they contain things that are useful and would make ARES a better resource to the Incident Commander and the Logistics Chief. I am listing the outlines of the 3 courses here just for your reference. Remember, what would be best would be training directed at ARES developed by the ARRL and delivered by the ARRL. But what is best usually ends up being compromised in the final outcome. It is the way of negotiations.

    Course Descriptions:

    Communications Unit Leader

    Communications Technician

    Radio Operator (RADO) (No training listed)

    Auxiliary Communications (Auxcomm) Unit 01

    Auxiliary Communications (Auxcomm) Unit 02

    Baxter And Bailey...
    - I don't know if I shared this with you or not. If I did then the story will make up for it. We have two new additions in the
    neighborhood. Our neighbor decided that she did not want to have Hershey, the 14 year old Chocolate Lab, go to the Rainbow Bridge and leave Remington (Remi) alone. Actually that is really being considerate to Remi. They have bee together for almost 2 1/2 years now and Remi will be lost when Hershey finally goes to the Rainbow Bridge. So enter Baxter and Bailey.

    Two Miniature Schnauzers. They are a hoot. Of course Old Uncle WT got them their own box of mini milk-bones. So when Uncle WT walks out of the house there is a chorus of Yip Yip and two little gray dogs at the fence. Along with Remi too. And some times Hershey. Hershey isn't gone yet. Slowing down but not gone.

    This week, in midst of trying to figure out many problems with this blasted SEC job, I heard a scratch at the storm door. There were 2 little gray muzzles along with one plump Corgi tan and white muzzle looking at me. The yipping and yapping started as soon as I got out of the chair.

    Now how did these two little guys get over here? I corralled them in my arms and walked them back over to their yard and put them down with Remi. A word of caution. Never get your face too close to an affectionate Lab. After I let Baxter and Bailey down I went back to the house and washed my face. I came out the door only to be greeted by two little gray dogs again. I looked at Taffi and she gave a kind of "kids! what can you do with them" look.

    I collected the little interlopers and this time I took them to my neighbor's front door and said "I think these belong to you!" My neighbor was a little surprised to say the least. I did mention this was their second trip back to the mother land. I suggested she put them in the back yard again so we might see where the little escapees where making their escape.

    I went back and watched out of a house window in the hopes these little yappers would show us how they were getting out.

    And they did. With a little help from Remi who pushed the spot open for them. Talk about a conspiracy. Remi's ball was on my side of the fence and I didn't know it. So when Remi pushed the chain link fence trying to get to the ball the Schnauzer Twins would make a break for it. A little wire on the fence and the ball back in Remi's court and things are back to normal.

    B & B are good little dogs though. One of these days I'll try to catch some video of them at bone time. It really is a riot with 5 dogs all vying for their treats.

    SSES Drill Assignments...
    So far I have five confirmed assignments. If you want to volunteer for a particular municipality please email as soon as you can.

    Municipality Laptop
    Number Ready To Go Operator
    In 2017 2018 Practice Drill 2018 Evaluated Drill 2018 Evaluated Drill
    Black Creek Township 2 √

    Butler Township / Conyngham Borough 3 √ KB3MMM

    Conyngham Township 14 √ KC3HLT

    Dorrance Township 13 NRY KB3ACO KB3ACO KB3ACO
    Hollenback Township 9 √ N1ZZZ K3VQI K3VQI
    Hunlock Township 16 √ KB3VS

    Huntington Township/New Columbus Borough 8 √ K2PG

    Nanticoke City 17 √ KC3FKW

    Nescopeck Borough 11 √ KC3BXS

    Nescopeck Township 5 √ AB3ZI

    Newport Township 7 √ KA3CWR KA3CWR KA3CWR
    Nuangola Borough 15 √
    WB3FKP WB3FKP Assisted by KC3KRE
    Salem Township 12 √

    Shickshinny Borough 4 √ K3DBG

    Slocum Township 6 √ N3SRO

    Sugarloaf Township 10 √

    Union Township 18 √ N3RN N3RN N3RN
    Luzerne County EOC




    Thoughts and Impressions on a LiFePO4 Battery Pack by AB3ZI...
    - The following was produced by John, AB3ZI. Enjoy.

    Some Initial Impressions of My OH8STN-Inspired Home Brew LiFePO4 Battery Pack

    by AB3ZI

    I built two 12v 15Ah LiFePO4 packs in June, following OH8STN's video guidance (including the shrink-wrap enclosure). I saved a bit on shipping by purchasing eight of the 40152S cells at once (40mm diameter x 152mm length) from, but each pack (four cells in series, or “4S”) still cost right around $150 ($7 BMS from ebay), with about $44 in shipping per pack. Assembly involved some soldering and testing.

    The nominal voltage of a LiFePO4 cell is 3.2v. My cells have a maximum discharge current rating of 10C (150A) and a maximum charge current rating of 3C (45A). As you may detect from the pack photo, I used two 10AWG stranded conductors in parallel for the load conductors (using wire and electrical tape at hand, so the colors are not optimal), and 12AWG stranded for the charging conductors, so the pack should be able to deliver up to 60A or so to loads, and accept 10A on charge, the BMS’ limit (far less than what I have been or will be charging with).

    My BMS (battery management system) handles the care and feeding of the cells: balancing, over- and under-voltage protection, over- and under-current protection, and so on. It's rated for 100A continuous discharge.

    I was pleasantly surprised by the operating time of the pack, but was taken aback somewhat by the extent of voltage drop on Tx. That's got to be monitored closely, lest the rig be exposed to voltage outside its specified range. As far as discharging the battery itself, cites a “lifecycle” of 2,000 cycles, but without specifying the depth of discharge (DoD). I’ve found other sources which claim that rating is for a 100% DoD, and that an 80% DoD protocol will increase a cell’s lifecycle to around 5,000 cycles. Those two attributes alone make the LiFePO4 chemistry preferable to me over lead-acid (with a 50% recommended DoD, and a lifecycle of around 1,000), despite its higher acquisition cost.

    Concerning future developments, I've ordered a 60W Powerfilm solar panel and the 65W 5A Genasun GV-5 charge controller (both per OH8STN's guidance), so I hope to report on those additions to the kit soon. I will state that the panel capacity selection was driven by my budget (it's a significant investment in man-portable field ops capabilities) and a single calculation (too many other variables involved, many of which I could not even estimate): I assumed 20W Rf average power (whether a 20W setting for digital modes, CW, or FM, or a 100W SSB power setting) and a duty cycle of 1:2, Tx:Rx. That led to an estimated average power demand of 25W/hour.

    The 60W rating of the Powerfilm flexible panel is delivered under ideal conditions, so I'll find out what it'll deliver in other-than-ideal conditions. Of course, I could tolerate a degree of battery discharge while operating, and could make other operating adjustments if necessary, e.g., less Tx time, lower Tx power setting, or even turning the radio off altogether, although I would strongly prefer to at least be listening at all times during an emergency comms scenario.

    My Tx records below are fairly complete and accurate . . . I hope they possess some value as an anecdotal record.


    Operating Days: 9

    Operating Duration: 14h:38m

    Starting Voltage on Receive: 13.2v

    Ending Voltage on Receive: 12.6v

    Tx Record:

    VHF Net Participation

    (2) LCARES net participation @ 10W

    (2) LCADN participation @ 10W (Vin drop from 13.1v to 12.8v during Tx)

    (1) JMRA net particpation @ 15W

    (1) Murgas net participation @ 10W

    Winlink Connections and Attempts

    WB2LV . . . 3.5 min session @ 65W TxP

    Four (4) Winlink connection attempts @ ~30W Pforward

    One (1) 60W Pforward (dropped Vin to 11.7V)

    VE1YZ with ARDOP 2K @ 35W (disconnected after 1 minute)

    KQ4ET @ 35W (disconnected unexpectedly after 1.8 minutes)

    W1EO on 3.5979 @ 50W TxP (immediately disconnected)

    Calling CQ

    20m with SSB for 3 mins @ 100W

    10m with FT8 for a few minutes @ 20W

    40m with FT8 @ 20W (Vin as low as 12.1v)

    ~20 calls, no responses

    10m (28.030) CW for 10 minutes at 10W (Vin 12.3>=11.3)

    FT8 Ops

    80m 3.573 TxP 30W (Vin ~11.7 on Tx)

    6m (sans transmatch) TxP 30W (Vin 12.1v)

    15m @ TxP 30W


    One (1) FM tuning test @ 5W

    One (1) attempted HF Contestia 4/250 check-in @ 50W

    80m contact on 3.910 @ 40W with WM3PEN, Thirteen Colonies special event station

    10m, 28.405, a few failed 40W Tx on SSB

    Connection attempt at 65W TxP on 7.243 with special event station in SC

    Connection attempt at 65W TxP on 7.273 K2A in NY

    Contact at 50W TxP on 7.250 with K2J @ 2129L, NC, 59 59 reports

    Some Things to Keep in Mind:

    * Tx Duty Cycle and power level (SSB versus digital modes, CW, and FM)

    * Vin drop during Tx

    Drop magnitude surprised me

    I don't yet have a firm correlation between TxP and Vin drop (although some figures are present in the operating record above)

    Will necessitate a gradual decrease in actual Tx power as battery voltage drops

    At some point, will be reduced to QRP operation

    After that, only receive draw will be possible

    * 12h:43 operating duration for battery voltage to drop from 13.2v to 12.6v

    * Inflection point reached around 12.7v, when the voltage dropped a full 1.1v during the final ~2 hours of operating

    * Rig voltage tolerances will vary (e.g., FT-450 +-10% deviation from 13.8v versus my FT-857D’s +-15% tolerance [and the FT-817 will accept even lower input voltage albeit with reduced Rf output] )

    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.

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