NIST’s April 7 workshop aims at improved disaster resilience

From NIST Tech Beat, March 11, 2014. Anyone going?


Tornado destruction, Joplin Mo.: a collapsed building once housing the backup generator for a hospital. Credit: NIST

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Gaithersburg, Md., will host the first of six workshops devoted to developing a comprehensive, community-based disaster resilience framework, a national initiative carried out under the President’s Climate Action Plan.* The workshop will be held at the NIST laboratories in Gaithersburg, Md., on Monday, April 7, 2014.

Focusing on buildings and infrastructure lifelines such as communications and electric power, the planned framework will aid communities in efforts to protect people and property and to recover more rapidly from natural and man-made disasters. Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and other recent disasters have highlighted the interconnected nature of buildings and infrastructure systems and their vulnerabilities.

The six workshops will focus on the roles that buildings and infrastructure systems play in ensuring community resilience. NIST will use workshop inputs as it drafts the disaster resilience framework. To be released for public comment in April 2015, the framework will establish overall performance goals; assess existing standards, codes, and practices; and identify gaps that must be addressed to bolster community resilience.

NIST seeks input from a broad array of stakeholders, including planners, designers, facility owners and users, government officials, utility owners, regulators, standards and model code developers, insurers, trade and professional associations, disaster response and recovery groups, and researchers.

All workshops will focus on resilience needs, which, in part, will reflect hazard risks common to geographic regions.

The NIST-hosted event will begin at 8 a.m. and is open to all interested parties. The registration fee for the inaugural workshop is $55. Space is limited. To learn more and to register, go Registration closes on March 31, 2014.

More information on the disaster resilience framework can be found at

*The Climate Action Plan ( NIST to “convene a panel on disaster-resilience standards to develop a comprehensive, community-based resilience framework and provide guidelines for consistently safe buildings and infrastructure—products that can inform the development of private-sector standards and codes.” After completing the initial framework, NIST will convene the Disaster Resilience Standards Panel.

2014 Tech study guide: public service and emergency operations

There were quite a few changes to this section. Questions were added about net operations, and the question about charging a battery connecting it in parallel with a vehicle battery was moved here…Dan

One of the reasons amateur radio exists at all is that ham radio operators are uniquely set up to provide emergency and public-service communications. As a result, many hams consider it an obligation to be prepared to help out when called upon to do so. This includes having the proper equipment and knowing the proper operating procedures.

There are two organizations that provide emergency communications: the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) and the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). The thing that both RACES and ARES have in common is that both organizations may provide communications during emergencies. (T2C04) The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is a group of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service. (T2C12) All of these choices are correct when describing the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) (T2C05):

  • A radio service using amateur frequencies for emergency management or civil defense communications
  • A radio service using amateur stations for emergency management or civil defense communications
  • An emergency service using amateur operators certified by a civil defense organization as being enrolled in that organization

When an emergency occurs, it’s common for amateur radio operators to form a network or “net” to facilitate emergency communications. The net is led by the net control station, whose job it is to make sure that messages are passed in an efficient and timely manner.

Stations other than the net control station are said to “check into” the net. An accepted practice for an amateur operator who has checked into an emergency traffic net is to remain on frequency without transmitting until asked to do so by the net control station. (T2C07) There are, however, times when a station may need to get the immediate attention of the net control station. If this is the case, an accepted practice to get the immediate attention of a net control station when reporting an emergency is to begin your transmission by saying “Priority” or “Emergency” followed by your call sign. (T2C06)

The term for messages passed between stations in an emergency net is “traffic,” and the process of passing messages to and from amateur radio stations is called “handling traffic.” Message traffic may be formal or informal. A characteristic of good emergency traffic handling is passing messages exactly as received. (T2C08) To insure that voice message traffic containing proper names and unusual words are copied correctly by the receiving station, such words and terms should be spelled out using a standard phonetic alphabet. (T2C03)

Formal traffic messages consists of four parts: preamble, address, text, signature. The preamble in a formal traffic message is the information needed to track the message as it passes through the amateur radio traffic handling system. (T2C10) Part of the preamble is the check. The check is a count of the number of words or word equivalents in the text portion of the message. (T2C11) The address is the name and address of the intended recipient, the text is the message itself, and the signature is the part of the message that identifies the originator of the message.

An important thing to remember is that FCC rules always apply to the operation of an amateur station. (T2C01) Amateur station control operators are permitted to operate outside the frequency privileges of their license class only if necessary in situations involving the immediate safety of human life or protection of property. (T2C09)

In an emergency situation, amateur radio operators often find themselves using battery power. It is, therefore, important to keep batteries charged and ready to go. One way to recharge a 12-volt lead-acid station battery if the commercial power is out is to connect the battery in parallel with a vehicle’s battery and run the engine. (T2C02)

The MI Section needs your help

I received this a couple of weeks ago from Larry, WB8R, our section manager. If you live in MI, please consider helping out….Dan


Please review and give consideration to the following from our  Section Emergency Coordinator/Section Traffic Manager, John  McDonough, WB8RCR:

With rapid changes in technology, increasing recognition by FEMA of the value of amateur radio, and an increasingly close relationship with the Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division of the Michigan State Police, the demands on ARPSC are increasing rapidly.

To address these pressures, we need to recruit additional volunteers to take the lead in a number of areas, as well as fill some more traditional vacancies.

The following are areas where we know we have a current need:

Net Manager, Michigan Traffic Net – Duties include recruiting net controls and liaisons, monthly reporting, improving the operation of the net. This is a formal Section level appointment.

Digital Relay Station – Take traffic from NTS Digital and relay it to legacy nets. Area Digital Coordinator can provide training and equipment. The ideal candidate could take traffic to CW as well as phone nets. This is an Area level appointment.

Assistant STM Admin – Need a person to take reports and enter into the section database. Potentially also prepare report to headquarters. Mostly clerical but some database skills would be helpful. Most reports are received as radiograms so the candidate should be comfortable with HF traffic handling.

Project Manager, NTS Modernization – Requires the ability to manage a project to interface the Section’s VHF digital network to NTSD. Also work with ASM Digital to strengthen the VHF network. Strong network skills needed, some programming skills would be helpful. The candidate will need strong persuasive skills. The major requirement here, though, is the ability to manage a project. The candidate would likely recruit the assistance of various experts, although some level of network skill is required to even understand the problem.

SEOC Operators – We badly need a cadre of operators who can help at the State EOC. Requires excellent operating skills, passing a background check, willingness to take IS 700, 100, 200, 800, 300 and 400 as well as REP101. Ideally can get to the SEOC for operation in a reasonable amount of time 24×7, although candidates further away could operate later operational periods. General class or higher, able to operate HF and VHF Phone, CW and NBEMS from the SEOC. Packet familiarity would be a plus.

ASEC SEOC Alternate – The SEC currently has only one official alternate, at least one additional is required. Candidate should be close to Lansing, willing to make critical decisions with uncertain data, able to present AuxComm status to the SEOC in a concise, professional manner. Requires passing a background check, willingness to take IS 700, 100, 200, 800, 300 and 400 as well as REP101. Intimate familiarity with MICIMS is needed. This position involves little to no on-the-air operation. This is a Section level appointment.

MBO – We would like to have an MBO in Michigan. Ideally we would place this at the SEOC but that is not entirely necessary. Candidate would manage the MBO, checking periodically that traffic is flowing. Requires the ability to put up a multi-band automated station operating 24×7 with a Pactor II or better modem. If the MBO is located at the SEOC, we may be able to arrange grant funding to equip the station. Will work with ADC and multiple DRSs. This is an Area level appointment.

Data Architect – Candidate would interview Section and State officials to develop a data architecture for the Section. Data architecture background required. Important: This is not a database design exercise, data architects understand the difference.

ASTM Exercises – Developing exercises is very challenging, even though we only do two a year. Incorporating NTS into those exercises is even more challenging. We not only require more manpower to develop exercises, but should have someone who can focus on making those exercises more meaningful to NTS. In addition to IS 120, 130 and 139, candidate must become familiar with the UTL and the needs of the served agencies. Must work closely with the SEC and the ASEC for Training and Exercises.

Section level appointments require ARRL membership in good standing, basic IS courses, approval by the SM. Area level appointments require ARRL membership in good standing, approval by the Area chair.

Please contact me if you can help in any of these areas, even if helping means restructuring some of these thoughts.

73 de WB8RCR
As our involvement increases with the Michigan State Police Department of Homeland Security, we find that our level of required sophistication increases as well. This is not your grandfather’s ARPSC any longer. If you have the talents that John is looking for and are looking for a challenge and an opportunity to help out, please contact him at If you have questions, comments, suggestions or ideas, please feel free to contact him as well.

Thank you for your consideration.


Larry, WB8R
Michigan Section Manager

Amateur radio in the news: VOIP, emcomm, clubs

More kids should get the idea that amateur radio can still lead to a good career in tech…Dan

Vonage co-founder: VoIP came from ham radio, big bad telecoms At TwilioCon, Vonage co-founder Jeff Pulver gave a fascinating keynote about ham radio, getting fired, and a run-in with the FBI — and how all that gave birth to modern voice over Internet protocol technology. Pulver is widely recognized as a pioneer of VoIP technology and was the chief writer of the FCC’s first VoIP ruling.His current company is a Twilio-based iOS and Android app called Zula, created to enable better communication among teams. “It was amateur radio that unlocked my connection to voice over IP,” he said.

Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators help in emergency. When disaster strikes and traditional telecommunications services are curtailed, who do emergency responders call? A Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators.

This is a nice profile of a club in Maryland….Dan

Hamming it up on the air. For Rob Hoyt, president of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club, his interest in amateur radio started when he was a kid. But he credits his hobby for leading to a successful career.

From my Twitter feed: Ecommin in CO, vintage radio, JT9

RadioGeek's avatarKKØHF@RadioGeek
Ghostbusters-like crew of amateur radio operators help in emergencies…

This is one of the better-written newspaper stories that I’ve seen in a while….Dan


MrVacuumTube's avatarGregory Charvat @MrVacuumTube
For a good series on how to restore antique radio gear, see youtube channel ‘bandersontv’ and (@YouTube

I have some antique radios that need restoration…..Dan

ARRL: Have a Great Time with JT9 #hamr

Amateur radio in the news: reaching out to kids, ILLW, Lancaster Count Fair


The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

The Owensboro ARC hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts.

Owensboro ARC reaches out to younger audience. The Owensboro Amateur Radio Club  hosts a children’s program at the Owensboro Museum of Science and History where kids can learn the Phonetic Alphabet while making crafts. “We are trying to get younger folks interested,” Walt Shipman, KI4OYH, said Thursday. “It’s where it starts.”

I like this idea! It might be something we can do down at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum….Dan

Lighthouse to go international. Radio operators from around the world will be including the Oak Orchard Lighthouse (NY) in International Lighthouse Lightship Weekend, Aug. 17 and 18. It is the first time the lighthouse is participating in the event fully.

Keeping an eye on the sky. If you go to the Lancaster County (NE) Super Fair, you’ll probably see guys in golf carts and green jackets offering rides to those in need. Those guys are members of the Lincoln Amateur Radio Club. Members of the club are also trained storm spotters — many involved in the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, and they know exactly what to do if severe weather hits.


Amateur radio in the news: SkyWarn, making vacuum tubes again, Friedrichshafen

Chris, KE5ZRT, is president of the Panhandle ARC and a SkyWarn storm spotter

Chris, KE5ZRT, is president of the Panhandle ARC and a SkyWarn storm spotter

Volunteer storm spotters essential to Weather Service. The haunting companions to tornadoes and major thunderstorms make children cry, grown men run into basements and auto dealership owners cringe. But some people embrace the danger and even seek it out for entertainment. Among this group are Skywarn storm spotters, volunteers who work with the National Weather Service to track and report storms from the front lines.

Making tubes again. Western Electric has been resurrected, and its headquarters are in Rossville, GA. A once-vacant bank building was adorned about three weeks ago with distinctive red-lettered “Western Electric” signs on its east and west sides. The Rossville operation will make vacuum tubes mainly for use in high-end audio components. “It’s a lost art,” company president Charles G. Whitener Jr. said.

Ham radio — a pastime not just in the past. With today’s advanced wireless technology, amateur radio might have become obsolete. Yet, it hasn’t. Did you know the first “chat room” was invented by ham radio operators? They communicated across the continents during wartime, and played chess all hours of the day and night. And amateur radio invented social networking. Amateurs are viewed as public servants and a national resource. It doesn’t look like these guys are going away anytime soon.

Ham operators’ paradise at Friedrichshafen’s flea market. Over a week ago I attended the Ham Radio show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. This is the biggest ham radio show in Europe and has the usual big-convention mix of commercial exhibitors, national society exhibits, conference-style forums, and… a flea market.

Operating notes: public service, helping people have fun with amateur radio

Bicycle TourThis past weekend was a big weekend here at KB6NU. On Saturday, I and more than a dozen of my ham radio brethren provided communications for the Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Society’s One Helluva Ride. There were close to 2,000 riders, and our efforts helped keeped the ride running smoothly.

Of course, it helped that the weather was just perfect. It was sunny and the high temperature for the day was in the low 80s. That helped keep the number of flat tires and exhausted riders to a minimum.

Even so, kudos to Jeff, W8SGZ, the ARROW organizer for the event. He did a great job of organizing the event.

An old friend on the repeater
Yesterday, while walking down to the museum,  I happened to catch an old friend, Chuck, K8HBI, on the ARROW repeater. I hadn’t heard Chuck on the air for quite a while, and I didn’t recognize him at first, partly because he’d changed callsigns. K8HBI used to be his father’s callsign. Chuck was K9HBI.

I don’t know if his father has passed or just let his license expire (although I suspect the former), but Chuck now has his dad’s callsign. Since I talked with him last, Chuck has retired, and now has more time for amateur radio. I was happy to offer my assistance in getting him back on the air.

As we were talking, Chuck happened to mention that his daughter had gotten a tattoo with both callsigns in honor of her father and grandfather. I suggested to Chuck that now his daughter should get her license and then the K9HBI callsign.

New friends
At the museum, I met what I hope will be a new friend – eleven year-old Alex. His mother had e-mailed me, saying that her son had expressed some interest in amateur radio and could they come down to the museum to see our station. Of course, I replied!

Alex and his mother stayed for over an hour. He asked me to make a CW contact, and he seemed at least somewhat interested in learning the code. We also made a phone contact, and he had fun chatting with Bob, N2AF, in New Jersey.

As they were about to leave, his mother leaned over and said to me, “Thanks so much. He rarely sits still for so long. He really must be interested in amateur radio.”

On the way home, I met another new friend on the ARROW repeater. After giving out a call, Fred, WA8LJL, came back to me. Fred’s not a newbie, but he said that he has been off the air for a while. He just purchased a new handheld and was in the process of programming its channels when he heard my call. I was his first contact in many years.

All of this was very enjoyable for me. While I certainly do enjoy the technology, I enjoy helping other people get into the hobby and get more out of the hobby even more.

Please be careful when using generators

From the 7/10/13 issue of NIST Tech Beat….Dan

Despite warnings to the contrary, many people continue to operate portable generators indoors or close to open windows, doors, or vents, resulting in more than 500 deaths since 2005. And each year, more than 20,000 people visit the emergency room and more than 4,000 are hospitalized due to exposure to toxic levels of carbon monoxide (CO), a colorless, odorless gas. Fatality is highest among people 65 and older.

A new computer modeling study* by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) researchers scrutinizes the deadly relationship between CO emissions and occupant exposure. They conducted simulations of 87 types of dwellings representative of the U.S. housing stock with a generator operating within a room in the house, its basement, or attached garage.

The study considered two scenarios of portable-generator operation: continuous operation for 18 hours and operation with some type of control technology that causes the generator to shut off periodically, or so-called “burst” releases.

Regardless of housing type or location, generators that release as little as 27 grams of CO per hour continuously for 18 hours cause 80 percent of the modeled cases to result in an exposure predicted to reach dangerous levels. In comparison, current commercially available generators that were tested by NIST in a previous study emitted CO at a rate of 500 to 4,000 grams per hour.**

For generators characterized by burst releases of CO, the NIST team found that CO emissions of more than 139 grams resulted in dangerous levels of exposure.

The findings, reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, could help in setting limits on CO emissions from portable generators.

*A.K. Persily, Y. Wang, B.J. Polidoro and S J. Emmerich, Residential Carbon Monoxide Exposure due to Indoor Generator Operation: Effects of Source Location and Emission Rate (NIST Technical Note 1782), June 2013. Downloadable
**S.J. Emmerich, A.K. Persily and L. Wang, Modeling and Measuring the Effects of Portable Gasoline Powered Generator Exhaust on Indoor Carbon Monoxide Level (NIST Technical Note 1781), Feb 2013.

I’m jumping on the anti-encryption bandwagon (maybe)

A recent Petition for Rule Making (RM-11699) seeks to permit the encryption of certain amateur communications during emergency operations or related training exercises. This change, should it be approved, would amend §97.113, which currently prohibits “messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning.”

On the face of it, it seems like a reasonable proposal. The petition asks that the rule be changed to allow encryption of certain information when passing messages that may contain sensitive information. Indeed, the petition says that such encryption may be required under the provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

The ARRL is against this petition. They say that the petition’s reasons for allowing encryption is completely unfounded. They say that radio amateurs, “are not ‘covered entities’ under HIPAA, which applies only to health care providers, health plans and health care clearinghouses.”

KE9V and others say that allowing encryption is a bad idea because it will hinder our ability to self-police amateur radio. KE9V also notes that allowing encryption would allow some to claim that amateur radio could be used for terrorist and other nefarious activities, and that could lead to a shutdown of amateur radio.

I think he’s got a point there. Why give those who would shut down amateur radio the ammo to do so?

KE9V goes on to say that it’s time for a wholesale reevaluation of our role in emergency communications. Amen, brother. It seems to me that as time goes on, what the “served agencies” need and want are becoming more and more different from what amateur radio is prepared to provide.