Amateur radio in the news: London ARC, Skywarn

 

London ARC members activate the Blackfriars Bridge for Bridges on the Air.

London ARC members activate the Blackfriars Bridge for Bridges on the Air.

London hams bridge communciations gap. Since 1920, members of the London Amateur Radio Club (LARC) have filled the airwaves with banter both about the hobby itself, and about emergency preparedness. On July 19, a handful of LARC members put their talents on display at the Blackfriars Bridge in London.

SKYWARN WARRIORS: Local ham radio buffs work front lines for National Weather Service. The National Weather Service has radar, satellites, Doppler, and double Doppler. But even with all of that high technology, it still needs boots on the ground to know how the weather is affecting people. So when the power is out, many of its 6,500 Skywarn weather watchers in southern New England go the traditional route, using ham radio to file reports.

Hospital has SPARC of security. Beaumont is ready for any kind of natural disaster: the city and the San Gorgonio Pass Amateur Radio Club (SPARC) have partnered to provide ham radio operations at City Hall in the event of a disaster that could interrupt communications between cities and residents. The service is now in place in the Emergency Services Department office at the civic center. Rick Cook, emergency services coordinator, said he is very pleased to be working with the amateur radio club.

ARRL to sign MOA with FEMA, PRB-1 to extend to HOAs?

In addition to the news about a new director for the Great Lakes Division, this week’s ARRL Letter also had two other items of interest:

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate, KK4INZ

ARRL, FEMA to Sign Memorandum of Agreement at National Centennial Convention
The ARRL and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) at the ARRL National Centennial Convention, taking place July 17-19 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN, will join FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate, KK4INZ, on Friday, July 18, at 4:15 PM, in signing the MOA, which is aimed at fostering greater cooperation between the League and FEMA in the area of disaster communication and support. Fugate will speak at the Centennial Banquet later that evening, and more than 850 are expected to attend.

I’ll be very interested in reading this MOA…Dan

Grassroots Campaign Underway to Promote Co-Sponsorship of “Amateur Radio Parity Act”
A grassroots effort is underway to encourage radio amateurs to promote co-sponsorship of HR.4969, the Amateur Radio Parity Act. The measure, introduced in the US House with bipartisan support on June 25, calls on the FCC to apply the “reasonable accommodation” three-part test of the PRB-1 federal pre-emption policy to private land-use restrictions regarding antennas. The bill’s primary sponsor is Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), and it has initial co-sponsorship from Rep Joe Courtney (D-CT). With Congress going on its August recess in a few weeks, the campaign is focusing on contacting Members of Congress or their staffers at or through their district offices during the break. Getting additional lawmakers to sign on as HR.4969 co-sponsors is considered essential to the bill’s success.

“This is the ideal time for you to develop small teams of constituents to approach members of Congress in their district offices,” said ARRL Hudson Division Director Mike Lisenco, N2YBB, a principal proponent of HR.4969. “Ideally, you’d want no more than three members to go to a meeting with a Member of Congress or top staff members. These need to be active, articulate individuals who present themselves well.” Individual radio amateurs or clubs also may wish to e-mail or write their representatives to urge them to cosponsor the bill.

The primary point to convey is that the greatest threat to Amateur Radio volunteer emergency and public service communication is restrictions that prohibit the installation of outdoor antenna systems. Nearly 30 years ago the FCC, in adopting its PRB-1 policy, acknowledged a “strong federal interest” in supporting effective Amateur Radio communication. In the intervening years, PRB-1 has helped many amateurs to overcome zoning ordinances that unreasonably restricted Amateur Radio antennas in residential areas. The 11-page PRB-1 FCC Memorandum Opinion and Order is codified at § 97.15(b) in the FCC Amateur Service rules, giving the regulation the same effect as a federal statute.

After the Telecommunications Act of 1996 ordered the FCC to enact regulations preempting municipal and private land-use regulation over small satellite dishes and broadcast TV antennas, the FCC further acknowledged that it has jurisdiction to preempt private land-use regulations that conflict with federal policy. At this point, PRB-1 only applies to state and local zoning laws and ordinances. The Commission has indicated that it won’t extend the policy to private land-use regulation unless Congress instructs it to do so.

If HR.4969 passes the 113th Congress, it would compel the FCC, within 120 days of the Bill’s passage, to amend the Part 97 Amateur Service rules to apply PRB-1 coverage to include homeowners’ association regulations and deed restrictions, often referred to as “covenants, conditions, and restrictions” (CC&Rs). HR.4969 has been referred to the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep Greg Walden, W7EQI (R-OR), chairs that panel’s Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which will consider the measure.

Among other tips, Lisenco advises groups setting up in-person visits with representatives to pick a leader, listen carefully, and leave behind information [see below] that supports your primary points, plus a business card. “Business cards are a big thing in DC,” he pointed out. “Make certain to take them when going to DC or a district office.”

“This isn’t rocket science, but it does take planning and the ability to state your case succinctly in no more than 15 minutes,” Lisenco advised. He said delegations should follow up with a thank you note within a day and a telephone call a week later.

An information sheet on HR.4969, a list of “talking points,” and a sample constituent letter to a Member of Congress will be available soon.

 

Amateur radio in the news: emergency communications in FL, Museum Ships Weekend

This TV report highlights the emergency preparedness of hams in Tampa Bay, FL.

This TV report highlights the emergency preparedness of hams in Tampa Bay, FL.

Amateur radio operators ‘vital’ to emergency response. They’re some of the most critical people for a hurricane response, but you may be surprised, even concerned, when you first hear who they are: amateurs. 10 News looked at the people our rescuers rely on when the power goes out and the phones go silent.

Master of the airwaves. John Sluymer has been social networking since 1972. There was no Twitter or Facebook when the Grassie resident first picked up a radio unit a little more than four decades ago. Instead of hashtags and status updates, Sluymer would either talk into his mic or tap out his message in Morse code. Just like today’s social networks offer users a chance to interact with people on all sides of the world, Sluymer’s hobby has allowed him to reach — both physically and through radio waves — even the most remote areas of the planet.

Museum Ships Radio Weekend USS Lexington (video). They say its like finding a needle in a hay stack. All weekend long volunteers on board the USS Lexington are reaching out and talking to other museum ships around the world.  Its part of the annual Museum Ships Weekend. It’s a competition where the point is to make contact with at least fifteen other Museum ships by using a ham radio.  Those museum ships who are actually able to contact at least 15 other ships by using a Ham radio receive a certificate.

Amateur radio in the news: antenna dispute, Hamvention on TV, new respect for emcomm

This woman is NOT happy that her neighbor, Jeff, W6BYS, has erected this 55-ft. tower.

Neighbors protest radio antenna in historic district. When Napa resident Kathleen Wolf returned to her Randolph Street home in April, following a three-month trip to France, she was surprised to see a newly installed 55-foot-tall radio antenna towering above her fence in a neighbor’s backyard. “That’s the last thing I want to look at,” said Wolf, whose historic home has been in her family for four generations. “What if it falls on me while I’m tending to my tomatoes? I, at least, want  to know that it’s safe.” About six weeks ago, Jeff Hullquist, a Coombs Street resident, erected the amateur, or ham, radio antenna at his home. He grounded the enormous, metal structure in 30,000 pounds of cement and attached it to the side of his house using temporary mounts.

Hamvention in town this weekend. Channel 22 in Dayton ran this nice story on the Hamvention last week.

Ham radio: Old technology gets new respect. Seeking reliable backup communication in a crisis, emergency managers are finding new solutions in an old technology: ham radio. “It’s just another avenue, another opportunity for us to be able to communicate,” said Herb Schraufnagel, public safety captain with Emory University Hospital Midtown.

Amateur radio in the news: Boston Marathon, ham radio revival

 

Hams at the net control station for the 2013 Boston Marathon.

Marathon hams took on vital role after Marathon bombingsManchester native Harrison Williams, now a junior at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, was at his ham radio command post in Brookline on April 15 of last year, coordinating the “Bus Net” system for the Boston Marathon, when two explosions rocked the finish line on Boylston Street.

The revival of ham radio. In the days of Facebook and Twitter, a form of communication that has been around for more than 100 years is seeing a revival. That’s no surprise to the more than 1.5 million amateur radio operators, better known as “hams.” After all, they talk to people around the world, and even those in outer space.

How will emergency crews communicate if the ‘system’ goes down? Here is one answer. It started out as a normal day, a few ambulance runs, a kitchen fire, a routine check of an alarm going off somewhere that was caused by an employee who forgot the code for the security system, and so forth. Then about 2 p.m, came a small shake; everybody felt it, and started looking around at each other and asking “ Did you feel that?”

NIST’s April 7 workshop aims at improved disaster resilience

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

joplin-tornado-destruction-lr_original

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 to:www.nist.gov/el/building_materials/resilience/disreswksp.cfm. Registration closes on March 31, 2014.

More information on the disaster resilience framework can be found at www.nist.gov/el/building_materials/resilience/framework.cfm.

*The Climate Action Plan (www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/image/president27sclimateactionplan.pdf)directs 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

Greetings:

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 wb8rcr@arrl.net. If you have questions, comments, suggestions or ideas, please feel free to contact him as well.

Thank you for your consideration.

73,

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 denverpost.com/breakingnews/c…

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 youtu.be/TnRP1BcwRRk?a)

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

TWIAR's avatartwiar.org @TWIAR
ARRL: Have a Great Time with JT9 dlvr.it/3ybncz #hamr