Hurricane Watch Net Recruiting Observers

This was posted by Stan, N8BHL for the HWN on July 8, 2011 on eHam.Net…..Dan 

Hurricane Watch NetThe Hurricane Watch Net is currently looking for amateur radio operators that are located in hurricane prone areas to become part of a database of “Official Reporting Stations”.

One of the functions of HWN is to provide on the ground, real-time weather data to the forecasters at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL. HWN gets this weather data from amateur radio operators (reporting stations) who volunteer their time to monitor data from their calibrated home weather stations and report that data to HWN via our net that operates on 14.325 MHz, so you must be able to legally transmit on that frequency to participate. Should you not own a home weather station, HWN will still take your observed weather data.

HWN welcomes reports from ALL stations – we depend on your participation! A benefit of registering in the database is HWN will notify you of upcoming net activations should you be located in the affected area of a storm.If you are interested in joining the HWN team of Official Reporting Stations, complete and submit the short web form on our website.

“Ham Cram” and the Organization of Ham Radio

NOTE: This is a bit of a ramble, but stick with me on this.

This morning, a friend of mine e-mail me a letter that appeared in the May 25, 2011 ARRL ARES Letter. In the letter, N2RQ speaks out in favor of “ham cram” licensing classes. He says,

Our view is that getting the license is similar to what I used to hear about driving. Get the license and then learn to be a driver, or in this case an Amateur Radio operator.

He goes on to say,

We are exploring the idea of more traditional classes aimed at filling in the gaps that were glossed over during the pre-exam review sessions. The model that seems to be coming together would be open to all interested regardless of license held. There would be no pressure or anxiety about taking an exam at the end. Topics would be chosen from the various license manuals with sessions held prior to our regular monthly meetings.

I agree completely with N2RQ. Having separate classes, a “ham cram” class for getting students their licenses and other classes to teach the newly-licensed about various aspects of ham radio, is the way to go. There’s simply no way to teach everything in a single class.

The flip side of this is that you need a corps of devoted instructors. Teaching classes takes a lot of time, and finding teachers to teach a whole course of classes is difficult. Finding good teachers, I think, is even harder. The ARRL either doesn’t see this as a problem, or just doesn’t have the will or the resources to do anything about it. That’s a shame, too, as I think this is a real need.  Training is not only essential for newbies, but for us old farts as well.

What I’ve been advocating lately is that the sections should organize themselves more as a standalone nonprofit agency and less as a corps of volunteers. This nonprofit agency would have real funding sources and a core of paid staff. Relying on volunteers to do everything just isn’t getting the job done. As far as training goes, this agency would have a paid training coordinator, who would be responsible for developing classes to meet the needs of its “served agencies,” recruiting and training trainers, and scheduling classes. He or she might also teach classes. Depending on the situation, some of the trainers might also be paid for teaching classes.

I know this is kind of a pipe dream, but it’s my pipe dream, and I’m sticking to it. :)

FEMA Admin Praises Hams

At the Earthquake Communications Preparedness Forum, held on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 in Washington, DC, FEMA Administrator, Craig Fugate, had some kind words to say about ham radio. He noted that ham radio really is valuable “when all else fails.”

FEMA Admin Craig Fugate addresses the Earthquake Communications Preparedness Forum on Tuesday, May 3, 2011.

Before you get all excited about this, though, listen to all of Fugate’s comments. He has some interesting comments about all of the different ways that responders gather information and provide information to the public in an emergency. I think listening to all of the remarks will help give those of you who are involved with emergency communications more of an overall perspective, and may even help you evolve our role into something that’s more useful in the future.

The Web page describing the conference has a video of all the talks given at the conference. Fugate’s remarks begin at the 18:45 mark . His remarks about amateur radio start at about 29:20.

Japanese Hams Still Providing Communications Support

From the 3/24/11 issue of the ARRL Letter:

JA Quake Statistics

This map shows the effect of the March 11 earthquake. Click for a larger image.

Amateur Radio operators became involved in the rescue effort soon after the March 11 8.9 earthquake and devastating tsunami that hit northern Japan, and that effort continues nearly two weeks later. “In the early stage following the earthquake and tsunami, several radio amateurs were able to activate their stations with car batteries or small engine generators, despite the electric power outages,” IARU Region 3 Secretary Ken Yamamoto, JA1CJP, told the ARRL. “They transmitted rescue requests and information on the disaster situation — including refugee centers and their needs — and the availability of basic infrastructures, such as electricity, water and gas supplies.” After the earthquake and tsunami, there was no electricity, water or gas service in many of the affected areas.

In his report to the ARRL, Yamamoto said that the Japan Amateur Radio League (JARL) activated JA1RL — its headquarters station in Tokyo — soon after the earthquake. With the help of many other amateurs, it also activated its regional headquarters station JA3RL in Osaka to communicate with the amateurs in the damaged areas, including its Tohoku headquarters station JA7RL in Sendai. “The communications were mostly on the 7 MHz band in daytime and the 3.5 MHz band at night,” Yamamoto explained. “Short range communications were also made on the 144 and 430 MHz bands. The information gathered through Amateur Radio communications was reported to the rescue and disaster relief organizations for their appropriate deployment. Some other amateurs accepted health-and-welfare inquiries from the [impacted] areas and they posted the information on the Internet.”

Read more here.

Decommissioned Radios Could Help Haiti

This isn’t exactly ham-radio related, but many hams work for groups that could help with this effort…….Dan

Urgent Communications reports on an effort to outfit Haitian emergency communicators with radios being decommissioned here as a result of the FCC’s recent “narrowbanding” mandate. The article notes:

Haiti Engineering, a nonprofit architecture and engineering design group, and theAmerican Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials last week launched Radios for Haiti at the International Wireless Communications Expo. The radio-system donation program is asking for radios that soon will become obsolete in the U.S. because of the Federal Communication Commission’s narrowbanding mandate.

Specifically, the project’s goal is to outfit 10,000 police in Haiti with radios, and have the nonprofit’s engineers install an emergency communications system in the nation’s 50 cities, including a early warning system for hurricanes, said Herby Lissade, Haiti Engineering’s president.

Read more–>

New Amateur Radio Bill Introduced in Congress

QST de W1AW
ARRL Bulletin 3 ARLB003
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT January 11, 2011
To all radio amateurs

The Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Enhancement Act, which died at the end of the 111th Congress, has been reintroduced in the 112th Congress as HR 81. The sponsor is Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX-18). The new bill — which was introduced on January 5—has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Rep Jackson Lee first introduced the bill—HR 2160—in the 111th Congress in April 2009. It gained an additional 41 co-sponsors but did not progress out of the committee of jurisdiction. A similar bill introduced in the Senate—S 1755—made it all the way through that body in December 2009, but likewise was not taken up by the House.

The objective of the bill—which is supported by the ARRL—is for the Secretary of Homeland Security to study the uses and capabilities of Amateur Radio communications in emergencies and disaster relief and to identify and make recommendations regarding impediments to Amateur Radio communications, such as the effects of private land use regulations on residential antenna installations.

“We are hopeful that this early start will lead to success in the new Congress,” commented ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ.

HR 81 can be found on the web in PDF format.
NNNN
/EX

National Weather Service Honors Ham Radio Operators Dec 4

This is an edited version of a press release from the ARRL……Dan

Newington, CT Nov 17, 2010 — The National Weather Service’s annual SKYWARN Recognition event will take place Saturday, December 4. Cosponsored by the National Weather Service (NWS) and ARRL, the national association for Amateur Radio, SKYWARN Recognition Day is the National Weather Service’s way of expressing its appreciation to Amateur Radio operators for their commitment to keep communities safe.

While the 2010 hurricane season has been fairly quiet in the US, amateur radio operators are also deeply involved with the Hurricane Watch Net (HWN). The HWN, which organized in 1965, began as an informal group of amateurs that has developed into a formal relationship with the National Hurricane Center in Miami via its Amateur Radio station WX4NHC. Ham radio operators and volunteers at Miami work together when hurricanes threaten, providing real-time weather data and damage reports to the Hurricane Center’s forecasters.

Over 100 National Weather Service regional offices will be participating in this year’s event to recognize the community service of ham radio people.

For full information see the NOAA website.

Frequently Asked Questions about SKYWARN Recognition Day

What is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
SKYWARN Recognition Day (SRD) was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN radio operators make to the National Weather Service. During the day SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world. Information regarding SRD is updated at http://hamradio.noaa.gov.

Why are the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League cosponsoring the event?
The NWS and the ARRL both recognize the importance that amateur radio provides during severe weather. Many NWS offices acquire real time weather information from amateur radio operators in the field. These operators, for example, may report the position of a tornado, the height of flood waters, or damaging wind speeds during hurricanes. All of this information is critical to the mission of the NWS which is to preserve life and property. The special event celebrates this special contribution by amateur radio operators.

When is SKYWARN Recognition Day?
This year SKYWARN Recognition Day begins at 0000 UTC on December 4, 2010. It will last 24 hours.
How many NWS stations are participating in the event?
It is estimated that around 100 NWS stations will participate this year.

Is this a contest or what?
No, this is not a contest, so no scoring will be computed. This is simply a group of stations transmitting from NWS offices during the same time. Similar event occurs every year on the amateur radio calendar. For example, hams operate from lighthouses across the world during one weekend and from naval ships/submarines during another.

QST magazine usually lists Special Event stations in a compiled list every month. Will our station be listed there?
If you want your individual station to be listed in the Special Event section of QST magazine, you must submit your information following the ARRL submission policies. You can go to www.arrl.org/contests/spev.html for complete information on how to do this. Remember, though, the deadline to get this information to QST is fast approaching.

We would like to publicize the event in the media. Can we do it?
You bet.

Is there a national point of contact?
Yes, there are three points-of-contact. Contact either:
Matt Mehle (Matthew.Mehle@noaa.gov) Dave Floyd (David.L.Floyd@noaa.gov) Scott Mentzer (Scott.Mentzer@noaa.gov)

Is this an annual event?
Yes. This is the 12th consecutive year that the event has been held.

NIST, NTIA Seek Collaborators for Emergency Communications Demo Network

From the 10/13/10 issue of the NIST Tech Beat:

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) are seeking partners in the telecommunications industry to help create a demonstration broadband communications network for the nation’s emergency services agencies.

The demonstration network, currently being developed by the joint NIST-NTIA Public Safety Communications Research (PSCR) program, will provide a common site for manufacturers, carriers, and public safety agencies to test and evaluate advanced broadband communications equipment and software tailored specifically to the needs of emergency first responders. The network will use a portion of the 700 megahertz (MHz) radio frequency spectrum freed up by last year’s transition of U.S. broadcast television from analog to digital technologies (see NIST Tech Beat, Dec. 15, 2009).

Alcatel-Lucent is the first vendor of public safety broadband equipment to formally join the PSCR demonstration network project, signing a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with NIST and NTIA in September, 2010. The two agencies hope that other companies will follow suit, creating a truly multi-vendor environment for testing and evaluating the demonstration network, as well as the eventual building of the system. Partners may participate in many ways, such as donating equipment, providing access to infrastructure or supporting tests.

Alcaltel-Lucent has supplied the demonstration network with Long Term Evolution (LTE) Bandclass 14 equipment. LTE is the technology chosen by the public safety community to be used in the 700 MHz band (Bandclass 14) allocated to it by the Federal Communications Commission.

Vendors and other telecommunications companies wishing to become CRADA partners on the demonstration network project may contact Dereck Orr at (303) 497-5400, dereck.orr@nist.gov, or Jeff Bratcher at (303) 497-4610, jbratcher@its.bldrdoc.gov, for information.

The PSCR program is a partnership of the NIST Law Enforcement Standards Office and the NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences. PSCR provides objective technical support—research, development, testing and evaluation—in order to foster nationwide public safety communications interoperability. More information is available on the PSCR Web site.

CW or Voice During an Emergency?

On the ARRL PR Mailing List, someone wrote that he had been approached by a relatively new ham and was asked, “What percentage of hams do you think use CW on a regular basis?” The reason that the new ham asked this question was that he wondered if more people would be monitoring phone frequencies or CW frequencies during an emergency. That is to say, would he “have a better shot of getting in touch with someone on CW or phone”?

Here was my reply:

I am going to hazard a guess and say that less than 10% of licensed amateur radio operators are regular CW users. Having said that, a couple of thoughts occur to me:

  1. The type of emergency will dictate where one should be listening and/or transmitting. For example, here in the summer, we sometimes have tornado watches. For the most up-to-date information on this situation, I listen to the local SkyWarn net, which takes place on one of the 2m repeaters. It’s all voice communication.
  2. On the other hand, if I’m out on a boat in the middle of the ocean with no satellite phone, I’d want to be able to send out a CW signal. The CW signal will get out farther, and if you can’t be heard, it doesn’t matter how many people are listening. There are enough hams monitoring the HF CW bands that you should be heard.
  3. If you can operate both voice and CW, you’ll have more chance of getting in touch with someone than if you can only operate one of those modes.

Any other thoughts?

The QMN: A Celebration of the First Traffic Net.

This is from the August Michigan Section News, by Dale, WA8EFK, Section Manager:

The year 2010 will mark an important anniversary in the History of Amateur Radio: The birth of the first public service net and it happened here in Michigan.

Before the implementation of a net concept, radiogram traffic and emergency communications activity was conducted on a system of schedules and random contacts. Radiogram traffic moved across the country on “Trunk Line” networks staffed on a daily basis by “iron man” traffic handlers. From these key stations, traffic was routed to its destination via individual schedules, directional “CQ” requests, and similar techniques. The ARRL “Amateur Radio Emergency Corps,” “National Traffic System,” and similar programs had not yet emerged.

This all changed during the autumn of 1935 when members of the Detroit Amateur Radio Association (DARA) formed the Michigan Net and adopted the net call “QMN.” The plan was simple and elegant in concept. Using the relatively new technology of crystal control, radio amateurs from throughout the State of Michigan would gather on a single “spot frequency” to exchange radiogram traffic and coordinate emergency communications response to disasters. A QMN Committee standardized the procedures and created the familiar “QN-Signals” so familiar to generations of traffic handlers. With the creation of QMN, the modern traffic net was born.

This year, QMN will celebrate its Diamond Anniversary with a very special event! A 75th Anniversary Banquet will be held at Owosso, Michigan on Saturday, October 23, 2010. Activities include:

  • A special event station on 7055 KHz and 3563 KHz using the call K8QMN. This special event station will use vintage equipment from the 1930s and ‘40s. Visitors will have an opportunity to sit down at the key and experience QSOs using 1930s era receivers.
  • A presentation entitled “An Early History of Radio” will be featured along with a talk on the history of QMN.
  • Long-time members will reminisce about their experiences in Amateur Radio.
  • Vintage radio equipment will be on display for all to enjoy.
  • A working Morse Telegraph Circuit will be available on site for those who would like to see land-line telegraphy and American Morse Code in use.
  • A special commemorative booklet will be provided to each attendee. This commemorative booklet will include an excellent history of QMN written by the Don Devendorf, W8EGI (SK), along with an introduction covering the early history of Amateur Radio.

QMN members both past and present are invited to attend, as are all radio amateurs with an interest in the history of Amateur Radio and the history of public service communications. Those wishing to attend this event should request a registration form from James Wades, WB8SIW at the following e-mail: jameswades@gmail.com You don’t want to miss this celebration to be held on October 23, 2010 at the Comstock Inn, Owosso, Michigan.