The annual 2014 SKYWARN® Recognition Day (SRD) starts this Friday, December 5th, 6 PM Central Time, and ends at 6PM, Saturday, December 6th. In UTC time its December 6, 2014 from 00:00 to 24:00.
This amateur (ham) radio only event was created in 1999 by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the American Radio Relay League. It celebrates the contributions that volunteer Skywarn trained amateur (ham) radio operators make to the local NWS offices by providing real-time reports on tornadoes, flooding, wind gusts, giant hail, property damage, etc.
While SRD is not a contest, hams operators should try to contact as many other NWS offices as possible. Currently about 70 NWS offices, including those in and around Wisconsin are participating in the 2014 SRD.
Once and a while I run across a great PC utility that comes in handy. I work a lot with paper forms and my handwriting isn't the greatest.
Recently, I found a program (very inexpensive at $27) that allows me to scan in a paper form, fill in the fields and save the document as a PDF file that I can email as an attachement or fax to someone.
If you need a utility like this or any other tools for managing PDF files check out the dozens of great programs they have!
The Broadband-Hamnet Core Team announces the end of support for the Linksys WRT54G series of firmware effective April 30, 2015. The version of firmware that is then current for use on WRT54G series will remain on the Broadband-Hamnet.org website and may continue to be used, but there will be no further updates, bug fixes, or support after April 30, 2015.
This has not been an easy decision to reach, but there are some very compelling reasons to drop support for the WRT54G series.
· The firmware for the WRT54G has grown to the point that we are out of memory.
· The OpenWRT software, upon which the Broadband-Hamnet firmware is based, has dropped support for the WRT54G series.
· The hardware design itself is showing its age and not lending itself to implementing features found in the newer hardware designs.
· It takes much more time and effort to implement features on the WRT54. In many cases kernel modifications and code from newer versions of OpenWRT must be incorporated into the older code to maintain compatibility between the WRT54G and the Ubiquiti products.
Given that a working node can be deployed much easier, less expensively, and with significantly better performance with a Ubiquiti node, it only makes sense to move in that direction for the future.
The WRT54G has served us well for a number of years and will likely continue to be used for several more. The Broadband-Hamnet Core team sees the benefit in offering multiple hardware platforms, so we are exploring options and expect to offer hardware alternatives in the future.
This was posted on the BBHN Forum and the full article is on AE5CA'S website.
"I am still seeing a lot of posts from people getting started in BBHN that are using WRT54G's as their first nodes. I believe this is a mistake. My suggestion is to start out with a NanoStationM2. Why the NanoStation? Here are my main reasons:
Ease of getting a node up in the air and running
Lower overall cost
Significant improvement in performance over a WRT54G
Outdoor design of the NanoStation
I believe you will have a better experience and be on the air faster if you start with a NanoStationM2 instead of the WRT54G.
If you want to see more about why I feel this way see the article on my website at: AE5CA,com
Clint has done a lot of work with the Linksys & Ubiquiti devices and has written some very good articles on his web site. From what I have seen and personally experienced, he has a good point. The WRTG's appeared inexpensive and "plug and play" on the surface and it was all that was available for a long time. Now, considering the growth in BBHN supported hardware and available options with more memory, channel width (and eventually, channel) selection, multiple bands (2.4, 3 & 5GHz and even the ability to link them together using Device to Device linking, the Ubiquiti devices are a better choice.
When you look at the cost to put a Linksys WRT54G into a weatherproof housing, add 2 external gain antennas, coax and power (POE), the cost goes up significantly. What he says makes sense. NanoStations are more cost effective and a bigger bang for the buck.
The outdated "WRT54G" devices cannot keep up with the changes in BBHN features and at some point, I suspect, will be dropped from support.
I have begun switching over to a limited number of the 2.4 GHz NanoStations (both the NSM2 & LocoM2) and a couple of TPLink TL SG108E 8 port Smart Switches. This gives me the same functionality (plus) as the WRT54G's. In the near future I will add a couple of 3.65 GHz or 5 GHz NanoStations.
ARES / RACES & Ham Radio Club Members - From: Jon Kreski - AB9NN - Emergency Coordinator -www.OutagamieCountyARES.org This e-mail is to ask for volunteers for ham radio communications and tracking support for the FOX CITIES MARATHON which is Sunday September 21, 2014
morning at 7 am. Required is at least a 5 watt HT and optional is a lawn chair. This race covers about 26 miles and has at least 5,000 racers signed-up each year. This event has a history of medical emergencies in past years. This is a great opportunity to help your community and work side by side with multiple ham radio organizations including the Fox Cities Amateur Radio Club and the Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) groups from two counties. This race typically starts at 7 am and ends around 2 pm with variable amounts of time required from volunteers. If we get a good turnout of ham radio volunteers then we will not request as much time from each volunteer. If we get a minimal response from the ham radio community then we will ask volunteers to leapfrog along the course if they have the time available to do so. While our overriding concern is for the health and welfare of the racers we realize that not everyone will be able to take the time to leapfrog and that is OK. Any time volunteered is better than none!
To volunteer for the event please contact Jon Kreski, AB9NN (Emergency Coordinator for Outagamie County A.R.E.S. / R.A.C.E.S.) firstname.lastname@example.org – please include your CALL SIGN and “Volunteer Fox Cities Marathon” as the subject line of your e-mail. Include in your e-mail the amount of time you are available and any special issues. If you need to, call Jon at home at 920 - 749 - 1041 (best choice) or on his mobile phone # 920 – 931 – 5511 to discuss any specific issues that you may have. E-mail is the best method to volunteer. Special Request: Please mention this race on your weekly nets and maybe send an e-mail to your members and - special favor - make a phone call or two to people you know that are probably willing to work this race. I can tell you from personal experience over the years that getting to know those hams from other counties and organizations is one of the neat things about working these sorts of events. Helping someone trying to perform at their maximum is also pretty rewarding. Any help that you can lend - either by working the vent or letting others know about our need or both - is sincerely appreciated! Special Interest: We will be running MESH video to transmit live video from about 1 ½ miles before the end of the race to a monitor near the finish line for friends and family of racers to view. This is intended to test our MESH capability in a live deployment and give focus to practical, hands-on learning. O.K. - Once we have accumulated a working list of volunteers I will assign locations and communicate that information back to you as soon as practical. Thanks for taking the time to read through this mailing and for considering this community service event! Sincerely, Jon E. Kreski - AB9NN
Every three years the Austin-Strauble Int. Airport holds a mock disaster. This is a major exercise for the area. It involves all the hospitals in Brown County and multiple public safety agencies.
Anywhere between 50 and 75 volunteer "victims" are dressed and made-up in full moulage to provide a variety of injuries from a simulated commercial airline crash. The victims are triaged on the airfield and transported to local hospitals by school bus.
Our job is to provide emergency communications between the EOC/IC at the airport, the hospitals, family assistance center and the school buses transporting victims.
The exercise runs "officially" from 10 am until noon on Wednesday, August 20th and lunch will be served at each of the locations.
We'll need to meet at the airport for the pre-drill briefing and assignments at 8:15 am. All personnel must be at their assigned locations, set up and operational by 9:45 am.
Some unique challenges come with this drill. Manpower is a big one. We'll need a minimum of 12 people to staff the four hospitals, family assistance center, EOC, net control and the 3 school buses. Experience has taught us that having two persons at each location works best. That means we need 15-18 or more to double up.This provides redundancy in case of equipment failures, a second set of eyes, ears and hands at each location and it allows new ARES members, walk-up volunteers or mutual aid to be paired up with someone experienced.
APRS trackers will be in each of the school buses. Portable radios and magmount antennas are a must for radio operators in the school buses.
We would like to try FLDIGI/NBEMS (using ICS message forms) between the hospitals and the EOC at the airport to transmit numbers and breakdown of victims going to each hospital. This will probably require two operators at the hospitals. One to handle voice communications and one (with a laptop and radio) for digital communications.
Communications at the hospitals has some challenges.
At Aurora, we park a vehicle in the ambulance bay and use one of thier security radios to relay traffic from the net into the hospital EOC.
At St.mary's, the radio system uses shared "telephone" style radio desksets. The desksets are located in security and the emergency room. The issue is when ER is talking with ambulances, we can't talk on them and visa-versa. The fix for this is to setup a vehicle using a "dual-band" radio with crossband repeat, and an HT on UHF. This allows the operator to roam where needed in the hospital and talk through the dualband radio to the repeater.
Bellin & St. Vincent have radios. Bellin uses the antenna from the 147.360 repeater (yes, the repeater has to be shut down to do this) or we bring in a magmount or j-pole antenna and use it with the hospital radio.
At all the hospitals, using an HT (UHF or VHF) inside has proved futile. Hitting any of the repeaters reliably is all but impossible. Best results are obtained with a mobile, power supply and a magmount or j-pole near an outside wall (window).
Adding FLDIGI to the mix complicates things a little. A laptop is needed along with a second operator and radio or a single operator switching frequencies or transmitting digital on the net primary frequency. Of course when you consider the unique situtuations at St. Mary's & Aurora, it further complicates the setup.
The Triathlon at Ashwaubomay Park is Sunday, June 1 this year (7-11:30am). The course is pretty much the same as last year with a slight change near the beginning of the Bike course.
We need at least 5, we have 3 possibly 4 committed (they could use more). I'd like to scrape up 2 or 3 extra folks, so If you know anyone else that's available let me know.
The revised maps and a timeline are available, just email me at email@example.com if you want to sign up and I'll send you the maps. This is an easy event to work. Most of us will be in vehicles or motorcycles if you are equipped for 2 meter.
Basically, we would be driving 2 lead vehicles. One for the Long bike route and one for the Short Bike route, and the SAG (following the last bikers and runners, (and of course, Net Control).
We will track the folks and report any breakdowns or injuries back to net control. They don't have any medical stations, just a truck for bike repairs. Medical emergencies would probably be handled through 911 & Net Control.
I'm working on the Google Earth Route Map for reference (I started marking the intersections where the Police officers would be, but not finished). We'll probably use the same tool box trackers that we used for the Cellcom.
We'll meet at Ashwaubomay Park pavillion (same as last year) around 6:15am to get trackers and assignments).
Kyle, KC9SDK) the ARES EC for Winnebago County is in need of volunteers to help with the Neenah Duathlon on May 3rd (Next Saturday) from 7-12PM.
Winnebago County ARES is a big supporter of the Cellcom Marathon. Let's see if we can't return the support!
"We are still lacking in our numbers for supporting the Neenah Duathlon which has been renamed the “Hope For Kenya Duathlon” by the organizers. The event is next Saturday May 3rd , the race starts at 7:30 am and usually lasts until just before noon. It is a 5k run followed by a 20 mile bike race. The bike route had to be changed this year due to construction on the US41 overpasses at county Y and GG. We currently only have 4 operators INCLUDING Net Control, and last year we used 10 to cover the race courses. Please have anyone interested signup on our website using the following link http://ecwec.org/register/?sheet_id=8 or go to ecwec.org and under activities click on the signup sheets and select the duathlon event."
Every last operator will make a big difference for this event.
It's time to go through your "Go Kits" and restock batteries, check your cables, connectors, spare antennas, manuals, update your frequency lists and make sure you radios are programmed with the current repeaters (don't forget to charge your spare battery packs!).
If you don't have a "Go Kit" or need to put one together, there are some great resources on the Internet.
Here's just one : www.qsl.net/kc0nrk/go-bags.html
HT's & Rubber "Duckies"
With the explosion of the "cheap", $40 dual-band radios from China flooding the market, it's time to revisit some basics on HT's.
I ran across this article on eHam written in 2001, but it's even more relevant today:
Ed Harris, KE4SKY, Virginia State RACES Training OfficerThe National Institute of Science and Technology tested Public Safety "high-band" VHF and amateur 2-meter antennas. Flexible antennas commonly used on portable transceivers have negative gain compared to a quarter wave whip held at face level.
This means that 5-watt portable VHF with stock antenna has an effective radiated power of only 1-watt. Placing the portable on your belt produces -20db of attenuation, reducing EIRP to 50 milliwatts! UHF results are no better...
An effective expedient to improve a flexible antenna is to attach a counterpoise (19.5" long for the 2-meter band, or 6.5" for the 70 cm band) of stranded wire, crimped and soldered to a battery clip or ring terminal which will fit over the antenna connector. Reinforce the soldered connection with heat shrink to resist flex. When attached to the outer collar of the BNC connector or the antenna shield, the counterpoise prevents transmitted RF from coupling with your body. This enables it to perform like a center-fed dipole, instead of an "end-fed dummy load!" The main lobe of the radiation pattern can be "aimed" by, grasping and pointing the end of the counterpoise in the direction where you need a stronger signal.
Some after-market and home-made antennas performmuch better than the standard helical "rubber duck." A J-pole antenna constructed of 300-ohm twin-lead rolls up and fits into your pocket. When thrown up in a tree, it increases both height and gain. Full-sized, flexible 1/4 wave and telescoping 2-wave antennas work very well.
A quarter wave provides unity gain when used with a counterpoise and held at face level. This represents a 5 dB improvement over a stock flexible antenna, because most of the effective signal is radiated. If operating from a vehicle, connect your portable to a magnetic mount mobile antenna to provide a clear RF path outside the vehicle. This overcomes the substantial attenuation, which results from operating a portable unit from inside a metal vehicle. Always carry suitable adapters so that you can connect your portable transceiver to an outside base or mobile antenna, when one is readily available.
In marginal operating locations a telescoping, half-wave is much better, because it provides the same unity gain without a ground plane that a 1/4 wave antenna does when used with a ground plane. A 2-wave antenna can be pulled up into a tree, dangled out a window, attached to a window pane with suction cups, or be used bicycle or motorcycle mobile, or in city driving on a window clip mount. A telescoping half-wave increases useable simplex range of a typical 5 watt, 2-meter portable from about a mile with the stock flexible antenna to 3 miles or more, depending upon terrain. Adding a counterpoise to an efficient antenna enables a portable unit to keep in reliable contact within 5 miles of an EOC or base station equipped with an efficient antenna elevated on a tower.
Mark your calendars! Next week is our ARES meeting. Now that the storm spotter training is behind us. It's time to prepare for the severe weather season and nets.
Next week we will conduct a weather weather net table top exercise at the meeting in preparation for "Severe Weather Awareness Week" and the state-wide Tornado drill on April 24, 2014 1-2pm.
We'll review the procedures for checking in to the net, the components (Net Control, spotters, NWS Liaison & NWS), who can start a WX Net and when a net should be started.
The exercise will walk through a scripted weather event from start to finish without radios. There will be an BCARES Net Control, a NWS liaison, a NWS Net Control and of course spotters. This allows us to discuss net operations, procedures and reports and answer questions as we go.
This is a great way for new folks to learn how a Severe Weather Net works, the correct way to check in and report weather conditions. It also enables experienced spotters to refresh their skills and review procedures.
All licensed amateur radio operators are welcome to attend and participate. Anyone checking in to the severe weather net is encourage to attend.
Pass the word! See you on Wednesday at 6:30 pm, 3030 Curry Lane Brown County Jail, 2nd Floor (EOC).
Wednesday, August 20th is the Airport Disaster drill that takes place every 3 years. Brown County ARES provides Emergency Communications for this every three years. The last one was in 2009. This will be our SET for 2014!
Here are some highlights:
This is an official ARES drill. ESponder will be used along with all the appropriate forms and logging.
The EOC will be at the airport's new fire station facility. Incident Command will probably be at the terminal upstairs in one of the conference rooms.
The scenario is a airliner crash on the Austin-Strauble Int. Airport field. There should be around 60-70 "casualties" with full make-up.
We will be staffing three shuttle buses, the shelter, airport terminal, EOC and the survivor hanger. Usually, we are done by noon. They served lunch at the airport FD in 2009 (don't know if they will do that this year).
6 people for the three buses
2 people at the EOC
2 person at the "Hanger" for survivors
2 person at the Red Cross shelter
1 person at the 'Terminal"
1 Net Control Station
3 people for the hospitals
15-17 volunteers or more are needed.
We will set up the A.R.E.S. (GB M&K club) trailer at the old overflow parking lot, north end of the runway, across from the NWS.
I would like to put APRS trackers in the buses and set up a PC in the IC. We could also use FLDIGI to communicate information & requests between the hospitals and IC/EOC using the ICS forms built in. Maybe we can to do something with Broadband-Hamnet for streaming video too.
Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) and Winnebago County, in conjunction with the Wisconsin National Guard - Joint Operations Center (WI-JOC), invite you to attend SIMCOM 2014 at the Sunnyview Expo Center, 500 East County Rd Y, Oshkosh, WI 54901, on May 15, 2014.
The purpose of the SIMCOM (State Interoperable Mobile Communications) exercise is to educate, coordinate and test Mobile Emergency Communications platform capabilities from federal, state, tribal and local jurisdictions. Come to SIMCOM 2014 and share information about your mobile communications assets, develop relationships, and understand capabilities of other agencies before they are needed in an emergency or incident.
You are welcome to bring your equipment, or just come out and see what mobile communications platforms are available in response and recovery incidents. If you are planning to attend the event we ask that you reply to Jim Meilahn (WEM Warning and Communication Officer) firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information by 28 March 2014.
This Saturday is the Wisconsin QSO party. Nice time to get on and check Simplex from your QTH. I will be participating mobile on my return from Illinois Sunday afternoon. 146.550 is what I will be monitoring.
Monday night (Mar 10th) , 7:00 pm is the East Central ARES District Net on the WI Interstate Network System (443.400 + pl100). I would like to try an experiment and if every county can check in, we will take the monthly reports on the air. Just a little message practice.
In May I would like to try the net on the WECOMM 2 meter linked system.
I will be out of town Friday March 7 and returning on Sunday March 9th. I will be on Cell phone but my internet time will be very limited.
Warm weather is coming. be prepared for flooding conditions. Lots of ice blocking rivers, streams and drains. Lots of storm drains may be iced over yet too. River ice jams can happen if rain pics up and temps rise.
Also, a reminder that SIMCOM 2014 is comming up at the Sunnyview Expo Center, 500 East County Rd Y, Oshkosh, WI 54901, on May 15, 2014.
Posted by KC9OIS Dennis, Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 @ 11:24am
The Storm Spotter Class for Amateur Radio Operators (open to the public) at St. Norbert College is on a Thursday this year. Same place & time, just a different day of the week.
March 27th 6:00-8:00 PM
St. Norbert College
Boyle Hall, Room 122
Jeff Last will be presenting.
NOTE:This is a change from the normal Tuesdays in the past. The NWS in Green Bay is short staffed this year. This was the only date open in March. The next available dates would be in late April or May.
Come early as seats usually fill up!
There are two on-line programs we encourage everyone to take prior to attending a local spotter classes.
These national on-line programs provide base-line training while attending a local program fills the gaps missing with the on-line content.
The 2014 XV Cellcom Marathon course maps have been made public now. I posted the links and much more detail information on the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon Amateur Radio Volunteers website here, where you can also sign up if you haven't already!
This year, the full and half marathons are being run as two separate events, the courses will span nearly 40 miles. Last year the Finish Line and Main Medical Tent were located on the southeast corner of the stadium parking lot. This year, everything will be located on the west side of the stadium, with Incident Command, Medical, Net Control and the FINISH line at the southwest corner of the stadium parking lot.
These changes make this marathon unique in that it's the first time any marathon has run laps inside two historic NFL stadiums following a path of "Packer" history. Celebrating it's 15th year!
This is why we still need 35-40 more volunteers to support the marathon in 2014.
It's going to be a great event and a lot of fun!