Radio buffs ham it up: EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS EXERCISE HELD

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Radio buffs ham it up
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS EXERCISE HELD


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Radio buffs ham it up
EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS EXERCISE HELD


Ham radio operator Ben Holmes of Oxford tapes conversations on his laptop while listening on earphones at the Worcester Emergency Communications Team Field Day. Dirk Hart, team leader and field day manager, watches at right. (RICH DUGAS)

By Tucker Worthington Wade SPECIAL TO THE TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
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On a national level, amateur radio operators provided communications assistance during the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, as well as in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

WORCESTER — Dirk Hart is always prepared for the next emergency. “Today is an emergency preparedness exercise,” said Mr. Hart of Stow, an amateur radio operator since 2002. “We are always preparing for the next big one.”

Mr. Hart and other licensed, volunteer amateur radio operators, known as “hams,” broadcast live yesterday from the National Guard headquarters for the eighth annual Worcester Emergency Communications Team Field Day.

Hams from around the Worcester area convened at the National Guard base to show their resourcefulness in times of distress. “As hams, we are part of the solution for the next crisis,” Mr. Hart said.

The Worcester Emergency Communications Team is composed of volunteer radio operators licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve as an autonomous force that acts when the telecommunications infrastructure has failed. This communications team functions under the auspices of the American Radio Relay League.

For John Ruggiero, a Worcester ham since 1994, the emergency communications team is “another tool in the bag. We are the last line of communication for the Worcester area.”

The team broadcasts from a room in the National Guard base at 50 Skyline Drive. The room consists of donated equipment that lets the team relay messages over microwave signals, which are directed by repeaters dispersed throughout a region. Hams will relay messages concerning states of emergency or other information directly to a distant recipient.

In addition to broadcasting in times of distress, hams will volunteer for civic events.

Hams serve in the Marathon Amateur Radio Association for the Boston Marathon, coordinating logistics for aid stations throughout Boston.

Hams also volunteer as auxiliary weather reporters with the National Weather Service, through SKYWARN. These operators are trained as weather spotters, relaying timely on-the-ground information to authorities.

On a national level, amateur radio operators provided communications assistance during the Hurricane Katrina recovery effort, as well as in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

However, hams transcend borders.

Serving in the Disaster Medical Assistance Team under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, hams were enlisted to provide communications assistance during the Haiti relief effort.

To demonstrate their abilities yesterday, Worcester area operators let visitors chat with fellow hams throughout North America. People communicated directly with individuals in Georgia, Texas, California and Ontario.

The Field Day also serves as a recruitment drive.

Andy Coniglio, a graduate student at Clark University, became a ham two years ago after attending the Worcester-area Field Day. Mr. Coniglio was seen operating a “Get on the Air” station on the front lawn of the National Guard center. For Mr. Coniglio, being a ham is all about direct communication. “It's us, the sky, and the other guy,” he said.

Tucker Worthington Wade can be reached by e-mail at [email protected].

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We had about 650 qso's from the Swansea, MA site in a combined club effort. Oh, and for those of you who did not visit our site this year, you missed some great food. Burgers and dogs were the Sat lunch. We had lasagna, steak tips, chili, beans, potato salad and all sorts of other goodies for dinner. Breakfast on Sun was bacon, fried eggs, danish, OJ and milk. Hey, what's Field Day without some serious food!!!
 

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Hams also volunteer as auxiliary weather reporters with the National Weather Service, through SKYWARN. These operators are trained as weather spotters, relaying timely on-the-ground information to authorities.

For those interested, the 3hr Skywarn training is being given in Salem on April 14, 6:00pm - 9:00pm. I took it last year. It was kind of entertaining and I learned a lot about weather. It's free too.

More info here
 
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For those interested, the 3hr Skywarn training is being given in Salem on April 14, 6:00pm - 9:00pm. I took it last year. It was kind of entertaining and I learned a lot about weather. It's free too.

More info here

I'm hoping that I can find one closer to me. I know that they are everywhere...so I really want to get into one this year.
 

cockpitbob

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Anything to communicate! In fact, though Hams have more power, range, etc. there are probably more people with CBs and certainly more with FRS radios. In a zombie uprising I'll be wanting to talk to more than just Hams.
 
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C-Pher, TAC Group is having Skywarn training in May at Morton Hospital. You have to contact Mr. Macedo who is an Eastern Mass SEC for a spot in the training.
 
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Anything to communicate! In fact, though Hams have more power, range, etc. there are probably more people with CBs and certainly more with FRS radios. In a zombie uprising I'll be wanting to talk to more than just Hams.

There will likely be so many, it will almost be like a small cell network, with everybody relaying to each other. As long as the battery supplies hold up...
 
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Who is silly enough to rely solely on battery power for any emergency needs?? Batteries are only one part of the equation.




There will likely be so many, it will almost be like a small cell network, with everybody relaying to each other. As long as the battery supplies hold up...
 

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What did you do during the hurricane?

Just wondering how many of you monitored or even volunteered during the hurricane.

As for me, I was busy making a rain shelter for my generator so I could keep the sump pumps and fridges going. It's funny how portable generators are always used outdoors, but they aren't weatherproof.

I did monitor the Danvers repeater's Skywarn net. Even with the power on that's how I get most of my good information. During a check-in everyone listed if they had backup power and what they were monitoring. All had backup power and most were monitoring their town's Fire and Police. So by monitoring 1 repeater I was getting great info on all the towns around me. I belong to the Gloucester club and they were activated by the local agencies. That club has their stuff together. The Fire Chief sent them a thankyou saying "It makes my job much easier knowing that CAARA is a stand alone communications group that needs nothing more than an assignment. I don't think that many of you realize how huge an assist it is to not have to direct the setup of any part of an emergency response which allows for attention to be put where it is needed elsewhere."

Next year I hope to have my level of preparedness such that I can finally leave home and volunteer.
 
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Just wondering how many of you monitored or even volunteered during the hurricane.

As for me, I was busy making a rain shelter for my generator so I could keep the sump pumps and fridges going. It's funny how portable generators are always used outdoors, but they aren't weatherproof.

I did monitor the Danvers repeater's Skywarn net. Even with the power on that's how I get most of my good information. During a check-in everyone listed if they had backup power and what they were monitoring. All had backup power and most were monitoring their town's Fire and Police. So by monitoring 1 repeater I was getting great info on all the towns around me. I belong to the Gloucester club and they were activated by the local agencies. That club has their stuff together. The Fire Chief sent them a thankyou saying "It makes my job much easier knowing that CAARA is a stand alone communications group that needs nothing more than an assignment. I don't think that many of you realize how huge an assist it is to not have to direct the setup of any part of an emergency response which allows for attention to be put where it is needed elsewhere."

Next year I hope to have my level of preparedness such that I can finally leave home and volunteer.

I was active on the 147.135 Taunton repeater, primarily because I am one of the guys that keeps that baby on the air.
 
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Who is silly enough to rely solely on battery power for any emergency needs?? Batteries are only one part of the equation.

There are always AA and AAA batteries around. If not, they are in any store, including Walmart, Home Depot, CVS, hardware stores, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.
 
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There are always AA and AAA batteries around. If not, they are in any store, including Walmart, Home Depot, CVS, hardware stores, gas stations, convenience stores, etc.

Not when everyone and their mother needs them. During the storm, we hadn't lost power. I went to Target just to get some general stuff. For S&Gs I went to check out Water and Batteries. There were only a couple of cases of those "Water Pods." And for Batteries, I found a few 9v, a couple of packs of Cs and Ds...but no AA or AAA batteries. Every Display were out.

I'm pretty sure had I gone to CVS and/or Lowes, it would have been the same thing. Because like you said, they all carry them. When one store is out, try the next one, and the next one, and the next until you find them. When the next to me was without power for a week...all the stores have been picked over and they won't be found.

It was the same as Ice. Places were taking names and being put on a waiting list for ice. None to be found anywhere. Don't forget also, no power, no Gas stations. So, the two gas stations near me were out of everything but premium. I filled up before the storm, so I didn't need to get gas before they needed another delivery. But there were people freaking out because they had to pay the high price of Premium because there were only two gas stations around me when there's normaly about 6.

So, to solely rely on one mode of power in any emergency need is not a smart idea.
 

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If your an amateur radio operator you'll be in the know if a SHTF situation ever happens. Hams will be responsible for worldwide communication. News from around the planet will be available from hams only. CB and FRS are toys compared to amateur radio. Yes, in a SHTF situation I would monitor these frequencies but for the most part they will be then as they are now, a free for all. Hams CAN monitor cb and frs and not the other way around. People that take the time to study about communications and, for us old timers, learn Morse code in order to get a license are more apt to set up a reliable radio station than their cb and frs counterparts.

Amateur radio operators have access to more frequencies, better and higher antennas, more power and an organized radio etiquette than any other civilian radio. I will admit the etiquette is going out the window. In a SHTF situation most hams have the knowledge to expand their radios to operate on most frequencies. Most ham radios have the ability to receive a broad range of frequencies and with some radio knowledge these radios can be expanded to transmit on these frequencies. This capability is not as expansive in cb and frs radios nor do their average operators possess the knowledge to modify these radios.

If your looking to set up a radio station for SHTF there is no comparison to amateur radio. Two grand will get you a Kenwood TS2000 radio that will receive from 30 kHz through 60 MHz, from 118 MHz through 174 MHz and 220 to 512 MHz. This range will get you 90% of the worlds broadcast radio, TV, police, fire, air, military, civilian, etc... I use the Kenwood as an example as there are many other radios that will do the job just fine. This radio will transmit 100 watts through most of its range and with modification can transmit at least some power on most available frequencies. Of course modifying a radio to transmit on frequencies not licensed to the operator is highly illegal. Modifications like this are for dire emergencies.


TS-2000_AB.jpg


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenwood_TS-2000
 
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We should try to do something where all NES people get on some radio one night a month (some Saturday night), and see who they can reach. Those with multiple means can help bridge the gaps. It would be cool to see how many could chime in. Maybe we could each give a key word or something, and everyone reply back to a NES post to say their part of it. It would be cool if we could communicate a message around the Northeast using just ham/CB/FRS/whatever radios with some sort of regularity. Over.
 

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I'm in. I think it's a great idea. When TSHTF it would be good to have tried this before hand.

I suggest we start with a 2M simplex frequency and also try an HF frequency. Those of us with horizontal wire antennas that can do 80M or 40M might be able to work just around New England since they should work for NVIS propagation. (Need to pick something that most NES Hams have.)
 
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We've done it a few times and it worked fairly well. I can cover all bands, so we can try a few things.

I just need an hour's notice so I can check my antenna.
 
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I'll defer at this point to those who (obviously) know more about it, but I would certainly like to participate in my own small way. Maybe it would be a good learning exercise, and I could look at future equipment ideas. I'm sure others would also be interested.
 
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