On Saturday, December 4th, members of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team activated WX1GYX for SKYWARN Recognition Day, an annual event that celebrates the contributions that SKYWARN volunteers across the country make to their communities.
Radio operations began at 0000 UTC on December 4th and continued for 24 hours, with either a weather report or SRD number being exchanged. SRD isn’t a contest, but a fun on-air activity with many different participants, including SKYWARN Net Control operators, SKYWARN spotters, regular hams, ARES volunteers, and even DX stations, taking part.
SRD isn’t just for radio operators, either! SKYWARN is a national network of volunteer severe weather spotters, many of whom are not hams. Over 4,500 spotters took part in the SRD National Spotter Check-In, which mapped their locations across the country.
Similar to last year, the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team could not activate from the National Weather Service Forecast Office, due to COVID-19 restrictions, so they created a shared Google Sheet and encouraged radio volunteers to choose a time and band slot to operate as WX1GYX, either from a portable location, or their own homes. The effort was successful in giving NWS Gray an on-air presence during the event.
Special thanks to: Eric N1RXR (D-STAR, Echolink, and FM), Tom N1KTA (Echolink), Tim KB1HNZ (HF SSB, HF Digital, and DMR), Stefania K1GJY (HF SSB), Susan WB2UQP (HF SSB), and Jason W1SFS (HF SSB)., for contributing logs! WX1GYX logged 45 different states, 7 different NWS Offices, and 59 SKYWARN Spotters, for a total of 195 QSOs during the event. Great job, everyone!
Click here to view the SRD Check-in map and learn more about SKYWARN Recognition Day.
For anyone interested in testing for an initial Amateur Radio license, or upgrade, we will be hosting a VE Exam this evening, at 7:00 PM at the Scarborough Public Safety building, located at 275 U.S. Rt. 1, Room 105, Scarborough, ME. The room will be the first on the left after entering the building through the public entrance.
Click here to learn what you need to bring to the exam.
Where: Scarborough Public Safety, 275 U.S. Rt. 1, Room 105, Scarborough, ME 04074.
2021 SKYWARN Recognition Day is December 4, from 0000Z – 2359Z
For 22 years, SKYWARN™ Recognition Day, developed jointly by the National Weather Service and the American Radio Relay League, celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN™ radio operators make to the National Weather Service.
Similar to last year, because of COVID-19 restrictions, ham operators will not have access to the NWS Gray facility, but we encourage you to take turns activating the WX1GYX call sign, either from your home stations, portable, or mobile, during the event.
If you’d like to use the WX1GYX call sign during SRD, please click here to sign up for a time/band slot. We hope to have at least one operator from each of the counties in the NWS Gray Weather Forecast area, so spread the word!
Participants are asked to log contacts in an electronic logging program, such as N1MM, and submit to firstname.lastname@example.org in an ADIF format.
During the periods that you’re not using the WX1GYX call sign, operators may also use their personal call signs to exchange their name, SRD number (which can be obtained here) and current weather conditions with other participating stations.
The event website provides complete operating guidelines, including the suggested exchange. SRD is a fun on-air activity that feels very much like a contest, but its informal. There’s no rules or band limitations. You can even use repeaters!
Please join us this evening at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly On-Air Drill!
This will be an on-air and in person hybrid meeting, with a limit of 5 people allowed at the CCEMA Bunker, which is located at 22 High Street, Windham, ME. For those who join us at the bunker, we’ll use the remaining time after the net to install and update software on the PCs.
Following our net on the repeater, we’ll test out the newly re-installed HF antenna at CCEMA. For those with HF capabilities, please join us on 3940 kHz LSB for an exchange of signal reports.
On Saturday, October 9th, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team (WSSM-ECT), which meets monthly in Scarborough, will participate in a statewide drill to test their communications capabilities between various different sites throughout Cumberland County and the state. The drill, known as the Simulated Emergency Test, or SET, is an annual exercise, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League, which encourages amateur radio operators from across the country to test their communications skills during a mock disaster.
During the SET, hams are required to quickly establish communications between various Emergency Operations Centers and exchange formal messages and traffic, which contain requests for supplies, medical information, or weather reports, or other information that may be of importance during a disaster. They do this via voice, Morse code, and digital two-way radio, on bands ranging from HF to UHF, as required.
“Similar to last year, there’s has been a lot of statewide coordination for the SET, and Maine ARES and others have developed an extensive plan that involves testing both amateur radio and EMA communications,” says Tim Watson, of Saco. Watson is a founder of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, which provides communications support for Cumberland County EMA, as well as the National Weather Service. “The SET tests how we respond during large-scale disasters, where commercial infrastructure has failed. In these events, hams are often the only source of communications.”
“The hams in our club are a dedicated group,” adds club President, Brad Brown, of Waterboro. “Amateur radio has a long history of volunteerism. Sure, it’s a hobby and there’s some fun things that we do like lighthouse expeditions or competitive events like contesting, but so many like to stay sharp by providing support for community events, and drills like this, so they’ll be ready to offer their time and expertise when disaster strikes.”
The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team is participating in their seventh SET.
After the event, the participants will do an assessment to determine how well they performed and look for areas to improve upon. “There’s always new things to learn and ways to improve,” says Watson. “This year we’ll be testing some updates that have been made to the statewide digital packet network, which we use for sending messages. We hope to learn more about its capabilities and how to improve it for the future.”
For more information about amateur radio, or the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, please visit their website at:
Thanks to everyone who joined us our special Pre-SET Training Net last evening. We began the net on the 147.090 repeater and after closing the net on the repeater, we moved over to 146.580 FM Simplex. Below is the complete Net Report:
Date: 10/07/2021 Start Time: 7:00 PM Frequency: 147.090 (+ / 100 Hz) FM repeater, located on Blackstrap Mt., Falmouth, ME Net Control: Tim Watson KB1HNZ, Battery Power, in Saco, ME
Check-ins: 4 Ben, KC1HBL, Commercial Power, in Buxton, ME Dave, KB1FGF, Commercial Power, in Scarborough, ME Brad, KC1JMH, Battery Power, in N. Waterboro, ME Ed, W1XAW, Mobile, Battery Power, Portland, ME
Traffic Handled: 1 Brad brought one piece of through traffic to the net, for KX7YT, in Portland, OR. This will be held and forwarded via Winlink during the SET, on Saturday.
Secure at: 7:22 PM
Simplex Net Details: Start Time: 7:23 PM Frequency: 146.580 FM Simplex Net Control: Tim KB1HNZ, Battery Power, in Saco, ME Check-ins: 5 Ben, KC1HBL, Commercial Power, in Buxton, ME Dave, KB1FGF, Commercial Power, in Scarborough, ME Brad, KC1JMH, Battery Power, in N. Waterboro, ME Steve, WZ1J, Commercial Power, Brunswick, ME Steve, W1GR (Club Call Sign), Commercial Power, Brunswick, ME Secure at: 7:38 PM
When: Saturday, October 9, from 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Thanks to everyone who’s been joining us during our monthly WSSM-ECT Training Nets! Over the past several months, we’ve successfully tested communications on multiple bands and modes, including VHF repeaters, 2m FM Simplex, 40 and 80 meters SSB, and Winlink. Now its time to put these skills to use during the 2021 Simulated Emergency Test (SET)!
The scenario for this year’s SET is a solar storm that disrupts the electrical grid and communications, including landline telephone, internet and cellular services.
If you’re interested in participating, please click here to familiarize yourself with the “Final” SET plan for Saturday’s statewide test.
To begin with, we’ll meet at 8:00 AM on the Cumberland County primary repeater 147.090. We’ll use this to trouble shoot problems amongst ourselves and coordinate which simplex and HF frequencies to use during the SET, but we won’t be using the repeater to exchange any traffic.
Please help out with as many tasks as you’re able to:
Task #4 on the SET Plan will be our first task on Saturday – It asks that we perform radio checks with nearby counties. We’ll take this opportunity to try different VHF simplex channels as well as HF, and contact other ARES and EmComm groups and individuals as we can. Keep a log of your contacts and which county EMA they are associated with, if any. Also be prepared to receive or relay radiogram traffic, as some may have traffic already prepared. See the explanation in the SET plan for more info. This will be performed Saturday during the SET.
Task #5 is to check into the Statewide ARES net, which will take place on 3945 kHz LSB. The net will be active from 9:30 AM through 11:30 AM EST. Net Control will be run by W1AXS. Eric N1RXR will be checking in on our behalf, as WX1GYX, but we encourage anyone with HF capabilities to check in. Identify yourself with your personal call sign and “Cumberland County Emergency Communications Team.” This will be performed Saturday during the SET.
Tasks #6, #7, and #8 are all related to Winlink.
Broken down, task #6 requires us to send radiograms via Winlink. There will be three components to this, so everyone can participate, regardless of Winlink capability or experience.
This element will be organized by county and will take the form of an informal contest with points awarded to counties based on the activity level.
There will be three types of operators in each county:
The Message Originator. This person will compose a formal radiogram in text format. The radiogram will be addressed to an out of state party, either someone that the originator knows or to a traffic handler on the list of “willing” recipients. The originator will send the radiogram by voice over the radio (any band) to a relay station. The originator will also send a copy of their radiogram by email to email@example.com.
The Relay Station. This person will copy the radiogram and then relay it to the designated Winlink relay. Any mode may be used but the message must leave the relay station by RF. Modes could include NBEMS, voice, cw, etc. Depending on how each county group is structured, the person in this role could be the same as the person in #3. Tim KB1HNZ will act as the Relay Station, operating from the Bunker, during the SET, however, depending on coverage, we may ask others to help with this.
The Winlink Relay. This person will collect the radiograms from the various relays and forward the messages to KB1TCE. KB1TCE will inject the radiograms into the Digital Traffic Network. Brad KC1JMH will act as our Winlink Relay during the SET.
Most of our participants will fall under the Message Originator category, and their task will be to send a radiogram message by voice. You may operate from home, mobile or portable. We will have a net at 7:00 PM Thursday evening on the 147.090 repeater to begin this part of the task, but if you can’t make it then, we will also accept traffic Saturday morning during the SET as well.
Don’t worry if you’re unsure of who to address a message to, or even what the content should be. We’ll help you out with that part.
We encourage anyone who has the ability to connect to Winlink, to log on and send radiogram traffic during the SET, but if you don’t have that capability yet, that’s okay. We’ll ask that participants without Winlink share their traffic via voice, with Net Control, either Thursday evening, or Saturday morning. The Net Control Relay Station will collect those messages and forward them to Brad KC1JMH, who will be acting as our Winlink Relay Station, to forward messages via Winlink.
Task #7 is to retrieve a file via Winlink, which anyone with Winlink capability can do. Anyone in our group who has Winlink or Packet capability is encouraged to participate in this task. This will be performed Saturday during the SET.
Task #8 is to send digital data through the Maine Packet Network. Anyone in our group who has Packet capability is encouraged to participate in this task. This will be performed Saturday during the SET.
Your participation is important! Not only is this an important learning exercise, to help us determine areas to improve upon, but it is also our opportunity to showcase our capabilities and demonstrate what we have learned and built upon during the year.
Contest Period: 1200 UTC Saturday September 2, 2020 to 1200 UTC Sunday September 2, 2021.
Bands and Modes: 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, and 10, CW, and phone (SSB, FM, AM).
Exchange: Stations in Maine send signal report and county. Stations outside of Maine, but within either the United States or Canada, send signal report and state/province. DX stations send signal report and “DX.”
Please join us this Thursday, September 9th, from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM, at Wassamki Springs Campground, for our Annual business meeting. If the weather is nice, we’ll be meeting outside near the former camp store. Please bring a lawn chair as there may not be a picnic table available near the site.
For those who haven’t been there before, the camp store is located near the back of the camping area. Turn right after checking in at the office, follow the road past the lake, and take the next left. Follow that road almost to the end, where you’ll see a small white building with a porch. Its important to DRIVE SLOW and follow all campground rules when present on the property. We are guests!
First on the agenda is Officer Elections. Among the current officers, Brad Brown (Vice President), Tim Watson (President), and Josh Brown (Treasurer) are termed out. Having served only one year so far, Jason Andrews (secretary), may run again if he chooses.
The Maine QSO Party HF Contest takes place the last full weekend of September (September 25-26). We need club members to get on the air and represent Maine! The 2020 MEQP had a record number of entries, from 7 different countries, 41 U.S. States, and 2 Canadian Provinces.
The 2021 SET is scheduled to take place Saturday, October 9th (usually from 8:00 – noon).
Guest Speaker: Fred Kemmerer, who is running for ARRL New England director, will join us via Free Conference call to tell us his ideas.
If you’d like to join us remotely, here’s the dial-in instructions: (Last month we found that cell coverage at the campground is spotty, so we’ll do the best we can).