On Saturday, October 22nd, 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 previous years, there’s has been statewide coordination for the SET, and Maine ARES and others have developed a 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 eighth 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: http://www.mainehamradio.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Please join us this evening at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly On-Air Drill!
The topic for this evening is to review the components of the ARRL Radiogram and to compose and sent test messages that will be similar to those we’ll be sending during ARRL Field Day. We’ll start out on the repeater and move over to 146.580 FM simplex for a roll call. On simplex, we’ll exchange signal reports with each other, note who we can copy, and send traffic.
The purpose of this net is to focus on developing skills, such as familiarity with message forms, traffic handling, using modes like FM Simplex, Winlink, Packet, and the FLDigi suite, while fostering an interest in and recruiting newcomers to emergency communications.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the WSSM-ECT Training Net for Thursday, April 22nd! We had 12 check-ins on the repeater and 2 on DMR. The net started on time, at 7:00PM. Tim KB1HNZ served as moderator.
One announcement was made by Dave KB1FGF, who mentioned having a 4-way coax switch available for free to anyone who needed one, and he was also looking to sell his Connect Systems CS801 DMR radio.
The topic for the evening was SKYWARN, which focused on some of the things that a new Net Control station should be aware of, including where to find information about approaching hazardous weather, when and how to activate a net, on which frequency to operate, what to ask for, and how to log reports.
Tim KB1HNZ talked about the new SKYWARN Official Supporter program that was rolled out on Tuesday, which is designed to encourage more participation in SKYWARN from the ham radio club and EmComm group level.
Eric N1RXR talked about some of his experiences operating as Net Control for SKYWARN, and stressed the importance of good listening and asking for a specific location when taking reports.
Following the net on the repeater, we took call-ups for weather reports on the DMR SKYWARN Talk Group (759) to help familiarize participants with the SKYWARN talk group.
KB1FGF Dave, Scarborough, ME (FM)
KB1IIR Luke, Madison, NH (FM)
K5RN Frank, Planto, TX (Echolink)
KC1OLX Tom, Gorham, ME (FM)
KC1JMH Brad, Waterboro, ME (FM & DMR)
KC1OER Norris, Portland, ME (FM)
N1RXR Eric, New Gloucester, ME (FM)
KC1NZD Rick, Peaks Island, ME (FM)
KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, ME (FM)
WX1D B.J., Kennebunk, ME (FM & DMR)
KU1U, Corey, Sabattus, ME (Echolink)
W1QUI, George, Auburn, ME (FM)
This was a fun training. SKYWARN is an important topic that we’ll be revisiting again in the future, and we’ll also work on getting more involvement on the DMR side of things, by helping to update code plugs and programming radios if needed.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the WSSM-ECT Training Net! We had 7 check-ins, a few of which only participated via Packet. The net started on time, at 7:00PM. Tim KB1HNZ served as moderator.
Among the items discussed were the Maine Packet Network and Packet Radio in general. Even while the repeater portion of the net was taking place, we had an active chat session going on Packet, and several had already sent their first messages via BBS and Winlink. Thanks to Brad KC1JMH for helping participants out with problem solving (including myself), and answering questions.
KC1JMH Brad, Waterboro, ME (Phone, CHAT, BBS, Winlink)
KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, ME (Phone)
KB1FGF Dave, Scarborough, ME (Phone)
KC1HBM Peter, Scarborough, ME (Winlink)
N1XP Roger, Waterboro, ME (BBS, Winlink)
KC1ETT Jimmy, Wells, ME (CHAT, BBS, Winlink)
KB1TCE Steve, Owls Head, ME (BBS, Winlink)
KB1HNZ Tim, Saco, ME – Net Control (Phone, CHAT, BBS, Winlink)
At one point, some time after 8:00, the W1YCA node, in Alfred, started acting up. Myself and a few others were able to maintain a good connection to it for almost an hour prior. Brad KC1JMH was able to telnet in and restart it, but it still didn’t seem right after that. This morning, however, I connected right up to the BBS, CHAT, and via Winlink, and everything seemed okay.
Nevertheless, we had a fun CHAT session going and Brad, who was multitasking, helping Peter KC1HBM get connected, also helped me troubleshoot why my call sign wasn’t displaying correctly. As it turns out, I just needed to treat my Kenwood D710 like a hardware TNC and enter “MY KB1HNZ” prior to connecting to a node, and that solved the problem.
This was a fun training and we’ll keep working over the next few months to get some more hams active on Packet.
Please join us this evening, March 25th, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly On-Air Drill!
Last month we talked about the ARRL Radiogram and ICS-213 message forms and we practiced sending those over the air. We had lots of positive feedback about that and we will continue to practice message handling in the coming weeks.
Tonight, we’re going to build on a discussion that we started a couple of weeks ago during our monthly business meeting, and that’s Packet Radio and the Maine Packet Network. Brad KC1JMH gave a nice presentation on the topic, and he introduced a very informative website: www.mainepacketradio.org – Click this link if you’d like to follow along during the net.
For tonight’s on-air training, we’re asking that anyone who is equipped for Packet Radio to connect to your nearest node, check your messages, and send a message to either myself or Brad KC1JMH. If you have Winlink Express installed, you can connect via that same node (if it includes that feature), and send a message that way as well.
Thanks to everyone who joined us for the WSSM-ECT Training Net! We had 9 check-ins, a few of which were first time participants. The net started on time, at 7:00PM. Tim KB1HNZ served as moderator.
Among the items discussed were the various parts of the ARRL Radiogram and ICS-213 message forms, which are important to be familiar with for Emergency Communications. We also practiced sending both types of messages over the air, exchanging six messages altogether. Thanks to Brad KC1JMH for keeping a Net Log of all the traffic that was exchanged. See below:
WSSM ECT NET LOG 2021-02-25
— RADIOGRAM — 7 R KB1HNZ 10 SACO ME 1500 FEB 25 FRANK KRIZAN KR5N 1200 GARDENGROVE COURT PLANO TX 75075 KR1ZAN AT ARRL DOT NET BT GREETINGS FROM MAINE X CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR NEW CALL SIGN BT KB1HNZ TIM
— ICS-213 —
INCIDENT NAME WSSM ECT TRAINING NET TO CHRIS WHEELER PLANNER CCEMA FROM TIM WATSON EC CUMBERLAND CTY EXERCISE MESSAGE FEB 25 1510Z
THIS IS AN EXERCISE MESSAGE DESIGNED TO INCREASE FAMILIARITY AMONG NET PARTICIPANTS WITH VARIOUS FORMS USED IN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS. PLEASE ACKNOWLEDGE RECEIPT.
ROUTE TO WHEELER@CUMBERLANDCOUNTY.ORG
— RADIOGRAM — 8 R KB1HNZ 16 SACO ME 1502 FEB 25 RYAN MICHAELSON KB1YTR 235 E LOCUST ST DULUTH MN 55811 KB1YTR AT ARRL DOT NET BT GREETINGS FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN MAINE X HOPE ALL IS WELL WITH YOU AND YOUR FAMILY BT TIM KB1HNZ
— RADIOGRAM —
2977 PA N1RXR 23 NEW GLOUCESTER ME 0025 FEB 26 21 TIM WATSON 11 LYMAN AVE SACO ME BT NORTH ATLANTIC NORTH OF 31 NORTH TO 67 NORTH AND WEST OF THIRTY FIVE WEST X HURRICANE FORCE WINDS WARNING AT FIFTY EIGHT NORTH MILLIBAR OF 960
— ICS-213 — TO KB1HNZ TRAINED SPOTTER FROM N1RXR STATIONARY HOME LOCATION SUB ICEBERG LOCATION 02-26-2021 0040Z
LABRADOR COAST AND STRAIT OF BELLE ISLE NORTH OF FIFTY TWO DEGREES NORTH TWENTY THREE ICE BERGS REPORT NORTH OF FIFTY TWO DEGREES NORTH
— RADIOGRAM — 3 R HXC KC1JMH ARL 4 WATERBORO ME 1929L FEB 25 ALAN SERL KM6KPW 3121 WHATA RD JURUPA VALLEY CA 92509 ALANSERL AT SCRNET DOT COM BT ARL FIFTY ONE WSSM BT KC1JMH AR
Check-ins: KC1JMH Brad, Waterboro, Battery Power KC1HBL Ben, Buxton, Commercial Power KC1OER Norris, Portland, Commercial Power KC1MSR Nick, Gorham, Commercial Power KB1FGF Dave, Scarborough, Commercial Power KC1OLX Tom, Gorham, Mobile N1SNP Mark, Windham, Mobile N1RXR Eric, New Gloucester, Commercial Power W2VAN Mike, Portland, Commercial Power
Please join us this evening, February 25th, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly On-Air Drill!
Tonight we’ll be discussing message forms, including an overview of the different parts of the ARRL Radiogram and ICS-213 forms. We’ll also be sending some exercise traffic, so participants can get accustomed to sending and receiving traffic over the air.
Over the next few months, we’ll make use of different modes and bands, focusing on developing skills, such as familiarity with message forms, traffic handling, using modes like FM Simplex, Winlink, Packet, and the FLDigi suite, while fostering an interest in and recruiting newcomers to emergency communications.
Please join us tomorrow evening, January 28th, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our first On-Air Drill of the new year!
We’ll first meet on the repeater, where we can exchange traffic and share announcements, and once everyone’s checked-in, we’ll move over to 146.580 simplex for a roll call. On simplex, we’ll exchange signal reports with each other and note who we can copy.
Over the next few months, we’ll make use of other modes and bands, focusing on developing skills, such as familiarity with message forms, traffic handling, using modes like FM Simplex, Winlink, Packet, and the FLDigi suite, while fostering an interest in and recruiting newcomers to emergency communications.