WSSM-ECT Training Net – Tonight at 7PM

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.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net 04/22/21 Net Report

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.

Net Participants:

  • 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.

73′

Tim

KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net 03/25/2021 Net Report

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.

Net Participants:

  • 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.

73′

Tim

KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net Tonight at 7:00 PM!

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.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

WSSM-ECT Training Net 02/25/2021 Net Report

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

Net Secured at 8:19 PM

WSSM-ECT Training Net Tonight at 7:00 PM!

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.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

On-Air Drill This Thursday!

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.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

2020 Maine SET Review

On Saturday, October 24th, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team (WSSM-ECT), which meets monthly in Scarborough, participated 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 or weather reports, or other information that may be of importance during a disaster. They do this via voice and digital two-way radio, on bands ranging from HF to UHF, as required.

“There has been a lot of statewide coordination for this year’s event, and they’ve developed an extensive plan that involves testing both amateur radio and EMA communications,” says Tim Watson, of Saco. Watson is president of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, which provides communications support to 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 called upon to provide communications support.”

“The hams in our club are a dedicated group,” adds 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, 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 purpose of this year’s SET was to test the ability to communicate inter-county and between counties, using various modes: VHF FM repeater, VHF FM Simplex, HF SSB, VHF Packet, HF Digital, and Winlink via VHF Packet and HF Ardop.

Objectives included: Testing voice communications with other counties on amateur VHF repeaters, exchanging digital data with other counties on VHF repeaters, and the Maine Packet Network, testing voice communications with other counties on VHF Simplex, testing voice with other counties via HF, and exchanging digital traffic via HF. Each of these tasks were outlined in the 2020 Maine SET statewide plan. Other tasks were assigned to various EMA personnel to test their communications systems as well.

One of the most enjoyable parts of the 2020 SET was helping to relay a radiogram message from the York County EMA to Washington County. The message was originated in York and was relayed through several counties before reaching its destination. Steve Hansen KB1TCE reported afterwards that the message was delivered with near perfect accuracy. The only part that was missing in the final message was the signature. A possible reason for this is that the ARRL radiogram form has no place for a signature, compared with a Radio Relay International form, that does.

The SET scenario took place over 4 hours, from 8AM till noon, and as we approached the final hour, we decided to ask some of participants that checked in via FM simplex from their homes, to deploy to various shelter locations across the county. Eric Emery N1RXR visited Memorial Elementary School, in New Gloucester, Gray New Gloucester High School, in Gray, Greely Middle School, in Cumberland, Brunswick High School, and Falmouth High School, while Waylon McDonald KC1HJN was deployed to Windham High School and Gorham Middle School. We exchanged signal reports and exercise traffic from each location.

Brad Brown Jr., KC1JMH, was deployed to a strategic location on Chadbourne Ridge, in Waterboro, and acted as a VHF relay between York County to the south and the Cumberland County EMA.

Tim Watson KB1HNZ operated from the Cumberland County EMA. Do to COVID-19 restrictions, which limited the number of people in the building, he was the only ham operator at the EMA.


Lessons Learned

The WS1EC team successfully completed all but one task, which was to send digital traffic via FM Simplex. Having not been to the CCEMA in nine months, due to COVID-19 restrictions, one casualty was the Kenwood D710G VHF/UHF radio. After doing some trouble shooting to determine why it wouldn’t power on properly, the morning of the SET, it was determined that the best thing to do in the short window of time before the start of the exercise, was to use the backup radio, that was located in a backpack on a shelf in the radio room. The backup radio performed well and the programming was identical to the primary radio, so it was a seamless transition.

The only problem was discovering that there’s a difference in software settings between the D710A, and the newer D710G, which affected its ability to transmit when using Fldigi. This could’ve easily been fixed by downloading the appropriate RigCAT file, but in order to preserve the integrity of the SET, which listed among its scenarios, an internet outage, we chose not to update it at the time. In a future work session at the EMA, we plan on configuring the software to handle both radios, in case a failure happens again.

The Emergency Communications Team performed extremely well in this year’s SET, and many participants expressed a desire to do more exercises throughout the year, and more on-air training, like we did in the spring. In response, we’ll be starting up a training net again after the Holidays, to continue developing the skills necessary to perform at a high level.

Click here to view the WSSM-ECT After Action Report for the 2020 Maine SET.

2020 Maine Simulated Emergency Test

Begins at 8:00am Saturday, October 24th

Thanks to everyone who joined us last night on the WSSM-ECT Training Net! We successfully tested communications on multiple bands and modes, including VHF repeater, 2m FM Simplex, 40 and 80 meters SSB, and Winlink.

If you’re interested in participating, please click here to familiarize yourself with the “Final” SET plan for tomorrow’s statewide test.

To begin with, we’ll meet first thing on the Cumberland County primary repeater, 147.090. We’ll use this throughout the first half of the exercise and I encourage everyone to monitor it on a second radio or sub band, if possible. This is where we can trouble shoot problems amongst ourselves and also share county-wide traffic for the first couple of hours (until the repeaters go down). If you generate any traffic yourselves, I would recommend a SKYWARN-style weather report. The scenario is a hurricane, after all. Also, remember to preface your traffic with a disclaimer such as “This is an exercise message.”

Please help out with as many tasks as you’re able to:

The first task will be #6 on the SET Plan – To Perform radio checks with other counties on Amateur VHF repeaters. We’ll take this opportunity to try different repeaters and contact other ARES / EmComm groups and individuals. 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.

Task #7 is to exchange traffic via FlDigi / FlMsg. If you are equipped to do so, please attempt to exchange traffic via FlDigi over a repeater.

Steps #8 and #9 are related. If anyone has the ability to connect to the Maine Packet Network, please send a Check-in form to Steve KC1TCE at KB1TCE@winlink.org prior to the start of the exercise to let him know you will be able to accept traffic. Go to: Select Template -> Standard Templates -> General Forms -> Winlink Check In.txt to select the form. This way the other counties will know you are participating. These tasks require that we connect to the Maine Packet Network on VHF and also to exchange traffic via the Winlink RMS system using this method.

Tasks 6-9 take place while the Hurricane Effects are being felt in Maine. Phones and Internet are out, but repeaters are still in operation. For all other tasks (after 10:00 am), it is presumed that the repeaters will be offline as well, and therefore ham ops on VHF switch to Simplex.The next up is Task #10, which is to relay radiogram traffic via FM Simplex. See the SET Plan for more details. Although the task is intended to relay traffic between County EMAs, we may need inter-county relay stations in place to assist, and also to help coordinate making contact between counties.

It is also during this time period that we can make HF voice radio checks between counties. See Task #11 in the SET Plan. Although it comes up in the exercise after 10am, there is usually plenty of activity on the Maine ARES HF frequency earlier than that.

Task #12 on the SET Plan calls for performing radio checks with nearby counties via FM Simplex. In the log sheet, this is called “contest style,” so have fun with it and make as many contacts as you can. If you get to exchange any traffic during this part of the exercise, its a bonus!

The final task is to perform voice radio checks with hospitals and shelters within our county. This portion of the exercise is very much like what we did during our 2015-2018 SET exercises. We’ll do some further coordination during the SET to determine which shelters we can cover.

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Pre-SET Training Drill – Tonight at 7PM!

Continuing our preparation for the upcoming SET, which takes place this Saturday, from 8AM – 12PM, we will be using this opportunity to practice the communications methods that we’ll encounter during the SET.

To start with, we’ll meet on the 147.090 (+ / 100 Hz) repeater at 7PM this evening, for coordination. From there, depending on the capabilities of those who check in, we’ll attempt the following:

VHF (146.580 FM Simplex):

Voice contact via VHF FM Simplex
Exchange NBEMS traffic via VHF Simplex
Exchange Winlink traffic via the Maine Packet Network

HF (28.455 USB for voice):

Voice contact via HF SSB
Exchange Winlink traffic via HF (Ardop, VARA, etc.)

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ