Wireless Society to Return to Wassamki Springs for Ham Radio Field Day

Members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine are set to participate in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise June 26-27 at Wassamki Springs Campground, 56 Saco Street, Scarborough.

The public is encouraged to attend on Saturday, June 26, from 2p.m. to 8 p.m.

“After the pandemic limited us to a much smaller operation last year, with very little public participation, it will be great to have a more traditional Field Day,” said WSSM President, Tim Watson, of Saco. “Field Day is part emergency communications exercise, and part competition, where we accumulate points and test our operating skills against other clubs and individuals around the U.S. and Canada.”

During the event, participants try to earn points by meeting specific goals as outlined by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). Some of these include handling and delivering messages, hosting educational activities, and making contacts with other amateurs through various methods, such as voice, telegraphy, satellites, and digital technology.

“This is a fun event that gives us an opportunity to share our passion with the community and to improve our operating skills, all while getting everyone out there and on the air,” says Watson.

Field Day, which has taken place annually since 1933, is designed to test radio operators’ ability to quickly setup and operate portable stations in emergency conditions.

“The entire operation will exclusively use emergency power sources like batteries, or solar energy, in order to simulate how things would be during a catastrophic event,” Watson explained. “The public should be aware that in the event of an emergency, we’re ready to assist in any way that we can. While people may have the impression that cell phones and other technologies are good enough, we stand by as a trained pool of experienced radio operators to provide the vital communication services others may not. Hams have provided emergency communications during hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, blackouts, and other disasters, where more complex and fragile communications systems, such as cell networks, have failed or become overloaded.”

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine’s Emergency Communications Team provides communications support to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency and members also support the National Weather Service’s SKYWARN operations in Gray, ME.

“Since 2014, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine, using call sign WS1SM, has recorded the highest club Field Day score in Maine and hopes to finish on top again in 2021,” says Watson. “The public is welcome to attend the event and if anyone is interested in learning more about amateur radio, we’ll be glad to help.”

Anyone can become a licensed amateur radio operator. There are more than 725,000 licensed hams in the United States, as young as 5 and as old as 100. The Wireless Society of Southern Maine is ready to help anyone get involved and licensed right here in Scarborough. For more information about Field Day, and amateur radio in general, please visit: http://www.mainehamradio.com

“We’d like to thank the Hillock family, owners of Wassamki Springs Campground, for being such great hosts and providing us with an exceptional facility to setup for Field Day at for meetings throughout the summer.” Please visit: https://wassamkisprings.com/ to find out more about this wonderful campground, located in Scarborough, ME.

WSSM-ECT Net – Tonight at 7PM!

Please join us this evening, at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly ECT Training!

We’ll first meet on the repeater, where we’ll exchange traffic and share announcements, and introduce our topic for the evening, which will be SKYWARN. We’ll talk about the SKYWARN activation process, how a typical net occurs, and answer any questions that come up.

After that, we’ll move over the the DMR SKYWARN Talk Group (759), where we’ll take do a call up for weather reports (which may be real or simulated).

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Introducing the NWS Gray SKYWARN Official Supporter Program

During our presentation for the Maine Virtual Hamfest last month, we mentioned the creation of a new program to encourage greater participation in SKYWARN. I’d like to personally invite your organization to consider becoming an Official Supporter of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

Due to the enormous size of the Weather Forecast Area that NWS Gray is responsible for, which includes most of western and southern Maine and the entire state of New Hampshire, the task of covering it for SKYWARN is challenging. The only way we can effectively cover all of it is to lean on the support of local nets spread out across the entire area. That’s where the Official Supporter program comes in.

Many hams are naturally weather enthusiasts and you may already know a few who are, but an interest in weather isn’t necessary to take part. When hams put their radio skills to use by volunteering as a SKYWARN radio operator, they practice one of the most important ways they can apply those communications skills. SKYWARN traffic occurs real time, during ongoing weather events, and forecasters use the information exchanged to create, update, and validate warnings, which can save lives.

Being part of the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team is a meaningful way to experience the hobby while making a positive impact on our community.

As an Official Supporter, we recognize that your organization will embrace SKYWARN as a way to enhance the amateur radio experience, use it as a real-time training and preparedness tool to sharpen Emergency Communications skills, and to provide a vital service.

Thank you,

Tim Watson, KB1HNZ

Here’s how you can help:

Criteria to earn Official Supporter status:

  • Commit at least one (1) liaison to SKYWARN, and one (1) local Net Control operator (this can be the same person or different people within your organization.
  • Activate local nets as needed or as requested by NWS throughout the year.
  • Participate in regional drills and exercises throughout the year.
  • Maintain a list of trained SKYWARN Spotter ham radio operators within your organization.
  • Assist in hosting SKYWARN Spotter training in your area.
  • Actively support and promote the SKYWARN program within your organization and community.

What you’ll receive:

  • Guidance from NWS Gray SKYWARN leadership and support materials.
  • Access to the SKYWARN net reporting form.
  • Certificates and recognition for your team’s efforts throughout the year.
  • Official SKYWARN swag.
  • A special logo representing your team’s status as an Official NWS Gray SKYWARN Supporter.
  • Your organization will be listed on the NWS Gray SKYWARN website and in future press releases as an Official Supporter.

Click here for more information about the NWS Gray SKYWARN Amateur Radio Team.

Meeting On The Air – Tonight at 7PM

Join us this evening, April 15th, at 7:00PM on the 147.090 repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.

On the agenda, we’ll review minutes from the most recent Monthly Meeting, in which we talked about Membership Outreach, describe a new feature on the website called Helping Hams, where club members can coordinate helping each other out with ham radio projects, and make announcements about upcoming items of interest. For tonight’s topic, we’ll be asking you to reflect on your first Amateur Radio QSO.

As always, if you have HF capabilities, you’re welcome to join us on 28.455 USB for the After Net, immediately following our net on the repeater.

See you there!

73′

Tim, KB1HNZ

The Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is this Saturday!

The Maine 2 meter FM Simplex Challenge is this Saturday!

Contest Period: Saturday, April 3rd, 2021 from 12PM-4PM.

Contacts are limited to FM Simplex on the 2 meter band.

Participants may be entered as either fixed or mobile, (but not as both).

Exchange – Exchange items include your call sign, the name of the city, village, town, or township you are operating from, and your power level. Rovers and mobiles must be within the city limits of whatever city they claim to be operating from.

City or Town – This is simply the name of the city or town you are operating from. If you do not live within the city limits, use the name of the town or municipality to which mail or a package would be addressed.

For mobile entries, use the name of the city or town you are in, or the closest city or town.

Power levels are defined as follows:
• QRP – 5 watts or less
• Medium Power – greater than 5 watts, but less than 100
• High Power – 100 watts or more

Entry Categories – There are two entry categories: Fixed and Mobile. You may enter only one category for the contest. If a station gives out more than one multiplier during the contest, that station will automatically be entered into the mobile category.

Click here for complete rules – and don’t forget there’s a club competition as well!

Catch you on the air!

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

The 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

Thanks to the efforts of Joe Grace W1SK and Cory Golob KU1U, who put in countless hours to make it a reality, hams around the state, and elsewhere, gathered for the Maine Virtual Hamfest, on Saturday, March 6th! With in-person events still being cancelled due to the pandemic, this was the perfect opportunity to get caught up on all things ham radio in Maine.

The Maine Virtual Hamfest offered many of the same features you’d expect to see at a regular hamfest, including presentations, club meetings and talks, a place to socialize and make “eyeball QSOs” and even a virtual flea market.

The highlight of the event were the presentations, and the most anticipated of those was “Optimizing Your Audio,” by Bob Heil K9EID. There were also presentations on FT8, antennas, SKYWARN, and an ARRL forum, where attendees could learn about what was going on around the state and at the New England and national level at ARRL.

Bob Heil K9EID presenting “Optimizing Your Audio” during the 2021 Maine Virtual Hamfest

The Wireless Society of Southern Maine was represented by Eric Emery N1RXR and Tim Watson KB1HNZ, who gave a presentation at 9:30 Saturday morning, about the NWS Gray Amateur Radio SKYWARN program. Click here to view the recorded presentation.

“From our perspective, the Maine Virtual Hamfest was a huge success, and we were proud to be a part of it,” said Eric Emery. “Hopefully, we can all meet in person next year, but if not, this is a fantastic model to go by if it needs to be done this way again.”

If you were busy on the 6th and didn’t have a chance to attend any of the presentations, they were all recorded and are available on the Maine ARRL YouTube page.

Click here to visit the Maine Virtual Hamfest website.