2023 1st Quarter ARES Exercise

Good Afternoon,

Here’s the plan for tomorrow’s Emergency Communications exercise, that takes place from 9:00AM – 11:00AM (prior to Winter Field Day):

Chris Wheeler (CCEMA) offered the following scenario (and request): 

 “Let’s say we had a large subsidence on the Presumpscot river below the Sappi Paper Mill that caused the foundations to some of their buildings to buckle and potentially fail. In this type of scenario we would be looking for:” 

Request to MEMA for assistance (ICS-213RR via Winlink): 

  • Structural Engineers (5) 
  • Type One Large Backhoes (2) 
  • Water Pumps (8) 
  • Railroad Ties (500) 
  • Manual and Hydraulic Building Jacks (25) 
  • Large Type 1 Dump Trucks (4) 

Countywide traffic: 

During the exercise, we’ll be looking for a simulated storm update from NWS Gray to determine likelihood of continuing flood risk, simulated weather reports from individual check-ins that we can forward to NWS so they can issue, update, or confirm warnings, and also simulated reports of road washouts, etc., to forward to CCEMA, so they can dispatch DOT crews. Be sure to preface each message with THIS IS A DRILL or EXERCISE MESSAGE. 

Exercise Schedule: 

  • We will be starting our county wide net on the 449.225 repeater at or around 9:00 AM to take check-ins and take any traffic (weather reports or SITREPS) from participants. 
  • At around the same time, we will also check into the Maine Emergency Net on 3940 kHz. 
  • At 9:30 AM, we will take check-ins on simplex to test comms from the trailer. For obvious reasons, it won’t have the same coverage as the station at the EOC, but we’ll see who can hear us. 
  • At 10:00 AM we will be sending our Winlink traffic, most likely via PACKET. 
  • From 10:30 – 11:00 AM, we will check back into and monitor the Maine Emergency Net to see if there’s any traffic waiting for us, and handle as needed. 

 73′ 

Tim 

KB1HNZ

Winter Field Day is this Weekend!

Please join us this weekend, January 28-29, at the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) bunker, (located at 22 High Street, Windham, ME) for Winter Field Day!

We will be operating in the 1O category (club station with 1 full time HF transmitter), plus we’ll also be participating in a statewide Emergency Communications Exercise Saturday morning, from 9AM – 11 AM.

SCHEDULE:

THURSDAY – 7:00 PM – Setup begins during the ECT Meeting, with antennas and trailer prep.

SATURDAY – 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Statewide Emergency Communications Exercise (similar to the SET, but shorter in duration).

SATURDAY – 2:00 PM – SUNDAY – 1:59 PM – Winter Field Day on-air ops.

SUNDAY – 2:00 PM – On-air activities end, followed by breakdown of equipment and site cleanup.

SIGN-UP SHEET

We need lots of help to make this a success! Please click here to sign up for WFD Setup/Breakdown, Saturday’s EmComm Exercise, WFD On-Air ops, and Food!

See you there!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Talk-in on 146.580 FM Simplex.

Winter Field Day is January 28-29

Winter Field Day (WFD), which has taken place annually on the last full weekend in January, since 2007, has continued to grow in popularity each year. In 2022, the Winter Field Day Association processed over 2500 logs. This year’s Winter Field Day takes place January 28th – 29th.

Clubs and individuals from around the world activate for the event, many using it as an opportunity to practice portable emergency communications in winter environments, since the potential for freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and other hazards present unique operational concerns. Winter Field Day is formatted to help radio amateurs develop a higher level of preparedness for disasters and improve operational skills in subpar conditions.

Winter Field Day is a communications exercise that can be worked from the comfort of your home or in a remote location. Amateur radio operators may use any mode that can faithfully transmit the required exchange, on HF, VHF, or UHF bands. Like the ARRL Field Day, bonus points are earned in several ways, including for using non-commercial power sources, operating from remote locations, making satellite contacts, and more.

Complete rules can be found here. Combining this with the ARRL’s ongoing Volunteers On the Air operation is a great way to make contacts and get new operators on the air.

On the weekend of July 28-29, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine Emergency Communications Team will take part in their fifth Winter Field Day, operating as an outdoor station from the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA) communications trailer. We’ll be setting up portable antennas, and run the entire 24 hours on emergency power.

Prior to the event, on Saturday, the WSSM-ECT will also be taking part in an emergency communications exercise, checking into the Maine Emergency Net, and exchanging simulated emergency traffic with adjacent counties and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), in Augusta.

2022 Simulated Emergency Test Review

Despite some challenges, the 2022 Simulated Emergency Test was a big success for our team!

Since early Spring, the communications room at the Cumberland County EMA was undergoing various phases of renovation, and getting the gear setup in time for the SET was a huge undertaking. Our team also acquired, through grants, some new deployable equipment, which had just been taken out of the box a few days before the Saturday of the test! But, our team pulled it all together and did a great job demonstrating their skills once again, to make us one of the top performing groups in the state.

Despite this, there were some minor hiccups. Our primary deployed team, consisting of Brad Brown KC1JMH and Peter Hatem KC1HBM, was sent to Scarborough High School having never setup a Buddipole antenna before and with a brand new Icom IC-7100. Somehow, they managed to get the antenna setup and the radio on the air, although they did miss a couple of early tasks.

Things went smooth at the EOC, despite getting the gear setup the Thursday evening before the test. This consisted of more than just plugging in the equipment, but required the installation of a new PC for the HF station, including all necessary software, setting up two new work stations, routing coax through the ceiling and down the walls to the workstations, grounding, setting up a LAN, and more! The team of Tim Watson KB1HNZ and CJ Carlsson W1CJC, took turns manning the HF, V/U, and DMR stations, and performed all the necessary tasks.

Meanwhile, Waylon McDonald KC1HJN was deployed to multiple shelter locations throughout the county and successfully completed all of his objectives, and Eric Emery N1RXR, operating remote from New Gloucester, acted as a key station, performing relays when needed, and handled traffic for the National Weather Service, in Gray, ME.

Here’s what the 2022 SET consisted of:

Name of exercise: 2022 Maine Simulated Emergency Test
Date of activity: October 22, 2022
Duration of activity: 08:00 – 12:00

Type: Multi-mode communication exercise between State and County EMAs, as well as other agencies, including Red Cross and the National Weather Service.

Served agency(s):
Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency (CCEMA)
National Weather Service, Gray, ME

WSSM-ECT: Participants will operate from the EOC, home, at deployed stations, and mobile from shelters.

Purpose: Test ability to communicate inter-county and between counties, using various modes: UHF FM repeater, VHF FM Simplex, HF SSB, VHF Packet, HF Digital, and Winlink via VHF Packet and HF.

Objectives: Perform Amateur Radio Tasks as outlined in the 2022 Maine SET Plan:

  • Digital data with other Counties on Amateur VHF repeater systems and packet network.
  • Voice with other Counties on Amateur VHF using simplex.
  • Voice with other Counties on Amateur HF systems
  • Retrieve a text file using Packet
  • Digital data via Amateur Packet and Winlink systems

TASK 1 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur UHF repeater
TASK 2 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur HF
TASK 3 – Establish communications with Statewide Emergency Net and perform voice radio checks with other Counties via Amateur HF
TASK 4 – Perform voice radio checks inter-county via Amateur VHF Simplex
TASK 5 – Perform voice radio checks with nearby Counties via Amateur VHF simplex
TASK 6 – Exchange ICS-213 messages via voice, digital, Winlink, and Packet
TASK 7 – Retrieve a text file via PACKET
TASK 8 – Send Digital Data through the Maine Packet Network

Although highly successful, the 2022 SET highlighted some areas that can be more fine tuned. One of these is more hands-on training with deployable equipment, and another is, as always, traffic handling. Having more time to spend with our new gear, we’ll easily remedy the first concern, but the latter is more a widespread problem, not isolated to our team. In fact, having handled something like 32 messages during the SET (mostly within the county), we do very well with it, but I’ve found a lack of continuity on the statewide level, that can only be fixed with a unified acceptance of modes, forms, and protocol. I have no doubt this will get better with time, as we do more exercises, and hopefully, by next year, we’ll all be on the same page.

Click here to download our 2022 SET After Action Review.

    Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is Saturday, March 25th

    The 13th Annual Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Saturday, March 25th, 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. If you are operating from a served agency station, you should also include this with your exchange. Specify which agency you serve, for example, “SKYWARN,” “EOC,” or “Red Cross.” On the log sheets, however, there will only be a place to notate whether or not the station is operating from a served agency.

    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

    Enter as either Fixed (either at home or portable) or Mobile (roving).

    Click here for complete rules and details, including Entry Forms and Log Sheets, for the 2023 Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge.

    2022 Maine QSO Party Results

    Congratulations to the multi-op team of Stefania Watson (K1GJY), Tim Watson (KB1HNZ) and Rick Fickett (K1OT), who operated as WS1SM from Windham, ME. They became the first Multi-Op team to win the contest overall, scoring a total of 334,915 points, and 1352 QSO’s!

    For 2022, we received a record 309 logs from 6 different countries, 31 U.S. States, 4 Canadian Provinces, and 9 Maine Counties. Thanks to everyone who participated!

    Michael Snook W7LG, from Lewiston, PA, captured the Single Operator QRP (SOQRP) category with 4,335 points. Jose Douglas KB1TCD, from Round Pond, ME, won the Single Operator Low Power (SOLP) category with 10,840 points. Kevin Thomas W1DED, who operated portable from Van Buren, ME, won the Single Operator High Power (SOHP) category with 254,277 points. N1TN won the Multi-Operator Low Power Category with 6,265 points, and this year’s overall winner, WS1SM, won the Multi-Operator High Power (MOHP) category with 334,915 points.

    In the Club Competition, the Wireless Society of Southern Maine took the top spot, with 1 log entry totaling 334,915 points. The Yankee Clipper Contest Club came in second with 5 logs totaling 224,989 points, and the Heartland DX Association came in third with 1 log totaling 134,912 points.

    For complete results, including State, Province, National, and Maine County winners, click here.

    The 2023 Maine QSO Party will take place the last full weekend of September, (9/23 – 9/24). Click here for complete rules and details.

    WSSM Team Activates Squirrel Point Lighthouse for 2022 ILLW

    On Sunday, August 21st, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine activated Squirrel Point Lighthouse, in Arrowsick, Maine, for 2022 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW). This was the twelfth different lighthouse activated by the team during an ILLW weekend, and the fourteenth altogether.

    Squirrel Point Lighthouse is located at the end of a 1.4 mile out-and-back trail, which is an easy hike, but the mosquitoes were particularly vicious, probably due to the time of day being morning and its location along the Kennebec River. Once out of the wooded area, though, and in the clear of the lighthouse property, the bugs subsided.

    The team, consisting of Stefania (K1GJY) and Tim (KB1HNZ) Watson, along with their son Elliot, and Brad Brown Jr., (KC1JMH) and his son Jordan, setup two HF radios – a Yaesu FT-991A, connected to a Buddipole tuned to 20 meters, and a Yaesu FT-817, connected to an end-fed tuned to 40 meters. Being a Sunday, we also checked into the Dirigo Net on DMR. All radios used battery power.

    The lighthouse is very secluded, and the hike out and back made it one of the more interesting ones we’ve visited.

    “The property had a home and a barn to the right side, as one approaches,” Brad Brown said, describing the scene. “The lighthouse sat across from the trail on the water, and a utility shed down by the water far to the left that appears to be fed by a solar panel array. Everything was interconnected by boardwalk.”

    Throughout the day, other hikers arrived and asked about what we were doing, and we were also visited by a drone that flew over from across the river. There was steady boat traffic as well, so there was always something to see.

    At the end of the day, the team made nearly 40 QSOs, including with other lighthouses up and down the East Coast, and on the Great Lakes. Our location, being a small lighthouse along the Kennebec river, was unique, and it drew a lot of attention on the air.

    WSSM Team Activates Mt. Agamenticus for POTA & SOTA

    On Saturday, July 23rd, members of the Wireless Society of Southern Maine and New England Radio Discussion Society, participated in a joint Parks on the Air (POTA) and Summits on the Air (SOTA) activation from Mt. Agamenticus, in York, ME.

    Mt. Agamenticus has the designation W1/AM-381 for SOTA and the Mt. Agamenticus Wildlife Management Area, which includes the summit, is designated K-8448 for POTA.

    The WSSM team, consisting of Stefania (K1GJY) and Tim (KB1HNZ) Watson, along with their son Elliot, and Brad Brown Jr., (KC1JMH), setup two HF radios and one for the 1.25 meter band. The first they did upon arrival was to locate some shaded areas, because it was expected to be a very hot day. Temperatures were already in the low 90’s by 10:00 AM!

    Tim and Stefania setup a Buddipole and a Yaesu FT-857D on 20 meters, and also a TYT TH-900D and J-Pole for 220 MHz.

    Brad KC1JMH and Rob Sylvester AA1BS took turns making contacts on 40 meters, using Brad’s Yaesu FT-991A and an end fed that was tossed in a tree. They were later joined by Jim Oliver KC1NIC and Paul Klebauer W1BIU from the New England Radio Discussion Society. Thanks to Susan Bloomfield WB2UQP for sharing our notice with their newsgroup!

    Conditions were very good, allowing for several Park-to-Park and DX contacts, and even some long-distance simplex QSOs on 220 MHz!

    At various times, Tim, Stefania, and Brad took breaks from the radios to explore the summit trails and take in the views, which are quite expansive in spots. At the summit, there’s an educational center, located in the old “Big A” ski lodge, an observation deck, and several of the trails have scenic overlooks. Some of them cross former ski trails and contain relics of an old T-bar lift.

    Typically 2 meters is hampered by intermod on Mt. Aggie, so it wasn’t attempted until much later in the afternoon, but right before packing up, Tim and Brad made several contacts on 146.520 FM Simplex, including one with a maritime mobile station in Portsmouth Harbor.

    Local Ham Group Participates in Statewide Exercise

    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