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 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.
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).
Congratulations to 2020 MEQP Overall winner, Axel Bruderer, KI6RRN, of La Mesa, CA! Axel scored a total of 417,679 points, making 1920 QSO’s!
2020 was a record year for entries. We received 197 logs from 7 different countries, 41 U.S. States, 2 Canadian Provinces, and 7 Maine Counties. Thanks to everyone who participated!
The most popular categories were the Single Operator Low Power (SOLP) class, with 125 entries, followed by Single Operator High Power (SOHP), with 55 entries.
Michael Snook W7LG, from Lewiston, PA, captured the Single Operator QRP (SOQRP) category with 2,508 points. 2019 Overall Winner, Stefania Watson K1GJY won the Single Operator Low Power (SOLP) category with 60,241 points. This year’s overall winner, Axel Bruderer KI6RRN, won the Single Operator High Power (SOHP) category with 417.679 points, and in Multi Op, Richard (W4THI) and Debra (KN4NZH) Lucas, of Jupiter, FL won in Multi Operator Low Power (MOLP), while Ethan (N1SOH) and Jacob (W1FM) Handwerker, of Lexington, MA, continued their winning ways in Multi Operator High Power (MOHP), picking up their fourth win in the category.
In the club competition, the Southern California Contest Club took the top spot, with 3 log entries totaling 439,558 points. Congratulations!
For complete results, including State, Province, National, and Maine County winners, click here.
The 2021 Maine QSO Party will take place the last full weekend of September, (9/25 – 9/26). Click here for complete rules and details.
Date: 08/26/2021 Time Started: 7:00 PM Time Secured: 7:20 PM Frequency: 147.090 (+ / 100 Hz) W1QUI repeater, on Blackstrap Mt., Falmouth, ME. Net Control: Waylon KC1HJN
KC1HBL Ben Buxton, ME Commercial KC1JMH Brad Waterboro, ME Battery KC1OLX Tom Gorham, ME Commercial W1QUI George Auburn, ME Commercial AB1NS Tom Westbrook, ME Commercial KB1HNZ Tim Windham Battery KA1VPU Tim Windham Battery Traffic Exchanged: 2
Simplex Net Date: 08/26/2021 Time Started: 7:21 PM Time Secured: 7:39 PM Frequency: 146.580 FM Simplex Net Control: Tim KA1VPU (op. as WS1EC)
KC1HBL Ben Buxton, ME Commercial KC1JMH Brad Waterboro, ME Battery KC1CPA Tom Chelsea, ME Commercial KB1HNZ Tim Windham, ME Battery KC1HJN Waylon Windham, ME Battery
This evening we’re transmitting from the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency, in Windham, for the first time since the SET back in October of 2020. I’d like to thank Chris and Jim and everyone here at CCEMA for hosting us this evening. Its good to be back.
I have one announcement. The Simulated Emergency Test (SET), which is scheduled for Saturday, October 9th, is going to be a radiogram relay and Winlink exercise this year. The details are currently in development, but it looks like it’s going to have a fun contest kind of element to it. So, the training that we’ll be doing between now and then will be focused on developing those skills.
Tonight, I’m going to ask net participants to craft answers to and send a radiogram reply to one of two MARS Interoperability Exercise messages. We’ll do that portion here on the repeater and then we’ll move over to 146.580 FM Simplex for the fun part of the exercise and see who can copy who.
26 R K2WG 45 EAST CHATHAM NY 1250Z AUG 16 TIMOTHY WATSON PRES WIRELESS SOCIETY OF SOUTHERN MAINE 11 LYMAN AVE SACO ME 04072 NO PHONE KB1HNZ ATSIGN YAHOO DOT COM MARS RRI DASH NTS INTEROP 2021081240Z BT THANK YOU FOR PARTICIPATING IN THIS TRAINING EXERCISE X WHAT IS THE DISTANCE AND BEARING TO THE AIRPORT CLOSEST TO YOUR LOCATION QUERY PLEASE EMAIL YOUR REPLY TO ME AND TO THE ARMY MARS REGION TWO OPERATIONS OFFICER AT RON ATSIGN RONTOMO DOT ORG O BT WAYNE F GEARING K2WG ARMY MARS REGION 2 MEMBER AAR2SE WAYNEG1231 ATSIGN FAIRPOINT DOT NET OR 518 610 1929
Sent to: Brad KC1JHM, from Tim KB1HNZ
37 R HXC K2XU 35 MOORESTOWN NJ 2145Z AUG 9 TIMOTHY W WATSON KB1HNZ/PRES WIRELESS SOCIETY OF SOUTHE 11 LYMAN AVENUE SACO ME 04072 NO PHONE KB1HNZ ATSIGN YAHOO DOT COM THIS IS A TRAINING EXERCISE BETWEEN REGION TWO ARMY MAR 08092147Z BT PLEASE IDENTIFY CLOSEST HOSPITAL WITH THE DISTANCE AND BEARING FROM YOUR LOCATION X EMAIL YOUR REPLY TO ME AND THE REGION TWO OPERATIONS OFFICER X HIS EMAIL IS RON ATSIGN RONTOMO DOT ORG THANK YOU BT JOHN HOOVER K2XU AAR2KX ARMY MARS REGION 2 MOORESTOWN NJ JHHOOVER ATSIGN COMCAST DOT NET 856 DASH 231 DASH 0754 K2XU 08092147Z KB1HNZ 08092147Z AR
Sent to Ben KC1HBL, from Tim KB1HNZ
After the net, Tim KB1HNZ and Waylon KC1HJN spent some time swapping the Kenwood D710A out for the original Kenwood D710G (which had been sent out for repair) and sorting the computer and software. In our absence, the PC at the ham station had been upgraded to Windows 10 and all the previous software and settings were no longer present.
Waylon and Tim successfully installed Winlink Express, but were having trouble when the Kenwood radio would display “TNC, STA CON, then packet12” when commanded to transmit. Since they ran out of time, this couldn’t be resolved last evening. A further work detail will have to take place to install multiple other softwares and test radio connections to prepare for the upcoming SET drill.
Please join us TONIGHT at 7:00 PM on the W1QUI 147.090 (+ / 100) repeater, for our monthly Emergency Communications Training. This will be our first hybrid in-person and on-air drill, in which we’ll be testing out radios and equipment at the CCEMA Bunker, so your participation from home will be important.
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 how well everyone can copy each other, and the station at the bunker.
The training portion will include sending radiogram replies to messages as part of an ongoing Amateur Radio / MARS Interoperability exercise.
Over the next two months, we’ll be making 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, to prepare for the upcoming Simulated Emergency Test (SET), which takes place in October.
On Saturday, August 21st, the WSSM team activated Doubling Point Lighthouse, in Arrowsic, Maine, for 2021 International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend (ILLW).
Since the lighthouse is accessed by a single lane dirt road, and can only accommodate about 4 vehicles, the Arrowsic Town Hall was chosen as a meeting place, where participants could park and carpool to the lighthouse. Everyone arrived by 10:00 AM, and soon after, Tim Watson KB1HNZ led the group to the nearby lighthouse, where setup of the stations and antennas began.
Club members, including Jason Andrews W1SFS, Dylan Bauer KC1PSD, Steve McGrath AA1HF, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, and Stefania Watson K1GJY, took turns operating HF, on 40m, 17m, and 20m throughout the day using Tim’s Yaesu FT857d, Jason’s Yaesu FT-450, and Steve’s Icom IC-705, along with a variety of antennas, including a BuddiPole rotatable dipole, DX Commander vertical, and a portable loop. All stations ran on battery power.
For 2021, the WSSM team used special event call sign, W1D, for ILLW, and it certainly got some attention on the air!
The band conditions were excellent and the contacts came quick and often. Stefania K1GJY maintained a presence on 20 meters for most of the day, while Jason W1SFS, Steve AA1HF, and Dylan KC1PDS, operated 40 meters with equal success. Later in the afternoon, Dylan and Stefania tried different bands with the Icom IC-705 and loop antenna, and Stefania had a QSO with fellow WSSM member Frank KR5N, in Plano, TX, on 17 meters! Jason worked Rick K1OT, who was mobile, on 40 meters SSB, and Stefania also made several DX contacts on 20 meters SSB, the most notable being a lighthouse in the Azores. The team made over 100 contacts by the time the stations were broken down at 3:30 in the afternoon.
Afterwards, Dylan and his dad, Steve and his wife, Marilyn, and Tim, Stefania, and son, Elliot, all met at the Kennebec Tavern, in nearby Bath, for a nice dinner, before heading back to Southern Maine.
Click here to see pictures of this year’s and previous lighthouse activations.
This year’s overall winner of the Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge is: Dick Bean K1HC, from Westwood, Massachusetts, who made a total of 95 QSOs, in 41 different towns, for a total of 3,895 points. Congratulations on a job well done! K1HC operated as Fixed Medium from his vacation home in Haprswell, Maine, using an Icom IC-9700 into a Diamond X50 at 295′ above sea level, during the contest.
The continuing pandemic meant that served agencies, such as the National Weather Service, County EMAs, and Red Cross facilities were closed to the public, so we didn’t have any activations from those places like in years past. There was also a continuation of the trend from the previous year, which saw more participants operate from their own homes.
John Horton KC1LSO, and Dakota Dumont KB1YYC, operated as QRP mobiles, while Stefania Watson K1GJY, Tim Watson KB1HNZ, Eric Emery N1RXR, and Jason Andrews W1SFS operated in the Medium Mobile category. Dakota, John, and Eric were heard mostly in the towns around Portland and west (Falmouth, Yarmouth, Cumberland, Westbrook, Windham, etc.), while Jason travelled south from the Scarborough area. Tim and Stefania covered the most ground, ranging from Camp Ellis to Waldoboro.
Similar to years past, the most popular categories were the medium-powered classes, and they were also the most competitive, with K1GJY and KB1HNZ being separated by only 1 QSOs in Medium Mobile, and Medium Fixed tied a record for the number of entries. K1HC and WD1F led the pack, but K1JJS and KB1FGF were separated by just 10 QSOs and even on multipliers.
Some stations that appeared in many logs, include W1DYJ, KC1MSQ, N1TTT, KA1KJR, KC1HJN, and WZ1J.
The Merrymeeting Amateur Radio Association (MARA) captured the club competition for the first time, earning 7,782 points from 4 logs. Congratulations on a job well done!
Click here for complete details, and to see all the category winners.
The next Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge takes place Saturday, April 2, 2022.