WSSM Meeting on the Air – Tonight at 7:00 PM on 147.090 repeater!

Join us this evening, June 17th, at 7:00PM on the 147.090 repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.

On the agenda, we’ll be reviewing the minutes from our last in person meeting, talk about ARRL Field Day, which takes place next weekend, and ask participants about their latest ham radio project or station upgrade.

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

Meeting Reminder – Thursday from 7PM-9PM at Wassamki Springs Campground

Please join us this Thursday, June 10th, from 7:00 PM-9:00 PM, at Wassamki Springs Campground, for our monthly business meeting. If the weather is nice, as expected, 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!

On the agenda, we’ll be talking about ARRL Field Day, which takes place the weekend of June 26-27 this year! If we have a chance, we may take a walk down and scope out the area where we’ll be setting up.

If you’d like to join us remotely, here’s the dial-in instructions:

Dial-in number (US): (425) 436-6366
Access code: 2618168#
International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/kb1hnz
Online meeting ID: kb1hnz
Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/kb1hnz

For additional assistance connecting to the meeting, text ‘Call Me’ to the Dial-in number above and you will be called into the conference. Message and data rates may apply.

See you there!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

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 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

Meeting On the Air – Tonight at 7PM!

Join us this evening, February 18th, at 7:00PM on the 147.090 repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.

On the agenda, we’ll be talking about the upcoming Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge, which takes place Saturday, April 3rd. We’ll also be introducing a new section of our website called Helping Hams, where club members can coordinate helping each other out with ham radio projects.

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

February Monthly Meeting via Free Conference Call

This will be an online / call-in meeting only.

Please join us Thursday, February 11th, at 7:00 PM, as we’ll be reviewing 2021 Winter Field Day and previewing the annual Maine 2 Meter FM Simplex Challenge, which will take place Saturday, April 3rd.

Dial-in number (US): (425) 436-6366
Access code: 2618168#
International dial-in numbers: https://fccdl.in/i/kb1hnz
Online meeting ID: kb1hnz
Join the online meeting: https://join.freeconferencecall.com/kb1hnz

For additional assistance connecting to the meeting text ‘Call Me’ to the Dial-In number above and you will be called into the conference. Message and data rates may apply.

See you there!

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.