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

2021 Membership Renewal Reminder

Dear WSSM Member,

It’s that time of year again to renew your membership with the Wireless Society of Southern Maine. On behalf of the society and its members, I’d like to THANK YOU for your support and continuing participation.

Your membership has enabled us to accomplish a lot in 2020! The year started out with Winter Field Day, where we operated in the Outdoor category from the Cumberland County EMA Communications Trailer. In March, members took part in the annual 2 Meter FM Simplex Contest, which turned out to be one of the most competitive in recent memory, and several were also involved with the Maine 200 Bicentennial Special Event, which was a huge effort and a lot of fun to be a part of!

We were all geared up to have a display at the Maine ARRL Convention in late March and at NEARFest a few weeks later, but both events were cancelled due to the emerging pandemic. During this period, we also weren’t able to meet in-person, but we made the best of it, gathering on-air for “Self-Quarantine Simplex Drills” on Thursday nights. These drills began as simple meetups on 146.580 FM simplex, and evolved into more complex drills that saw participants check-in from various shelter locations, and explore new modes like Winlink, and the FLDigi suite.

As the summer neared, it was time to think about Field Day, which came together quite late as COVID restrictions were eased just in time to allow small gatherings, and the Hillock family of Wassamki Springs Campground allowed us to setup in their field to operate for the 10th consecutive year. We entered in the 2A category with two HF stations and one 6 meter station, with a small team of operators who took turns getting on the air. In the meantime, the rules allowed for other club members to participate from their own homes and contribute to the club score, and several of them did.

In July, a few club members ventured up to the summit of Mt. Washington to activate it for Summits on the Air, and in late August, the WS1SM team visited Owls Head Lighthouse for International Lighthouse & Lightship Weekend (ILLW).

Throughout the year, club members actively support Cumberland County EMA, participating in exercises, including the Simulated Emergency Test (SET), in October, which focused on a hurricane scenario, and tested the capabilities of the Maine Packet Network and voice communications on VHF simplex and HF. We learned a lot from the event, which will enable us to improve our capabilities in the months ahead.

The WSSM encourages participation in various on-air activities with a focus on improving operating and technical skills. We would like to recognize and thank our members who have participated in public service events and those who are involved with SKYWARN© and the Emergency Communications Team. Your diverse contributions not only reflect well on the club and its founding principles, but also present the hobby as a vital and necessary service to the community.

I am looking forward to welcoming you as a returning member. Together, we can continue to improve and advance the amateur radio hobby amongst the public and ourselves. When renewing, please let us know of any changes in your contact information. Memberships can be paid at any club meeting, or online via PayPal.

Click here to get started.

Sincerely,

Tim Watson, KB1HNZ
President, Wireless Society of Southern Maine

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

2021 Winter Field Day is Next Weekend!

Contest Period: 1900 UTC Saturday January 30th to 1900 UTC Sunday Sunday, January 31st, 2021

Bands: All Amateur bands, HF, VHF, & UHF except 12, 17, 30 and 60 meters.

Modes: Any mode that can faithfully transmit the exchange intact without a conversion table… CW, SSB, AM, FM, DStar, C4FM, DMR, Packet, PSK, SSTV, RTTY, Olivia, Satellite, etc… (note FT8 & FT4 cannot).

Suggested Frequencies: (to make it easier to find each other)
HF CW – 1810-1820, 3.530-3.550, 7.030-7.050, 14.035-14.055, 21.030-21.050, 28.030-28.040
HF SSB – lowest 30 kHz of the US General Class Phone bands (160m-15m), 28.400-28.425MHz (10m)
6m/VHF/UHF – adjacent to, but not on, nationally recognized simplex calling channels.

Exchange: Your WFD exchange will be a combination of your “class” and “category” and your ARRL/RAC section.

Click here for more details and complete rules.

Here’s how you can participate:

For 2021, we will not be operating as a group from a single location, due to COVID-19 cpncerns. Instead, we will take advantage of scoring changes for 2021 that allow members to participate individually, using their own call signs, and contribute to a club aggregate score.

To participate, please familiarize yourself with the WFD Rules to determine your entry category, log your contacts electronically, and enter: Wireless Society of Southern Maine as your club. Submit your logs according to WFD rules.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can setup outdoors and operate portable for either all or part of the event, or you can test out your home station and operate from inside. Whichever you choose, please share photos of your activation via email with: mainehamradio@gmail.com and on social media using hashtag: #wssmwfd21

Catch you on the air!

73′

Tim
KB1HNZ

Meeting on the Air – Tonight at 7PM!

Join us this evening, January 21st, at 7:00PM on the 147.090 (+ / 100.0 Hz) W1QUI repeater, for our monthly meeting on-the-air.

On the agenda, we’ll be asking if participants have upgraded their ham stations recently or acquired any new gear since our last on-air meeting. We’ll also talk about Winter Field Day and how participants can operate from home and contribute to the club score.

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.

January Monthly Business via Free Conference Call

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

Please join us Thursday, January 14th, at 7:00 PM, as we’ll be previewing 2021 Winter Field Day. At November’s meeting, we discussed taking advantage of temporary changes in the rules, that will allow individual operators to participate from their own homes and contribute to the club score. We’ll also talk about continuing on-air training drills on the 4th Thursday of each month and get an update on the Maine Packet System, among other things.

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.

Summits on the Air (SOTA) Activation from the Summit of Mt. Washington W1/HA-001

On Saturday, July 18th, the WS1SM team ventured to the summit of Mt. Washington, NH, to activate it for Summits on the Air (SOTA). The activation of W1/HA-001 ran concurrently with the W1V 10th Anniversary Special Event, which took place for two weeks during the summer.

From left to right: Jordan and Brad Brown on the roof of the Mt. Washington Observatory

This was the second time the WS1SM team used the special event call sign, W1V, during a SOTA activation from Mt. Washington – the first being in 2015 when it was used during the 5th Anniversary Special Event. In 2015, the date coincided with the CQWW VHF contest, in which we placed 1st in our category.

Tim KB1HNZ and Elliot, near the summit

For most of the day, it was extremely windy (and cold) on the summit, which prevented us from fully extending the BuddiPole, and in order to prevent it from getting damaged, we had to take it down shortly after we put it up. We were planning on operating 6 meters, but instead focused mostly on VHF.

Radio antennas on the summit of Mt. Washington

Among those who participated, were Brad Brown Jr., KC1JMH, Eric Emery N1RXR, and Stefania K1GJY and Tim Watson KB1HNZ.

Tim, Eric, and Stefania operated mostly VHF, making contacts as far away as New York state, while Brad operated HF, using a ham stick. One of Brad’s first contacts was with a Parks on the Air (POTA) station.

The wind was constant for most of the day, but thankfully it stayed dry and we didn’t have a repeat of what we experienced in 2015, when Charlie W1CPS, Thom W1WMG, and Tim KB1HNZ found themselves in a sudden deluge and were soaked!

What a view! Eric N1RXR took this photo from near the summit

Despite the challenge that the wind posed, we had a good day, logging over 70 QSOs – and the view was pretty awesome too!

Click here to learn more about WS1SM Summits on the Air (SOTA) activations, and to see photos of past events.