Sunday, May 31, 2015

ARES Manual

Webmasters for all Clubs & Groups in Oklahoma,


Please update your links or your downloads pages with the NEW ARES Manual.


To avoid confusion - Please all remove all older versions.

Thank you & 73,
Mark Conklin, N7XYO
Oklahoma Section Emergency Coordinator
Amateur Radio Emergency Service

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Potential Flooding



As with any disaster, preparation can save lives and reduce losses. The Red Cross recommends that individuals and families prepare for floods by:
  • Creating and practicing a Disaster Plan: Talk to everyone in your household about what to do if a flood occurs. Decide where you would meet and who you would contact in case of flooding. Assemble and maintain an emergency preparedness kit. Be prepared to evacuate your family and petsat a moment’s notice. Listen to area radio and television stations for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress.
  • Downloading the FREE Red Cross Flood App: The free mobile app, available for Android and iPhone platforms, will walk you through what to do before, during and after floods. You can set it to provide alerts when there is a NOAA Flood Watch or Warning in your area.
  • Assembling an Emergency Preparedness Kit: Have supplies in case you have to shelter-in-place or evacuate. Kits should contain a first aid kit and essential medications, foods that don’t require cooking or refrigeration and manual can opener, bottled water, flashlights and a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, copies of important documents and other emergency items for the whole family.
  • Heeding Flood Warnings: Listen to your local radio and TV stations for updated flood information. A flood WATCH means flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area. A food WARNING means flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area. When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
  •  Relocating During Flood Warnings: Stay away from flood waters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankle, stop, turn around and go another way. If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground.
  For more information on flood preparedness, visit www.redcross.org
We urge you to share these Red Cross flood preparedness tips with every member of your household, because the best protection is to be prepared ahead of time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Do you have what it takes to be an Official Relay Station

Official Relay Station

This is a traffic-handling appointment that is open to all classes of license. This appointment applies equally to all modes and all parts of the spectrum. It is for traffic-handlers, regardless of mode employed or part of the spectrum used.
The potential value of the skilled operator with traffic know-how to his country and community is enhanced by his ability and the readiness of his station to function in the community interest in case of emergency. Traffic awareness and experience are often the signs by which mature amateurs may be distinguished.
Traditionally, there have been considerable differences between procedures for traffic handling by cw, phone, RTTY, ASCII, packet and other modes. Appointment requirements for ORS do not deal with these, but with factors equally applicable to all modes. The appointed ORS may confine activities to one mode or one part of the spectrum if he wishes. There is no versatility requirement, although versatility does indeed make it possible for anyone to perform a more complete public service. There is, however, the expectation that the ORS will set the example in traffic handling however it is done. To the extent that he is deficient in performing traffic functions by any mode, to that extent he does not meet the qualifications for the appointment.
The requirements and qualifications for the position include:
  • Full ARRL membership and Novice Class license or higher
  • Code and/or voice transmission capability
  • Transmissions, by whatever mode, must be of the highest quality, both technically and operationally. For example, cw signals must be pure, chirpless, clickless, code sending must be well spaced and properly formed. Voice transmission must be of proper modulation percentage or deviation, precisely enunciated with minimum distortion
  • Must follow standard ARRL operating practices (message form, ending signals, abbreviations or prowords, etc.)
  • Regular participation in traffic activities, either independent or ARRL-sponsored.
  • Being able to handle all record communications speedily and reliably and set the example in efficient operating procedures
  • Reporting monthly to the STM, including a breakdown of traffic handled during the past calendar month
  • Recruitment of new hams and ARRL members is an integral part of the job of every ARRL appointee. Appointees should take advantage of every opportunity to recruit a new ham or member to foster growth of Field Organization programs, and our abilities to serve the public.


Official Relay Station

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Do you have what it takes to be an Official Emergency Station

Official Emergency Station (OES)

Amateur operators may be appointed as an Official Emergency Station (OES) by their Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) or Section Manager (SM) at the recommendation of the EC, or DEC (if no EC) holding jurisdiction. The OES appointee must be an ARRL member and set high standards of emergency preparedness and operating. The OES appointee makes a deeper commitment to the ARES program in terms of functionality than does the rank-and-file ARES registrant.
The OES appointee is appointed to carry out specific functions and assignments designated by the appropriate EC or DEC. The OES appointee and the presiding EC or DEC, at the time of the OES appointment, will mutually develop a detailed, operational function/assignment and commitment for the new appointee. Together, they will develop a responsibility plan for the individual OES appointee that makes the best use of the individual's skills and abilities. During drills and actual emergency situations, the OES appointee will be expected to implement his/her function with professionalism and minimal supervision.
Requirements: Full ARRL membership; Experience as an ARES registrant; Regular participation in the local ARES organization including drills and test; Participation in emergency nets and actual emergency situations; Regular reporting of activities; Encouraged to earn certification in Level 1of the ARRL Emergency Communications Course.
Responsibilities:
  • OPERATIONS--Responsible for specific, pre-determined operational assignments during drills or actual emergency situations. Examples include: Net Control Station or Net Liaison for a specific ARES net; Manage operation of a specified ARES VHF or HF digital BBS or MBO, or point-to-point link; Operate station at a specified emergency management office, Red Cross shelter or other served agency operations point.
  • ADMINISTRATION--Responsible for specific, pre-determined administrative tasks as assigned in the initial appointment commitment by the presiding ARES official. Examples include: Recruitment of ARES members; liaison with Public Information Officer to coordinate public information for the media; ARES registration data base management; victim/refugee data base management; equipment inventory; training; reporting; and post-event analysis.
  • LIAISON--Responsible for specific, pre-determined liaison responsibilities as assigned by the presiding EC or DEC. Examples include: Maintaining contact with assigned served agencies; Maintaining liaison with specified NTS nets; Maintaining liaison with ARES officials in adjacent jurisdictions; Liaison with mutual assistance or "jump" teams.
  • LOGISTICS--Responsible for specific, pre-determined logistical functions as assigned. Examples include: Transportation; Supplies management and procurement (food, fuel, water, etc.); Equipment maintenance and procurement--radios, computers, generators, batteries, antennas.
  • MANAGEMENT ASSISTANT --Responsible for serving as an assistant manager to the EC, DEC or SEC based on specific functional assignments or geographic areas of jurisdiction.
  • CONSULTING--Responsible for consulting to ARES officials in specific area of expertise.
  • OES appointees may be assigned to pre-disaster, post-disaster, and recovery functions. These functions must be specified in the OES's appointment commitment plan.
  • The OES appointee is expected to participate in planning meetings, and post-event evaluations. Following each drill or actual event, the EC/DEC and the OES appointee should review and update the OES assignment as required. The OES appointee must keep a detailed log of events during drills and actual events in his/her sphere of responsibility to facilitate this review.
  • Continuation of the appointment is at the discretion of the appointing official, based upon the OES appointee's fulfillment of the tasks he/she has agreed to perform.
Recruitment of new hams and ARRL members is an integral part of the job of every ARRL appointee. Appointees should take advantage of every opportunity to recruit a new ham or member to foster growth of Field Organization programs, and our abilities to serve the public.


Official Emergency Station

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Jeff, AE5ME, offers APRS insight

NEXT GENERATION APRS

Over the past 15-20 years, I have seen APRS go through the standard technological “S” curve.  It first started out as two or three guys sending out packets on an agreed upon local frequency.  As more interest was generated, the frequency became the standard 144.39 Mhz and infrastructure formed in digipeaters to extend the range from stations 5 miles apart into a full statewide network.  Software evolved from DOSAPRS to several windows-based programs with sophisticated mapping and message techniques.  A standard was even published to make sure that software developers and APRS radio manufacturers follow the same rules.

Basically APRS has gone from a very experimental technology with limited impact to a fully mature technology that has plenty of support in the amateur radio community in terms of infrastructure, hardware, and software.  While it is nice that we have reached a point of APRS being mature, it is my hope that the best is yet to come.  Therefore, I respectfully present the case for “Next Generation APRS”.

Few people know that the predecessor to APRS developed by Bob Bruninga in the early 1980s was used to track Naval assets using HF.  Yes, HF.  Curiously enough, APRS mainly evolved on the 2m amateur band.  Wonder why?  First of all, 1200 bps packet was only legal on VHF and up bands.  Secondly, I would believe that early adopters were many of the freshly minted “Technician” class hams that didn’t have HF privileges.  Lastly, HF packet has been a frustrating exercise, as the conventional Bell 103 modem used for 300 bps packet is  generally not suited for the varying conditions of HF (static crashes, fading, etc.).

However, there has been an explosion of improved digital soundcard modes available on HF.  Everything from phase shift keyed to multiple frequency shift keyed and modes with names like Olivia, MT63, Throb, and Thor.    Many outperform the original 300 bps packet in terms of acceptable s/n ratios.  Many incorporate FEC (Forward Error Correction), which makes them very reliable in the highly variable band conditions of HF.  A large number of modes are available in the FLDIGI program in particular.  Just recently FLDIGI added the ability to speak “KISS” to it, which allows many software packages to work with it.  This means that a program like BPQ32 can interface with FLDIGI as a plug-in RF modem.  And that is where the magic starts.

I have posted a configuration and step-by-step instructions for interfacing the BPQ32 APRS program to FLDIGI at http://tulsadigitalradioclub.blogspot.com/2015/03/hf-aprs-fldigi-style-using-pskmfsketc.html.  The end result is a fully-functioning APRS station that operates using PSK31, PSK250, THOR, Dominex, MFSK-32 and many, many others modes.  Many of those modes can outperform the old 300 bps packet modem by 10-15 db (almost 3 S-units)!

We have demonstrated that with the modes available to FLDIGI, we are able to have reliable NVIS (short skip) contacts across the state of Oklahoma with power levels from 1 to 20 watts.  I believe that the ability of NVIS to “fill in the gaps” could be a key to extending the APRS network even further from the current 2m system.  Instead of having to place additional digipeaters in sparsely populated areas, stations could work the network by operating NVIS on the 40m band.  Imagine the opportunities with the backpack radios like the Yaesu FT-817!

Due to the fact that digital stations can cover Oklahoma with very modest power levels, the need for HF digipeaters would be eliminated.  That would enhance the chance of lower power stations to be heard (since they would not be competing with higher power digipeaters).

There are three modes that have become finalists for operating APRS on HF: BPSK-250, PSKR-250 (robust PSK), and MFSK-32.  The PSKR-250 has the advantage of FEC (forward error correction), which will further enhance copy in challenging conditions, such as thunderstorms, at the expense of cutting data speed in half.  The two PSK modes only occupy 250 Hz of bandwidth, while the MFSK-32 uses twice the bandwith at 660 Hz.  The MFSK-32 is supposed to be slightly more resistant to band noise conditions, but somewhere on the order of 3-5 db.  The FEC on PSKR-250 is somewhere around 4 db improvement.  If the PSKR-250 is comparable in performance to MFSK-32, it would win in terms of less required bandwidth.

The Tulsa Digital Radio Club (TDRC) has an operating APRS station on 7036 kHz with center frequency of 1000 Hz.  We will run BPSK-250 for now.  We may change to PSKR-250 during challenging band conditions (fading and high noise) to see the impact on readability with other participating stations.  We will communicate any changes at least 24 hours prior to changeover.

I encourage others APRS stations in Oklahoma to go to http://tulsadigitalradioclub.blogspot.com/2015/03/hf-aprs-fldigi-style-using-pskmfsketc.html and try out the next chapter in APRS.  I would like to see at least a handful of stations check into the May 9th statewide APRS net on HF.  If you have any questions, please contact me at ae5me@yahoo.com.

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