Field Day 2019

On the fourth weekend in June, Amateur Radio operators take to the field to practice and hone their skills. Field Day is Amateur Radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 Amateur Radio operators throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate our science, skill, and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933 and remains the most popular event in Amateur Radio.

This year, Members of the Prince William County Amateur Radio Emergency Service and Dumfries-Triangle Volunteer Fire Department will be participating in the national Amateur Radio Field Day exercise, June 22 – 23, at Prince William County Emergency Operations Center, 1 County Complex Ct. in Woodbridge, VA. Since 1933, ham radio operators across North America have established temporary ham radio stations in public locations during Field Day to showcase the science and skill of Amateur Radio. This event is open to the public, and all are encouraged to attend.

If you have questions, please contact our Field Day Coordinator, Greg Gresham, or the Emergency Coordinator. More details and information is available in our Press Release.

When all else fails…

Vests for Deployment

Back in 2010, the ARRL announced the official vest we are supposed to wear:

ARES members, while activated, deployed, in community service activities or otherwise on duty shall wear over their normal apparel, at minimum, a florescent green ANSI Class 2 reflective, 100% polyester vest. The vest shall be decorated in the following manner:

On the Back:

In minimum 2” lettering, Arial Black font, black in color, imprinted above the horizontal reflective tape:

AMATEUR RADIO
EMERGENCY
COMMUNICATIONS

Those in a leadership position may add their title (SEC, DIRECTOR, EC, PIO, etc) below the words “Emergency Communications” in not less than 3″ tall font, black. (Under the lower reflective stripe). Local jurisdictions may elect to add their organization name above the words “Amateur Radio” with no larger than 1″ Arial Black lettering, color black.

On the Front:

On the Left Chest, the ARES logo, minimum 3.5 inch diameter, black in color, negative background. The Right Chest shall remain blank so as to allow wearer to affix their ARES or ARRL name badge.

Vests may have zip or Velcro type front closures. Members may choose vests with or without pockets, at their own discretion. Other apparel, such as short and long sleeve tee shirts, jackets and coats are approved for member use as long as the garments meet the same color, ANSI Class 2, lettering and decoration standard. A waiver of this standard may be given by an SEC for specific purposes with good cause.

Florescent green is the same as fluorescent yellow, which is what most vendors call it.

The League sells a mesh vest, but the quality is questionable if you expect to use them frequently. They also have a solid vest, which is a bit more solid, but I think those of us that have them find they are not a lot better (I have gone through two vests in a year).

Andy, KJ4MTP, Tom, W4PIO and I have moved to a sturdier surveyor’s style vest. I can report that it has survived a couple of washings already, which is more than the League’s vests did. The problem with the non-league supplied gear is having to be handy with a needle and thread, or know someone who is, and pick up the associated panels.

Until and unless the SEC himself (herself), says I cannot wear the sturdier (and more visible) vest (which complies to the fire department standards), I will continue to wear the surveyor’s style and I will approve it for our use in all field deployments.

Weblinks

Crossroads 17.75 After Action

On Saturday, March 23, 2019, PWCARES supported the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office with the annual 17.75K run through the Prince William County Forest. Thanks to all who came out to support the event.

What Went Right

  • Despite the wind, the antenna at Start/Stop stayed up, thanks to proper guying by Tom, W4PIO.
  • The 6m frequency worked for communications among those that had it.

What can be improved

  • Oddly, 2m communications did not work. Whether that can be attributed to a geomagnetic storm that rolled through Friday into Saturday, or something else, we are not sure. As the sun came up the communications improved. In one case, David, KG4GIY and Tom, W4PIO were standing almost next to each other and one could hear the communications and one could not, and there was no predictability about who heard what, when.
  • Despite 6m working, it is not conducive to those that have to walk a bit to be able to see all of their section, making it a less than optimum solution.
  • Several folks forgot their access passes.

Thanks to Brian, WC4J (top photo) and Eric, KJ4MSW (bottom photo).

March Training

On Saturday, March 16, 2019, PWCARES had our regular training.

The slides for training are available.

As we discussed, with regards to training, we will continue along the current training schedule and not worry too much about the new League’s training requirements for now. The on-line course is all full for this year’s offered courses as of now.

If you have Winlink questions, please do not hesitate to reach out.

Welcome to ARES Connect

The ARRL created a new portal for coordinating and consolidating events and activities across the ARES activity space. This is called ARES Connect. Prince William County ARES is registered as Prince William 153VA – Volunteers under the Virginia drop down. It is a bit convoluted to use at the moment but hopefully things will clear up.

What this means to you is we have another area to register (sorry) and if you would click “attend” for our various events as you participate in them, this helps the League track volunteer participation throughout the year.

For the EC, this is double entry work (triple entry work if you include the tracking site for the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office work we do).

I have posted all of our upcoming events for 2019, they are the same as you will find on the front calendar of our main site.

If you have any questions, send them my way and I will do what I can to get them answered.

January Training Update

Slides from the training are available.

On Saturday, January 19, 2019, PWCARES had their first training of 2019. Some of the topics we covered included:

Upcoming Events

There are a number of events coming up this year. First for the Marine Corps Program Office.

  • Crossroads 17.75K (March 23)
  • Run Amuck/Belleau Wood (June 15)
  • Quantico Tri/Quantico 12K (August 24)
  • Turkey Trot (Our November Training (November 16)
  • Honor 8K (December 7)

Other fun events:

  • United Resolve HF CommEx with the National Guard (June 1)
  • Save Our Wounded Warrior Bike Ride (June 8)
  • Field Day (June 22 – June 23)
  • The Simulated Emergency Test (2nd Weekend of October)

Routine events:

Training

There are new required training events, posted on the Training Page. For the classroom courses, we will be working with the County to get them arranged, either as a part of our regular training or a couple of evening trainings. Please send your certifications to the EC when you have completed the courses. If you have prior versions, you do not have to retake the course.

Paperwork

There have been some minor changes in the ICS 213 form and the ICS 214 forms. Please make sure you have the current forms in your kits. There are also new forms you need to know about, including the Prince William County Resource Form (see the Quick Reference Guide) and the Volunteer Request Form. Please familiarize yourself with these forms. One minor change from past years is that the paper process will be used over WebEOC, which will have a limited role going forward. If you are familiar with WebEOC, you can forget all that material.

The ICS forms tab has now been updated with the relevant forms you should have in your kits.

A hearty thank you to the cadre for all the help in 2018 and I look forward to a great 2019.

Looking for Something to Do?

Christmas is behind us, and New Year’s Day is right around the corner, but in the meantime, you probably have a few hours to kill. How about doing some training?

New training requirements are coming. The 2019 training calendar is already posted, and along with the usual requirement of IS-700, IS-800, IS-100, and IS-200, there are new training classes that we all have to take to stay current with the county. For the on-line classes, the new ones include:

Both of these courses are new for us and we are required to take them as soon as possible. There are also some new classroom courses that will be sprinkled into the training as we go, but some of you may already have them. They include:

  • EOC–101 Operation in the PWC EOC.
  • G–191 Incident Command System/Emergency Operations Center Interface.
  • G–775 EOC Management and Operations.

There are also some new optional course that you can take if you have some spare time.

Remember, if you already have one of these courses, you do not currently have to retake them. So if you have IS-700a, (the current version is 700b), you are covered.

As always, please send the Emergency Coordinator a copy of your certificate for those classes that you passed.

See you at the January Training! (Saturday, January 19, 2019) at the EOC.

September is Preparedness Month

Welcome to September. Fall is here (or at least just around the corner). Hurricane season is well underway. And it is time to check our supplies for winter.

I had an interesting conversation with some of my friends about being prepared. One topic that we kept coming back to was the lack of preparedness we were all suffering from. The great ramp up, concerning visibility, that came from September 11, 2001, has virtually disappeared here on the Eastern Seaboard. Even those who as recently as 2012 (Sandy) have just fallen out of the habit of being prepared. And there are many reasons.

  • No storm or threat
  • No reminder (or too many reminders) from the government (which, let’s face it has not showered themselves in glory about being prepared)
  • No focused message
  • No time/money for supplies

Even my own state of supplies is out of date and in need of replacement in many cases.

Following September 11, many people spent a lot of money on emergency supplies, spent time on preparing plans, and spent time getting ready. The problem is that it is not a one-time thing. If you do not practice, or worse, do not have a need to practice, then your preparations get stale quickly. You end up shrugging your shoulders. I’m as ready as I can be. And then you forget. Or wonder what all the hype was about.

If you do not live in a storm zone, it is all too easy to get lulled into a sense of security. Until the next unimaginable thing happens. I get it. I talk about preparedness almost every day to people, and I am woefully unprepared myself.

What can you do? There are many things. You can join your local CERT team. There they will help keep the idea in the front of your mind to exercise you plan. If you are part of ARES, you should be reviewing your plan regularly. Make it part of your monthly check-up, along with your finances. Get a Red Cross CPR certification. They expire every year, and that will force you to reevaluate your situation. At the very least, take a look at your last plan, evaluate where it was when you finished it and updated it. Phone numbers, medicines, contacts, documents, then go through your go-kits and refresh all the things that need refreshing. Remember, clothes shrink in bags stored in cupboards.

There are many good ideas for preparing for an emergency on the ARES website. Take a moment and see how prepared you are.

Are you using the right forms?

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That is the loose translation of a classic French saying about the nature of change. And like most changes, we are often not aware of them unless someone says something. Take government forms. They are constantly changing and evolving, but unless you need them, or use them regularly, or are part of the committee that is responsible for updating them, you hardly ever notice.

Today, I noticed.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is responsible for maintaining the National Incident Management Forms. Most of the forms post-September 11 came out of the fire service or the Hazmat response teams associated with the Coast Guard. They worked, but they were never optimal as far as most people were concerned. FEMA promised new forms. Most of us just carried on.

In 2015, they updated the NIMS ICS Forms. All members of PWCARES should download the new Forms book (also available on our ICS page) and use those forms instead of any prior forms.

Please take a moment to update your go-kits.

Compiling FLDIGI on the Raspberry Pi, Take 2

Back in 2014, I wrote an article about my attempts to compile FLDIGI on a Raspberry Pi. That attempt was done on a Series 2 Raspberry Pi, with 512 Mbytes of RAM and an older ARM chip. Like everything else, time marches on, and I thought it might be time to see if a newer Raspberry Pi might perform better. The Pi I am using now is a Type3 B with WiFi and 1 Gbyte of RAM and a much faster ARM chip. Let’s see what happens!

First, if you installed a NOOB or Lite version of the software, you will need to install some additional software. If you installed the full version, you may have to add some additional software, we will cover that as we go along.

First, let’s make sure we have the most recent software:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get upgrade

There is a source code build directions on the fldigi-wiki Which I will follow.

Create a directory to store your source code:

$ mkdir source

Download the FLDIGI source and untar it:

$ tar zxvf fldigi-.tar.gz

I followed the direction and it worked like a charm. Because I have PulseAudio installed already, I do not need to install that or add myself to the dialout group.