All posts by David Lane

October Update

Hallowe’en is just around the corner, and that means the end of the hurricane season is close at hand. For those playing the home game, we are up to Nestor (a Tropical Storm).

For those helping with the Marine Corps Marathon this weekend, or running in it, stay safe.

November 3 is when we fall back an hour to Eastern Standard Time.

I expect t-shirts will be delivered to me on Friday (finally) and I will get them in the mail as soon as I have them sorted and into envelopes. Sorry for the delay.

ARESConnect

For those of you who are following along, there are several messages on the ZuckerbergApps about ARESConnect. I have been in contact with the email provided. Those of you who have had trouble signing up in the past should be added to the system now. I have logged my issues with the system, and I have not gotten any good answers back, so in no particular order:

  • Can you be a member of more than one ARES team? No answer has been provided on that yet.
  • What are the points for? Official Response: POINTS: We are working on POINTS to put together a system of Points for items for Virginia Section, they were working to combine them with the old NTS PSHR (Public Service Honor Roll). So from David’s perspective, it’s nothing more than a scoreboard.

In general, I see no real value to ARESConnect from PWCARES standpoint. I can see where it would help those who do not have well-formed cadres or no web sites, but it is a lot of work to double and triple entry. For now, I will do what they tell me to, but so far, they have not given any firm direction.

November Training (November 16)

I have to go to the AuxComm training during our November Training (November 16), the week before Turkey Trot (which usually happens on the same day as our November Training. I have been asked by several for a digital exercise, so I think that the Cadre should get together and do just that. If you would like to participate, please drop me a note, and I will create an open mailing list for coordination (and then dismantle it after the training). If you feel you need access to the EOC, please let me know so I can make the request.

Sentara Drill (November 21)

Details are TBD. The shell of the exercise is to communication between all Sentara hospitals. From the Wiki page (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentara_Healthcare), the following are listed as their hospitals:

  • Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital (Charlottesville, VA)
  • Sentara Rockingham Memorial Hospital (Harrisonburg, VA)
  • Sentara Albemarle Medical Center (Elizabeth City, NC)
  • Sentara Careplex Hospital (Hampton, VA)
  • Sentara Heart Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Leigh Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Lake Ridge (Lake Ridge, VA)
  • Sentara Norfolk General Hospital (Norfolk, VA)
  • Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center (Woodbridge, VA)
  • Sentara Obici Hospital (Suffolk, VA)
  • Sentara Princess Anne Hospital (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital (Virginia Beach, VA)
  • Sentara Williamsburg Regional Medical Center (Williamsburg, VA)
  • Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital (South Boston, VA)

We should only be responsible for the two in our jurisdiction, but we may be asked to cover others. More details as I get them, obviously, but this will be a combination of HF, VHF, and likely digital.

Turkey Trot (November 23)

Turkey Trot this year is November 23. We have enough people. I have created the first cut of the action plan (https://www.pwcares.org/html/event/turkeytrot.html).

Honor 8K (December 7)

The last event of the MCM calendar for 2019 is the Honor 8K held on the golf course at MCB Quantico. Sign up is here: http://xactllc.volunteerlocal.com/volunteer/?id=42649. This one is usually a couple of hours, and it can be cold at race time.

If there are any questions or comments, please send them my way! See you at the Turkey Trot!

Xastir and local shape files

Derek, KV4SH and myself were discussing shape files and other things that are useful for mapping with Xastir, the Linux based APRS program. To increase the level of visibility you can download additional files from the USGS and the Census Department, but it is a bit of tricky process, so here are some tips.

When you click on the link, you will get the web interface to select the features you wish to use. For example Choose 2018, Roads, Choose “Virginia” under All Roads, Choose “Prince William” and the download points at tl_2018_51153.zip. For convenience I have downloaded a number of these files and put them on the PWCARES site, but the most current ones are always the best. See the Web Links at the bottom of this article.

In the zip files, the .shp files are useful for Xastir, so for example, if you unzip tl_2018_51153.zip you will see something like:

[kg4giy@Jura Downloads]$ cd tl_2018_51153_roads
[kg4giy@Jura tl_2018_51153_roads]$ ls -la
total 12440
drwx------@   9 kg4giy  staff      288 Jan 30  2019 .
drwx------+ 138 kg4giy  staff     4416 Aug  9 09:34 ..
-rwxrwxr-x@   1 kg4giy  staff        5 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.cpg
-rwxrwxr-x@   1 kg4giy  staff  1933227 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.dbf
-rwxrwxr-x@   1 kg4giy  staff      165 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.prj
-rwxrwxr-x@   1 kg4giy  staff  4186140 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.shp
-rwxrwx---@   1 kg4giy  staff    20411 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.shp.ea.iso.xml
-rwxrwx---@   1 kg4giy  staff    92672 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.shp.iso.xml
-rwxrwxr-x@   1 kg4giy  staff   119980 Sep  5  2018 tl_2018_51153_roads.shx

You will then need to move the .shp file to /usr/share/xastir/maps/ for Xastir to be able to find them. Specifically:

  • tl_2018_51153_roads.zip into /usr/share/xastir/maps/TIGER/2018/AllRoads/
  • tl_2018_51_cousub.zip into /usr/share/xastir/maps/TIGER/2018/CouSub/
  • tl_2018_51_prisecroads.zip into /usr/share/xastir/maps/TIGER/2018/PriSecRoads/

How to control display for zoom

In Map Chooser, select the parent directory, then click Properties

Hit the Select All button, then type (e.g.) 128 to the Max Zoom box, and click the button “Max Zoom->”. Now, the roads do not clutter when at 30k feet.

End Fed Wire Antennas

Over in the PWCARES Slack channel, Brian, WC4J and Dan, WA4GSD have been having a spirited discussion about end-fed half wave and other sorts of wire antennas.

It was suggested (hey, even I don’t need to be clubbed up side the head) that some of this discussion should be memorialized (since none of us have taken our ginkgo this morning) for future reference.

First up then, this handy dandy PDF of wire lengths.

Then there are a couple of YouTube videos:

And finally this little bit of information:

EFHW have better efficiency, lower SWR and is more forgiving on bands covered. EFLW tunes most bands but is 15% less efficient. You can look up more at this link on random wire.

Where might you use this? Why, in the field, like Brian did at National Night Out this week.

A Brief History of PWCARES

Who do we support

  • Prince William County (MOU 2003, MOU 2016)
  • Service Authority (MOU 2018)
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • Volunteer Organizations Active In Disasters (VOAD), Prince William Volunteer Action Centre
  • Community Emergency Response Team (Manassas/Manassas Park)
  • Marine Corps Marathon Program Office
  • Red Cross (National Capital Region)
  • Salvation Army

Our Qualifications

  • FCC Licensed Amateur Radio Operators (all levels)
  • National Incident Management Courses:
    • 100 (Introduction to the Incident Command System)
    • 200 (Basic Incident Management Command System)
    • 700 (Introduction to National Incident Management System)
    • 800 (Introduction to the National Response Framework)
    • 300 (Intermediate ICS – select individuals)
    • 400 (Advanced ICS – Select individuals)

What have we done?

  • April 2001: David, KG4GIY appointed permanent Emergency Coordinator
  • September 2001: Terror Attacks on the Pentagon, Twin Towers.

Welcome to the Post-September 11 world of Emergency Preparedness and the new Amateur Radio Emergency Service

  • 1 July 2003: Prince William County ARES signs an MOU with Prince William County

To define the relationship between the Prince William County Office of Emergency Services (OES), Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), and Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES).

To establish a framework of cooperation and a close working relationship with volunteer licensed amateur radio operators organized under the authority of the ARRL ARES program and the Prince William County of Emergency Services (OES).

  • September 2003: PWCARES deploys in support of Hurricane Isabel
  • October 2003: Regional SET with Maryland
  • 2004: First action plan and quick reference guides published
  • 2004: National Capital ARES Council being informal meetings
  • May 2004: First formal support of Dulles Disaster Drill
  • 2005: First regular meetings of the PWCARES cadre at the EOC
  • March 2006: Patriot Challenge Regional Exercise
  • April 2006: First support of the 24 Hour Ultra-Marathon
  • April2007: Vertex Regional Exercise
  • May2007: Dulles Drill
  • June 2008: PWCARES 3F Field Day
  • March 2009: Where’s Waldo Cadre’s first in-house drill simulating tracking the Strategic National Stockpile deployment.
  • May 2010: Dulles Drill
  • June 2011: CW150 support with Manassas City
  • 2012: Update to the EOP. PWCARES role expands to more than ESF2 support
  • March 2013: Cadre Exercise Abominable Snowmageddon
  • 2015: Support of Marine Corps Marathon Program Office starts
  • June 2016: PWCARES participates in VaNG United Resolve Exercise
  • June 2018: PWCARES 3F Second Field Day
  • June 2019: Three exercises in 7 days. A new record
  • June 2019: Third Field Day (is this a new trend?)

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.