Turkey Trot 2016

Turkey Trot participants
Turkey Trot participants

On Saturday, November 19, 2016, PWCARES again supported the Marine Corps Marathon program office at the annual running of the Turkey Trot at the Quantico Marine base. On this occasion, we did not gather until 0630, which gave folks a chance to rest and gave David, KG4GIY, several extra minutes to return home for his radio, and then the handouts. By 0700, a dozen members of the cadre were out on the course ready for the race to begin. The race officially kicked off at 0850 and the first runner was back shortly before 0940.

David, KG4GIY and Spenc, KG4GFW
David, KG4GIY and Spenc, KG4GFW

What went right? We learned that the right gear will get you good coverage, even in the deepest of holes. Good mentoring session for new Amateur Phong, KM4PRX who joined us from Fairfax CERT.

What can we do better? One suggestion was to move a cross band antenna/radio near where mile 1 was located as K3FBI was just not receptive enough for HTs. More work at Quantico needs to be done as the Marines will let us.

A good time was had by all in the nice (mid 60s) weather. Thanks to Andy, KJ4MTP for the pictures.

Turkey Trot Mile 1, EMS staging
Turkey Trot Mile 1, EMS staging

Thanks to: Richard Spencer, KG4GFW (PIO), Ray Hutt, AA4SI, Andy Gamponia, KJ4MTP, Greg Gresham, KM4CCG, Mary Moon, KK4GOW, Phong Nguyen, KM4PRX, Tony Ohe, KM4KLB, Bill Payne, K5AE, Ben Piper, KM4CCF, Mark Redlinger, W3SR, Rick Shannon, KJ4ZIH, Leslie Touart, NW4O for their participation.

2016 SET After Action

Set After Action

Radios up and runningOn Saturday, October 1, 2016, PWCARES participated in the ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET). The objective of this year’s exercise:

* To provide a public demonstration to served agencies and through the news media of the value of Amateur Radio in times of need.
* To provide training and experience in communication under simulated emergency conditions.
* To provide a framework allowing all District Emergency Coordinators, Emergency Coordinators and Net Managers to evaluate how well they are performing.

Chuck, KA3EHL running the radio room
Chuck, KA3EHL running the radio room

The scenario: A line of powerful thunderstorms, spawned by a hurricane, is approaching the state from the southwest. Strong winds, flood producing rains, damaging hail & lightning have paralyzed most of the counties in your district. Wind speeds exceeded 85 MPH and have produced many downed-trees causing power lines to fail. Estimates are between 85% and 90% of homes are without power. Many roads are impassable due to flash-flooding, tree debris, and downed-power lines. Communications has suffered greatly as well. Downed utilities, power outages, and failed back-ups have crippled normal communications. Amateur Radio operators have not gone unscathed. Repeaters without back-up power are no longer operational.

Derek, KV4SH, waiting for traffic
Derek, KV4SH, waiting for traffic

This gave us an opportunity to practice traffic handling and interact with both HF and digital networks. It also gave us the opportunity to practice with the ICS forms, especially the ICS–213 message form and the ICS–214 unit log.

What worked:

  • No problem checking into the HF SSB net. Good comms with only 10 watts on battery power. Many check ins, but didn’t hear them passing any message traffic. Was also able to copy PSK31 on 7050 KHz.
  • Several EOCs from other counties (W4COV and AD4TJ) then used VDEM frequencies, digital modes and waterfall to perform antenna checks, software checks and other tasks.
  • PWCARES VHF1 (simplex) worked well for passing traffic into and out of the EOC but verbal messages are slow. Effective but slow.
  • Numerous messages were sent successfully by voice

Some issues:

  • Appears that the HF net was really only check-in. There was no formal message traffic passed. While the net-control was able to hear and speak to most all districts and conducted a professional level as net control. The main thrust of the exercise seemed to be to verify that all counties could be reached via HF
  • Some Counties used FLMSG for ICS traffic. Others used WordPad to create and pass exercise traffic. When FLMSG was used, W4COV (not VDEM) asked me to stop and use WordPad instead
  • After the initial 40m check in, VDEM Digital NCS (N1XP) left the net and remained offline for the entire exercise. Nothing heard on 80m. 40m was open throughout the exercise
  • VDEM should set a single procedure for passing ICS traffic—FLMSG or WordPad
  • VDEM should maintain a digital NCS throughout an exercise.
  • Need to improve FLDIGI support at the EOC
David, KG4GIY running the SimCell
David, KG4GIY running the SimCell

In all, the exercise was a success from the PWCARES perspective, although I would say it was less than successful from a section level. Because they did not pass traffic, there was no indication of how the traffic would flow or if the net would be able to handle it. Traffic sent to the section from PWCARES was not transferred.

Thanks to the cadre for their participation and to Andy, KJ4MTP, for the photos.