Field Day 2022

Field day 2022 is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday June 25 and 26. It officially starts at 1800 UTC, 2PM Eastern Time.

PWCARES generally sets something up for Field Day and this year is no exception. We are going to run an ad hoc set up. John, KK4TCE, and myself will be there. If you would like to join us, please drop the EC a note so we can coordinate gear and supplies.

The League has a Field Day website and you are encouraged to visit and read the rules so we all know what is what. Also we use the N3FPJ software for logging, so you might want to download it before the day and play with it a bit to become familiar with it.

See you at Field Day!

Summer Calendar Update

Some upcoming events for your calendar:

  • MCM Historic Half Marathon: Sunday, May 22, 2022 (0600 start). A few more are needed. Please sign up at Volunteer Local and drop an email to RVARCEvents so they know. Action plan is on their website.
  • Hurricane Season: Wednesday, June 1, 2022 – Wednesday, November 30, 2022.
  • OSS/CIA Overnight Run: Saturday, June 11, 2022, through AM Sunday, June 12, 2022. The race begins at 1900 and runs through 0700. Rob Williams is coordinating. If you are interested, let me know and I will drop him the note.
  • MCM Crossroads 15K and Belleau Wood 8K: Saturday, June 25, 2022 (0600ish) start. Please sign up at Volunteer Local if you are interested.
  • Field Day: Saturday & Sunday June 25 & 26, 2022: More in a moment
  • WWI Dale City Parade: Monday, 4 July, 2022. I can put you in touch with Rob Williams who is leading the event.
  • Willing Warriors Vettes for Vets: Saturday, July 9, 2022: We need two people for this. You need to be mobile (and waterproof) for this event (we’ve had some lovely downpours during the event). Please drop me a note if you are interested.
  • MCM Quantico 12K: Saturday, August 20, 2022 (0600ish start). Sign up coming soon.

Now for some notes:

  • Training: Saturday, May 21, 2022: Due to a cranky client I cannot attend training. I would encourage everyone to check their gear, and get ready for hurricane season. If you want to practice Winlink, my node is up in receive mode. If you would like to get together on the lawn at the EOC, please let me know and I will make it happen, but there will be no formal training this month (sorry).
  • Field Day: Field Day is a bit more than a month away. Is there any interest in doing an ARES set up this year? If so, who is going to lead it and if you want it at the County facilities, please let me know so I can get it set up.

That is the updates as I know them. If there are other events you know about that need our support, please drop the EC a note.

April Communications Exercise

I moved our regular March Training to April, as most of you know. I did not want to miss out on an opportunity to do some traffic practice. Discussing this with some of our surrounding friends, this has grown a bit beyond just a standard PWCARES training.

Here is the general outline.

We will have an in-field operation at the Prince William County Government Center (our normal grassy area). This will be the centre of operations. I anticipate the following:

HF:

  • 40m station (7240 kHz)
  • 20/10m station (Suggest a frequency)

VHF:

  • A simplex station on VHFARES1 (147.525)
  • A repeater station (OVH or WWI or both if I can get permission)

UHF:

  • A simplex station (445.925)

There will also be a short training via WebEx (for those that wish to operate from home or our friends outside the immediate area) where we will cover the basics of passing traffic.

Logistics:

We will need some volunteers to help set up antennas and gear at the site, and we will need some antennas, radios, and tuners (for HF).

Because of this, we will do the WebEx training at 10 AM on Saturday, April 9, 2022, but we will set an arrival time at the site at 0800. This will also allow us to test frequencies and make alterations.

We will also have a dedicated Slack channel for remote information – if you are not on the PWCARES Slack, we will add you.

Types of Messages:

Over the next couple of weeks, I will send out some sample messages, but you are more than welcome to write up your own.

We will focus primarily on ICS-213s and ICS-213-RRs for this exercise and passing messages with voice.

We are still working out some of the details, so if you have questions, please send them my way, and I will develop a FAQ as best I can.

I will post updates to https://blog.pwcares.org/, so check the blog for the latest and greatest on this exercise.

Weather:

If the weather is bad – bad being below 50 degrees, high winds, or active precipitation – we will move to a fully remote exercise. I will still conduct the WebEx training.

To participate, please fill in this Google form.

If you have any questions or additional comments, please drop me a note.

January Training Update

For those unable to join us on Saturday, January 15, 2022, here are the highlights from the meeting.

The slides are available at HaikuDeck if you want to review.

We covered the past actions with the Marine Corps Marathon Program Office. They appreciate us being there as an extra set of eyes on the course, and of course, we get the practice. We also support Willing Warriors. They have two primary events at the moment – Vettes for Vets and the Warrior Bike Ride, a series of metric century, 25 mile, and 13 mile fun ride. And finally we participated in Field Day both in 2000, and 2021, and we thank Prince William County for their support both times.

We have some upcoming events. The first event is Saturday, March 26, 2022 – the MCM Crossroads 17.75 which will be held at Prince William Forest Park. More details as we get closer to the event. Please make sure to check the ARES calendar at https://www.pwcares.org. It is a public Google calendar and you can subscribe to it.

We answered the question What does ARES mean to you? to help us all level set. Here is the word cloud from that exercise:

We also answered the question What does the EC do? Here is the word cloud:

David, KG4GIY had some commentary on some of the responses.

Erv, the prior EC for Prince William once told David that the EC is an emergency coordinator, not an emergency communicator. As Greg, KM4CCG, mentioned in his Field Day review:

and it should be noted that we managed to get David on HF1!

Hearding Cats: This is an old consulting joke, but is very applicable to volunteer management. We all come from different places and different life experience, and getting volunteers to do things in the same direction is a challenge. When David, as EC asks the Cadre to take training it is not because David wants us to take it, but because one of our served agencies want us to take it, or FEMA wants us to take it so Prince William County can be reimbursed, or because the Federal Government wants us to take the training, again so the county can be reimbursed. PWCARES maintains a Training page with all the current training requirements.

Never Leaves: David has been the EC for twenty-one years, this April. That is a long time to lead an organization, and David expressed his desire to not be the EC for the next twenty years. He asks the Cadre to ponder what it wants in its next EC and who might be able to fill the road. This is not an immediate need, but we need to start succession planning. It was pointed out by Jack, WC4J and others that the EC also has to be able to talk to the senior management at our served agencies, not just be able to understand the technobabble, or geek speak that might only be useful for technologists.

Our workshop revolved around what should be in your go-kit in a post-Covid world. The obvious addition is PPE (mask, gloves, hand-sanitizer). Most of the items we already consider for our kit have not changed significantly. David will update the Preparedness page over the next few weeks to include some of the items identified.

Please send any questions to the EC and he will respond as necessary.

A quick public service announcement. If you participate on a VTC, please remember to mute your microphone. We really don’t want to hear you eating.

Thanks for taking time out of your morning. Next training is Saturday, March 19, 2022 at 0900 at the EOC. Details will be sent closer to training day.

  1. This was the third or fourth time in 20 years that David has worked HF.

Field Day 2012 Photos

Thanks to John, KK4TCE & Dan, K4BCR for the photos.

Field Day 2021 is ON!

On June 3, Greg, KM4CCG briefed us on how we are going to execute Field Day 2021 (The PDF is available. Please drop David an email if you would like access to the WebEx).

Here are the key points:

  • If you want to participate, please drop Greg an email (in the PDF)
  • We need to know who is willing to help with:
    • Set up/Tear down – details coming soon
    • Food: David and Marc are going wrangle food
    • Network: David has the gear, but anyone can figure out what else we need.
  • Who:
    • Prince William County ARES and others who would like to operate
    • We will use W4PWC as our call
    • GOTA call to be determined
  • What:
    • Field Day 2021 – Saturday and Sunday June 26 – 27
    • Possible setup and tear down Friday, June 25 and Monday, June 28 tbd
  • Where: Prince William County Government Centre – our usual grassy spot between McCoart and Owens.

This is a fun event. Our purpose is three fold:

  • Get back on the air!
  • Try out some new bands, modes, or operating styles
  • Test our set ups after a year in storage

We are planning to operate under the “F” flag and will be working in cooperation with our partners in Emergency Management. We hope to have a straw man menu posted on Monday, but if you have food suggestions, or dietary restrictions, please drop a note to David as well.

Thanks to Greg, Marc, and the team for leading this effort this year.

We look forward to seeing you at Field Day 2021!

The EC turns 20

I was appointed the Emergency Coordinator of the Prince William County ARES® in April of 2001.

In April of 2001, we still had the Twin Towers in New York. Bush II was President by Supreme Court decision (who can forget the dangling chad?), and ARES® as an organization was still doing fun runs and other charity walks because cell phone coverage was spotty at best. I took over from Erv (and I cannot even remember his last name or call sign – anyone, anyone?). Steve Frick, N4OGR (SK), was the assistant, and we were working through the Great Unpleasantness which we would eventually come out the other side, mostly unscathed.

And then, September 11 happened.

Suddenly Amateur Radio and ARES® were a thing. I spent the day in the driveway of my house, with two HTs in my hand and my daughter rolling a jiggle ball back and forth on the lawn. I did not do much because I did not even know where the EOC was, much less what we needed to do there. I would later spend the week coordinating Amateurs heading to help at the Pentagon, myself included. Shortly after that, the head of the communications unit, Captain Fred Miller, called me into a meeting. He had only one question – would I enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with Prince William County. Of course, I said yes. We spend a couple of weeks going back and forth on the essential items, but the MOU was signed. The cadre evolved to become PWCARES. We stood up a website, an email list (reflector) and started recruiting. I appointed my Assistants appropriately. Two from Woodbridge, two from OVH, and two at large. And then work began.

We have participated in County exercises, City deployments, Hospital exercises, emergencies (floods and hurricanes), supported the Marine Corps Marathon Office events, 24-hour runs, bike races, and numerous walks.

In 2011, at the request of Manassas City, we mobilized seventy-seven amateurs from the National Capital Area over five days to support the city at five sites from sun up to sundown, supporting the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Bull Run (Manassas). We fed them, looked after their dogs (Emma loved it), and made sure that the messages got through despite incredible summer heat and rotten sandwiches (that the Red Cross provided – we served brisket that day). Volunteer Prince William wanted to crash the party. See our challenge coin page for more details.

We figured out how to get a signal out of a school, set up multiple Field Day events, and establish ourselves as Amateurs’ training ground in Northern Virginia. We practiced message sending on voice, digital, HF, VHF, eieio. We have adopted Incident Command System forms, processes, and procedures. Many of us have more FEMA certifications than active FEMA employees.

And we continue to grow.

I would be remiss if I did not thank my wife, Dianne, KI4FVV, and Hurricane Emma for their support. I would also like to say thank you to my Assistants, who have supported me or told me to sit down. A special thank you to Keith, KM4AA, who explicitly told me to go to bed (after 36 hours of operation during Hurricane/TS Isabel), and Trisha, KI4PCM. She noticed that hypothermia had set in during the inaugural 24-hour run.

My thanks to the PWCARES cadre that has followed my lead over the last twenty years challenged my assumptions and shown how an ARES® cadre can operate. While I do not expect to do this job for another twenty years, I look forward to at least the next five. Unless someone wants to step up and take over for me. Anyone? Anyone?

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 begin 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?)
  • March 2020: Lock-down for COVID-19 begins
  • March 2021: MCMO Events return
  • June 2021: PWCARES 5F Field Day in-person

Crossroads 17.75 AAR

On Saturday, March 20, 2021, Andy, KJ4MTP; Tom, W4PIO; John, KK4TCE; Scott Larimer, KN4RPA; Rob, KJ4LWN; Peter, KD4QNA; Greg, KM4CCG; David, KG4GIY; and Marc, N1BED, deployed to the wilds of MCB Quantico to support the Crossroads 17.75 run. Two waves of 200 odd runners attacked the hills on a lovely Saturday morning and hated every minute of it, so the MCMO considers it a complete success.

What Worked

  • Crossband repeater: We put the crossband up at the OSV, and it was easy to hear Tom from inside the OSV, and he could hear most of us. We might want to use the crossband for Mile 4 as well, as it could not be heard at NCS.
  • NCS at the school: NCS was located at one of the highest points on base and could hear everyone but Mile 4 and Mile 5. Both locations used HTs. Mile 6 relayed for Mile 5.
  • Relay practice: With Mile 5 unable to communicate directly with NCS, Mile 6 handled the relay. It worked pretty well.

What needs work

  • DBIDS: While this is nothing we can fix, the whole DBIDS mess is still not a smooth process. It has been escalated to the MCMO for resolution.
  • Repeater in the middle: We should give thought to adding a crossband or higher power repeater to the middle of the course (around Mile 6 – although there is limited space) to handle the relay issues. Something to ponder.
  • Relevant vs. non-relevant traffic: Determining what is and is not relevant is tough, and from a situational awareness perspective, sometimes it is better to pass traffic, even if it seems meaningless to you when it might be helpful to someone else.

My thanks to the team and for their inputs.

Some Pictures from the Course

John, KK4TCE at Mile 1/3
Net Control
N1BED’s Antenna Set Up
KG4GIY @ Mile 6 looking back towards Mile 5

ICS 214s

David’s ICS 214

Marc’s ICS 214