Archive for the ‘skywarn’ Category

ETH068 – Are You Weather Aware?

Storm Clouds - Everything Ham Radio - Weather

Photo by Curtis Mohr, K5CLM

While having access to your local RADAR wherever you are is great, you shouldn’t depend on it totally. You should be able to look at the sky, feel the wind, and see other clues to have an idea of what could be coming your way.

This brings up the question:

Are You Weather Aware?

In episode 68, we talk about this question and some things that you need to learn and do to help yourself be weather aware. Things like knowing what to look for in the clouds, why the wind suddenly changed directions, what to have in your emergency kit and having a plan with your family in case you need to vacate your home or seek shelter inside.

We dive into several weather events like tornadoes, flash floods, hail and even the event with the highest average of fatalities, which might surprise you.

We talk about W5KUB with the Amateur Radio Roundtable as he does his Hamvention coverage including the drive to and from. We also talk about some other hamfests that are coming up over the next two weeks.

If contesting is you thing, we talk about all the upcoming contests/on-the-air events for the next two weeks as well.

Check out the show notes and listen to the episode at:

http://www.everythinghamradio.com/podcast/68

AUXCOMM

I have taken the day off from work, I have just completed, along with several of my South Plainfield RACES/ARES compadres, a two day AUXCOMM class as taught by the Department of Homeland Security OEC/ICTAP, and offered by the NJ State Races Coordinator John Miller, and the Middlesex County NJ RACES Coordinator John Garmendi N2DV.

All I can say is, "Wow!".  This course was fantastic and re-awakened a lot of the training that I received when I was a Communications Officer with Middlesex County OEM back in the 80s and 90s. And a lot of things have changed since then, of course, and hopefully, I absorbed them like a sponge.

Hank Kobeler N3ORX listening to me explain our team's solution to one of the training exercises. 
(Photo by Drew Moore W2OU)

For those of you who are wondering what AUXCOMM is, that is the official name given by Homeland Security to Amateur Radio operators (RACES/ARES/CERT), REACT members and others, who augment the paid/trained first responders during declared emergencies.

The course, which spanned some 20 hours, was expertly taught by Hank Koebler N3ORX and Jim Millsap WB4NWS.  If I were to go into the experience which make these two fine gentlemen qualified to teach this course, it would probably occupy the next 5-10 blog posts. Suffice it to say that we were very fortunate enough to be taught by two experts with regard to Amateur Radio and EMCOMM.

The class went by quickly, and was never boring. Jim and Hank kept it interesting and, if I may dare say, fun. The pace was quick, but with enough time given to take in all the key and necessary aspects of what was being taught. There were ten units (I hate to call them "lectures") that were broken up by plenty of exercises where we had to identify resources, come up with communications plans, and then submit them for approval. This was followed by one last "Final Exam" or final planning session which brought together everything that we had learned up to that point, In addition, throughout the class, we learned the correct procedures for filling out the necessary ICS paperwork that accompanies all these kind of events.

I must admit that after the first day, my head felt like it does after the first day of Dayton Hamvention, busting to the seams with sensory overload. But it was all good, and by the second day, I think everyone returned in the morning feeling a bit better and just a tad more comfortable with their EMCOMM skills.

During our exercises, we fortunate to be joined by Mark Harla N2MHO (third from the right) from Cumberland County RACES. His experience and knowledge was invaluable to our little team.

The course built upon the education we received from those online FEMA courses that we all took on the Incident Command System, the National Incident Management System and the National Response Framework. It expanded upon that and throughout the class, decorum, attitude and etiquette were accented.

It does not do any good for the name and face of Amateur Radio, for uninvited, untrained, undisciplined "know-it-all cowboys" to show up to an emergency with an attitude that Amateur Radio is there "to save the day". That attitude, along with "Hey, lookie here at all my latest and greatest gear" is most assuredly going to get you escorted off the scene with a firm admonition to never return.

The keys to a successful blend of Amateur Radio and Disaster Response are training, decorum, the willingness to help with ANY situation (not just communications), and above all, professionalism. The willingness to blend in, get the job done with a minimal mount of attention or hoopla to yourself or the Amateur Radio Service, are what is needed. In fact, if you follow those guidelines, the Amateur Radio Service and Amateur Radio operators WILL come out smelling like a rose, and will be asked to come back on a continual basis.

To all Amateur Radio ops who read this blog that are interested in Public Service and Amateur Radio EMCOMM - I heartily urge you to go to your Town/City, County and State RACES/ARES leadership team to request them to have this AUXCOMM class brought to your state. Regardless of your level of experience, you are going to enjoy this class and will learn things that you never knew before.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!




There’s a new radio hobby magazine in town!

Recently, a number of hobby radio magazines have either retired, or have merged into a digital mix of several. Filling that void is the new The Spectrum Monitor, a creation of Ken Reitz KS4ZR, managing editor for Monitoring Times since 2012, features editor since 2009, columnist and feature writer for the MT magazine since 1988. Ken offers this digital, radio communications magazine monthly.  The web site is at http://www.thespectrummonitor.com/

There's a new radio hobby magazine in town!  The Spectrum Monitor magazine - get your's, today.

The Spectrum Monitor magazine – get your’s, today.

Ken, a former feature writer and columnist for Satellite Times, Satellite Entertainment GuideSatellite Orbit magazine, Dish Entertainment Guide and Direct Guide, is also contributing editor on personal electronics for Consumers Digest (2007 to present). He is the author of the Kindle e-books “How to Listen to the World” and “Profiles in Amateur Radio.”

The Spectrum Monitor Writers’ Group consists of former columnists, editors and writers for Monitoring Times, a monthly print and electronic magazine which ceases publication with the December, 2013 issue. Below, in alphabetical order, are the columnists, their amateur radio call signs, the name of their column in The Spectrum Monitor,  a brief bio and their websites:

Keith Baker KB1SF/VA3KSF, “Amateur Radio Satellites”

Past president and currently treasurer of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT). Freelance writer and photographer on amateur space telecommunications since 1993. Columnist and feature writer for Monitoring TimesThe Canadian Amateur and the AMSAT Journal. Web site: www.kb1sf.com

Kevin O’Hern Carey WB2QMY, “The Longwave Zone”

Reporting on radio’s lower extremes, where wavelengths can be measured in miles, and extending up to the start of the AM broadcast band. Since 1991, editor of “Below 500 kHz” column forMonitoring Times. Author of Listening to Longwave (http://www.universal-radio.com/catalog/books/0024u.html). This link also includes information for ordering his CD, VLF RADIO!, a narrated tour of the longwave band from 0 to 530 kHz, with actual recordings of LW stations.

Mike Chace-Ortiz AB1TZ/G6DHU “Digital HF: Intercept and Analyze”

Author of the Monitoring Times “Digital Digest” column since 1997, which follows the habits of embassies, aid organizations, intelligence and military HF users, the digital data systems they use, and how to decode, breakdown and identify their traffic. Web site: www.chace-ortiz.org/umc

Marc Ellis N9EWJ, “Adventures in Radio Restoration”

Authored a regular monthly column about radio restoration and history since 1986. Originally writing for Gernsback Publications (Hands-On Electronics, Popular Electronics, Electronics Now), he moved his column to Monitoring Times in January 2000. Editor of two publications for the Antique Wireless Association (www.antiquewireless.org): The AWA Journal and the AWA Gateway. The latter is a free on-line magazine targeted at newcomers to the radio collecting and restoration hobbies.

Dan Farber ACØLW, “Antenna Connections”

Monitoring Times antenna columnist 2009-2013. Building ham and SWL antennas for over 40 years.

Tomas Hood NW7US, “Understanding Propagation”

Tomas first discovered radio propagation in the early 1970s as a shortwave listener and, as a member of the Army Signal Corps in 1985, honed his skills in communications, operating and training fellow soldiers. An amateur Extra Class operator, licensed since 1990, you’ll find Tomas on CW (see http://cw.hfradio.org ), digital, and voice modes on any of the HF bands. He is a contributing editor for CQ Amateur Radio (and the late Popular Communications, and CQ VHF magazines), and a contributor to an ARRL publication on QRP communications. He also wrote for Monitoring Times and runs the Space Weather and Radio Propagation Center at http://SunSpotWatch.com.  Web site: http://nw7us.us/  Twitter: @NW7US  YouTube: https://YouTube.com/NW7US

Kirk Kleinschmidt NTØZ, “Amateur Radio Insight”

Amateur radio operator since 1977 at age 15. Author of Stealth Amateur Radio. Former editor,ARRL Handbook, former QST magazine assistant managing editor, columnist and feature writer for several radio-related magazines, technical editor for Ham Radio for Dummies, wrote “On the Ham Bands” column and numerous feature articles for Monitoring Times since 2009. Web site: www.stealthamateur.com.

Cory Koral K2WV, “Aeronautical Monitoring”

Lifelong air-band monitor, a private pilot since 1968 and a commercial pilot licensee since 1983, amateur radio licensee for more than 40 years. Air-band feature writer for Monitoring Times since 2010.

Stan Nelson KB5VL, “Amateur Radio Astronomy”

Amateur radio operator since 1960. Retired after 40-plus years involved in mobile communications/electronics/computers/automation. Active in radio astronomy for over twenty years, specializing in meteor monitoring. Wrote the “Amateur Radio Astronomy” column for Monitoring Timessince 2010. A member of the Society of Amateur Radio Astronomers (SARA). Web site: www.RoswellMeteor.com.

Chris Parris, “Federal Wavelengths”

Broadcast television engineer, avid scanner and shortwave listener, freelance writer on federal radio communications since 2004, wrote the “Fed Files” column for Monitoring Times.http://thefedfiles.com  http://mt-fedfiles.blogspot.com Twitter: @TheFedFiles

Doug Smith W9WI, “The Broadcast Tower”

Broadcast television engineer, casual cyclist and long distance reception enthusiast. “Broadcast Bandscan” columnist for Monitoring Times since 1991. Blog:http://americanbandscan.blogspot.com Web site: http://w9wi.com

Hugh Stegman NV6H, “Utility Planet”

Longtime DXer and writer on non-broadcast shortwave utility radio. Former “Utility World” columnist for Monitoring Times magazine for more than ten years. Web site: www.ominous-valve.com/uteworld.html Blog: http://mt-utility.blogspot.com/ Twitter: @UtilityPlanet YouTube: www.youtube.com/user/UtilityWorld

Dan Veeneman, “Scanning America”

Software developer and satellite communications engineer writing about scanners and public service radio reception for Monitoring Times for 17 years. Web site: www.signalharbor.com

Ron Walsh VE3GO, “Maritime Monitoring”

Retired career teacher, former president of the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (now the Radio Amateurs of Canada), retired ship’s officer, licensed captain, “Boats” columnist and maritime feature writer for Monitoring Times for eight years. Avid photographer of ships and race cars.

Fred Waterer, “The Shortwave Listener”

Former “Programming Spotlight” columnist for Monitoring Times. Radio addict since 1969, freelance columnist since 1986. Fascinated by radio programming and history.  Website: http://www.doghousecharlie.com/

Thomas Witherspoon K4SWL, “World of Shortwave Listening”

Founder and director of the charity Ears To Our World (http://earstoourworld.org), curator of the Shortwave Radio Archive http://shortwavearchive.com and actively blogs about short­wave radio on the SWLing Post (http://swling.com/blog). Former feature writer for Monitoring Times.

 

My New EchoLink Station: NØIP-R

[Update 6/8/12: The problem was the coax. Thanks, Antonio, for getting it fixed! (click here for story).]

[Update 5/16/12: Yesterday my EchoLink radio went deaf. For some reason the SWR has soared — the problem is with the transmission line and/or the antenna. Happily the antenna has a lifetime warranty, so if that’s the problem it won’t cost me anything. The hard part is getting at it!]

Finally! My EchoLink station, in the works for a month and a half, is on the air and on the Internet. If you want to give it a whirl, go right ahead! It’s listed as NØIP-R, node 695717.

The idea for this EchoLink station sprang from the SKYWARN class I attended a month and a half ago. I was lamenting the fact that Granite Falls, the city where I live, didn’t have access to the hub-and-spoke repeater system used by the Chanhassen office of the National Weather Service (click on the map to learn more):

Granite Falls is about half-way between Madison and Redwood Falls on the left side of this map.

So I asked Dean Herzberg, NYØI, if there were any plans to connect his nearby repeater to the NWS station with EchoLink. Dean replied, “No plans, but I would surely authorize the connection. I can’t, but you could!”

Um, me? It hadn’t dawned on me that I could do this myself. But once Dean gave me the nudge, I was off and running (or at least hobbling enthusiastically). I thought, hey, I already have a Linux/Ubuntu server running 24/7, and I have an old Yaesu FT-1500M in a box — all I need is an interface and a radio.

Finished EchoLink station.

Finished EchoLink station. Gotta tidy up those wires!

So I bought a RigBlaster Plug-n-Play USB interface from Ham Radio Outlet and a dual-band antenna off eBay from Edison Fong, hooked it all together and gave it the ol’ smoke test.

It worked! At first I just set it up on a simplex frequency and connected to the EchoLink test server, with the antenna propped up against the wall. That way I could work out a few bugs at low power and in relative privacy.

The whole thing went on the back burner for about a month due to other priorities, but finally I punched some coax through the exterior wall into my bedroom. That’s where the server has been for a couple years, so that’s where the station went (I have a very patient wife!). I terminated the coax with an SO-239 bulkhead connector mounted on a blank wall-plate. On the exterior of the wall I applied hi-tech IPORS caulking compound (Individually Packaged Orally Reconstituted Sealant, i.e. chewing gum!).

Dean Herzberg, NY0I, mounting antenna.

Dean Herzberg, NYØI, mounting antenna.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to mount the antenna up there on the peak of my gable. Part of it is because I’m slightly handicapped, but mostly it’s because I would rather give up my ham license than go to the edge of my roof up that high. NYØI to the rescue! I’ve written about Dean before on this blog. He’s a great guy who would give you the shirt off his back. Well, Dean came over a couple days ago and put up my antenna for me, then joined my family for lunch. He’s a MN State Trooper and I’m an ex-cop from the Twin Cities, so we had plenty in common to talk about.

I’ve had to fiddle with the settings in EchoLink to get it to work right, but it seems to finally be working great. The two hardest things to get right were decoding DTMF tones properly and keeping two repeaters from chasing their tails when EchoLinked. After finally figuring out the right DTMF settings, I nearly pulled my hair out trying to test them with my HT. Finally I realized that I was de-sensing my Yaesu FT-1500M every time I transmitted with my HT! When I went a block away, it worked fine.

Now the National Weather Service office can EchoLink directly to Dean’s repeater so that they can hear SKYWARN spotters here in Granite Falls. Alternatively we can link his repeater with the repeater in Madison, to which the NWS already EchoLinks during severe weather — all you have to do is punch in the right DTMF code, and my EchoLink station will dutifully link them up.

Now I just need to get a better smartphone so I can run that EchoLink app . . .

Here are some photos of Dean mounting my antenna and of the station itself:

Click to view slideshow.


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