Posts Tagged ‘public service’

National Night Out

National Night Out was celebrated at Veteran's Park in South Plainfield, NJ last night. The police, fire department, rescue squad and office of emergency management were all there. And so was SPARC.

We had several setups going in order to be able to demonstrate to the community the various aspects of Amateur Radio - hobby aspects in addition to emergency communications aspects.

I had my KX3 going to the PAR which was held up by my Jackite pole. Dave Hackett KD2FSI had a VHF/UHF station going, as well as his JT65 setup going, and was successfully working DX stations. Dave also had his satellite antenna out for display.

I had the distinct pleasure of having three QSOs while people watched. The first was with Jim WB0ZWW in Anthony, KS.  Jim was using his KX3 so it was a 2X QRP KX3 QSO. But what made it special was that Jim just started using QRP power levels today - so I ended up being one of his first QRP QSOs.  Conditions on 20 Meters were decent and we had a close to a 1/2 hour rag chew.

The next QSO was with W8DIZ, Diz from Flying Pigs fame. Diz was using a QRPp rig, and I was his first NJ QSO. Hearing that, I lowered my power from 5 Watts to 1 Watt and got a good signal report back from Diz. Not having gone milliwatting in a long time, I lowered my power to 500 mW. Diz gave me a 449. Not bad for 1/2 Watt to an end fed antenna in a park, being lifted by a Jackite pole!

My last QSO was with John K3WWP. I explained to him what we were doing in the park and how he was helping me demonstrate Amateur Radio. John surprised me by telling me that today was the anniversary of the start of his QRP QSO a Day streak, and that I was his first QSO inaugurating the beginning of his 22nd year of the streak.  Wow - what an honor and a privilege.

Dave's satellite antenna came in handy later on in the evening as there was a very nice pass of the ISS. It was a good elevation - about 56 degrees and it came shortly after sunset, so the space station was very bright.  Dave aimed his satellite antenna and we were easily able to hear packets coming down from the ISS. That was cool!

But the capper of the evening was a landing by the NJ State Police NorthStar helicopter. This is the helicopter used for various NJ State Police activities, but is most famous as the premier NJ Medivac Helicopter.

All in all, it was a very pleasant evening, and I was proud to be able to represent the South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club once again.

By the way, according to the Reverse Beacon Network, this is where my signal was being heard:

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

Long night

Last evening, I finished the last two of four FEMA courses on the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and the National Preparedness Framework (NPF) that I needed to take for an Auxiliary Communications Workshop being held in October.


This class is designed for those auxiliary emergency communicators and groups who volunteer to provide backup emergency radio communications support to public safety agencies. Typically, this includes amateur radio and Radio Emergency Associated Communications Team (REACT) communicators, but may include other volunteer emergency communicators.

Volunteer emergency communications operators/groups, using amateur radio, have been providing backup communications to public safety for nearly 100 years. Event planners, public safety officials, and emergency managers at all levels of government utilize their services. Often, amateur radio services have been used when other forms of communications have failed or have been disrupted. Today, nearly all the states/territories have incorporated some level of participation by amateur radio auxiliary communication operators into their TICPs and SCIPs.

This course focuses on auxiliary communications interoperability, the relationship between the COML and the volunteer, emergency operations center (EOC) etiquette, on-the-air etiquette, FCC rules and regulations, auxiliary communications training and planning, and emergency communications deployment. It is intended to supplement and standardize an operator’s experience and knowledge of emergency amateur radio communications in a public safety context.

It's a two day event, held over the weekend of October 24th and 25th at the Middlesex County Fire Academy.  Looks to be interesting. My registration was received and accepted pending my sending in the certificates of completion, which I sent in this morning.

The FEMA courses were comprehensive in scope. Each was designed to be completed in about 3 hours and I came in slightly under that amount of time - maybe two and a half hours or two hours and forty five minutes each.

I crammed two in last night (which wasn't wise) as each evening for the rest of this week is booked with other activities. I was pretty bleary eyed for that last exam, but was pleased when I got the e-mail that I passed.

FEMA offers a lot of free, on-line independent study courses.  You can look them up at

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

Hams doing what they do best

These articles are from the ARRL Website:

As the death toll climbs in the wake of the devastating magnitude 7.9 earthquake in Nepal, rescue and recovery work is continuing, and Amateur Radio volunteers have been a part of it. The earthquake — said to be the worst in Nepal in 80 years — hit an area between the capital city of Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara. An emergency net had been running around the clock on 20 meters with Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU, as net control station and other stations in India participating. Bhide is the Amateur Radio Society of India National Coordinator for Disaster Communication.

The Nepal disaster has claimed more than 3200 lives and wreaked widespread damage. Many others are missing or have been injured. Hospitals have been flooded with those who suffered serious injuries in the earthquake. Persistent aftershocks continue to terrorize those who managed to escape harm. On Mount Everest an avalanche devastated base camp, and at least 100 climbers were stranded on the mountain. Several mountaineers were reported among the dead.

Hams in India have been among the most active responders. Parts of eastern India also suffered earthquake damage. Within Nepal, members of the Nepal Amateur Radio Society are reported to be active on HF emergency nets as well as on VHF/UHF to handle local traffic.

“The situation in Nepal is getting worse, as tremors continue to strike every hour at a magnitude of 4.7,” Bhide said. The government of Nepal has asked all people to stay out of buildings, as damage is expected to increase. Due to the conditions, emergency communication with 9N1 stations came to a standstill; no communication was possible overnight as the earthquake demolished the building where emergency communication gear was installed.”

He said Satish Kharel, 9N1AA, and his daughter Tej, 9N1DX, were able to return to the air this morning. Both are in Kathmandu. 9N1AA has said he’s operating low power with the help of solar power and coordinating with the Nepal police in Kathmandu. Suresh Upreti, 9N1HA, has been assisting with emergency communication as well. Internet service has been spotty in Nepal at best. So far, there has been no cross-border movement of either radio equipment and radio amateurs.

Sanjeeb Panday, 9N1SP, has indicated that he will be on 21.360 MHz at 1645 UTC, and radio amateurs not involved in the disaster response should avoid this frequency. 9N1SP has intermittent Internet service. He has said that propagation on 20 meters, where an initial emergency net was established was poor, but he has been in contact on 15 meters with Tim McFadden, KB2RLB/T6TM, a Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) member in Afghanistan.

Ironically, McFadden, Kharel, Panday, and others took part in MARS exercises in 2013 and 2014 in which the emergency scenario was an earthquake in Nepal. Army MARS Program Officer Paul English, WD8DBY, said the response to this earthquake followed the procedures trained during those earlier exercises. McFadden had been scanning International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Global Emergency Center of Activity (GECOA) frequencies for stations in Nepal. GECOA frequencies were established as places to pass emergency traffic. Worldwide GECOA frequencies are 21.360 MHz, 18.160 MHz, 14.300 MHz, 7.240 MHz, 7.060 MHz, 3.985 MHz, and 3.750 MHz.

Nepal’s first Amateur Radio repeater, set up in 2012 by the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), and at least a dozen ham in various locations were reported on VHF. The 9N1KS repeater (434.500 MHz in/145.000 MHz out) is on the NSET headquarters building on the outskirts of Kathmandu. A drill conducted in 2012 indicated good coverage of the Kathmandu Valley.

The US chapter of the Computer Association of Nepal provided technical and financial assistance for the repeater and supplied equipment to use it. The repeater has a battery back-up power source.

The NGO “Humanity Road” is maintaining an updated summary of damage as well as of immediate needs.

“Hams from India and other countries have set an example to provide essential communication during disasters,” Bhida said. “The coordination and cooperation have also demonstrated [there is] one world, one language.” — Thanks to Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU; Jim Linton, VK3PC; Tim McFadden, T6TM; Lloyd Colston, KC5FM; US Army MARS, and others


Hams in Nepal, already in limited supply, continue to turn out to aid in the ongoing recovery from the April 25 earthquake that struck the Himalayan nation. Radio amateurs in neighboring India are also pitching in, and at least two groups of hams from Gujarat, India, are planning to travel to Nepal and set up stations “at critical places,” said Amateur Radio Society of India (ARSI) National Disaster Coordinator Jayu Bhide, VU2JAU. He is planning to set up HF and VHF stations at Gorakhpur, on the India-Nepal border. Joining him will be Ananda Majumdar, VU2AGJ, and Sandip Baruah, VU2MUE.

 "Nepal hams are facing a hard situation,” said Bhide, who has been among the net control stations for an HF net initiated in the wake of the disaster.

The Indian hams traveling to Nepal may not be permitted to operate once they arrive, however. In an e-mail to members, ARSI President Gopal Madhavan, VU2GMN, said that Satish Kharel, 9N1AA, confirmed that “individual operators from other countries are not permitted to operate in Nepal, even during the emergency, unless they are part of a government team.” Madhavan said he was issuing the alert for the benefit of anyone planning to cross into Nepal from India and operate there.

Bhide said more Nepalese hams not formerly involved with the disaster response have since joined their Amateur Radio colleagues to volunteer communication support.

One major effort on the part of rescue teams is attempting to locate the missing, as well as to recover quake victims buried beneath debris. More than 4000 people died as a result of the earthquake and subsequent aftershocks. The disaster also has stranded many people, as roads were cut off by landslides and damage.

Earlier today, Sanjeeb Panday, 9N1SP, received support from three other Nepalese Amateur Radio operators — Ajay Bhattarai, 9N1AJ; Aayush Kumar Chaudhary, 9N1AY, and Sudarshan Sharma, 9N1SH. “Dr Sanjeeb and his team continue to operate HF radio out of a local University in Kathmandu, according to a report forwarded to ARRL by Army MARS Director of Operations Paul English, WD8DBY. “Dr Panday and his team were able to send HF radio slow-scan images of the disaster via Amateur Radio to the Army MARS operator in Afghanistan,” English said. The images subsequently were posted to the US Pacific Command response coordination portal, APAN. Tim McFadden, KB2RLB/T6TM, a Military Auxiliary Radio System (MARS) member in Afghanistan, has been monitoring the emergency traffic. Ironically, McFadden, Kharel, Panday, and others took part in MARS exercises in 2013 and 2014 in which the emergency scenario was an earthquake in Nepal. English said the response to this earthquake followed the procedures used for training during those earlier exercises.

The earthquake — said to be the worst in Nepal in 80 years — hit an area between the capital city of Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara. An emergency net has been running around the clock on HF. Members of the Nepal Amateur Radio Society were reported to be active on HF emergency nets as well as on VHF/UHF to handle local traffic.

And then there's this from the Free Press Journal:

307 from Maha rescued

Mumbai : After the conventional mode of communication like mobile and telephone systems broke down in Nepal, the state Disaster Management cell has dusted off their HAM radio sets, a 19th century communication device which is famous for its long range and network.
Additional Resident Commissioner, Maharashtra Sadan, Samir Sahai said, “Rescue operation has been hampered due to bad weather. I was informed by the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs) that due to bad weather choppers could not operate in the hilly area to airlift people from remote areas. So far 307 people from Maharashtra have been rescued.”
After the request from the state government, a few amateur HAM radio operators in the city had rendered their skills in the time of distress to set up communication centers. A team of 15 HAM operators of Disaster Amateur Radio Emergency Service (DARES) joined Disaster Management cell of state and started an operation center.
Ankur Puranik, a businessman and an amateur HAM radio operator who is voluntarily working for state disaster said, “Since yesterday (Monday) 12 HAM operators surfaced in Nepal. We are exchanging messages like their demands and supply, stock of medicines particularly TT injections, antibiotics and messages to family members.”
Puranik added, “Phone lines are already damaged in Nepal. It is raining and there are heavy winds so mobiles do not have range. However, our operations are going on with some atmospheric disturbance.”
According to state government records, so far 307 tourist residents of Maharashtra have been rescued and landed in Delhi. Provision of accommodation is being made at Maharashtra Sadan and also transport provisions to their hometown are being made.
While talking to FPJ, State Disaster Management Cell Director Suhas Divase said, “We are in touch with National Disaster Management Chief Major General Anurag Gupta. We are also constantly monitoring stock of medicines, skilled manpower and other material.” He added, “The state had already sent a stock of antibiotic medicines, TT injections, bandage, hand gloves and other medicines.”
Vishnudas Sheshrao


Another case of Amateur Radio coming into significance "When All Else Fails". If you're not familiar with formal message handling, at the very least, I would advise listening to one of your local VHF/UHF traffic nets. Become familiar with the procedures and formats used for passing third party traffic. The experience you gain via NTS would become very handy should you ever find yourself in a bona fide emergency communications event. Inquire with your local municipal governing body to find out if there's a CERT team set up in your town. If not, perhaps you can meet with the local Director of Emergency Management and discuss the possibility of starting one up.

It's better to be prepared and not needed than to be needed and not be prepared, and not knowing what to do.

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

Field Day 2014 – Wow!

That’s all I can say – wow!  A magnificent time was had at the first Field Day for the South Plainfield Radio Club.  I posted the following to QRP-L, and I’ll insert some other thoughts at the end.

The South Plainfield Amateur Radio Club operated Field Day in Spring Lake Park in South Plainfield, NJ. We used Club call NJ2SP, and ran as 2A (Battery). The “2A” were two Elecraft KX3s. The CW station ran to a EARCHI antenna (53 foot radiator, 9:1 UNUN, 25 foot length of coax). The elevated end of the EARCHI was about 30-35 foot up in a tree. The SSB station used a G5RV, about the same height between two trees.

Our operating position behind our club banner. 
And if you look closely (click on the picture for a bigger image) you can see the EARCHI antenna sloping upward and away towards the tree it was anchored in.

The EARCHI antenna was a resounding success. The KX3’s internal tuner handled it exceedingly well on all bands. We made just a tad over 270 CW QSOs, with our best DX being Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Dave W2OIL and Marv K2VHW working on deploying G5RV feedline.

The G5RV worked exceeding well, also. The KX3 again tuned without a hiccup. The SSB team completed just over 100 SSB QSOs – these guys are all QRO ops and they were skeptical about completing even a single QRP SSB QSO. They ended up surprising themselves, and they ended up being quite amazed at what they were able to accomplish. Yes, it was not as easy as using 100W rigs, but even in keeping with the ARRL’s 5 Watt limit for the battery category, they were quite pleased.

 Power source for the laptops

Power source for the CW station

We operated on solar charged batteries all weekend without a hitch. The energy hogs for the weekend were the two laptops that we used for logging. The Field Day rules state that since we were not using the laptops for rig control, we could have powered them from mains (which we did not have) or a generator (which we had, but didn’t use). In keeping with our self imposed “severe emergency capability” theme in order to make this a drill as much as possible, we also powered them off a deep cycle battery using an inverter. We needed to switch the laptops over to a fresh battery somewhere in the mid morning hours, Sunday.

SPARC’s first Field day was an outstanding and unqualified success, and I think we ‘busted’ the myth that Field Day has to be QRO to be fun.


The EARCHI worked great and way better than I dared hope for. With less exceptions than I can count on one hand, I was able to work everyone that I tried to.  Being on an energy budget because of the batteries and wanting them to last all weekend if possible, I didn’t try calling CQ or running a frequency (it was S&P all weekend).  I will reserve that for FOBB and the Skeeter Hunt, which are only four hour events. I can afford to be a little “battery foolish” during those, and I expect the EARCHI to work just as well during those two events.

Our publicity table.

The other Godsend of the weekend? That Joplin ARC antenna launcher kit that I purchased and built up. We were able to place antenna lines pretty much exactly where we wanted with hardly any effort at all.  That thing is one of the greatest things since sliced bread! One or two of the guys were skeptical about being able to place an antenna line so easily and accurately with such little effort. The old saying is “That seeing is believing”. They’re believers now!

The VHF/UHF antennas for our GOTA station.

Protection from South Plainfield’s Finest!

We had wonderful support from our Mayor, Town Council, Office of Emergency Management and our Police Department.  They even parked a car by our site for the overnight, to act as a deterrent against any potential mischief makers!
Tim AB2ZK making SSB QSOs in the dead of night.

Marv K2VHW taking a late night turn at the CW station.

Dawn breaking over South Plainfield on Sunday morning.

Field Day aftermath. 
After being awake for 24+ hours, I fell asleep while waiting for the Mayor to show up late Sunday morning. I woke up in time for his visit, though!

Being in the park, we had a lot of curious people come by.  We answered any and all questions and we handed out quite a bit of ARRL printed material about Amateur Radio. An encouraging sign was that several parents came by and wanted more information for their tech minded offspring.

Squeezing out some last minute QSOs as Field Day draws to a close. Tim AB2ZK on phone, W2LJ on CW.
The moral of the story is that Field Day is fun!  It doesn’t have to be elaborate to be a success. With two wire antennas and two QRP rigs anchored at 5 Watts, we had a blast.  Oh, and we made the local paper, too!  Some of the details were not exactly reported accurately, but it was good exposure for Amateur Radio nonetheless!

In closing, I’ll answer a question that was posed to me by a member of the visiting public, the way I wanted to answer it. A woman asked me if it was a bit extreme staying awake throughout the 24 hours of Field Day. Of course, I gave her the answer of “In the event of an emergency or a natural disaster, sleep may very well be a luxury, …….” Yadda, yadda, yadda.

What I wanted to say was any of the following:

1) It’s Field Day! Sleep is overrated!
2) Heck no Lady! Field Day is fun!

Or I could’ve gotten all Clint Eastwood and said:
3) Ma’am? I’ll sleep when I’m dead!

One final, last added mention.  Last year, Marv K2VHW introduced me to Deep Woods Off moist towelettes.  They are a must for the Field Day Go Package. They worked extremely well, and I was not bothered by a single “Skeeter” (pesky little fellows, I should have had them pound brass!) all night long.

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

Peoples is crazy!

When I was a kid, I vaguely remember a comedian on TV, who would say in a thick, mock German accent, “Peoples is crazy!” or something very similar to that.  That line kept running through my mind tonight as I volunteered as a CERT member for South Plainfield Emergency Management at the South Plainfield High School graduation ceremony, held at the football field.

Jost Field – the South Plainfield High School Football Field and Track facility.

We provided a whole bunch of services. We directed people to parking spots, and as it was a hot day – we handed out cold bottled water to anyone who desired it, we provided “a presence” and kept our eyes peeled for anyone who looked like they might get ill or faint, or might otherwise need assistance.

By the end of the ceremony, 260 high school grads received their diplomas after many speeches, much cheering and screaming and hoopla.

The best came at the end of the night, though, as dusk was falling and the near full moon started to rise.  On three separate occasions, I kept spectators from jumping over the chain link fence and running onto the football field to greet their graduates.  In each case, I’m not talking about kids here. I am referring to older “Dad types” who should have known better than to attempt such a stunt.  On each occasion, as the improbable was about to be tried, I simply but firmly stated, “Please go around to the gate and don’t jump over the fence.”  The first two guys said nothing – and just complied.

The third guy?  Oh, he was a good one. A rather snarky “And why should I listen to you?” was what I got for my request.  Rather than argue, I just very politely asked, “Sir, do you really want your son or daughter to remember their high school graduation night as the time that Dad had to go to the Emergency Room to get stitches in his leg after he cut it while trying to jump the football field fence?” He looked at me, thought about it for half a second and went around to the gate.

Peoples is crazy!

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

Follow up – Saw my fence jumper today at the A&P – yep, the third guy.  While I was shopping, he tapped me on the shoulder, shook my hand, and thanked me for preventing him from doing something “potentially very stupid”, as he put it.  Sometimes it’s all worth it.

ARRL is doing a study

This came down from the leadership of Northern New Jersey ARES; but it should be of interest to anyone who is involved with Emergency Communications:

FYI…the info below comes from the ARRL’s EmComm and Regulatory offices and needs your thoughtful and timely input…the ARRL states:

“The FCC has released a Public Notice soliciting input for the Congressional directed study of Amateur Radio Emergency Communications and Impediments to the amateur’s ability to provide those communications. This is the ARRL-proposed study which we have been seeking for the last 3 years….”

The links below should help you with filing your comments and reports….thank you all in advance for you help in this and all EmComm related matters

Additional information is also on the ARRL Website:

If you have participated in an EmComm event or deployment since January 1, 2000, we ask you to provide specific information on the activation by completing this form by clicking here.

If you are affected the deed restrictions, HOAs, or CC&Rs, please complete this form by clicking here.

TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE! Congress directed that the FCC provide the report back within 180-days and that clock is already counting. The FCC is only accepting comments for a 45-day period, which will end May 17,2012. In order for the ARRL to collate your information in a common report, we ask that you send in your information no later than WEDNESDAY APRIL 25.


I know a lot of you out there are involved in Public Service activities and communications, so please, if you have something to contribute, please do so!

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

Tips for a Sucessful Pumpkin Patrol

With Halloween just a few days away, the Pumpkin Patrols will be rolling out. Here’s a few tips to keep in mind if this is your first one. If you’ve done PP before, feel free to post other tips based on your experience. Hopefully this year will be “uneventful” but in a good way!

Happy Pumpkin is Happy!

Courtesy of KB2MOB

So how do you keep yourself occupied for those few hours you are sitting in your vehicle, watching out? How about a nice audio book? Toss it into your car’s CD player or rip it into your iPod or mp3 player and play it through your stereo. No headphones, as you need to also have your radio’s volume up to hear the check in calls on the repeater. Why not a Nintendo DS or a game on your smart phone? Well, you need to be using your eyes to make sure no one is doing something they are not supposed to out there. Music is good too.

If you do see someone, the number one rule is, DON’T GET OUT OF YOUR VEHICLE. Your job is to observe and report. Call it in to the net control and they will alert the police. Get as much info as you can. Is there a car? Make, model and color? A license plate number? How tall were they? Did they wear hoodies? Hair color? How old did they look? The more info you have to give to the police, the easier it is for them to find the people. Having a notepad and something to write on and with is a must have too.

And remember to bring a little snack and drink in case you get hungry or thirsty. And also, and I can’t stress this enough, GO TO THE BATHROOM BEFORE YOU GO OUT. I’m sure you catch my drift as to why right? Nothing is more embarrasing then standing outside your car, and missing your check in. Yeah.. it can happen.

So anyone else have any tips? Share them here.


Rich also writes a Tech blog and posts stories every Tuesday and Thursday on Q103, Albany’s #1 Rock Station website, as well as Amateur Radio stories every Monday thru Friday on AmiZed Studios and hosts a podcast called The Kim & Rich Show with his fiance’ Kim Dunne

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