Winlink Thursday #4 with the American Red Cross (updated)

Again this year, the American Red Cross (ARC) will be conducting Emergency Communications (EmComm) training drills and exercises using Winlink.

(* This event counts towards WCARES participation requirements )

A groups.io group has been set up for announcements and information:

https://groups.io/g/ARC-EmComm-Training

You can join that group or simply access the messages using the Message History calendar at the bottom of the page linked above.

The fourth exercise for 2021 is Thursday, Jan. 28th – You can find the details in groups.io message #16 and groups.io message #18 .

There is an article covering the recent Red Cross & USGS drills in the February QST starting on page 71. You can find a link to that in groups.io message #17 .

The third exercise for 2021 was Thursday, Jan. 21st. You can find the details in groups.io message #11 . Note the request to include the words THIS IS A DRILL in the title of this and any other form used during these practice sessions.

The second exercise for 2021 was Thursday, Jan. 14th and was slightly more involved than the first requiring copying and sending an ARC-213 form. You can find all the details in of groups.io message #10 .

The first exercise for 2021 was Thursday, Jan. 7th and the straight-forward instructions were provided in a PDF document linked from the bottom of groups.io message #9 .

Here is the announcement from Mike Walters, W8ZY, CT ARES SEC:


Well, we’ve pulled through 2020 and are ready to resume our popular Winlink Thursday exercises. Our goal for these sessions is to help you learn more about Winlink and how it can be used to support emergency communications for the American Red Cross.

In January, we will repeat the exercises we did last fall as 4 weekly exercises to review and practice the skills identified for a Basic Operator. Beginning in February, we will shift to a monthly exercise on the second Thursday of the month to help prepare operators for the May 8th exercise.

Each week in January, you will receive an email notification from the ARC-EmComm-Training groups.io with directions for that week’s exercise. You can send your message at any on the Thursday listed for the exercise. Our divisional clearinghouses will then collect and process the messages with an acknowledgment and results made available that weekend

Our exercises are designed to introduce you to the concept of sending email using radio where traditional internet is not available. Sending a digital message can improve efficiency and accuracy when passing traffic in an emergency. To get started you will need to install the Winlink software on your computer. You will also need a way to get the message from your computer to your radio. A Terminal Node Controller (TNC) like those from Kantronics, if you have a packet node nearby, or a sound card interface like the SignaLink can be purchased to make this connection.

To help guide you through downloading, installing and using Winlink, there are many video tutorials available on the internet. We have listed several videos and other resources in the Winlink Proficiency Goals found in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive. In that same folder, you will find a map of Red Cross Divisions and a table listing the Winlink Tactical address for each division’s clearinghouse. These addresses are used for collecting the training messages that are sent as part of Winlink Thursday and the May general exercise.

We encourage everyone to make use of available RF gateways when possible. If you are not able to access a Winlink gateway via RF, feel free to participate using Telnet. While it is best to be able to send your traffic over the air, it is fine to use Telnet to become familiar with Winlink and be able to navigate the software.

Attached is our first Winlink Thursday (WT) exercise of 2021. In this exercise, you will complete a Winlink Check-In form and send it to your Divisional Clearinghouse. Refer to the map in the General Information Folder on the shared Google drive to find the Winlink Tactical address for your division. It is important to follow the directions and fill in the fields as directed. This will allow our divisions to extract information from the check-in form some what automatically.

If you have difficulties or questions, we have a team of volunteers available to assist. Send your questions to winlinktech@redcross.org and one of our WInlink Elmers will get back to you.


Jan 2021 Virtual Monthly Meeting: Hospital Net, Winter Field Day and Vacation Shack Tour!

Our EC, Ed WB4RHQ dropped in briefly before travelling to the all-day ARRL Board Meeting – virtually on the other computer.

Presentations & Shack Tour!

Today Trey, KI4ZIN gave a presentation on the Hospital Net, discussing the organizations and people involved along with how and when the net is conducted. The net takes place primarily on the MTEARS UHF linked repeater system and provides backup communications options for facilities and primary communications in the event of an emergency. Trey also mentioned they are always looking for new volunteers to help out. Get in touch with Trey or use the Contact form on the website if you are interested in getting involved.

Cliff, N4CCB ran through a more detailed overview of Winter Field Day this year – expect to hear more from Cliff in future WCARES Notes e-mails and keep an eye on the Event Calender:

https://wcares.org/events/event/winter-field-day-2021/

Garry, W9WHF gave us a Virtual Shack Tour of his vacation setup and discussed the antennas, the radio gear and the challenge of salt coating pretty much everything. As this is a temporary spot he needed to be sure to leave it better than he found it which required some creative solutions, particularly with 4 radios and 4 antennas! The discussion about low power supply voltage at the radio due to corrosion will be of interest to anyone, even without the salt air.

Hospital Net – Trey Spain, KI4ZIN

https://youtu.be/AsQ93aLDIOU

Winter Field Day 2021 – Cliff Batson, N4CCB

https://youtu.be/gEfw8C741EI

Virtual Ham Shack Tour # 7 – Garry Decker, W9WHF

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK1MFQR81mI

These and other presentations will now always be listed under the new:

Library & Special Interests --> Presentations

section of the website.


ARRL News – Ed, WB4RHQ: ARES volunteers monitoring & standing by to assist

http://www.arrl.org/news/arrl-ares-volunteers-standing-by-to-assist-if-needed-in-wake-of-nashville-blast

ARRL ARES Volunteers Standing By to Assist if Needed in Wake of Nashville Blast
12/26/2020

ARRL Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) volunteers remain ready to deploy in Williamson County, Tennessee, in the aftermath of an apparently intentional explosion early on Christmas morning in downtown Nashville. In addition to injuring at least three people and possibly killing one, damaging more than 40 buildings, and causing multiple water main breaks, the blast disrupted telecommunication systems. The explosion occurred in front of an AT&T switching facility. Nashville’s mayor has declared a civil emergency and imposed a curfew through December 27. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee called the damage “shocking” and has requested a federal emergency declaration. ARRL Vice Director and Williamson County Emergency Coordinator Ed Hudgens, WB4RHQ, who lives in Nashville, is monitoring the situation.

“Here in Nashville and the surrounding counties things are a bit of a mess still. The explosion did a lot more damage than was originally thought. AT&T now has about 30 mobile cell units deployed throughout the area.

“Since about 0730 yesterday, we have had monitoring nets up and running on the local analog repeaters and DMR repeaters. We have mainly been answering questions as best we can considering the limited information coming out from AT&T. My ARES group is ready to deploy to the Williamson County PSC to assist with communications for various county offices when the call comes.

MTEARS [Middle Tennessee Emergency Amateur Repeater System] is holding nets on our DMR repeater system several times a day. The main repeater at the TEMA [Tennessee Emergency Management Agency] site is affected by the outage and fortunately we just last week got two DMR repeaters online in Williamson County, and all communications is going through them.

WCARES is holding a continuous net on our five-repeater linked system to assist hams as needed. We are relaying news updates from AT&T and county governments and assisting callers on AT&T to implement wireless calling on their phones. In the future we may start taking traffic and routing it to the state nets.” The monitoring net on the linked system will remain u p until AT&T systems begin to come back online, he added.

Hudgens said that a net is active in Davidson County in Middle Tennessee, in addition to the WCARES net. “The MTEARS system is active and providing similar information. Our DMR repeater system is also up and running. The main repeater at TEMA is down because of the AT&T outage, but just last week we got two new DMR repeaters up in Williamson county and all DMR traffic is running through them,” Hudgens said.

ARRL Headquarters has reached out to Tennessee Section Manager David Thomas, KM4NYI, to offer any possible assistance.

A public address system on the RV broadcast continuous warning messages, counting down from 15 minutes. Police called to the site after reports of gunfire quickly evacuated residents. According to FEMA, outages with patient-tracking systems were reported, but there is no anticipated impact on patient care. Air traffic at Vanderbilt University Medical Center is on hold due to a communication outage, FEMA said. Vanderbilt University Medical Center is the only Level I trauma center serving the region.

AT&T is experiencing service outages across middle Tennessee and Kentucky, including with local 911 systems, cable TV, telephone, and internet customers. The Tennessee Emergency Operations Center is at partial activation, experiencing telephone and internet outages. The FBI is heading up the investigation. FEMA reports it’s received no requests for assistance.


Dec 2020 Virtual Monthly Meeting: DMR, ARES in TN, Winter FD, POTA and Shack Tour!

Our EC, Ed WB4RHQ reported we had a record 63 attendees for this, the final Virtual Monthly Meeting of 2020 and he wished all a happy and safe holiday season. Thanks to everyone who took the time to join in for a great set of presentations.

DMR in Williamson Co. – Hilton Dean, W4GHD

Williamson Co. will be adding 2 DMR nodes on Tuesday, December 22, 2020:

  • Trinity site(*)
  • Century Court where the WCARES 444.025MHz hub is located

Thanks to Bill Jorgenson and the Office of Public Safety and also to Andrew Gossett, AK4FA who got the boards programmed. Look for upcoming e-mail with more details.
* The WC4EOC-9 UHF antenna will be used for the Trinity site DMR so WC4EOC-9 will be offline until another antenna can be added to this tower, likely in 2021.

Winter Field Day – Cliff Batson (N4CCB)

  • We are very fortunate that the Winter Field Day organizers will allow aggregation of scores like the ARRL did for Field Day in June. So everyone who includes the same group name will get their scores aggregated for a combined group score. You’ll need to decide how adventurous you want to be. Running off mains from inside your house with 100W on SSB and getting 100 QSOs would get you 200 points; running outside on batteries or a generator would get you 3200 points for those same QSOs. Something to think about! Cliff will have much more to say in the January meeting.

Presentations & Shack Tour!

The State of ARES in TN – Jim Snyder, AJ4NO, Tennessee Section Emergency Coordinator

https://youtu.be/ANNPMG9LBG0

Jim generously provided a copy of his presentation as well; you can read the PDF version here.

Parks On The Air – Tom Suggs N4MTE

https://youtu.be/brnt8Zpshto

and Tom generously provided a copy of his presentation so check this out as well:

Parks on the Air – WCARES Presentation by Tom, N4MTE

Virtual Shack Tour – Doug Miller (W4DML)

https://youtu.be/7edSXoYbwjQ

You can find videos of past meetings on the WCARES Media channel on Youtube .


Nov. 2020 Virtual Monthly Meeting: What’s in a bag, FT8 & FT4, Shack Tour!

(RJ’s tour video has been updated.)

This month Kevin, KO4HPE has a presentation on planning and building an effective go-bag, Hilton, W4GHD gives a Technical Presentation on digital modes FT8 and FT4 and RJ, KC4LRR takes us on a tour of his radio shack and laboratory!

What’s in a bag: Preparedness
By Kevin Fitch (KO4HPE)

https://youtu.be/64WfO0iPGeQ

FT8 & FT4
By Hilton Dean (W4GHD)

https://youtu.be/RtQXbVEqcP0

RJ Virtual Shack Tour
By RJ (KC4LRR)

https://youtu.be/TLCaljEq2FQ


Updated – Oct. 2020 Virtual Monthly Meeting – USGS Did You Feel It, Certificate Chasing, Shack tour

Update: Jeff’s presentation PDF has been added (find the link below)

ARRL ARES Presentation

This month a presentation by Oliver Dully, K6OLI on the use of Winlink in the USGS Did You Feel It? earthquake reporting program. Oliver is the District Emergency Coordinator for the ARES LAX Northeast District. Our EC, Ed WB4RHQ is planning to schedule a WCARES DYFI exercise.

https://youtu.be/sENkcx-21Ik

The Oliver’s video links:
DYFI introduction:
https://youtu.be/VgLhWqZIxNQ
Hands-on training:
https://youtu.be/-uqL_z_fG2w

Certificate Chasing

Jeff, WB5WAJ gave a talk on Certificate Chasing which included examples of the kinds of certificate programs out there and how to take part.

https://youtu.be/R0OuPpwb2ec

and Jeff’s presentation is here:

Certificate_Chasing_Oct2020_WB5WAJ.pdf

Virtual Ham Shack Tour #4 – KA4OTB

Jack Cox takes us on a virtual tour of his impressive shack.

https://youtu.be/rfr81mk1gyI


Updated – Red Cross Winlink Drill – November 14

Update – the folks who run the Florida Winlink Net have posted a FAQ answering questions like:

  • Solo or Team?
  • How many modes should I use?
  • What is the format of the tactical address to send to?
  • etc.

You can find this FAQ here:

https://johnsails.com/RADIO/w4akhnet/redcrossFAQ.pdf

From Mike Walters, W8ZY CT ARES SEC via W4WTN and AuxComm of TN.

There will be a Red Cross drill using Winlink on November 14th.

The purpose of this drill is to encourage more operators to learn about Winlink messaging and how to use the template for preformatted messages. The weekly practice has gone very well and more operators are participating.

The linked PDF below gives an overview of the drill and specific instructions on how to create and post the messages.

PDF: Drill_Instructions_IAP_-_11-14-2020.pdf

The drill is open to all operators and I encourage all ARES groups to offer this as a training exercise.

 

 


Sept. 2020 Virtual Monthly Meeting – TN Section Manager, Net Operations, Shack tour

ARRL ARES Presentation

David Thomas (KM4NYI)

David is the ARRL Section Manager for Tennessee

He had to appear at the Severiville, TN hamfest today so he recorded this video for us to play at the meeting.

https://youtu.be/aoIShoprYOU

WCARES Weekly Net

Laura Marler (N4CLO)

Laura gives us a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into calling the WCARES Monday night training net.

https://youtu.be/uYwskYfKaVY

Virtual Ham Shack Tour #3 – WB5WAJ

Jeff Standifer takes us on a virtual tour of his impressive shack.

https://youtu.be/vsS1Om1WvWM


Ed, WB4RHQ presentation on Task Book, training and WCARES membership requirements

Our EC, Ed Hudgens, WB4RHQ did a presentation on the Task Book, training and WCARES membership requirements during the June Virtual Monthly Meeting. You can find a copy of Ed’s presentation here:

https://wcares.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/WCARES-Task-Book-and-Training-Requirements.pdf

Cliff gave a detailed overview of the plans for Field Day – look for details in the WCARES Notes e-mails.


Jeff, WB5WAJ presents the ARRL ARES Task Book

From the ARRL Task Book introduction…

The Task Book is a working document that enable those ARES communicators electing to participate in the ARRL training plan, to track and document their training plan elements as they are completed toward the various levels of increasing proficiency.

As an ARES organization, WCARES will be using the Task Book for members who wish to advance their knowledge of emergency communications.

Jeff’s presentation has been added to the WCARES Youtube Channel – thanks Cliff, N4CCB:

https://youtu.be/ROomm5vKax0

To download the Task Book used by WCARES see the ARRL ARES Task Book – WCARES under

Join Us -> ARRL ARES Task Book – WCARES