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.


New DMR repeaters and changes to WC4EOC-9

From Hilton, W4GHD

I announced yesterday during the WCARES monthly meeting that Williamson County EMA will install two new DMR repeaters on Tuesday, Dec 22 2020 for use of WCARES and the entire Amateur Radio Community.

One repeater will be located at the Trinity/Nolensville Tower off Clovercroft Road (440.6875 +5); the second on the Tower just above Century Court (440.5875 +5) near downtown Franklin where the WCARES hub (444.025) is also located.

The Trinity/Nolensville Tower did not have an immediately available UHF antenna for the new DMR Repeater. So, we agreed to take WC4EOC-9 off the air temporarily to free up an antenna for the DMR repeater.

WC4EOC-8 will continue on the air at 145.050 with VARA FM 1200 and 1200 Packet to serve Winlink users.

Hopefully an additional UHF antenna will be installed at the Tower in the not too distant future and allow the UHF node to resume operations.

I know you will all join me in thanking Bill Jorgensen, K4COM and Director of the Williamson County Office of Public Safety and all the people at WCEMA and thank them for all they do for WCARES.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Hilton
W4GHD


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 .


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.

 

 


August 2020 Virtual Monthly Meeting – Emergency Ops Plan, Winlink and more

Friends,

The WCARES Monthly Meeting for August was held this past Saturday. Here are the videos of the presentations for those who were unable to attend.

WCARES Emergency Communications Operations Plan by WB4RHQ: https://youtu.be/OTFNI89V-io

Winlink Presentation by W4PHS: https://youtu.be/IH8671kyyHQ

Virtual Ham Shack Tour by WB4RHQ: https://youtu.be/t2xQ8KgW6f4

Enjoy!

Cliff (N4CCB)


San Diego ARES – Winlink series

The San Diego ARES have put together a series of short videos to help those new to Winlink navigate Winlink Express software. Topics include installation, configuration, ICS forms and more.

You can find the playlist for this Youtube series here:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL-7mirT-kjfs84FQzLr-qv066Kl94rtYM