Happy New Year, MCARES!

I’m so glad to be entering a new year with the state’s best radio crew. I would especially like to thank the leadership team for spending an entire Saturday in December to chart our path through the new year. As we go forward in the new year a lot of the same skills and themes from before will be returning. There are also minor tweaks to improve on the strong operating foundation we have built over the last several years.

Our main focus areas will continue to be digital field operations (Winlink from temporary locations) and building our technical and operation knowledge and skills. We have some new equipment, and a slight revision to the existing field kits. By late spring, I expect a new portable asset to be deployed (the Spartan trailer). Our exercises and drills will attempt to repeat and cement our basic skills, while allowing room for growth as well.

Later in the year we will have our campout, which I have aligned with the “Worked All Europe” DX SSB contest. I hope to include a tailgate swap meet element to the August go kit show-and-tell. Right off the bat in January there is Winter Field Day on Jan 25th and our first drill will be a pajama drill on February 1st. I hope to see everyone at the January general membership meeting for a discussion of SOP revisions and further discussion of the year ahead.

Thanks to all, and I am sincerely looking forward to it!

Membership News

by Deb KK7DEB on 2019-07-18

Welcome to our newest members! Sue KG7ALI joins the Alpha Team, Catha KJ7FWT joins the Bravo Team, Jon KG7HVA joins the Delta Team, and Richard KJ7FBH joins the Echo Team.

The annual ARES raffle continues at our monthly meeting. We hope you can find something that you would like to have. Tickets are $5 and proceeds are used to purchase food items for our go-kit show and tell and Field Day BBQ’S. The funds are also used to purchase propane for the ARES trailer. You can see the raffle items at the back tables at the ARES meeting where tickets are also sold. The drawing will be at our August Meeting and you will not need to be present to win!

We’ll have a full training on this topic at the September meeting. In the meantime, here is some food for thought. As emergency amateur radio operators, we are called on to pass information during crises/disasters. Our roles don’t include a lot of decision making. Exhale.

The bare minimum here is to show up, team well, and get the job done. Know how to use your equipment, where to be, who to connect with, and who is in charge. If any of these concepts cause you angst or raises your blood pressure, that’s your first area of focus. Spending some time and energy there will increase your confidence and reduce your stress in an actual event.

Here are some basic pointers for managing yourself as the pressure increases:

  • Take care of your body. Make sure you have ample food and water as well as clothing matched to the environment. Get adequate rest before, during, and after.
  • Know how to operate your equipment. If you don’t or you’re having an off day, you can still be helpful. Volunteer for a role you feel more comfortable doing.
  • You need to be able to accept and follow directions, given directly.
  • Know when to take a break (self or other directed), when to ask for help, and when to offer.
  • SLOW down. Equipment fails; you don’t have to.
  • Don’t ask “what if?” If you can’t avoid this common pitfall, try changing it to “how?”

Most people are prone to increased stress in stressful situations. It’s not rocket science, it’s life preserving. It’s your job to know and work with your triggers in stressful events/situations. Sharing these with your team lead in advance can assist with assignments and practice opportunities during drills.

Teaming well and taking care gets the job done.

In September we’ll go over both in-the-moment and long-term strategies/concepts for maintaining calm during stressful events.

The weekly MCARES net meets every Wednesday at 7:00 PM on MC-1 (except on the second Wednesday of the month, when we either do a simplex net or use our portable or cross-band repeater). This is an information net which starts with a brief training “Gem” and an opportunity for questions and sharing when net control asks, “Are there any announcements, questions, contacts, or other business for the net?” We want your participation!

This is not just a numbers net where all we want is the maximum number of checkins. Therefore, checking in with net control before the net starts or checking in at the beginning of the net and asking for an early out is not appropriate. If you have other obligations and can’t make the net, that’s OK. There are no “Brownie points” for a hit-and-run checkin.

The net rarely runs for more than 30 minutes. Once you do check in, you are expected to stay on frequency throughout the net. There are often more announcements at the end of the net, or people asking for contacts after the net. It is sad when they find the person they heard check in is no longer on the air. And if you stick around a little longer, there is often an informal “rag chew” after the net closes.

Last fall I bought a used ICOM IC-7200 radio so I could start operating on the HF bands. Part of the attraction of this radio is the built-in soundcard. It takes a single USB cable for both the soundcard and for radio control. My goal was to use Winlink on HF.

I found a Youtube video by Commsprepper on setting up Winlink Winmor for this specific radio. From this video, I learned about some great information included with Winlink:

In Winlink, click on Help -> Help Index…, then click on IC-7200 or Radios with Built-in Soundcards or Sound Cards or Winmor Setup

In my case, the IC-7200 section had everything I needed, and the video showed the radio side of the steps. The basic information needed from the radio is the USB device address, plus there were a couple of mode changes.

Next start Winlink, open a “Winmor Winlink” session, click on Settings, and then click on “WINMOR TNC Setup”. (You may get a Setup window the first time you select a Winmor session.) You should only need to set the “WINMOR Capture Device” and the “WINMOR Playback Device” to your radio’s sound device (e.g. “USB Audio Codec”). Click “Update” when done.

Click on Settings again, then click on “Radio Setup”. In the “Select Radio Model” pull-down, select your radio model (I selected Icom 7200). Enter the radio’s configured USB address (in my case, in the “Icom Address” field), and click on “USB Digital” so Winlink can control the radio. For the “Radio Control Port” field, select the radio’s COM port in the “Serial Port to Use” field, and set the radio’s configured baud rate. For the “PTT Port”, select the radio or COM port in the “Serial Port to Use” field. Click on “Update” when done.

Now click on “Channel Selection” and get the current list of HF RMS Gateway channels using the “Update Table Via Internet” option. Pick a channel with a high “Path Reliability Estimate” and “Path Quality Estimate”. Double click on a channel row to select the channel and close the HF Channel Selector window. You should see/hear the radio change to the frequency of the selected channel.

Now click on Start to initiate a connection attempt. (Commsprepper also has a video called “SignaLink and Winmor”, which shows a session using Winmor.)

Setting up for ARDOP follows a similar sequence. Open an “ARDOP Winlink” session, click on Settings, then click on “Ardop TNC Setup” to enter the “Ardop Capture Device” and “Ardop Playback Device” (set to the USB Audio Codec), and then do the same “Radio setup” steps mentioned above. If you have already setup Winmor, these settings may be set for ARDOP too.

More information:
This document has good information overall, and a detailed Winmor setup section.

Field Day 2019

by Web Manager on 2019-06-19

Join Multnomah County ARES on the waterfront at Willamette Park in Portland for Field Day this year! The event will run for 24 hours, from 11:00 AM on Saturday, June 22 until 11:00 AM on Sunday, June 23.

What is Field Day?

Field Day is ham radio’s open house. Every June, more than 40,000 hams throughout North America set up temporary transmitting stations in public places to demonstrate ham radio’s science, skill and service to our communities and our nation. It combines public service, emergency preparedness, community outreach, and technical skills all in a single event. Field Day has been an annual event since 1933, and remains the most popular event in ham radio.

From the ARRL’s Field Day web page (www.arrl.org/field-day)

For licensed radio operators, we will have two HF stations set up for the duration of the event. We will also be running a Get On The Air (GOTA) station on Saturday until 9:00 PM so folks who don’t have an amateur radio license can give the radio a try with help from a mentor.

Location & Directions

Our Field Day site is at Willamette Park, 6500 SW Macadam Ave, in Portland. We will be operating from the covered “Picnic A” area near the south end of the park. The red location pin on the Google map below is directly over the picnic shelter (zooming in and turning on the aerial view will help orient you). There is also a park map available here.

If you’re driving, find your best route to SW Macadam Ave, then head east onto SW Nebraska St, and then turn right (south) onto SW Beaver Ave / SW Idaho St. Continue past the large parking lot. Picnic A is located just northwest of the small parking lot near the end of the road. Parking fee information can be found on the Portland Parks & Recreation website.

If you’re taking Trimet, the #35 Macadam/Greeley bus is probably the best option. Get off at SW Macadam & Nevada (stop ID 3620 if southbound or 3622 if northbound), then head east on SW Nevada St. Where the street turns right, you’ll find a footpath that will lead you into the park. At the end of the path, turn right onto the road and continue toward the parking lot. The picnic shelter should be visible on your left.

Come one, come all to Field Day 2019!

Join us at Willamette Park Saturday, June 22 from 11:00 AM until Sunday, June 23 11:00 AM for fun and fellowship at picnic area A. Three portable HF stations will be making contacts near and far. If you have not tried HF yet now is your chance, no special license class needed. The GOTA (Get on the AIR) station does not even require a ham license so bring a friend who may be interested. See our field antennas high in the trees and watch our portable stations make and log contacts with the thousands of hams on the air across the country and the world. No RSVP is needed so just stop by.

Congratulations and welcome to our two new assistant emergency coordinators (AECs). Carrie K7CAC and John KI7LYP have agreed to take on these important roles.

The annual ARES raffle will begin at the June 27 meeting. Take a look at all the goodies we have for you and bring a little cash to purchase tickets for the items you would like to have. The raffle money supports our ARES trailer and BBQ items for both Field Day and the Go-Kit parking lot show and tell. The drawing will be at our August meeting and tickets are $5 each.

Our THANKS to Multnomah County Emergency Management, who had a little money in their year-end budget, for purchasing propane generators for each of our teams. The Team Leaders will now have generator power to charge their team’s batteries, laptops and everything else needed for extended field operations. This is a giant step forward and much appreciated by all of us at MCARES.

All-Team Drills

by Nathan NA7EE on 2019-06-04

We will be running training exercises for MCARES on Sunday, July 21 and Saturday, August 17. I hope for maximum participation on these dates, as the plan is for full drills to maximize training value. That said, I do not expect everyone to make both dates, although it would be great to participate in both if you can.

For now, I just wanted to give everyone a heads-up for these upcoming drill dates.

Our goal in all we do as ARES volunteers is to get the job done as accurately and efficiently as possible. A simplex net that covers a large geographical area is a particular challenge. Our monthly second Wednesday simplex net gives us the chance for net control and other net members to learn how to keep it simple and quick.

After a brief preamble, net control calls for checkins by team. As net control, after acknowledging the stations I hear, I ask the station with the strongest signal for any callsigns they have heard that I didn’t recognize. After acknowledging those stations, I then ask the relay station to call for any other team members who have not checked in or been recognized to try again. Before moving on to the next team I make one more call for any station to relay in any other stations they may have heard that I have not recognized.

All net members should copy all stations they hear and mark each callsign when it is recognized by net control. Not only is this good practice for when it’s your turn to be net control, it also means you will be ready if you are the station net control asks for relays. By marking callsigns when they are recognized, you won’t be relaying in stations already checked in and you will be able to relay in for that last call for any missed stations.

One key to keeping it efficient is for net members to NOT try to relay each scratchy station as it comes in. Be patient and wait until net control asks for relays. I have heard helpful minded stations offer relays before being asked and this can be confusing to net control and cause undue delays. Remember that what may be very difficult for you to hear may be perfectly clear to net control and that net control will ask for relays. Wait for that request. Another key is for net control not to agonize over each scratchy signal. Just recognize the clear ones first and then ask for relays. That’s what the relay stations are for.

This is a different procedure than the weekly net on the MC1 repeater. There, net control can ask a station with a poor signal to make adjustments and try again. If the signal is still not readable, net control can ask other stations to listen on the reverse and then ask the scratchy station to try once more. Then if someone did pick it up on reverse, they can offer the relay. Relays are not held to the end of each team’s checkins.

One last note: If you try to tune into the simplex net and cannot hear net control intelligibly or at all, don’t give up. Wait until you hear someone ask for your team’s relays. If you are on Delta, Echo or Mike teams, you will be waiting longer than those on the Alpha or Bravo teams. And of course Charlie Team is right there in the middle and often has the most relays thanks to those west hills.

Weekly Net News

by Deb KK7DEB on 2019-05-25

The changes to the weekly Wednesday night net have gone well so far. Checkins are now by team instead of by callsign suffix. This encourages members to learn to recognize their team members. Also, training gems, traffic, and announcements are before checkins, so please try to tune in on time at 7:00 PM