Category Archives: ARES

The March Review

Since my last post was in October, it won’t be difficult to believe I have been busy.

Much of my time has been spent on radio stuff. I have however been working with Emergency Management in the Community Emergency Response Team.

CERT is a program designed by FEMA/DHS and administered at the local level by a sponsoring agency. In Klamath County, it is sponsored by Emergency Management. I have signed up to be a part of CERT, but the training sessions are infrequent and movement through the application process has been slow.

When I’m not working on CERT stuff I can be found working on Club or EmComm projects. With the club, Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association, I have been setting up the packet network and learning as much as I can about packet nets, the hardware, and software associated with packet.

Packet has consumed much of my time the last few months between getting the infrastructure up and running, expanding it, and fine-tuning things.

Since moving up here I have not had nearly as many opportunities to participate as a Volunteer Examiner. I miss doing two VE sessions a month.  Recently I received an appointment as a Field Examiner and as a Field Instructor.  These appointments are for EmComm instruction and certification.  I am hoping to get some classes going which would increase the number of VE/FE exams.

The other major consumer of my time has been EmComm. As the EC I have been tasked with getting the ARES/RACES program running. Since there was nothing here in the first place, I have been starting from scratch. Getting the internal county administrative stuff has proven to take the longest.

Another huge time consumer has been writing the Standard Operating Guidelines and the Training Manual for the county’s ham radio program. While administrative things are still not finalized, the county EmComm program will be organized as an AUXCOMM program with ties to ARES for expediency in working with other counties teams.

One thing that has had some great forward movement is the NTS program I have been setting up. We started with a voice net on the basin’s primary repeater twice a week. It has been going well and we have built up a roll of regulars over a dozen with an average of 5-6 check-ins each net.

We recently expanded to a second net on the secondary repeater after the first net. Now we are adding a VHF packet net after the second voice net. I have plans to add an HF voice and HF digital net to the lineup soon.

My own participation in digital as of late has been centered on VHF packet and HF Winmor with Winlink CMS. Now that the station is functional for HF voice and digital, as are the VHF/UHF voice and packet stations.

The packet station is an Alinco DR135 and a KPC3+ USB connected to a second Diamond X50A. I keep the station on 24/7 with the radio set at 5 watts. Overall it has very low power consumption.  I have no trouble reaching the digipeaters and I have a regular visitor from Shasta CA checking in on KK6GXG-1. I have also been able to get all the way down to the bay area via several other digipeaters. I have made a few VHF connections to the Winlink CMS system as well.

The VHF/UHF voice station is a Yaesu FT-2500M connected to a Diamond X50A. The two antennas are about the same height and separated by about 15 feet. For repeater communication, I usually have the power down to 5 watts. I will bump it up for simplex if I need to.

The HF station is an Icom IC-718. I have the Hy-Gain AV-18VS vertical which I have been using for 40-10 meters. It will tune up to 80 meters, but the 80 meter wire NVIS I built is more effective for 60-160 meters. I have both antennas switched into an MFJ-945E tuner and on to the radio. I have been making regular 75 meter contacts from Canada to California and east to Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.

I have poked around on 40 and 20 meters but not much. I have been too busy with the NTS nets on 75 meters to go looking for anything else.

On the HF digital side, I have the 718 connected to a Signalink USB which works great for Winlink Winmor peer-to-peer and CMS connections as well as a wide variety of digital modes through fldigi.

I am looking for another HF radio to dedicate to digital modes, and I recently picked up a Kantronics KAM-XL which has VHF/UHF and HF ports that would allow me to set up access to my PBBS on HF as well as VHF and cross-band digipeating, but that’s for the future.

My next area of attention is to get an old KPC-3 connected to an inexpensive VHF/UHF radio I already have and install them in the truck for mobile packet access. I may be able to work out an APRS system while I’m at it.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll try not to wait for 4 months to update next time.

Until then…


The Move Is Done

Well, sort of…

We are here in Klamath Falls, Oregon now. We started the move July 1st and I was making runs all July. The old place was officially vacated July 31st. August was the slow unpacking of boxes and the beginning of several furniture building projects. I have built 6 bookcases; 2 of them 40 inches tall, the other 4, 70 inches tall.

I still have a number of things to build like the DVD cabinets that will hold our 1000ish movies and TV shows. I also have a lot of storage containers to build, think apothecaries drawers. Lot’s and lot’s of them.

You can see why I haven’t posted in a while. I have made some upgrades to the shack, well the mobile, the shack is looking rather minuscule right now.

I have absolutely no bench space for shop stuff or electronics. The station is occupying a puny 1 sq.ft. space across 2 shelves, but, I actually have an HF antenna outside! The MFJ-1982LP endfed is up. The feed point is about 15 feet up on the mast my 2m roll-up J-Pole is attached to and the rest of the antenna is supported by 2 31 foot Jackite poles and 20 feet up into the Ponderosa Pine in our front yard.

So far 80 and 40 meters have been kind. The net controls have had to work me pretty hard, but I have been getting through. I have been heard as far away as Victoria BC Canada, La Jolla California, Somewhere in Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada. Not bad for 5 watts.

The power on the base, my Yaesu FT-817ND, needs a boost now that I am putting together a local NTS Net. I need to make the Local to Section hop on HF more reliably and not make control work so hard. The local net will be on one of the club repeaters.

I have also moved forward by getting involved with a local active club, the Klamath Basin Amateur Radio Association. I have already done two events and a VE session with the club since we got up here. Also in the mix is getting started with the Klamath County CERT program.  There is some early work on getting an ARES/RACES group together. All kinds of fun going on.

Once we got up here I started work on the mobile. The Baofeng UV-5RE+ was not cutting it on 2 meters. I upgraded from 5 watts with a crappy little antenna to 25 watts with a QYT KT-9800D dual band mobile radio and an ANLI DC-124H TriBand antenna.  Much better performance. Also in the mobile, I installed a Uniden BEARCAT 980SSB Single Sideband CB and a Midland MXT400 GMRS radio. There is hardly any CB traffic up here, but surprisingly, there is quite a bit of GMRS traffic.

For a 2 meter base, I have been using one of the 5 watt handhelds attached to the homebrew 2 meter twin-lead J-Pole I built a while back. Now that I am getting hooked up with CERT, I think I should pull the J-Pole out of the PVC and use it as a portable roll-up. I also need a little more juice for poor weather conditions so a 2 meter base upgrade was in order. Another QYT KT-9800D mobile radio and a Diamond X50A dual-band base antenna should work nicely for VHF/UHF. Those will be incorporated into the station by the end of the week.

As for the HF side of the station… I need to poke around for something around 100 watts, which will require an antenna upgrade too. The MFJ-1982LP is only rated to 30 watts. As long as I keep the power down I should be able to use it for a while. That will still give me a 6 db power gain over the 5 watts I am pushing now. Anything should help. The section nets are on 80 and 40 meters so I will need an antenna that covers at least 10-80 meters. 100 watts should be more than enough for my needs.

Oh, one other thing, I finally got my Skywarn ID number, now I need to find a net for Skywarn. I haven’t found anything in southeastern Oregon yet. I’ll keep looking.

Anyway, that’s the status update for now. Look for an NTS page to be added to the site soon.


In the works

Mid May, two months since the last post. What have I been up to?

Of course, I have been doing the regular VE sessions, but other than that… Packing. Lots of packing. We have been planning on relocating for several years now but time has finally arrived that we are moving forward pun intended.

We don’t want to move in the winter and we don’t want to wait another year so… we are gearing up for a move sometime soon. One of the best ways to get ready is to start filtering through all of the stuff that has accumulated over the last 21 years we have been here.

As we shed truck-loads of stuff we just don’t need to Savers and Goodwill, we have been packing up the things we can do without for a few months. Having a bunch of other stuff on the brain, the ham shack, or most of it anyway, was one of the first things to get boxed. So for now, no electronics lab. Nearly all of my test equipment is boxed up. We are up to 40 boxes, filtering and packing more every day.

Lest you think I’m ignoring radio, I have been gearing up to be more active in ARES, RACES, NTS, Skywarn, and CERT by taking a lot of FEMA/DHS classes that are prereqs for various organizations. I am also scheduled to take a BLS class in two weeks which includes CPR, AES and more. I want to add a variety of EmComm instruction to my growing list of classes offered in the near future so I am ticking down the long list of prereqs and associated training.

In a somewhat side related area, I also recently acquired my Remote Pilot certificate with Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems rating. Basically, a commercial UAV pilots license in addition to my commercial airplane pilot certificate. This will allow me to do aerial photography and inspections for pay with a UAV/UAS. And what might I be taking pictures of and inspecting, radio towers???? Possibly.

Anywho, I wanted to post an update so you didn’t think I had abandon radio or the site. I just don’t have a lot to post about other than classes and ratings. I will be doing a mobile install of my FT-817 with a quad-band antenna sometime soon so I will plan on posting about that soon. I may also be posting some short subject videos in the near future as well.

Til next time, 73