The Communications Academy will be held at South Seattle College on the weekend of April 14th and 15th. Keynote speakers for 2018 include the Director of Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and ham radio author and editor Ward Silver (N0AX). There are six sessions designed for ham radio beginners:
- ) Session #5 Radio basics: How to Choose Your First Radio – Carl Leon, N7KUW
- ) Session #11 Radio basics: I have my Radio – Now How do I Turn It On? – Joel Ware, KD7QKK and Bill Thomassen, N6NBN
- ) Session #15 Radio basics: Radio Safety for Beginners – Jon Newstrom, KL7GT
- ) Session #22 Radio basics: But I am Afraid to Talk into the Microphone – Alan Jones, KD7KUS
- ) Session #27 Radio basics: This is Fun – What’s Next? – Don Marshall, KE7ARH
- ) Session #31 Radio basics: Where Do I Go from Here? – Carl Leon, N7KUW
There are also sessions on the incident command system, ham radio IP networks, Winlink, Hurricanes Harvey and Maria response, and much more.
Communications Academy is a non-profit coalition of volunteer communications teams to provide a high quality, professional-grade training opportunity for the various emergency communications teams around the Pacific Northwest. By providing a once-a-year large-scale venue for training, volunteer communicators are exposed to topics in emergency management, communications techniques and protocols, real-life emergency responses, and other pertinent subjects, which might not otherwise be available to them.
In past years the academy has been able to attract several nationally known speakers for the keynote sessions.
The Communications Academy is open to anyone with an interest in emergency communications, volunteer or professional. The presentations are designed to promote the development of knowledgeable, skilled emergency communicators who will support their local communities during a disaster or emergency response.
Click here to view the Saturday schedule
Click here to view the Sunday schedule
**UPDATE** The class location is in North Caroling.
NS Scout at the Brushbeater blog has announced his new RTO Course. The first date is March 3-4th, 2018. The location is not announced, but I would expect it to be somewhere in the South Atlantic states. If you’re in that region, or can easily get there, this should be some good training.
What the RTO Course is:
This course is designed to instruct students on the basics of effective communications in a tactical environment. Students will learn everything from how to create a proper Signals Operating Index and traffic handling to basic antenna theory and construction for local use as well as a primer on how HF works. All of this culminates in an FTX on the second day.
What this course is NOT:
This is not a ‘ham radio’ class. Strong emphasis is placed on ‘making your equipment work in a tactical environment’ versus bombarding the student with technical or hobby-oriented data. We will be working on a level most ‘hams’ never do. So while a license is certainly helpful, it is not required, but by the end of class you’ll come away with a real understanding of why it is an advantage.
While not designed to be physically intense, there will be field work on both days.
RTO Course: $200 per Student
This class will teach students the basics of communications at the Team or Squad Level in the field. Topics of instruction include:
- Identifying Equipment Requirements
- Writing a Signals Operating Index
- PACE Planning for Communications
- Basic equipment capabilities
- Traffic handling
- Improvised antenna types, uses and construction
- Setting up and running an NVIS HF station
- Message Formats
- Setting up and communicating from a Hide site
Two day course will culminate in an field training event running a TOC station and Hide site in the field. Students will each build an antenna and demonstrate competency in team communications basics during the field exercise. Amateur Radio license qualification is helpful, but not required. This is NOT a ‘ham radio’ class but each student will come away with a basic understanding of a team’s communications needs in a tactical environment and how to best meet them under less-than-ideal circumstances. No equipment is required for this course; however, if students want to get field practice with their own gear, it is highly encouraged but done so at their own risk. Instruction is completely off-grid.
Update 2: Brushbeater has posted a student’s review of the RTO course. Click here.
The communications team has an amateur radio packet bulletin board system set up for member radio operator use. Operators who want to use the system should contact KW4MP or KC7QHE for help setting up your radio and computers to access the system.
From ARRL.org, Radio Amateur on St. Lucia Relays Reports of Hurricane Devastation on Dominica, a reminder of the usefulness of alternative communications methods during a disaster:
As “potentially catastrophic Hurricane Maria” is headed for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Frans van Santbrink, J69DS, on St. Lucia checked into the VoIP Hurricane Net to relay damage reports he gathered via repeater conversations with hams on Dominica, which was hit by Category 5 Hurricane Maria.
He recounted a damage report from Kerry Fevrier, J69YH, in Roseau, Dominica. “Trees down, river has flooded half the village, cars are all over, most houses have lost their roofs or are destroyed, the area between his house and the church is just flattened…in his words, ‘devastation is total,’” van Santbrink told the net.
He also heard from J73CI, who has lost his roof; J73WA on the northern end of the island, who lost his tower and was uncertain how he was going to weather the back end of the storm, and J73MH, who also lost his roof and was “just hunkering down and hoping for the best.”
Click here to read the entire article
From arrl.org, Amateur Radio Emergency Net Active in Wake of Earthquake in Central Mexico.
The FMRE National Emergency Net has activated on 7.060 MHz following a magnitude 7.1 earthquake in the central Mexico state of Puebla at 1814 UTC on Tuesday. The net also uses 3.690 MHz and 14.120 MHz as well as IRLP reflector 9200, channel 08.
The epicenter was some 75 miles southeast of Mexico City, which felt the temblor. Preliminary reports indicate a lot of collapsed buildings and missing people.
The FMRE net has been handling traffic to make up for the loss of some cellular networks, FMRE President Al Tomez, XE2O, told ARRL. The earthquake came 32 years to the day after a 1985 magnitude 8.0 earthquake struck the Mexico City, killing some 9,500 people in and around the capital city.
Just one week ago, a magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck off Mexico’s southern coast, killing more than 60 people and causing considerable damage.
From the American Radio Relay League, Emergency Net Activated in Wake of Earthquake in Mexico:
The National Emergency Net of the FMRE — Mexico’s national Amateur Radio association, has activated on 7.060 MHz (the Net also may operate on 3.690 MHz) to handle any emergency traffic after a late evening earthquake occurred off Mexico’s coast. Radio amateurs not involved in the earthquake disaster should avoid those frequencies.
The potent magnitude 8.2 earthquake off Mexico’s Pacific Coast — the strongest in 100 years — has resulted in multiple fatalities so far, including 23 in Oaxaca, seven in Chiapas, and 2 in Tabasco. Rescue and recovery efforts are under way to free victims trapped in the rubble.
The tremor was felt around Central America. At 0500 UTC, Jose Arturo Molina, YS1MS, reported feeling a strong temblor within a few minutes of the earthquake in Chiapas, which is near Mexico’s border with Guatemala. In Honduras, Antonio Handal, HR2DX, located on the North Coast, also reported feeling the quake.
The Central American Network operates at 7.090 kHz, and Guatemala at 7.075 MHz. No reports have been heard yet from Guatemalan radio amateurs. In Southeastern Mexico, FMRE has a link to the WL2K Network with capacity to cover Mexico and Central America. — Thanks to IARU Region 2 Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, for some information
From the American Radio Relay League, Amateur Radio Preparations Ramp Up as Irma Strengthens to Category 5:
Hurricane Irma, making its way through the Caribbean with the possibility of affecting South Florida by week’s end, has, in the words of the National Hurricane Center (NHC), become “an extremely dangerous category 5 hurricane.” The NHC urged that hurricane preparations be rushed to completion in areas now under hurricane warnings…
The HWN will activate at 1800 UTC (2 PM EDT) on its primary frequency of 14.325 MHz and will remain in continuous operation until further notice, Graves said. Daytime operation will begin at 1100 UTC each day continuing for as long as propagation allows. Operation on 7.268 MHz will start at 2200 UTC and continue overnight. “If propagation dictates, we will operate both frequencies at the same time,” Graves said. The HWN marks its 52nd anniversary this week.
He noted that HWN operation on 7.268 MHz will pause at 1130 UTC, and, if required, resume at approximately 1230 UTC, to allow the Waterway Net to conducts its daily net…
IARU Region 2 Emergency Coordinator Cesar Pio Santos, HR2P, has compiled a list of emergency frequencies, subject to change, for use in the Caribbean in anticipation of Hurricane Irma.
- Puerto Rico: 3.803, 3.808, 7.188 MHz. Radio amateurs in Puerto Rico also will cooperate with the HWN on 7.268 and 14.325 MHz.
- Cuba: Daylight hours, 7.110 MHz (primary) and 7.120 MHz (secondary); Provincial Net — 7.045, 7.080 MHz, and on other lower frequencies as necessary. Nighttime, 3.740 MHz (primary) and 3.720 MHz (secondary) and on other lower frequencies as necessary.
- Dominican Republic: 3.873 MHz (primary), 3.815 MHz (secondary), 7.182 MHz (primary), 7.255 MHz (secondary); 14.330 MHz (primary), 21.360 MHz (primary), 28.330 MHz (primary).
- Caribbean Emergency and Weather Net (CEWN): 3.815 MHz and 7.162 MHz (when necessary). NOTE: Net will activate continuously starting this evening until the hurricane has passed through…
The FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (WTB) reminded licensees this week that FCC rules address operation during emergencies. “These rules allow licensees to provide emergency communications during a period of emergency in a manner or configuration not specified in the station authorization or in the rules governing such stations,” the FCC said.
Read the whole article by clicking here
From the ARRL, Array of Amateur Radio Resources Readying for Hurricane Harvey Response:
Amateur Radio resources are marshaling to assist in the response to Hurricane Harvey, which is expected to make landfall along the Texas coast on Friday (August 25) as a Category 3 storm. It would be the first storm to hit the US coast in more than a decade. The Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) already has swung into action, as the storm, which bears the threat not only of high winds but extensive and life-threatening storm surge flooding. Nearly 3 feet of rain could fall, if, as predicted, Harvey stalls along the Texas shoreline. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said he and his staff are keeping close watch on Hurricane Harvey.
Hurricane Watch Net
The Hurricane Watch Net activated on August 24 at 1500 UTC on 14.325 MHz, subsequently shifting to 7.268 MHz at 2300 UTC. The net planned to operate overnight and will resume daytime operation on 14.325 MHz at 1200 UTC. “Should band conditions dictate, we will operate both frequencies simultaneously,” Net Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV, said.
Click here to read the entire story
Click here for ARRL Texas incident plans for Hurricane Harvey, including HF, VHF, and UHF frequencies. There are many frequencies in the plan.
Harvey Regains Strength, Hurricane Watch Net Plans to Activate
National Hurricane Center – Harvey
Weather.com – Hurricane Harvey
NC Scout writes of the utility of the six meter amateur radio band, while also encouraging people to acquire better radio gear than the cheapest thing they can get.
These days, nearly exclusively, when someone brings up survivalist communications, the default always resigns to some sort of chinese dual bander with the added justification “because its cheap!” Nevermind the fact that the build quality is junk and the thing will likely fail the person using it sooner rather than later, they keep being bought because the personality cults of the Internet tell them to…only because they’re cheap. But if one thought critically, all those folks having the ability to listen to hi band VHF and UHF might be a bad thing- especially if you’re looking for any sort of security.
Your area may be different, but around here there’s next to no activity on some of the other bands…you know, the ones Baofeng doesn’t make a radio for. Especially interesting for Survivalists is the capability the 6M band offers- with little to no overall traffic, great capability in rural terrain and many older repeaters sitting idle, 6M really needs more consideration for those actually concerned with creating a capable net versus those just cosplaying…
Source: 6 Meters: Survivalist Magic Click to continue reading.
NC Scout over at the Brushbeater blog has yet another good article up, this one about the importance of data books.
Why Should I Take The Time To Bother With All This? Because, as with everything else, having a handy-dandy back pocket reference to whip out makes recalling critical info easy. If you’re of the mindset that everything as you know it will be the same when you’re shivering, exhausted and afraid, you’re absolutely wrong.
I had a soldier who stepped on a toe popper in Afghanistan. What’s a toe popper? A small IED placed to kill or maim a small group or lone bubba. We were absolutely spent- a 15 mile movement through the mountains, up and down, all night- and boom, he was down. You don’t think at that point, you default to your highest level of training. Time to treat and send up the 9-line…which was the easy part, because it was already laid out. I had not only memorized the 9-line MEDEVAC report on two previous deployments but had written many- and yet I defaulted to the notes. Because I couldn’t think at that point, with the training taking over and the data book filling in that gap.
For our common purpose, there’s a ton of data that could be included that goes far beyond simply what was listed previously (although that stuff is absolutely critical) such as infrastructure information…
Source: Back to Basics: Data Books and What Should Be in Them
From NC Scout over at Brushbeater comes another excellent communications post.
During the Communications presentation at the PatCon I focused primarily upon the common radio equipment among preppers and survivalists- CB radio because of its inherent commonality (and overcoming potential weaknesses) and the Baofeng UV-5R because it’s cheap and everyone owns them ‘BY THE CASE!’ as one gentleman in attendance pointed out. While that’s all good and well to have plenty of units in the field, and there’s a lot that can be done with them for those thinking outside the box, the ubiquitous chicom handheld is FAR from ideal for any use other than an inexpensive testbed for antennas or running alternative modes going beyond just pressing a button and talking. The prevailing issue is that people want to do what is not easy to accomplish alone without knowledge of limitations- compounded in part by equipment and a larger part by knowledge.
There exists a strong differentiation which must be made; Survivalist or Retreat Communications is a different animal from Tactical Communications...
Continue reading the article at Brushbeater.com by clicking here.