Amateur Radio Today
Katrina: The Untold Story
Walter Cronkite, KB2GSD
Who do Amateur’s Help
• Amateurs help anyone and everyone within the
restrictions of their government charter. The most
important restriction is that communications cannot
involve any pecuniary (monetary) interest and my not be
conducted on behalf of an employer.
• Locally, the Erie County ARES / RACES group supports:
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The Tour De Cure (ADA)
The Ride for Roswell
The American Diabetes Walk
The Pumpkin Patrol
Others on an ad hoc basis (NYS DOH, National Guard)
ARRL & MOUs
• The American Radio Relay League has Memoranda of
Understanding with the following organizations:
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American Red Cross
National Weather Service
Department of Homeland Security – Citizens Corps
APCO International
National Communications System
National Association of Radio and Telecommunications Engineers
Salvation Army
Society of Broadcast Engineers
United States Power Squadron
Quarter Century Wireless Association
Radio Emergency Associated Communications Teams
Civil Air Patrol
• Details can be found at: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/mou/
Getting Started
• Amateur Radio is a licensed service governed
by the Federal Communications System.
• In order to transmit within the Amateur Service
frequencies, you must become licensed.
• There are 3 license levels each with more
privileges: Technician, General and Extra Class.
• Information can be found at the American Radio
Relay League’s website: http://www.arrl.org/
• Special information for beginners can be found
at: http://www.hello-radio.org/
Introduction to Network
Operations
Topics for CERT Members
From the ARRL Amateur Radio
Emergency Communications Course
Basic Communication Skills
• Listening is at least 50% of communications.
Tune out distractions, use headphones, don’t
transmit unless requested to do so.
• Microphone techniques: hold the microphone
close to your cheek, and just off to the side of
your mouth. Talk across, rather than into, the
microphone. Speak in a normal, clear, calm
voice. Speak at a normal pace. Pronounce
words carefully, making sure to enunciate each
syllable and sound. Key the microphone and
count off “one, one thousand” before speaking.
Basic Communications Skills
• Brevity and Clarity – Each communication
should consist of only the information necessary
to get the message across clearly and
accurately.
• Don’t use contractions like aren’t, isn’t, etc.
• Make your transmissions sound crisp and
professional, like the police and fire radio
dispatchers and air traffic controllers.
• Use plain language, don’t use jargon or codes
Basic Communications Skills
• Don’t use words or phrases that carry
strong emotions. For instance, instead of
saying “horrific damage and people torn to
bits,” you might say “significant physical
damage and serious personal injuries”.
• Phonetics – use the ITU phonetic alphabet
to spell difficult or unusual words. Do not
make up phonetics.
ITU Phonetic Alphabet
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A – alfa (AL-fa)
B – bravo (BRAH-voh)
C – charlie (CHAR-lee)
D – delta (DELL-tah)
E – echo (ECK-oh)
F – foxtrot (FOKS-trot)
G – golf (GOLF)
H – hotel (HOH-tell)
I – india (IN-dee-ah)
J – juliet (JU-lee-ett)
K – kilo (KEY-loh)
L – lima (LEE-mah)
M – mike (MIKE)
N – november (no-VEM-ber)
O – oscar (OSS-cah)
P – papa (PAH-PAH)
Q – quebec (kay-BECK)
R – romeo (ROW-me-oh)
S – sierra (SEE-air-rah)
T – tango (TANG-go)
U – uniform (YOU-ni-form)
V – victor (VIK-tor)
W – whiskey (WISS-key)
X – x-ray (ECKS-ray)
Y – yankee (YANG-key)
Z – zulu (ZOO-loo)
Procedural Words
• Clear – End of contact, sent before final
identification
• Over – Used to let a specific station know to
respond
• Go ahead – Used to indicate that any station
may respond
• Out – Leaving the air, will not be listening
• Stand By – A temporary interruption of the
contact
• Roger – Indicates that a transmission has been
received correctly and in full
Message Precedence
• The precedence tells everyone the relative urgency of a
message. A common (ARRL) format allows for four
levels of priority:
• Emergency – Use this for any message having life or
death urgency and is usually signed by an authorized
agency official.
• Priority – Use this for any important message with a time
limit.
• Welfare – Use this for any inquiry as to the health and
welfare of an individual in a disaster area or a message
from a disaster victim to family or friends.
• Routine – Use this for any messages not of emergency,
priority or welfare precedence. In a disaster situation,
routine messages are seldom sent.
Tactical Call Signs
• Tactical call signs identify the station’s location or its
purpose during an event, regardless of who is operating
the station.
• Tactical call signs eliminate confusion at shift changes or
at stations with multiple operators.
• Tactical call signs should be used for all emergency nets
and public service events.
• Tactical call signs should have a meaning that matches
the way the served agency identifies the location or
function (EOC = Grand Island Emergency Operations
Center, Sidway = Sidway Shelter, Stony Point = Stony
Point Fire Hall)
Open and Directed Nets
• Networks can be one of two types: Open and Directed.
• Open (informal) nets have no network control station
guiding the order of transmissions. Stations may call
each other directly. The number of stations and
messages and few in number.
• Directed (formal) nets have a network control station or
NCS which organizes and controls all net activities. One
station wishing to call or send a message to another
must first receive permission from the NCS. This is done
so that messages with a higher priority will be handled
first, and that all messages will be handled in an orderly
fashion.
Calling with Tactical Call Signs
• The correct procedure for making a call on a directed net
is to say the tactical call sign of the station you are
calling first and then your own tactical call sign.
• For example, if you are “Aid 3” during a directed net and
want to contact the net control station (NCS), you would
say “Net, Aid 3”, or in crisper nets (and where the NCS is
paying close attention), simply “Aid 3”.
• If you had emergency traffic, you would say, “Aid 3,
emergency traffic”.
• If you have traffic for a specific location such as Firebase
5, you would say “Aid3, priority traffic for Firebase 5”.
This tells the NCS everything needed to correctly direct
the message. If there is no other traffic holding, the NCS
would call Firebase 5 with “Firebase 5, call Aid 3 for
priority traffic”.
Completing a Call
• After the message has been sent, you would
complete the call from Aid 3 by simply stating
your tactical call sign, “Aid 3”. This tells the NCS
that the exchange is complete and attention can
continue with the next piece of net business.
• If you forget to end your message with your
tactical call sign, the NCS may query you “Aid 3,
do you have any further traffic?” At that point,
you would either continue with your traffic, or
“clear” by identifying as above.
Message Authoring
• One of the oldest arguments in emcomm is the
question of whether or not emcomm personnel
should author (create) agency-related official
messages. The best answer is no.
• “Pure” communicators are not generally in a
position to create messages on behalf of the
served agency. They have no direct authority
and usually lack necessary knowledge.
Message Security & Privacy
• Information transmitted over most radio frequencies is not protected
by the Federal Communications Privacy Act. This includes all
amateur, citizens band, family radio, general mobile radio and land
mobile services. Anything overheard may be legally revealed or
discussed.
• Your served agency should be made aware of this issue, and must
decide which types of messages can be sent over radio channels.
• FCC rules prohibit the use of any code designed to obscure a
message’s actual meaning. Anyone with a scanner can hear all that
is said on voice networks.
• Some agencies use a system of “fill in the blank” data gathering
forms with numbered lines. To save time, all that is sent is “Line 1,
23, Line 5, 20%, line 7, zero.” The receiving station just fills in the
identical form. Without the form, the casual listener will not have
any real information. As long as encryption is not the primary intent,
this practice should not violate FCC rules.
Net Operations – The NCS
• Directed networks always have a Network
Control Station or NCS. Think of the NCS as the
“ringmaster” or “traffic cop”. The NCS decides
what happens in the net, and when. He decides
when stations check in, with or with out traffic
and what traffic will be passed on what
frequency and in what order. The NCS needs to
be aware of everything going on around him and
handle the needs of the net, its members and
the served agency as quickly and efficiently as
possible.
Net Operations - Scripts
• Many established nets have pre-set
opening and closing scripts. The text of
the scripts lets listeners know the purpose
and format of the net. Using a standard
script also ensures that the net will be run
in a similar format each time it operates,
regardless of who is acting as the NCS.
Net Operations - Opening
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The following is the opening script for the Western New York Emergency Net:
Calling the Western New York Emergency Net, Calling the Western New York Emergency Net,
this is WB2ECR, net control. If there is any emergency traffic on frequency, call WB2ECR now."
Listen for traffic
"This net is held every Sunday at 1900 hours on the 146.865 MHz. and 443.525 MHz. WB2ECR
repeaters. Both have a positive offset and a PL of 151.4. This net is sponsored by ARES/RACES
of Western New York. This is a directed net; all licensed amateurs are invited to check in. When
checking in, please call WB2ECR, drop the repeater, then give your call-sign and state if you have
any comments for the net. "
"We will now take check-ins from ARES/RACES officials only. Please call WB2ECR now."
Acknowledge Check-ins
"We will now take check-ins from portables/mobiles only. Please call WB2ECR now."
Acknowledge Check-ins
"We will now take check-ins from base stations. Please call WB2ECR now."
Acknowledge Check-ins
Make announcements
Call officials with traffic.
Call portables and mobiles with traffic.
Call general bases stations with traffic.
Second call for general check-ins.
Net Operations - Closing
• The following is the closing script for the
Western New York Emergency net:
• "This is WB2ECR/(Your Call) closing the
Western New York Emergency Net,
thanking all stations who checked in and
thanking the repeater trustee for the use of
the repeater and now returning the
repeater back to normal amateur
use. Thank you and good evening."
Net Operations - Logging
• Messages passed over the network should be
recorded by some means. This could be an
analog or digital recorder set up next to the NCS
station or it could be a set of hand written notes
with the date, time, tactical call signs and
message summary of each message.
• Many served agencies will request a log of all
messages sent on their behalf at the conclusion
of network operations.
• If possible, the NCS should have another person
act as a logger to increase efficiency.
Net Operations – Checking In
• In directed net operations, you must wait
for the NCS to call for new check-ins.
Listen for and follow specific instructions
regarding the check-in procedure.
• At the appropriate time, give only your
tactical call sign.
• If you have a message to pass, you can
add “with traffic”.
Net Operations – Breaking In
• If the net is in progress and you have emergency
traffic to send, you may need to “break” into the
net.
• Wait for a pause between transmissions and
simply say “Break” and your tactical call sign:
“Break, Huth Road”.
• The NCS will say, “Go ahead, Huth Road”
• You will respond, “Huth Road with emergency
traffic.”
• Wait for instructions from the NCS before
passing your traffic.
Net Operations – Passing
Messages
• When you are asked by the NCS to send your message, the
standard procedure is for the NCS to tell the receiving station to call
the sending station. The entire exchange might sound like this (the
NCS’ tactical call sign is EOC):
• EOC: Firebase, list your traffic.
• Firebase: EOC, one priority for Sidway, two welfare for GIHS.
• NCS: Sidway, call Firebase for your traffic.
• Sidway: Firebase, Sidway, ready for your traffic, over.
• Firebase: Be advised additional casualties arriving your location in
30 minutes, over.
• Sidway: Roger message, Sidway
• After you have sent your message to Sidway, the NCS will direct
GIHS to call you for their messages.
• When you have finished all your messages end your exchange with:
• Firebase: Firebase back to EOC.
Net Operations – Checking Out
• Always let the NCS know when you are leaving the net,
even if only for a few minutes. If the NCS believes that
you are still in the net, they may become concerned
about your unexplained absence and dispatch someone
to check on your welfare.
• If you are checking out because your location is closing,
advise the NCS of the new status and the authorizing
authority and then sign off with your tactical call sign.
• If you are checking out for a break and there is no relief
operator, advise the NCS of your return time and sign
with your tactical call sign.
• If your checking out and are turning over your station to
another operator, advise the NCS of the new operator’s
name and sign with your tactical call sign.
Habits to Avoid
• Speculating on anything relating to an emergency.
• Changing a message, pass it exactly as written or spoken
• Thinking aloud on the air”: “Ahhh let me see. Hmm. Well, you know,
if …”
• On-air arguments or criticism
• Rambling commentaries
• Shouting into your microphone
• “Cute” phonetics
• Identifying every time you key or un-key the microphone
• Using “10” codes, Q-signals or anything other than plain language
• Speaking without planning your message in advance (think twice,
speak once)
• Talking just to pass the time
Questions & Answers
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