Volunteers Providing Emergency Communications for Multnomah County, Oregon

How I Run an Efficient Simplex Net

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

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

Training News

Fifteen members have completed the IS-800 class and sent in their certificates. Thank you! We hope to have all active members complete this class by Halloween.

Membership News

Join me in welcoming our newest members. Kim K7IMA will join the Delta Team and Dave KI7WXK has joined the Charlie team. This brings our active member count to 108. I recently saw the official State ARES roster and Multnomah County ARES continues to have the largest membership in the state!

News from Around the County

Thanks to all our members for a great turnout for the Spring Statewide ARES SET! We are working on correcting the technical issues we had for the SET but overall we did receive a good number of Damage Assessment forms via Winlink and the portable digipeater really helped with the process. Ralph AF7FE and the Alpha team had their hands full at the County EOC. They were able to complete all the state required tasks. Way to Go Alpha Team! We had an amazing 48 simplex net checkins on Friday and 36 operators on Saturday.

The Walk MS event was held at the Oregon Zoo this year and was quite a change from the past. Brian KE7QPV did an amazing job organizing and adjusting to the new needs of the event organizers. There were over 2000 walkers this year and our 23 ARES operators were flawless in keeping the flow of communications on track and providing eyes and ears for safety for the walkers. The Walk MS organizers expressed a deep appreciation for the service that we provided.

Walk MS 2019 Communications Team

The group photo above was taken after some of our “Shadow” operators were dispatched so Carrie, Rochelle, and Matthew are not in the photo. Also missing is sweep operator Robert, and net control Neil. Adam, our Communications Leader, was the photographer. Great job everyone!

Now we look forward to SeaPac on May 31 and June 1 where the MCARES trailer will be on display. Please let leadership know if you would like to sign up for a shift at the outreach table next to the trailer.

June 22 and 23 is Field Day at Willamette Park. We hope you will be visiting and operating with us this summer. More details will be coming soon along with an opportunity to sign up to work a station or bring a dish to the Saturday pot luck.

Weekly Net News

At our April 11 leadership meeting we decided to make some changes to the weekly Wednesday night net. Checkins will be by team instead of by call sign suffix. This encourages members to learn to recognize their team members. Also checkins will follow training gems, traffic, and announcements so please try to tune in on time at 7:00 PM. Our net manager, Rachel KI7NMB, will update the net scripts and announce when these changes will go into effect.

Training News

The on­line FEMA class IS­-800 is now a federal requirement. We have gone through our records and almost half of our active members have sent in their completion certificate. We will be sending a separate email with a list of call signs of the certificates we do have. If your call sign is not on the list, please take the class and send in your certificate to eliza [dot] pride [at] gmail [dot] com. We know this is not a fun task, so we are giving you until October 1, 2019 to get it done. We will send periodic reminders for the procrastinators among us.

Membership News

Join me in welcoming our newest member, Todd K7EMI. Todd is a Legacy Good Sam Hospital responder and will be placed on our Supporting Members list.

From the EC’s Desk

Grounds and Grounding

There has been a lot of activity in the station building front in MCARES over the past few months. As I receive stories and reports I am greatly encouraged by everyone’s willingness to jump in and build a better radio station. One of the main topics of concern folks have when installing a new radio station is proper grounding. There is considerable confusion and strong feelings over this topic. I cannot hope to clarify the technical aspects of station bonding and grounding in a newsletter setting, but I do want to make sure that everyone is looking in the right places and asking the right questions when they consider their station grounds.

There has been a lot of activity in the station building front in MCARES over the past few months. As I receive stories and reports I am greatly encouraged by everyone’s willingness to jump in and build a better radio station. One of the main topics of concern folks have when installing a new radio station is proper grounding. There is considerable confusion and strong feelings over this topic. I cannot hope to clarify the technical aspects of station bonding and grounding in a newsletter setting, but I do want to make sure that everyone is looking in the right places and asking the right questions when they consider their station grounds.

First off, the best way to get the right information is to research the situation oneself from the appropriate resources! MCARES is adamant that the ARRL technical publications are the best place to find information that has been vetted by competent engineers and will lead to safe and effective station construction. The two best publications are Grounding and Bonding for Radio Amateur and The ARRL Handbook. Additionally, The ARRL Antenna Book for Radio Communications has very good in­-depth information regarding RF grounds and their effects on radiated signal.

When one begins their shack, consider the four types of grounding/bonding that are part of proper station design. These are:

  • Electrical Safety Bonding
    • The ground that provides the path for over­current protection and provides chassis shock protection.
    • This is the third prong / green wire in your house distribution
  • RF Ground
    • It is important to keep the shack equipment at the same reference potential to avoid current flows or potential differences that can affect the operation of modern equipment.
  • Chassis Ground
    • These are the connections we think of for grounding inside the shack, the individual chassis connections to a great, fat ground bar that makes its way to a good earth ground.
    • Bonding of equipment to prevent RF flow between them can be difficult, so make sure your ground strap setup is as clean and short as possible.
  • Lightning Dissipation
    • The design of these systems can be complicated; make sure to review your desired results before implementing lightning protection. Again, review the appropriate technical references when you go to set up your operating station, and stay away from QRZ and eHam forums; you’ll find too much time there will make you want to give up on grounding altogether.

Membership News

Join me in welcoming our newest members. Todd KJ7DLZ and Matt KJ7DMW both join the Delta team. Paul K7PKC joins as a supporting member as he works for the City of Portland and is a PBEM ECC responder.