This page provides links to external sites highlighting the utilization of amateur radio communications as a public service. For a list of documents originating from or about KAROECHO specifically, please see our Documents Page.
Loma Prieta Earthquake Lessons: 1989
Loma Prieta Earthquake Palo Alto Net N6IIU recordings (scroll down for the 4 audio files) These voice recordings were taken off the Southern Peninsula Emergency Communications System (SPECS) https://www.specsnet.org/ repeater, W6ASH, in Palo Alto a few minutes after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. It is an excellent example of how to run a net during an emergency. Ted, then N6IIU (now N6KP) was Disaster Director for the Palo Alto Chapter of the American Red Cross (ARC), and the Communications Director for ARC Western Regional HQ. Ted was also an early pioneer in packet radio and the sysop with N6FRQ of N6IIU-1 BBS. Ted also developed and implemented voice satellite and HF communications for National Red Cross among many other feats.
Ham Radio utilization in Santa Cruz County and beyond during the Loma Prieta Disaster: "This was the third largest quake to hit the U.S. in this century. It was one hundred times stronger than the Armenian quake last year. Damages were greater than those sustained in Hurricane Hugo. This may well have been the greatest disaster to ever rely so heavily upon Ham radio. In the very beginning we did not know where the quake was centered. We had no idea of the situation in surrounding counties. In other words, the counties were isolated from each other. As it turned out there was serious damage as far away as San Francisco and Oakland. All of the counties in the area were in a disaster mode, instantly and simultaneously. This was not an isolated predictable situation involving a definable area---unlike a forest fire, flood, hurricane, or plane crash." See: http://www.ares.santa-cruz.ca.us/loma89/Critique.pdf
A Brief description of Ham radio and the Loma Prieta Earthquake from the QST archives HERE https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TZ0fDIWpQ3ZMWLQ7Eqa4eFdeI0FE1YU8/view
The Loma Prieta Earthquake in regard to Packet (digital ax-25) Radio narrated by Lew, N6VV: a narrative and critique http://ccra.us/?page_id=287
Loma Prieta Earthquake Amateur Radio Operations and the Statement of Understanding Between the East Bay Amateur Radio Club and the East Bay Chapter of the American Red Cross http://www.wolfswords.com/packet/packet_ca1089_2.html
Similarly, Packet and Health and Welfare Traffic during the Loma Preita Earthquake http://www.wolfswords.com/packet/packet_ca1089_1.html
Loma Prieta Earthquake American Red Cross East Bay Chapter, NALCO ARES, and West Contra Costa County RACES Report (NI6A reporting) http://www.wolfswords.com/packet/packet_ca1089_3.html
More Red Cross General Communications Problems and the role of Amateur Radio: What we Learned http://www.wolfswords.com/packet/packet_ca1089_4.html
General Overview Pertaining to Public Service Operations and Training Resources (External Links)
Definition of terms and services
The terms RACES, ARES, ACS, and CommU will be clarified.
Radio Amateur Emergency Services (RACES): Amateur radio operating privileges were reinstated after WW2. RACES was created under the then civil defense act and enacted via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow amateur radio organizations to establish relationships with vital governmental organizations, granting them operating orivileges (under government supervision) durng a national state of emergency where routine amateur radio operations were suspended. A unique aspect of RACES is that it is not self-activating. Rather it is solely activated by the governmental authority having jurisdiction.
As the Department of Homeland Securty (DHS) took over disaster planning in 2001, RACES as an FCC agency, stepped back from the picture because FEMA, DHS, NIMMS, CISA and other federal agencies stepped in establishing what is called the ACS (Auxiliary Communications System). It is mainly a name change, but also an attempt to transfer authority/power over to the DHS/FEMA under the Incident Command System (ICS). So now instead of California State RACES we have California State ACS. ACS is not limited to exclusively to amateur radio. It includes utilizing volunteers in any radio comnunication service. Many agencies are slow to change. At this date, Co Co County still calls its program Co Co County RACES, administered through the Co Co County Sheriff's office.
A more recent federal designator is CommU (Communications Unit). It is defined in NIMMS and AUXCOMM below under federal programs. Commu is the ew kid on the block and we will see more f its use in the future.
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is an American Radio Relay League (ARRL) sponsored program. The ARRL has MOUs with most every disaster services organizations including the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army the National Weather Service, etc. Most often ARES works in tandem with RACES/ACS, having one cogent feature that it can self-actvate according to the local ARES Emergency Coordnator (EC). See the links further down this page for more information about ARES.
Today, international as well as local comunications are dependent upon satellite links. A failure of sats would cause major problems, which ham radio could help ameliorate. Space debris/pollution must be realistically dealt with according to a recent study: "Rapid Development of Satellite Mega-Constellations Risks Tragedies of the Commons." http://arrl.org/news/study-rapid-development-of-satellite-mega-constellations-risks-tragedies-of-the-commons
National/Federal Programs: This is an ever expanding field with a plethora of new government agencies
Here are some links to ACS, Auxcomm, CISA, and CommU (Communications Units). These federal agencies are not oriented toward provding local communications for community disaster victims directly, but are more fcused on collecting data and establishing situational awareness for government disater relief entities, law enforcement, agency interoperability, and general ICS processes.
CommU Training Documents https://www.cisa.gov/publication/comu-training-documents
SHARES is a national digital communications systemthat arallels amateur radio https://www.cisa.gov/shared-resources-shares-high-frequency-hf-radio-program
Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) (This a DHS PDF Publication)
AuxComm is an all-inclusive term used to describe the many organizations and personnel that provide various types ofcommunications support to emergency management, public safety, and other government agencies. Auxiliary Communicators have been assisting the public safety community for over 100 years. These uniquely qualified communicators give their time and resources freely, without hesitation, providing auxiliary communications to NIMS/ICS personnel and public safety partners. Additionally, Auxiliary Communicators frequently provide communications support during planned events, community functions, and training exercises.
Get the AUXCOM smart phone app (very useful) https://www.cisa.gov/safecom/eauxfog-mobile-app
Also useful is NIFOG (National Interoperability Field Operations Guide) https://www.cisa.gov/safecom/enifog-mobile-app
FEMA Presentation PDF on How to Utilize Ham Radio During Disasters: Rich Content (March 30, 2021)
FEMA/NIMMS Guides for Emergency Managers working with Amateur Radio Operators (An Adobe Connect Webinar) https://fema.connectsolutions.com/plqiby693o3d/?proto=true
ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Services)
The ARES Manual (PDF)
The ARRL Emergency Communicator's Manual -- 1997, 3rd edition (PDF)
State, County, Municipal, and non-government public service oriented organizations
Seattle ACS (Auxiliary Communications Service) https://www.seattleacs.org/ ham Radio at its Best Serving the Seattle Community
A simple and straightforward video on the use of protocols, tactical callsigns, and gear at public service events except perhaps the excessive use of break tags. Break tags can be simplified such as using BREAK ,or better just drop your callsign suffix in order to signal NCS that you have traffic for the net. Traditionally hams have used "BREAK BREAK" for emergency traffic, but it is more direct to voice, "EMERGENCY" to get the undivided attention of the net. Say RELAY followed by your callsign suffix to relay for another station that does not hear NCS. Use CORRECTION followed by your callsign suffix to correct an error. Use INFO followed by your callsign suffix to interject useful additions or time valued data. Those Break Tags are similar to operating signals such as using AFFIRM for yes. NEGATIVE for no. Use CONFIRMED to indicate "that is correct". Use ROGER to indicate that the message has been received. All his becomes second nature after repeated practice.
The VERY BEST EMcomm Guide, by the IARU (thanks to Rod, W6ROD). THE authority to rely upon!!!***!!! This is BEST PRACTICES clearly described. A work of love! Presented in plain language, it was developed to provide materials suitable for training Radio Amateurs to participate in emergency events and guidance to the individual amateur radio operator who wants to improve their ability to participate in such events, or to simply have a better understanding of the process. The Holy Grail!!!
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Guidelines for national emergency telecommunication plans, 2019, https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Emergency-Telecommunications/Documents/2019/NETP_Global_guideline.pdf with an excellent section on the value of Amateur Radio. See pages 80-81.
Working TACTICAL and PUBLIC SERVICE Nets (PDF)
The slides used in the above USGS presentation are here https://jointventure.org/images/stories/pdf/HayWiredAmateurRadio.pdf
EmComm Training.Org http://www.emcomm-training.org/ "A group of roughly 1500 Amateur Radio Operators ("Hams") working together (virtually and in-person) to demonstrate, exercise and improve our procedures to pass Emergency Communications message traffic. We also seek to acquire new skills and capabilities. Our operators are members of an array of Ham Radio emergency communications groups, but members with no affiliation to any group are also welcome. We are a group of roughly 1500 Amateur Radio Operators ("Hams") working together (virtually and in-person) to demonstrate, exercise and improve our procedures to pass Emergency Communications message traffic."
QSO TODAY VIRTUAL HAM EXPO, presents excellent state of the Art on-line webinars on every topic of Amateur Radio each year. Past presentations are archved.
Emergency Communications Presentations at the 2022 ARRL National Convention, Jamuary 2022
The ARRL PACIFIC DIVISION Zoom Meeting, January 2022 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPfZ1bRL4v4 presented by k6WX, Kristen, the Pacific Division Director, can be found here.
The Comm Academy Youtube April 2021 video recordings. These are serious and experienced Washington State EmComm enthusiasts. For previous archives see: https://www.commacademy.org/archives
Comm Academy 2022 took place on April 9, 2022 with the proceedings of the full Academy posted to YouTube. Comm Academy is a free, virtual training conference for anyone interested in learning more about emergency communications technologies and practices. Comm Academy 2022 featured a lineup of experienced emergency preparedness and emergency communications personnel with great information, stories, and ideas to share. More than just a collection of online presentations, Comm Academy 2022 was an interactive event, with participants able to converse with presenters and other attendees via YouTube chat. The first Communications Academy (as it was formerly known) took place in 1998. Based in the Pacific Northwest, the Academy was primarily a regional event organized by the Western Washington Medical Services Emergency Communications team. Over the years, it gained a well-deserved reputation as one of the West Coast's premier emergency communications training events.
Handling Formal Written Message Traffic
An excellent video on when to handle formal written traffic IC-213 form and when to not -- A MARS presentation.
An in-depth tutorial by the ARRL on sending Messages on Voice Using Standard National Traffic System (NTS) message protocols (PDF)
An in-depth tutorial on the ARRL Message Format relative to the NTS and ARES (Compare with the ICS-213 message format) (PDF)
A Breakdown of the Standard ARRL/ARES Message Form Made Easy-- For Dummies!
The Standard ARRL Radiogram Message Form Here
Comparing ICS-213 Message Form with the ARRL Message Form (a very short critique)
Message Handling Best Practices This is a detailed, advanced, and rigorous Instructional guide. (see Chapt. 8 of KE Field Operations Handbook)
Obtaining Fills efficiently in Message Handling (short easy to understand primer)
A Succinct Presentation of How to Use Prowords, Get Fills, Use Op Notes, and Handling Instructions Based on the 03/25/2021 Net
A Succinct Presentation of How to Use Prowords, Get Fills, Use Op Notes, and Handling Instructions Based on the 03/25/2021 Net
Utilizing the FOUR Time/Date Stamps of the KE Modified form 213, with clarifications on word count (check).
Radio Relay International Website -- Experts in processing and relaying formal written traffic during disasters
Miscellaneous Public Service Reference Links Including Message Handling, Digital Comms, etc.
Amateur Radio Placard (PDF)
The National Traffic System (NTS) Methods and Practices Complete Guide HERE and in particular Net Control Operations (PDF)
ARRL formal radiogram format and "Q" signal list -- FSD-218 (PDF)
ARRL Handy Operating Aid -- form 220 (PDF)
Winlink Book of Knowledge https://winlink.org/content/winlink_book_knowledge
Palo Alto Amateur Radio Assn. presents "All About Batteries"
The Battery University: Solid Information on how to take care of any battery
Useful tool to search for a direct path between your location and any other address at Ubiquity.com
Low-Cost Digital For EmComm
KARO ECHO is exploring digital modes for emergency communications. Digital has advantages over voice when sending many messages but introduces added complexity and cost. KARO ECHO members have been exploring Raspberry Pi-based solutions which are relatively inexpensive but require some hardware and software hacking. Here are some projects we are exploring.
BPQ Digital Mailbox System On The Raspberry Pi. The BPQ Mailbox also run on Windows http://www.cantab.net/users/john.wiseman/Documents/BPQ32.html This is a full featured packet (AX25), VARA, PACTOR, RMS, mailbox system
Introduction to Packet Radio by WB9LOZ (An Oldy but Goody)
A Simple Graphic Presentation of a Packet LAN based on the Kantronics TNC by Foster City ARES 2016
Beginner's Guide to Packet Radio (PDF) Well Done!
San Francisco Wireless Emergency Mesh (SFWEM): A Wide area radio communications MESH network centered in the SF Bay Area
Bay Area Radio Resources
Bay Area Educational Amateur Radio Society (BAEARS) provides listings of Bay Area ham classes and exams. Additional info on how to get started in Amateur Radio is also provided.
The East Bay ARC (EBARC) frequently offers interesting speakers, sponsors an annual field day event, a ham radio license course and exams. EBARC is an excellent venue for extending one's knowledge of ham radio. See http://www.ebarc.org/want.html
The Mount Diablo Amateur Radio Club (MDARC) also offers courses and exams. This is a large ARC which meets in Central CoCo County. See http://www.mdarc.org/activities/education/Classes
The following are excellent up-to-date links provided by Mike Patterson, N6JGA, MDARC Digital Media Chair:
SF Bay Ham Clubs: http://www.mdarc.org/resources/clubs-in-sf-bay-area
Emergency communications in NorCal http://www.mdarc.org/activities/ares-races
Nets in Northern California http://www.mdarc.org/activities/nets-on-other-systems
Links to General Ham Interests http://www.mdarc.org/resources/links-of-interest
Links to National and International Ham Radio Organizations: http://www.mdarc.org/resources/other-amateur-radio-organizations
MDARC sponsors the W6CX Repeater system on Mt. Diablo: 147.0600 + 600 KHz, pl 100, 224.7800 - 1.6 MHz) pl 77.0,, 441.3250 +5 MHz, pl 100.0, 1244.5000/1292.5000 (ATV)
The Contra Costa Repeater Association (CCRA) 145.410 (San Ramon) - 107.2, 145.490 (Orinda)- 107.2, 147.7350 - 107.2 Concord Linked, 440.4250 San Ramon + 79.7, 440.6250 Orinda + 79.7, 440.8750 + 79.7 Concord ( WA6HAM Repeater System)
The Contra Costa Communications Club (CCCC) is a local ham radio repeater club that meets at Denny's El Cerrito (Potrero and San Pablo). They support many repeaters in our area and also have an excellent newsletter. Swell set of guys and gals! See: http://www.wa6kqb.org/
NALCO ARES/RACES is Berkeley's EmComm group which has over 35 years of experience. They meet at 1930 on the first Thursday of the month at the Berkeley Fire Training Center (9th and Cedar). See: https://n6brk.info/
Berkeley Disaster Preparedness Neighborhood Network (BDPNN): A non-profit NGO volunteer organization, who is dedicated toward disaster preparedness in the City of Berkeley Website
GMRS Emergency Network Oakland (GENOAK) www.genoak.org GMRS Repeater at 462.600 MHz Ch. 17 (Tx + 5 MHz (467.600), request DTCS from Genoak. Meets monthly on first Tuesday of each month at 7:00pm local time.
Also see the related the Oakland Fire Safe Council here https://oaklandfiresafecouncil.org/
American Red Cross of the Bay Area (ARCBA) WW6BAY repeater 443.975 MHz, TX +5 MHz, PL 100 Hz Wednesday at 2000.
Also ARCBA Mondays on HF: 3891 LSB at 1930; 5375 USB at 1945 or 5357 USB (ch3) 1945; 7181 LSB at 2000 Mondays.
Bay Area Hospital Net, 147.060 MHz TX +600 PL 100 (Monthly on 4th Wednesday of the month at 1200 (noon)
Oakland Radio Communication Association (ORCA) – OCRA meets on the 1st Saturdays 0900 hours at Fire Station 1 16th and MLK in Oakland.
Red Oak Victory Amateur Radio Club (ROVARC) – The ROVARC meets on the first Saturday of the month on board the SS Red Oak Victory. The location of the Museum Ship – SS Red Oak Victory is at the south end of Canal Street, Berth 6A of the graving docks in Richmond, CA. Directions: Take Highway 580 to Point Richmond, exit at Canal St. and head south. In about 1/2 mile Canal Street winds around (follow the signs to the ROV) a large parking area used for off loading newly imported cars from Japan. Just before the very end bear to the right and follow the road around the car lot, out toward the water to Berth 6A.
Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) Net Mondays 2000 local (W6CX) 147.060 + (100PL); Linked to 224.780/441.325 + (100PL)
Marin Amateur Radio Society (MARS) 146.700 Mhz, - pl 203.5 Big Rock Ridge, pl 179.9 Mt. Tam, pl 167.9 Mt. Barnabe Linked Simulcast System. (Net on Tues 1930). Also 147.330 MHz + pl 192.8 147.330 MHz + pl 173.8 ; and 443.525 MHz + pl 82.5Hz
ARRL East Bay Section Contra Costa County is in the East Bay Section within the Pacific Division of the ARRL. All ARRL members can sign up for the East Bay Section Newsletter. For a quick overview of the East Bay Section see http://www.arrleb.org/