Friday, June 22, 2018

In Ham Radio News

Tomorrow is Amateur Radio Field Day.

In what may be a first, the 9-8-Double-Ought-3 Amateur Radio Club plans to operate for 24 hours. This is what happens when a member offers the facilities at his place of employment as the Field Day site; previously, it had been at a park or on school property, closed at dark and with no rest rooms, etc., available after hours, or on church property and we had to clear out before Sunday Services. We even got listed in the local fish wrap!

The fact that we'll be set up on the grounds of a funeral home is irrelevant.

It's actually a nice facility, shaded ground, and they'll leave what I call the "support room" open for rest rooms, hot and cold running water, refrigerators for the cook out. Our Emergency Communications team has been meeting in the "Share Life" center, which is larger than the training room we'd been meeting in at the local fire station, which we had to vacate as it is being renovated.  This also gives us access to a better Internet and multi-media suite, for training presentations.

I was told that, in addition to the local paper we were also listed in one of the Seattle news outlets, but I haven't been able to find it.

In other geek news:

From the "Be careful What You Wish For" Department, several years ago we entered a period of reduced solar activity. Hams have been kvetching about how reduced solar activity means reduced (or utterly crappy) propagation. So the news of a new solar storm should have them dacning in their shacks, right?

Not so much. reports: Solar Storm Hits Earth: Four Times Size of Earth Disables Radio Technology:
Solar storm hits Earth - storm FOUR times size of Earth disables radio technology | Science | News |

A HUGE solar flare which was released from a hole in the Sun’s atmosphere temporarily left some radio frequencies disabled, scientists have revealed, and the storm is only getting bigger....

According to the website Space Weather: “During the past 24 hours, sunspot AR2715 has almost quadrupled in size, growing two dark cores larger than Earth.

“The active region is now crackling with low-level solar flares.

“A pulse of extreme ultraviolet radiation from the flare briefly ionised the top of Earth's atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean, causing a shortwave radio brownout at frequencies below 10 MHz.

“People who might have noticed the disturbance include mariners and ham radio operators.”
eHam serves as a news aggregator for Amateur radio-related news items; it also links to this ARRL news release about coming updates to ARES:
As part of upgrades to the ARES® program, ARRL will phase out traditional hard-copy report forms later this year in favor of an online system, ARES® Connecta new volunteer management, communication, and reporting system. The system, in beta testing since March in four ARRL sections with large ARES organizations, will allow ARES members to log information for ARRL Field Organization handling but does not change how ARES serves partner organizations. ARES training also is due for enhancement.
Paperless reporting is good, assuming the system works. You know, like in a disaster where the Internet may be down...

About that "enhanced training..."

Changes would encompass additional mandatory training to include ARRL Emergency Communications courses and the now-standard FEMA NIMS/ICS courses IS-100, 200, 700, 800, with IS-300 and 400 for higher levels. Other specialty training could include SKYWARN and agency-specific programs.
Training levels attained would dovetail with three new levels of ARES participation: Level One would be comprised of all entering the program with no training, while progressing through the ARRL emergency communications training and the FEMA Independent Study courses 100, 200, 700, and 800. Level Two would be attained upon successful completion of these courses, and would be considered the “Standard” level for ARES participants. Level Three would be attained upon completion of the advanced FEMA courses IS 300 and 400, which would qualify candidates for ARES leadership positions.
Level One participants would be able to fulfill most ARES duties, with a target of attaining Level Two in 1 year. Level Two, the standard participant level, would permit participant access to most incident sites and emergency operations centers (EOCs). Level Three would convey full access as granted by the authority having jurisdiction, plus qualification for ARES leadership.
Okay, fine.


The "ARRL Emergency Communications courses" as they currently exist are a joke. They are online-only. As are the FEMA ICS classes required, and these are commonly acknowledged to be less than ideal as far as actually inculcating the knowledge. (Online training generally doesn't. Train, I mean, although it is handy for checking a block.)

As for the ARRL classes, you have to request to access them. (Fine.) Then they assign you a mentor -- and this is, notoriously, where the wheels come off. I have heard so many complaints about mentors being unavailable, unresponsive, or dismissive of attempts by their "mentees"* that I have concluded that, in this case at least, there's enough smoke to indicate that there's a three alarm dumpster fire and I won't bother.

 Which reminds me, I still need to post about the class I took last month, mentioned in my post I did not know that.

*Really a word: "Mentee." Accessed June 22, 2018.

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