About N1KXR

Owner of the N1KXR/B 10 Meter Beacon [ 28.289.50 ].

Homeland Security’s 2014 National Emergency Communications Plan Incorporates Amateur Radio

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Communications (DHS-OEC) has released the first updated National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) since the original publication in 2008. According to the Department, the DHS-OEC developed the NECP in cooperation with more than 150 public and private sector emergency communications officials.

Of interest to Amateur Radio Operators, is that in this 2014 updated NECP, the DHS has incorporated Amateur Radio in its mix of media that could support and sustain communications in a disaster or emergency. The publication is titled the “2014 National Emergency Communications Plan“, and a PDF of this plan may be obtained by clicking here.

World Amateur Radio Day 2014

 Quoted from the ARRL Website.
““Amateur Radio: Your Gateway to Wireless Communication” is the theme for World Amateur Radio Day 2014, Friday, April 18. Radio amateurs celebrate World Amateur Radio Day each year on April 18 to recognize the anniversary of the founding of the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) in Paris in 1925. ARRL Co-Founder Hiram Percy Maxim, 1AW, was its first president. The primary purpose of World Amateur Radio Day is to highlight Amateur Radio and its benefits to countries and communities. This year the IARU and its more than 150 member-societies are marking the organization’s 89th anniversary.”

The HCRA will be at the MTARA Hamfest, will you?

On Saturday, March 1st, 2014, the Mount Tom Amateur Repeater Association will host its 26th annual Hamfest. This year it will be held at the Moose Family Center, 244 Fuller Rd, Chicopee, MA 01020.

The annual MTARA Hamfest offers a good variety of commercial sellers, private sellers and amateur radio clubs. You’ll find new gear, used gear, reconditioned equipment, odds & ends as well as items Hams may no longer need, that might be just what you were looking for!

In addition to the great things you’ll find there, the MTARA Hamfest a great place for a meet and greet, such as welcoming back those Ham-Snowbirds, or putting a face to that voice you’ve heard on-the-air. As in past years, the HCRA will be there and we encourage our club members to stop by the club’s table and say hello. We’ll have some items of interest, as well as offering HCRA *250* Raffle Tickets.

You can find more information about this event, by checking out the MTARA 26th annual Hamfest flyer.

Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan

The Federal Government has a guide to implement Amateur Radio in times of emergency, that guide is called the ‘Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG). Likewise Massachusetts has it’s own guide, that guide is titled the ‘Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan’.

In it’s introduction, the Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan states:
“This plan contains the details of how the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) is implemented across Massachusetts. Instructions and general operating procedures presented in this document are applicable to message traffic handling by RACES and used in all RACES training. All amateur radio operators are encouraged to use this document in training and/or activated net operations.” While the introduction specifically mentions RACES, this operations manual includes sections on RACES and SKYWARN.

Some of the topics covered in the MARECP include:
– Identification of Operators.
– RACES Net Hierarchy.
– Frequencies.
– Available Simplex Frequencies – Per NESMC.
– Net Control Duties and Authority.
– Net Preamble for Massachusetts RACES Nets.
– Massachusetts RACES Message Format

If you’re already a member of RACES, ARES or SKYWARN, your going to want to read this document. After which you may want to print it to keep a hard-copy on-hand. To those interested in these groups, Emergency Communications (emcomm), or Hams simply wanting to brush up on Good Operating Practices, I encourage you to read this plan.

Please click on this link, to view the Massachusetts Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Plan. Note: it’s in PDF format.

Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now refers to Amateur Radio groups such as ARES, RACES, REACT and other EMCOMM organizations, by the terms “Auxiliary Communications (Service)” and/or “Auxiliary Emergency Communications”.

To assist what the DHS now calls Auxiliary Communications, the Office of Emergency Communications (OEC) has released a publication titled the ‘Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG)’. On one of the Interoperable Communications Technical Assistance Program (ICTAP) own webpages, they describe the AUXFOG this way:
“The Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AUXFOG) is a new reference for auxiliary communicators who directly support backup emergency communications for State/local public safety entities or for an Amateur Radio organization supporting public safety.
This reference guide contains information about AuxComm best practices, frequently used radio frequencies, Mutual Aid channels as well as tips and suggestions about auxiliary emergency communicators integrating into a NIMS ICS environment to support communications for planned events or incidents. It can serve as a reference both for auxiliary emergency communicators and public safety communications professionals.”

While printed copies are not available from the DHS, or the ICTAP, you may download a electronic copy here: AUXFOG_21_November_2013. Please note the AUXFOG is in PDF format, and is about 3MB in size.

Twitter Is -Not- The Woodpecker Of Old…

Many of our older, Er, Ah, I mean…more experienced Hams in the club, may recall the “Russian Woodpecker”. Beginning around 1976 till around 1989 when it ceased, this powerful radio signal was heard world wide and when triangulated, the source was found to emanate from inside the Ukraine. Hence the name, the Russian Woodpecker.

Twitter’s only metonymy with the Russian Woodpecker is the use of the bird metaphor in their names. The Russian Woodpecker wanted to disrupt communications, Twitter wants to facilitate them.

As Amateur Radio Operators, one of our goals is to communicate with as many good friends, and make as many new friends as possible using our radios. Similarly, as a club the HCRA needs to communicate with as many of its members (and our friends) as it can. By using Twitter, the club has one more item in it’s tool-kit to do just that.

Twitter is easy to use, accessible via PC as well as any number of mobile devices, and proven itself to be an effective way to share information and ideas. Be it between people who follow other people, or people who follow institutions, such as our club.

A major plus Twitter has going for it, is that while not everyone has time to log onto the internet, then go to websites browsing text files, most everyone has time to look at a quick message sent to them containing 140 characters…or less! That’s right, in about 30 seconds you can instantly learn what’s happening with your club. These Tweets may include a link that would provide you with more information and content.

So, it’s with the above in mind, the Hampden County Radio Association created its own Twitter account called “Hampden County RA” or “@HampdenCountyRA” and we encourage all our members to follow us on Twitter. It’s easy to locate, you can find it by simply clicking on this link: https://twitter.com/HampdenCountyRA. We look forward to your follows, and all club members who follow @HampdenCountyRA, will be followed back.

One last thing, to alleviate any concerns, be assured this is the official and -only- account the Hampden County Radio Association has on Twitter.

September Is Membership Renewal Month!

Welcome back. On behalf of myself and the HCRA Board Of Directors, we hope you’ve had good and memorable times since our last meeting. With Labor Day Weekend behind us, fall will soon be upon us, and with that comes all those get-ready-for-winter chores. However, for now we can enjoy September and on Friday, September 6th, our first HCRA meeting of the 2013/2014 season.

Traditionally, the September meeting is renewal time for club members. As our Club President, Jim-KK1W says “Your dues go toward funding HCRA events like Field Day and the Holiday Party, offset mailing costs for our members without email access, cover our web hosting and liability insurance expenses and IRLP node maintenance and more. We need your continuing support to keep HCRA rolling along in high gear.” That being said, I’ll have the membership table set-up and ready to assist you in keeping your membership in good standing.

If you’re one of those people who don’t like to wait to the last minute to get things done and/or enjoy new things and new technology, then the HCRA has something you’ll find useful. Membership renewals may now be done online! It’s easy, it’s fast -and- it’s secure. Please click on this link to see for yourself: http://www.hcra.org/membership-payment
Please note however, at this time only renewals can be processed at this time. New members will still need to submit hard copies of membership applications, as their information is not in our database. If you choose to renew in person at the September 6th (or at any) meeting, if you would please bring a completed application with you, it will make the process quicker for everyone. You can download an application here: http://www.hcra.org/membership

73, and we look forward to seeing you at the meeting!

Building a portable 12 Volt DC power source

If you’re like me, you not only enjoy your radios in the comfort of your shack, but like to go outside to “play radio” in events such as the upcoming 2013 ARRL January VHF Contest. This is a contest where I enjoy being a rover station. I also take part in spontaneous DX parties, public service events such as road races and providing Amateur Radio communications in times of need to such organizations as the American Red Cross. All of these activities at one time or another may require that battery power be used, as commercial power may simply not be available.

In this article, I’m going to discuss how I made my 12 Volt DC portable power source. I urge you to make, and have an auxiliary power available for yourself in the event you find yourself without commercial power. Fortunately for me, except for the battery box, everything else I needed was found around my shack and home.

The components of my 12 Volt DC portable power source include:
1. Four Anderson Powerpoles – Two red, two black and all with 45AMP barrel connectors.
2. 10 gage red/black zip-cord power wire (It’s best if you not use speaker wire).
3. Heat-shrink tubing of various sizes.
4. Two battery post terminals, for the AGM 12 Volt battery.
5. One 4-pole snap-in panel mount for 2 sets of Anderson Powerpoles.
6. Two Velcro Velstraps – 3ft X 2in
7. One 12 Volt (AGM) vehicle battery. As your power needs may vary, and there are any numbers of detailed articles about battery selection, I’m not going to cover that here.
8. One full-sized battery box.

Go-Kit Components

Go-Kit Components

Once the components were laid out, the first thing I did was to turn over the battery box. Then with my trusty Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut out two thin rectangle holes just big enough to pass one of the Velstraps through [Picture A.]. Once the holes were made, starting from inside the box; I simply passed the Velstrap out one of the holes, across the underside of the box, then back into the box via the other hole [Picture B]. This Velstrap will later be used to hold the battery in place, once it’s inside the battery box.

Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom

Dremel Tool, Battery Box Bottom

I next took the top of the battery box, and again using the Dremel Tool and multipurpose cutting bit, I cut a square hole measuring 1.00 inch by 1.25 inches. This hole will later be used as a place to insert the 4-pole snap-in panel mount to hold the Anderson Powerpoles [Picture I].

The wiring came next. Following proper techniques, I crimped a 45 AMP barrel connector onto each of the four wire leads of a 10 gauge red/black zip-cord power wire. Then, keeping with ARES/RACES standard orientation, I assembled the red and black connectors (tongue down, hood up, red on the left, black on the right as viewed opposite the wire side). With each pair assembled, I then joined the two pairs together, one set over the other. NOTE: When using large gauge wire, it’s easier to put the connector housings together before putting the barrel connectors in.

Once the four connector housings were together, I inserted the wire lead’s barrel connectors into their corresponding connector housings. Red into red, black into black. Using the proper sized heat-shrink tubing, I fed both sets of zip-cords through it, then brought the heat-shrink tubing all the way up until it met the base of the Powerpole connectors. I applied heat and shrunk the tubing in place.

Using a sharp knife, I then split the ends of the zip-cords and separated the red side from the black side all the way up till it reached the heat-shrink tubing near the Powerpole connectors. I then fed both red wire leads into one length of heat-shrink tubing, then both black wire leads into a separate length of heat-shrink tubing. On both sets of wire leads, I left a generous amount of wire extending beyond the heat-shrink tubing. I applied heat and shrunk each of the tubes around their respective wire lead sets.

Powerpole connectors on, power-leads separated then heat-shrunk together by polarity, it was time to insert the four-gang of Powerpole connectors into the 4-pole snap-in panel. The Powerpole connectors simply slide in to the 4-pole snap-in panel and are held in place by inserting a retaining pin [Picture II].

Were almost home, just a few more steps: Holding the lid at the distance I wanted it to be from the bottom of the box, I measured out the length the wire leads from the 4-pole snap-in panel to the battery posts needed to be, then cut off the excess wire. Now cut to length, I inserted both red and black sets of wire leads into a single heat-shrink tubing. I remembered to leave enough of the wire leads exposed in order for me to later attach these wire leads to the battery terminals. I then applied heat and shrunk the tubing. Once the heat-shrink tubing cooled, to minimize movement of the wiring harness I secured it to the top of the box. After striping away enough of the outer coating, I attached each set of wire leads to their respective battery terminals and attached the battery terminals to the battery posts [Picture III].

Assembled Components

Assembled Components

The above having been completed, I placed the top onto the bottom of the battery box and secured it using the last Velstrap…Done! I now had a safe, secure and ARES/RACES standard orientation compliant source of 12 Volt DC power.

Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source

Completed 12 Volt DC portable power source

It’s my hope that this article, by showing you how with readily available components and it’s quick and easy assembly, you’ll be motivated to create your own portable 12 Volt DC power source.  After all, the bottom line is this: You never know when that next event will cause the lose of power to your shack, and there’s no guarantee there’ll be commercial power available at the places you go to, or get called to. A piece of equipment like this will give you one more way to be ready to get on, and stay on the air.


Rich – N1KXR

Jamboree on the Air – 2012

Jamboree on the Air logoThe Hampden County Radio Association sponsors BSA Venture Crew 510 and this Venture Crew specializes in Amateur Radio. Put Boy Scouts and Amateur Radio together and you get not only learning and fun. You get Jamboree on the Air!

Held on the third full weekend of October each year, Jamboree on the Air, or JOTA as it’s known, is the largest Scouting event in the world. In 2011 nearly 750,000 Scouts participated with over 6,000 stations in operation from 150 countries around the world.

This year the 55th Jamboree-on-the-Air is October 20–21, 2012. The official hours are from Saturday at 00:00 hours local time (right at midnight Friday) to Sunday 24:00 (midnight Sunday evening). So you’ve got the whole weekend to make JOTA contacts!

This worldwide jamboree requires no travel on your part, well, other than going to your Ham shack. Scouts from around the globe, and perhaps as close as across town, will be looking for Amateur Radio Operators just like you to make contact with. So hopefully you’ll take part in this worthwhile event and work some of these Scouts. By the way, while you enjoy a good QSO, many of  these Scouts are working on earning their Radio Merit Badge, and for some Scouts, this is their first time on the air!

For more information, please use the below links: