What is ARES?

The Federal Communications Commission recognizes the capability of Amateur Radio by stating its “recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.”

The American Radio Relay League (ARRL) sponsors the ARES, which provides emergency communications in time of need. Granted, most amateurs can provide some type of communications during a disaster, but ARES organizes our response.

You need not be a member of ARRL to belong to ARES. You don’t have to spend any money. You don’t have to spend every other weekend training for a disaster. You only have to dedicate as much spare time as you want to public service.

“We often find that having adequate communications coverage during a disaster can be challenging,”

-Gary Striar, CEO of the American Red Cross NE NY Region

“ARES volunteers are communications experts, and our role is to support the operational structure of agencies like the Red Cross,”

Pete Cecere, Section Manager of the Eastern NY Section of the ARRL

 

In this issue:

·  Amateur Radio Club for Smith County

·  Add Value to Your Newsletter

·  Second Story

·  Another Story

·  Back Page Story

Amateur Radio Club for Smith County

The purpose this web site is to provide information about ARES for Smith County.

 

 

 

PACKAGED EMERGENCY STATION

By Lee Aurick, W1SE

Perhaps you’ve played with the thought that it would be nice to have a “go-anywhere, anytime “ HF station such as the one described here. If you have, you can start to collect and organize the various items. It’s easier than you think, and now’s he time to do it.

Emergency Preparation

Sitting in the back of the room during an ARES/RACES meeting some months ago, waiting to be called to have a photo made for a county ID card, my thoughts began to wander as to what could be done if I were called upon to setup an HF emergency station on short notice in a  completely unplanned location. Emergencies never occur at convenient times. The advent of repeater nets and the number of people who participate in them has pretty well solved the local-area communication problems. But what about longhaul emergency traffic? From here in central Florida, the state capital at Tallahassee is more than 200 miles north.

There’s a real need for a reliable emergency communications link between any of several possible points here and the capital. Thinking about it, and the fact that I wouldn’t know where to start, scared the daylights out of me. This area is known as the “Thunderstorm Capital of the World,” with more than 100 mild to violent storms each year. In addition, we live with a six-month-long hurricane risk. The next week or so was spent planning. What would I need to have if the Emergency Coordinator (EC) asked me to fill an important communications role at a moment’s notice?

Already on hand was a 1-kW gasoline-powered generator that could be loaded in or out of a car by one person. It  consumes 0.8 gallons of gas every four hours; so 10 gallons of gasoline, always on hand, provides emergency power for 50 hours of operation. Not a bad start; but a long way from a complete station.

The List Grows

The longer I thought about it, the larger the number of essential items appeared to grow. There had to be a limit. What to leave and what to take? Finally, the list of essential items began to jell. Three categories of inventory were developed. The first was principal items, such as a microphone, a key and headphones. What other items would be needed for an extended period of time in an unknown environment? What would I need to ensure a successful operation? It was much like preparing for an unscheduled Field Day, to be held at an unknown location. Small parts and tools would be secured in two suitably-sized plastic bags.

 

Packaged Emergency Station (Cont.)

Antenna(s)

The most appealing antenna design for portable emergency work, because of its ease of installation, is the inverted V. I’d solved the challenge of hoisting ropes into trees to support antenna wires several years earlier by using a slingshot and a fishing reel. This arrangement makes it possible to shoot a one-ounce lead fishing weight over trees up to 80 feet tall. Light nylon twine is attached to the far end of the lightweight fishing line and then it’s reeled in. If necessary, a heavier rope may be secured to the nylon line and pulled back over the tree. The slingshot was destined to be an important part of the portable station. But what about the antennas?

I dismissed the idea of a single multiband antenna because of the bulk of the loading coils. Several other ideas were discarded before the final design suggested itself. I bought 100 feet of 22-gauge speaker wire and “zipped” it apart. From this, I cut the basic 40-meter antenna (651/2 feet long), then soldered lugs with “eyes” on each end of the antennas. Extensions can be easily bolted on to provide the additional length to resonate in the 75-meter band. (This adds approximately 27 feet to each side of the 40-meter antenna, and attaches with #6 bolts and nuts.) The antenna is small enough to be folded compactly and stuffed into a coffee mug. End insulators are unnecessary, as nylon twine tied to the ends of the antenna serve as insulators and as tie points for the inverted V. The compact antenna requires a center insulator with a coaxial connector that’s considerably smaller than those commercially available. I used a small piece of doublesided circuit board on which a female coaxial connector was mounted. I took a small piece of Lucite and taped the mounted it at one edge with #40 machine screws. This became the terminal for the “hot” side of the antenna, connected to the coaxial connector’s center conductor. The other side, the “cold” end of the antenna, is soldered to the circuit board foil through a strain-relief solder terminal.

Putting it All Together

The transceiver I use, a venerable Kenwood TS-520S, still puts out at least 100 watts on five HF bands. The reliability of this equipment is well known and its operation is understood by most hams. The rig is also forgiving of “cockpit errors” made by the occasional operator who may not be completely familiar with it. With radio and antenna assigned to the package, the next question comes to mind. How to keep all accessories, parts, tools and the radio together, and how would the station operate under unknown  emergency conditions?

I’ve operated under emergency conditions in five hurricanes and several floods. There was often little room to operate, no place for the rig, and writing space was nonexistent. I got the idea for a self-contained box that would provide a safe enclosure for the rig and all components of the station, and offer a convenient place from which to operate and write messages.

After determining that such a satisfactory enclosure wasn’t available, I decided to build one myself. Because I’m not particularly gifted in woodworking, it was perhaps the most formidable part of the project. The result was a pine box made from 1 X 12-inch lumber. I attached heavy-duty footlocker-type handles to the sides. Smaller handles are used to pull down the hinged front for an operating table (supported by short lengths of ball chain). A small handle also lifts the back half of the top for easy access to the accessories. The final design is 21 1/2 inches wide, 23 inches deep and 11 inches high. I added small wheels to the bottom of the box, a last-minute touch that became a joy, considering the weight of the fully-loaded station. I inserted L-shaped screws into the bottom of the case, just outboard of the wheels, and wound 45 feet of extra RG58A/U coax around the screws to have sufficient cable for virtually any situation.

This was a fun project and has proven to be a vital link in the emergency preparedness of Seminol County, Florida. The station has been demonstrated before a number of emergency groups. I thank Wayne Davis, KO4FY, for encouraging me to describe this project.

QRT (ARRL ARES EC Guide)