Southern New Jersey Section EmComm

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2/12/2020 10:57 am  #1


Ocean County ARES member, Paul KB2RUV has come up with a great training idea using Parks on the Air. You may remember the ARRL's National Parks on the Air program from 2016. What you may not know is that the program is still alive and well, known simply as: Parks on the Air. It is no longer associated with the ARRL, but is run by a dedicated group of volunteers.

Check out the POTA website here:

Operating POTA is pretty simple. Once your group is registered, you simply pick a park, schedule an activation for it on the POTA website, let your members know about it, and go! You pick the times, bands and modes in advance. You can also self-spot your activation both online and on Facebook. This tends to quickly draw operators from all over to your frequencies.

OCARES operates as a group, under its club callsign: WA2RES. That said, individual operators also get POTA credit for their contacts made while operating the group station.

Paul's idea centered around some of the following training opportunities:

1) Deploying complete HF stations to remote locations on short notice.
[Please note that while OCARES has spent a lot of time honing its HF NVIS capabilities, much of this POTA training also benefits local repeater operation.]

2) Giving members without HF gear or experience a chance to check out and operate different stations and antennas and bands. This is a great opportunity for your Techs to come out and operate.

3) Logging large volumes of traffic accurately in a real world environment. There are an amazing number of hams out there that take POTA contacts very seriously: the logs have got to be accurate.

3a) Taking control of an active, somewhat chaotic net. Pile ups are very much like that.

4) Troubleshooting! Every single time we "activate", something goes wrong. Over time we have built up a database of common (and not so common) problems and their solutions. It's gotten so we just calmly switch to "troubleshooting mode" and get on with it. This can be huge if you have a Served Agency is tapping its foot behind you and your station goes down.

On top of this, activating POTA parks is a lot of fun! The are 5 POTA parks listed for Ocean County. There is at least one in every county in the Section. And there's nothing that says you have to stay in your county either.

POTA can be an alternative to somewhat dull and dry training exercises. Activations are quick, flexible and a benefit to operators new and old alike. They can be contest pile-up fast, or QRP challenging. That's up to you.

Take a look and let us know what you think



2/26/2020 8:56 am  #2


Welp, we've been at it for a couple weeks now. Here's an update:

Eric K2EDS just got up and running this past weekend. That's our 4th HF station participating in the field.

We coordinate bands, modes and frequencies via Simplex, so we have a small local net going as well.

We've activated Double Trouble State Park; Edwin B. Forsythe Federal Wildlife Preserve and Bass River
State Forest on multiple occasions.

We've been operating simultaneously using SSB and PSK on: 15m, 20m, 30m, 40m, 75m and 80m (including NVIS). We've shied away from CW being as it's the least likely mode to be used in EmComm these days.
That's not to say it's not welcomed though.

We've found activations to be a great time for a little one-on-one time with our newer members. Scheduling is quick and simple, to fit busy schedules. They can come out when we're operating a couple stations or just one. All of this seems to encourage them to actually get on the air for at least a few contacts to start with. And that's the whole idea: learning new skills and keeping old ones polished.

We've also gotten some real world data on how long different battery options last in the field. Calling CQ for a few hours will definitely put your power source to the test. My 10Ah LiFePO4 battery packs last a bit over 2 hours each running radio (50w SSB) and laptop. Granted, this is operating at a much higher duty cycle than I would ever hope to encounter as a "field" station, but it's good to test their actual limits. On the other hand: a 55Ah gel cell runs everything for four hours and then some (especially with a battery booster in line)
This has shown the advantage of low power stations in the field (Net Controls are a whole different ball of wax, as they say). Operating digital with 10W using Android OS devices can easily double air time and are much easier to recharge as well. PCs are real power hogs and a pain to recharge, many needing 19V when you've only got 12V.

That's a bout it for now.

We have more plans to adapt Parks on the Air as a training tool. We'll keep you posted on our progress.
As always: Comments and questions welcomed.



PS: We'll get some pics up soon, too.

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