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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

update on USNG

Just received these great links from USNG08, who left me a message on a prior article of mine:

His comments as follows:

Some updates:
c) GMap4 works on any smartphone even w/o connectivity: 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Arkansas River Trail activation

Here are the details to my upcoming Arkansas River Trail activation on Saturday as a Pedestrian Mobile /PM Amateur Radio station:

Where: Arkansas River Trail
Transceiver: Barrett 2090
Power: 10W SSB
Antenna: DK2RZ DXM-90 with counterpoise

When you follow the individual links above, you will see a bit of background information on the various listed details. 

I will walk along the river, making a stab at walking 20km (12.4m) in 4 hours, while operating my backpack. No mountain to help me leverage my signal over the horizon. Temperature will be high and only partly cloudy - so no shade to count on (will have to wear good sunscreen!). Need to carry sufficient water too.

Yes, I am participating in the RaDAR Summer Contest but I will rag chew as much with every station as they are willing to chat with me!

Why did I choose 40m as my primary band for those 4 hours? Checking the VOACAP coverage map, I had the impression that it would yield me the best coverage.

20m band and higher did not look favorable at all, at least so I thought.

I will take on the challenge of 10W SSB with my DXM-90 40m antenna. I had a great QSO not too long ago with Greg N4KGL from Dallas when I used my 20m DXM-90, my hopes are thus that the 40m version might also deliver some good contacts. It is a gamble, but I can also always still mount my 12 foot whip or change over to a light dipole. The predicted dipole coverage certainly looks better.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

The journey is the reward.

My strategy for the RaDAR contest on the 26th:

Weather hot and humid here now, thus want to minimize gear to bare essentials, but still want to do /PM. Carrying lots of water a "must", a few powerbars for energy. Anti mosquito spray and sun screen both a conditio sine qua non. Hope there will be no thunderstorm in the forecast, since I don't like to take SUCH risks. Most will agree, some daredevils don't. Darwin will decide who's making the right choice.

Will aim to continue walking during the 4 hours, making 20km total. If I make the 20km before the 4 hours are up, I will deploy a low dipole for 40m. Walking the 20km ahead of time (before I've made 5 contacts for each way stop) should be allowable by the RaDAR Contest rules for /PM operators. Agree?

Will have to wisely choose the band I want to talk on with my whip, since it's hard to change frequency/ band once my transceiver is on my back (Alicepack). Until now, 20m was always best, but looking at VOACAP, seems like 40m is a better choice.

My personal aim for this contest date: manage the 20km in 4 hours, with number of /PM contacts made being secondary. The journey is the reward.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

N5AT Field Day antenna setup

- 20 meter beam on a 60' tower trailer

- 204' G5RV center suspended on a 70' pole with shorter +20' poles supporting the ends

- 1300' horizontal delta loop wire antenna will be supported by the same 70' pole at a lower point, 20’ at 2 trees at other corners

- 2300' horizontal loop wire antenna will be suspended from trees and 8’-12’ poles

- 40m half wave NVIS dipole

- 80m half wave NVIS dipole

- Alpha Antenna Promaster Sr

- Alpha Antenna Small Magnetic Loop

- 2m VHF antenna on pole

Monday, June 23, 2014

Modes used during Field Day

So which communication modes will our clubs feature during Field Day 2014?

Voice, CW, PSK31, MT63-500L, ALE, ALE AMD, APRS, WeFax.

Just follow the links for more info!

APRS for Field Day?

So you are interested to make 10 quick points on Field Day? Have you sent NTS style messages? Bored of relaying Radiograms by voice and can't find anyone to accept one? NBEMS too easy for you, since it's such a great and easy and free software suite?

Then why don't you send a few APRS messages, routing them to email addresses and write them as I've featured in a prior blog entry (see ALE AMD NTS messages)?

For example:

But watch you message length, APRS Email supports 67 characters, less than ALE AMD!

Nonetheless, 10 messages at 10 points each - nice!

Great EmComm training and great for points too ;)

Ionosonde survey

Look at the great ionosonde survey webpage that Van AE5CC put together:

...and it works really nice with the swiping! Thanks for sending me this Van!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

ARRL Field Day 2014 NTS style messages via ALE AMD

I am the Field Day Incident Commander for N5AT and one of our goals is to get the Bonus points for “NTS style messages”.

I verified with the ARRL and it is not the mode of transmission that is of interest (it must however leave the site via radio RF), it is the message format (i.e. NTS radiogram) that is the requirement.

Thus, please don’t be surprised when you receive an ALE AMD message like the following during Field Day:


= approx. 59 characters, which is under the 90 character limit for AMD messages. Great! (Message size limit verified here: )

Maybe the above will inspire some other HAMs to also demo ALE and HFLink to their fellow HAMs during Field Day?! You may of course also choose voice, CW, NBEMS, APRS to send your Radiogram, but AMD makes it so slick… :)

vy 73 de Marcus NX5MK
Apparare Scientior Paratus Communicare

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Getting into shape

Had the chance to go with family today to the Cedar Falls in Petit Jean State Park
which is a 2 mile hike from Mather Lodge, considered moderate to strenuous. Had my entire /PM gear with me, including reserve battery, charge controller, mini-chair, water, CW straight key, you name it. Hefty package all in all... The waterfall was great, we had a great hike, was warm to hot and humid. Sure sweated a lot, but had great fun hiking. Did not operate at all, since I would have had to string up a 40m antenna and today was really reserved for family. But - was a great RaDAR exercise to get into shape for the contests.
More details on my pack to follow another day.

ARRL Field Day 2014 announcement

Stay tuned for more updates...

- Public Announcement for immediate release -

The Arkansas Radio Emergency Services (A.R.E.S.) Club, The Central Arkansas UHF (CAUHF) Club and the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System Ham Radio (CAVHS) Club have once again joined forces for this year's ARRL Amateur Radio Field Day @ the VA Hospital.

We three Little Rock Amateur Radio Clubs will once again be participating in the annual ARRL Field Day event the weekend of June 28-29 on the Historic Ft. Roots Parade Ground, Little Rock, Arkansas using the call sign N5AT.

We will be operating with emergency power and alternate power, erecting a 20m beam antenna, wire antennas and a magnetic loop antenna. There will again be a dedicated SSB station, a dedicated digital station, a digital&voice GOTA station and a VHF station. Digital operations will be CW (straight key) and sound card based modes, including Automatic Link Establishment (ALE AMD).

The AHDNN net will be conducted from this site between 1600h and 1700h CDT, 7.070 mhz 1000Hz +/-, MT63-500L.
Technician Class Licensees - SPECIAL NOTICE: Please check-in with CW on Center Frequency, we are listening out for you! Net will be conducted using the NBEMS software suite with FLDIGI and FLMSG to facilitate section "7.3.6. Message Handling” of the ARRL Field Day 2014 Rules. NBEMS nets in adjoining states have planned to stand by.

We have decided to organize the event per the NIMS / ICS model, as to increase our knowledge and experience with it, making use of and learning about the AUXFOG. We will have an Educational Activity and hope that the Little Rock Boy Scouts will be able to join us!

Irrespective of the above, our focus is - as always - on the great cameraderie between the clubs and it’s members, where everyone is invited and welcome to visit and operate.

Although we have chosen to follow the ARRL Field Day 2014 Rules Objective closely ("To work as many stations as possible on any and all amateur bands…” and to "developing skills to meet the challenges of emergency preparedness as well as to acquaint the general public with the capabilities of Amateur Radio.”), we will nonetheless approach it as we always have, with a degree of leisure appropriate for the searing heat at that time of year!

If you have time, come join us!

Directions to the park are here: Google Maps directions and please see the map at the bottom of this post, we will be located on the Parade Ground.

Historical background:

We all look forward to meeting you, be it on air or in person!

Wishing all a most enjoyable and especially safe Field Day 2014,

73 de Marcus NX5MK

ArcGIS - US National Grid with Current Hazards

Saturday, May 31, 2014


Today is the quarterly meeting of the @AR1DMAT and I am enjoying the cameraderie of a great team and learning from the multiple training sessions.

Right now learning about prevention of Trench Foot - a real need to know for all backpackers and /PM operators and Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio operators #RADAROPS since it prevents pain and incredible infections / gangrene.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Amateur's Code

The Amateur's Code

by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA (1928)

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATEnever knowingly operating in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.
LOYALoffering loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
PROGRESSIVEwith knowledge abreast of science, a well built and efficient station, and operation beyond reproach.
FRIENDLYwith slow and patient operation when requested, friendly advice and counsel to the beginner, kindly assistance, co-operation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
BALANCEDRadio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.
PATRIOTICwith station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

Amateur Radio for hospitals - a valuable resource

Brief article generally describing value of Amateur Radio operators within hospitals.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Maintaining Leadership Focus in Volunteer Emergency Organizations

Outstanding How-To article on how to manage Volunteer Emergency Organizations.

I especially want to point out the following paragraph of the article:


1) Leaders should ensure that every step is made to make a newbie welcome. A ╩║father – figure╩║ (utilising specific skills and abilities) can take the newbie under his or her wing for the first two or three meetings; making them feel at home and instil a sense of belonging. It is a common fact that if a newbie hasn’t made a friend within the first seven weeks, there is a strong possibility they won’t hang around much after that.

2) Home in on the skills, talents, abilities, attributes, etc of the newcomer and begin to utilize them ASAP.

3) If membership or team spirit appears to be waning, perhaps a change of leadership is needed? Leaders who hold the post for long periods can generate staleness. Fresh blood often introduces a fresh approach.

My comments to this are:

Regarding #1:
I specifically thank all the members of the ARES-Club (Arkansas Radio Emergency Services Club) for having made me feel welcome from the first moment onwards and for your continued elmering. It is not often that one meets HAMs like you.

Regarding #2:
I also thank you for having utilized my skill set from the beginning - it takes a confident and knowledgeable person to guide someone else, knowing how to apply their skill set and allowing them to gain leadership experience - and you did.

Regarding #3:
I certainly see no waning team spirit with the ARES-Club! Why is that? I believe it's because you practice the art of rotating responsibilities. That's exactly what a friend of mine, a US Navy Commander, suggested I practice with our Decon Unit where I work.

See more about "Maintaining Leadership Focus in Volunteer Emergency Organizations" at:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

US National Grid with current hazards

This map is truly worthy of your review. It presents the US National Grid (USNG) map service along with current hazards data from the USGS, Pacific Disaster Center and NOAA.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

For all those who believe that ALE is "a solution looking for a problem"...

There are a number of Amateur Radio operators (aka. "hams"), who believe that ALE is a solution in search of a problem. It is for those, that the following is written:

Executive Summary:

The automatic link establishment protocol (aka. "ALE") used for high frequency (HF) radios, is a vendor-independent protocol, which does exactly as it name implies. It automates the establishment of an HF link between two stations. Technical details are sufficiently documented and freely available on the Internet.

Experienced HF radio operators are fairly good at estimating which frequency (band) will likely result in good two-way reception between two stations at a fixed distance from one another at any given time of day.

If however, there are more than two stations who want to be able to communicate with each other without prearranging a schedule and who are at various distances from each other (e.g. 20miles, 200miles, 1000miles, 2000miles, 4000miles), then experience alone is not the solution. How is the radio operator to know who is wanting to contact him right now and that with 24/7 coverage? Since the other stations are at varying distances from him, which frequency should he be listing to? 
One could of course buy a dedicated transceiver for every frequency and band that one would need to cover, but the cost for such a setup is prohibitive and arguably impossible to accomplish for mobile and portable stations.

This is where ALE comes in and thus is indeed a solution which solves a real world problem and does so more efficiently (less bandwidth and less time consuming) than any "experienced" radio operator could.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

Amateur Radio, Federal Government Engaged in Joint 5 MHz Communication Exercise

Amateur Radio operators and federal government stations are engaged in a 12-day nationwide test of their capability to communicate with each other on HF in the event of an emergency or disaster. The High Frequency Interoperability Exercise 2014 (HFIE-2014) is running concurrently with the federal National Exercise Program (NEP) 2014. Activity is taking place on two of the five 60 meter channels. The primary center-frequency channel is 5358.5 kHz, and the secondary center-frequency channel is 5373.0 kHz. Amateur Radio is secondary to government users on the band. The joint readiness exercise that began March 27 will continue through April 7 and include all areas of the US. Participants will use Automatic Link Establishment (ALE), a standardized digital selective calling protocol, to establish communication between stations. 
“The HFIE has been a semi-annual exercise for some years,” explained HFIE-2014 Coordinator Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA. “Previously, HFIE has been a ham-only exercise. This year, we scheduled HFIE so it coincides with the NEP.”
Participation in the interoperability exercise is open to all ALE-capable federal government radio stations and to all ALE-capable US Amateur Radio stations. A Special Temporary Authorization (STA) has been granted, giving permission for radio amateurs to communicate with federal government stations for the duration of the exercise.
Crystal said ALE signaling “sounds like turkey gobble,” adding that ALE calls last about 15 seconds. Stations listening “may also hear the operators then start talking on USB voice,” she said. “The signals can be up to about 40 seconds long, if there’s texting riding on it, using a very rapid type of ARQ [automatic repeat request] handshaking.”
“Once someone links with another station, they have the choice of using SSB voice or sending/receiving up to about 80 characters of text,” Crystal said. “Or they can switch to some other mode, such as CW or PSK or PACTOR.”
ARRL Regulatory Information Manager Dan Henderson, N1ND, said the exercise offers an excellent opportunity for those amateurs with ALE capability. “It is a good exercise that highlights one of the key elements under which US amateurs were granted secondary status on the 60 meter band,” he said. "The amateur community's ability to participate in an interoperability exercise with governmental communications is a great way to assess where things stand in this area — and to explore the next steps to take. We encourage those amateurs familiar with the ALE protocols and have the station equipment to participate in a meaningful way to do so.”
Crystal said that in past years some hams who work for federal government radio systems have participated in HFIE during their off-hours as Amateur Radio operators. “We got together with some of them and worked out a way to enable federal stations to do some ALE interoperability testing on the 5 MHz channels with hams, since they already are authorized on the exact same channels as hams.” Crystal said it was just a matter of getting the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FCC to allow hams and government stations to communicate. The STA was approved on March 24.
Federal government station HF radios stations have the ALE capability built into the hardware. Amateur Radio operators implement ALE protocols using computer software with their ham gear. “The STA allows for on-the-air testing of interoperability between the hardware and software-generated ALE implementations,” Crystal said.
The HFIE is a semi-annual ham radio readiness exercise coordinated by theHFLINK organization and the Global ALE High Frequency Network It is open to all ALE-capable ham radio stations. Technical and operational guidelines for ham and federal government stations are available on the HFIE-2014 website.
The National Exercise Program is a complex emergency preparedness exercise with activities sponsored by government departments and agencies, designed to educate and prepare the whole community for complex, large-scale disasters and emergencies. As part of the National Preparedness Goal, it enables a collaborative, whole community approach to national preparedness that engages individuals, families, communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based organizations, and all levels of government.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Portable hand-crank power in a backpack size...

I have previously posted about an upcoming 12V portable hand crank electricity generator for the commercial market. Here I will report about a Mil-Spec portable hand crank generator that might just be the solution for you.

Sometime back I ordered a Clansman Hand Generator (please perform internet search on these as I do not want to bias you on whom to order it from). It generates 24 Volt DC (open voltage) at moderate speed cranking and a maximum of 30V (open voltage) when cranking at the maximal speed  that I can still manage relatively comfortably. Please see YouTube videos for further details on this crank generator.

So how could you use these 24V to charge a portable battery? Just connect two small 12V batteries in series... and you have a heavy duty (yes - that does also imply fairly heavy weight). 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

WorldWide Flora & Fauna in amateur radio

Several of you have mentioned the WWFF, but I admit that I did not understand the concept until now, nor did I see a link. So I went searching the Internet and came to the WorldWide Flora & Fauna in amateur radio website. It states:
"The WWFF program wants to draw attention to the importance of protecting nature, flora and fauna. In this spirit amateur radio operators set up and operate their radio stations from designated nature parks and protected nature areas - generating attention for these areas whilst giving the ham radio community an interesting activity to contact. ..."

This sounds like ideal locations for RaDAR Operators! I emailed the founders with two new Natural Areas and they immediately responded with the registration numbers and promised to publish them in the database ASAP.

So... I got myself a little (unfair?) advantage for the RaDAR-America Contest, I will operate from one of those two new WWFF locations ;)  Looking forward to get out and seeing more of my State's natural habitats! I've downloaded and printed the topographical map of the area, so I will have my locator at my fingertip

update on Grid Locators

I received an email with the valid question of how to determine one's location, i.e. Grid Locator with high digit precision, in preparation for the RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) contest.

Please allow me to initially direct to a prior blog entry of mine on the topic:

It will now be a challenge for all RaDAR Contest participants to determine their location while mobile. The RaDAR program hereby challenges the Amateur Radio operator in expanding his knowledge in orienteering, in findings his way from point A to point B. If you were in the Boy-Scouts or a similar organization, you will probably have no problem with this, for all others, it will be a new challenge, apart from the physical aspect of the RaDAR program.

So, what can you do? The easy way will be to have a GPS device or a SmartPhone with a suitable application. I successfully use:

Theodolite - which has 15 digit precision USNG / UTM grid locator precision. I assume that the reading is not 100% correct given that a smartphone is not a dedicated GPS device, but likely good enough for relaying to rescue services if ever you needed to. Really nice is it's integration with the camera. See a review of the application here.

Locate! - boils it down to the essentials. Also 15 digit USNG / UTM precision. Easy to use.

Here is a whole list of more apps which you may try out.

But how about doing it how it really should be done - by reading from a map?! Learn here how to read a USNG / UTM map.
Once you have that figured out, go here to download maps for free, ready for you to print out, which can also be bought for little money.

Regarding the use of the Maidenhead Grid Locator System, I am not sure if to recommend it or discourage it's use. It is Amateur Radio centric and as such likely meets instant recognition by HAMs, but Search and Rescue Services would maybe not know what it is. Should we thus burden the HAM who is receiving our coordinates, to have to convert them into Long Lat coordinates or UTM? I believe not, since I prefer to keep things simple and effective. No need to add another layer of complexity. Also, I know of only one iPhone application, to give me the Maidenhead Grid Locator with 8 digit precision, which is HamLog. One problem with it however, it currently saves your grid location only to the device that you enter the log entry in. It does not transfer to it's cloud server! You therefore have to copy/ paste that information yourself into the "Notes" field of the log entry page, which is a slight nuisance. But - it's still the best iOS app and the best HAM Log service I've found, I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 10, 2014

2014 ARRL Field Day - NTS-style message Bonus

ARRL HQ replied today regarding my inquiry about further details on the 2014 ARRL Field Day "NTS-style message Bonus".

It is the message format which is of interest and not the message carrier, i.e. as long as it is in proper NTS radiogram format & via RF. Quote:

"Yes, messages sent via NBEMS or Winlink will count for Field Day bonus points as long as the messages are in the proper NTS radiogram format and the messages leave or enter the Field Day site via amateur radio RF."

That will be most exiting! I can think of: voice (ok, that's nothing new), CW (this neither), FLMSG (within NBEMS suite of free software programs), WinLink, HFLink ALE AMD and APRS as being possible carriers of the radiogram, with the last two likely the least common choices for most HAMs. Maybe I can think of a few more by Field Day… Why don't you too bring something new into YOUR Field Day activation, with some new modes of message relay?

Thus, the Arkansas HF Digital NVIS NBEMS Net (AHDNN) will be operational and have extended operational hours during Field Day, schedule to be announced on the AHDNN newsgroup, NCS: N5AT.

Additionally, the Arkansas Radio Emergency Services Club will send NTS radiograms via all above mentioned digital modes of communication.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Buxcomm 7510CT2FD Manual for Terminated Folded Dipole Installation

I have the Buxcomm 7510CT2FD and noticed that the webpage for it has been taken offline. Below is the manual for reference.

Also came across interesting specs for the Codan 411 TERMINATED FOLDED DIPOLE ANTENNA which is a nice comparison of the efficiency of a T2FD versus a Dipole in free space at 1/4 wavelength above ground - a requirement that most dipole installations do not fulfill - versus a T2FD at 10m / 33 feet. Seems like the T2FD is not such an inferior antenna...

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Amateur Radio Featured at 2014 Preparedness Summit

Just came across the following newsline:

Amateur Radio Featured at 2014 Preparedness Summit
The Preparedness Summit is the largest public health preparedness conference in the United States. Each year, approximately 2,000 preparedness professionals attend this multi-disciplinary event. This year, the Preparedness Summit is highlighting the importance of amateur radio.

Might be worthwhile to take a look at.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March monthly RaDAR meetup - After Action Report

Well, it was one of those days again. Seems to be the ARRL DX contest and no stateside station likes to respond to a local contact...? Worked the HFPack SSB frequencies according to schedule posted by Greg, but no QSOs made. Couple of times I had to move slightly up and down the band due to contesters on our scheduled frequencies. Even tried making a QSO with some foreign stations, but stronger stateside stations won out.

Also no luck with PSK or Hellschreiber on their respective frequencies for the bands that we were on per our schedule (as announced, I switched to those modes when you were changing to CW).

When it turned 1800Z with no QSOs made in 2 hours, I had to check my sanity, so I sent out an ALE Netcall, without luck on 14MHz and 18Mhz, but then on 21MHz I linked with KB3JAJ in Maryland, as copy/pasted below from, using 10W into the AlphaLoop, from Loc: EM34us. You can also see that KJ4AYT in Florida had good copy on me.
From that link to Maryland and the signal report from Florida, I thus have to conclude that I did send out a good signal, at least on 21MHz I had good propagation to the East and SouthEast.

On a sidenote, I was able to tune up on 10m band with AlphaLoop although it's specs don't suggest it goes that high. SWR was admittedly 4:1, but that should not mean that radiation efficiency is useless. Will have to give it another whirl sometime.

Was also on 28.800 MHz for the 10-10 Net at 1800Z, but no 10-10 stations heard, just some contesters nearby.

Seems like all of us had little luck making QSOs today. Hope we will have more takers during our contest next month. For that reason, I am not complaining about today's contesters! Big difference however will be that we will respond to every call and not just to some specific stations.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

[18:14:41]  KB3JAJ: [18:14:24][ 21.09 MHz ] [AMD][NX5MK][GREETINGS]
[18:14:54]  KB3JAJ: [18:14:24][ 21.09 MHz ] [CLEARED][NX5MK]
[18:19:08]  KB3JAJ: [18:16:56][ 21.09 MHz ] [LINKED][NX5MK]
[18:19:20]  KB3JAJ: [18:18:02][ 21.09 MHz ] [AMD][NX5MK][STAT]
[18:21:12]  KB3JAJ: [18:20:45][ 21.09 MHz ] [AMD][NX5MK][GREETINGS FROM LITTLE ROCK AR]
[18:21:22]  KJ4AYT: [17:20:46][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [NX5MK] De [KB3JAJ] BER 29 SN 07
[18:22:12]  KJ4AYT: [17:20:54][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] [AMD]GREETINGS FROM LITTLE ROCK AR BER 30 SN 11
[18:22:18]  KB3JAJ: [18:21:51][ 21.09 MHz ] [AMD][NX5MK][GREETINGS FROM LITTLE ROCK AR]
[18:22:38]  KJ4AYT: [17:21:48][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] BER 30 SN 12
[18:23:03]  KJ4AYT: [17:21:52][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [NX5MK] De [KB3JAJ] BER 29 SN 08
[18:23:16]  KJ4AYT: [17:21:59][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [NX5 KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] [AMD]GREETINGS FROM LITTLE ROCK AR BER 29 SN 16
[18:24:21]  KJ4AYT: [17:22:10][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] BER 30 SN 10
[18:24:34]  KJ4AYT: [17:24:06][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] BER 27 SN 13
[18:25:28]  KB3JAJ: [18:25:01][ 21.09 MHz ] [AMD][NX5MK] HFN911 ALARMTEST NOT AN EMERGENCY [ DE NX5MK]
[18:27:54]  KJ4AYT: [17:27:36][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [KB3JAJ] De [NX5MK] BER 30 SN 12
[18:28:06]  KJ4AYT: [17:27:40][ 21.09 MHz ] TO [NX5MK] De [KB3JAJ] BER 30 SN 06

Friday, February 28, 2014

Arkansas 2013 Simulated Emergency Test (SET) Report - Erratum

The Arkansas 2013 Simulated Emergency Test (SET) Report contained a factual error which was not corrected.

It stated the following: " individual who "self-deployed" NX5MK Marcus in Little Rock. ..."

May the following serve as the correction.

From: Marcus NX5MK
Subject: ArkansasSimulatedEmergencyTest(SET)2013
Date: 26 November 2013 22:45:36 CST
To: Diane Meador KD5QNN (AEC Pulaski County)
CC: Dale Temple W5RXU (SM)

Hi Diane,

Thank you for the nice after action report on the 2013 SET. Please allow me to correct one detail, which I did send Wayne as attached below, but I guess it did not make it to Dale before he sent out his newsletter today; I have CC’ed Dale in this email for his information.

I did not “self-deploy”, I deployed as local CERT auxcomm after having received permission to build relationship with local firefighters, in accordance with the 2013 SET: roads impassable, all comms down, in turn in accordance with the most recent National ARES Newsletter from Nov 20th, 2013:
"Localization of Response," CERT on Long Island
"Our deployment protocol for an event is based on the member's proximity to a key location (fire house, police station, EOC, et cetera). On an as-needed basis, each member will cover the location closest to their QTH -- usually less than one mile away. Only the EC and AEC's operate net control from the EOC. We don't want amateur operators driving around in hazardous conditions.”

Seems like a common sense approach. I live less than a mile from my fire station. You won’t believe how appreciate my local firemen were.

Wish there were some HAMs near to the agency which I serve and work at, which is UAMS. Credentialing, background check, specific training for hospital environment etc. could just not be performed during an emergency, ARES would have to be turned back at present. We would welcome any HAM stepping forward and offering their support to our patients at UAMS. If there is an interest from ARES, I would be the contact person for HAMs@UAMS, which currently has 10 HAMs on the roster throughout our institution. Thank you for your consideration.

Allow me to ask some question which I did not glean from your after action report:
- did you at the Red Cross erect a new HF antenna, given that the ice storm brought all antennas down? Would love to exchange ideas and experience. My HF set-up as described under following link worked fine:
- did you run VHF simplex (for same reason that all antennas were simulated as being down)?
- will there be any movement towards HF/VHF digital nets in our county in the near future?

Best regards and Happy Thanksgiving,

vy 73 de Marcus NX5MK
Apparare Scientior Paratus Communicare

Begin forwarded message:

From: Marcus NX5MK
Subject: Marcus NX5MK: Arkansas Simulated Emergency Test (SET) 2013
Date: 18 November 2013 21:19:48 GMT-6
To: Berry Wayne A. Sr.  (STM)

Hi Wayne,

I wanted to take the opportunity and give feedback on my setup for the SET this year, thank you for organizing it!
Please follow link to my blog entry and please feel free to forward.

Would you happen to know if others also documented their setup with photos or else? Would love to learn how others powered their stations and put up new antennas given the scenario.

With best regards,
vy 73 de Marcus NX5MK

Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio - in Texas

You all may find the information of the following Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio (RaDAR) group in Texas interesting.

NTX Rapid Deploy Communications Assistance Group

Thursday, February 27, 2014

ARRL Field Day 2014

The Arkansas Radio Emergency Services Club has elected me as Field Day Coordinator / Incident Commander for the club's ARRL Field Day 2014 event.

Major objective for our club for this event will be the training in the NIMS ICS, in compliance with the AUXFOG.

All interested individuals, Amateur Radio licensed or not, are invited to join in, have some fun, and gain some experience in the Incident Command System, which can readily be applied to all events of daily life, which may be of any type, scope or complexity. Amateur Radio operators are a great bunch of people and there is fun to be had by all.

Tonight, I became acquainted with ICS Form 202 and 205A and put them to good use for our Field Day event.

Please send your request for further information by commenting to this blog, I will handle your contact details confidentially.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pacemakers and Amateur Radio

Discussion began a few days ago on the HFPack group regarding Amateur Radio operators and pacemakers. There is too much info to summarize here. Please see

Please do not forget that it is not only about the pacemaker itself. The electrode leads to the heart also act like antennas, can heat up under RF exposure and "cook" the cardiac muscle if heated up too hot.

Do your due diligence on what is allowable by following the above links.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Weather charts via HF

WeFax, also known as Radiofax, HF FAX, radiofacsimile or weatherfax, is a method of transmitting weather charts via HF radio waves. This is likely no news for the avid sailor, but for us land rats, it may still be new. Those of us Amateur Radio operators, who enjoy Rapidly Deployable Amateur Radio (RaDAR), may find this of special interest. Consider being disconnected from normal news channels to inform you about the weather, well - this may just be it for you. 

Weather charts from across the world are being transmitted daily and they do not only cover the high seas. What made it special for me today was that I downloaded an app on my iPad from the Apple store, called HF Fax. I then held the iPad close to the loudspeaker of my transceiver and there came the weather chart! Great fun :)

Below is an example.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Friday, February 7, 2014

Portable solar-, hand-crank, wind-, water-power in a backpack size...

...sound too good to be true? You might be in for a surprise!

If you go RaDAR, you owe it to yourself to...

Go here:
and also see this:

I have searched around and have run trials with various equipment for some time now, solar panels, various hand cranks, charge controllers, but have not found anything which is as all inclusive as this promises to be and most importantly - actually working. I look forward to the product launch and more detailed specifications scheduled for May 2014.

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Monday, February 3, 2014

Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio Contest April 2014

The rules are announced. Spring is also only around the corner. High time to dust off the portable and pedestrian mobile amateur radio gear if you've taken or had to take a winter break. 

Mobile stations may want to plan their upgrades too, as they can participate too!

Yes, it's mostly a QRP contest for /P and /PM operators, but with a twist. Your pathfinding skills and physical endurance are (slightly) tested. So are your skills in rapidly deploying your antennas, HF, VHF or otherwise. Are you game for the 4 hour challenge? 

Less than two months to go to the first Saturday in April! 

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Monthly RaDAR MeetUp, lessons learnt

Alpha Antenna loop Jr., 10W SSB, altitude 195m, USNG 15SWU523520

On 15m:

Copied G0SBW weak but readable to unreadable. I believe Thomas copied my call sign in its entirety. Heard several additional stations calling CQ RaDAR, but call signs unreadable except for VA3KOT who was strong and clear.

I then listened a lot for the other stations checking in and did not call CQ RaDAR too often, as I heard stations (but did not have clear copy on them) and did not wish to interfere. Oh, I did hear a female voice and guess it was Lucy?! But did not hear that female voice giving her call sign, copy was unreadable.

On 20m:

Then the time was up, 1700Z, and I tried to change to the 20m QRP frequency and ran into serious problems trying to tune up. Most significant problem was probably that I tried to tune with the help of my RigExpert AA54, with the batteries being low on power. I was just unable to get a SWR reading of under 10:1 with the AA54 connected directly (not tuning by noise floor via rig). Scanning the entire HAM HF band did not do the trick either. I then called Steven N0TES of AlphaAantennas, who was so kind to give me immediate and detailed assistance. He ran me through the trouble shooting with changing coax etc. until he advised that I should try to tune via noise floor first. Doing that (listening to where the noise was strongest while turning the loops tuning knob) I  turned it until I heard the strongest background noise on several bands, then just using my rigs internal tuner, not anymore trying to use the AA54 to fine tune, I got an SWR of under 1.8:1 on several bands.

By the time we had this worked out, it was 1810Z and lots of stations keyed up on the QRP frequencies, calling for the Minnesota QSO party. I tried for a few minutes to make another contact, but cutting through the QRO stations was to no avail. Also had to take off since family duties were awaiting me, I had my 2 hours plus of hamming outdoors for today... Tonight I will again key up as NCS for AHDNN.

Summary: had contact with G0SBW on 15m. Tuning with RigExpert AA54 with weak batteries did not allow me to properly tune for the 20m sched. With help from Steven N0TES, I worked out how I will tune up my (or should I say THEIR?!) loop in the future (listen for noise floor, then use internal tuner).  Thank you Steven for your immediate and patient help while trouble shooting! 

73 de Marcus NX5MK

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

15 to 40 Meter Alpha Loop Jr & Tripod

I received my Alpha Loop Jr. today. Unpacking it, first thing which came to mind was: "solid but light!". The bag already was great, the aluminum used is thick and the list goes on...

It was a breeze to put it together immediately and I had a listen with it indoors, but really need to get out of the house for a real test. Just a shame that it's just below 32F and that it was already dark when I got home... not quite my cup of tea when it's like that. Will have to wait until the weekend for the monthly RaDAR meet up on Saturday morning!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

article from GoVerticalUSA arrived defective

I ordered the following article from GoVerticalUSA via their eBay store "jbaran33":

The portable crank tower was delivered today and I am deeply disappointed as I paid $500 for an article which is clearly defective, structural integrity is clearly breached. It was advertised as "IN NICE USED CONDITION", which it obviously is not, two of the 4 stability arms are bent/ broken and thus dangerous.

I initiated eBay complaint. Seller answered in under 12 hours, stating that damage must have occurred in transport. They stated that they will submit claim under the FedEx transport insurance.

I will keep you posted.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

A fun morning and lessons learned.

For the first Saturday of this month, for the regular RaDAR on air meetup from 1600-1800h UTC, I decided to activate Little Rock's only SOTA mountain, Shinall Mountain (W5A/OA-015), in the hope that it would result in plenty contacts due to it's high location.

I had read the cautionary words of the mountains prior activator as listed on the SOTA website, warning about the significant RF noise level, but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. Temperature was around freezing and wind chill at top of mountain gnawed at me as well... You will notice hat and thick jacket in picture :)

Plans were to erect at least my 10m vertical wire with a Spiderpole, or maybe even my dipole, but I never got that far. Why a 10m vertical? Until now my success in making contacts with my whip in flat land were minimal at best, so I considered it as my last option.

How does the saying go? Doing the same thing time and time again and expecting a different outcome, is a sign of madness? Well, I once again tried to erect my pole with guy wires, but trying this in a relatively dense Arkansan forest with rocky ground, hindering guy stakes from entering the ground for even a few inches, is no easy one man task - and especially daunting when aiming for rapid redeployment as needed for a RaDAR (Rapid Deployment Amateur Radio) station. So I tried my pole setup once again and finally gave up on it after 50 minutes. Guy wires and antenna wire were hopelessly tangled, what a mess! If you can't insert a stake into the ground (since the ground is so hard from many rocks) as Greg N4KGL does (he gave us the link on the RaDAR Google+ forum), to initially stabilize the pole while one is placing the guys, then the pole keeps tilting and falling over when you don't have a second pair of hands to hold the pole in place... 

After that experience, around 1650Z, I was finally done with untangling wire from guy ropes. Only option I had left was to use my whip antenna, which in the past yielded practically no contacts when trying it in flat land. So I went to the HFPack 20m calling frequency, did not hear any stations after listening for a while and then began calling CQ. Calling CQ for about 3 minutes or so, when an OM came on and politely said that frequency was in use and I might like to change to 14388, since another HAM calling CQ RaDAR was down there. So I QSY to 14388 and heard some HAMs which seemed to be running a net, but I heard no mention of CQ RaDAR. After listening for a minute, I changed to the alternate HFPack 20m calling frequency and put out my CQ for several minutes, but no replies heard. So I went back to 14388 and I heard Greg N4KGL, what a pleasant surprise! RaDAR to RaDAR :)  We managed a QSO, but QRN from the numerous transmission towers on my mountain was just an enormously limiting factor, so I regretted to have had to wrap up the QSO quickly.
Went back to 20m HFPack QSY freq, but heard no one.

So went up to 17m and heard a fellow HFPacker calling CQ from Jamaica! Did not think I'd be able to catch him on 30W SSB into a whip, but I caught him with my 3rd QSO call! It was Lester W8YCM/6Y5 from Jamaica! My first Jamaican contact :)  He then encouraged me heavily to stick around to make more QSOs, but I was freezing, QRN was significant and XYL was waiting for me to return soon for lunch since noon hour had passed... He helped me along to make another 2 QSOs, thank you Les! One from the mountain top and one after I drove down a little (upon his suggestion), boy did that decrease QRN! But still, reception reports on my signal from others that he could hear, but I was unable to hear, baffled us both. 

My setup:
Barrett 2090, 30W, Arlan Communications Radiosport headset kept my ears nice and warm (!), whip, counterpoise with length as gleaned from an HFPackers website, have to look up his link again, pre- amplifier turned off (because I had expected the QRN on the mountain top). Will have it switched on in the future, which should help my receive. Les suggested a different counterpoise length, will catch up with him in a separate email...

So, a fun freezing morning! Rekindled my interest in just working with my whip! However guess that I will go and get the AlexLoop sometime very soon...

73 de Marcus NX5MK

PS: I am using the following counterpoise lengths, as written up by K0EMT:

Friday, January 3, 2014

Radishworks MissionManager, a tool for EmComm nets

The Radishworks MissionManager is worth more than just one look, I believe it deserves detailed attention by all Amateur Radio Emergency Communication, EmComm, Auxilliary Radio Communications, ARES, RACES, MARS, net managers, NCS personnel and radio net members.

Quote: "The ultimate mission and personnel situational awareness tool... Written by people who have years of experience running real missions and managing emergency personnel... Used for - Hurricane Sandy, 2013 Floods in CO and NM, 2013 US Tornados, 2013 Wildfires in CA and other states, Philippines Response, and more..."

I played with it tonight while watching a movie, it has an intuitive GUI, it is customizable for radio communication nets, giving the possibility to not only document traffic, check ins, personnel roster and other resources. No, it also allows for automated team activation via SMS or emails for example. There is your telephone tree taken care of, neat! Want to have a map showing location of all net members? It has that as well. I looked at net reports from various nets and it seems MissionManager really has something to offer.

I am now in the process of customizing it for the AHDNN Net, so that it may handle Net activation reports.

73 de Marcus NX5MK