Simultated Emergency Test (SET) on 22 Oct 2011

A SET (simulated emergency test) is a way for hams to learn more about being involved in emergency communications. The SET on Saturday, October 22, 2011, was my first. The Montrose Amateur Radio Club’s ARES coordinator handed out instruction sheets at the October club meeting. I was determined to participate, and did so, both on 80m and 40m HF, and on VHF on different frequencies. You may be interested in my “first timer” notes, as I quickly learned I needed to learn some things quickly! Here they are, in the form of an e-mail to our District 25 ARES Coordinator, Ron Rich, KCØGKZ:

Ron,

I enjoyed participating in this morning’s activities. You may find it interesting that my HF rig and my VHF rig were running on solar power. My computer, however, was on the mains.

One thing that sticks out is that on HF we weren’t leaving time for others to break in. A couple times when I wanted to get attention from others on HF, they wouldn’t leave pauses and it would take me several minutes to be heard. (Not to mention the fact that some of us were rather verbose at times.) We might suggest to HF operators that they do the same as happens on VHF–wait a few seconds to see if anyone jumps in.

I was unable to copy the MT-63 500 on HF except for one time. I discovered that Ham Radio Deluxe requires that the signal be tuned in exactly so that it appear between 500 and 1000 Hz on the waterfall. This required lots of attention to RIT.

It takes lots of knob-twisting to get my station ready to transmit digital–in fact I never did during the SET. So I need to learn more about MT-63 to be productive with it.

I downloaded a rather poor MT-63-2000 app onto my Android–I could find nothing for my iPad. The only time it worked was when someone transmitted on the repeater and the audio was at a very low level. Clearly I have much to learn regarding this mode.

People talk of the complexity of PSK-31, but to me it’s the simplest digital mode, probably because I use it frequently.

I have a headset I use for HF. It kept me from hearing the two-meter rig. I’ll have to figure a way out to feed HF to one ear and VHF to the other with some sort of fader in between. I also had some issues with HF VOX kicking in when I was actually trying to use 2 meters! I think a solution here might be to go to a foot switch for HF rather than use VOX. I have one–I just need to use it.

Regarding trouble in the EOC hearing too many VHF rigs at once, and thus using the repeater that in fact was least close to Montrose, it may be that we might have to assign an operator to each with headphones, plus some form of pushing traffic (on slips of paper?) to net control so things can be sorted out. My link to the Cedaredge repeater is sometimes iffy, though as the SET went on, it improved.

I found that with HRD I could set several HF frequencies in a “favorites” list, so I could flip at will between 3.810 LSB, 3.590 USB, and 7.235 LSB–very handy–wish I had it at the beginning of the exercise–I could in fact have set it up for scanning. For future exercises I’ll certainly do that. It’s amazing how focused the mind is on ways to improve when one is in the thick of things!

Around 10 am there was some concern coming from the EOC about 3.810, but I was able to hear clearly and with little noise and spoke with Ron Rich several times–armchair copy. I was able to hear John, NYØQ, in Nucla fairly clearly on 3.810, though much better on 7.235–we spoke briefly several times.

Both John and I had the issue of switching quickly between SSB and digital modes. I’ll have to put some thought into how to do that switch instantly. My Ten-Tec Jupiter requires an obscure menu control to be changed to accept audio from either the microphone or the line. I’ll probably have to forgo the line input and run both inputs through the mic input, setting the SignaLink USB’s output at the same level the mic provides so that I can just flip a switch between them.

This was my first SET. I enjoyed being part of it and being able to pass meaningful traffic–a good training experience, which, of course, is the purpose of the whole thing. I also appreciated that it was sufficiently informal that I had a chance to learn and try some things out. Thanks for having me as part of it!

73, Dave, KEØOG

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