What Was the ARRL Thinking?

It was recently revealed that in mid-July, the ARRL Board instructed Washington Counsel David Siddall, K3ZJ, to take appropriate steps to obtain FCC approval for several changes to the Part 97 Amateur Radio Service rules. The requested changes stemmed from discussions regarding the interference potential of automatically controlled digital stations (ACDS), and apparently from ANY digital station over 500 Hz in signal bandwidth.

  • Require digital mode stations operating with a bandwidth greater than 500 Hz to operate within the narrow 97.221(b) ACDS bands, whether or not these stations are automatically controlled.
  • Require all automatically controlled digital mode stations less than 500 Hz bandwidth to operate within the ACDS bands.

The full action is in the ARRL Board minutes, page 16:

Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, founder of HFLink painted a clear picture:

"What ARRL wants," an Analogy:

  • There is a 6 lane superhighway we've all used well for years, but now only bicycles and horse-drawn carts can use it.
  • Fast cars and trucks are forbidden on this highway.
  • All the fast cars and trucks must now use a single lane frontage road alongside the superhighway.
  • The bicycles and horse-drawn carts also have the right-of-way when using the frontage road.

While we fully appreciate the Director's other actions on digital matters, this action is simply crazy without expanding the 97.221(b) subbands. You can't responsibly sort and redirect the traffic to a place that can't handle it. On 40 meters, 17 meters and 12 meters, the subbands are only 5 kHz wide, enough for only a single QSO of fast digital data, or two, depending on the modes. This is their answer to the highly contested RM-11831 petition at the FCC. Bonnie Crystal calls it, "'Regulation By Bandwidth' + 'Regulation By Content' piled high upon 'Regulation by Absurdity'....but the absurdity would only apply to digital data signals, and not to anything else. That is a huge step back into the Technology Jail."

Winlink to Play Role in 'Cascadia Rising' Exercise

Cascadia Rising Logo

"Cascadia Rising," the largest FEMA exercise of 2016, will get under way on June 7, and Oregon and Washington ARES/RACES organizations both will be heavily involved, with a significant investment in HF activity planned. The scenario will be an earthquake and tsunami disaster involving the entire Pacific Northwest, and the exercise will start with a blackout of all normal, regular communication systems. Amateur Radio will provide emergency/disaster alternate communication systems, and participants will include Maxim Memorial Station W1AW at ARRL Headquarters. The plan calls for W1AW to be active and monitoring, and possibly passing traffic, if necessary, W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, said. ARRL Emergency Response Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said Cascadia Rising will also involve the Emergency Response Team at ARRL Headquarters.

"Along with participation via Winlink and HF voice, we will use it as an opportunity to exercise the ARRL Headquarters Emergency Response Team," Corey said. "This team is called up to support the ARRL Field Organization during a major disaster, when support cannot be provided during normal business hours. The last activation of the team was during hurricane Irene in 2011."

According to FEMA, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake along the Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ), and the resulting tsunami would present the most complex disaster scenario that emergency managers and public safety officials in the Pacific Northwest could face; Cascadia Rising is an exercise to address that disaster. The exercise will conclude on June 10.

According to FEMA, emergency operations centers (EOCs) and emergency coordination centers (ECCs) at all levels of government and in the private sector will activate to conduct simulated field response operations within their jurisdictions and with neighboring communities, state EOCs, FEMA, and major military commands. The military departments in Washington and Oregon will activate.

"Conducting successful life-saving and life-sustaining response operations in the aftermath of a Cascadia Subduction Zone disaster will hinge on the effective coordination and integration of governments at all levels -- cities, counties, state agencies, federal officials, the military, tribal nations -- as well as non-government organizations and the private sector," FEMA said. "One of the primary goals of Cascadia Rising is to train and test this whole community approach to complex disaster operations together as a joint team."

Thanks to John Core, KX7YT, Oregon ARES District 1 Emergency Coordinator for some information. Republished with permission by the ARRL.
For more information see the FEMA web site
Participating SHARES, Amateur and MARS Winlink operators may want to download, install, and practice the Washington State HTML forms package.

Oregon 2015 QuakeEX SETs: A Recap

Next spring, FEMA Region X, county emergency management agencies statewide, many others and Oregon ARES/RACES will participate in the FEMA Cascadia Rising exercise. This is a functional exercise that will play out what might happen should/when a major earthquake strike the Pacific Northwest. The drill scenario anticipates widespread loss of normal communication modes such as cell phones, Internet and public safety radio as well as major power outages.

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