Monday, December 13, 2010


Reliance upon repeaters or repeater systems for emergency communications is not wise. It is not uncommon for a repeater to fail, or be knocked out by some external force (e.g.- lightning, high winds, etc.). Repeaters can also be very "political."

Since the beginning of radio, the focus by most amateurs has been to see how far they can reach out with their signals. While DXing is an enjoyable pastime, it is rarely needed for EMCOMM, DON'T RULE IT OUT COMPLETELY FOR PUBLIC SERVICE! The ability to effectively pass traffic over long distances is often important, even lifesaving!

HF signals propagate either by a) line-of-sight; b) ground-wave (follows the contours of the earth); or c) sky-wave. Line-of-sight is usually good for a few miles.
Ground-wave is usually good from about 20 to 50 miles. NVIS sky-wave takes over at about 50 miles, and depending upon the frequency selected is good out to 500 miles. Beyond that, we are in the general area of low-angle DX.

Very often, a 40 meter signal at mid-day, can be heard near and far, all three types of propagation at the same time! To explain propagation, whether low-angle DX or NVIS, or somewhere in-between, I often use this illustration: Just as a billiard ball can be bounced toward a particular pocket by controlling the angle that it hits the bumper of the pool table, so do radio signals "bounce" (actually refract is more descriptive) off the ionosphere. Now, envision the earth as a round pool table with the ionosphere as the circumference or boundary. This "bumper" is constantly expanding and/or contracting in concentric circles, and varies in density often depending upon the time of day, the season, recent solar activity and/or the sun-spot cycle. This phenomenon is a science unto itself and is not the subject here. Just know that for local and regional EMCOMM, NVIS HF (usually in the 40 and 75/80 meter bands) can provide reliable communications over mountain ranges and under the most extreme conditions. The big advantage is that we are not dependent upon some remote mechanical device.

I (and others) have experimented with simple (1/2 wave doublet, G5RV, etc.) wire HF NVIS antennas as low as actually lying on the ground to 3 feet above ground, and they work amazingly well! A lot depends upon ground (earth) conductivity and how far down below the surface the moisture content may be. However, I recommend that any antenna be at least 8 ft. above the ground to prevent someone from tripping over it.

Remember that the higher you elevate a flat (horizontal) antenna (e.g. a simple wire doublet or G5RV) above earth ground, the more the NVIS effect will be lessened. A little height will allow for better line-of-sight and ground-wave propagation. I find that 25-30 ft above the earth works fairly well both near and far. Also the higher you go, the more directional it will be. An Inverted V antenna, at any height, will be less directional, but the NVIS effect will be less than a "flat-top."


Also, to avoid reliance upon repeater(s), don't rule out VHF simplex. Don't believe the myth that VHF is strictly "line-of-sight!" I routinely communicate PTP (Point-To-Point) over 50 miles on 2 meter FM simplex using only a simple ground plane antenna 20 ft. up...and with a mountain range between my station and the other! And over 100 miles routinely using a 13 element Yagi. I also communicate 300 miles on 2 meter SSB and/or CW using a 13 element Yagi (horizontal polarized). A skilled relay operator in the right location doubles these ranges! Also, consider six meters simplex FM, SSB, CW for EMCOMM.


There are so many variables, regular participation in nets will provide you with the experience and knowledge of what works and what doesn't!

As far as of lack of interest in serious EMCOMM by hams is concerned...I wish I had the answer! All you can do is to try to explain that skilled and disciplined operators become that way and also maintain their skills by regularly participating in regularly-scheduled properly-run (non-repeater) public service nets. If there isn't one in your area...why not start one?

Drawn from:

THE "Critter"

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Mark N1MEA and Kris KC7UNK dig into the EMCOMM portable repeater.
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EMCOMM Repeater Work


Kris KC7UNK (Standing), Mark N1MEA, Andy KB1TGL and Bob AA1PI work on the Hancock County EMCOMM Portable Repeater during a recent "Sunday Session" at Meadow View in Ellsworth.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hammin.... Down East Style

Fred Lloyd, AA7BQ, QRZ founder and publisher is coming to the Ellsworth area this coming weekend. He contacted me earlier this week to see about interviewing me reference EMCOMM (He read this blog!). After discussion, we thought it would be a good article for QRZ on Ham Radio in Down East Maine in general. He thought it would be neat to meet with a group and pick our brains. So, this coming Sunday, 1300 hours at Meadow View Phase 4 where we hold most meetings, local Hams are invited to sit down over coffee and tell tall tales of the happenings of Down East Amateur Radio, regular and EMCOMM wise! Good opportunity to “git on the map”! Further info email me at

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dealing with "Earl"

On Friday 9/3 there will be a EMCOMM net called at 1900 hrs on the Hancock County EMCOMM Repeater, the 146.910 machine (151.4 PL tone) located here in Ellsworth in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Earl or the outskirts of said storm. Either way rain or high winds are possible and a slight NW change in track direction and we could be dealing with a more potent situation.This is also an opportune time to check out your home preparations (remember; take care of yourself, family, and home before EMCOMM comes into play!) and your radio comm. Centers (shacks). Make sure everything is charged up and supplies are checked. Be prepared, but foremost be safe!

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Meeting the communications needs of "served" agencies is a challenging,
and often daunting proposition in today's complex disaster/emergency relief
arena. With the proliferation of emergency relief organizations, increasingly
sophisticated needs, all competing for that scarce resource--the volunteer- -
coupled with the emergence of other non-ARES amateur providers, it's enough to
make an ARES member's head spin. As more of the population moves to disaster-prone areas, and less government funding is available, more pressure is consequently placed on
agencies to use (and sometimes abuse) the volunteer sector for support of their
missions in disaster mitigation. Toes are sometimes stepped on and volunteer morale can be undermined. On the other hand, the League's formal relationships with served
agencies are vitally important and valuable to radio amateurs. They provide us
with the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the relief of suffering among our
fellow human beings. Another substantial benefit not to be overlooked is that these relationships lend legitimacy and credibility for Amateur Radio's public service capability, and that is important when it comes time to defend our frequencies and privileges before the FCC and Congress, an ever more challenging task.
So, ARES' relationships with the emergency/disaster relief world are to be nurtured.
What to Do?
First, it is imperative that a detailed local operational plan be developed
with agency managers in the jurisdiction that set forth precisely what each
organization's expectations are during a disaster operation. ARES and agency
officials must work jointly to establish protocols for mutual trust and respect.
Make sure they know who the principle ARES official is in the jurisdiction.
All matters involving recruitment and utilization of ARES volunteers are directed
by him/her, in response to the needs assessed by the agency involved. Make
sure ARES counterparts in these agencies are aware of ARES policies,capabilities and perhaps most importantly, resource limitations. Let them know that ARES may have other obligations to fulfill with other agencies, too.
Technical issues involving message format, security of message
transmission, Disaster Welfare Inquiry policies, and others, should be reviewed
and expounded upon in the detailed local operations plans.
Source: Kentucky Amateur Radio Web Site –

FCC RM 10-124 Report and Order

From Bryce Rummery K1GAX Maine ARES SEC
If you have served agency employees that are hams, please pass this on to them.

FCC RM 10-124 Report and Order

FCC has adopted new rules regarding employee participation in drills.

Employees are now allowed to participate in drills. Government-sponsored drills are unlimited. Non-government sponsored drills are limited to one hour per week and two 72 hours drills per year.

A new exemption was also granted for school teachers using ham radio in the classroom, and rules for stations like W1AW were clarified.

Federal Communications Commission FCC 10-124
Final Rules
Part 97 of Chapter 1 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
The authority citation for part 97 continues to read as follows:
AUTHORITY: 48 Stat. 1066, 1082, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 154, 303. Interpret or apply 48 Stat.
1064-1068, 1081-1105, as amended; 47 U.S.C. 151-155, 301-609, unless otherwise noted.
1. Section 97.113 is amended by revising paragraph (a)(3), adding new paragraphs (a)(3)(i) and (a)(3)(ii),
redesignating paragraphs (c) and (d) as new paragraphs (a)(3)(iii) and (a)(3)(iv) respectively, and
redesignating paragraphs (e) and (f) as (c) and (d) respectively, to read as follows:
§ 97.113 Prohibited transmissions.
(a) * * *
(3) Communications in which the station licensee or control operator has a pecuniary interest, including
communications on behalf of an employer, with the following exceptions:
(i) A station licensee or control station operator may participate on behalf of an employer in an
emergency preparedness or disaster readiness test or drill, limited to the duration and scope of such test or
drill, and operational testing immediately prior to such test or drill. Tests or drills that are not
government-sponsored are limited to a total time of one hour per week; except that no more than twice in
any calendar year, they may be conducted for a period not to exceed 72 hours.
(ii) An amateur operator may notify other amateur operators of the availability for sale or trade of
apparatus normally used in an amateur station, provided that such activity is not conducted on a regular
(iii) A control operator may accept compensation as an incident of a teaching position during periods of
time when an amateur station is used by that teacher as a part of classroom instruction at an educational
(iv) The control operator of a club station may accept compensation for the periods of time when the
station is transmitting telegraphy practice or information bulletins, provided that the station transmits such
telegraphy practice and bulletins for at least 40 hours per week; schedules operations on at least six
amateur service MF and HF bands using reasonable measures to maximize coverage; where the schedule
of normal operating times and frequencies is published at least 30 days in advance of the actual
transmissions; and where the control operator does not accept any direct or indirect compensation for any
other service as a control operator.
* * * * *


"Make Good Operating Procedures A Habit"
From the April 2005 issue of EMCOMM MONTHLY

Let's face reality, folks. When push comes to shove, and when the chips are down, the majority of emergency communications will be voice (radiotelephone). At least in the United States. 100 years ago it was all in Morse. Spark gap was the mode-of-the-day...then later CW dominated. That was all there was. If you weren't a Morse didn't communicate. 60 years ago, a reasonable guess might be that the ratio was 50% Morse and 50% AM 'phone, plus perhaps a little SSB and FM.
It makes no difference if your favorite mode is CW or digital, or that voice is the least efficient mode. The reality is that most emcomm is done by voice...and will probably remain like that for a long time. CW, digital, and other modes are more effective in many ways and still have their place, and they can (and will) be used very effectively to supplement voice communications in certain situations and for specific functions. However, the reality it or not...voice is where we are at.
We all learned to talk before we entered kindergarten. By the time we left grammar school, most of us could read and write fairly well. By the end of high school, we all (should have, at least) mastered basic verbal and written language skills. While some of us had learned the Morse language by that time, most had not, and struggled to learn it later in life. Many hams learned just enough Morse to pass an exam...and unfortunately never or rarely use it. SSB and FM prevail.
In all public service, good communication skills are essential. But, unfortunately, what we hear on the usually NOT a good example of effective communication skills. As EMCOMM operators, we must NOT allow ourselves to become mediocre (or worse) voice communicators. Sadly, many operators emulate what they hear on the air. And what they hear, from both newcomers and old timers alike, is often improper, sloppy and/or inefficient.
So how does a skilled voice radio operator...operate?


1. ALWAYS makes sure that his/her transceiver is properly adjusted. Mic gain level, on the proper frequency, not using excessive power, etc.
2. ALWAYS speaks clearly and succinctly...and not too fast (or too slow).
3. Establishes two-way contact and obtains a signal report before starting a transmission. (If you want a radio check take your radio to a repair shop.)
4. Avoids talking directly into a microphone. But rather talks "across the mic".
5. Knows and uses ITU PHONETICS
6. Uses ROGER solely to indicate that a transmission has been received and is understood. (ROGER is the voice equivalent of R in Morse.)
7. Does not use ROGER for "yes", "affirmative", or "I agree with you" and does not say: "That's a big ROGER" or some other similar slang term.
8. Says AFFIRMATIVE for "yes" and does not use it in place of ROGER. (They are not the same.)
9. Says NEGATIVE for "no". "Nega-tory" (or other similar slang terms) is not in his or her vocabulary.
10. Uses SAY AGAIN when they need something repeated. "Repeat" or "please repeat" may be confused with "received."
11. Says the call sign of the station he/she is turning the contact over to, followed by their call sign, followed by OVER. (Same as K or KN in Morse.)
12. Allows a one-second pause before transmitting. (If you wait too long...someone may butt in and say something like: "it's been passed to you.")
13. Keeps their transmissions reasonably short.
14. Pays attention and practices "TLC"...("To Listen Carefully").
15. Knows where (s)he is located and knows how to effectively communicate that location to another station.
16. On 'phone says: "Say your location" or "What is your location?" Never: "What's your QTH?", "What's your 10-20", or (worse yet) "What's yer twenty?". (Note: Law enforcement uses the "10 code" and their own phonetics. Amateur, commercial, maritime, aeronautical and other operators use the ITU standard prowords.)
17. Stays in a net (and pays attention) unless checked in and checked out.
18. Does not ask another operator to "check me in" (to a net) unless he/she plans to remain in radio contact with the relaying station during a net period. Telephone, email, Internet and other landline circuit relays are not radio...and do not count. Nor does: "Check me in to the net tonight. I'm going bowling." This puts the other operator on the spot and is worthless.
19. NEVER whistles, says "hell - oh", or blows into a mic when transmitting. (Use a dummy load instead.)
20. NEVER keys down on a frequency that is in use to adjust an antenna matching unit, and NEVER fails to identify when tuning up or testing.
21. NEVER slurs his or her call sign when identifying in voice.
22. NEVER "quick keys." On 'phone, always allow a pause of 0.5 to 1.0 seconds before PTT in order to allow another station break in. Then allow another 0.5 to 1.0 seconds before speaking. (This prevents cutting off the first few letters or words of your transmission.)
23. NEVER transmits using excessive power.
24. ALWAYS identifies at the end of each communication, and at least every ten minutes during a communication. (Part 97.119)
25. ALWAYS remains courteous and respectful of others on the air. (Even if the other operator is "a world class lid".)
Here are some transmissions that have actually been heard...during public service nets:
(After "doubling" on a net control station.): "Net? Is there a net on? What time is it? What frequency am I on?"
"BREAK!" (NCS says): "Go ahead". The "breaker" then asks: "Is the club breakfast this Saturday or next?"
"Uhh, in...Juarez!"
"Uhh, in...José."

Thursday, June 17, 2010


It’s coming up to that time of year, Field Day! June 26th and 27th. This year the Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association (EAWA) and the Narraguagus Bay ARC will be operating from the Wyman’s C&D facilities on RT-193, across from the air strip on the blueberry barrens. Some setup will be done on Friday afternoon, but most will be done first thing Saturday morning. Talk-in will be on the 146.910- (PL 151.4) and on simplex 146.565.
For further information contact Phil Duggan, N1EP at
For information on the Saturday evening potluck plans contact Brenda Duggan,N1ZPV at or Evie Sargent, KA1BRA at

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hancock County EMCOMM Board

The Hancock County EMCOMM Board has a new member, Andrew Sankey, KB1TGL. Dick Small, W1KRP resigned from the Board a couple of months ago leaving Bob Carter AA1PI and Mark Albee N1MEA and a vacancy. Bob and Mark, at a recent EAWA meeting recommended that Andy fill the vacancy. A vote was taken by EMCOMM members and a unanimous yes vote passed. Andy has an active role in local EMA operations and should be a great addition to the EMCOMM Board. Thanks Andy!

Hancock County EMCOMM Board Members:

Bob Carter, AA1PI
Mark Albee, N1MEA
Andy Sankey, KB1TGL


Everyone keep the dates of June 26th and 27th open, it Field Day time again.

As stated by the ARRL:“At times, the focus of the Amateur Radio community is rightfully on how we can work with our towns and communities by providing Public Service and Emergency Communications. However, deep
down anyone who has picked up a microphone, tapped out a callsign on a brass key, or descrambled a
digital Baudot or PSK-31, understands there is fun here. That fun knows no borders. The thrill of the
chase of adding new states, countries or grid squares to our WAS / DXCC / VUCC totals underscores that
when we play “radio” (as some friends of mine used to say) we are there in large part to enjoy our hobby.”

This year the Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association (EAWA) will be joining forces with the Narraguagus Bay Amateur Radio Club for he annual activities at Wyman's C & D facilities at the cabins on RT 193 in Deblois, across from airstrip. Operating from Saturday afternoon at 1400 hrs to Sunday afternoon at 1400 hrs.

As always, good times, good operating, good food and great friend.

For further information reference set-up/tear-down and possible operating schedules contact EAWA President Phil Duggan, N1EP at

Hope to see a good turnout!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ham Radio Symposium

Information copied from Phil Duggan~ N1EP’s Great Website :

Mark you calendar now for March 14, 2010. That is when the Ham Radio Symposium will be held in Ellsworth, Maine. Two major themes will be highlighted:

1. 1.Harnessing the Sun to Power Your Shack & Portable Operations
2. 2.Home Brew Projects & Kits

The Maine Solar Energy Association (MESEA) will demonstrate how solar energy and ham radio were meant for each other. Powering the typical ham shack and portable operations such as Field Day and when camping and backpacking will be exhibited. MESEA President Richard Komp writes, “Solar power is such a natural for self-sufficient ham radios [and their operators].”

Symposium organizers also want to highlight some of the fun aspects of our hobby. For many hams, taking a soldering gun in hand and building their own equipment from kits or scratch is a blast. Displays and demonstrations of several kits and home brew projects will be on hand, including QRP transceivers and other electronic marvels.

Other demos and displays will include packet radio, photographic trip to Downeast ham radio’s past, and much more.

The symposium is sponsored by the Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association and will be held at the Meadow View Apartments Phase IV Dining Hall on Tweedie Lane in Ellsworth from noon to 4:00 pm. No charge for admission. Donations towards EAWA Insurance Fund gladly accepted.

A VE Session will be held in the morning starting at 9:00 AM.

Look for updates, maps and other details at Signals Down East Maine web page at or call Symposium Coordinator Phil Duggan, N1EP at 546-7028 or via packet radio MBX N1EP-1 on 145.010 Mhz


Internationally known QRP Kit Designer/Dealer Rex Harper, W1R EX will be a featured speaker at the Symposium on March 14.
Rex is well known among America’s QRP community and was a featured speaker at England’s G-QRP.COM Convention in the United Kingdom Last year. (See the 65th Anniversary Issue of CQ Magazine to read about W1REX at the convention)
W1REX maintains where he sells many QRP and other electronic project kits. Many of these will be on display and available for purchase at the symposium. Rex will lead a “hands-on” demonstration where participants will construct a project in less than 30 minutes. Transmitters and other projects can be easy and loads of fun to build. Imagine building your own transmitter inside of a pen casing! Sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, but hams can, and do build such fascinating, functioning circuits. Rex will also be donating one of his kits as a door or raffle prize at the symposium.
Rex’s presentation will be one of two main topics at the symposium, the other being a Solar Power for Ham Radio presentation given by the Maine Solar Energy Association (see bulletin below). Other topics and demos will include packet radio by AA1PI/N1MEA, photo display, and more.

Call Hancock County EMCOMM repeater 146.910 neg offset with a pl of 151.4 for talk in.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter Field Day!

The Ellsworth Amateur Wireless Association (EAWA) will be participating in “Winter Field Day” sponsored by “SPAR”, Society for the Preservation of Amateur Radio on Saturday, January 30th, from 12 Noon until 8 PM. We will be operating from the Phase 4 dining room at Meadow View Apartments where the monthly EAWA meetings are held. We are in hopes to have 2 if not 3 stations operating. If you are a ham and even if not and would like to learn more about Ham radio, plan on stopping by and joining in the fun. There will be a potluck supper in the same place around 1800 hrs. If you plan on attending at that time please bring something to share. For further info email Phil N1EP at, or Evie KA1BRA at or if you are on the air locally on the 147.030 (100 hz tone) repeater or the 146.910 (151.4 hz tone) repeater sign on and someone should be able to help you! The location, Meadow View Apartments is 3/10 of a mile past Maine Coast Memorial Hospital on Union Street here in Ellsworth. Turn right onto Tweedie Lane, Phase 4 on the left, dining room in center of building. 73!

Sunday Sessions!

On a ‘semi-regular” schedule, local Hams are meeting on Sunday afternoons at Meadow View Apartments where the EAWA meets and are working on projects and participating in studying for upgrade, etc. We meet around 1300 hrs and go until 15-1600 hrs..depending on how much eye-strain we are suffering from as AA1PI says! Any questions contact Phil N1EP at , Bob AA1PI at or Mark N1MEA at