FEMA Professional Development Series

Here are some free classes for the FEMA Professional Development Series (PDS) that you can gain a FEMA Certificate of Completion:

…h/t to KJ4WIC for the links

Free Training – AWR-343 Hurricane Awareness

Hendry County Emergency Management is proud to partner with FEMA and the University of Hawaii’s National Disaster Preparedness Training Center in delivering a FREE four (4) hour presentation of AWR-343 – Hurricane Awareness at the EOC on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at 0900.

This training will discuss the latest hurricane science in forecasting and warning in addition to ways to better mitigate the impacts of high winds, heavy rain, and storm surge.

See the flyer below for details or go here to register. A minimum of 20 people must register for the class to occur. All are welcome to attend.

AWR-343 Hurricane Awareness

April Meetup

Pretty much sums it up. We’ll be discussing what we’d like to do for third and fourth quarter; lessons learned from first quarter festival activity, and other hammy stuff. Hope to see you at Beef’s in Labelle.

New 630 & 2200 Meter Allocations

You know things are getting serious when you measure your antenna in kilometers…

The FCC has published FCC-17-33A1 that adopts rules to implement certain radio frequency allocation decisions from the World Radiocommunication Conference 2012 and 2007, including adding two new bands to the Amateur Radio Service. It allocates 135.7-137.8 kHz and 472-479 kHz to the amateur service on a secondary basis for General, advanced, and Extra class licensees.

TL;DR: from the Order:

EIRP is limited to five watts on 630 meters, except for that portion of Alaska that is within 800 kilometers of the Russian Federation’s borders, where the maximum EIRP is limited to one watt. Maximum antenna height is 60 meters.

EIRP on 2200 meters is one watt.

The amateur service will share this band with power line communication (PLC) signals (among other users) which electric utility companies use under Part 15 (unprotected and noninterference basis). The Utilities Telecom Council (UTC) objected to the proposal, citing interference potential.

The FCC sided with the Amateur Radio Research and Development Corporation that a secondary amateur service allocation to the bands will provide new opportunities for amateur operators to experiment with equipment, techniques, antennas, and propagation.

“Amateurs wishing to operate on the band will need to notify the Utilities Technology Council (UTC) and be separated at least 1km from electric transmission lines that carry power line communication (PLC) signals that use the same band.” — Wikipedia

Click here for the full Report and Order: FCC-17-33A1

— h/t to the East Pennsylvania ARRL

Flashback Friday

Lenox Williams, left, standing with man next to Amateur Radio Public Service Corps van at the Florida School for Boys in Marianna, Florida. Not before 1960. Black & white photoprint. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory. Accessed 30 Mar. 2017.

The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna, Florida, was a high risk residential commitment facility operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice for male youth 13 to 21 years of age who were committed by the Court. The school originally opened in 1900 as the Florida State Reform School. It was later known as the Florida Industrial School for Boys (1914-1957), the Florida School for Boys (1957-1967), and finally the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys. The school closed in 2011.

Lenox Williams was born in White City, Alabama on February 9, 1932. He began his career in Marianna in 1960, when he was hired as a psychologist at Florida School for Boys. He later advanced to superintendent and became the longest serving superintendent in the history of Dozier School for Boys. He died on July 26, 2010.

2017 Clewiston Sugar Festival

KI4QIQ, KI4LFF, and some Big Tires

The 31st Clewiston Sugar Festival is in the books, and by most any measure it was a mass-of-humanity good time. Live music, shiny custom cars, old-school steam farm equipment, and food, food, food.

The participating amateur radio operators of Big Lake ARC wore their Reservist colors as Hendry EM representatives working out of the Joint Command Post supporting Hendry County EMS, Clewiston Fire, Montura Fire, Pioneer Fire, Hendry Sheriff’s Office, and Clewiston Police.

Incident Command was Clewiston PD’s Lieutenant Aaron Angell, backed by Clewison PD’s Debi McNeil, Hendry EMS Captain Adrian Damms, Hendry EM Director Brian Newhouse KJ4WIC, EM Logistics Chief Cristina Mercado, and E-911 Technician Brandi Frame KN4AFW.

Clewiston began as a work-camp during the construction of the Moore Haven and Clewiston Railroad. The railway was acquired by the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Company (ACL) on July 1, 1925. – – Hendry County, Florida. 1920. Black & white photonegative, 4 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

After the group briefing from Lieutenant Angell, the hams were honored with a personal team briefing outlining their expected duties as support personnel.

KC1FLU set a high bar for net control at the go-box with measured tones, time and station checks, and regular information updates on both the amateurs 446.000 ground frequency, and the local Clewiston 2-meter repeater.

The go-box is a bright yellow Pelican case containing an Alinco DR-635 dual bander and matching 32-amp switched power supply. A Diamond X50A dual-band antenna gets the signal out.

KI4LFF, KM4EWE, and KI4QIQ also set a high performance mark as Rovers, supporting Public Safety teams in the field, and acting as dispatched eyes-on-site for specific areas of the festival.

On three occasions they helped sweep the grounds looking for parents separated from their children, and to help locate a mentally-disabled man for his family. The Rover teams were out the door immediately after a quick briefing, moments after the calls came in for the missing individuals.

They were equipped with County 800-MHz public safety radios for direct communication with the Command Post as well as their UHF amateur communications.

An exercise was planned to simulate a failure of the 800-MHz system. Hams would have been dispatched to the EMS strike teams to act as their communicators. A spike in activity among festival-goers requiring increased attention of Public Safety personnel about the same time led to the decision to postpone the exercise.

KC0SJU wore his Red Cross vest during the festival, manning a responder rehab tent with water and snacks.

Breakfast was served up from St. Martin’s Episcopal Church courtesy of Hendry County EC, WA4PAM.

WD4RCC acted as unit leader for the amateur’s participation in the Sugar Festival, to which all the senior members of Joint Command gave high marks for readiness, flexibility, and cooperation with County and City Public Safety staff.

Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Depot – Clewiston. 192?. Black & white photoprint, 8 x 10 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

The takeaways from the deployment were mostly technical. The command post was located in a room that was acoustically highly reflective. The noise level with multiple radios going off simultaneously was taxing the focus of everyone in the room.

Some modifications to the go-box were suggested including a front-firing speaker, or a way to prop the box lid to direct the sound towards the operator. Also, keeping some duct tape in the box to secure power and coaxial cabling to floors and walls in a busy environment.

Unlike February’s Labelle Swamp Cabbage Festival that had the hams exceeding the range limits of handy-talkies on UHF simplex along a two mile parade route, the Clewiston Sugar Festival was more compact, all within nine city blocks. (Think a tic-tac-toe grid.) For this deployment, the large Diamond antenna was overkill. A smaller dual band whip attached to a connector mounted through the go-box would have been sufficient.

by Davis, Wally. Aerial view of Clewiston, Florida. 1958. Black & white photoprint, 4 x 5 in. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

Florida State Parks On The Air

Florida’s award-winning State Parks system offers cultural, archeological, wildlife, and recreational areas; historic sites, and beaches.

Now, add transceivers and antennas! The Lakeland Amateur Radio Club K4LKL is sponsoring the first Florida State Parks On The Air, April 1st 2017.

Most Florida parks open at 8A local, and close at sundown. The operating period of 10A to 6P allows time to enter the park, set up, operate, and tear down in time to leave before park closing.

You are responsible for admission fees and polite behaviour towards other park patrons, See the LARC rules page for details.

Similar to the National Parks On The Air program, FLSPOTA is all about enjoying our hobby in the the beautiful outdoors we have close to home.

Florida State Parks.org has all the details on specific parks, including camping, educational materials, maps, and a list of parks organized by region.

For more information, visit the LARC FLSPOTA page.

2017 Labelle Swamp Cabbage Festival

Swamp Cabbage Festval Logo
Trash Panda Approved!

The Labelle Swamp Cabbage Festival is a February tradition, pulling in more than 6,500 visitors to Hendry County. The 51st edition over the weekend of February 26th and 27th was one of the largest, with over one hundred vendors offering food, drinks, crafts, games, and live music.

Setting up the Big Green Canopy

This year, legacy country band Shenandoah was on the ticket, kicking off their 30th Anniversary Tour, along with two days of entertainment, food, river cruises, food, car shows, and the Swamp Cabbage Parade, Saturday and Sunday, February 25 & 26.

Sheriff’s Lieutenant Billy Griffin briefing EM Reservists

Fifteen members of Big Lake ARC and Hendry CERT worked the Parade Saturday morning, taking assignments at key intersections along the route, and then after the parade, throughout the festival grounds.

KN4AFW performed well as net control, maintaining communications on 446.000 simplex and the local Labelle repeater.

During the parade, one of the Reservists fell ill due to the heat, and the difficulty of moving emergency vehicles through a densely packed parade route was never more clear. A Hendry EMS team checked the Reservist out, and sent him home to rest. Thanks to Belle’s Ice Cream Bar for their hospitality during the action.

A missing child put everyone on alert for a few minutes. KN4AFU and KN4AFV were able to locate the parents within moments of the alert being posted by Sheriff’s dispatch.

Hendry County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Billy Griffin, in a note of appreciation to EM Director Brian Newhouse KJ4WIC, said, “Thank you so much for your assistance during the Swamp Cabbage Festival.  The group of volunteers you have are Top Notch and I enjoyed them immensely .  Please share with them my sincerest Thanks and appreciation for all they did that day to make the 2017 Swamp Cabbage Festival not only successful; but safe as well.  Great job from some even greater people.”

Everglades guide George L. Espenlaub prepares a pot of swamp cabbage (photo circa 1950s). Photo courtesy floridamemory.com.

The takeaway from this event was that 70cm proved to be at the edge of range using handhelds for all functions, including net control at the command post. Future operations will use a higher-powered mobile 70cm at the command post with an external antenna.

“KN” Callsign Curiosity

This past January 21st, three Hendry County Emergency Management Reservists passed the technician test and joined amateur radio as KN4AFU, KN4AFV, and KN4AFW.

With the advent of vanity calls, just about any unused combination is available, so prefixes (the part before the District number) don’t hold the identity they once had.

But, long timers raised an eyebrow this time, since “KN” (and “WN”) calls were what specifically identified a novice licensee in years past.

Licensed for 35 years, Pete “The Greek” Varounis NL7XM, is amateur radio’s callsign historian. He maintains editions of the telephone-directory sized Radio Amateurs Callbook for researching callsign origins and histories for amateurs the world over. Pete played a part in the development of the amateur radio backstory in the ABC-TV sitcom Last Man Standing, by creating authentic callsigns for off-screen radio ham characters in the amateur radio heavy episode, The Fight.

Tim Allen KK6OTD (left), Pete Varounis NL7XM (right) – Photo courtesy NL7XM

So, Pete was clearly the guy to ask about the “KN” curiosity.

He wrote:

The history of US Amateur callsigns series is an enormous topic, complex and full of contradictions.

The new KN4xxx's will likely temporarily be viewed as a moderate curiosity, but real old timers know the FCC has always recycled callsigns and groups. The vanity system is a perfect example of this practice.

There are only a handful of W#xx (a.k.a. "1x2s") alive today who are original holders of those calls. Most have had 4, 5, or more previous holders over the last 60 to nearly 90 years!

The intent of the Novice Class License (introduced in July 1951) was to inspire enthusiasm for the art and science. A one year mandatory expiration provided the catalyst to prompt one to upgrade to Technician or General Class, or start all over again.

Until the late 1970s, these Novices were issued distinctive callsign's with the letter "N" (or later, "V" in some crowded Districts) in the 2nd place of the prefix, right after the "W" or "K" and before the District number. They all had 3-letter suffixes. If you successfully upgraded in time, that "N" was dropped, so KN6ABC became K6ABC, or later in the 70's, maybe even WA6ABC.

The upgrade rate was around 50-60%. Many of those Novice callsigns were recycled only a few years later during the era of the Novice Class campaign.

Although there are still almost 12,000 grandfathered Novice ticket holders today, the "N" designator no longer carries the distinction it once did. It was only a matter of time before the 4th District would get sequentially issued KN4xxx calls after consuming the KM4xxx series.

The unusual (and cool) thing now however, is this hasn't happened on a grand scale for decades!

For example KN4AFW was first issued to 15-year old Novice Chase Hearn around November 1954. Chase is alive and well, still using the upgraded callsign, K4AFW!

Vy 73, PeteTheGreek / NL7XM

Hams wanting to know who had their call before them accounts for 90% of Pete’s research efforts. He’s likely to be very busy for the next few years as the “KN” series works through the alphabet.