On October 27th, Tom Devine WB2ALJ and Tim Tonnesen NJ2N drove to Washington DC to
join over 140 other Ham Radio Operators in support of the 44th Marine Corps Marathon.
The Marathon's Organizers used the ICS Command Structure to run operations. This allowed
the Event Staff, Military and Law Enforcement, Medical Services and Volunteers to work seamlessly as
one united team. The Planning, Logistics and Operations Branches were clearly visible during the race
-- and no doubt, Finance was lurking somewhere in the background. After all our online studying, it
was pretty impressive seeing how well ICS works in the real world.
The marathon course was broken up into three operational nets: Race A, B & C. There were
also: Talk-In/Talk-Out nets; back up repeaters; and a bevy of Simplex frequencies available -- all with
Tactical Callsigns. The weather was wet and the repeater reception was prone to static, but everyone
Operators were positioned at approximately 1 mile intervals, at the Water Stops and Aid
Stations. We started off cheering the race leaders, but as soon as the pack arrived, everyone focused on
spotting injured runners and any other possible problems on the course.
One of the smartest ideas that the Ham Organizers had was to publish a CHIRP file of the
Event Frequencies prior to the race. This was a huge help to the OCARES operators, who were unable
to test their radios in advance. Ocean County ARES has already adopted this idea and made a .csv file
of our county repeaters and Simplex frequencies, along with their Tactical Callsigns. The file can be
"cut and pasted" into most programming software. There are two benefits to this method: New
members can easily load our frequencies without errors. Also, any groups from outside our area,
responding in support of OCARES, can quickly and easily load our frequencies in advance and
communicate on our nets using our pre-designated Tactical Calls. (More info on this to come.)
Another new wrinkle for this year's marathon was the use of US National Grid coordinates to
locate injured runners and disruptions on the course. We used a 201Kb smartphone app called
USNGapp (available FREE on Google Play). With it, we could determine a position to within ~100
feet with only two sets of 3 numbers (within ~10 feet with 4 and 4). USNG is derived from the
military's Military Grid Reference System and has been officially adopted by FEMA and the National
Search and Rescue Committee as their primary coordinate reference system. Check it out; it easy to
use, eliminates any Lat/Long or GPS coordinate confusion and is incredibly easy to send in ARRL
radiogram format. (Figures XXX, Figures XXX)
Headsets were required for all field operators. Their purpose was twofold: to mitigate crowd
and entertainment noise, and to keep communications private. Foldable shooting ear muffs, worn over
earpieces, were recommended to cancel out even more noise. However, they made it difficult to talk to
anyone face to face.
Other highlights were:
All in all, we had a great time -- despite the soggy weather. The Ham effort was very
professional and extremely well run. It was a pleasure to work with so many dedicated fellow hams
from the Mid Atlantic Region. And we look forward to doing it again next year!
The Marine Corps Marathon averages 30,000 runners and 100,000 spectators every year.
Ham communications are crucial not only to runner well-being, but also course safety. In this day and
age (and especially in our nation's capital), attention had to be paid to any suspicious packages or
persons along or around the course as well. This was the first event we've worked where we were not
only told to get familiar with our assigned position, but also to make note of places of cover and
concealment should something go dreadfully wrong. This above all else made being the "eyes and
ears" on the course worthwhile.
We hope to get more SNJ Section Hams involved for next year's marathon. Anyone interested
can email OCARES at: firstname.lastname@example.org
See you next year!
Amateur radio operators in New Jersey and other parts of the US will participate in the 3rd annual Amateur Radio Club QSO Party that is scheduled to take place Saturday, Oct 19th 18:00 UTC through Sunday, Oct 20th 17:59 UTC.
Created and sponsored by the South Jersey Radio Association K2AA in 2016 to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary, the event is now in its third year and encourages the activation of all club stations through the promotion of each radio club’s unique age and history.
Throughout the event you’ll hear amateur radio operators call CQ using their callsign, followed by a forward slash, age in years of their club, followed by the club acronym. For example, you may hear CQ de K2AA / 103 + SJRA to signify K2AA calling CQ from a club that is 103 years old with an acronym of SJRA (South Jersey Radio Association).
The event, which may take place using any mode, most amateur bands, and may include repeaters, does encourage participants to ragchew about their club’s age and history, as well as encourage amateur operators to join one or more local clubs to enhance their enjoyment of the amateur radio hobby.
As Posted on ARRL.org 11/21/2019
ARRL’s EC-001-S online “Introduction to Emergency Communication” course is now available to students in an on-demand format, allowing students to register for the course and begin work at any time. This course is designed to provide basic knowledge and tools for any emergency communications volunteer.
In response to the great course demand and to expand access to EC-001, ARRL developed a self-guided version of the course, EC-001-S, which launched in June. This version of the course is designed for those who prefer to work independently and who do not need guidance from an online mentor. EC-001-S was previously offered only during specific sessions along with the traditional mentored version. The course opened for general enrollment on November 6.
Visit the ARRL Online Course Registration page for more information and to register.
As Posted on ARRL.org 11/14/2019
ARRL Contest Program Manager Paul Bourque, N1SFE, reports that nearly 1.1 million contacts were made during the 2019 ARRL Field Day — the most popular operating event in North America. Bourque reported the 2019 ARRL Field Day results, which are available starting on page 64 of the digital edition of the December 2019 issue of QST. Bourque says in his article that more than 36,000 radio amateurs took part in ARRL Field Day 2019 across all 83 ARRL/Radio Amateurs of Canada sections, up slightly from the 35,250 reported last year. The total number of contacts was down by about 7% from 2018’s 1.18 million contacts.
“This year, 3,113 entries were received from local clubs and emergency operations centers (EOCs), as well as individual portable, mobile, and home stations,” Bourque wrote in QST. Most entries were in Class A — club or non-club groups of three or more.
Of the nearly 1.1 million contacts, approximately 46% were made on phone, and 456,000 (42%) of contacts were made on CW. The remaining 138,000+ (12%) of the contacts were made on digital modes, such as FT8 and RTTY.
“This is a substantial increase compared to 2018, when total QSOs on the digital modes numbered just over 56,000,” Bourque reported. “With the last 2018 release of WSJT-X (which now supports Field Day exchanges), many participants made use of FT8’s ability to communicate when band conditions weren’t being cooperative.”
Top 10 scores ranged between W3AO’s Class 14A entry from Maryland-DC, with 32,356 points, to W1NVT’s 14,876-point Class 2A entry from Vermont.
Bourque said that 95% of the 3,113 entries received came through the Field Day web applet.
“Not only is ARRL Field Day an opportunity to sharpen operating skills in temporary and portable locations, it’s also an occasion to showcase amateur radio to the local community, with clubs often setting up in publicly accessible locations and interacting with non-hams,” Bourque wrote.
ARRL is launching a new magazine, On the Air, in January 2020. To be published on a bimonthly basis, On the Air will offer new and beginner-to-intermediate-level radio amateurs a fresh approach to exploring radio communication. Each issue will include advice and insights on topics from the variety of Amateur Radio interests and activities: radio technology, operating, equipment, project building, and emergency communication. The goal of this new magazine is to be a vital resource in helping new and newer radio amateurs get active and involved in radio communications.
“On the Air responds to the brand new and not-so-brand-new radio amateur seeking ideas and answers,” said QST Managing Editor Becky Schoenfeld, W1BXY. Schoenfeld is part of the ARRL staff team that developed the new magazine. The planning included an extensive national-level study of new Amateur Radio licensees, identifying their motivations for getting licensed and their experiences of getting started. A focus group responded positively to a trial sample edition of the magazine.
“Too many new licensees never take the next step,” says Schoenfeld. “We’re excited to introduce a new Amateur Radio magazine for this audience, aimed at getting them active, getting them involved, and getting them on the air.”
The first issue of On the Air will be published in January 2020 (January/February issue) and will be introduced as a new ARRL membership benefit. Effective November 1, when eligible US radio amateurs join ARRL or renew their memberships, they will be prompted to select the print magazine of their choice — On the Air or QST. Current members receiving the print edition of QST, upon renewal, may choose to continue receiving the monthly print edition of QST or the print edition of the bimonthly On the Air.
All ARRL members, including international members, will be able to access digital editions of both QST and On the Air. Members who already access QST on the web or from the mobile app will be able to access QST and On the Air starting in