One Amateur Radio Operator’s View of “Volunteers on the Air” - (Posted: 03/15/2023)
By Tom Devine, WB2ALJ, Southern NJ Section Emergency Coordinator
The ARRL 2023 “Volunteers on the Air” event coupled with solar cycle opening of HF propagation has provided increased amateur radio activity. It’s been fun to share contact with other ARRL volunteers and DX stations, almost any time of the day on HF.
“Volunteers On the Air” (VOTA) is a year long event celebrating the recognition of the ARRL’s abundant volunteers support and contributions. It has inspired and increased amateur radio activity on the air. The VOTA event can be viewed as a contest or just a fun operating activity.
Operators can accumulate points for each ARRL member and volunteer supporter they contact throughout 2023. Examples of points awarded: any ARRL member 1, Section Manager 175, W1AW ARRL HQ Station 100, and Section Emergency Coordinator 30. (Detailed list available at http://www.arrl.org/volunteers-on-the-air ). In order to acquire or grant points all operators must log contacts in ARRL Logbook of The World (LoTW) at http://www.arrl.org/logbook-of-the-world . LoTW is utilized to calculate VOTA total contacts, qualified contacts for point, and total points accumulated on a daily basis. Your current points can be viewed on the “Leaderboard” at https://vota.arrl.org/.
A radio operator can have fun just by getting on the air and making contacts. VOTA operating bands include 160, 80, 40, 20, 15, 10, 6, 2, and 1.25 meters as well as 70 centimeters, VHF/UHF/SHF. Please note that Cross-band, Cross-mode, and repeater contact are not valid for points.
Each State is scheduled to be allocated to operated two W1AW/* Portable Station for a week during the year. New Jersey’s operating schedules start on April 26 and August 9 for more detail reference the “State Activity Schedule” on http://www.arrl.org/volunteers-on-the-air .
You are encouraged to get on the air and have some fun with VOTA, plus enjoy band openings throughout the world.
Tom Devine WB2ALJ
“The VOTA event has simulated me to get on the air more, almost daily. My goal is to have fun with a few contacts and by recognize other ARRL volunteers. To date, I have given more VOTA points than accumulated which is fine. I am using indoor antennas and about 40 watts output with multiple modes and bands. I encourage all to try VOTA.”
Delaware Valley Radio Association (DVRA) Awarded 2023 Club Of The Year - (Posted: 03/04/2023)
As posted by Bob Famiglio, K3RF - ARRL Atlantic Division Director on 3/3/2023
I have the pleasure in reporting that an ARRL affiliated club in our Atlantic Division, the Delaware Valley Radio Association (DVRA), has been selected as the 2023 club of the year by the Dayton Hamvention Awards Committee.
DVRA was formed in 1930 with its ARRL affiliation certificate signed by the old man himself, Hiram Percy Maxim. While DVRA is officially in the Southern New Jersey section of our division and serves the Trenton, New Jersey metropolitan area, with over 120 members the club includes hams in the Eastern Pennsylvania and Northern New Jersey (Hudson Division) sections as well.
The DVRA has tripled in size over the last six years due to the wide range of amateur radio activities and events they offer. An all-purpose club, the DVRA’s activities include public service events, operator training and mentoring, Scouting events, informational monthly meetings, POTA events, and the operation of a world class club station W2ZQ. See the whole club story at www.w2zq.com. Congratulations to all the members of the DVRA!
SNJ WinLink Project - (Posted: 12/04/2022)
SNJ WINLINK PROJECT – What, Why, and How to Learn More!
Emergency communications messaging has been changing due to the increased content, the need for more accuracy on first exchange, and desire for increase speed so that more messages can be handled in less time. The shift of the majority of emergency communications formal message to WINLINK digital mode has been proposed for Southern New Jersey. The National Traffic system is also planning to increase digital message handling.
What & Why of WINLINK?
WINLINK was initially designed for communication by boating community utilizing radio high frequency digital messaging. Over time it has evolved into a digital mode utilized by emergency communicators, including ARES, RACES, AUXCOM, SHARES, and multiple served agencies. The primary reason for WINLINK’s popularity is its flexibility. Users can send digital messages to gateway servers via several modes, such as Telnet (internet), packet, mess network (ARDEN), or VARA. The gateways can be configured to receive one or multiple HF, VHF, and/or UHF. Digipeater can be set up and positioned geographically to relay messages among operators, Gateways, and RMS (radio message servers) that can process messages to other stations.
Example, during an emergency/disaster affecting limited area, States, Island or group of States, messages handled within the affected through RF or relayed to gateways outside with internet connection. This allows amateur radio operators to handle serve disaster service providers, such as American Red Cross, FEMA and others, plus provide Health & Welfare traffic. If there is NO gateway available, messages can be stored at a local WINLINK radio message server (RMS), assuming it is set up with a “post office” feature. Others can pickup messages from the RMS “post office” using RF.
During 2022 SET operations several after action recommendations were received by SNJ leadership for shifting majority of formal traffic from voice to digital. A working group was formed to determine options to enhance the SNJ Section emergency communications formal traffic handing. Since WINLINK in various configurations, packet, VARA, and Telnet, are utilized by many County emergency communications teams, the working group focused on the possibility of linking the existing RMS sites in SNJ Section.
The working group started with several steps to possibly link WINLINK digital communications:
- Conducted a WINLINK Data Collection asking for:
- The Call Sign, generic location, GPS locations, frequency, antenna height above sea level, VARA/PACKET, and power level of each WINLINK site, (4 teams provide responses.)
- The call signs of SNJ emergency communications leaders who had WINLINK capability, either Telnet and/or RF (5 teams provide responses.)
- Conducted experiment aligning frequencies and locations of digipeater so that more local teams could intercommunicate via WINLINK. To date progress has included:
- Moving WINLINK VARA FM Digipeater to site location at 300 foot above sea level in Ocean County.
- Installed WINLINK VARA FM Digipeater to site location at in Chatsworth/Woodland Township Burlington County.
- Place the WINLINK VARA FM RMSs and Digipeater on the same frequency at sites in Atlantic, Burlington, and Ocean counties.
- Added APRS ID: CHATSW on 144.390 in Chatsworth/Woodland Township Burlington County to serve Sothern Ocean, Burlington, parts of Atlantic that were negative affected when one of the Digipeaters used a prior APRS site.
VARA FM was selected since it operates at high speeds transferring messages rapidly and can be repeated by digipeaters. VARA-FM’s higher speeds seem to reduce wait times and allow more traffic to be handled.
Initial Results have indicated increasing WINKLINK overage among stations in currently tested Counties. However, your use of the WINLINK RMSs and Digipeaters is requested to determine the SNJ Section-wide coverage area and practical application in emergencies. Please try them, feedback can be sent to WB2ALJ@arrl.net!
How to Learn More?
The SNJ WINLINK Project working group desire your assistances for the future:
- Wants each operator to look at the attached videos and suggested website on WINLINK and send additional questions on subjects you desire more knowledge on to WB2ALJ@arrl.net who will relay to the working group.
- Consider joining the SNJ WINKLINK Wednesday events announced every Tuesday on SNJEMCOM@groups.io after you have a WINLINK account. The SNJ WINKLINK Wednesday events can be done using a computer via internet connection. Then shift over to RF mode. (SNJ WINKLINK Wednesday facilitated by Tim- NJ2N SNJ ASEC-ARMAT)
- Start using the SNJ WINKLINK VARA FM Digipeaters, especially send messages to other emergency communicators within SNJ Sections. The frequency of the SNJ WINKLINK VARA FM digipeaters are on 145.010 MHz. Current site locations are WA2RES-14 Barnegat Township - Ocean County, AC2NJ-15 Egg Harbor Township – Atlantic County, and NJ1SP-14 Chatsworth/Woodland Township – Burlington County. Also try the APRS ID: CHATSW on 144.390.
Website: www.winlink.org (Site provides general information and allows downloading of WINLINK software.)
Please investigate and consider contributing to these efforts.
Thank you for your service to SNJ amateur radio emergency communications.