Oakland County Amateur Radio Public Service Corp (ARPSC)
W8OAK Repeaters 146.900 MHz/100pl & 444.325 MHz/107.2pl
Weekly 2 meter net 8 pm every Thursday
Hospital Radio Net 7:30 pm last Thursday of Month
Packet 144.950 MHz/1200 baud, connects made with Oakxxx or
Callsign-# to OAKBBS (W8OAK-3) with nodes at
OAKNOD (N8NM-1 Pontiac most coverage),
OAKEOC (W8OAK-7 at EOC) or K8DTX-7 (White Lake)
APRS 144.390 MHz
Web Site: http://www.arpsc.com

Meeting Minutes for 6 October 2010

            On 6 October 2010 at 7 pm, Jim Richards - AB8JR, Emergency Coordinator (EC) for the Oakland County ARPSC, called the meeting to order in the County Emergency Operations Center (EOC).  The order of business included:

(I). Report from Steve Iannucci, Homeland Security Division Oakland County:

            Weather and other emergencies have been locally quiet.  Several table top stimulated exercise tests (SET's) recently took place.

(II).Report from the Emergency Coordinator (EC), Jim A. Richards - AB8JR:

            The 2-3 October 2010 ARRL National Stimulated Emergency Test took place last week end.  The purpose was to actively involve members of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), the ARRL National Traffic System (NTS) and other related groups that prepare for and respond to emergencies.*    The only advance notice was the date, but with no detailing of any kind.    Despite this, several county ARES were not in position to respond.

*  QST, 2010 Stimulated Emergency Test, by Steve Ewald, WV1X, September 2010 Issue, page 72.  

            For Jim, his first notice of SET activation was 8:04 am Saturday morning when he received a message from John Fleming - K8UP, District 2 Michigan Section ARPSC Emergency Coordinator.  At this hour, John didn't have with him his notification list, so had to substitute any way he could find to notify the next tier of people.  The SET began with a stimulated earthquake in the New Madrid fault line and involved handling NTS messages between county EOC's.  

            Lessons learned: System alerts need multiple ways to notify members by phone, text messaging, emails, recorded voice messages to tune into the W8OAK repeater, etc.  After talking with Steve Iannucci, Jim learned that the county government is already looking into a system which could make large numbers of such phone calls.  In the next 4 - 6 weeks, there will be a District II EC meeting to plan the next SET for February 2011.   John Fleming - K8UP also wants to increase the number of persons involved in setting up, planning, and developing emergency actions within each county.   This SET will involve one full emergency with several subset problems within each county.  Some members will need to actually travel somewhere within a ten mile radius.  The purpose will be to see how well we can activate. 

            The Brooksie Way Marathon and Run took place Sunday, 3 October 2010.   This year, there was more interaction with the Oakland County Sheriff's Department who want more radio operators at next year's event.  Randy Love - WF5X demonstrated the advantages of our Automated Packet Reporting System (APRS).  Our temporary antenna was put up in a rainstorm and worked very well.  Next year, the ARPSC would like to set up their radio in the Sheriff's Command Vehicle or be able to mount an antenna on it in order to set up nearby if there isn't enough inside room.   This year, the county didn't use their helicopter which is capable of streaming live video to the command post.  

            Jim reminds everyone that amateur radio communication must be done in the very best of professionalism.  Anything said over the radio can be heard by anyone, including officials in the command vehicle.  Our participation in events and training exercises is, to a large degree, contingent on our relationship with the agencies we serve.  Never say or do anything which might damage our relationship with those we work with. 

            Our current Oakland County ARPSC identification card expires at the end of this year.  A new card is being worked on.

(III). Presentation by Randy Love -WF5X, Chief of Operations:

Automated Packet Reporting System (APRS) in Southeast Michigan

Modified from a 2009 APRS Presentation by KB9VBR and N9MEA

            General APRS information sources include http://aprs.org and http://www.wa8lmf.net/aprs/index.htm.    Hardware sources include http://www.argentdata.com and http://ui-view.org.   A book source is "ARRL VHF Digital Handbook."

             Briefly reported here, Randy discussed in detail various aspects of APRS.  This combines GPS, amateur radio, and sometimes the internet to produce position reports and map displays of transmitting individuals.   It is not a tracking system, but a two-way system for sharing combined information.   The goal is communications and local information updates to provide local area weather reporting, direction finding, etc.  It differs from regular packet in that you don't have to connect to someone specifically, but can be thrown out to be received by anyone.   In North America, 144.390 MHz and 10.151 MHz - lower side band, are dedicated to APRS. 

             Propagation is assisted by digipeaters with standardized formats to prevent inefficient routing with what is called the "new-N Paradign."  A two hop rout is now available and is called WIDE2-2 path.    Mobiles can use either a WIDE1-1 or WIDE2-1.   Although APRS is a local, real-time two-way communications system, it can be injected into the ARPSC-IS Internet system so it can be monitored anywhere.   APRS users can text-message each other or into a wider range.  An operating frequency for accompanying voice can be displayed.     

             The APRS radio packet uses AX-25, which supports both virtual-circuit connect and datagram-style modes of operation, but is limited by its speed to usually 1200 bits per second, or sometimes 9600 bit/s.    Equipment includes a GPS, a computer with APRS software, TNC to interface the computer to radio, and a transceiver.

             In SE Michigan, one can connect to a local area digipeater by using a substation identifier (SSID), such as K1DE-5, WF5X-13, W8OAK-13, and W8FSM-3 which may be case sensitive.    

             APRS software includes (1) Win APRS/MacAPRS, (2) UI-View, (3) APRS Dos, (4) ARPSpoint, (5) APRSISCE/32, (6) and other platforms including Palm, Linux, and Java.    UI-View is pretty much the gold standard.  APRSISCE/32 is still under development but is evolving rapidly.   It is most likely to be the replacement for UI users.  APRSpoint is limited by supporting one type of map.   WinARPS/MacAPRS is easier to use, but is becoming outdated. 

             Some TNC substitutes include the Tiny Trak 4 and Open Tracker 2, which run about $65-100 retail.  Both are cheaper than a TNC, but have limitations.    Useable Global Position Systems (GPS) need to have a NMEA output for connection.  One smaller convenient system is the Yaesu FT-2800 with a Tracker 2.       

 (IV). Assistant Emergency Coordinator Reports:

            (1). Report from Randy Love - WF5X, AEC/Chief of Operations:

             Our volunteers served well at the Brooksie Way and there was excellent cooperation with the Rochester Fire Department.

             One might view the recent SET as most helpful.  It highlighted District II needing better ways to alert and activate people.  The State level ARPSC has similar problems.  A lot of work needs to be done.  Activation must not rely only on phones, but needs other modes.   As soon as the SET message came forth, an informational message was placed on the repeater, but at first there was no one to monitor or answer questions.     Oakland County ARPSC went as far as using default communication procedures to contact other counties.  We did receive and pass NTS traffic on the HF frequency in a reasonable time of about 15 minutes.    The districts used a 146.580 frequency to communicate between counties, but Washtenaw and St. Clair never activated.  In summary, the SET highlighted areas we need to work on. 

             (2). Report from Lloyd Suter - N2NGQ, AEC - Administration: Lloyd was with the Red Cross volunteers on this SET and was dispatched to the Saline High School in Washtenaw.  Here, he became an observer and was able to contact John Fleming - K8UP.

             (3). Report from James J. Richards - W8JJR, Skywarn Manager: Jim is forming a new team to work with the National Weather Service (NWS).  A presentation is being planned to better our understanding of NWS radar weather patterns.

             (4). Report from Michael Smith - N2NGQ, AEC Training Manager: A future Windshield Assessment Class is being considered.  In answer to a query, an IS-800 class is not yet in the works.

 (V). Specialty Officer Reports:

            (1). Report from Mike Nebel - N3BEL, Sirens: Our last siren test was last Saturday, 2 October 2010.  Forty-one sirens were checked, including the last remaining six to be checked for the first time this year.  This was a great team effort and Mike thinks this is the first time every siren has been covered at least once during the year.  Oakland County has more sirens than any other county in Michigan.  About 250 hams including 10 CERT's have taken part in siren tests this year.    The November Siren Test is still coming up and Mike hopes everyone will come out to help. 

             (2). Report from Paul Hatfield - KE8UD, Hospital Net: Paul thanks everyone taking part in the 30 September 2010 Hospital Net.    Both St. John - Providence Park Novi and Crittenton missed the net.  Henry Ford - West Bloomfield's unsecured radio was tampered with, turning it into a programmed mess.  This radio will be corrected this week and well as another radio problem at Huron Valley Sinai.

             (3). Report from Morrie Davidson - K8SJD, NWS Liaison: Morrie is talking with Rich Luterman, Fox 2 TV Meteorologist, to possibly meet with us.

             (4). Report from Jim Poehlman - K8ABZ, Membership:  Seventy-seven members have not submitted their yearly renewal application.  Jim will send out an email tomorrow asking them to please renew before they are changed to inactive. 

 (V): New/Other Business

            (1). Report from Shannon Richardson - KD8ATI and others on Events:

 Sunday, 17 October 2010:  The Detroit Free Press Marathon needs hams to volunteer at http://www.freepmarathon.com.   They have 50 ham volunteers and need 30 more.  APRS will be used there.

 Thursday, 21 October 2010:  There will be a NTS Net Control Class by Ann Marie Ruder - K8AMR at the Macomb ARPSC Meeting, 7 pm at ISD, 19 and Garfield.   This is an open event and requires no pre-registration.

 Sunday, 24 October 2010:  USECA has a swap at the American Polish Century Club, 33204 Maple Lane Drive, Sterling Heights, Michigan.


Respectfully submitted,

James R. Murphy, N8SML

Secretary, Oakland County, ARPSC

7 October 2010

Corrected and approved by Jim Richards AB8JR, EC