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Old October 30th 07, 12:18 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Mon, 29 Oct 2007 13:21:40 EDT, Michael Coslo wrote:

What I have been seeing recently is that people who are already working
in emergency operations have been getting Technician licenses, and
intend to commandeer repeaters as needed during emergencies.


Our district-wide ARES/RACES groups have several repeaters licensed to
members so no "commandeering" is necessary. In addition, we routinely
test simplex paths between our served agencies in case repeaters go
down for any reason.

Even in our area, whole groups of folk have been getting licensed in
this reverse manner. We have ambulance drivers, paramedics, comm center
staff. I suspect in the near far term, we won't be getting in the door period,
unless we become some kind of semi professional unpaid volunteer.


We've kicked this around too. All of our active members have been
"vetted" by the state police for RACES ID cards and most of us carry
Sheriff's Office entry passes (picture ID, not law enforcement officer
credentials) that are necessary to get into facilities where the SO
provides security.

We've also kicked around the situation where in our hospital we have
to go through the Emergency Room entry area to reach the EOC, and the
ER docs and nurses are empowered that if during an emergency/lockdown
they see anyone in the ER whom they do not recognize they are to have
security detain them for interrogation. For that reason those of us
who serve hospitals also have hospital picture IDs issued by the
security department.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

I think a new class of Ham is inadvertently coming about - that
of the quasi-professional ham - one who is employed in a field that
occasionally calls on them to use their amateur radio license in pursuit
of their work. Note that the FCC has upheld this as legal IIRC.


Most, if not all of our served agencies have ruled that in a "real"
emergency, the employee does his or her regular job, not serve as part
of the Amateur Radio teams. We have MOUs with the served agencies
that we will provide the necessary comms if their regular comms become
unavailable.

The only exception is with the HEARTNET role as the secondary backup
for the inter-hospital ER status and reporting system carried on 800
MHz with a primary backup of 155 MHz, and if both of those
"commercial" services go down, the 146 MHz simplex net is used by ER
personnel who are licensed hams. We have no problem with that because
the traffic that would be handled is very medical-specific and
decisions have to be made "on the fly" over the radio, and it's better
to have the RNs do it than to have to pass messages through
non-medical personnel.

The major downside of all this is that as Emergency ops move toward this
mode, the question arises of why they would be using amateur radio to
perform the function at all - they might as well have their own system
on their own frequencies, that they alone use.


And they do. We are the "whenever all fails, we are still there." And
the "modern" 800 MHz systems are virtually useless when things get hot
because of either system hardware failure or priority public safety
traffic making the system unavailable to "lower on the ladder" users.

A very small payback for the privilege of using the spectrum that we
get.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net


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Old October 30th 07, 04:14 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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"Steve Bonine" wrote in message
...
In a week I will begin teaching an entry-level class that the local


Another issue is the scheduling of the class. There are proponents of the
weekend method -- cover the material in a day or so. While there are
advantages to that, I favor multiple shorter sessions. I think that
learning is much better in that environment, but in today's hectic world,
getting people to commit to multiple sessions is problematic. We've
decided on six session spread over three weeks. Maybe that was a fatal
error; time will tell.


have you considered schedlues the classes past the projecting VE tests
ession allowing to focus more at fist on the exam and more later on real
operating


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Old October 30th 07, 01:49 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Bruce in Alaska wrote:
In article ,
Michael Coslo wrote:

The major downside of all this is that as Emergency ops move toward this
mode, the question arises of why they would be using amateur radio to
perform the function at all - they might as well have their own system
on their own frequencies, that they alone use.


What happenes when the Repeaters, and or Remote Bases, are lost due to
Power Loss, FIRE, or EarthQuake, at the High Point Remote Locations that
the EMS/Enforcment System uses, or secondly, what happens when the Telco
Links from the EMS/Enforcment Comms Center fail, due to these same
situations and the CommCenter can work the Repeaters and Remote Bases
via RF Links but can't communicate with the next higher Govt entity?


There you have it. I would say that those who are running the show are
very VHF/UHF centric. They don't know about long distance radio, except
for perhaps satellite Operations, which are still line of site. Someone
somewhere has to know what bands to use at what time and for what distance.




A bunch of good stuff snipped


The Feds have been trying to deal with these senerios since 9/11, and
are just NOW, starting to get a handle on SOME of the problems, and
solutions, that will be involved.



Your post is pretty accurate, Bruce.


One of the things that I want to add is that while Amateur radio was one
of the few things that worked very well, those who are in command are
bent on turning it into something more like what failed.

I believe that the present day post 911, and even more post Katrina
emphasis on emcomm Amateur radio is imposing a structure upon those Hams
who would volunteer their time, when in fact, what has allowed Ham radio
to work in emergencies is that very lack of structure among
knowledgeable Hams who in a random fashion come forth and offer their
services and know-how to the problem at hand.

I believe that imposing a structure on the ARS, and bringing it into the
fold, so to speak, will increase the chances that Amateur radio will be
the one to fail along with other parts of the emergency operations.

As we are called upon to have our backgrounds checked, our lifestyle and
financial dealings investigated, and resign ourselves to hauling out the
trash or unloading trucks, there will be less of us willing to spend our
vacation time or even simply lose money to offer our services.

At that time, most of what will be left is those quasi-professional
technicians who are licensed to talk, but know precious little else
about how to make sure the comms continue. Then comes failure.

It's a real problem, because those who make the decisions can only see
solutions as application of structure, and if there is a problem, the
answer must be more structure. Its like the old saying "If your tool is
a hammer, all problems look like nails."

This is a very controversial position for sure, as witnessed by local
Emergency people's reaction when I bring it up. My only suggestion is
for people to look at what causes failure, and correct it. Some times
what seems like a good idea is what causes failure. If that is the case,
no application of more of that "good idea" will create success.

- 73 de Mike KB3EIA -

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Old October 30th 07, 09:27 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Tue, 30 Oct 2007 08:49:38 EDT, Michael Coslo wrote:

There you have it. I would say that those who are running the show are
very VHF/UHF centric. They don't know about long distance radio, except
for perhaps satellite Operations, which are still line of site. Someone
somewhere has to know what bands to use at what time and for what distance.

Most, if not all, of our served agencies have or are getting HF
transceivers for "long distance" communication. If the repeater
and/or packet relays go down, that's what we have to use to connect to
state and regional EOCs, usually by NVIS facilities. Most of our
leadership have those in their home stations as well. Some of us are
looking into automatic interchange between VHF to HF for digital
traffic. We aren't content with a "shack on the belt" approach.
--

73 de K2ASP - Phil Kane

From a Clearing in the Silicon Forest

Beaverton (Washington County) Oregon

e-mail: k2asp [at] arrl [dot] net

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Old October 31st 07, 03:16 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Phil Kane wrote in
:

On Tue, 30 Oct 2007 08:49:38 EDT, Michael Coslo wrote:

There you have it. I would say that those who are running the
show are
very VHF/UHF centric. They don't know about long distance radio,
except for perhaps satellite Operations, which are still line of site.
Someone somewhere has to know what bands to use at what time and for
what distance.

Most, if not all, of our served agencies have or are getting HF
transceivers for "long distance" communication. If the repeater
and/or packet relays go down, that's what we have to use to connect to
state and regional EOCs, usually by NVIS facilities. Most of our
leadership have those in their home stations as well. Some of us are
looking into automatic interchange between VHF to HF for digital
traffic. We aren't content with a "shack on the belt" approach.


Perhaps your local setup is doing well, Phil, I can only see what is
happening locally, and what I get from the news.

I suspect they have some good people running the show there?\

- 73 de Mike KB3EIA -



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Old November 1st 07, 12:45 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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On Oct 30, 4:49?am, Michael Coslo wrote:
Bruce in Alaska wrote:
In article ,
Michael Coslo wrote:


It's a real problem, because those who make the decisions can only see
solutions as application of structure, and if there is a problem, the
answer must be more structure. Its like the old saying "If your tool is
a hammer, all problems look like nails."


If all you have is a nail-puller, your structure won't hold
together...

AF6AY

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Old November 1st 07, 04:13 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Last December, some hams in my town put on a "Ham Cram" one-day study and
license test for Technician Class. One week ahead of time, the students
received a print-out of the question pool. On Ham Cram day, from 7:30 AM to
1:00 PM they were drilled on the questions, with the correct answer being
stressed. After a lunch break, at 2:00 PM my VE License exam team arrived to
test them. 13 of 14 passed. BUT, I have had contact with several of these
students since the Ham Cram, and they had almost no practical knowledge of
amateur radio. They required A LOT of Elmering. IMHO, lessons spread out one
night a week for a couple of months, with practical demonstrations and
discussions of ham culture would have made much better hams.

73 de Dick, AC7EL

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Old November 1st 07, 10:54 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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"Dick Grady AC7EL" wrote in message
...
Last December, some hams in my town put on a "Ham Cram" one-day study and
license test for Technician Class. One week ahead of time, the students
received a print-out of the question pool. On Ham Cram day, from 7:30 AM
to
1:00 PM they were drilled on the questions, with the correct answer being
stressed. After a lunch break, at 2:00 PM my VE License exam team arrived
to
test them. 13 of 14 passed. BUT, I have had contact with several of
these
students since the Ham Cram, and they had almost no practical knowledge of
amateur radio. They required A LOT of Elmering. IMHO, lessons spread out
one
night a week for a couple of months, with practical demonstrations and
discussions of ham culture would have made much better hams.

73 de Dick, AC7EL


There is very little math on the Tech test. If you can't remember to divide
the number "300", you probably won't remember the rest of the answers.
However, experience makes a good ham, not knowledge of the answers. I am an
extra class ham, but I realized that without experience or a fundamental
knowledge of electronics, I really couldn't do much more than push a button
and chat.
-Mindraker

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Old November 1st 07, 06:50 PM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Dick Grady AC7EL wrote:
Last December, some hams in my town put on a "Ham Cram" one-day study and
license test for Technician Class. One week ahead of time, the students
received a print-out of the question pool. On Ham Cram day, from 7:30 AM to
1:00 PM they were drilled on the questions, with the correct answer being
stressed. After a lunch break, at 2:00 PM my VE License exam team arrived to
test them. 13 of 14 passed. BUT, I have had contact with several of these
students since the Ham Cram, and they had almost no practical knowledge of
amateur radio. They required A LOT of Elmering. IMHO, lessons spread out one
night a week for a couple of months, with practical demonstrations and
discussions of ham culture would have made much better hams.


I think that the optimum recipe for baking a new ham is first a class
that teaches basic concepts based on the pool questions, then the exam,
followed by a combination of classes and one-on-one Elmering to get the
new hams on the air and integrated into the ham-radio community.

If you present a prospective ham with the prospect of a class that
continues for months they're likely to be intimidated to the point of
deciding that they can't make that level of time commitment. The trick
is finding a scheduling scheme that gives you enough time to do more
than just go over the pool questions but doesn't scare away all the
prospective students.

A one-day cram might be a good starting point *if* there is plenty of
followup support and the new/prospective hams are encouraged to do more
than attend the one-day class, pass their written test, and then never
get involved with the hobby. Personally, I don't care for cram
sessions, but some people do, and they have the advantage of providing
an opportunity to get people "hooked" and thereby get them into
appropriate followup activities. They also have the potential for being
such a negative experience that they turn off prospective hams.
Everything is a trade off.

The key to getting new people involved in the hobby is to pique their
interest enough that they follow through. Back in the "good 'ole days"
the allure of radio technology was enough to attract folks, many of them
teenagers, into the hobby. In today's world, radio is pretty "low tech"
and this natural attraction is diluted by newer bells and whistles. We
need to do the same kinds of public relations and marketing that is done
by other activities that are competing for peoples' spare time. We need
people to read or see something that makes them think, "Gee, that could
be a rewarding activity." You can offer all the entry-level classes you
want, but if no one is interested enough in the potential of ham radio
to attend the class, nothing is gained.

That's not to say that I have any magic answers on how to do this. I do
see a trend of more "middle aged" recruits coming on board these days --
people who have had the idea in the back of their heads for years of
getting into ham radio, and finally have time to act on it. My
experience is that many of these folks see an article about ham radio
being used for some aspect of public service, and that's what re-kindles
the latent idea, but I have no real scientific basis for that belief. I
think it would be a good use of ARRL funds to do some market research in
this area, figure out what it is that's motivating people to enter the
hobby, then use that knowledge to improve our PR.

As an aside, for those who might be interested in the class that was the
impetus to start this thread, I've got ten students and I think that
things are going well. Most of the students are interacting in the
class and seem to be enthusiastic about what they're learning. (Well,
perhaps "enthusiastic" is a bit of an overstatement since much of what
we discuss is dry regulations, but at least I haven't heard any snores
yet.) Of course it is much too early to tell how successful we will be
since I will judge that based on how many of these folks I hear on the
air and see at local ham-related activities six months from now.

73, Steve KB9X

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Old November 2nd 07, 03:45 AM posted to rec.radio.amateur.moderated
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Steve Bonine wrote:
wrote:
On Oct 23, 12:03?am, Steve Bonine wrote:


I have to add, and I don't want to sound condescending, but I
know that
some of the people who will attend this class are barely
literate, much
less capable of reading and understanding the question
pool . . . even
though it's written at a junior-high level.


Who *are* these folks? I mean, the current written exams
have been passed by elementary school children years
away from middle school.


I probably shouldn't sell the students short until I see who actually
shows up. But the impetus for the class was a request from a couple of
people who have already attended two previous entry-level classes taught
by the radio club in the next town over. I saw their material; it's
good; anyone who managed to attend their class and not pass is either
unmotivated or unteachable.

I suggest that if you have low expectations, the class will
live down to them, and if you have high expectations, they
will live up to them.


You have an excellent point, and I will try to act on it. On the other
hand, I do have to be realistic. I have to adapt the material to the
level of the people in the class, to the best of my ability and striving
not to pitch it so low that part of the class gives up in disgust.

With all due respect, if someone cannot grasp the concept of what
a frequency is, they should not be a licensed radio amateur, IMHO.
Such a lack of basic radio knowledge means the person just isn't
qualified yet, and endangers both the person and those around them.


I think you've gone too far because I went too far in my example.

Let me try to say this in different words.

The students in this class live in rural Minnesota. Electronics is
foreign to most of them. They can run a GPS-controlled tractor and
cover their fields without double-spraying a single row, but don't
expect them to understand the concepts of how GPS works. Or want to.

It's a real challenge to teach electronics to this demographic. For one
thing, their motivation to learn the material is 100% related to passing
the exam; they really couldn't care less that 1 amp will flow through a
resistance of 1 ohm if 1 volt is applied. Some of it I can make "real"
-- bring in a long extension cord, measure the resistance, discuss what
that means when you put a welder at the end.

Most of these folks will never be electronics gurus. They don't need to
be. They need to understand enough concepts to understand how to
operate the equipment that they buy. Do they need to understand the
relationship between wavelength and frequency to do that? No.

The whole point of license testing is to insure that licensees know
the basics.


I'm not sure that's actually true. Why do we care that a Technician
licensee knows Ohm's law?

It seems to me that the point of license testing is to erect a barrier
to entry. If that were not the case, the license pool would look a lot
different. It would consist of regulations and practical knowledge that
was actually used on a day-to-day basis. It would consist of material
that, to use your phrase above, is essential to insuring that the
licensee is not a danger to the person and those around him.

What I'm looking for is a real entry-level license, similar to the
Novice ticket, with an incentive to upgrade. I want to be able to
actually teach concepts and the real skills that people need to get
involved in ham radio, without feeling that I cannot do so because my
limited time must be spent getting them the knowledge to correctly
pick
answers to pool questions.


Then you need more time. It's that simple. The time can be
class time, or it can be time the students spend reading and
learning on their own. But it takes time to learn this stuff.


But I don't have more time. It's going to be hard enough convincing
people to come to six sessions spread over three weeks. If I asked for
more time, I would get no students. The goal is to figure out how to
best use the time I have.

If I'm really successful, I will be able to lure people back to a
followup class. That's the only way I'll ever get access to more of
their time.

"If it were easy, everybody would do it."


And we're back to the concept of the exam as a barrier to entry. If you
have zero barrier, you have CB. If you have infinite barrier, you have
no one entering.

Like everything else in life, this class is a series of trade offs. I
picked six two-hour sessions as a compromise between having enough time
to cover everything I want to cover and being able to attract enough
people to conduct a class. I'll trade off time covering concepts to
time covering specific pool questions since I owe it to the students to
cover both. And I'm sure I'll be challenged to keep it simple enough
for some students while trying to challenge the rest.

73, Steve KB9X


I never got a class for my novice license thirty years ago. I listened
to a lot of code on a shortwave radio in the parlor of a church's
community building and practically memorized an ARRL publication
entitled "How to Become a Radio Amateur" if I'm remembering correctly.
And even though I'm an electrician by craft let me assure you that there
is not a lot of theory to electrical service work. The only time I've
needed ohms law is for long outdoor feeders but I was ahead of the other
apprentices when I learned about feeders because of amateur radio. I
let my novice license lapse because I moved to an apartment and could
not have antennas there.

So back in January my Fire Chief calls me aside and says since you've
been training the Community Emergency Response Team volunteers and
studied up on disaster preparedness I want you to represent the
department on the cities Disaster Preparedness Committee. My work on
the committee showed me that the local government could not afford a lot
by way of communications for disaster response work. The only likely
source of help we could identify was amateur radio.

I new there had been a lot of changes in the thirty years gone by so I
took the technician class given over two weekends in February of this
year. One of the things that the instructors showed us was some home
brew antennas. After passing my exam I tackled a collinear J-Pole as my
first home brew antenna because I could afford the tubing a lot easier
than I could afford any of the ready made antennas that claimed a
similar gain. I bought a used SWR meter, a club member checked it
against an antenna analyzer into a club antenna, and using only that SWR
meter and some patience I adjusted the J-pole to an acceptable SWR. A
used Yaesu FT470, Mirage BD35, and that J-pole, and I'm working a fair
number of repeaters, participating in the local EMCOM training net and
working every public service gig I can. I can't build a radio yet, but
I have been praised for my work on the events by people who have no
reason to butter me up. I got to try out HF at the Get On The Air table
of the clubs field day in June and the list goes on. I think I'm
getting an awful lot of mileage out of that two weekends.

I know I'm rambling but don't sell your students short. If you put the
effort into preparing a lot of show and tell, using real world examples
they may surprise you with how much they learn. Some of what they learn
you may never be aware of but the stuff I learned out of ARRL books is
still helping me feed my family. The material they put in the effort to
present during those two weekends back in February is helping me to
learn to help my community if the stuff ever does hit the fan.
--
Tom Horne, W3TDH

"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous
for general use." Thomas Alva Edison



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