Recently Explorer Post 60 took the opportunity to look behind the scenes of one of the most important parts of the Emergency Medical System (EMS): the call to 911. Communication Lieutenant John. H. Hackley, Jr., briefed the Explorers on the work of the Charles County 911/Fire & EMS Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC), and led the Explorers on a tour of the Emergency Operations Center and the main hub of activity. While in the call center, the Explorers got to see a 911 call in action and saw the procedures taken by the operators. Additionally, the Explorers learned how the county handles disasters such as snowstorms and hurricanes.
In addition to the Explorers getting a chance to learn more about EMS, the adult radio advisors, who are also members of the Charles County Amateur Radio Club, got the chance to explore the PSCC’s radio station. Besides learning more about how a call center works, the advisors saw ways to teach the Explorers how to better communicate on the radio and how radio is a part of community disaster response efforts. A quote from Rob Hoyt one of the adult advisors:
“For me as an amateur radio operator, I found the tour very interesting since we were able to go into the center and see the radio dispatchers in action. Since this post is tied to the Charles County Mobile Intensive Care Unit (CCMICU), it was also nice to see how the calls that go out to the squads and CCMICU start out and are generated. A county like Charles has a lot of people and a lot going on so it was no surprise that the 911 center was busy while we were in there, and they received a couple of 911 calls while we were observing them.”
As the Explorers consider a future in the Emergency Medical System, they will need to know the ins and outs of the job. The visit to the 911 call center was the first of many trips Explorer Post 60 will be taking as they expand their knowledge of EMS and other EMS-related activities. Such visits give the Explorers the opportunity to meet and talk directly with EMS personnel at all levels of disaster, from the individual needing urgent medical attention to the community recovering from a tornado strike.
Explorer Post 60’s activities are centered on emergency medicine and first aid, amateur radio, outdoor skills, and disaster response. For more information on post activities or joining the post, e-mail email@example.com or Facebook @ExplorerPost60.
On 04 Nov, 2 members of the CCARC set up shop at the St. Mary’s STEM festival, which was being hosted at the St. Mary’s Fairgrounds. This event is actually coordinated by the St. Mary’s Board of Ed and is used to introduce young and old alike to the various STEM related activities they could become involved in.
Rob (N2OMC) and Bob (KB3KOW) coordinated and set up across from the SMAS which was headed up by Jeff (KB3SPH), Pam (KB3SWS) and Charles (AA3WS). The set up consisted of one HF radio connected to a G5RV hung in an inverted ‘V’
and a second all band FT-817 radio connected to a ground plain.
At the other end of the table was two morse code keys and oscillators along with a Raspberry Pi with a CW translator written in the programming language of ‘Scratch” which is a graphical programming language aimed at youngsters and often used at schools in the lower grades.
Rob confirmed everything was working by making a few contacts, however, Murphy struck and while tuning, the radio went dead. Charles was asked to take a look and it was determined that after many decades of use, the power supply had finally decided to give up the ghost. Jeff then came to the rescue with a jump start battery pack and using a few quarters, Charles got things connected and we were back on the air.
The event officially opened at 1000 but it was close to 1100 before we saw any significant number of people coming past our area, but once they started, we seemed to have a steady flow of interested youth and adults.
The Morse Code seemed to be a big draw and we had anyone who wanted to, try to send their name via code. All were successful but there was one young lady who on the first visit wouldn’t talk to us or make eye contact. He mom brought her back later on to try CW. After she got her name sent, she looked up and asked what else she could send and Rob spent time getting a bus number, favorite color and the name of the cat on her
knit hat. At one point she was even instructing the other youth on how to send code.
The voice operations were met with a luke-warm reception and many didn’t appear to be interested, however, when Rob swapped out voice for Digital, the interest level increased and more youth sat down to see what was going on with the PC.
Rob was able able to engage several adults, many who are active with some form of communications program for the military or were themselves past military communicators.
We also had a ‘fly by’ from Bob (NW3M) who provided a few pictures from his lofty vantage point:
Fairgrounds from the air
The SMAS group
As with any event involving youth, we have some thoughts for next year on how to make it better and maybe engage more youth…
For those of you who were unable to attend last (Friday, November 3rd) night’s meeting, you missed a couple of things of note. Vice President Tom (W3TOM) gave a talk on the ARRL while Treasurer Bob (KB3KOW) and Activities Director Rob (N2OMC) gave a tag-team presentation on Echo – Link.
However, the thing enjoyed by all was a presentation of photos compiled by Rob showing various activities that the CCARC has participated in over the last 20 years. These photos were on a CD and shown prior to the start of and after the presentations and brief business meeting. This was to commemorate the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the first CCARC meeting that was held on November 7th, 1997. Tom and Debbie (KA3VNF) brought along a delicious cake, decorated to commemorate the 20th anniversary, and I didn’t see any leftovers that anyone had to be “burdened” with to take home.
For the benefit of those of you who aren’t on Facebook, attached is the letter that went out to all amateur radio operators in Charles County in October of 1997 inviting us to that inaugural meeting of the CCARC on November 7th of that year. I’ve also attached a photo of the cake that Debbie (KA3VNF) posted on the club’s Facebook page.
From that initial meeting in 1997 the following are still among our ranks: Founders/Charter signers – Tom (W3TOM), Mike (KA3GRW) and Cliff (N3FI). Founding members include: Debbie (KA3VNF), Jim (K3DRJ), Bill (KE3RE), Michelle (N3YRZ) and Art (AA3RT).
Next month, the first Friday of the month falls on December 1st and, as has been our tradition in recent years, there will be no club meeting but the annual Christmas get together at Bert’s 50’s Diner in Mechanicsville. Rob will be sending out more details later.
73, Art, AA3RT/WQZD805
On Monday, 4 September a group of CCARC members and a few guests supported the Southern MD Century 100 mile bike ride in Indian Head, MD. I would like to thank the following people for showing up to support:
Rest Stop #1, Smallwood State Park: Les, KH6CUJ & Jim K3UGA
Rest Stop #2, Oak Grove Baptist Church: Jeff (KB3SPH) & Pam (KB3SWS)
Rest Stop #3, Durham Church: Paul, KB3YXS
Rest Stop #4, St. Ignatius: Joe, KB3HNP
Rest Stop #5, Thomas Stone: Craig, KB3YQG
I arrived at the start/finish line 0630 to a parking lot almost full with bike riders. Net control was setup and on the air using the Northern Neck Amateur Radio Club’s W4KGC VHF repeater. All stations on the net were up and operational by mid-morning. We couldn’t have asked for better weather with no clouds and cool temperatures. The rider estimate that I received had the approximate count at 1,000 riders, that’s a lot!
We ran the normal traffic calls for supplies between the rest stops and the occasional call for SAG support. We were paid a visit from three young men from Explorer Post 60; Jake, Jacob and Ted along with Mom’s Kelly and Lisa who all came by to observe and help out. Honorable mention to Bob, KB3KOW for lining up the scout visit. We sat at Net Control for a few hours and chatted about radio and Scouting and I was able to get one of them on the air for a bit. Robert, KB3WJM also came by as a new member of the club and fairly new to ham radio. We chatted during the day about antenna and radio options for his QTH and for portable operation such as the bike ride. I enjoyed the conversation and the ability to help get a new ham spun up and on the air. As a side note, Robert is a former Navy CW communicator so his main interest in HF is to get on CW and make some contacts.
We shut down the net at 1500 with roughly 90% of the riders through the course. Another great event supported by the club and another excellent chance for us to take our portable stations out to the field, make sure all the equipment/batteries still work and become proficient in their operation. We will post this report along with pictures from the event on the club website in the near future, I’ll send out a notice when that is completed.
73, Rob – N2OMC
The 2017 Field Day was another successful event for CCARC. Set up this year was
again at a section of property provided by Paul (KB3YXS) located in the
Amberleigh Farms area which actually overlooks Gilbert Run park.
On Saturday morning about 1000, Rob (N2OMC), Paul (KB3YXS) and Bob (KB3KOW)
converged on the spot to start getting the site set up. This year the club ran
as a 2A site, so two radios on emergency power. The antenna’s used were a
vertical which had been set up by Paul, and a G5RV with one end strung in the
trees and the other end to a small portable mast, so it was a bit of a sloper.
The radios in use were the MK-716 for voice and an IC-718 for both voice and
The operating area was two small tables under a 12x12 pop-up canopy and the
very quiet Honda generator was several feet away near the shed. It ran so
quietly we didn't even realize it was on and providing power. We were joined
this year by Bryan, a Boy Scout from Troop 1780, who wasn't working on any
Merit Badges but wanted to see what it was all about. During Saturday afternoon
and evening Bryan and Bob worked 40m on both voice and digital. Bryan was able
to hook quite a few contacts by calling CQ and seem to be enjoying himself.
A second set of guests were Kelly and Jake, who participated in the “connector
day” that was recently hosted by Pam and Jeff. They observed the operations
and asked some questions.
Lee (N3YWZ) showed up Saturday afternoon and had a good time catching up
with him. Lee was able to get on the air and make some contacts while on site.
Sharon (KB3GHI) was not able to make it, I know she really wanted to though 🙂
The Field Day site was also paid a visit by Tom Abernethy (W3TOM), the ARRL
Atlantic Division Director and Deb (KA3VNF) before we shut down for the evening.
On Sunday morning, Paul and Bob returned at 0600 to get the radios set back
up and continued to operate for the next 3 hours or so. Art (AA3RT) was also
able to stop by and make his customary FD contact.
All in all another good Field Day for the club. A lot of members had other
comments so the turnout was low but the weather was excellent and the bands
were hopping so a good event overall. Many thanks to Paul for the use of the
equipment and the site, appreciate it sir! And of course thanks to Bob for his
efforts this weekend and for writing most of this report. If we forgot to
mention anyone, please forgive us for being old!
Rob - N2OMC
The brief for the Time Domain Reflectometer in .PPT format can be downloaded from
The NS to Distance Chart can be downloaded:
ns to distance chart
On May 1st, 2017, members of the CCARC helped support the annual March of Dimes “March for Babies” Walkathon. The event is held each year and for the past few years has started and ended at the Regency Furniture Stadium (aka, the Blue Crabs).
On hand to support was Patrick (KB3UYZ), Jeff (KB3SPH), Pam (KB3SWS), Art (AA3RT), Joe (KB3HNP), Paul (KB3YXS) Boy Scout Bob (KB3KOW), Navy Bob (KC3BOW) and ‘short Bob’ (no call yet – hint hint).
The walk, which in the past has had both a 3 mile segment and a 5 mile segment, was only three miles this year. Participants would start at the stadium, walk down Piney Church road and then turn onto St. Matthews road and then down to the community center located in “The Links” condo area and then return. This year the rain held off but the morning did start out at a brisk 43 deg or so but finally started to warm up as the event started.
Patrick supported Spirit Station #1 outside of St. Charles High School and was also able to provide close to 70 photos from his station
Paul was at Spirit Station #2 about halfway up St. Matthew and was assisting the station with handing out drinks and power bars:
Pam and Jeff set up at Spirit Station #3 located at the community center with an impressive station including solar power and a portable mast.
Art, Joe and two of the Bobs helped at net control but then Navy Bob and ‘short Bob’ volunteered use of their truck to deliver supplies to the stations.
The event ended successfully around 10:30 am. Thank you very much to everyone who came out to help and support.
President Mike Tackish (KA3GRW) Activities Manager, Rob Hoyt (N2OMC)
welcomed the members present and introduced this month’s speaker:
Bob Davidson (KB3KOW) gave a presentation on the PiGate software for
Emergency Comms using a TNC-X connected to a Raspberry Pi 3 WiFi.
Front their web site: “Pi Gate Emergency Email Gateway
When disaster strikes, communication is the most important missing
service. Amateur radio operators have a long history of helping in
disaster situations and this new device was created to assist in that
The PiGate is a small piece of hardware that can be brought into a
disaster area, connected to an already existing VHF or HF amateur radio
and antenna (like in your car or truck), and used to send e-mail to the
global Winlink2000 system through a Radio Message Server (RMS)
Users connect to the PiGate thru a WiFi port either using a web browser,
or an e-mail application, on their smartphone, tablet, or laptop. From
there they can compose and send e-mail to their family and friends.
The Winlink2000 global e-mail radio service then routes the e-mail to
any address in the world.
The PiGate is very small and has a very low power requirement,
allowing it to be used in disaster situations without relying on any other
services. Except for an external power requirement and a connection to
a HF or VHF radio, It is completely self-contained.”
For more information please visit: www.PiGate.net
Twelve attendees from local area ham radio clubs, the Southern MD Astronomical Society, and other guests, had a connector-fest, hosted at the home of Pam – KB3SWS and Jeff – KB3SPH on Sunday, 4/23/2017.
The festivities started with a short briefing by Jeff demonstrating the various connector possibilities along with the associated required tools. The mantra, “Red Right, Tongue up!,” was preached as the standard way to make-up PowerPole assemblies in order to ensure compatibility with other people’s gear before you plugged in something expensive.
Ken – KA3POX served as the soldering Elmer and demonstrated numerous soldering techniques, including helping a young Scout tackle his first electronics kit, introducing soldering skills.
Charles – AA3WS demonstrated how to make a PowerPole tester using a red/green LED and a pair of PowerPoles. If the tester showed green when mated with your freshly minted assembly, the polarity was correct. If it showed red, danger was afoot and the polarity was reversed. Every attendee got to take home a tester.
Bob – KB3KOW hosted a mini foxhunt to demonstrate RF Direction finding capabilities.
Pam – KB3SWS provided a snack smorgasbord throughout the afternoon, culminating in an evening supper.
Camaraderie was the watchword of the day and even some of the “old dogs” admitted they learned some new tricks.
Charles (AA3WS) showing how to do PowerPole connections.
Jake the Scout getting some soldering training from Ken (KA3POX)
The set up at the QTH
Ahhh, the Food!! And this was just the snack.
It was a short meeting this month. The following items were discussed:
March For Babies at the Blue Crab Stadium on May 7. The CCARC will be supporting the annual event. Set-up starts at 0700 Hours at the Blue Crab stadium in Waldorf and the event is normally completed around 1200 Hours. The route this year is only a 3 mile loop, so one less Spirit Station.
A Connector Party will be held at the home of Pam KB3SWS and Jeff KB3SPH and the invitation was extended to various clubs in the area. There will be Power Pole building, soldering and other events on Sunday.
CCARC 20th Anniversary will be celebrated with a Crab Feast at the home of Pam KB3SWS and Jeff KB3SPH on September 23, 2017. More information to follow.
Field Day is approaching. Field Day will be again held at Paul KB3YXS’s property and a future meeting will cover planning for the event.
A short presentation was also held on the potential for a special event station at St. Ignatius Church which is celebrating their 350th anniversary.