Dedicated to Emergency Communications by RADIO
“PREPAREDNESS is our most important PRODUCT”               
VOL.  2 -- No. 4                    ONLINE: www.emcomm.org/em/                        September  2005
SHORT CIRCUITS (Brief items of interest and announcements)
NETWORK NEWS including "Net of the Month"
- "How To Write TEST Messages"
RETRO REVIEW - "The Last Mile"
FEATURE ARTICLE - The "Logistics Officer" 
As we "go to press" the nation (and the world) watches in horror as the emergency phase of yet another catastrophic disaster plays out.  Recent reports indicate that the waters in New Orleans continue to rise.  Air, marine and ground SAR units are being stretched to the limit as the search for, and evacuation of, stranded, infirm and/or injured persons continues.  As the flood waters in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and elsewhere recede, the body count rises.  Commercial power is out for millions.  Landline communications are virtually non-existent.  Water is dangerously polluted and transportation is often only by water craft.  Drinking water, food, medical supplies, gasoline, and other essential commodities are in short supply or not available at all.  Radio communications are sparse.  The only radio amateurs in the flooded areas may be those with marine mobile capability.  Shelters and hospitals are being evacuated to as far away as Texas.  A logistics nightmare!
Detailed survey and damage assessment operations will begin soon,  but it will take weeks or months to fully know the extent of the damage and loss.  Early estimates say Katrina may exceed Camille (1969) and Andrew (1992) in cost.  The recovery phase will be long and exhausting.  Amateur radio communications play an important role during this whole process.
While EM can do little to help in actual relief efforts, we will continue the fight against apathy and incompetence, by promoting our long-term mission of: recruiting and training of skilled, equipped, and prepared EmComm operators everywhere!

SIDEBAR -- TV news reporter broadcasting live (August 30) from helicopter:  "There's a man stranded in a building (in New Orleans) signaling in 'some kind of Morse code' with a flashlight."  Unfortunately there was no one on board that knew Morse...the essential language.

• NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AMATEUR STATION:  http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/w4ehw/ 

-- Jerry Reimer,KK5CA, South Texas SEC reports (today):  "They are evacuating the Louisiana Superdome and plan to move some 20-30,000 people to the Houston area, perhaps to the Astrodome or other suitable facilities in that area.  The immediate focus remains on getting people out of that area.  There is little interest in putting even more people there.  At least one, perhaps two, 3-passenger aircraft in Houston have FAA permission to transport radio teams into the New Orleans airport.  Once they arrive, the difficulty will be ground transportation, since rental car agencies are unlikely to be open.  The airport is South of Lake Ponchartrain, where flooding continues, but the need is to the North, where flooding has subsided.  The 24-mile long  causeway across the lake is not open.  Major sections are missing and/or displaced by several feet from the adjacent sections.  As with most floods, transportation is a critical factor that limits response.  Amateur Radio operators are being deployed from Houston for a communications assignment at the New Orleans Superdome.  The primary requirement is for HF voice on 40M and 75M with the state EOC in Baton Rouge.  This requires a completely portable HF station, including antenna and power source (small portable generator).  UHF FM voice with a portable gain antenna is a secondary requirement.  Transportation will be from D.W. Hooks airport in NW Harris county to New Orleans airport on a F33 Bonanza aircraft, possibly followed by helicopter to the Superdome. Food and water are being delivered to the Superdome, but EMCOMM operators must  bring all additional resources for the expected mission period of 4- 5 days."
Another significant part of amateur radio has died.  After 42 years of service to missionaries world-wide, the International Mission Radio Association will be dissolved effective September 1, 2005 and the daily (M-F) 20 meter nets will cease operation.  IMRA net control operators and members were known to always set the highest standards of operator courtesy and always offered a friendly welcome to everyone.  Technology (cell phones, computers, and email) and apathy has won another round.  EmComm operators around the world are encouraged to help fill the gap by establishing and maintaining ongoing liaison with missionaries stationed world-wide; and be always prepared and available to handle message traffic on their behalf during times of disaster and when normal means of communication fail.
On September 17, EMCOMM operators are strongly encouraged to participate in a 15-hour special event using only emergency power.  They will be calling other EMCOMM stations who are also operating solely on emergency power.  This event is designed to promote emergency preparedness and service to the public.  "Emergency power" is defined as any power source that is completely separate from commercial mains.  (Solar panels, generators, storage batteries, alternators powered by bicycles, battery packs in HTs, and wind power, etc.  Operation may be from home or field.  Times: 9 AM Eastern (6 AM Pacific) on Saturday, September 17, 2005, until 12 AM Eastern (9 PM Pacific). All bands and modes included.  The exchange is up to the individual operators, but can include the traditional signal report, location, and the type of emergency power being used, etc.  W1AW in Newington, CT will be QRV on generator power, and a special QSL card will be available to stations also using emergency power that make two-way contact with W1AW.  Please include an SASE with your card request, and indicate the power source that was used. -- Source: The ARES E-Letter and The American Radio Relay League.

Be sure to review related topics:  "HOW TO WRITE TEST MESSAGES" in EMCOMM TRAFFIC  and "THE LAST MILE" in RETRO REVIEW (below.)
Download the 2005 SET reporting forms and read the SET Guidelines on the ARRL Web Page at: www.arrl.org/FandES/field/setguide.html or appropriate links.
The reporting forms (Forms A, B, and C) are found at this specific address in Adobe PDF and Rich Text RTF formats: http://www.arrl.org/FandES/field/forms/#ec_set 
HINT: This is a GOLDEN opportunity for ARES® ECs, DECs and SECs to start working cooperatively with section NTS operators and the STM!

Handling poison oak, ivy, and sumac during and after a fire.  Even though we may never actually fight a fire, we may inhale the smoke while supporting with EMCOMM.  View at: http://www.ohsonline.com/stevens/ohspub.nsf/d3d5b4f938b22b6e8625670c006dbc58/7f6d9528ac6044158625706000559468?opendocument
                                                                                    -- Thanks to Casimir Grys, KF6CUE - Winnetka, CA
While pressing the "Alt" key, type in 0216 on the TEN KEY pad.  (Do NOT use Ø in email addresses which must be in ASCII characters only.)

A "soapbox" about improving nets.  Some if the input may not be (politically) correct:  http://home.earthlink.net/~w0ipl/netinput.htm
                                                                                    -- Via Pat Lambert, WØIPL -  Longmont, CO

EM believes that every radio amateur has a moral and patriotic obligation to give something back to his or her community and country.  But we are realistic.  We would be happy if 10% (60,000) of all U.S. radio amateurs obtained the training, skill and experience and be ready to perform this vital service to the public.   EM believes that every EmComm operator should strive to learn all the skills that he or she is capable of, to perfect our art, always practice good operating procedures, and by remaining active (on-the-air); thereby grow and excel in the abilities needed to provide a useful and reliable communications service to the public
OUR GOAL: 60,000 Trained, Skilled, Experienced EMCOMM Operators and Stations Ready and Willing to Serve the Public
"At your suggestion, I checked this website out this morning. It is absolutely one of the best laid out and organized information websites I have ever visited.  Massive amounts of content and simple to navigate.  Virtually everything of value is downloadable as pdf also. Thanks for the tip!"
                                                                                                   -- George Cusack, KG6LNZ, Ione, California, Amador County EC
COMMENT:  Glad to be of service George.  For those who may have missed the information last month here it is again. - Editor
"You ought to try to get a list of each state and see if there is a regional shortfall.  In Connecticut for example, we are just about at 10% participation if what someone told me is right.  Of course, we have had the World Trade Center , constant terrorist threats and TOPOFF3 to keep us tuned up.  You could also turn it into a state versus state contest."  --  Brian Fernandez, K1BRF, Washington, CT

I am not aware of any actual (hard) statistics either nationally or otherwise.   I doubt if even the ARRL HQ could determine the ratio of active ARES® members-to-licensed hams, since only about half of the SECs submit reports on a regular basis.   Most of the surveys that I have seen in the past few years indicate that only about 5% of U.S. hams indicate any interest in emergency or public service communications. 
Even if 10% of the licensed amateurs in the U.S. were registered with ARES®, and even with many taking courses (and obtaining the associated wallpaper), how many of them are actually active skilled operators and traffic handlers?  And out of those relative few, how many can be actually be counted upon in an emergency or disaster?  Scary isn't it? -- Editor
"The comments about GPS shutdown during emergencies are unfounded.  If GPS were to be shut down, the following folks go off the AIR in a short period of time, and you would have more problems than can be handled by 500,000 hams: Nextel, Sprint PCS, Verizon and local "Talk All you Want Cell Companies" using CDMA technology.  All these folks need GPS precision tracking satellites that provide a stable 1PPS signal reference frequency to synchronize their cell sites.  There is a short time of "free run" in the event of loss of primary reference (can't see 3 or more satellites), and if you count that in the number of hours, it is less than 6."
                       -- Steve Reynolds, W4CNG, Alpharetta, GA (Works for one of the above and knows the real facts!)
COMMENT: I hope you are right Steve.  But communication satellites have been knocked-off-the-air after colliding with a piece of space debris.  Anyway, your comments should give us all cause to consider the fragility of the infrastructure (telephone, Internet, banking, commerce, navigation...even defense). -- Editor
"In the Montana Section the NCS is a position that can have more than one member staffing.  Often there is the radio operator heard on the air as NCS, with a logger at his side doing the "paperwork" (computer work). The logger may or may not be a ham, but is still part of the NCS position operation.

We require units to notify departure and arrival times when traveling to or between operations. This creates a "dual entry system" that meets NIMS accounting guidelines. If we have someone setting up a portable repeater of putting up tents or some other support work, we ask they report starting and ending times for the assignment. How else will the NCS (and the ARCT logistics supervisor) know when the task is completed and the resource is available to be reassigned?

To take this a step further, when a resource reports to a staging area he (or she) is logged into staging and his status set.  When he is instructed to leave staging to an assignment he is logged out of the staging NCS log and into the assignments NCS log as he checks in on that frequency.  He is the responsibility of that NCS until handed off to another NCS by reassignment or return to the staging area and final demobilization.  In volunteer terms, all times need to be accounted for, even "in camp time" at wildland fires and other incidents.  We have to report these times to the Time Keeper through the Communications Leader in the ICS System. We are responsible for knowing, without any question, where and what resources are assigned.

One other note, we have found it beneficial to have the ICS computer program on our incident computers. We can then have our people logging and information tracking in accordance with the incident paperwork requirements. We are then able to download our information directly to help keep a complete record of the incident and operation." -- Jim Fuller, N7VR - ARRL Montana Section Emergency Coordinator -
NOTE:  This item was scheduled to appear before New Orleans was nearly destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  -  Editor

"I agree wholeheartedly with your comments in Relaying Third Party Traffic in the August EM.  As an area net manager as well as manager of a section net I see this on a daily basis.  I blame a number of factors for it.  They are:

1.  Too many bulk messages from a few originators cause regular traffic handlers to become lazy.  It's fairly easy to ask somebody if they have the w1gmf arl13 text and just give the date then read the number and addressee with phone number.  This means when said op has to handle true third party traffic that is not one of these canned texts he or she is ill prepared to do so.  Good operating habits are reinforced by maintenance, and when shortcuts are taken this erodes the training.

2.  Newcomers to traffic handling are not given proper coaching by mentors in the importance of copying and relaying verbatim what was
received.  Newcomers follow the example they hear on the air.

3.  Not enough people willing to take the time to be mentors for newcomers to traffic handling.  You can attribute this to numbers one and two.

The solution:  More good traffic handlers need to take an active part by originating good third party traffic which makes those relaying it use the skills that must be maintained to be a good traffic handler.  I will sometimes place an op note on third party traffic originated at my station reminding operators along the chain to please take care to verify any information that might be missed.  For example, my sister lives on Rue De Valore, in Foothill, California  which can get messed up in all sorts of interesting ways by the time it reaches the Pacific Area Net (PAN) when handled by voice.  The same goes for some of my xyl's relatives who have interesting Scandinavian last names <grin>.

Those of us who know the ropes should originate more messages that cause these skills to be utilized.  Maybe if enough of us decide that though the Internet might be faster we're going to send that friend or family member a RADIOGRAM just to exercise the system the bulk originators will slack up a bit.  This can only improve the skill level of our regular NTS operators who've allowed themselves to develop bad habits.
      -- Richard Webb, NF5B, New Orleans - Manager, Louisiana Traffic Net and Central Area Net Cycle Two NTS"


Reference the comments in the latest issue about designating Watch/Monitor/Calling/Guard frequencies, such as 3711, 7111, or in Alaska, 3540, 7042, 14050, etc..
I don't know why or what causes it, but a lot of amateurs seem to get the idea that once a frequency is  so designated, they shouldn't use it.  At all!

I've run into this when contacting stations heard on the frequencies I monitor all the time.  As soon as you answer and mention to the other operator that you normally
"guard" that particular frequency for any calls, they shut up and QSY, often never to be heard again.  THIS IS NOT THE WAY IT IS INTENDED TO BE!
Nobody "owns" any frequency, and unless the FCC designates certain frequencies for use during a disaster recovery or similar incident,  anyone can use any frequency that is legal for their license class, band and emission desired...at any time. Unless, of course someone else is already there. 

We WANT you to listen on (and use, unless already occupied by someone else in QSO) the frequencies we designate as "watch", "calling" or "guard" frequencies. That is what it is all about!  We NEED operators LISTENING on these frequencies as much of the time 24/7/365 as possible.  How else is it going to do anyone any good?  
If there is nothing going on, (ask first) then go ahead and use the frequency(s).

Those of us who spend time listening on these "watch" or "guard" frequencies will be glad to know that:
a.  Their receiver(s) are working.
b.  The band is "open".
c.  No one is "out there" in distress or other difficulty.

Frequencies that are selected as "watch", "calling" frequencies have been selected with a good deal of care after checking them out for activity.  They are picked so as not to interfere with any known net or other activity.  So it is probably not a good idea to run a protracted "Net" operation on any of the designated and published
"Watch" or "Monitor" frequencies, but for occasional normal use or small amounts of regular traffic passing, go ahead and USE them.  We need to know that you are there.  If protracted activity is required, QSY up or down 5 Khz or so to a clear spot and do your business.

And when you get done working on some other frequency or net, park your receiver back on one of the convenient "watch" frequencies and leave it on while you are within earshot of it.   You never know when something might come up....and a receiver that is turned off is not going to let you hear anything.

SSB frequencies are harder to "guard" than CW or VHF FM frequencies are, as "off frequency" signals will be garbled.  On the other hand, listening on a particular CW frequency is pretty easy, as you will hear signals that are slightly off frequency up or down  with only a different pitch.  Good idea to leave the tight filter(s)
turned off, else you might miss someone close but not "spot on" that could be calling for assistance." 
                        -- Ed  "FB" Trump, AL7N - Alaska STM
Over the past few years lightweight highly portable HF rigs have become popular and are increasingly being carried into wilderness areas.  HF mobile units are more common than ever.  EM believes that it is high time to implement NATIONAL HF WATCH • MONITOR • CALLING • GUARD FREQUENCIES.  (They were once a reality in the U.S.)  Some operators on the West Coast of North America monitor the RADIO WATCH and CALLING FREQUENCIES listed below.  We would be honored if public service amateurs everywhere were to begin to monitor these frequencies anytime they are in their shacks or mobile.

• SSB 7232 kHz DAYTIME / 3987 kHz NIGHTTIME
• CW  7111 kHz DAYTIME / 3711 kHz NIGHTTIME
• ALASKA WATCH:  3540  / 7042 kHz/14050 kHz
Q: "I have just discovered EMCOMM MONTHLY and I will enjoy reading the back issues.  I have not been able to find any information about the "simple interface" for a fax machine to radio connection mentioned on page 68 of the ARECC Level III Course book.  Can you provide a description and/or a schematic of such an interface?"
  -- Steve Schroder,  KIØKY, Hotchkiss, CO  
A: Sorry Steve, I can't help you with that one.  But I'll bet some of our readers can!  If you can help Steve with his question please contact him at:  ki0ky@arrl.net
Steve...please forward any useful information you may receive for possible publication in EM. -- Editor
Q: "I noticed that the ARRL FSD-157 ( Public Service Activity Report ) shows to calculate man hours at a rate of $10.00 per hour.  I also noticed that the form has not been updated since January 1998.  Has there been any discussion with ARRL in regards to increasing the man hour rate for a cost of living increase from 1998 to 2005? -- Wm '"TF" Lewis - KG6BAJ, AEC / Nevada County (CA) ARES®

A: I am not aware of any change or discussions about the $10.00 per hour rate.  $20.00 might be more realistic.  As a Registered Nurse, I never earned more than $20.00 hour, although people in hundreds of other professions were paid far more for much less demanding and crucial work.  But this is all academic.  The services that skilled amateur radio operators provide are worth far more than can be measured!  As an amateur* (one who does something just for the love of it)  I am not overly concerned about some estimated monetary value.  I am more concerned with whether or not we fulfill out public service mission and (thereby) retain our amateur band privileges. -- Editor
    * Etymology: French, from Latin amator lover, from amare to love
    2 : one who engages in a pursuit, study, science, or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession
EDITOR'S COMMENT:  I sure would like to see the term "man hours" changed to "volunteer hours"!
Schedules and updates on regional, national, and international EMCOMM and TRAFFIC nets.
NETWORK NEWS is not intended to duplicate other resources such as:
ARRL Net Directory:
  (ISBN: 0-87259-835-7) #8357 $5.00
ARRL Net Search:
EMCOMM.ORG NET DIRECTORY PAGE:  www.emcomm.org/netdirectory/

West Coast Net WCN 3702 kHz Daily at 1900 Pacific Time Zone

The WCN exists primarily to train CW traffic operators in net procedure and message handling. All net members are encouraged to use the net whenever possible and to actively solicit message traffic from outside sources. The information contained in their manual (see URL below) provides sufficient instructions to enable new member stations to immediately enter into active participation in the regularly scheduled operation of WCN, which is affiliated with the American Radio Relay League National Traffic System (NTS). WCN has liaison with the Washington State Net (WSN), Oregon Section Net (OSN) and Region Seven Net (RN7). Checking into WCN and handling traffic will be no problem if you will first familiarize yourself with these instructions and listen to the procedures on the net.
WCN meets in regular session every evening of the week, promptly at a time set by the net manager. This time will normally be 0300 Z during standard time and 0200 Z during daylight saving time. During times of poor operating conditions the net manager is empowered to move the starting time of the net. The new starting time will be announced by the net manager by sending a QNC or by an announcement in the activity bulletin or both. All changes in net operating times will be of a temporary nature. Net frequency should only be moved up so that we will cause no problems to novice operators checking in.

• ALASKA WATCH - 3540 / 7042 kHz / 14.050 MHz
• NATIONAL RADIO EMERGENCY NETWORK: 7068 / 10122 / 14050 kHz •
• WEST COAST NET (WCN) Slow Speed Traffic/Training Daily 1900 Pacific 3702 kHz
• NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER AMATEUR STATION:  http://www.fiu.edu/orgs/w4ehw/ 
• ARES® 146.55 MHz
• ARES®/Red Cross 147.42 MHz
• NATIONAL CALLING (and Wilderness Protocol) 146.52 MHz 
• WILDERNESS PROTOCOL (ref. June 1996 QST, page 85).
Primary frequency: 146.52 MHz (FM simplex). Secondary frequencies: 446.0, 223.5, 52.525
and 1294.5 MHz.  All stations (both fixed, portable or mobile) monitor the primary (and
secondary if possible) frequency(s) every three hours starting at 7:00 am local time, for five
minutes (7:00-7:05 AM, 10:00-10:05 AM, etc.)  Additionally, stations that have sufficient
power resources monitor for five minutes starting at the top of every hour, or continuously."
WINCOM NETWORK - 1st and 3rd Wednesdays 1930 Pacific Time  on 3987 kHz (down). 
     WINCOM is primarily for EmComm stations in  Washington, Idaho, Nevada, California, Oregon, Montana but stations anywhere within range are welcome.
Scheduled nets are on the  1st and 3rd Wednesdays at 1930 Pacific Time  on 3987 kHz (down). 
     The WINCOM NETWORK may be activated during disasters, communications system failures, and other emergency incidents as a regional SSB network for tactical and/or formal EMCOMM traffic.  WINCOM is not intended to replace local or section ARES® or RACES nets, but rather to supplement and provide regional support across section and state boundaries by skilled operators who know each other and work together on a regular basis.
     EMCOMM stations are encouraged to monitor and/or use these frequencies for routine calling and for a RADIO WATCH during actual or potential incidents.  (During actual events move message traffic at least 5 kHz up or down.)  Nighttime: 3987 kHz (down) 1982 kHz (down) alternate).  Daytime: 7232 kHz (up)
NOTE: These frequencies may be in use for other scheduled state or regional nets.  E.g. - The JNN is daily at 1200 Pacific on 7232 kHz SSB.  
EM maintains a roster of REGIONAL EMCOMM NETS.  These are active ARES and other EMCOMM nets (RACES and club nets are not listed).  It lists VHF and HF  local, district, state and regional nets in Washington, California, Oregon, Nevada, and Alaska.  For a current copy of the list contact: k6soj@arrl.net

“For want of a letter, a word was lost.   For want of a word, the message was lost.   For want of a message, a life was lost.”
THE “TRAFFIC HANDLER’S MANTRA”  (Recite often to help remember the eight parts in preamble):
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”
(An EM advanced studies training module. - Updated from ECWB #199)
One month from now (October 1-2) EMCOMM operators across the country will keep the airwaves buzzing sending, relaying, and delivering thousands of messages during the  ARRL NATIONAL SIMULATED EMERGENCY TEST ("S-E-T").  (See SHORT CIRCUITS above for links to S-E-T details.)
TIP: The S-E-T is a GOLDEN opportunity for ARES® ECs, DECs and SECs to start working cooperatively with section NTS operators and your STM!

As a Section (Sacramento Valley) Emergency Coordinator, no matter what local scenario has been planned by the local teams; I ask each ARES® EC to have at least one HF traffic station on-the-air during the S-E-T, and to originate/send at least one formal message (RADIOGRAM) to someone in each of the other counties in our section.  Simple arithmetic (20 times 20) shows that this will result in about 400 RADIOGRAMS being sent/relayed/received.   Add this to the other S-E-T messages sent within a given county and/or to persons outside our section, and you'll have a "real test" of your team's EmComm capabilities.  But trust me...when "the big one goes down" and normal means of communication "go down with it", we had better be ready!  ARRL Official Emergency Stations and Official Relay Stations are also requested to be active for the S-E-T.
(HINT: SECs who have not incorporated a section-wide component into the annual S-E-T, might want to consider a similar scenario.)

Amateur Radio Emergency Communications (EMCOMM) is simply the transfer of information or messages that are of a critical or emergent nature by amateur radio operators when normal systems fail or are overloaded.  Messages that may be critical to the saving of lives, prevent, mitigate and relieve injury or suffering, and aid with the protection of property.  This radio communication service is separate from, and does not depend upon, any "infrastructure" (power grid, landlines, etc.). It is provided free of charge to private and public agencies as well as the general public.

S-E-T messages may be actual (e.g. - a greeting or other real message to a relative, friend or official)...or they may be simulated.

In order to fulfill our mission, ARES® leaders and members are constantly planning, training, and practicing tactical and message traffic RADIO communications. This is accomplished in meetings, classrooms, and by using "home study" methods. These skills are then practiced and tested on regular local and regional nets and during special drills and exercises.

Before we discuss "How to write TEST (simulated) messages", let us first review some basics:
1.  As a general rule, ACRONYMS and ABBREVIATIONS should not be used in RADIOGRAM texts.   (These "words" are probably not familiar to members of the general public.)
2.  All message texts be composed is such a manner that they CANNOT BE INTERPRETED IN ANY OTHER WAY except what is intended.
(This is what separates communicators from mere radio operators!)
3.  Always keep in mind that it is NOT necessary for traffic handlers along the route understand a message's content.  If you mail a postcard to a friend, you do not expect a postal worker to read, understand, or even care about your message.  If a postal worker happens to read it, I doubt very strongly that they will contact you and say, "This doesn’t make sense. Is that really what you wanted to say?"  All that matters is that the addressee receives and understands the message.  Sadly, too many times, I have heard traffic handlers discuss and comment about messages that they are relaying.  Good traffic handlers receive and forward and deliver messages word-for-word and letter-for-letter.  (This also is what separates communicators from mere radio operators!)
4. Some message originators prefer to spell out numerals. This may reduce errors especially in Morse traffic.  A figure in CW may be copied incorrectly, but EIGHT spelled out is hard to miss.  However, no matter how a message was originated...it is unforgivable for an operator to change one "jot or tittle" along the way!


It is often harder to compose a TEST MESSAGE that an actual message.  Here are a few TIPS:

1. A PRACTICE MESSAGE is an actual RADIOGRAM.  It is usually of a non-essential nature and was originated solely to provide experience.
2. TEST MESSAGES are fictitious (simulated) and are used as training tools in classroom practice sessions, on-the-air training sessions, test exercises and drills.

3. ALL messages (whether actual or simulated) should be forwarded and delivered.  NO MATTER HOW LONG IT TAKES!  (Unless, of course,  the handling instructions say otherwise.)  If not, a SERVICE MESSAGE* should be originated with an explanation or request for more information.
4. With rare exception, incomplete RADIOGRAMS (no address, etc.) should not be accepted by an originating station.

5. ALL message traffic must be originated, relayed and delivered using proper operating procedures.  Don't try to change or improve a method that has been time-tested, and proven to work well!

6. BREVITY is always appropriate. It is one of the skills needed (but often lacking) in message traffic.
(Read more about BREVITY in:
ECWB #104
ECWB #162

7. Test messages may be "serious sounding" such as:


Or, they may be "whimsical and fun" such as:


Or, they can be "instructional" such as:


8. TEST (or practice) messages should be simple.  But they may include some "tricky words" to test the skill of the handlers.
In reality there is no such thing as a "tricky word" in a message, since radio operators only send/forward/receive what is written in front of them.
However, the human mind often plays tricks. Recently the first name of an addressee in a message was "Jo", but the receiving operator copied it as "Joe".
BEWARE, Our minds have a tendency to "fill in" what we expect is coming.   Train your brain to copy everything exactly as it is heard
If you are not sure...ask for a "fill". Do NOT ever: "R NR39 " or "ROGER MESSAGE NUMBER THUH-REE NINER" until you are sure you have it 100% correct!
And PLEASE...never sign off, or start sending another message, until the receiving station has sent R NR _____ (CW) or said: ROGER YOUR MESSAGE NUMBER ____ .

9. ALL TEST messages, in all modes, MUST have TEST R (or TEST P etc.) in the preamble and TEST MESSAGE X as the first three words in the TEXT.  These three "words" are always counted in the "check".  This means that you have a maximum of 22 additional words.)
10. ALL messages, in any mode, use ARRL/NTS format.  Every time...all the time.  Why practice something the wrong way?
* Watch for "THE SERVICE MESSAGE" in the next issue of EMCOMM MONTHLY.

SUGGESTION:  To help you to memorize the eight parts of the preamble,  RECITE the "Traffic Handlers Mantra" often:
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”
ASSESS your current traffic handling skill, take the "TRAFFIC HANDLER’S CHALLENGE" at:
  (main page)

RETRO REVIEW  - “EMCOMM viewed through the Retrospect-O-Scope”
"THE LAST MILE " - Part 3 of "Trump's Traffic Trilogy" -- Ed "FB" Trump, AL7N
(An EM basic studies training module.)

Handling third party written message traffic is a well-established activity in the Amateur Radio Service, and has been around about as long as the hobby itself has.

It is one of the reasons we exist.  Amateurs are always helping out when commercial communications fail, sometimes we are the only service that can.  The rules and conventions for this activity are well spelled out in a number of available publications.  Most of the time we handle messages just for practice.
In the doing of that, here are some things to think about.....
If you check into any of the statewide nets, you might sometime get called upon to handle a third party written message.  Do you know how to do it properly?
Message handling work takes a certain amount of commitment on the part of all amateur operators who engage in it. If it is to be done at all it is important that it is done correctly.
For now, we'll talk about message delivery...
It could be called "The Last Mile" the message travels.
Consider the following scenario:
You are checked into one of the statewide evening nets, and old Joe down at Two Harbors comes on with a piece of formal traffic for your town.  Net control asks you if you can handle it.  It would be kind of silly to decline, wouldn't it?  So you take it on, and NCS sends you and old Joe off frequency to handle the traffic.
You tune to the assigned frequency, and give old Joe a call.  You get to call Joe, because you will be the one receiving the message.  Joe comes on, and his signal has gone down a little, but you can still hear him pretty well.  You tell him to go ahead with the message.
You copy the message down...the band is not the best tonight, but you think you get everything OK, even though you had to ask for a couple of repeats along the way.
Now think about it (#1).....
Are you sure you have the entire message exactly correct?  Don't say "Roger" or send the signal "QSL" on CW unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE you have ALL OF the message OK ("OLL KORRECT").    If there is ANY doubt about ANY part of it, fix it RIGHT NOW, before you let old Joe get away.  Otherwise, there will always be a nagging doubt.
Now that you have this message copied out, what are you going to do with it?
Now think about it (#2)....
How are you going to deliver it to the addressee? 
How you handle this step in the process probably has more impact on the public's perception of the Amateur Radio Service than anything else you can do.  More about that in a minute.
Look at the message content....(Message precedence notwithstanding).  Is it of a routine nature, or does it look like it might be something someone would want to know about right away? Is there a local telephone number on the message? This is a judgment call.  If the message is of a routine nature, and the hour is late, say after 830 or 9 PM or so, probably the best thing will be to wait until the following day, and then try to phone it.  If the message looks like it might be of an urgent nature, a phone call late in the evening might be OK.  You just don't want to get someone out of bed in the middle of the night and scare hell out of them over nothing. So think about it before you make that call.
Lets suppose you elect to deliver the message by telephone the following day, but the number comes up no good.  What to do?  You might look in the local directory, and see if there is a newer listing by name, and try that.  If still no-go, your only recourse is to attempt delivery by mail.
The message should have some sort of a mailing address on it.  If it does not, is there enough address so you could hand-carry it to the addressee someplace?  If there is no way to physically send or give the message to the addressee, all you can do is file it "undelivered" and originate a return service message (now you get to send one!) to the originating station, and say so.  Give a good reason for non-delivery, what ever it is.  Bad address/bad phone number/moved-no forwarding address/deceased, etc.
NEVER throw a message away unless the ORIGINATOR cancels the message or otherwise instructs you to do so. Might be a good idea to keep a copy on file for a year or so anyway...just in case.
Now think about it (#3)...
Lets say you end up having to mail the message (or maybe you delivered it over the phone and the addressee wants a hard copy...it is always a good idea to offer one). Type it or write it neatly on a radiogram blank or a plain half sheet of paper in PROPER MESSAGE FORM. Put it in a neatly addressed envelope with your return address on it, and mail it.  You buy the stamp.
Nothing makes a better impression on a person receiving a message than a neatly typed radiogram on an official-looking blank; especially these days when radiograms or telegrams are a VERY rare event for the average person. By the same token, a sloppily copied and poorly delivered or non-delivered message will leave a negative impression as well.  People do talk, you know.
Consider this....If Aunt Minnie sends Nephew John a radiogram from some county fair someplace, she sort of expects it to get there.  If Aunt Minnie and Nephew John have a phone conversation sometime after the fair, Aunt Minnie might ask Nephew John if he ever got the radio message she sent.  If Nephew John remembers getting a neatly typed message in a timely manner, he will probably say "Yes, I Sure Did", because the event left a good impression on him..."Hey…This is kinda neat!” The esteem of the Amateur Radio Service goes up a few points with both of these people, as well as anybody else they tell about it, because the message delivery was handled in a professional manner.
Yeah, I know..... "Fair Messages" are considered "junk traffic" but look at the impact this can have. Suppose Aunt Minnie asks Nephew John if he got her message, and John says "Huh?  What Message?"....because he never got anything. Now the Amateur Radio Service takes a BIG hit in the eyes of these people. Aunt Minnie probably will say..."The heck with ever doing THAT again...They're Amateurs, all right...Phooey!"
You could apply this scenario to any message activity, not necessarily traffic from County Fairs... It might be traffic from a Disaster Shelter someplace, where people are trying to find out the status of relatives and loved ones. The positive or negative impact on the public would be even greater in this instance.
So think about it (#4)……. 
ANY message involving a third party could have considerable positive or negative impact on how the Amateur Radio Service is perceived by those who send and receive that message, depending on how YOU handle it. It will have even more of an impact on messages of a more important nature, such as welfare inquiries and the like.
So you have to come up with a 37 cent stamp and an envelope to mail a message...So What?  That's pretty cheap "good" PR, is it not? A short paid toll call to deliver an urgent message would likely be very well received in almost any circumstance. It buys a lot of good PR with the folks who get the message.  They are usually grateful you went to the trouble. And the cost is small. Even if the message preamble bears the handling extra code "HXG", (way too many do these days, by the way), you might want to consider a nice delivery anyway, for the above stated reasons.
What it boils down to, is simply this....If you are going to engage in handling message traffic, resolve to LEARN HOW to do it and how DO IT RIGHT, and then COMMIT YOUR EFFORTS to always doing it so.  Especially when dealing with "The Last Mile".  A little practice now and then will help too.
The Amateur Service will be the better for it, and so will you.

EM’s Quiz, Survey, and [attempt at] Humor Section...
WARNING! -- EMCOMM MONTHLY may be habit forming!
is not advertised "As seen on TV!" and it is not "found in finer stores everywhere", nor is it "available at your local news dealer".

From The Radio Internet Political and National Union One Correctness Committee (RIP A NU 1)
Effective immediately the new PC terms listed below will now be proper.
"Un-politically correct":     "Politically Correct":

antenna                       skyline aesthetic pollutant
diode                         biode
capacitor                     temporary electron holding device                                
cat whisker                   feline crystal tickler
crystal                       psychic stabilizing channeler
email                         alternative to packet
FCC rules                     Uncle Charlie's (optional) Guidelines
ham                           veggie
jammer                        ethically challenged jerk
landline                      use when all else fails
lid                           ham cram victim
mic                           oral expression device
narrow filter                 information censor
rectifier                     backwards flow obstruction device
resistor                      inhibitions enhancer
transistor                    diode that does it two ways
triode                        post op diode
tube                          one way thinking in a vacuum (not that anything's wrong with that)
emcomm monthly                old fogey newsletter
ARES E-Letter                 new old fogey newsletter
Arizona: AF5G (now at Kingman) has been on JNN (7232 LSB daily at 1200-1230 PDT).  Glad Chris is back on-the-air!   WO6P is also back on-the-air from Surprise.  View his "closet station" at: http://www.emcomm.org/em/shacks/index.html
California: W6MAC has a portable repeater now ready for public service deployment.
Oregon: N7AQH (daughter of one of our editors) was QRV on Field Day.  Picture in WorldRadio September issue page 19.  N2RSI has a new High Sierra HF antenna installed on her mobile "rolling sculpture" emcomm unit.
Washington: W7ARC was present for the unveiling of a new
State of Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD) communication unit. Bill says:  "All I can say is that it will operate from DC to light and more!"   View at: http://www.wastateares.org/trailer/w7emd_satellite_trailer.htm
TO OUR READERS: (In the other 46 states and foreign counties): Send in brief items or tidbits about an improvement to your station, a recent activity, or some other accomplishment.  Be sure to say that it is for:  "EMCOMM STATION and OPERATOR NEWS"
• Send a picture of you AND your shack (all in one frame and in JPG or JPEG format) to: k6soj@arrl.net
Our "SHOW US YOUR SHACK" page is at: http://www.emcomm.org/em/shacks/index.html
The “Logistics Officer”  (An EM advanced studies training module)

  From the French logistique.  The art of calculating.  From the Greek logos.  (Reason.)
1 : The aspect of military science dealing with the procurement, maintenance, and transportation of military matériel, facilities, and personnel.
2 : The handling of the details of an operation.

In plain language:  "The guy (or gal) who can scrounge up the stuff that is needed.  Often on short notice and often under adverse conditions.
The Incident Command System Organization chart has INCIDENT COMMAND at the very top.  "Information", "Safety", and "Liaison" are staff positions directly under the IC.  The ratio of one supervisor/leader for every 4 (5 or 6 max) "supervisee's" is consistent throughout the ICS.  The second level of "command" has four categories:
OPERATIONS, PLANNING, LOGISTICS and FINANCE/ADMINISTRATION.  Note that while Planning and Finance/Administration may have fewer personnel in an operation, it ranks at the same level as Operations and Logistics.

The COMMUNICATIONS UNIT is under the Service Branch of Logistics.  Amateur Radio Communications Teams (ARCTS) are under the COMMUNICATIONS UNIT.  While "your local practices may vary", this is pretty close to the actual structure you will find in most places and on most operations.
LOGISTICS (Support and Supply) PERSONNEL:
Incident Command Logistics Officer for the entire incident.  (May have one or more "deputies".)
Incident Command Communications Officer for the overall incident. 
ARCT Logistics Supervisor.  (The term "officer" is not recommended in order to prevent being confused with the IC Logistics Officer)
Local Logistics ARES® AEC.  (May or may not already have one)
Section ARES® Logistics "Officer" (Recommended: an ARRL OES with special responsibilities.)
Now, let us "zoom in" on the ARCT (EMCOMM) unit onlywww.emcomm.org/ARCT/index.html  (The ratio of one leader for every 4 to 6 team members still applies).
The ARCT "typing" system requires that some team members may need to fulfill an extra (in addition to being a radio operator) specialized job.  One of these special (and very important) jobs on any incident is the ARCT's “Records and Reports Officer”.  (See Feature Article June EM.)

Another key position on any ARCT Team (who usually must also double as an EMCOMM operator for assigned duty shifts) is the ARCT Logistics Supervisor. This person must have excellent "people skills" and maintain a good working relationship with the IC Logistics Officer, and especially the IC Communications Officer.  An efficient ARCT Logistics Supervisor will often become a resource to the IC Communications Officer and/or the Logistics IC!

ARCTs usually have little or ZERO discretionary funds to purchase supplies, it is essential that the ARCT Logistics Supervisor, has good rapport and be able to "order" necessary supplies through the IC channels.  This will normally be such "consumable" items such as fuel for generators, etc.
Water, meals and sanitary needs will (normally) be available and may be provided by an agency.  Meals may be provided by the Red Cross, electrical power might be available from a government agency generator, and shelter may be in a school or barn. etc.  However, this may not be the case!   ARCTs must be able to be "self-supporting" and "self-contained" and not dependent upon any other resource.  It is the ARCT Logistics Supervisor's job to keep the ARCT supplied with whatever is needed to keep the EMCOMM Stations operating.  Generators, power supplies, storage batteries and chargers, and dry cells of all sizes are of primary concern.
ARCT members must be prepared to provide their own personal items and may need to provide their own meals, shelter, sanitation, etc.  The last thing we want to be is..."part of the problem"!  (Ref. GEAR LIST at http://www.emcomm.org/gear_list.htm )   I do not recommend "MREs".  (They are expensive...and you might have to actually eat them!)  Tastier and more nutritious food with a long shelf life is available at your local grocery.
An effective logistics person knows where to buy, beg and/or borrow (no stealing) what is needed.  They need to be "super scroungers".

Here are a few miscellaneous tips:
As a former logistics officer I used to attempt to keep resource notebooks and files on "where to get what"... 24/7.  This has value but it is a lot of work to keep up to date.  I learned that the "Yellow Pages" are as good as anything I could put together, the work is done for you, and they are updated annually.   Many communities now have two (or more) competing commercial directories.  The first thing a savvy logistics officer does when he/she arrives on scene (especially in an area in which they are not familiar) is obtain as many different versions of  THE YELLOW PAGES as possible!
On-the-ball logistics officers, maintain lists or a card file (avoid relying solely on electronic data storage systems) of resources, supply depots, all night groceries and service stations, etc.  And as they arrive in an unfamiliar area...they make mental notes on such resource as they drive towards an incident scene.
Fuel (gasoline) may be in very short supply (or not available at all).  Service stations cannot pump gas if the power is out.  In one incident I was involved in fuel could not be dispensed even after power was restored.  The pumps were all computer controlled and the power outage (or subsequent surges) wiped out the computer.

Farms and ranches often have gravity flow stores of gasoline, diesel and even kerosene.  Always offer to pay for the fuel...even if it means passing the hat around.

REMEMBER:  This fine tradition of the amateur radio service:  “IMPROVISE...ADAPT...OVERCOME!"




•  View this item at:  http://www.emcomm.org/products/
•  Raised  BLACK letters on WHITE background
•  Durable Metal
•  6” x 12” with usual holes for mounting
•  Mount on vehicle
•  Place on visor or  in window
•  Space to "customize" with your county or city's name, or your call sign using one inch vinyl letters
   (available at hardware stores)
•  Use at fixed or field EMCOMM stations
•  $10.00 each or two for $18.00  [Postpaid to one address includes all applicable taxes]
Send check or money order and shipping address to:
       P O Box 99
       Macdoel, CA  96058
• Allow 2 weeks for delivery
• Use on plain paper
• Use on front of envelope
• 3/4” x 3” wood handle stamp
   Order: WRGS -  Wood handle (traditional) rubber stamp $10.00 each postpaid
   ($8.00 if ordered with Message Service Cross stamp (below)
• Send check or money order to:
       P O Box 99
       Macdoel, CA  96058
• Please allow 2 to 4 weeks for delivery
• View this item (in use) at:  http://www.emcomm.org/products/
Makes the “record” part of record message traffic handling easy and efficient.
• Use on any message form or on plain paper.
• A message received and forwarded should be stamped twice (L lower / R lower).
• Check TOR (Time Received) or TOD (Time Delivered / Forwarded).
• Available in two styles:
     Order: SIRS   -  Self-inking rubber stamp - $15.00 each postpaid.
     Order: WHRS -  Wood handle (traditional) rubber stamp - $12.00 each postpaid.
• Order yours today!
• Specify style, quantity, and shipping address, and send check or money order to:
       P O Box 99
       Macdoel, CA  96058

• Please allow 2 to 4 weeks for delivery
• View this item (in use) at:  http://www.emcomm.org/products/
William R. Vogel, KC2GSK, New York, NY - ARES®, RACES
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• James Conley, NØOBG, Ballwin, MO - ARES®, RACES
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• Chris Pixton, KC9EIZ, O'Fallon, IL - ARES®, RACES, OES
• Vince Harzewski, N2JRS, Buffalo, NY - ARES®, RACES
• Joe Heitzinger, KCØOIO, St. Paul, MN - ARES® EC Washington County
• Dan McMonigle, N3IXQ, Newtown Square, PA - RACES and Assistant EmComm Officer Delaware County
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• Richard Thompson, K3IIN, Wayne, PA - ARES® AEC, OES, ORS, Montgomery County RACES
• Joseph A. Rzucidlo, K3CGA, Trainer, PA - ARES® EC Delaware County
• Donald Trask, KF6JMQ, San Jose, CA - San Jose RACES training officer
• Bob Murdock, WX2NJ, Bayville, NJ - Ocean County ARES® EC
• Scott Morse, KC6SKM, Sants Clara, CA - ARES® ADEC, RACES
• Joe Testa, N8XCT, Ashville, OH - ARES®, AEC for Training
• Kyle W. Jeske, N4NSS, St. Petersburg, FL - ARES® EC, Assistant ACS RO Pinellas County
• Railey W. Macey, III, KG4YUP, Dothan, AL - Houston County RACES
• Brian Fernandez, K1BRF, Washington, CT - ARES®, Red Cross
• Chuck Rexroad, AB1CR, Hartford, CT - ARES®
• Robert Flory, KA5RUC, Centerville, OH - ARES®, SKYWARN
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• Chris Brill, AF5G, Kingman, AZ
• William McMath, KI4AOT, Oxford, AL - ARES® AEC, RACES
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• John Garmendi, N2DV, Englishtown, NJ - USCG AUX
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• Arthur Balourdas, KG6ZWD, La Mesa, CA
• David Perryman, KG4YZI, Woodville, FL - Red Cross Chapter Comm Officer, ARES®
• Steve Schroder, KIØKY, Hotchkiss, CO - ARES® District 25 EC
• Ken Dueker, KB6BPM, Atherton, CA - ARES®, RACES, ACS
• Steven H Sawyers, NAØIA, Marion, IA
• Richard  Witte, K6KMA, Long Beach, CA - LA City Fire Department ACS
• Susan Thomas, KG6RZI, Stanford, CA - SPECS
• Chris Dewane, KB9VLS, Kellnersville, WI - ARES® AEC, RACES ARO Manitowoc County, Wi
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• Tom Chromzack, KC9EGB, Tiskilwa, IL - ARES® Bureau County
• Merrill Musikar, KG4IDD, Palm Coast, FL - ARES ®
• Matt May, KC4WCG, Merriam, KS - ARES® EC for Douglas County, EMCOM Team Greater Kansas City Red Cross
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• Keller Taylor, WA3YSU, Richboro, PA - Bucks County RACES, ARES®, Red Cross Disaster Services
• Carl Davis, KB1EJH, Lewes, DE - RACES
• Michael Reeder, KC7QYR - Burien, WA
• Doug Wiliams, WB2LEZ, Clearwater, FL - ARES®, ACS, CERT
• Glenham Duffy, ZS5GD, New Germany , South Africa - Assistant Provincial Director, Hamnet
• Mike Colon, KE6DQR, Los Angeles, CA - LAFD Aux. Comm. Unit
• Oscar Hall, KØSSE, Denver, CO - SATERN
• Glenn Thomas, WB6W, Minden, NV - ARES®
• Lyle Meek, W6WF, New Braunfels, TX  (soon to be Elk Grove, CA) - ARES®, RACES
• Larry Fields, WD8ITF, Barberton, OH - ARES® (Summit County EC), RACES
• Scott Castonguay, KC7UOC, Des Moines, WA -- 9-1-1 Dispatcher
• Matt Burton, KE5EXY, Bixby, OK - Deputy Dir. of Emerg. Management, Town of Liberty, Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA), RACES
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• TRAFFIC HANDLER’S CHALLENGE:  www.emcomm.org (click bar on main page).
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to know about RADIOGRAMS”.  An electronic version of the FSD-218 is available at:
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• NTS page by W7ARC: http://www.w7arc.com/nts/
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EMCOMM MONTHLY and EMCOMM.ORG are private (non-government) volunteer organizations funded solely by donations from EMCOMM operators who are concerned about preserving the ability of amateur radio operators to be prepared to provide skilled, accurate and efficient emergency communications during times of disaster or other events where normal channels of communication may be interrupted or overloaded.  EMCOMM.ORG is advertisement and “pop up" free.  If you have benefited from our efforts, and would like to support this work in a tangible way; you may do so by sending a check or money order payable to: EMCOMM.
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The opinions expressed by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect the EM philosophy, the editorial position of EM or its staff.
ARES® and Amateur Radio Emergency Service® are registered service marks of the
American Radio Relay League, Inc. and are used with permission.

For permission to reproduce material in EMCOMM MONTHLY
contact: D. W. Thorne at: k6soj@arrl.net or write:
EMCOMM MONTHLY, P.O. Box 99, Macdoel, CA  96058  U.S.A.
D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ - Editor and Publisher
Bill Frazier, W7ARC - Associate Editor and Webmaster
Ed Trump, AL7N - Associate Editor and Alaska Correspondent
Jerry Boyd, N7WR - Associate Editor and ICS Advisor
Ed Ewell, K7DXV - Technical Advisor
Dave Nicholson, KB6PNT - SAR Advisor
• THE "SERVICE MESSAGE" - What, Why, When and How
EMCOMM MONTHLY -- The Official Journal of the World Radio Relay League - WRRL
Copyright (c) 2005 - All rights reserved.