Archive for November, 2011
MARS stands for Military Auxiliary Radio System, an organization of some 5,000 US amateur radio operators. They volunteer their time and radio equipment to assist government agencies in the event normal communication channels are disrupted by natural calamity (Hurricane Katrina) or hostile action (9/11/01). The Department of Defense sponsors MARS and allocates special frequencies for the use of members. The Army, Air Force, and Navy-Marine Corps each have their own MARS branch. Army MARS nubers about 2,600 members.
What MARS does:
We train constantly to provide voice and digital links for fedreal, state, and local response agencies. MARS is a part of the National Incident Response System (NIMS) established after 9/11/01.
We maintain our own amateur radio equipment in constant readiness for response to any support request.
We operate state, regional, and national HF radio networks on a daily basis to perfect our operating skills and test our equipment. In an emergency, these nets are ready for immediate action.
We participate in exercises with other emergency entities including the Army Northern Command (ARRNORTH), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management agency (FEMA), Texas State Department of Emergency Management ant the Texas Military Forces. Members qualify on FEMA first responder courses.
We develop and apply new technology such as HF-Email (Winlink) and other advanced digital modes.
We coordinate with the American Radio Relay League, American Red Cross, Salvation Army and of course Air Force, and Navy-Marine corps MARS in eemergency relief planning and response operations.
History of MARS:
In 1925, when radio was very new, the US Army Signal Corps enrolled a group of civilian amateurs to help train military operators. The Army Amateur Radio System (AARS) continued in operation until World War II, when all on-air activity by amateurs was suspended in the United States. The organization reactivated in 1948 under the MARS name. Separate Air Force and Navy-Marine Corps MARS branches were born soon afterwards.
Members of all three performed admirable service durng the Korean and “Vietnam Wars and again in Operation Desert Storm by keeping the troops at overseas in touch with family and friends at home. Hundreds of thousands of “MARS-grams” and phone connections were handled without charge.
In 1994, the Army’s Directorate of Military Support called on MARS operators after the Northridge Earthquake in Southern California. That was the worst natural disaster recorded in the US up to that time, and all commercial communications failed. Army MARS delivered the information necessary for planning immediate relief operations. From that point on, emergency communications backup has been the primary mission of MARS.
How Army MARS is Organized:
We are a unit of the Network Enterprise Technology 9th Signal Command (ARMY). (th Signal Command is responsible for the Army’s network operations and security worldwide. Headquarters is at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, a major Army signals and intelligence base south of Tucson.
Chief Army MARS, james E. Griffin, has a fulltime core staff at headquarters which consists of civilian employees or contractors. These include the operting staff of the MARS Gateway Station, AAA9USA, at Fort Huachuca.
Chief Griffin is also assisted by a special staff of volunteers appointed for their expertise form the general membership.
In the field, the basic unit is the state, led by a volunteer state director and his staff–assistant director, adiminstrative officer; emergency operations officer, training officer, all appointed from the membership based on experience and demonstrated leadership.
States are organized into 10 regions with a command structure just like the states. Region leadership is also an all volunteer position.
Privileges of Membership:
Army MARS activity is a challenging extension of your interest in amateur radio. you put your ham skills to work in meaningful public service.
you will operate on specially assigned military radio frequencies. with additional qualification, you may join nets serving TSA, FEMA, and other frontline government agencies.
If you previously served in the military, Army MARS offers a meeting ground for people with similar interests and experiences.
Army MARS members have the oportunity to take part in experimenting and testing the newest modes of communications.
Provide emergency communications in support of the Army, a Federal Agency or incident Commander is the ultimate test of operating skills and will give you satisfaction rarely found elsewhere in amateur radio.
To join you must:
- Be 17 years of age or older. The signature of a parent or legal guardian is required when an applicant is under 18 years of age.
- Be a United States Citizen or resident alien.
- Possess a valid amateur radio license issued by the Federal Communications Commission.
- Possess a station capable of operating on MARS frequencies, which are outside the typical FCC-authorized amateur bands. Typical amateur transceivers require modification.
- Agree to operate a minimum of 15 hours per calendar quarter with 9 hours being on VHF and/or HF networks.
- Successfully complete the Army MARS basic training course
- Understand and accept that MARS is not a hobby; it’s a service to your country. Membership requires serious commitment to observe rules and requirements.
More about MARS:
For information about the Army MARS organization in your state, or to obtain a membership application, visit:
For a local contact regarding Army MARS in the Texas Panhandle area, contact Mike McGlynn, W5MJM
SEVERE WEATHER DEFINITIONS
THUNDERSTORM—A storm accompanied by thunder and may contain lightning, gusty winds, heavy rain and hail
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM—A thunderstorm that produces winds of 58 mph or greater, or 3/4 inch hail or larger. This type of storm may also produce torrential rain (more than an inch in 1 hour) and possibly tornados
WALL CLOUD- An abrupt lowering cloud base which usually forms in the rain-free base area of a thunderstorm. The wall cloud may develop in the southwest portion (right rear) of the storm. Many wall clouds exhibit rapid upward motion and rotation. A persistent, rotating wall cloud usually develops before a tornado, and should always be reported
FUNNEL- A cloud pendant or inverted cloud cone which extends from the base of the thunderstorm, but IS NOT in contact with the ground
TORNADO- A violently rotating narrow column of air in contact with the ground and extending from a thunderstorm base
GUST FRONT- The leading edge of rain cooled sinking air from a thunderstorm. It is usually marked by gusty cool winds and sometimes low clouds (shelf clouds) or blowing dust
DOWNBURST- A strong downdraft of air which produces an outburst of damaging winds on or near the ground. These winds may cause tornado-like damage
DRYLINE- A boundary separating hot dry air to the west from warm moist air to the east. Thunderstorms often develop along or near a dryline
CAP or LID- A hot dry layer of air between warm moist surface air and cool dry air aloft. The cap may inhibit of delay the onset of thunderstorms
WEATHER WATCHES—Indicates where and when the severe weather probabilities are highest, and should not be confused with a warning
WEATHER WARNING—Severe weather is imminent and you should take immediate action to protect yourself and your property
SEVERE WEATHER FIELD MEASUREMENT TECHNIQUES
ESTIMATING ANGLE TO THE BASE OF THE STORM: The cloud base of most thunderstorms in our area is about 5000 ft. Using basic trigonometry you can estimate the angle from your location to the base of the storm and determine the distance. For example:
- 60 degrees = 1/2 mile
- 45 degrees = 1 mile
- 30 degrees = 1.7 miles
- 15 degrees = 3.7 miles
HAIL SIZE EQUIVALENTS: Remember, hail of 1″ diameter or greater classifies a storm as severe, and should be reported.
- 1″ Quarter Size
- 1 ¼” Half Dollar Size
- 1 ½” Walnut or Ping Pong Ball Size
- 1 ¾” Golf Ball Size 2″ Hen Egg Size
- 2 ½” Tennis Ball Size
- 2 ¾” Baseball Size
- 3″ Teacup Size
- 4″ Grapefruit Size
- 4 ½” Softball Size
TORNADO SIZE ESTIMATES
|Scale||Wind speed (mph)||Damage|
|EF0||65–85||Minor damage. Peels surface off some roofs; some damage to gutters or siding; branches broken off trees; shallow-rooted trees pushed over. Confirmed tornadoes with no reported damage (i.e., those that remain in open fields) are always rated EF0.|
|EF1||86–110||Moderate damage. Roofs severely stripped; mobile homes overturned or badly damaged; loss of exterior doors; windows and other glass broken.|
|EF2||111–135||Considerable damage. Roofs torn off well-constructed houses; foundations of frame homes shifted; mobile homes completely destroyed; large trees snapped or uprooted; light-object missiles generated; cars lifted off ground.|
|EF3||136–165||Severe damage. Entire stories of well-constructed houses destroyed; severe damage to large buildings such as shopping malls; trains overturned; trees debarked; heavy cars lifted off the ground and thrown; structures with weak foundations blown away some distance.|
|EF4||166–200||Devastating damage. Well-constructed houses and whole frame houses completely leveled; cars thrown and small missiles generated.|
|EF5||>200||Extreme damage. Strong frame houses leveled off foundations and swept away; automobile-sized missiles fly through the air in excess of 100 m (300 ft); steel reinforced concrete structure badly damaged; high-rise buildings have significant structural deformation.|
The Golden Spread Council of the Boy Scouts of America hosted the 24th annual Spook-O-Ree at Camp Don Harrington on Saturday October 22nd and 29th. The event drew boys outdoors where they executed physical trials and learned values of the Cub Scouts. Represented the Panhandle Amateur Radio Club (PARC), N5HPJ & WD5FOI Coordinated a demonstration of ham radio in which KE5ZRT & KE5ZRU explained the fundamentals of amateur radio mechanics, on-air activities, and ham radio’s role in SKYWARN storm spotting. Others that superbly supported the event included: N5YXN, K9DMV, & K5BOB. Many other operators assisted from home by engaging the scouts in on-air conversation, but the star of the show had to be N5BNU who talked to the scouts over the radio for an amazing 4 hours and 15 minutes!
Over the two weekends approximately 850 scouts were introduced amateur radio and made their first 2m simplex and repeater contacts using the Caprock Intertie linked repeater system. The PARC is grateful for all that assisted, and especially grateful to the Golden Spread Council of the Boy Scouts of America for the opportunity to share ham radio with so many scouts.
Link to a Spook-O-Ree Photobucket slide show: http://s926.photobucket.com/albums/ad106/tornado-alley-rats/Spook-o-ree2011/?albumview=slideshow
Feel free to copy or download any of the photos for your own use.
Add the following supplies to your disaster supplies kit:
- Rock salt to melt ice on walkways
- Sand to improve traction
- Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment.
- Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
- Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
- Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters; repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
- Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing.
- Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
- Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
- Know ahead of time what you should do to help elderly or disabled friends, neighbors or employees.
- Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow – or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.
Prepare your car
- Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
- Antifreeze levels – ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
- Battery and ignition system – should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
- Brakes – check for wear and fluid levels.
- Exhaust system – check for leaks and crimped pipes andrepair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
- Fuel and air filters – replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas.
- Heater and defroster – ensure they work properly.
- Lights and flashing hazard lights – check for serviceability.
- Oil – check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
- Thermostat – ensure it works properly.
- Windshield wiper equipment – repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
- Install good winter tires.Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
- Maintain at least a half tank of gas during the winter season.
- Place a winter emergency kit in each car that includes:
- a shovel
- windshield scraper and small broom
- battery powered radio
- extra batteries
- snack food
- extra hats, socks and mittens
- First aid kit with pocket knife
- Necessary medications
- tow chain or rope
- road salt and sand
- booster cables
- emergency flares
- fluorescent distress flag
Dress for the Weather
- Wear several layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. The outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent.
- Wear mittens, which are warmer than gloves.
- Wear a hat.
- Cover your mouth with a scarf to protect your lungs.
For more information:
SKYWARN Recognition Day was developed in 1999 by the National Weather Service (NWS) and the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). It celebrates the contributions that volunteer SKYWARN amateur radio operators make to the NWS. For a 24-hour period, SKYWARN operators visit NWS offices and contact other radio operators across the world.
This is a fun contest, an opportunity to get to know the NWS personnel, and an excellent opportunity for fellowship with other SKYWARN hams. In years past, the NWS office has graciously provided pizza, doughnuts, cake and snacks.
The 2011 edition of SKYWARN Recognition Day will occur on 12/3/2011 from 0000Z to 2359Z (Local time will be Friday December 2nd at 6:00 P.M. until Saturday December 3rd at 6:00 P.M. CDST).