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Section News, September 18 2017

Western Pennsylvania Section News

September 18, 2017

Near Space Balloon Launch – September 20, Noon to Recovery

From Cory W3CDG: “We will be using my call W3CDG-11 for the launch. Plan is to have APRS, pressure, temperature, and position data sent. The computer will also record flight data and take pictures as it goes. That will be on the SD Card so we are going to try to retrieve the balloon, after the payload hopefully parachutes safely to earth. ”

You can track the flight on http://aprs.fi on the day of the launch. The balloon will travel as high as it can until the envelope bursts from the near vacuum of space at around 100,000 feet (about 20 miles) above sea level. The payload will then parachute back to earth. On the APRS site, this will appear as a sudden change in the direction of flight, and a rapid decrease in altitude.

The direction of the flight and the eventual landing location will be determined by the weather on the day of the flight, as free balloons do not have the ability to steer and must go where the wind takes them. Computer modeled projections on Monday, 48 hours before launch time (T minus 2d 00h 00m 00s) predict a 2.5 to 3.5 hour flight, with re-entry and landing taking place in an area between New Kensington and Freeport. Here’s hoping it doesn’t land in the Allegheny River!

If the recovery site is near your QTH, your foxhunting gear may be of help to find the spacecraft. The APRS beacon on 144.390 MHz only transmits every few minutes for a quarter-second, so it could be a real challenge!

2017 Simulated Emergency Test – October 7,  9:00 am to 1:oo pm

The annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test will take place on Saturday, October 7 from 9:00 to 1:00 pm. The purpose of this drill is to practice our emergency communications skills and to gain practical experience in setting up off-the-grid communications from actual shelter sites using emergency power only.

In preparation for the event, ECs are requested make arrangements with local agencies that provide shelters, such as Red Cross, Salvation Army, churches, schools, fire stations, and other community resources that are part of local emergency plans. the mission is to place an emergency-powered station on the air at at least one established shelter site and to communicate with the EC at a command center using emergency powered radio equipment.

Each shelter is expected to initiate one radiogram to the SEC containing the location of the shelter, the number of participants, and the time the station went on the air. ECs will forward these messages to their DEC-designated station or to the SEC-designated station station by HF as conditions permit (again using emergency power).

There is no restriction on modes (HF, VHF, UHF, FM, SSB, CW, RTTY, Packet, WinLINK, MFSK, etc.) that may be used, and stations are encouraged to use the mode which provides the most successful completion of the objective in the shortest amount of time. The only firm rule is that all operations will only use emergency power or facilities such as repeaters and command centers that are capable of using emergency power. All field stations at shelter sites MUST use emergency power only.

The Scenario for planning purposes is this: a severe winter storm produced 3-6 feet of snow closing all major highways and stranding travelers who are being housed in shelters. High winds have also disrupted electrical power and telephone service over the entire section. Have fun!

Announcing: 2017 District Meeting Schedule

Our WPA Section Staff has put together a series of District Meetings for ARES leaders, Club officers and other interested amateurs in each of our four Districts. These meetings will last 4-5 hours and will cover updates on ARRL activities, VE test procedure updates, Club activity workshops and upcoming Section Events such as JOTA and the SET. All ECs and other Field Organization appointees, Club Officers and all interested Radio Amateurs are encouraged to attend the meeting in their District to get the latest information and assistance in filling out monthly report forms, procedure changes, and new initiatives.

These meetings will contain the best programs from the former ARES Conference that used to be held in Johnstown, and the Leadership Workshop that used to be held in Indiana. The reason we are doing four events instead of one is to cut down on the travel for interested people. Each of these meetings will be at an easily accessible location, within 1.5 hours of travel from any QTH in the District.


North-1, Saturday July 29, Hoss’s Restaurant Franklin/Oil City

The North-1 District Meeting took place on  Saturday, July 29 from 10 am to 2 pm at Hoss’s Restaurant, near Franklin. 19 hams participated in a very informative and interesting set of presentations by SM W3BC, SEC N3TIR, North-1 DEC WW3S, and Assistant SM WX3E. Besides it being a full house, those in attendance were very encouraging and supportive of this effort.


South-2, Saturday August 12, Holiday Inn Express, Breezewood

The South-2 District Meeting took place on  Saturday, August 12 from noon to 4 pm at the Holiday Inn Express in Breezewood, PA. Twelve participants enjoyed a very informative session, and plans were made to build on the successful efforts of everyone involved. Remarks and surveys indicate that the programs were well received and everyone wants the district meetings to continue on a regular basis.

Upcoming Meetings

North-2, Saturday October 28, Penn State DuBois Campus, Hiller Auditorium

The North-2 District Meeting is scheduled for  Saturday, October 28 from 10 am to 2 pm  at the Penn State DuBois Campus in the Hiller Building Auditorium.

  • 12:00 — Sign-in and Seating
  • 12:15 — Greeting, ARRL Briefing and WPA News – Joe Shupienis W3BC
  • 12:30 — Public Service and ARES Topics – Bud Plants N3TIR, WPA Section Emergency Coordinator and Kevin Snyder, North-2 District Emergency Coordinator
  • 1:30 — Jamboree on the Air Summary, and Supporting School Clubs
  • 2:00 — Working with Volunteers — Overview of ICS-244.b Course Content
  • 3:00 — Rekindling Local Interest in Amateur Radio — Joe Shupienis W3BC, WPA Section Manager
  • 4:00 — Final comments and conclusion

South-1, Sunday November 5, WACOM Hamfest at Washington Co Fairgrounds

The South-1 District Meeting is scheduled for  Sunday November 5 from noon to 4 pm at the WACOM Hamfest at the Washington County Fairgrounds.

  • 12:00– Sign-in and Seating
  • 12:15 — Greeting, ARRL Briefing and WPA News – Joe Shupienis W3BC, WPA Section Manager and Juan Manfredi NA0B, Assistant Section Manager
  • 12:30 — Public Service and ARES Topics – Bud Plants N3TIR, WPA Section Emergency Coordinator, Terry Nemitz WA3UTD, South-1 District Emergency Coordinator
  • 1:30 — Break
  • 1:45 — ARRL Q&A
  • 2:00 — Working with Volunteers — Overview of ICS-244.b Course Content
  • 3:00 — Supporting School Radio Clubs — Juan Manfredi NA0B, Assistant Section Manager
  • 4:00 — Final comments and conclusion

Jamboree On The Air Plans

Jamboree On The Air plans are being made for October 20-22 this year. Clubs are coordinating with local Scout Council offices and camps, and our WPA Section Youth Coordinator Russ Bush N3YD is working to coordinate with the Councils and Clubs to provide the well-organized, amateur radio club activity the Scouts prefer. If you are interested in helping out as part of this organized effort, please contact Russ at n3yd@arrl.net for more information.

ARRL Advisory: Volunteering to Assist in Florida

The ARRL has been asked to share the following from the Communications Branch Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management:

 “The State of Florida appreciates the service of ARES. State of Florida SEOC and its staff will never request individuals or provide individuals any information on an incident.  All requests for individuals in the ARES program in the State of Florida will follow the North Florida ARES Plan and direction of their Section Manager Stephen Szabo. Absolutely no direct communications to the SEOC or its staff is to be made by individuals to request to be deployed or provide services at anytime.”

Any amateur wishing to volunteer to assist needs to go through the ARRL Northern Florida Manager Steve Szabo’s established processes, as that is the system Florida Emergency Management is utilizing to coordinate Amateur Radio activities.  Under no circumstances should individual Amateurs contact Florida Emergency Management.

We also remind ARRL / ARES volunteers who may be assisting in support of the ongoing relief and recovery efforts that the only persons who should be speaking on behalf of the ARRL or its field organization are the ARRL Section Manager or their Public Information Coordinator / Public Information Officer.   Unfortunately we have had reports of false information being apparently shared via Amateur Radio channels.  This type of misinformation can negatively affect the hard work being done by various Emergency Management agencies involved, as well as the various agencies also providing assistance, and can be harmful to the efforts of the Amateur community trying to assist in the response and relief efforts. ARRL SMs, PICs, and PIOs only provide information publicly where it has been vetted by state officials, and only as directed.  Unauthorized false reports can seriously and negatively impact the work of relief and recovery officials as well as damage the good relationships that Amateurs have in those relief and recovery communities.  Let the trained PICs/PIOs do their jobs!

Thanks to the hundreds of Amateurs who are providing communications assistance as this story continues to unfold.  With everyone working in concert and through appropriate channels, your work is helping make a difference.

Dan Henderson, N1ND
Assistant Secretary, the American Radio Relay League, Inc.
Regulatory Information Manager
ARRL – the national association for Amateur Radio
Phone: 860-594-0236


Final Final

There’s so much going on in our WPA Section, I don’t know when to stop writing! If your group has an upcoming event, PLEASE let us know and we will do our best to help publicize it.

73 and Press On!

Joe Shupienis W3BC
Western Pennsylvania Section Manager



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