CT ARES Section 3 DEC
(District Emergency Coordinator)
Bill Storey, AB1LZ
DMR mode radio has now been officially adopted by ARES in Connecticut as the primary means for command and control of ARES operations. SPARC, the State Police Amateur Radio Club, has put up over 23 UHF linked repeaters around the state and several additional clubs have linked their UHF repeaters to the net as well. It is now practical for ARES members to coordinate their efforts from almost anywhere in the state using a handheld DMR radio. ARES nets held on Sunday evenings at 8:30 on the CT Statewide talk group.
The most commonly used talkgroups are CT ARES Statewide, CT Tactical 1-5 and 6-12, and local. A receive-only talkgroup, CT ARES ALERT, will override all other talkgroups on the network's repeaters so ARES can announce emergency activations and nets.
There are many ways to communicate digitally via ham radio. ARES Region 3 is now recommending one particular program as probably the easiest way to get started.
This computer program comes in the correct version for most popular computer operating systems and will control the most popular radios and interface boxes.
Better yet, a beginner can start sending and receiving messages through an internet connection, and add the ham radio interface hardware later.
To start using RMS Express, there is a free download for the software, and you'll need to enter a valid FCC amateur radio call sign (any class), and your current Maidenhead grid square. If you don't know your grid square, it is in your call sign's listing on www.qrz.com. Or you can enter latitude and longitude from Google Map. Or download a "grid locator finder" from the internet and enter your street address or zip code.
The RMS Express program offers many methods for establishing a communications session. You can choose from a pull-down menu whether you want to open a session using a Telnet internet connection, any of a half-dozen popular TNC's via VHF, a Winmor TNC via HF, or a Pactor device. You can connect to a Winlink node with or without an internet gateway, or you can connect peer-to-peer to another ham via simplex radio.
The session window also offers the ability to populate a directory of nearby Winlink nodes based on the grid square you entered at setup time. This table allows you to double click on a node, which loads its call sign into the program and reminds you to manually set your radio to its frequency. Then "start" the session and the program will automatically connect, send any messages you have created and placed in your "Out box", and download any messages waiting for you, then disconnect.
The rest of the user interface looks and works very much like a popular mail client.
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