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Governor's $250,000 Grant Goes Online as Hams Install Winlink System:

from The ARRL Letter, Vol 28, No 36 on September 11, 2009
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Governor's $250,000 Grant to Amateur Radio Goes Online as Oregon Hams Install New Winlink System:

This month, Oregon ARES members will complete the state-wide installation of Winlink, thanks to a $250,000 grant from Governor Ted Kulongoski. In 2007, the governor was impressed by the hams' ability to handle emergency communications when severe winter storms wreaked havoc on Oregon's North Coast and flooded the City of Vernonia, knocking out 911 services, Internet and phone service for an extended period of time The Oregon Office of Emergency Management said that during the storms, the radio operators were "tireless in their efforts to keep the systems connected." When even state police had difficulty reaching some of their own troops, ham radio worked, setting up networks so emergency officials could communicate and relaying lists of supplies needed in stricken areas.

"I'm going to tell you who the heroes were from the very beginning of this...the ham radio operators," the governor said at the time. "These people just came in and actually provided a tremendous communication link to us." Because of the service rendered by Amateur Radio operators in providing communications support, the governor allocated funds for the installation of a Winlink system to integrate Amateur Radio with the Internet.

The equipment will be installed in the Emergency Operating Center in each of Oregon's 36 counties. Once the monies were distributed, ARES members researched and purchased the equipment that would be needed, formalized and signed contracts between the state, counties and ARES, and allocated space to install the antennas and equipment within each EOC. The project is scheduled to be completed in time for the 2009 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET) scheduled for October 3-4

"Using Winlink equipment and other amateur equipment already in place at the EOCs, ARES teams will have to quickly create a communications network, in some instances without depending on other infrastructure such as telephones or Internet," said ARRL Oregon Section Public Information Coordinator Steve Sanders, KE7JSS. "Many will not use commercial electric power. Despite these limitations, the ARES teams should not only be able to quickly pass local messages, but also communicate with other regions of the country. The ability to pass information in and out of disaster areas is crucial to the effectiveness of emergency responders."

When Oregon's State Office of Emergency Management was activated on December 3, 2007, hams over the course of the next four days used Winlink to pass message traffic. "The Winlink system performed perfectly, and the ARES team at the OEM was able to pass approximately 200 messages into and out of the State of Oregon Emergency Operations Center," said Marion County ARES Emergency Coordinator Dean Davis, N7XG. "The only mode of communications for several Oregon counties for the first two days of the storm was the Winlink system."


The ARRL Letter Vol. 28, No. 36 September 11, 2009

Member Comments:
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Governor's $250,000 Grant Goes Online as Hams Install Winlin  
by N0FPE on September 11, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
WinLink A waste of money IMHO.

Could have been better used
RE: Governor's $250,000 Grant Goes Online as Hams Install Wi  
by KI4BDS on September 13, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
I agree. It isn't that great a system, yet everyone is selling it as the fix-all and if you don't have it you'll be left behind. Aything the Govt. promotes is usually from the cheapest bidder. You get what you pay for.
RE: Governor's $250,000 Grant Goes Online as Hams Install Wi  
by KASSY on September 15, 2009 Mail this to a friend!
And the report by N7XG has quite a spin on it. I was vacationing in the area at the time, and a LOT of the traffic was on very ordinary 2 meter FM and 440 FM repeaters. I encountered one of the emergency ops who was using Winlink and he observed that the system was at capacity and throughput had really slowed to a crawl. Not for lack of gear, he said. Evidently somewhat due to finite capacity of the centralized message servers on which the system depends, and an apprently stupid decision on ARES' part for all messages to be in MS-Word format, which increases their size, on average by ten times.

But I've also heard that it's easier to get government funding of communications "stuff" if it somehow can be called "high tech", aka "digital". So, they probably would not have gotten funding for an analog system.

- k
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