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Author Topic: FLDIGI/NBEMS to NTS  (Read 11470 times)
AI8P
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« on: May 01, 2011, 03:37:39 AM »

Hello all,

I am a new EC and interested in organizing my county to provide H&W traffic in an emergency.   This is a high priority for ARES locally.   As much as I encourage it, few of my members have actually passed formal traffic on a NTS net.. 

During an emergency is not the time that I want people to pass traffic by voice for the first time.   Within the county I have stressed the NBEMS solution - it has drop downs for the Handling Instructions, etc, and makes it easier for a novice to fill out a Radiogram.  It also passes the message digitally, which eliminates the inexperienced voice messaging that can take 10 times too long for a novice.  Now I need to figure out how to get these digital Radiograms into the NTS so they can be delivered across the country.

Does anyone have experience in making this happen and perhaps some ideas for me of how to start to make this happen?

Thanks

Dennis
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2011, 05:21:50 AM »

Check this page: http://www.arrl.org/nts

Go the the link for the National Traffic System Digital (NTSD)

Also see the Public Service Communications Manual (PSCM), Chapter 8: http://www.arrl.org/chapter-eight-operation-of-the-digital-system
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W3JKS
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« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2011, 12:03:28 PM »

The ARES/RACES folks in Western Pennsylvania have a lot of experience with this:

http://www.pa-sitrep.com/NBEMS/index.html
http://www.wpaares.org/ecom.html

Google western pa nbems and you'll get all sorts of info and some good presentations as well.

73,
john W3JKS/AAT3BF/AAM3EDE/AAM3RE/AAA9SL/Diamond Flight 88
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N8AUC
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« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2011, 05:56:10 PM »

Dennis,
Good to see you in Mansfield on Saturday!
Contact Matt, W8DEC, who is the Ohio District 10 DEC. He can point you towards
the right people to help you with this.

We just had a couple of district wide training sessions on FLDIGI/NBEMS, and he
even brought in a guy from Western PA ARES to do the training. Another person
on this thread mentioned that, and he is spot on. Those guys definitely know
their stuff.

73 de N8AUC
Eric
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AB8OU
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« Reply #4 on: May 04, 2011, 11:45:52 AM »

Dennis

As far as I can tell, messages that originate in the ARRL Radiogram format on NBEMS are intended to enter the NTS through the existing voice & cw nets.  One of the fldigiflmsg outputs is simple text format which is how you would read the traffic to a voice net or send to a cw net.  I assume you could cut and paste from the text format into a cw program and send the traffic to a cw net without having to retype it.

I think your actual question is how to convince members of your group to train and practice handling traffic with the NTS system.  Too many of them have listened to traffic nets and have no desire to participate in them.

zeke
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AI8P
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« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2011, 09:43:01 AM »

Zeke,

Thanks, but I know what my question is!   Smiley

My real question is:

Who in the NTS system in NE Ohio is able and willing to accept traffic by NBEMS.

Failing that, who can I convince to become an NBEMS-to-NTS liaison.

Regrettably, this person or position does not seem to exist.

This is not easy, but it is far easier than getting my entire group trained to be competent voice traffic handlers.

I want to make it very clear that the NTS is very valuable - I am not trying to connect to the NTS because it is obsolete, quite the contrary, I am trying to connect to them because they are very useful.   The greatest thing about the NTS is all the Hams all over the country who will take a  NTS message and phone the recipient.   

As I have said many times, you can email my Mom and Dad until the cows come home and  you haven't accomplished anything, because they don't do email.   So I need the NTS to deliver messages to people who either don't do email, or the msg originators don't know their email.  I am trying to make the process of getting the messages into the NTS as efficient as possible.   I am also trying to make it easier for people with minimal training and experience to pass H&W traffic.

I know the NTS position that "everyone should be a high-trained and highly-experienced" traffic handler.   My people aren't going to do that.  This is a volunteer organization, and I have to do the best I can with the volunteers who are available.  I don't want the people in shelters who need to pass H&W messages to loved ones to be the ones who pay for this logjam - I want to make it possible for H&W to be sent even if I don't have a crack corps of message handlers at my disposal.

It's time for NTS to face this issue and figure out how to accept messages digitally.

My $.02

Dennis, AI8P
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2011, 06:26:00 PM »

Zeke,

.....

I know the NTS position that "everyone should be a high-trained and highly-experienced" traffic handler.   My people aren't going to do that.  This is a volunteer organization, and I have to do the best I can with the volunteers who are available.  I don't want the people in shelters who need to pass H&W messages to loved ones to be the ones who pay for this logjam - I want to make it possible for H&W to be sent even if I don't have a crack corps of message handlers at my disposal.

Unfortunately, trained and experienced operators are what makes the NTS work well.

It's time for NTS to face this issue and figure out how to accept messages digitally.

This facility already exists, go to this page: http://www.arrl.org/nts then go to the the link for the National Traffic System Digital (NTSD)

My $.02

Dennis, AI8P
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AI8P
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2011, 09:47:53 AM »

Other Dennis,

Maybe you should visit that page!

The Digital NTS is only for transmission with in the NTS - it doesn't accept outside traffic and it doesn't deliver traffic - it just moves it around inside the NTS.  Only qualified NTS traffic managers are supposed to move traffic thru that sysstem.

The nearest to me is W8UL, in Reynoldsville, which is out of range of my VHF/UHF stations.  John W8UL was on the Amateur Radio Newsline just last week talking about how he had a digital station in the NTS Digital network and how it was just for relaying within the NTS and did not accept or deliver messages from outside the NTS.

So,  it DOESN'T already exist.

Dennis
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K0RGR
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« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2011, 12:58:35 PM »

I've got something of the same issue up here in Minnesota. I've started a weekly NBEMS net for southeast Minnesota. We send messages back and forth for practice, but it would be nice to have a liason to NTS. Right now, I don't have much of an 80 meter antenna, but if I did, I could take the traffic up to one of the daily NTS nets myself.  The NCS for the Minnesota nets has offered to add a standby just for us.

It would certainly be easier if we could use the facilities in NBEMS to route it into the system automagically, the way NTSD is supposed to work. I am not that familiar with 'Winlink Classic' which appears to be what NTSD plans to use.

Army MARS in this region is using a program called PSKMail to do email. It also runs on top of FLDIGI, like NBEMS, and FLDIGI can be both a PSKMail server and client. Now if there was just an interface to connect from either FLMSG or PSKMail into NTSD, we'd be set. I'm tempted to set up a PSKMail server on 80 meters. I wonder if PSKMail could be configured to send email to WinLink's PacLink client software, which could then use the Internet or PACTOR to forward it to NTSD's Winlink Classic servers. Paclink doesn't work with the cheap WINMOR alternative to the expensive PACTOR modems, of course. You're going to need either two machines or some kind of virtualization, because WINLINK runs onf Windoze and PSKMail doesn't.
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AB0WR
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« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2011, 08:19:21 AM »

I know this is an old thread but my addition to the thread needs the context. I was a member of the NTSD for several years. It was a worthwhile experience but *very* time consuming.

There are several reasons why NTSD doesn't accept digital inputs.

1) It is not an internet substitute. It is an adjunct to manual operation of the NTS. Messages that enter the system are meant to be distributed manually to regional, state, and local nets for hams to deliver.

2) I used to get a minimum of 30 messages a night to be dumped into Region 10 nets manually. When I was doing Region 9 liason activities that more than doubled. When weather and band conditions one night would prevent forwarding over some links then the next night could wind up with double the number of messages to be sent. There were some nights I had over 200 messages to dump into Regions 9/10 on a manual basis. Most of these went into Regional and state level CW nets. There just wasn't time to put them on voice nets.

Manual entry into the system means that the input and output capabilities will remain somewhat matched. If there isn't enough manpower to accept and deliver the messages then it does little good to enter them into the system. They just wind up getting sent back as undeliverable generating even MORE load on the system.

I simply cannot imagine the system load that would be engendered if the NTSD allowed digital entry of messages into the system. It would potentially be staggering for an event like is expected on the east coast this weekend with Hurricane Irene.

In the case of Regions 9/10, if things have not changed in the NTS, there simply would not be enough manual NTS operators on the delivery end to handle the load that could be generated by a flood of messages over digital input links.

As I said, the NTSD is not the internet. Don't think of it as the internet. Think of it as an automated "Vibroflex bug" operating in the manual NTS system.
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AI8P
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« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2011, 09:36:26 AM »

AB0WR,

If I may paraphrase your response in a more succinct manner:

"NTS can't handle a real emergency - find another way."

Thanks for your honesty

Dennis, AI8P
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AI8P
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« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2011, 06:30:36 PM »

All,

I am finalizing the Operations Manual for my county and due to the inflexible attitude of the NTS, I have adopted the following strategy for Health and Welfare traffic:


<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

3.3.3 Official Traffic Station (OTS)

The OTS will maintain communications with the County Control Network as well as served agency shelters with Health and Welfare (H&W) traffic. During Communication Emergencies this station will handle ALL incoming and out-going formal traffic.  The main duties of the OTS station are listed below from highest to lowest priority:

1.   Act as a liaison with the American Red Cross Safe & Well website (accessed from www.redcross.org).  Per the national Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between ARRL and the American Red Cross:

“ARRL volunteers are encouraged to assist in registering people on the Safe & Well website by passing the required information from a point in the disaster area to someone outside the disaster area who can enter the information on the Safe & Well website.”

The Safe & Well website registers people by first name, last name, address and telephone number(s).  A message can be attached to the registration and the entry can be updated as circumstances change.  People searching the website for information about someone will need to provide the name and either an address or phone number to access the data.  The Shelter ARES station should strive to collect this information (including multiple phone numbers, if appropriate) from all Shelter residents and pass it to the OTS so he can make appropriate entries on the Safe & Well site.  Digital messaging using the NBEMS system is the preferred method to transfer this data to the OTS.  The OTS must check if an entry already exists for each person and update the existing entry or create a new entry.
 
2.   Individual messages have a lower priority than status information for the Safe & Well website.  Secondary priority is assigned to messages with an email address for delivery.  The OTS will receive these messages from the shelter, as traffic permits, and will email them directly or optionally transmit them digitally using NBEMS and the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). MARS transmission may be by VHF/UHF to a nearby MARS node, or by HF Winlink if available at the OTS.  Outgoing email H & W traffic should contain the following statement:

This email is being transmitted by Summit County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) on behalf of the signer(s) of this message.  Please DO NOT REPLY to this email; this account is only for our OUTGOING messages; we are NOT accepting or monitoring incoming emails.  Please consult the Red Cross Safe & Well website (accessed from www.redcross.org) for status updates for the message originator(s).   A name and either an address or phone number will be needed to access the status on the website.

3.   Individual messages without an email address but with an address or phone number are assigned tertiary priority and will be passed to the ARRL Section Traffic Nets.  Formal voice messaging using the ARRL Radiogram form is to be used for this traffic.

Requirements for an OTS include the following:
•   An established station outside of the immediate disaster area.
•   VHF, UHF and HF capable.
•   Emergency power available.
•   NBEMS capable to accept and send messages digitally
•   Internet services available   
•   Establish temporary email account (SummitOhioFlood@hotmail.com, or similar) to send outgoing messages
•   Winlink HF capability (optional)
•   Familiarity with local NTS Nets
•   Formal Message Handling skills

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


Comments?   Suggestions for Improvements?

My only concern is providing the most efficient service to the Shelter residents!

Dennis AI8P
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AB0WR
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« Reply #12 on: August 30, 2011, 10:20:42 AM »

AB0WR,

If I may paraphrase your response in a more succinct manner:

"NTS can't handle a real emergency - find another way."

Thanks for your honesty

Dennis, AI8P

Are you always in the habit of putting words in people's mouth in order to justify your own opinions?

I didn't say NTS can't handle a real emergency -- YOU SAID THAT.

If your client knows neither a telephone number or email address how do you get a message to their loved ones? If they remember an address the NTS can get the message through when nothing else will.

This scenario becomes more and more prevalent everyday as people become more dependent on a cell phone to keep their contact list -- they just hit a name and call, send an email, or a text message. My son's barely know the phone numbers of any of their friends -- the phone just brings up their name on an incoming call.

I'll say it again, NTS is NOT a replacement for the telephone or the internet. It is a totally separate operation. If you want to prohibit those clients who don't have a telephone number or email address from using your emergency system then have at it. Just hand them a cell phone with unlimited minutes and nationwide calling and then commiserate with them when they hand it back without using it.

OR -- take a radiogram and manually put it into the NTS for delivery.

Make the best use of the tools you have available. Don't condemn a hammer because it can't glue two boards together -- just use it as a hammer.

Don't condemn the NTS because it isn't the internet or the phone system -- just use it as the NTS.
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AI8P
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« Reply #13 on: August 30, 2011, 12:22:50 PM »

I guess you missed item #3 then.

Do YOU like putting words in other people's mouths.

I didn't say that I,

"want to prohibit those clients who don't have a telephone number or email address from using your emergency system"

-- YOU SAID THAT (caps added for sufficient drama to match your previous note)

I said we'd use a Radiogram for that. 

Have a nice day.

Dennis
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WG8Z
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« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2011, 02:53:33 PM »

Dennis
Looks like you've done your homework and at least have put together a County communications plan. Some Ohio EC's havn't gotten that far.
What still remains is to solve the age old question on how to get your members experienced in the basic skills of formal message traffic and net protocols...Trying to jump on FLDIGI to solve that problem is not a solution...
As I recall ARRL ecc-1 and the PSCM focuses quite a bit on the basic skill....You need to crawl before you walk or run.... I expect since you first posted this question back in May you have already been in contact with N8KBC your DEC, KB8WPZ SEC, WA3EZN STM, W8UL NTSD 8rn Ohio and KI8GW SM on how to achieve your goals.
Sure would like to hear you participate more on the OSSBN.
Lead by example..

73 de Greg/WG8Z
OSSBN Member and NCS
Net Manager TATN
Sysop WG8Z-10 Winlink RMS packet
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