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Author Topic: Slow lingering death of MARS.  (Read 60240 times)
KF5ER
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Posts: 97




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« on: October 27, 2012, 06:16:51 AM »

Mars was once a very good thing, helped out guys overseas with phone
patches, Mars Grams, etc. Actually had a mission with the military.
Those days are over with.  No actual need for Mars now with all the
modern communications.  It is slowly, a little at the time, being dropped
by all the services.  Day may come when its needed again, but I doubt it.
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NK7Z
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« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2012, 06:42:02 AM »

Mars was once a very good thing, helped out guys overseas with phone
patches, Mars Grams, etc. Actually had a mission with the military.
Those days are over with.  No actual need for Mars now with all the
modern communications.  It is slowly, a little at the time, being dropped
by all the services.  Day may come when its needed again, but I doubt it.


I hope you are wrong... 
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
KH6DC
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Posts: 615




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« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2012, 08:59:32 PM »

I'm an Army MARS member and activity is dead here in Hawaii.  THe last tsunami warning last month, no MARS net was activiate.  I joined the local Civil Defense nets.  In the last 5-6 years, we've had several tsunami, earthquake and hurricane warnings with the same story - no MARS net so I joined the Civil Defense nets.
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73 and Aloha,
de Delwyn, KH6DC
AD4U
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Posts: 2129




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« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2012, 05:45:52 AM »

As someone who ran lots of phone patches for military, south pole, and other services in the 1960's and early 1970's, I definitely do not see the need or the demand for that any longer. 

Ditto for all the "traffic nets".  While I rarely listen to traffic nets, when I do, I never hear them passing any meaningful "traffic".  Most of them have just turned into social meetings on the air, which is perfectly OK.

Dick  AD4U

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K5DHL
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Posts: 3




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« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 08:53:32 AM »

I joined MARS in June, 2012 right after I got my General License, which was probably too soon (i.e. a mistake).  I had been active on 2m with analog and DStar, but had no HF radio or experience, no antennas, tuners, etc etc etc.   So it has taken me a little time to put all that together, except now my 6 month "/t" training status is up (I finished all my basic training reqs, except for air time).....  NTL, due to the delay in my HF expertise (& lack of gen HF exp & equip),  I withdrew my MARS membership, although I am still getting all the emails, etc.  I don't know if I have been officially removed or had my status changed to "leave of absence." - either is ok with me.  

The leadership here in Oklahoma was very nice and courteous,   but I did detect (I think) a little pressure on them to get an active group all wrapped and qualified....     During this process I noticed a new "m.o." being preaching from MARS leadership about being a comm support operation for not just the DOD branch, but to FEMA, local fire, police, etc,   which is probably a good thing, but it does overlap with many of the other ham emergency ops groups that are already plugged into the local emergency needs - maybe better plugged in....

In Oklahoma there are a lot of hams, but very few MARS volunteers, & I don't quite know why.    Seems MARS has a hard time recruiting people and maybe a hard time retaining them, & I have some thoughts, but nothing verifiable.

If I was retired I'd love to spend more time with my radios & with MARS.   However I am still employed, and still have many other commitements that get in the way of my hobby.....  so a lot of compromises take place, which does get in the way of doing MARS nets & such.....
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 09:21:23 AM by K5DHL » Logged
KA0P
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Posts: 14




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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 05:24:14 PM »

Understand your frustration, they probably should have recommended not applying till you had your hf station set up. The 6 months goes by fast. Not sure what service Mars you joined, I am a long time AF MARS member, also not retired, and right now just making the minimum time to stay active. I am in the St. Louis area and in the late 70s /early 80s we had upwards of 25 local members. Now we have 2. Of course at that time we were allowed VHF only MARS activity, and had a bunch of repeaters around- every major city. MARS has changed several times during my tenure, but the main ingredient is that it needs active people. I have seen long time members not doing much, and I have seen new members, such as yourself who assume active roles- ncs, leadership positions, etc soon after completing their training. Of course I have noted the more time you have available, the better chance for that.
I would say, after you get your hf set up and running give it another shot. And make sure you have a fairly decent antenna. I have seen a lot of folks get discouraged because the ncs cant hear them, or they cant hear the nets.

I am not sure where you are at in OK. I get to the OKC area a couple times a year. I used to bring along a handheld and there was a repeater at Tinker, but there was only the guy who set it up who was on, but I have not heard it lately. Also used to check in to a CAP VHF net but  haven't heard it lately.  The last 2 trips this fall I just had my VX8 with me and about only did APRS.

I am a member of the W5PAA group even though I don't live there.
73, and good luck
Dave 
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W1MSG
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Posts: 84


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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2013, 11:32:12 PM »

Mars was once a very good thing, helped out guys overseas with phone
patches, Mars Grams, etc. Actually had a mission with the military.
Those days are over with.  No actual need for Mars now with all the
modern communications.  It is slowly, a little at the time, being dropped
by all the services.  Day may come when its needed again, but I doubt it.


I think you hit the nail right on the head, I used a MARS station once when I was stationed in Korea in 1979. While in Iraq 2006/2007 I used a locally purchased cell phone or did VOIP when I had internet. The MARS program will surely die a slow death as budgets get cut as they serve no real purpose any longer. I joined Army MARS while still on active Duty in 2011, but quit shortly after when I realized it had no actual purpose and the way they do things is quite antiquated .
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K1ZJH
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Posts: 778




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« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2013, 11:23:51 AM »

Technology changes. I remember when I used to belong to VHF traffic nets (Post Office Net) to handle radio grams. I think I still have some ARRL Radiograms stored in the cellar.  The sad thing is if the need ever arises, there will be no one there to pick up the pieces. What does it cost to keep the MARS program active? Backup plans are always good practice.

Pete
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W1MSG
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« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2013, 01:06:56 AM »

Its not so much what it costs, but what it does. It does absolutely nothing for the Military, the days of phone patches and Marsgrams are long gone. The military has enough redundant systems and backups that using civilian run stations just wont ever happen. Especially since everything is now encrypted and secure.

Now the MARS folks seem to think they will get used when a local Governement requests them, kind of like ARES. I doubt the Military will be willing to spend money to mobilize civilian volunteers to support anything. Possibly a new organization under FEMA, or something along those lines, but trying to continue on with a MARS program is just futile in my opinion.
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K0CBA
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Posts: 289




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« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2013, 10:52:23 PM »

In 1982 while on active duty on Guam I sent a note home to my wife just for giggles....it hasn't arrived yet.

Should I keep waiting?
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WB9QEL
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Posts: 39




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« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2013, 05:03:23 PM »

I sent a MARSGRAM to my sister from Germany when I was on my way to Desert Storm.  She never did get that.  Kinda important at the time.  Just sayin.  Epic fail!! 
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NK7Z
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« Reply #11 on: January 30, 2013, 05:33:23 AM »

In 1982 while on active duty on Guam I sent a note home to my wife just for giggles....it hasn't arrived yet.

Should I keep waiting?

Do you remember the message number?  Smiley
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Thanks,
Dave
For reviews and setups see: http://www.nk7z.net
AC2EU
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Posts: 301


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« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2013, 03:19:12 PM »

I'm new to relatively Ham radio, but don't you have to jump through serious hoops to get in MARS ? There was some AR service that you had to swear your life and allegiance to Homeland Security or some such nonsense. They had the forms there and everything... Once I heard that, I wanted nothing to do with it.

Also, I've noticed that the NTS seems to be waning as well. Here locally , they pass messages back and forth to friends and each other, but when it gets complicated, nobody wants to deal with it. I sent a message to a ham buddy in the Midwest on FD to help the club, but my buddy never got it.

Video killed the radio star and it seems the cell phone killed NTS  Shocked
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N9KWW
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Posts: 85




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« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2013, 09:11:54 AM »

MARS has changed will continue to change as the needs of those we serve  change. There are several programs in the works, on that was just announced is from Chief Navy MARS. SHARES has growing pains, it started out simple and grew. As it got bigger some aspects became complicated, there is a group that has found ways to get it back to the basics. Some Parts of the program are Agency driven, and those parts can’t be changed so easily. MARS has gone back to the basics ECOM, but since 9/11 the whole concept of ECOM has changed. Since no one really knows what the structure of a nationwide ECOM plan should be, we are in a state of constant change.
   Ask ARES where they stand in the scheme of things, they are running into the issues as MARS, just on a smaller scale with larger issues. I predict that this will even itself out and the services for volunteer radio communications will still be needed for years to come. What form this will take and how it will be integrated into the larger picture is anyone’s guess. I can see two issues that will plague any volunteer communications group, age. We need folks who are young enough to go to emergency sites and work. We will also need a group that can be at a safe site outside the area and some that can be at home.  The last we have the first we may not, that is our Achilles heel.
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W8NSI
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« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2013, 08:52:58 PM »

Mars was once a very good thing, helped out guys overseas with phone
patches, Mars Grams, etc. Actually had a mission with the military.
Those days are over with.  No actual need for Mars now with all the
modern communications.  It is slowly, a little at the time, being dropped
by all the services.  Day may come when its needed again, but I doubt it.


From the tone of your message, I would hazard a guess that you were once a member of one of the 3 MARS branches???

The MARS programs are leaner. We do not have the equipment programs anymore. NAVY MARS Does still have phone patch nets. Because of the easy access to email, health and welfare traffic has gone away.
But I have heard the same sour grapes you express about the hams in ECOMM because of the internet and cell phones and all sorts of things... WRONG! When all the modern methods fail the hams are there. And guess what, MARS members are also hams. DOD has recognized this. MARS is no longer Military Affiliated Radio Service but Military AUXILIARY Radio Service. There is a difference.

73 de w8nsi/nnn0uzw jim
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73 de w8nsi/nnn0uzw jim
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