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eHam Forums => Emergency Communications => Topic started by: N3ZJ on September 11, 2013, 08:44:59 PM



Title: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on September 11, 2013, 08:44:59 PM

Is there any activity - or is there any place - for CW in EMCOMM? It strikes me that the simplicity and independence of a CW station might have great merit, but I never see this addressed. Am I way off base here?
Thanks.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on September 12, 2013, 03:02:53 AM
  Short answer Yes there is a place for it. Long answer depends on your definition/type of EMCOMM. A lone individual in a remote location or up on a mountain (SOTA) has a serious injury and needs assistance and uses his small qrp/cw only rig to call for help as oppsed to a major type disaster in which CW may only be a last resort after voice type methods usd by the usual responder groups that are prepared and set up for this type of EMCOMM.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on September 12, 2013, 03:52:16 AM
Given the great number of people who get into amateur radio specifically to become involved in emergency communications and nothing else and given the fact that for the most part, they generally just memorize enough of the answers to minimally pass the 35 question multiple guess written test, I would say that CW would be totally wasted with these people which is probably why you don't see it discussed much in "EMCOMM" threads.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K5LXP on September 12, 2013, 06:14:48 AM

When you're hunkered down in your prepper bunker after armageddon and you're waiting for the fallout to subside a bit you can get on your when-all-else-fails CW station and get the message through, because CW will get through when nothing else will.

http://www.hamradiofun.com/emergency.htm (http://www.hamradiofun.com/emergency.htm)

Not sure what message needs to get through or to who, but that's secondary.  You'll be ready.

In all seriousness,  you might be able to come up with a far-out, one in a million scenario where CW would be an advantage.   The other 999,999 times Emcomm ops would be doing well to have charged batteries and know how to program a PL in their HT's.  I'd focus on the 999,999 scenarios first.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on September 12, 2013, 02:41:01 PM

LXP - point taken. However, it seems to me amateur radio's greatest advantage over other communication avenues rests in its simplicity and independence from infra-structure. This seems to have been lost somehow. CW is, perhaps, the extreme case of this...But looking at it objectively, there surely is some merit in a system of communication that is very basic and has a slew of competent operators. I am curious why that is not more studied and included in emcomm. Heck, it's probably the one mode that is not redundantly available in the public service sector. Anyway, your comments are appreciated.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: WB6BYU on September 12, 2013, 04:20:05 PM
I think you need to look at what the typical needs of served agencies are, and the typical
skill sets of the volunteers available.

Most served agencies need messages passed, and usually the mode doesn't matter to them.
I've passed emergency traffic on CW because that was the only mode available, but in many
cases there are easier ways to do it.  (And sometimes the fastest way to get a message
through doesn't involve ham radio at all.)

CW isn't a common skill for newcomers these days.  In the ARES groups I belonged to for the
last several years there were usually no more than 2 or 3 operators fluent in CW.  It really
isn't practical to plan to use it unless you know that the operators at all necessary sites
will be sufficiently skilled.  Even finding enough operators to use HF SSB was sometimes
difficult, though we worked on helping members upgrade.  (Actually, most HF operation
was using WinLINK, but we did include HF SSB as one of our capabilities.)

Not that I'm opposed to CW - it happens to be my favorite mode, and I recommend that
hams become conversant with it (at least those who operate HF.)  You never know when
a station might break into a SSB net on CW, or it may be the only way to get a message
through under poor conditions.  But that requires that the operators at both ends know
what they are doing.

(It also comes in handy for other types of signaling using lights, mirrors, whistle, train
horns, etc.)

So, especially for stations operating HF, knowing how to operate CW is a good skill to
have, but overall the number of occasions where it would actually get used in typical
emergency responses is very small.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K1CJS on September 13, 2013, 05:42:18 AM
CW can get through in cases where voice cannot, but the time it takes to send is more than voice ever was.  With the filtering and other technologies in today's radios, they are much superior to the radios of yesteryear, when CW was the only way to get through if voice comms failed.  That is the main reason that CW has taken second seat to voice. 

BTW, If you say that two experienced operators can send and receive CW just as fast as voice, I would agree, but those 20+ WPM operators are few and far between now--at least where emcomms are concerned.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W7ASA on September 13, 2013, 08:12:24 PM
It depends upon the scenario.  If supporting a government, CW is likely a poor fit, mainly for reasons of through-put.  They are used to talking A-LOT and so usually e-mail over radio using WINLINK/WINMOR is what supports the long range requirements for them to report outside of our region.  I cannot speak for other regions. For area VHF voice comms, the surrounding counties here recently implemented P25 and so no experience with it yet in tough hurricane conditions (Thank God!).

HOWEVER, for personal, inter-family and friends and/or to hams outside of the impacted area for general health and welfare for and about your small group of people: YES! I also like the stand alone capability of my CW rigs: low current requirements, built in antenna couplers for less-than-perfect antennas, highly portable and they also usually have a built-in general coverage receiver to keep up on what is happening. When I was either in deep wilderness or at sea, Id ask the fellow I was in contact with (CW) of he would mind passing along a short message, generally under 20 words.  So, even in pristine wilderness, my friends at home would still get the  "BUSH PLANE LANDED SAFELY. RON IS SICK. THE WOLVES ARE HOWLING. HAVING FUN.  +  location." messages to friends at their e-mail addresses.  I've never had a ham refuse to do that. Even sent my parents in Colorado a note via HF manpack (PRC-74B), letting them know that the BIG L.A. earthquake that just happened, did not injure me and that I was just waiting for power and lights to come back on. Being a manpack, battery power was normal and it was a 12 volt set... lots of car batteries in L.A.!

For smaller groups and individuals, especially if you're not able to remain at home with the large, and/or power that high-powered gear, CW and a simple wire antenns is highly effective.

>>> You might enjoy this site as well:  radiopreppers.com     It's not a 'sharpen your bayonet' site at all.  If I wanted that, I'd have stayed int he Army.   ;D   Hams mostly on the site, many of them campers and just a lot of good discussions, a few skeds and the occasional camping trips where we forumites from around the continent listen for the guy(s) out in the woods with their tiny radios, sending from their camp spot.


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._  ._



Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W8DPC on September 15, 2013, 01:08:47 PM

LXP - point taken. However, it seems to me amateur radio's greatest advantage over other communication avenues rests in its simplicity and independence from infra-structure. This seems to have been lost somehow.

Simplicity is a good point. Think what would be necessary to work emcoms in a normal situation. First, you've got to have a station set up one both ends with CW keys, and you have to have at least two radios that are both CW capable (as opposed to just having a simple FM HT on each end). AND if it's a true emergency and you've got a lot of traffic to send, both ends better be capable of at least 20 WPM code. So being CW capable in most situations seems to complicate the situation instead of simplify it.

CW really shines in weak signal situations, but that's probably not going to be the situation in normal emergency communication situations. If you have at least one person on end with mobile radios (which is very likely), then you'll be working 50 watts, probably just across town, and that's IF you don't have a local repeater with battery backup. I'm all for learning CW and keeping it alive, but I just don't see it being appropriate in this kind of scenario. Of course that's just my opinion.

Dave
KX8N


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: NX5MK on September 15, 2013, 03:40:34 PM
N3ZJ,

I believe an outstanding EmComm operator is proficient in a variety of modes, which he is able to make use of as the situation dictates, not being dependent on any infrastructure, able to put up an antenna at a moments notice, being energy efficient. Constricting oneself to "just" VHF repeater traffic or Winlink, or voice in general or NBEMS or... - may prove itself foolhardy. Yes, they all have their place, but no single mode will solve all problems. Thus, yes, I too believe that code proficiency is a valuable knowledge to have.

73 de Marcus NX5MK


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB8VUL on September 18, 2013, 08:19:45 PM
Sure it has it's place.  After all when all else failed and the end is here those that are prepared can fire up their spark gap transmitter and get a message out to anyone listening (Hey ma, what are the funny clicks on the radio,,, I think it broke or something).  It's invaluable in that situation.  I already have some jumper cables, a roll of wire and an old Ford ignition coil in my go bad for just such a situation.  Since I will already be riding shotgun with the local LEO's or fire dept providing much needed communications I can just hook right up to the battery in the vehicle and go to town.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on September 19, 2013, 12:50:04 PM

My original post was inspired by my reading about the Michigan Net (oldest amateur net in the USA) and how amazingly efficient they are using CW...and wondering why this mode seems not to be considered of value anymore in traffic handling for EMCOM.

Jim  N3ZJ



Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB8VUL on September 19, 2013, 02:22:59 PM
Got to agree with Dan on this.
20 WPM is silly slow for passing information.
Even 40 WPM.  Really?  You can speak in normal conversation at twice that.
You can type at twice that.
In the time that you read this you would have only copied the first 2 sentences.
CW is great for what it's great for, and not much else.

The computer digital modes will pull information from out of the noise on HF on a terminal.
The digital VHF UHF stuff will do the same thing and have the bandwidth to support voice.
CW is the simplest of modes.  The transmitter and receivers are much less complex and easily repairable.
For a LONG time it was better than anything else for long distance or weak signal but there are technologies that surpass it now.

And lastly, it's getting to the point that there are less ad less operators that have the knowledge to send and receive it.
Text on a screen or spoken word are universal, anyone that speaks and / or reads English will understand it where code adds a layer to that statement.  Morse code may be international, but the guy on the other end needs to know code AND English to decipher it.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K5LXP on September 19, 2013, 02:28:17 PM
wondering why this mode seems not to be considered of value anymore in traffic handling for EMCOM.

Even the best QRQ ops can't schlep data back and forth under trying (or even good) conditions than something like PSK, MT63, et al can.  You can buy a laptop, put some free software on it, connect it to a radio and any useful idiot can pass lots of traffic.  Put a key or paddle in front of any idiot and you don't get anything.  It's easier to find useful idiots to staff EOC's than crack CW ops.


Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W5LZ on October 13, 2013, 07:15:15 PM
Would CW be useful in an Emcomm situation?  Maybe, but I certainly wouldn't want to have to depend on it.  The least common denominator that's useful would be voice communications, almost everyone can talk.  I haven't seen many 'emergency'/commercial radios that were capable of CW.  Wanna throw a key in the go-bag?  Have at it.
 - Paul


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KD8GTP on October 13, 2013, 08:18:32 PM
I don't think CW has a place in EMCOMM.  When I put on my ARES vest and jump into my old crown vic to self deploy it would be hard to use a CW key and drive at the same time wouldn't it ? 


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N4KD on October 18, 2013, 12:23:14 PM
So maybe not CW. How about alternatives to FM repeaters? Maybe a digital mode on a SSB rig for VHF?

- Dave N4KD


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on October 18, 2013, 12:49:01 PM
   I often wonder if the French Resistance during WW11 considered themselves EMCOMM radio operators or stealth Pirate station radio operators. Either one, CW got the job done.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: WB6BYU on October 21, 2013, 11:28:30 AM
Quote from: W1JKA
   I often wonder if the French Resistance during WW11 considered themselves EMCOMM radio operators or stealth Pirate station radio operators. Either one, CW got the job done.


If you have to build your station from scratch, CW has a big advantage because
the circuits are simpler.  Dutch resistance operators converted medical radiathermy
equipment (which was popular at the time) into transmitters, while some of the
German spies had adaptors that would use the audio output stage of a broadcast
receiver or phonograph for a transmitter.

Also CW doesn't require operators to speak the same language - anyone can copy
coded messages character-by-character and pass them on without translation,
whereas that is slower and more difficult on voice.  (Encryption was applied before
the message was handed to the radio operator.)


But those are not the situations under which most EMCOMM takes place these
days.  As much as I think CW skills (and the ability to build and/or repair your own
equip when needed) are generally good to have, you can't count on having an
operator at the other end who can copy your message unless you have planned
and practiced such a link beforehand.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: AA4HA on October 22, 2013, 08:55:16 AM
CW, perfect for EMCOMM. Attach a Coke bottle to a window shade string and balance it on the key.

Ok, probably nobody got that reference.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: WB6BYU on October 22, 2013, 09:19:42 AM
They may think you've gone blinkers...


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KG6AF on October 22, 2013, 09:24:07 AM
CW, perfect for EMCOMM. Attach a Coke bottle to a window shade string and balance it on the key.

Ok, probably nobody got that reference.

It's the only reliable way to hail a submarine.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on October 23, 2013, 01:01:35 PM


Cw offers the advantage of simplicity - not computer, for example, is required. As for "skilled operators", why shouldn't there be operators trained in Cw (or digital, etc.) just as surely as they are trained in EMCOMM generally? Training is training.
I think what motivated my original post was the feeling that amateur EMCOMM is increasingly becoming complex, and reliant on public infrastructure - which is, in my opinion, not where we shine brightest. Our strength is simplicity, resilience, resourcefulness and that is the thing we should always keep alive.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on October 23, 2013, 01:45:58 PM
Cw offers the advantage of simplicity - not computer, for example, is required. As for "skilled operators", why shouldn't there be operators trained in Cw (or digital, etc.) just as surely as they are trained in EMCOMM generally? Training is training.

Give me a radio, a computer and a soundcard interface with the proper cabling between them and I can "train" someone to use the digital modes in less than an hour.

OTOH...

The level of "training" required to learn International Morse code and be adequately proficient enough at it to be able to use it in a true "when all else fails" scenario is nowhere near the same level of training required to use the digital modes and it is utterly ridiculous to compare them in the way.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on October 23, 2013, 02:17:59 PM
     Again someones definition of EMCOMM is as different as the particular emergency itself. Not everyone especially those operating some type of mobile/portable station is going to have computer, sound card interface or proper connecting cables available. Most would consider cross training in the various modes a benefit of which knowledge of CW operation is one.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W7ASA on October 23, 2013, 02:34:51 PM
This depends upon the type of EMCOMM scenarios you are planning for.  As previously stated:

For high/medium volume traffic passing in support of government operations, then digital modes make perfect sense.  

However, if the planned requirement is for personal (family or group) low volume radio communication outside of line of site for the purpose of personal 'messaging' between friends and family who either ARE or know your contact ham, then HF CW works very well.

Foggy's Law says:
 "No go-go juice = no go-go."

Powering a sophisticated transceiver (2 Amps on receive or more PLUS transmit current) and a computer, along with the associated cables and etc. is certainly more difficult to set-up & maintain than a simple CW rig, especially, if part of the emergency is having no commercial electrical power. Being able to keep a computer powered along with a ham station designed for digital communication can be a significant challenge, which during a grid down emergency is usually handled (if at all) by personal generators.  In an extended grid down situation, as fuel for the personal generator begins to dwindle, you will have to consider whether it's worth hitting the streets with a gas can, looking for those long/angry gas lines and the personal security problem this often entails. If you're required to relocate the sophisticated station equipment, computer, cables and support devices might be a real problem. If you have power and a stable place to operate from: no problem.

On-the-other-hand: Maintaining my skeds using my KX1 ( or a wonderful KX3! ) is very simple, as is the wire antenna that goes with it.  A pack of AA batteries will provide 2 weeks of my skeds with the KX1, a car battery will likely run it until my two year old grand son hits pre-school and the built in solar (my add-on) recharging system will likely keep it running until his first dance.  

For personal communications, sending out a message like:

 "THE WIFE, KIDS AND I ARE FINE AND SHELTERING AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE."

- is simple and effective.  CW at it's most basic level is easily written, making accurate messaging much more likely. Voice is rapid for conversation, but slow for written messages containing unusual words:

" I SAY AGAIN, WE NEED OREOS. I SPELL: OSCAR, ROMEO, ECHO, OSCAR, SIERRA. OREOS AND COFFEE. HOW COPY, OVER"

This highly portable CW system is quite easy to use, maintain and take with me.  Listening on it's general coverage receiver to gather information only draws roughly 35 mA.  

-...-

You are quite correct in that, CW requires skill - that is true.  For high volume traffic, such as supporting government people in a disaster, using their electrical power and from their stable location, I also support the use of digital modes. However, as for me personally and my personal planning, I go with CW for reliable skeds and do not plan to change if the lights go out and I need to have a quick note sent to family and friends advising them of our situation.

YMMV,


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._




Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on October 25, 2013, 04:57:42 PM

W7ASA - you speak a lot of truth and make a lot of sense. There is great value in simplicity, something to be exploited in tough times.



Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on October 25, 2013, 06:29:39 PM
With all that said,  depending on conditions, equipment, etc, it can be a convenient way to contact a traffic handling net and get some messages out of the effected area by utilizing the NTS.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on October 26, 2013, 02:41:41 AM
Our strength is simplicity, resilience, resourcefulness and that is the thing we should always keep alive.

Most would consider cross training in the various modes a benefit of which knowledge of CW operation is one.

CW at it's most basic level is easily written, making accurate messaging much more likely.

There is great value in simplicity, something to be exploited in tough times.

With all that said,  depending on conditions, equipment, etc, it can be a convenient way to contact a traffic handling net and get some messages out of the effected area by utilizing the NTS.

I get a big kick out of comments like these. Where were you guys in the late 80s and through the 90s when merely suggesting that CW had any value whatsoever in amateur radio was like asking someone to worship the devil? If someone made comments like these 25 years ago when CW was still a requirement for the Novice, General and Extra Class licenses, they would run out of town on a rail! Don't you guys know that CW is an antiquated mode of communication. All branches of the military have abandoned it as a mode of communication. CW is just an unfair barrier keeping otherwise well meaning people out of amateur radio. And the list goes on and on...

Maybe, just maybe people are starting to realize, that despite the efforts of all of those who said CW is a total waste of time, it does indeed have some value to amateur radio. So it looks like we were right all along!



Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on October 26, 2013, 03:23:56 AM
Re: N0IU reply #28

   I can't help but notice that you contradicted yourself two times in your post and you should do a little more research before stating the military has completely abandoned CW. In answer to your first question "where were you guys" I was QRT. You aren't alone in getting a big kick out of posted comments. ;)


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on October 26, 2013, 03:36:15 AM
As far as the military abandoning Morse code, I guess I should have made it more clear that this was not my opinion. At the time, it was given as one of the most frequently used reasons that the no-coders wanted it dropped as a testing requirement.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K8QV on October 31, 2013, 04:06:32 PM
<<<However, it seems to me amateur radio's greatest advantage over other communication avenues rests in its simplicity and independence from infra-structure.>>>

That would be ham radio's ONLY advantage. However, the idea of a simple little rig, a wire, and a battery that will last two weeks is no longer feasible. EMCOMM types aren't interested in the simplest, most efficient, independent and foolproof mode because it requires the use of Morse code. CW is pretty much on its deathbed outside of the DX community. "Go Boxes," HTs with batteries that need chargers or they die, repeaters that need power and elevated viable antennas, and of course the Internet are the order of the day for EMCOMM. That means that amateur radio, supposedly the last best hope for the disaster torn world, is redundant to the systems and the backups already in place for the first responder professionals. When ALL the power really goes out, the guy with the little CW station will be getting messages in and out. It will never happen in the EMCOMM community at large.



Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W5GNB on November 02, 2013, 07:26:18 AM
If you have PROFICIENT operators on CW at all stations, it would certainly be much Faster and way more efficient than Packet or Phone.  Proficiency is the key to useful CW operation.....
Unfortunately, good CW operators are dying off by the dozens and few are coming up in the newer ranks of Ham Radio....


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N3ZJ on November 23, 2013, 04:21:56 PM

Regarding the last two posts: Right on! Yes, this was the comport of my original question. Simple and efficient stations that require operator proficiency instead of eternal batteries...So a follow-on question would be: why is CW training and proficiency subordinate to "EMCOMM" training? That is, I see a lot of focus on procedural training but not on one of our legacy values, i.e., simple and reliable stations.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K1CJS on November 23, 2013, 06:15:04 PM
On the other hand, states of emergency requiring the exclusive use of 'small and simple' rigs are usually bad enough that most people would be hard pressed to play radio, they would be more interested in just staying alive, and hopefully that kind of emergency won't come along any time soon.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on November 24, 2013, 05:17:58 AM
So a follow-on question would be: why is CW training and proficiency subordinate to "EMCOMM" training? That is, I see a lot of focus on procedural training but not on one of our legacy values, i.e., simple and reliable stations.

Using amateur radio in emergency situations is not a theoretical exercise. Every time it is deployed, whether it is in Washington, Illinois or the remote areas of the Phillipines, we (hopefully) get smarter after each experience. We figure out what works and more importantly, what doesn't work. While the use of CW may seem like a great idea on the surface, I almost never see it mentioned in any of the articles and reports that come out in the aftermath.

A lot of people are drawn into amateur radio solely for the purpose of getting involved in emergency or public service communications and this is a double-edged sword. There are those who think that throwing an HT in a bag with a spare set of batteries along with a small Mag light and a handful of granola bars will prepare them for TEOTWAWKI, but there are those who take it very seriously and use their technical skills and knowledge of modern technology to develop communications platforms that are simple and reliable... and that don't take years or even months to master.

This weekend is the CW portion of the CQ Worldwide DX contest and one can easily see that CW is still an extremely popular mode all over the world. I have also never failed to get on the radio and stir up a casual CW QSO pretty much any time I wanted. But while CW may be one of the "legacy values" of amateur radio, that does not mean it is the right solution for every situation. I appreciate the fact that there are those who want to preserve the "legacy values" of amateur radio, but this "new breed" of operators who may be narrowly focused on using amateur radio for a specific purpose really don't care about preserving our legacy and finding a way to make it fit into their communications paradigm.

The bottom line is that it is not the purpose of emergency communications to preserve our legacy.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K1CJS on November 24, 2013, 06:43:45 AM
...The bottom line is that it is not the purpose of emergency communications to preserve our legacy.


I agree with you on just about everything you said, but try telling that (what I quoted) to the ARRL!  Their idea of 'preserving the bands' tie directly to their insistence on promoting emergency communications.  That idea doesn't include CW in the slightest, either.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KF7VXA on December 10, 2013, 01:12:15 PM
I see a great deal of people putting down operators who get into the EMCOMM part of Ham radio only.
One major reason I' got my ticket and upgraded was for EMCOMM, but I have also bought just about every book out there for study, read forums and try to increase my knowledge in any way possible. I like much more about Amateur radio than EMCOMM and don't have an Elmer anywhere near me now, so I have to self study.
CW does have it's place in EMCOMM, but is used little. When it comes right down to it, NBEMS, a new digital operating system made for EMCOMM use primarily will get a written message through when CW will not, so CW is not the last and best way to get a transmission out in very bad conditions. NBEMS does require a computer and radio, nothing else. Not too many take a computer camping, so it's not the perfect solution either.

I guess I'd like to see Amateurs work with EMCOMM people to try and help them increase their knowledge and show them the many ways that an Amateur can communicate. When they are shunned, they have no will to learn and you make it an us and them thing. I very much understand your dislike of wannabe's.
We need EMCOMM people who are also well rounded operators if Ham radio is to keep growing. Working with EMCOMM operators to teach them more would go a long way towards lighting the spark in them that there is far more to radio than emergency work.

There are more than a few Hams who just work EMCOMM and it is a problem.
It will never get better unless others take the time to show and do some training of those people. It's not easy. I sure don't know it all, but try and upgrade the knowledge of people strictly doing EMCOMM.
It's not that I want to save the world. I do want to see knowledge increase, and grow radio, but I also want to be able to work with people who know more than how to turn on their radio and talk. It's to everyone's advantage.
It's not always easy or fun, but it's better than doing nothing except complain on forums.
We are lucky because there are some very good operators who always come through in times of emergency. It sure would be great if we all could bring the ones who don't know much up to speed.
There will always be those who care nothing more than to be able to talk providing their rig is working and just want to be able to have a badge and vest, not much can be done about those people, but there are others who can be worked with. I know this because I've been able to do so with some in a semi EMCOMM group who use GMRS (It's a local LDS church thing). None will get their ham ticket, see below what I have to work with. To the churches credit, they are working to get people get their tickets and work with them, it just has not taken in my area. I'm not LDS, but will work with anyone who really wants to learn.
If just 40% can be shown the advantage to really learning about radio, that alone will make a difference. EMCOMM groups need to make meetings not an option and teach more than just emergency operating. That is one way to increase knowledge and maybe get those people interested in the many other things Amateur radio has to offer. Once really interested, many will want to learn more. Some just need a swift kick in the pants. The one's who refuse to try and learn more should be invited to leave or be used to give verbal directions to the restrooms.
I wish I had the problem that many of you do have. There are exactly three people active in EMCOMM in my local area including me. They all do far more than just EMCOMM.
I doubt CW will ever play much of a roll in EMCOMM, but we do hear about the camper with a CW rig, lost or hurt who gets help using CW, so there may still be a very,very small place for CW, but it is fading as more of the old timers go silent and fewer learn it.

73's John KF7VXA


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N1ZZZ on December 22, 2013, 03:29:15 PM
 I would ask how many CW operators who are working at the 30 wpm+ level are used to doing armchair copy verses hard copy?  Are you able to write down 100% copy at 30 wpm or are you used to just hearing it like a voice conversation?

This is a serious question because that is what served agencies require.

73
Jeremy N1ZZZ


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB8VUL on December 22, 2013, 09:21:11 PM
One of the other things not being considered here is the situation.  EMCOMM for some reason in the ham circles seems to always be a solution looking for a specific problem.  By that I mean if the situation arises that the standard paths of communication are severed we can step in and assist.  Now, the problem with that is everyone seems to say we can do X why Y happens.  What if X is not X?  Say the situation is a need for sandbags to be filled.  First thought is that we are radio guys, not shovel operators.  Truth is that we are volunteers, plain and simple.  So the ones that have the ability to shovel, are expected to shovel.  In the same amount of time that it's going to take the average ham to deploy, get to where he's gong and begin relaying situational information back to an EOC the local TV news chopper is flying overhead and sending real time video about the situation.  We have seen this time after time. Katrina was the big eye opener for me.  There were so many people that didn't have the good sense to leave and they died.  The bodies were literally floating in the streets, and the  hams were reporting this on HF as the Fox News choppers were showing it on TV. 

Here's the point.  Situations that are going to strand an entire city with no available means of communications are going to be impossible.  Unless the situation is so grave that there is simply no one to talk to.  ARES is going to be passing traffic in natural disaster situations where simplex VHF /UHF comms are going to more than fill the need.  The idea of some fool setup with a CW key and HF radio are quite frankly silly.  It's EMCOMM for GOds sake, we aren't preppers.  Those that are thinking that some situation is going to arise that requires long distance communications for state to state via CW or any other mode is ludicrous.  If that sort of situation comes into play, chances are that your rig will be either fried from the EMP of the nuke that went off or swamped from the tidal wave of water that drown your silly ass.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on December 23, 2013, 04:18:17 AM
If hams are never going to pass traffic long distance, what is the purpose of MARS stations training for just such an event?

Also, why did hams in the Philippines use HF to connect the devastated islands with the government and relief agencies?

And also why would you say hams in Katrina were using HF if it was so useless? Were the TV choppers talking to the boots on the ground? And why is the hurricane net on HF?

Each event has its own unique set of problems and needs. To condemn any mode or band is short sighted and holds little credibility. The United States is spoiled by the large amount of technology available to it. Other places do not have that luxury. Or should we say to the rest of the world...that's your problem?


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K1CJS on December 23, 2013, 12:49:07 PM
One of the other things not being considered here is the situation.  EMCOMM for some reason in the ham circles seems to always be a solution looking for a specific problem.  By that I mean if the situation arises that the standard paths of communication are severed we can step in and assist.  Now, the problem with that is everyone seems to say we can do X why Y happens.  What if X is not X?  Say the situation is a need for sandbags to be filled.  First thought is that we are radio guys, not shovel operators.  Truth is that we are volunteers, plain and simple.  So the ones that have the ability to shovel, are expected to shovel....


I think that 'VUL has a good point.  Volunteers are volunteers.  In most cases, if a volunteer says he/she is a radio volunteer only, he/she is going to be told to take a hike.  At least that's the way it was when and where I was participating.

Another thing.  CW is fine--IF--there are operators who can pass the messages in code quickly and efficiently.  Seeing that not too many operators who are interested in EmCom volunteering are proficient in the mode, messages are more quickly passed in voice or through one of the digital modes--especially if the messages are mostly lists.

The time was that EmCom meant health and welfare messages only, not 'semi-official' communications such as the ARRL and others are insisting belong in the ham radio purview. 

Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, maybe we should get back to the basics of the ham EmCom communications--the health and welfare side of messaging.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB8VUL on December 23, 2013, 07:06:28 PM
My point exactly.  And as far as the comments about the Philippines hurricane, as I look out my window I see the USA.  Not some distant 3rd world country that still dump poop in the streets.  More over, it seems that the number of people on here that are from another nation are rather small compared to the ones from the US, AND the ones from 3rd world nations that I spoke of earlier are fewer in number. 

So I guess the question would be this.  IF (big IF) IF you were running an HF net for a disaster in a 3rd world nation on the receiving end of communications from that nation about the situation there, just who do you think your going to call and report it to?  The local police?  Your states National Guard?  I bet you're gonna just flat call the White House, and the great half white hope himself is going to get on the phone with you to get updates on the situation. 

Like I said before, ARES and ham level EMCOMM is a solution looking for a specific problem that never really seems to manifest its self in the manner needed for ARES to become the solution.  Hence the reason for the league to push ARES to push that it's good for more than bike races and health and welfare traffic. 

No ham radio operator that isn't a public safety dispatcher is ever going to be qualified as such.  I don't care how many nets you have run, I don't care how much training you have gotten from the league that the local ham club guru that once passed some info about a storm that actually resulted in a warning being issued 20 years ago. 

Professional radio dispatchers are trained and certified to do what they do.  Sit and listen to how police and fire dispatchers handle radio traffic during a large situation then listen to an ARES net and see if you can see the obvious difference. 

My final parting shot is this.  Remember where your repeaters and gear come from before you start pontificating about how ham is so superior to commercial public safety communications.  What you are going to find is that favorite repeater you use all the time is some cast off from some police or fire department that was removed from service so they could upgrade to a better more robust system.

Yes, I get up every morning and get into a radio service truck and go to work in 911 centers, police stations and fire houses installing and repairing commercial radios.  So when someone sits here and try's to tell me that their $65 Funky Bowel (Baofung) radio is superior to a $4000 Motorola APX radio because it has a VFO is a joke.  I truly find that level of stupidity offensive.  A VFO is useless in a EMCOMM situation.  Are you expecting for people to be scanning around to find you off on some frequency that you picked because you need to pass them some traffic?  If you are involved in an ARES group, you have a list of frequencies that are already established for specific uses and tune to them.  So how in the world do you think that communications directors and people like me are not smart enough to program the commercial radios with simplex channels in case a radio system goes down?  Really.  Do you actually think that your superior intellect provides you with more intelligence that anyone else to put talk around in your radios and professional radio people are too damn dumb to figure this out so it's ARES little secret?  Get real. 


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on December 24, 2013, 05:41:46 AM
As usual, you ignored the questions and went on a rant that has nothing to do with what I asked about. And as for the Philippines, your non answer by making the excuse that it doesn't effect you hardly addresses the point I was making. But that is to be expected because my facts don't fit your argument.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on December 24, 2013, 07:15:20 AM
Or should we say to the rest of the world...that's your problem?

Maybe its time we should! We are more than $17 TRILLION in debt. There are homeless, sick and starving people IN THIS COUNTRY, but yet we still come up with the money to send to other countries to help their sick and poor and fight their battles for them!

After Katrina and 9/11, how many countries sent aid to the United States???

ZERO!!!


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB8VUL on December 26, 2013, 08:24:24 PM
If hams are never going to pass traffic long distance, what is the purpose of MARS stations training for just such an event?

Also, why did hams in the Philippines use HF to connect the devastated islands with the government and relief agencies?

And also why would you say hams in Katrina were using HF if it was so useless? Were the TV choppers talking to the boots on the ground? And why is the hurricane net on HF?

Each event has its own unique set of problems and needs. To condemn any mode or band is short sighted and holds little credibility. The United States is spoiled by the large amount of technology available to it. Other places do not have that luxury. Or should we say to the rest of the world...that's your problem?

Yeah, your right I didn't answer your specific questions.   So here I go.

MARS... Health and welfare not much more.  And anything the military has to communicate on HF they do themselves.

Katrina, again, who were they communicating too?  FEMA, the White House?  local EOC to EOC?  That gets a lot done, "we got dead bodies here"  static  "yep, we  got some here too"  "didn't these people know to leave?"  "The Superdome is full of people with no food, water or toilet paper, getting bad here." 
Outside situational awareness, which the News channels had covered in spades, there was some health and welfare stuff, but what was coming out of there that would not have been communicated any other way.  Bigger question being, was HF the only band available or just what they choose to use because it's what they trained with and it was designated?  I just recently put a NVIS HF antenna on top an EMA building that is 15 miles from the state EOC so they could communicate with the State EOC.  A VHF beam on each end and 30 watts would have more than covered the distance.  If nothing else, back to back UHF repeaters at each county EOC with offset PL's would enable every county to communicate with each other and the state as well. 

As far as the Philippines, I covered that.  They DON'T have technology to do these things.  For them HF and CW are a better bet.  But there are some distinct differences between the USA or a State or local government and the Phillipines, first is that they are more or less on and island.  Second is there are states in the US bigger than that island.  Amish areas not included, there are few if any places in the US that are as backward as they are with basic infrastructure.  Few people in the US live in grass huts. 

Lastly, as far as the rest of the world, and saying "sorry about your luck".  Yes, we need to start doing more of that.  Russia finally started doing some heavy lifting with the last disaster, it was about time.  China and the other established nations should step up and quit just expecting us to do it all.  So yea, we need to let others get involved.  And we REALLY need to quit assisting people that don't like us anyway.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KD7YVV on December 28, 2013, 01:38:50 PM

Is there any activity - or is there any place - for CW in EMCOMM? It strikes me that the simplicity and independence of a CW station might have great merit, but I never see this addressed. Am I way off base here?
Thanks.

There are those who first get involved with CERT because they want to help in their neighborhood in a disaster/emergency.
Now, most neighborhoods are quite densely packed to the point where you don't even have to go 500 feet to see someone.
That being said, not many houses have the required real estate for a full wave 160-10 meter hf antenna setup.
Now, those people who get involved with CERT may be introduced to ham radio for the first time in their lives.
To them, ham radio is some person in a basement with all sorts of weird sparking things and doodads wearing bakelite headphones.
In an emergency, you make do with what you have. If all you have is a qrp cw rig, there are still plenty of operators out there that can
decode SOS. If that's all you know as far as CW, keep sending it until someone zeroes in on where you are.
Hams have many skills, and finding transmitters is one of them. Granted, HT's are pretty cheap nowadays, and usually most of the general populace
is in range of at least one repeater. However, it all comes back to what you have on hand at the time of the emergency.
Flashlight? I seem to remember a story about two people camping or something that were messing with flashlights sending each other SOS.
Well the light was seen by someone and emergency services were called. (If I'm recalling the story correctly....old brain.)
I also remember an episode of Gilligan's Island where the Skipper was blamed for the shipwreck so the castaways "recreated" the storm.
Ginger was making lightning with a motor or something, and the first thought in my head was, spark gap transmitter.
When amateur radio was mostly CW, that was the mode used in an emergency. There were plenty of good ops who could pass traffic.
Then as AM/SSB became more the norm, those modes were used, and traffic nets handled plenty of voice traffic.
After all, in the 1950's and 60's, long distance was expensive and you needed multiple telephone operators to complete a cross country call.
Case in point, does anyone still use a rotary dial telephone anymore? (I still do!) Technology marches on.
Nowadays, I can call anywhere in the world on a device no larger than a pack of cards. However, there is a huge network support infrastructure
involved. Take away the cell towers and that little doodad is as useless as wings on a pig.
As the digital modes continue to evolve (DStar, Winlink, Echolink, PSK31 etc.) these modes will be used as well.
Who knows what modes hams will be using 100 years from now? Will CW still be a part of communications then? Who knows?
I know watching the old Star Trek, (Space Seed) CW was used in the series, even on Star Trek Voyager (The 37's) CW was used.
There are those in CERT and ARES who never venture beyond getting their technician license, and the radio they buy ends up in a drawer
someplace, never to see the light of day, and most people who are in CERT may never see a huge natural disaster like an earthquake.
Besides, if something were to happen, their first concern would be themselves, their immediate family, the dog......
Their first thought is not going to be, I have to find my HT and get on the air.....I might be needed to communicate.
CW has its place, and although it can be used in an emergency, there are many other modes and choices nowadays that require far less
skill and are much faster. Is CW obsolete? I don't believe so, but as I said, technology marches on.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: G3RZP on December 28, 2013, 02:51:26 PM
Surely, it depends on the situation. Continental US - most of the time (except perhaps  the lost hiker etc) not necessary.  Hurricane hitting Tristan da Cunha as it did some years back, a different situation. A yacht in trouble at sea - again, maybe a different case. All of these unlikely to need a lot of traffic passing. Hurricane in the Caribbean - another possible case (as has happened), depending on HF conditions, urgency and traffic. I think that generally, in such cases, the amount of traffic is initially low, and that leads to other systems being brought on line, but as a 'first response' in places without major infrastructure, it has the possibility to be useful.

My preferred mode of operation is CW......


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: LA9XSA on January 12, 2014, 05:19:30 PM
After Katrina and 9/11, how many countries sent aid to the United States???

ZERO!!!
Wrong. After Katrina, Canada and Mexico even sent their military to help the US, and materials, many foreigners donated money directly to US NGOs like the American Red Cross, while foreign governments pledged upwards of 800 million USD in aid to the US government. As is typical of all international disasters, even the most recent one in the Phillipines, most of those government pledges either go unclaimed or were reneged on, so only about 40 million of the government aid was actually claimed by the US and used for the victims.

As for 9/11 I seem to remember that international urban search and rescue teams responded, people donated money to US NGOs, NATO countries sent their joint AWACS planes to control US air space, helped depose the Taliban in Afghanistan and are still there today as ISAF. My country of Norway might even remain there with forces after the last US forces have left.

Your ignorance is sad, but it's not typically American. We have some guys in Norway too who thinks we've never been helped by foreigners before.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on January 13, 2014, 02:49:03 AM

Your ignorance is sad, but it's not typically American. We have some guys in Norway too who thinks we've never been helped by foreigners before.

I tend to agree.

Why do we have to think EMCOMM is for the continental USA only? Are we all that self centered that unless it is our disaster locally that we simply say "I don't care"?

Why is health and welfare traffic looked down on? Isn't that an important part of any disaster? Do we really want to put that burden on the local governments as well?

Is there really no place in EMCOMM to pass non vital traffic on the NTS?

Is EMCOMM really about hams working directly with some government official only? Or are we all so stupid to think unless it is related to some government function it is not EMCOMM?

Did you ever stop to think that answering an SOS from a stranded maritime mobile is really EMCOMM?

Are we all really that stupid to think EMCOMM lives or dies on VHF only? Should all EOCs that have HF dismantle them? Should we have a new rule that says only voice or data can be used in an emergency? And be VHF only?

The problem is simple. A few have given the many a bad rap as far as EMCOMM in general. But in reality the same could be done to any mode of operation in the ham bands. Just as there are many good OP on any band or mode, there are also bad. But its the people who don't know, don't want to be useful and help out, or just don't give a damn about EMCOMM or the people it helps that are EMCOMM's biggest critics.

So if EMCOMM uses any and all means possible to do what is needed and asked of them, be it by government or non government entities, is it somehow wrong? Would you really let someone die if you could get a message out by CW and get help, and not do it?

I am sure some "Mr. Know It All" will rip this post to shreds. For those that do, have your fun. In the end you will in some form prove my point here.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB1QBZ on January 14, 2014, 02:47:50 AM
CW may be of use in EMCOMM for a distant station off in some remote place 1000s of miles from nowhere, but it's not generally needed for most emergencies (even in third world countries) because you're communicating distances of a couple of hundred miles max. 

CW is slow, highly error prone, and requires specially trained operators.  There is this erroneous belief that lots and lots of CW operators rag chew at 25-35 wpm, but that's not true.  They QSO at 25-35 wpm in a very structured communication: call sign, signal report, state/country, and (maybe) name.  Even with that limited communications you hear a lot of dit dit dit dit dit dit (which means "I just made an error and am re-transmitting).  And yes, I know that during WWII there was a lot of communications at 25-35wpm, but that was 70 years ago with people who spent 6 months training 10-12 hrs/day seven days per week and then operated 12-16 hours/day seven days per week for years.

And if you're doing CW, the end result is going to be the receive operator's chicken scratches as he/she desperately tries to copy unfamiliar strings of text.  That means adding a lot of extra time to the process of communicating the message to its intended recipient. 

CW sent by/received by computer is more reliable, but digital modes use the same computers, same operators, send at comparable speeds (or higher), and provide error detection, error correction, and ARQ.

*****

The reason why there was so much HF use in the aftermath of Katrina is that all of the VHF/UHF antennas were down - especially the repeaters.  In the first week or two after the storm - before the emergency communications infrastructure was in place - they had to communicate 50-80 miles to those outside the disaster area, and HF was the only option.

*****

In the U.S., health and welfare (H&W) messaging is looked down upon for a couple of reasons:

1.  Red Cross and other NGOs discourage sending of H&W messages via ham radio because it's unencrypted, which means that messages originating from a shelter are announcing to the world that your home is empty and unguarded, plus you're giving other info that can be used for activities like identity theft.

2.  The U.S. National Traffic System (NTS) is an antique designed around low volume communications from small towns with maybe 300-500 people impacted by the emergency.  It's based that way because in the 1950s, when it was created, a majority of Americans lived in small towns.  That's not true anymore - a majority of the population lives in large density areas (cities or very dense counties like the Boston-New York-Washington metroplex).

a.  By its very nature of laboriously passing messages from one net to another to another to another, it cannot handle large volumes.

b.  It is still conceived of as hams carrying the message the entire distance from the originator to within a few miles of the addressee - even though close to half of the U.S. population has free long-distance, which means that all you need to do is get the message a few miles from the disaster area to where phone service still exists. 

c.  It is not integrated with the internet - again they are laboriously passing each message from net to net to net to ... all the way to within a few miles of the addressee.  Internet integration would mean getting the message to the nearest point of working internet and then letting the internet carry it from there.

d.  For the most part, NTS operators have not adopted digital communications.  They send via slow and error prone CW or even slower and more error prone voice even though there are digital modes that are faster, have error detection and correction, and ARQ.

e.  In most disasters, cell phone service has been restored in a few days - at least for the vast majority of people impacted.  In a disaster impacting large populations, it would take longer to get the messages passed via NTS than it does to wait for cell phone service to be restored.

Again, I'm talking about the U.S.  I can't speak for the rest of the world.

Some of you may remember how hams were deployed to provide H&W traffic to various locations in NY State and Vermont after Tropical Storm Lee left many small communities cut off for days (ARRL made a big deal about it).  However, the after-action reports of those hams are pretty consistent: "we got there, the EOC and NGO people said 'thanks for coming but nobody asked for you and we don't need you', and the hams were sent home" (somehow, ARRL forgot to mention those after-action reports).  The H&W traffic was handled through a variety of methods that mainly involved getting the originator names and addressee contact info into a computer file, getting that file onto a helicopter (or other supply vehicle), and then having someone back at base originate hundreds of standard email messages in a matter of minutes.  Average elapsed time from origination to receipt by the addressee was about 8 hours - which is 16-48 hours less time than sending the message via NTS. 

Caveats:

1.  Yes, we may have a disaster in which the entire phone system and the entire internet are knocked out across the entire country.  As it currently exists, NTS would collapse under the weight of that kind of traffic load.  Meanwhile, in every major U.S. disaster to-date, there was working phone and internet within 80 miles of any point within the disaster area (and that includes Katrina).

2.  There is some talk of ARRL coming up with a new architecture for NTS that would greatly expand the use of digital, the use of internet, and the use of long-distance telephone.  If ARRL does it, it's the right direction.  However, I can't wait to see the typical voice or CW NTS op being told that they need to start using digital modes and internet.

Jon, WB2RYV (formerly KB1QBZ)


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on January 14, 2014, 03:52:32 AM
The answer to the OP's question has been answered  several times over, yes there is a place for CW in EMCOMM for SPECIFIC situations and reasons. So why the continual repetitive rehashing of the pro/cons of other means of EMCOMM available for other situations that we are all well aware of?


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on January 14, 2014, 03:57:10 AM
Wow. Being that CW was dropped from testing only a few years ago, I didn't realize that everyone who knew it and used it had passed on already. Makes me wonder who is sending and receiving all the CW on the ham bands.

I agree. If you wander into a disaster area and were not asked, then you should be sent home. Deployment is by request, not by our own whim.

The NTS handles properly formatted messages all the time with a very low error rate. It is not for time sensitive information, but rather as I said, to maybe send a personal message out of the area. Something no NGO or Government agency will do.

CW received as chicken scratchings? I bet there are many CW OPs that would disagree with that.

Yea sure. In a major disaster there are lots of helicopters sitting there waiting to carry pieces of paper around.

Half the country with free long distance...What about the other half? Do we just ignore them?

So passing traffic on an established net is too laborious? Should we just never set up nets anymore? Is it too much of a bother to actually communicate anymore unless it is texted or sent on the internet? What about the people who don't have a smart phone or a computer? Just ignore them too?

I agree, the NTS is not set up to handle time sensitive and large volumes of information. Isn't that why specific traffic nets are set up? And usually these nets have OPs that have working internet to get the information through. We just ignore them too?

Every emergency has its own set of problems. Isn't nice to know that there is a group of people with equipment that is flexible enough to adapt to the conditions and do what is needed?


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: KB1QBZ on January 14, 2014, 07:15:46 AM
Wow. Being that CW was dropped from testing only a few years ago, I didn't realize that everyone who knew it and used it had passed on already. Makes me wonder who is sending and receiving all the CW on the ham bands.

And how many of those CW QSOs you're hearing at 20 wpm are rag chews with long strings of words and numbers? As opposed to rather formalized

DE W9FIB 599 599 WI WI STAN STAN 73 DE W9FIB

The NTS handles properly formatted messages all the time with a very low error rate. It is not for time sensitive information, but rather as I said, to maybe send a personal message out of the area. Something no NGO or Government agency will do.
But in recent disasters govt did get involved in H&W and it is rather standard for the NGOs to get involved (Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.).  But less and less of it is sent via ham radio because it is slow and not secure.

CW received as chicken scratchings? I bet there are many CW OPs that would disagree with that.
Really, you going to claim that these people are typing everything? 

I agree. If you wander into a disaster area and were not asked, then you should be sent home. Deployment is by request, not by our own whim.
But they were activated by ARRL.  They didn't just wander in there - they were called by ARES and asked to come.  The point is that by the time they got there, there wasn't any H&W traffic for them to send - it had all been handled by computer and/or re-established cell phone towers.

Yea sure. In a major disaster there are lots of helicopters sitting there waiting to carry pieces of paper around.
See, this is the problem with NTS thinking.  NOBODY was carrying paper.  They were carrying a thumb drive.  A thumb drive that fits in the pilot's watch fob pocket.  A thumb drive that held hundreds of messages.  And yes, by the time hams would be arriving to do H&W traffic, there are lots of helicopters and lots of 2-1/2 ton National Guard trucks and lots of HUMVEEs, DUKs, etc.  A thumb drive doesn't take up much room in the pilot/driver's pocket.  And when plugged into a computer back at base, takes maybe 10 minutes to send a couple of hundred messages.

Half the country with free long distance...What about the other half? Do we just ignore them?
Again, NTS thinking.  If I have people with free long distance, they can phone messages to the other half of the population.  More specifically, they can phone the message to the addressee from locations just outside the disaster area.  The messages don't have to be relayed all the way across the country from one net to another to another to another.  Probably need about 100 people making calls - out of a population of 100,000,000 who have free long-distance.

So passing traffic on an established net is too laborious? Should we just never set up nets anymore? Is it too much of a bother to actually communicate anymore unless it is texted or sent on the internet? What about the people who don't have a smart phone or a computer? Just ignore them too?
...
And usually these nets have OPs that have working internet to get the information through.
Yes.  Passing hundreds of messages individually from net to net to net in voice or CW is too laborious and too error prone.  And again you're showing NTS thinking (must send via one mode only - ham radio).  It's a multi-modal world out there - we should be sending messages by the fastest and most reliable mode possible, and not limiting messages to ham radio.  If the victim sends a message to an email address - then get the message out of the disaster area by radio and into the internet for transport and delivery (we know the addressee has email because the victim gave us an email address).  If a victim sends a message to a phone number - then get the message to the nearest working phone that can call the addressee.  Either way it's a lot faster than NTS, a lot less manpower needed, and more accurate because there's less hand-off.

After Hurricane Irene, we saw a bunch of H&W messages bouncing around because they couldn't be delivered (addressee's phone wasn't working) - but it turns out that many of those addressees did have working text messaging and/or could get to a place where they could send and receive email (set up by local govt or an NGO or even a local company).  Ham radio didn't even think to try those modes of transmission.  And I've never seen an NTS op take a message going via ham radio and put it into the internet.

73s
Jon, WB2RYV (ex KB1QBZ)


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K1CJS on January 14, 2014, 07:34:37 AM
The answer to the OP's question has been answered  several times over, yes there is a place for CW in EMCOMM for SPECIFIC situations and reasons. So why the continual repetitive rehashing of the pro/cons of other means of EMCOMM available for other situations that we are all well aware of?

Agreed!

BTW, 'QBZ,  Health and Welfare messaging isn't "looked down upon,"  your reasoning is a crock.  Most H&W messages don't contain location information, they contain a simple message that the sender is OK.  Homes being empty and unguarded?  If so, there are many--not just the one.  Identity theft?  Come off it.  You're 'way too paranoid.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on January 15, 2014, 10:00:49 AM
Wow. Being that CW was dropped from testing only a few years ago, I didn't realize that everyone who knew it and used it had passed on already. Makes me wonder who is sending and receiving all the CW on the ham bands.

And how many of those CW QSOs you're hearing at 20 wpm are rag chews with long strings of words and numbers? As opposed to rather formalized

DE W9FIB 599 599 WI WI STAN STAN 73 DE W9FIB

Message format is formalized, and besides either you know CW or you don't.

CW received as chicken scratchings? I bet there are many CW OPs that would disagree with that.
Really, you going to claim that these people are typing everything? 

I claimed nothing. But still think many CW OPs would disagree with you.

I agree. If you wander into a disaster area and were not asked, then you should be sent home. Deployment is by request, not by our own whim.
But they were activated by ARRL.  They didn't just wander in there - they were called by ARES and asked to come.  The point is that by the time they got there, there wasn't any H&W traffic for them to send - it had all been handled by computer and/or re-established cell phone towers.

Then the ARRL and/or ARES screwed up deploying them where they were not needed.

Yea sure. In a major disaster there are lots of helicopters sitting there waiting to carry pieces of paper around.
See, this is the problem with NTS thinking.  NOBODY was carrying paper.  They were carrying a thumb drive.  A thumb drive that fits in the pilot's watch fob pocket.  A thumb drive that held hundreds of messages.  And yes, by the time hams would be arriving to do H&W traffic, there are lots of helicopters and lots of 2-1/2 ton National Guard trucks and lots of HUMVEEs, DUKs, etc.  A thumb drive doesn't take up much room in the pilot/driver's pocket.  And when plugged into a computer back at base, takes maybe 10 minutes to send a couple of hundred messages.

Again you assume there are assets just sitting around to move the data in what ever form to where it is destined for. Notice the word assume. As to NTS thinking...go back to my original post and notice NTS came up only once in a very limited form. It is you assuming that all thinking is around the NTS when in reality, I have never actually used it, would not know how to put a message into the system, and received only 1 message from the system in my life.

And again you assume that I am somehow opposed to other forms of data movement. I am not. Why not read the original question of the thread. Then my examples are not rooted in NTS only, but rather in general thinking and possibilities where CW may...notice that word "may" be useful.

Your fixation on NTS is simply yours, not mine.

And by your thinking, if traffic nets for any emergency are so useless, error prone, and laborious, why do they still exist? In my thinking there must be some value or they would have been abandoned. If hams did not dump operations that are useless, we would still have people using spark gap transmitters for everyday use.

First you say a few with working phones could send through the traffic, then you quote where messages didn't get though because of non working phones. So if you are 1 of those phone OPs and you hit a non working phone, then what? Pack up and go home? Ignore that message? To be honest I don't have the answer to that either. But I do know that if the message is put into what ever message handling system that is established for the particular emergency there will at least be some effort to get it delivered.

Basically it boils down to this. If you need to move some information, would you not find a way to move it? Isn't that why hams can be useful because of our ability to improvise many ways to move that information? In my opinion, the answer to both is yes. So is CW useful in EMCOMM? It is available to use, and maybe at some point someone may be limited to just that to get through. To me that is the real answer to the question.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: HURRICAINE on January 17, 2014, 04:18:48 PM
Geesh Folks, can't we all just get along.

From what I can remember - 911 and Katrina there was no CW going on because that day and age has passed.

It takes a skilled operator to send and receive CW, where as anyone with a computer with a sound card can send and receive any digital mode once they have been trained.

The difference is that a General Class License is not required to send most CW, but is a requirement of digital - since digital is out of the CW band.

I would imagine there is many ( OLD ) hams on this forum that are reluctant to change with the times and are afraid of computers and digital modes - hence they are guarding their territory like a Pit-bull.

The fact of the matter is once NBMS becomes standard in this country you are going to see vast changes both in the equipment used and the modes.
Most everything will be done with either Olivia or MFSK and either you get with the program or leave.

There will always be a need for the two way handheld radio crowd - boots on the ground, but the essential operators are going to be operating digital only.

The old myth that CW will get through where all others cannot is bunk.   Olivia will operate below the noise floor, once the noise floor has been reached with CW - it is all over... That is why they call it the noise floor. it is as low as you can go!


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: HURRICAINE on January 17, 2014, 04:34:54 PM
Wow. Being that CW was dropped from testing only a few years ago, I didn't realize that everyone who knew it and used it had passed on already. Makes me wonder who is sending and receiving all the CW on the ham bands.

And how many of those CW QSOs you're hearing at 20 wpm are rag chews with long strings of words and numbers? As opposed to rather formalized

DE W9FIB 599 599 WI WI STAN STAN 73 DE W9FIB

But I do know that if the message is put into what ever message handling system that is established for the particular emergency there will at least be some effort to get it delivered.

Basically it boils down to this. If you need to move some information, would you not find a way to move it? Isn't that why hams can be useful because of our ability to improvise many ways to move that information?

The National Traffic System was developed at a time when Technology did not surpass the available means to send messages.
The acronym ARRL stands for American Radio Relay League for a reason, because the early equipment couldn't talk more then 20 miles and if you wanted to send messages long distances you had to send them via multiple operators.

Is the NTS a viable option today, NO!
Why?  because in most areas, the NTS has been taken over by a bunch of CB radio lids that uses it as a means to reserve a frequency for themselves and their Good Buddies, so they can have a reserved place to talk everyday and a reserved frequency so they know where to meet.   The couple of pieces of BS traffic that I handled was enough to turn my stomach.  And, unless you are a part of their generation and buddy club, they will just put you at the bottom of the list and everybody else will check in, say their seventy three's and leave and the last person will basically talk to themselves.  The net control hurrying them along because they want to go eat supper or something.

When these old people dies off, the NTS will be disbanded in my opinion, because telephones, cell phones, the internet and other means of communicating has already displaced the NTS to the point that no one uses it anymore.

In an emergency, the government has their own mobile cell towers, their own mobile radio repeaters, their own paid staff, their own salaried employee's that oversee's the day to day operations and has Satellites in the sky that can handle most traffic day or night.

It would take a true disaster of biblical proportions where everything was wiped from the face of the earth for a ham to be a necessary part of a emergency today.

During the bombings in Boston, the hams were ordered to leave their posts and get out of the way of the public officials - because they had no security clearances and could not be trusted.

The ARRL glosses over this when they put things in their magazine publications because the rule of thumb is - only put things in the magazine that shows amateur radio in a positive light.

The truth of the story is never told in QST because the dark side of amateur radio is much worse then what they portray.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on January 17, 2014, 07:22:19 PM
It is amazing how worked up people get over the slightest hint of using CW. It is also amazing how many words it takes to say NTS is outdated.

But here is the thing. If you have a radio you can send Code. Even a hand held FM radio can send code. The trick is having the know how to do it. And you don't need a processor anywhere to accomplish it. A radio and some wire to key it. That's all. Of course there are all those that say just use the mic. Well what if your hurt and cant talk, don't have a digital device to type on? Then what?

Is it the most or even somewhat practical mode? Absolutely not. Is it usable? Absolutely.

To say code is of no possible use is like saying I am stuck in the middle of no where and I have a truck that can only drive across a creek. But the truck is so old that I won't use it. And it can only cross a creek so I can't really get anywhere with it. So I will leave the truck sit. But that's not my style. I would find a way to make that truck take me as far as it can. It may be slow, bumpy, and hard to do; but it does get me closer to where I want to be.

It is those who can make do with what is available to them that are farther ahead then those who depend solely on technology.

Anyone who would say you can't get a message out using code either hates code to start with, or has decided they will not use it for whatever reason. Anyone who can and does use code knows its capabilities. Even in an emergency situation.

And all this from a person who rarely uses code! But then I guess I had good Elmers who taught me to always keep my options open. And to say code is dead and useless is to deny a possible option. And like that old truck, it is simply not in my blood to close off any option that with some effort I can make work.

And that the sad part to think some hams have become such slaves to technology that they can't see other simpler options. Who knows...maybe some day simple improvised dipoles will be a thing of the past as well. Sounds stupid, right? But to me, that is along the same line of thinking.

Rant on how dumb I am, how old fashioned I am, etc. At least I can dream up ways to get a message through. And for me that is all, when stuck in the middle of some emergency, that counts!


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: N0IU on January 18, 2014, 08:04:36 AM
It takes a skilled operator to send and receive CW, where as anyone with a computer with a sound card can send and receive any digital mode once they have been trained.

The difference is that a General Class License is not required to send most CW, but is a requirement of digital - since digital is out of the CW band.

First of all, I agree with the general premise of your post, but...

I know you think I am just being "combative", but this is factually incorrect. CW can be operated anywhere from the lower band edge to the upper band edge on ANY frequency although most CW activity does not go into the phone portion of the bands. Except for SSTV, digital communications takes place below the bottom edge of the phone portion of all bands which is in the generally accepted CW portion of the bands.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W9FIB on January 18, 2014, 08:54:13 AM
BTW the comments about the Boston Marathon don't quite ring true either. Here is a non ARRL account.

http://w3atb.com/66-boston-marathon-2013-bombs-carnage-and-amateur-radio-operators (http://w3atb.com/66-boston-marathon-2013-bombs-carnage-and-amateur-radio-operators)


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: K7RNO on January 24, 2014, 12:58:40 PM
I stopped reading it half way down. Couldn't bear the pain his shoulder must have felt after all the tapping.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: WB5JWI on March 06, 2014, 07:50:14 AM
Just found this thread and have not read all of it so if this is a repeat, my apologies.

Rather than answer this question myself, I suggest you ask the passengers and crew of the ms Prisendam.  See
http://www.qsl.net/n1ea/
for full story and links to audio of messages sent.  Literally NO voice, data, or satellite mode worked. Only the ability of the marine ops to send and receive CW save the 535 souls on board. Code is now no longer required on our ships yet it is still saving lives, recently a small craft in Britain sent an SOS (no longer considered a distress signal - yeah, right) via flashlight to a passing helicopter and got their coast guard to help.

Any mode that can get thru is an EMCOMM mode. By definition, if it is an emergency normal things won't work so why all the angst about using code to communicate? Simply amazing that those who do not know enough about CW and its capabilities want to scrap it to be replaced by nothing of equal ability. Sad really.

Just my not so humble opinion of course.


Title: RE: CW in EMCOMM?
Post by: W1JKA on March 06, 2014, 08:32:28 AM
Re: WB5JWI  reply # 62

Another treat is to have nice also interesting CW QSO with David-N1EA the ship's R/O when he is using his side swiper key.