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Author Topic: NBEMS, This should be the next EMCOMM digital operating system  (Read 40737 times)
KF7VXA
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Posts: 568




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« on: December 01, 2013, 03:30:52 PM »

If you have not read up on NBEMS, you are missing out on the easiest and most efficient EMCOMM digital system.
No TNC is needed, in fact, the only thing one does need is to download the free programs onto your computer and a radio, nothing more than a laptop and radio. You can use the soundcard in your computer or for easier use, a separate sound card such as the Signa-link makes is somewhat easier, but the import thing is that a separate sound card or TNC is not needed.
It has correction and can get messages through when you can't even use voice at all due to poor conditions. It works with Winlink 2000 on HF.
There are official and unofficial forms already available that you just need to fill in the blanks and send, you can put the program on any computer with just a USB memory card.

There is so much that this new way of communicating with digital does, there is no way I can cover it all.
The best place to read about it is in the new ARRL book "The Amateur Radio Public Service Handbook"
The official web site for NBEMS is www.w1hkj.com and another great site that has training on it is http://wpaares.org/html/nbems.html. If you have a hard time bringing up the last address, just search for Western Pennsylvania Ares.

I am thrilled by NBEMS and unless you are one who resists change, you will be too. It makes it so easy, require the least amount of equipment, no cost for any of the programs, more is being added all of the time also and it works when other ways will not with 100% correction. Red Cross, ARRL and Mars are all using it now. It does everything that can be done now and much more and it's so darn simple that training will be a snap. Far easier than what we are now using. The forms save a great deal of time and the official ones are used by all EMCOMM groups now.
Do some research and get your Ares/Races going on this ASAP. I have no doubt it will be the new digital communication for EMCOMMS and fun also.

73's John KF7VXA
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2013, 02:41:30 PM »

More QRM on our bands, brought to you by an an answer looking for a problem. 

Keep spamming the boards with this idea though....  Smiley
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W4KYR
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2013, 03:12:35 PM »

Well at least a overpriced $1500 Pactor III Modem isn't required, so that has to be a plus. I'll have to check it out.
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The internet and cellphone networks are great until they go down, what then? Find out here. 
https://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,111948.0.html

Using Windows 98 For Packet...
KF7VXA
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Posts: 568




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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2013, 02:29:02 PM »

More QRM on our bands, brought to you by an an answer looking for a problem.  

Keep spamming the boards with this idea though....  Smiley

I'm looking at this for EMCOMM work. True, it can be used for general digital work, but who is to say what bandwidth can be used and by who? You?

Are you even a member of an EMCOMM team? The reason we have the bandwidth we have is not for you to rag chew on or contest, the Federal Government gives us the bandwidth for emergency use as it's primary use. In non emergency times, we get to have a heck of a lot of fun using all the bandwidth we have.
NBEMS can be used with nothing more than a radio and a computer loaded with the free programs (the programs all fit on a stick and can be loaded onto any computer in the field, pretty neat). It's much easier if you use a soundcard in between. No TNC is needed, it already has quite a few forms ready to use built into the software, Federal, ARRL and general forms, has a waterfall built in to help the person using it to not overdrive the amplifier and cause splatter or other problems such as taking up excessive bandwidth or making some bandwidth unusable and it's very easy to train others to use it.
There is more software being developed for it all the time. It's easy, it works on HF, VHF/UHF, saves a lot of time when time counts and does not take up much bandwidth. It is forward correcting and can get a message through with only 70% being copied, even when the band is so bad that voice is too noisy, NBEMS can read and send a good message.
I really suggest you check up on it before putting it down.
Besides, if someone is using NBEMS, they are not using regular digital, so it's a pretty even swap in bandwidth.

There are new ways of communicating being developed all the time, should we just say no more new technology, or maybe we should all go back to spark gap, then it would really be a mess.
ARRL, MARS and Red Cross are all going to it, maybe they are wrong too. Emergency Comms is the main reason we have Amateur radio, that should not be forgotten nor all the lives saved by Amateur operators who give their time and money to make it all work.

Want to know more, do a search for the "Western Pennsylvania Ares" or go to www.w1hkj.com. He is the Amateur who developed NBEMS and gave it to us at no charge because he believes in Amateur radio as the last and best way to help others when other systems fail or are overloaded, not available. The Penn Ares has an excellent slide show on how to use NBEMS, thanks to them for adding this to their web site. The program is there and available to download on your computer so you can get started with it right away.

73's John KF7VXA  
« Last Edit: December 08, 2013, 02:44:24 PM by KF7VXA » Logged
KF7VXA
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 03:06:45 PM »

Well at least a overpriced $1500 Pactor III Modem isn't required, so that has to be a plus. I'll have to check it out.

I don't think this will take the place of the hit in the pocket that the Pactor modem costs, but check it out to see if it may in some way fit your needs.

73's John KF7VXA
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N8EMR
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2013, 03:40:34 AM »

NBEMS is a collection of protocals to be used as needed.. Ohio is already using these as part of its digital ARES configuration.
There are a number of weekly HF and VHF nets in operation.

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KF7VXA
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2013, 10:06:20 AM »

It does look like it may be the up and coming digital mode for EMCOMM. The ease of use and the development going into it is making it better every month.
I'm sold on it as are many others. Once you have used it or at least really checked into how it works and see for yourself that it does work and work well, it's pretty easy to see why so many different EMCOMM groups are going to it.
Just the saved time is worth more than many realize and time vs. available bandwidth is a major concern during times of emergency when messages must be delivered as fast as possible with as close to being 100% correct as possible.
My hope is that people will really look at it, then try it. I think they will be quite happy with the way it performs.
It is open source, so people who want to write new computer code programs that will further enhance it are welcome to do so and submit it to www.w1hkj.com for consideration.

I'm glad to hear it's rapidly spreading to many groups as I hope it becomes the standard. It will require some people who are stuck with the old ways to take a good look and have an open mind. Once they do, they will be glad they did. This is not my baby, but is something I'm trying to make as many as possible aware of. We need to run any emergency as fast, accurate and professional as possible. People need to know just how important Amateur radio is in times of crisis.

73's John KF7VXA
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #7 on: December 10, 2013, 01:51:02 AM »

Emcomm is indeed one of the reasons why the government has given you access to those frequencies, maybe the most important one, but let's not forget that international good will and technical innovation and training also are part of amateur radio's reason for existence in the eyes of the regulators. (See paragraph 1 of Part 97)
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KF7VXA
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« Reply #8 on: December 10, 2013, 12:21:50 PM »

Emcomm is indeed one of the reasons why the government has given you access to those frequencies, maybe the most important one, but let's not forget that international good will and technical innovation and training also are part of amateur radio's reason for existence in the eyes of the regulators. (See paragraph 1 of Part 97)

NBEMS is technical innovation and the training is very easy, making for far more people who can be trained for it's use. It take less equipment, and the equipment costs less than having to use a TNC. If necessary, nothing but a radio and computer will get the message out just as well as having a separate sound card.
Beside the ease of use, the macro forms, already loaded onto the computer from the NBEM download, both government, ARRL and general chat forms greatly speed up formatting messages and they are formatted in the way they need to be for the government as well as the ARRL forms. More official forms are being added all of the time.
It has 100% error correction, can be used on VHF/UHF and HF. What more does one want?
It does involve some change, but change can be good, especially when it works so much better and faster than using a TNC.
If it's the change that is causing you pause, change is a part of our life almost everyday now. Training is available now. Look up the "Western Pennsylvania Ares". They have a full training program on their web site.
In a nutshell, you bring up the program, find the proper form, click on that form. Fill in the blanks with the info you need on the form and your info that you wish to send, make sure the radio is on the right frequency, hit the send button. The program keys your transmitter and sends the message. Almost anyone can be trained to use the program and have total success in it's use. That to me is a win, win.

This does not mean there will not be innovation on many other things or international good will, it's just a way to send digital information in as efficient an manor as possible in an emergency. The other will continue on as it always has.


73's John KF7VXA
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LA9XSA
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 01:59:28 AM »

What made you think I was against NBEMS? I'm already a user, and I've been using flDigi as both my digital mode program and logging program since before I got licensed. The comment I made was only about what you said about amateur radio's reason to exist.

Some of the regular clientelle of this subforum would be having public meltdowns by now if they became aware of that parapgrah of your post, but since they're not actually interested in emcomm beyond their opinion that it should have no place in the amateur radio service, I guess we'll avert that outcome.  Wink
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 06:45:40 AM »

John KF7VXA,
Apologies and correction.   

I confused NBEMS with a system advocated by another ham which involves continuously running message lists and retransmitting them without any order or method.  While I'm not really active at present, I have many years of emergency services and communications.

I have no objection to better message handling software or systems.  On the other hand since 9-11 there is a inordinate promotion of emergency communications and a revolving door of new hams who think they have discovered a new and unique purpose of life therein.  Smiley

A couple points:
-Amateur Radio in the US was established in 1912 with no justification or qualifications other than the intent of separating amateurs from commercial and government operations.  "Amateur radio like butterflies and little girls need no excuse" paraphrasing RAH.

-Following changes over the years, Part 97 presently has five points justifying Amateur radio.  Non-commercial communications is only one point, 20%, of those five items, and emergency communications is only part of that, i.e. less than 20% of our reason for existence.

To reiterate, emergency communications is not the only reason, or even the major reason for the existence of the Service, nor even the original reason. 

73, Bill

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KF7VXA
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« Reply #11 on: December 15, 2013, 10:42:05 AM »

I see what you are saying Bill and agree. ECOMM is only one part of Amateur radio and I was referring to those who are in EMCOMM in some of my statements, not those who have no interest in it. Nobody says they have to be involved in EMCOMMS in any way (though I know many would jump in and help if really needed, just because they are Hams).
Since 911, I do see a major push towards the EMCOMM part of Amateur radio.
The EMCOMM does not have to interfere with the other things Amateurs love to do. We can still do all of those things and have a better emergency radio operation in place.
There is room for many things on the bands and Emcomm is just another one of them.
It's quite true there are those who come and go, those who think they are somehow much more important than they are who are in the EMCOMM end.
I'm a retired LEO, so I've seen where good communications is so very important. This is my reason for being involved. I've been there, done that, so I'm not in the wanna be category and I'm plenty happy not to be out on the streets anymore, too much has changed and some of it is not to my liking at all. I want my community to be able to get help when and where needed no matter what the emergency and have seen the limitations of the new trunked Government systems. Being Rural and somewhat isolated is much different than being in a city, but both have their downfalls.

The bottom line is those who wish to be a part of EMCOMM can be and those who love all of the other things about radio can just do those things.
My only wish is that those who choose to become involved in EMCOMM do so for the right reasons. Talking about those who don't want to change, I was referring to those already in EMCOMM who think that digital has to have a TNC in the middle. We have some who don't care for anything new. A small group, but they get upset if anything is changed.

I'm one who really does not care for contesting and think that too much coverage is given to it, but that does not mean that I want it to stop or be curtailed in any way. We can all do the things we enjoy as long as we stay within the rules.
I think we are very blessed to have so many different things that we can do within the world of communications and there is room for everyone's favorite part. I could talk about LIDS, but I think we are all pretty much in agreement on that subject and there are LIDS in every part of radio.

73's John
« Last Edit: December 15, 2013, 10:47:08 AM by KF7VXA » Logged
W6RMK
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« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2013, 01:11:14 PM »

One problem with NBEMS (and with a variety of other ham oriented EMCOMM things) is that they only solve part of the problem and have terrible integration with the rest of the incident handling system.

The problem that hams seem to be solving is communication, but modern incident management systems (exemplified by the National Incident Management System - NIMS, which pretty much everybody in the disaster response biz is following in one way or another) rely on integrated communications, and the ham solutions are not integrated: they provide comms between ham end points.   So there's a gap between "official" system and "ham" system that has to be overcome, typically by manual means.

An official system is going to follow standards like P25, MIL-STD-188, use ALE, etc.  Heck, most of them will just plug their laptop into a satmodem of some sort.

Consider, a couple of practical examples: use cases, if you will.  Someone in one place needs to send a list of needed supplies to another place.  Typically, that list is on someone's laptop at a base of operations, and it needs to wind up on someone else's laptop or server somewhere else.   The other use case that hams like to talk about is "sending images".

Is the official going to hand the ham a printed out copy of the list, which the ham will then send via whatever means (read it aloud using FM or SSB, pounding brass with CW, typing via PSK31, sending via WinMor) to another ham.  That ham will then print it out, write it down, or otherwise get it into tangible form, and hand it to the receiving official, who will then type it, scan it, or otherwise get it into their computer system.

In the image sending case, we have the same problem: Ham image comm uses different architectures, image formats, and over the air modulation than everyone else.  Is the ham going to set up their image computer at the Incident Command Post and show the incident staff the screen? or print it out?   Compare this to the first responder taking a picture and sending it via MMS or email: it's going to wind up in the ICP network in a format that everyone knows about, seamlessly. 

The official folks aren't going to let the ham connect their laptop to their network: network security, viruses, etc. require an "air gap" between official systems and everything else. You're not going to able to put it on a USB thumb drive either (for the same security reasons).

The officials probably aren't going to be sitting down at the ham's computer or rig directly, either: they don't have the training, nor expertise to operate a ham rig, and they've got their own equipment to train on.

So it's not clear what "communications" capability hams bring to the party that isn't already there.  In the "pre-cellphone" days, hams would work public service events, carrying their HTs and shadowing event officials to provide a message passing capability.  Today, all those officials just use their cellphones and text or call.  Look at the example of the Rose Parade: the cellphone providers came in and said: hey we'll give you hundreds of free phones with walkie-talkie like capabilities for the parade, and the ToR folks said, you bet, that sounds grand: TORRA (Tournament of Roses Radio Amateurs), thanks for your long service, but you're unneeded now.

My own opinion is that what hams bring to the party is technical expertise and skill with improvisation, not so much actual operating skills and method.  Hams are the ones who will climb the tree with the 20dBi gain WiFi antenna to try and point it to the other command post, and who actually know enough about RF to try to make it work on a "bounce" path to get around an obstacle. Hams are the ones who know what coax looks like, and can be trusted to route it intelligently.  Hams usually know which end of the soldering iron gets hot, and can figure out how to chop off the connectors on two cables and make an adapter.
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KF7VXA
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2013, 06:33:29 PM »

Where I live is rural. All of the counties around me are also.
In order for something to work, all involved must be on the same page.
For those times when going outside of your area, one must be able to use other methods and adapt.
There are just too many ways to send digital. This is one reason I'd like to see just several different methods pushed depending on what needs transmitted.
It may be a pie in the sky hope, but our local counties are getting on the same page where ever possible. If things go wider than local, then being well rounded will be a must.

73's John
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K7RBW
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2013, 09:07:30 AM »

One problem with NBEMS (and with a variety of other ham oriented EMCOMM things) is that they only solve part of the problem and have terrible integration with the rest of the incident handling system.

The problem that hams seem to be solving is communication, but modern incident management systems (exemplified by the National Incident Management System - NIMS, which pretty much everybody in the disaster response biz is following in one way or another) rely on integrated communications, and the ham solutions are not integrated: they provide comms between ham end points.   So there's a gap between "official" system and "ham" system that has to be overcome, typically by manual means.

IMO, it's time to rethink how ham radio fits in the overall picture. The need for hams to back up the official public service comms seems to be reduced with recent technological improvements. So, the need for hams to shadow public officials seems obsolete, yet that seems to be what comes to mind when hams talk about EMCOMM (the "when all else fails" scenario).  Sure, someday everything but ham radio might fail, but in the meantime, it's more likely that some stuff will fail (e.g. overloaded cellphone channels) while most official comms will continue in some form or another.

The biggest advantage that hams offer in a disaster is that they are already distributed throughout the population. Why not take advantage of that and use them to communicate local information to/from their neighborhoods? In that case neighborhood hams could get information from the public agencies by receiving it over a public-service broadcast and then pass that info around the neighborhood. Likewise, they could send neighborhood reports back to the local government offices through a VHF net and not have to rely on cell phones (although they could use them if available). Residents could communicate with each other by FRS or going over and knocking on the door. Although, I think I read a disaster plan from the church of Latter-Day Saints that did something like this.

The typical scenario is in rural areas where communications are fragile to begin with, but I live in a suburban area with lots of hills that are separated by lots of rivers and connected by lots of bridges. In a flood, we could easily have lots of people cut off from "civilization" even though we can literally see the city from our house. Cell phones would jam quickly but we could easily communicate to the city on simplex UHF or VHF. This could work anywhere--city or country.

I read a study on a recent disaster and it talked about the more common communication breakdown was between the citizens and the local governments--a problem that ham radio could solve quite well. Yet, I rarely see this mentioned in ham-radio emcomm discussions. Broadcast radio stations can send public information but they need to serve a large area so local information can get lost. A local ham with a GMRS base station could receive and share local information (e.g. which gas stations or grocery stores are open in the neighborhood) to the people in the local neighborhood. Hams could also send out "Your friends/family are OK" messages on HF to loved ones outside of the affected area.

It seems like there's plenty a ham could offer their neighbors without having to connect to or compete with the public-service communication. I'm not sure why every mention of EMCOMM has to be in the context of the NIMS (however, I do understand how they have to work together).
« Last Edit: December 31, 2013, 09:10:20 AM by K7RBW » Logged
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