ARRL SET 2016

2016 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test

Montgomery County ARES participated in the 2016 ARRL Simulated Emergency Test on the weekend on Oct. 1-2. We tested our ability to communicate between counties throughout Maryland and DC via HF Winlink in peer-to-peer (P2P) mode using NVIS methods. (Diagram below credited to Stephen C. Finch, AIØW.)

The photo shows a transmitted signal from an antenna bouncing off the ionosphere and coming back to earth in multiple places up to 200 miles away.

NVIS Concept for Regional Communications

NVIS stands for near-vertical-incidence skywave. This is a technique for communicating with other stations in a given region that are beyond line-of-sight using HF propagation. NVIS methods provide reasonably reliable communications out to a distance of 200 to 300 miles over most of the typical 24-hour diurnal cycle. If you are unfamiliar with the concept, you can read a good plain-language explanation at the following link.

http://www.qsl.net/wb5ude/nvis/

For this exercise, we conducted a mini-Field-Day-style operation on the grounds of the new Holy Cross Germantown Hospital, setting up two HF Winlink stations using  wire antennas suitable for NVIS operation.  We operated continuously over a 24-hour period, thus testing our ability to maintain near-real-time communications as propagation changes.

We were on the air on both 40 and 80 meters by noon on Saturday, despite steady drizzle interspersed with heavy downpours during the morning hours. At least we didn’t have to deal with mosquitoes or risk sunburn.

RESULTS BY THE NUMBERS

Band40m80m
Messages Sent1738
Messages Received2131
Counties Reached1014
Total # of Participating Stations1638

All told, over a 24-hour period, we exchanged 107 messages — in essence, plain-text emails — with 38 stations in 18 counties across Maryland and Virginia.

Here are a few photos.

80m Dipole on Hospital Parking Garage

80m Dipole on Hospital Parking Garage

We set up dipoles for 40 and 80 meters at right angles to one another on the top deck of the hospital’s parking garage and ran the feedlines to the next level down, where we set up our operating tent. This worked out very well. In this location, we were protected from extremes of weather, albeit with ready access to the “antenna farm.” In addition, we were able to keep vehicular traffic well away from the station by blocking off the upper levels of the garage with traffic cones.

Operating Tent

Operating Tent

40m Operating Position

40m Operating Position

80m Operating Position

80m Operating Position