Upcoming Net Topics

ARES training nets are held on Tuesdays at 2000 local, usually on the MARC 146.955 (156.7) repeater.

wdt_IDDateProgram TypeTopicRadio Officer
71 08/15/2017 Discussion Your topic here! TBD
72 08/22/2017 Discussion Your topic here! TBD
73 08/29/2017 Discussion Your topic here! TBD

Other Upcoming Events

wdt_IDDateTimeEvent TypeTopic
19 10/07/2017 TBD Maryland/DC SImulated Emergency Test (SET) This will be a Statewide field exercise held during the day on Saturday, involving ARES teams from throughout the Section. Various scenarios are under consideration. Details will be forthcoming soon.
18 08/14/2017 1900 - 2100 MC ACS Board Meeting* --
15 08/23/2017 1930 - 2030 Armchair Exercise PG ARES Hospital Radio Net, 3820 kHz
17 09/20/2017 1930 - 2030 Armchair Exercise PG ARES Hospital Radio Net, 3820 kHz

* Board meetings are open to members, but space is limited and time and place are subject to change, so please RSVP with a board member if you would like to attend.

Monthly General Meetings Discontinued

Due to low turnout at our monthly general meetings, the Board has decided to discontinue them for the time being. Instead, we will plan two meetings for the general membership, one in the Spring and one in the Fall. In between, we will call special meetings as needed to provide hands-on training, discuss emergent issues, or plan for major events. Of course, our weekly on-the-air meetings (nets) will continue.  Generally, will will try to have one major activity or focus each month. For example:

  • For some reason, our local governments and hospitals tend to plan disaster drills during the Spring months, and it’s always a scrabble to prepare for and staff these events.
  • In June, of course, every ham’s attention (well, almost every ham’s attention) turns to Field Day.
  • October is SET time. For those of you who are new to MCACS, SET is the ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (look it up on the ARRL website), and in Maryland/DC we traditionally use that exercise to practice working across county and state lines over the course of a weekend.  We have almost as much fun as Field Day, but with a distinct focus on trying something new each year.
  • The Marine Corps Marathon also takes place in late October. This is another major event that brings together hams from throughout the region for a worthwhile and highly visible activity.While this is not a MCACS event, we strongly encourage our members to participate.

In between these major events, we have lots of other topics to work on. In July, for example, we’ll be focusing on simplex communications, or in other words, thinking about how we can communicate locally when some or most of our repeaters are unavailable. We’ll be looking at using cross-band repeaters as well as making use of 6 and 10 meters to take advantage of the different propagation characteristics of those bands.

In other months, we’ll look at other specialized topics, from HF to Skywarn.

Monthly HF Hospital Nets

Our ARES colleagues in Prince Georges County sponsor a monthly HF Hospital Net on 3820 kHz LSB. Despite the name, all local amateurs are invited to check into the net from your home station. Most hospital EOCs in the DC/Maryland area are not equipped for HF operation. The concept of operations is as follows. In the event that a hospital needs to communicate with an entity outside of VHF/UHF range, the traffic will be passed to a nearby HF-equipped ham via VHF/UHF, then forwarded to the distant entity via HF radio. In other words, the home-based HF station serves as a relay point for the hospital traffic.

We encourage such home-based hospital relay stations to equip themselves with Winlink capability so that record traffic can easily be relayed, but voice-only stations are welcomed to participate.

These exercises are normally scheduled on the Wednesday following the third Monday of the month at 7:30 PM local time. (That’s because the PG ARES group has its monthly meeting on the third Monday of the month.)

MCACS has now achieved 501(c)(3) status

MCACS received our determination letter from the IRS in late January.  We are now a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization, retroactive to our incorporation on October 11, 2016.

ARRL 2016 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.

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 approximately 300 miles over most of the typical 24-hour diurnal cycle.

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.

40m Operating Position

40m Operating Position

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.

More information and some photos can be seen by clicking here.

Amateur Radio Installation Completed at Holy Cross Germantown Hospital

MC ACS members recently completed installation of an Icom IC-7100 in the computer training room that doubles at the hospital’s EOC during emergencies. The radio, a PK-96 TNC for Winlink operation, and a power supply are mounted in a wall enclosure, with control cables pre-run to the operating position. To place the station on the air, the responding operator retrieves a box from a supply closet that contains the control head, the stock Icom hand microphone, and a headset/footswitch rig for extended operation. For Winlink operation, a USB cable is plugged into a computer running Winlink Express software.


Ron, KB3SYA, using the IC-7100.

For additional details of the setup, click here.