TRAINING

The Bloomington Communications Group has a robust training program to keep our members ready to serve our city. This program was initiated at the beginning of 2016 and is still in development. This training is usually 2 hours’ maximum and is held twice during the month, on the 2nd Thursday evening, and the following Saturday morning. The following training events are part of our current training program.

All members must take the ARMER training yearly. Background and preparatory classes can be taken on-line. They must also be current with First Aid/CPR and Skywarn which are good for 2 years.

INTERNET/INTERCONNECTABILITY

ECHOLINK

EchoLink® software allows licensed Amateur Radio stations to communicate with one another over the Internet, using streaming-audio technology. The program allows worldwide connections to be made between stations, or from computer to station, greatly enhancing Amateur Radio’s communications capabilities. There are more than 200,000 validated users worldwide — in 151 of the world’s 193 nations — with about 5,200 online at any given time.
http://www.echolink.org/download.htm

FL-DIGI

FL-DIGI software is mostly used by amateur radio operators who connect the microphone and headphone connections of an amateur radio to the computer’s headphone and microphone connections, respectively. Such communications are can be done on any radio band in modes such as PSK31, RTTY, Olivia, and CW (morse code). Increasingly the software is being used on VHF and UHF frequencies. Using this software, it is possible for radio operator to communicate worldwide while using only a few watts of RF power. FL-DIGI software is also used for amateur radio emergency communications (EmComm) when other communication systems fail due to natural disaster or power outage. Transfer of small files, emails, and ICS forms are possible using the Narrowband Emergency Messaging System (NBEMS) software and inexpensive radio hardware.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/fldigi/

GR LEVEL 3

The software allows the user to view real-time data as well as archive data stored locally or obtained over the internet. It is used by professional forecasters and researchers for general precipitation analysis as well as severe storm, tornado, and tropical cyclone monitoring and analysis. Its usage base grew to include many television weathercasters, including by The Weather Channel severe storms expert Greg Forbes, as well as storm chasers, storm spotters, emergency managers, weather enthusiasts, private sector meteorologists, and is often used within the NWS, itself.
http://grlevelx.com/

HAM RADIO DELUXE

Ham Radio Deluxe is an all-in-one solution package for operating and controlling an amateur radio station. The suite includes: radio control, log book, DM-780 (allowing the user to decode and transmit digital modes via computer), satellite tracking, and rotator control.
http://ham-radio-deluxe.com/

MESH NETWORK

A mesh network is a local area network (LAN), wireless local area network (WLAN) or virtual LAN (VLAN) that employs one of two decentralized connection arrangements: full mesh topology or partial mesh topology. In a full mesh topology, each network node (workstation or other device) is connected directly to each of the others. In a partial mesh topology, some nodes are connected to all the others, but others are only connected to those nodes with which they exchange the most data.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesh_networking
http://internetofthingsagenda.techtarget.com/definition/mesh-network-topology-mesh-network

NIFOG/MNFOG

The National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG) is a technical reference for emergency communications planning and for radio technicians responsible for radios that will be used in disaster response. The NIFOG includes rules and regulations for use of nationwide and other interoperability channels, tables of frequencies and standard channel names, and other reference material, formatted as a pocket-sized guide for radio technicians to carry with them.

The Government Printing Office pocket-sized version of NIFOG 1.6 is not yet available for sale, but you may download a free PDF edition to your computer from http://publicsafetytools.info . Click on the NIFOG link from this home page. To look for the pocket edition at a later date, go to http://bookstore.gpo.gov . Note that the GPO still carries the older NIFOG version 1.5 in inventory until they receive stocks of 1.6. Minnesota Communications Field Operations Guide (MNFOG)

Apr 24, 2014 The Minnesota Communications Field Operations Guide (MNFOG) is a collection of technical reference material to aid Communications Unit
https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ecn/programs/armer/Documents/mnfog-version-one-point-eight.pdf

RIG INTERFACING AND ‘ON-AIR’ STUFF

D-STAR DIGITAL

D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) is a digital voice and data protocol specification for amateur radio. The system was developed in the late 1990s by the Japan Amateur Radio League and uses frequency-division multiple access and minimum-shift keying in its packet-based standard. There are newer digital modes (Codec2, for example) that have been adapted for use by amateurs, but D-STAR was the first that was designed specifically for amateur radio.
http://dstarinfo.com/

WINLINK 2000

Winlink, also known as the Winlink 2000 Network, is a worldwide radio messaging system that mixes internet technology and appropriate amateur radio radio frequency (RF) technologies. The system provides radio interconnection services including: email with attachments, position reporting, graphic and text weather bulletins, emergency relief communications, and message relay.
https://www.winlink.org/

YAESU SYSTEM FUSION

System Fusion is Yaesu’s implementation of Digital Amateur Radio, utilizing C4FM 4-level FSK Technology to transmit digital voice and data over the Amateur radio bands. In the early 2000’s GMSK emerged in the Amateur radio market as the dominant digital mode, however in 2013 Yaesu introduced “System Fusion” which quickly became the dominating digital format in Amateur radio because of quality, reliability and enhanced performance in a wide range of environments.
http://systemfusion.yaesu.com/what-is-system-fusion/

OPERATIONS

COMMUNICATIONS VAN OPERATIONS

Introduction to the driving, set up and operations of the BCG Communications Van. This vehicle is used at all BCG functions. It has its own generator, amateur radios, computers and tv for monitoring local news broadcasts and weather.

DHS/ICS PAPERWORK

Department of Homeland Security and Incident Command System.

DHS/ICS PROCEDURES

Department of Homeland Security and Incident Command System.

DISPATCH TRAINING/SOFTWARE

BCG does not do traditional ‘dispatching’ of radio operators or other assets to locations. We do however move and track our assets and resources during events or activations. We are currently researching software programs that will allow us to accomplish this and utilize APRS for location monitoring.

NET OPERATIONS/NET CONTROL

A ‘net’ is an on-the-air’ gathering of radio operators. They can be organized for specific purposes such as: severe weather, event communications, or message traffic. Directed nets are used when the volume of traffic can’t be dealt with on a first come – first served basis. Always involves a Net Control Station. Typical nets are: traffic (messages), resources (volunteers), tactical (coordination of events), health & welfare (messaging between friends and families during disasters), operations (communications during events), information (used for making regular announcements), ICS (used during emergencies while serving agencies). Net Control is a function that coordinates all aspects of the net.

SKYWARN

To obtain critical weather information, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, established SKYWARN® with partner organizations. SKYWARN® is a volunteer program with nearly 290,000 trained severe weather spotters. These volunteers help keep their local communities safe by providing timely and accurate reports of severe weather to the National Weather Service.
http://skywarn.org/about/
https://metroskywarn.org/

AERO

Bloomington Communications Group supports and works with “AERO” the Association of Emergency Radio Organizations”. Together we have created a series of courses that help the new or seasoned amateur radio operator assist or direct emergency communications.

Courses include:

  • AERO 100: Basic Radio Operations (great for the new ham)
  • AERO 101: Introduction to Emergency Communications (good class for someone that is interested in finding out how to use their radios in public service)
  • AERO 102: Advanced Emergency Communications
  • AERO 201: Introduction to Net Control
  • AERO 202: Advanced Net Control

Each course must be taken in order, building upon the previous instruction. The AERO 100 is not a preliminary course. Other courses will be created for those that have received their certificates for AuxComm.

Course calendars are being developed. Most classes will held on a quarterly basis and locations will be moved around to make it easier on the students. Bloomington will be holding the initial course offerings.

  • AERO 101: Saturday, April 29th, 2017 at 0830 in the Bloomington EOC
  • AERO 102: Saturday, May 20th, 2017 at 0830 in the Bloomington EOC

Links for student materials are included here for the first AERO 101 course but will be moved soon.

AERO 101 Course Materials
AERO 101 – Introduction to Emergency Communications v1 Handouts 3-Page
AERO 101 – Introduction to Emergency Communications v1 Handouts 6-Page
AERO Course Handout 1 v1 Phonetic Alphabet
AERO Course Handout 2 v2 Definitions and Prowords
AERO Course Handout 3 v1 US Amateur Radio Privileges
AERO Course Handout 5 v3 Metro County Repeaters
AERO Course Handout 6 v1 Amateur Radio Resources
AERO Course Handout 7 v1 – Sample Quick Reference Guide
ICS-Forms-205 Incident Radio Communications Plan
ICS-Forms-205A Communications List – With Instructions
ICS-Forms-210 Resource Status Change- With Instructions
ICS-Forms-210 Resource Status Change
ICS-Forms-211 Incident Check-In List
ICS-Forms-213 General Message Form – With Instructions
ICS-Forms-213-RR Resource Request Message
ICS-Forms-214 Activity log – With Instructions
ICS-Forms-309 Comm Log – With Instructions

RADIO OPERATION

APRS/DPRS

APRS is digital communications information channel for Ham radio. As a single national channel (see map at right), it gives the mobile ham a place to monitor for 10 to 30 minutes in any area, at any time to capture what is happening in ham radio in the surrounding area.
http://www.aprs.org/

ARMER 800

The allied radio matrix emergency response (ARMER) program began in 2004. ARMER is a robust, scalable, state-of-the-art system capable of servicing the radio communications needs of every city, county, state agency, tribal government, and non-governmental public safety entity.
http://www.dot.state.mn.us/oec/
https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ecn/programs/armer/Pages/default.aspx

CROSSBAND REPEATER

This operation is a method of telecommunication in which a radio station receives signals on one frequency and simultaneously transmits on another for the purpose of full duplex communication or signal relay.

OTHER

  • HF Basics
  • HF SSB
  • VHF/UHF Simplex & Phonetics
  • VHF/UHF SSB
  • Scanner program and operation