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Amateur Radio Operators Help Prepare for Ian

The ARRL said trained hams are working with emergency management and relief organizations

Jim Shipley boards up his Beach Hardware store as he prepares for the possible arrival of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday in St Petersburg Beach, Fla.
Jim Shipley boards up his Beach Hardware store as he prepares for the possible arrival of Hurricane Ian on Tuesday in St Petersburg Beach, Fla. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The amateur radio community is helping federal and local emergency management and relief organizations prepare for Hurricane Ian.

The American Radio Relay League website has a story, posted midday today, detailing efforts of the ham community ahead of Ian.

It includes this statement from NFL Section Emergency Coordinator Arc Thames, W4CPD, the Amateur Radio Liaison to the state of Florida:

“In response to Hurricane Ian, our ARRL leadership team in Florida has been in direct communication with the State of Florida’s ESF-2 resources, including the Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, since Friday, Sept. 23. The Florida Division of Emergency Management has requested the activation of amateur radio HF emergency nets, as well as to provide resources to staff the various positions needed throughout the state.

“We ask that all amateur radio operators yield use of any frequencies in use for Hurricane Ian to allow the clear flow of traffic between agencies during this activation. Hurricane Ian is expected to have a major impact in a large portion of the state due to the strong winds and storm surge that will impact the state for an extended period of time.”

He added: “We remind our operators that we do not self-deploy. Any deployment requests will come directly via served agencies.”

[Related: “In Puerto Rico, Radio Stations Cope With Fiona’s Aftermath“]

Higher baud rates

The ARRL also requested and received a 60-day waiver from the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau of the FCC for operators who are involved in this effort to transmit at a higher baud rate than normal.

It asked for a waiver for licensed amateurs who are directly involved with Amateur Radio Emergency Services and other communication support groups working with emergency management officials. Similar waivers have been given during past major storm events and wildfires.

The organization said trained operators are must be able to communicate with similar stations “in the United States, possibly with Caribbean-based stations that are directly involved with hurricane relief efforts, and also with federal stations on the five channels in the 5 MHz band involved with the SHARES network and other interoperability partners on those frequencies.”

The FCC states: “The waiver is limited to amateur radio operators in the United States and its territories using publicly documented data protocols that are compatible with FCC rules, with the exception of the data rate limit waived here, for those directly involved with HF hurricane relief communications.”

Current rules limit the symbol or baud rate — “the rate at which the carrier waveform amplitude, frequency and/or phase is varied to transmit information” — for high-frequency amateur radioteletype/data transmissions to 300 baud for frequencies below 28 MHz (except in the 60-meter band), and 1200 baud in the 10 meter (28–29.7 MHz) band.

The digital code used to encode the signal being transmitted must be one of the codes specified in section 97.309(a) of the commission’s rules, but an amateur station transmitting a RTTY or data emission using one of the specified digital codes may use any technique whose technical characteristics have been publicly documented, such as CLOVER, G-TOR or PACTOR.

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