Safety General Message
This guide has been created to not only provide you with necessary tools to be an effective operator, but also increase your awareness. First and foremost, safety comes first. Never put yourself at risk. However, as an ARES member, you may be asked to provide your service to benefit the most good. At any time you feel threatened, suspend your duty and notify your ARES representative you are doing so.
As an ARES member, it is expected that the material contained within this document is understood and reviewed periodically. Most technical and operational procedures and guidance can be found herein benefiting yourself as an operator, our group and those we serve.
Content and Use
The material contained in this document has been gathered from public domain, contributions by individuals and creative works by editors.
Material may be redistributed for non-commercial use and may not be distributed for sale. All credits, trademarks, registrations or likewise must be attributed with the redistribution.
SKYWARN® and the SKYWARN logo are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, used with permission.
CCARES Radio Nets
Collin County ARES Nets use 147.180 [+] (Plano Amateur Radio Klub Repeater) as the primary frequency. When emergencies arise, the backup frequency is 146.740 [-] (McKinney Amateur Radio Club Repeater). *(Consideration is being made to move the primary to 145.350 (NG5I)
Emergency Nets are convened as needed, as determined by coordination with the National Weather Service and local Emergency Agencies. When a Net is in progress, the courtesy tone is set to the Morse letter "N" (-.). As is the case whenever you communicate via Amateur Radio, listen first to determine the nature of any communications or Nets already in progress before transmitting. It is not necessary to “ker chunk” the repeater. Listening for a short time will inform you of the status. If an Emergency Net is in progress, be sure to wait for the Net Control Station (NCS) to indicate the Condition of the Net, and the desired communications before transmitting. For information about Net Conditions, and other Storm Spotting information, refer to the "Spotter Information" page.
Persons participating in CCARES nets need to provide equipment capable of transmitting a clear, strong signal to the area repeaters, under adverse conditions, from the area in which they will be operating. Members are responsible for testing their equipment before participating in a net. Mobile users are expected to have a 2M (144MHz to 148MHz) radio with a minimum output of 25w, and a 5/8 wave antenna, on a good ground plane. Fixed Station users should plan on having similar hardware. Handy-Talkies (except with an amplifier) are generally not sufficient, for most nets.
Members are requested to run APRS when in a mobile net. APRS equipment should be tested and made operational outside a radio net. APRS operation should NOT BE DISCUSSED during the net, unless requested by the NCS station.
Members are requested to have a VHF WinLink email station for use at fixed locations. Where feasible, members may construct stations that provide both APRS and WinLink functionality to be used as appropriate.
Basic Radio Procedures
Controlled nets are under the direction of a Net Control Station (NCS). You ask to enter a net by transmitting your call sign. The Net Control Station will recognize you and take your traffic as soon as possible.
When you are operating in a controlled net, do not leave your radio unattended. If you must be away from your radio or leave the net, always notify Net Control. Check back into the net when you return.
Always acknowledge calls to you as quickly as possible, even if only to say “stand by.”
Use crisp, clear, factual transmissions. Think about what you want to say before transmitting. Remember that there are others monitoring your traffic.
Speak in a calm steady manner. A hastily spoken message leads to misunderstanding or requests to be repeated.
Leave a short pause after the previous finishes transmitting. This allows other stations to call in with emergency traffic.
If you see an accident and have a phone, call 911.
Do not use VOX on your radio.
When using a microphone, speak across the mic, rather than into it. Speaking into a mic causes the sound of your breath to be transmitted.
The manner in which you conduct yourself can leave a lasting impression.
Last, but not least . . . LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!
In the event of a repeater failure, STAY ON THE FREQUENCY!
The net control will work with stations capable of working the county on simplex on the output of the repeater to issue instructions on how to resume the net. There is not an automatic change to another frequency.
Only the pro-words “break, break” will be recognized as a life threatening emergency at any time during the net. The NCS will give the station priority to pass the emergency information. All other communication should “stand by”. Depending on the situation, the NCS may ask the reporting station to phone 911 by cell phone or may ask the station to give exact location of the emergency and then have the back-up NCS call 911. This is to be done only for a life-threatening emergency. Other situations such as power outages, lightning strikes on buildings, power lines down, etc, require that the reporting station or a designee call 911 to report the situation. Life threatening severe weather such as a tornado should be reported as a part of regular reporting, not as emergency traffic.
Repeater Status Tag
Net Morse code “N” " -. "
Alert Morse code “A” " .- "
Flash Flood Warning Morse code “F” " ..-- "
147.180 [+] PL 107.2 Primary ARES Repeater (K5PRK)
146.740 [-] PL 110.9 Secondary ARES Repeater (MARC) - W5MRC
145.350 [-] PL 100.0 *Alternate Primary ARES - N5GI (IRLP)
444.250 [+] PL 79.7 PARK UHF - K5PRK
443.200 [+] PL 100.0 W5MRA (MERA)
444.025 [+] PL 110.9 WX5O
442.800 [+] PL 110.9 K5BSA
441.575 [+5] DV K5PRK D-Star Voice (Allen) Port B
1293.500 [-20] DV K5PRK D-Star Voice Port A
1258.600 K5PRK D-Star Data
3.873 MHz Nighttime Texas Traffic Net
7.085 MHz LSB Regional HF APRS
7.285 MHz Daytime Texas Traffic Net
10.151MHz LSB National HF APRS (300 baud)
14.325 MHz Hurricane Watch Net
144.39 Simplex National APRS VHF (1200 baud)
144.34 Simplex National APRS VHF Alternate
146.52 Simplex National 2m Calling / Wilderness Protocol
146.88 [-] PL 110.9 D/FW National Traffic System Net
446.000 Simplex National 70cm Simplex
1293.000 [-20] K5TIT D-Star Voice (Dallas)
1253.000 K5TIT D-Star Data (Dallas)
7277.500 NTX ARES Net
VHF Simplex Frequencies
(In the TX VHF-FM Society Plan) Collin County WinLink Frequencies/Paclink Stations
145.600 144.910 –
145.700 144.930 – WG5EOC-10
146.480 144.950 –
146.520 – National Calling Freq 144.970 – K5YX-10
146.540 145.030 – K5PRK-10
146.560 446.150 – WG5EOC-9
Collin County ARES has several means of notifying members that a net is starting. On the 147.18 repeater we will send two sets of tones for 2-tone sequential pagers. The tone pairs are 330 Hz, then 349 Hz, followed by 634 Hz, then 707 Hz. Also, a long DTMF "A" tone will sound for radios and pagers that respond to the "A" tone. The “A” tone is a combination of 697 Hz and 1633 Hz. Plans for "A" tone decoders are available from http://www.qsl.net/wd4bis/atone.htm.
We also use a paging scheme for pagers and mobile phones that can receive text messaging. In addition to Net in Progress, we attempt to alert members with these pagers of all weather watches or warnings for Collin County. Please be aware that this is done by amateur volunteers and is on a "best effort" basis, but we cannot guarantee that we will page out each and every alert. Pages delivered through cell phones have been known to be delayed.
NOTE! This service is for active Collin County ARES members only!
If you are an active Collin County ARES member, have a pager and would like to take advantage of this, please complete the information in the ARES membership application. Paging is a manual process and relies on computer equipment and the Internet; therefore not fool-proof.
We do not have the ability nor is it our practice to alert spotters by specific areas of Collin County. Please obtain an All-Hazards radio and applicable smart phone apps in support of advisories and warnings for your area.
“Lights Out” Paging Policy
CCARES has adopted a “Lights Out” paging policy.
We will NOT Page between 10pm and 6am for:
Severe Thunderstorm Watches
Flash Flood Warnings
We will page 24 hours a day for:
Severe Thunderstorm Warnings
The repeater courtesy tone (tag) will be adjusted 24 hours a day (as able) to reflect the current condition of:
Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado Watches (“A” Tag)
Active Nets (“N Tag”)
Flash Flood Warnings (“F” Tag)
Types of Nets
SKYWARN nets serve the National Weather Service by providing real time ground truth related to hazardous weather events. Ground truth is defined as observations of hazardous weather precursors, elements, and their impacts, made by spotters, and used by the National Weather Service (NWS) to make warning decisions, supplement radar observations, and verify forecasts. See SKYWARN Nets for operating procedures.
A staging net is used to manage volunteers responding to disaster. A Staging net may be composed of one or more nets, including
Intake Net - Where volunteers receive talk-in
Staging Net - To pass information to volunteers on-site
Dispatch Net - To handle requests from resource nets
Resource nets are created to fulfill specific communications needs. For instance, a major tornadic disaster might require the creation of multiple resource nets, including:
A County EOC Net ● A Red Cross Net
A Fire / Rescue Net ● An NTS Net
All of these nets would communicate with the main staging net through liaison stations, whereas deploying operators where and as needed.
During the Tactical Net, each function has a tactical call. This allows contact to a function without knowing the FCC call sign of that operator. Example: “McKinney POD, this is County EOC”. Pass your traffic and once traffic is completed and at least once per a 10 minute period, identify using your FCC issued amateur radio call sign.
In addition, CCARES holds Training Nets three times per month:
1st Sunday each month at 2100 CT . . . 147.18 [+] PL 107.2
3rd Sunday each month at 2100 CT . . . 146.74 [-] PL 110.9
**Nets may be cancelled due to special events or holidays.
WinLink & APRS Equipment
CCARES recommends that users who use WinLink® and APRS® use a general purpose TNC such as a Kantronics® KPC-3, TNC-X or PacComm Tiny-2. Optionally, a PC with a sound card based TNC (such as AGWPE®, SignaLink®, SoundModem®) can be used instead of a hardware TNC. This will allow users to switch between WinLink and APRS operation as needed.
Standardized RF & Audio Connectors
Coax Cables HF to 70cm
Radio RF Connectors HF to 70cm
Coax Cables 70cm and above
Radio RF Connectors 70cm and above
Standardized Power Connectors
Manufacturer installed "T" connectors should not be removed from VHF or VHF/UHF mobile transceivers. This may adversely affect the units' value. Standardized Anderson Powerpoles® should be installed at the power cord to DC power source interface. This allows for maximum flexibility in radio, power and extension cord options. Both legs of the power cord should be fused.
Anderson Powerpole Connectors
Wire size (AWG) Current Capacity (amps)
Note: For runs over 15 feet, choose the next wire size if current at maximum for wire size.
15/30/45 amp Modular Housing
Red= (+) Black= ( - )
Black this side
Housing accommodates 15, 30 or 45 Amp contacts.
15 Amp contacts accommodate 16 AWG or smaller wire.
30 Amp contacts accommodate 16 to 12 AWG wire.
45 Amp contacts accommodate 14 to 10 AWG wire.
Housings should be mated per the diagram above. Viewed from the contact side (opposite the wire side), tongue down, hood up, RED on the LEFT, BLACK on the RIGHT. Use of roll pin to lock housings together is not recommended. Roll pins have a tendency to fall out with use. Use a small amount of super glue quick set adhesive.
Where to get them
Locally, Anderson Powerpoles are available from hobby shops that sell remote control models. On the web, Powerpoles and accessories are available from stores including:
CCARES has chosen to adopt WinLink® 2000 as an additional tool for handling emergency traffic in our area. The system will supplement, but not replace, the reliable voice links that is used to serve agencies during times of need.
For many years the National Traffic System has served as a means to handle and pass emergency traffic through disaster areas. Elaborate formatting is used to ensure accurate voice and CW traffic handling. This system has served the amateur community well and still will be in place for years to come.
WinLink 2000 enhances the ability to pass traffic in and out of disaster areas because of the inherent accuracy and record keeping features of email. Because it works with written text, it allows messages with long lists or complex, technical words to be passed reliably, with less time needed to verify and reduced chance of transcription error.
WinLink 2000, which has been in development since the 1980’s, has long provided users to send messages from remote locations. Over time, WinLink was modified to transport messages directly to the internet as email. Originally developed for use over HF, recent adaptations for VHF and UHF packet allow the system to be used for “last mile communication” needed in times of emergency when normal means of communication are interrupted or overloaded including local Internet outages.
If you wish to learn more about how we are using WinLink 2000 and get your equipment configured to be able to use the Collin County ARES WinLink system, contact Bruce Dingman-N5BYL at: email@example.com.
The 147.180 (PARK) repeater has been incorporated to utilize Echolink. During SKYWARN Nets, this feature will be available for the NWS to have alternate means to RF. SKYWARN participants may not use Echolink for check-ins, but to monitor only. This feature may be disabled at any time during a Net if an issue arises.
APRS is not required to participate in weather nets, but spotters are asked to turn it on if available. CCARES will use APRS at the discretion of an NCS to help manage the position of spotters. Members are encouraged to consider developing equipment that can perform both APRS and WinLink functions (not necessarily at the same time).
For safety reasons, CCARES discourages net participants from using a laptop and smart phones in their vehicles during nets.
The D/FW area contains a heavy concentration of APRS users. In order to keep the system from being overloaded, all APRS users are requested to following unified settings. Please see the APRS page.
D-Star (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio) is a radio system developed by the Japan Amateur Radio League offering digital voice and data communication. Connectivity is obtained via repeater sites over microwave links and the Internet forming a wide area amateur radio network. It offers new capability and functionality to amateur radio and increases the efficiency of emergency communications.
Digital mobile radio is an open digital mobile radio standard defined in the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) Standard TS 102 361 parts 1–4 and used in commercial products around the world. DMR, along with P25 phase II and NXDN are the main competitor technologies in achieving 6.25 kHz equivalent bandwidth using the proprietary AMBE+2 vocoder. DMR and P25 II both use two-slot TDMA in a 12.5 kHz channel, while NXDN uses discrete 6.25 kHz channels using frequency division. The standard has become popular within the amateur radio community due to the relative lower cost and complexity compared to other commercial digital modes (Wikipedia).
NTX DMR Repeaters: https://dmrtexas.net/repeaters/ntx/
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.
WIRES (Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System) is an Internet communication system which expands the range of amateur radio communication. For WIRES-X, an amateur node station connecting to the Internet is used as the access point and connects the wireless communication to the Internet. Users' stations can communicate with other amateur stations all over the world using a node within the radio wave range
NOTE: Yaesu operators occasionally activate this feature on their radios which sends out a tone burst and a two second delay in the ability to be heard on the repeater.
Resource Types - ARR
When an incident has occurred, a staging site may be activated. The staging site prepares to take requests from our served agencies for volunteers to provide specific communications services. In practice, every volunteer will have different equipment and may not be able to provide every needed service. Resource Functions provide staging with a high level view of what type of assignment you can serve. It is very important for each CCARES member to understand the Resource Functions and be able to tell staging what resource function you can provide. John Galvin-N5TIM has done some revisions to the types and equipment and has modified it to be called Amateur Radio Resource (ARR)
All volunteers should have a basic 72/96 hour kit, with record keeping materials. Please see the “Ready Kit” section for details.
Communications Resource Functions (CRF): Please refer to ARR
CRF- S (Shadow Operations)
This resource function acts as a foot mobile station, while shadowing an event or incident official. The operator should be physically capable of performing the duty and have portable battery power for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- B (Base / Rest Stop / Shelter / NCS)
This resource function provides VHF at a fixed location. The operator must be able to put a radio in a building, run coax, install a base antenna and provide power for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- M (Mobile / SAG)
This resource function provides a VHF radio that can be placed in a vehicle other than their own. The operator may be required to put a VHF radio in a police car, fire truck or other vehicle. The operator will need to provide the radio, antenna, coax and power sufficient for a 72 hour shift.
CRO- O (Function)
This resource function serves that of an operator using pre-deployed equipment. Operator shall be familiar with the equipment/software.
CRF- H (HF / Regional / Strategic Communications)
This resource function provides an HF radio capable of operating on 20, 40 and 80 meters. The operator will need to be able to place the radio in a building, run coax, install regular and NVIS antennas and provide power to the radio for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- DA (Digital - APRS)
This resource function provides an APRS station capable of viewing local APRS stations. The operator will provide a VHF radio capable of transmitting and receiving APRS traffic, a TNC or equivalent and a laptop with configured APRS software with Collin County maps. The operator will place the radio, TNC & laptop in a building, run coax, install an antenna and provide power to the radio for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- DM (Digital – Messaging)
This resource function provides radio email service. In Collin County, this is done over WinLink. The operator will provide a VHF radio capable of transmitting and receiving WinLink traffic, a TNC or equivalent and a laptop with configured WinLink software. The operator will need to be able to place the radio, TNC & laptop in a building, run coax, install an antenna and provide power to the radio for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- DT (Digital – APRS Tracker)
This resource function provides an APRS tracker that can be placed in a vehicle other than their own. The operator may be required to put a tracker in a police car, fire truck or other vehicle. The operator will need to provide the radio, antenna, coax and power sufficient for a 72 hour shift.
CRF- DN (Digital – Networking)
This resource function provides a way to extend internet access into a remote location. This may include 802.11 bridging, commercial internet service or D-Star high speed data. The operator will be required to install, configure and connect all equipment to provide internet service to a fixed location with one or more computers. The operator will have to have the equipment and training to be flexible in how this is done.
CRF- D_HF (Digital – HF)
This resource function provides an HF radio capable of transmitting digital messages. In Collin County, digital messages will be transmitted using WinLink, though Pactor operation may be beneficial. The operator will need to be able to place the radio in a building, run coax, install regular and NVIS antennas and provide power to the radio for a 72 hour shift, and provide a laptop with configured software.
If a D-Star digital voice and/or data transceiver is requested in a CFR, that CFR is ordered as a Type III. For detailed Communications Resource Functions descriptions, see the “Resource Types” document in the “Downloads” section on the CCARES web page. (http://www.collinares.net Groups.io, and/or www.n5tim.info)
Each member of an ARES organization must always consider that he or she will be asked to take a field assignment providing communication as a part of an emergency service response. In order to respond as quickly as possible, it is important to have a “Ready Kit”. Your ready kit should contain all necessary equipment to operate your radio station and to support yourself for assignments up to 72 hours in duration. (96 hour kits are now being recommended.) Please review the Ready Kit page.
Yahoo And Groups.io
The CCARES Yahoo Group has been disbanded due to its lack of support and functionality.
We have moved to Groups.io for time sensitive communications.
You are encouraged to follow our Social Media platforms as well.
Brevity in Communication
H – Have What type of emergency do you have? Fire/injury/accident/medical?
A – At You are at?
Distance/direction from major intersection
N – Need What assistance do you need?
Fire and rescue, Police Officer, or Ambulance?
D – Details What details will help clarify your message?
Fumes/Hazardous Material Placard/Number of Victims
ITU Phonetic Alphabet
A - Alpha (AL fah)
B - Bravo (BRAH VOH)
C - Charlie (CHAR lee)
D - Delta (DELL tah)
E - Echo (ECK oh)
F - Foxtrot (FOKS trot)
G - Golf (GOLF)
H - Hotel (hoh TELL)
I - India (IN dee ah)
J - Juliett (JEW lee ETT)
K - Kilo (KEY loh)
L - Lima (LEE mah)
M - Mike (MIKE)
N - November (no VEM ber)
O - Oscar (OSS cah)
P - Papa (pah PAH)
Q - Quebec (keh BECK)
R - Romeo (ROW me oh)
S - Sierra (see AIR rah)
T - Tango (TANG go)
U - Uniform (YOU nee form)
V - Victor (VIK tah)
W - Whiskey (WISS key)
X - X Ray (ECKS RAY)
Y - Yankee (YANG key)
Z - Zulu (ZOO loo)
ITU Phonetic Numbers
0 – “ZEE-RO”
1 – “Wun”
2 – “TOO”
3 – “TH-UH-REE” or “TREE”
4 – “FOW-ER”
5 – “FI-IV” or “FIFE”
6 – “SIX”
7 - “SEV-EN”
8 – “ATE” or “A-IT”
9 – “NIN-ER”
DECIMAL = “DAY-SEE-MAL”
*It is good practice and recommended for clarity that the ITU phonetics are used at all times during ARES activity.
The latest revision of the CollinARES Field Ops Guide (FOG) is located in the Files section of the site. It will redirect you to the Groups.io site where I members will have access for download. Highlighted information will be found below for all audiences.