Tags: mars

Amateur Radio Goes to Washington

from The ARRL Letter, Vol 26, No 39

Army MARS Chief Stuart S. Carter, AAA9A, has invited the ARRL and Amateur Radio representatives to join a Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS) demonstration outside the Capitol building in Washington, DC on October 3. Hams around the country are asked to aid in the demonstration by making HF contacts during the day. With help from Laura Abshire, Legislative Aide to Representative Mike Ross, WD5DVR (D-AR), Tricia Russell, Legislative Aide to Representative Steve Israel (D-NY), and coordination of the myriad details by "Pudge" Forrester, W4LTX, Systems Administrator for Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD), the "show" is set for next Wednesday, and hams around the country can help.

ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, said, "Thanks to a MARS invitation to join in a demonstration, and excellent coordination work by Forrester, the October 3 demonstration of Amateur Radio and MARS emergency communications will be front and center in the open space between the Capitol building and the Botanic Garden in Washington, DC." Pitts went on to say that the regional MARS organization is planning to conduct an exercise demonstrating emergency communications at the Capitol, as well.

The exercise assumes a Category 3 hurricane, Hurricane Quincy, will make landfall on October 2 over the coastal areas of Delaware, Maryland, DC and Virginia. Quincy will progress northward to New Jersey and Pennsylvania and then travel inland to the south, returning to the Atlantic Ocean on October 5 via the Carolinas and Georgia. During this time, MARS resources will be challenged by ongoing events in every part of the country, including ice storms, tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and earthquakes.

There will be a communication trailer, tent type shelter, four HF transceivers -- voice, PSK, and Winlink -- and VHF equipment at the site. The local Voice of America (VOA) organization and MARS have local repeaters and digipeaters available. Power will come from solar panels and generators with battery backup. The emergency communications trailer, owned by the Blue Ridge Association, Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware, part of the Southern Baptist North American Missions Disaster Relief Ministries, will also be on hand.

Representatives from ARRL headquarters, including Pitts, will be there. They will have ARRL public relations materials as well as video that shows the negative impact of BPL if current FCC rules are not modified. In addition, there are special materials for Members of Congress and their staff advocating Amateur Radio's positions on several legislative issues, including information to solicit co-sponsorship of H.R. 462 and H.R. 2743.

While MARS will be conducting their drill on their frequencies, Amateur Radio operations are scheduled from 1400-2100 UTC. While there may be last minute changes, plans are to try to center HF voice contacts around 14.250 and 7.250 MHz, and on PSK at 14.070 MHz. "By showing Members of Congress our nationwide capabilities and potentials, we advance the Service in many ways," Pitts said.

Representatives Ross and Bartlett plan to stop by. Army MARS is sending their Chief of Operations Grant Hays from Arizona. Mike Barrett, K3MMB, of the Transportation Security Administration's Office of Security Operations is aiding with the operations and logistics.

AEN5AC

During my deployment to Iraq, I wanted to setup and operate a MARS station. I know that MARS is not nearly as well used by deployed soldiers as it once was to send MARSGrams and use phone patches to talk to family back home. Access to the internet and AT&T Call Centers now enable most soldiers to stay in touch. However, it is always good planning to have a back up for communications - and a MARS station provides that. I have been through initial MARS training back in Virginia, completing the basic course and participating in local nets. It was good to get that training because it provided me a better understanding of how MARS functions and well as educating me on basic net procedures. MARS nets are generally not procedurally similar to how military voice radio communications function today. It was good to be familiar with the differences.

Applying for a MARS callsign to operate in Iraq is straight forward. I contacted Mr. Daniel Wolff, AEM1WF, in Germany. Mr. Wolff processed my application and assigned me my MARS callsign as well as provided me with the regional net plans and basic MARS information for operating in the region.

For a station setup, I am using an ICOM IC-7000. The rig is a reasonably priced, full-featured radio with a modest size that lends itself to portable operations.

The primary means of moving MARS traffic in the region is digital, specifically Pactor using the WL2K/Airmail PMBO (Participating Mail Box Office) backbone. To add a Pactor capability to my station I initially chose the Kantronics KAM XL. Although this TNC is only capable of Pactor 1, it can do the job.

I wanted flexibility for the power system. We our currently on the Iraqi power grid which is 240V. At some point my team may relocate to a US-controlled area where the power source could possibly be 120V. I needed a power supply that was capable of using both a 120V or 240V electrical source - the Astron SS-30M suited this requirement nicely. For power distribution, I am using a RIGrunner which uses the Anderson Powerpole connectors. I've had past success using Anderson Powerpoles; they provide flexibility of operation and a dependable connection. The power grid here is up and down - I needed a battery backup to provide sustainable power during the brief outages. The solution was an 18Ah battery tied in through West Mountain Radio's PWRgate. The PWRgate automatically transitions from the Astron SS-30M power supply to the backup battery should shore power fail and does so without a drop of supplied amps. I've been in the middle of a connection with the regional WL2K/PMBO when the power grid dropped and the PWRgate kept my the power coming without interruption.

I wanted a simple, efficient antenna that provided coverage from 80M to 10M with a modest footprint and that I could deploy with minimal assistance. A 130' inverted vee was the solution. I am fortunate to be at a location where our one-story building has a high 20' ceiling. There was also an unused 30' OE-254 mast already emplaced on top of the roof that I could use to support the center point of the vee. Some more scrounging around the camp rewarded me with additional support polls that I used to get both ends of the vee 35' off the ground. The building and surrounding structures allowed me to orient the antenna NE/SW, leaving the sides to face NW towards AEM1US in Germany and SE to AEN5QT in Qatar - the two nearest PMBOs. I used ladderline from the center point down to a 4:1 balun and into the LDG AT-200pro antenna tuner.

Installing Airmail (version 3.3.081) on my PC was straight forward with good directions provided by "Airmail for WL2K MARS_Basic Training. PDF" and additional help from the Yahoo Group. The KAM XL TNC (version 1.07050) is supported by Airmail and configures all the Airmail software settings for you. I did a hard reset on KAM XL then configured the KAM XL's XMITLVL setting via Airmail's Tools>Dumb Terminal. I used the CAL command and then the T command (send square wave) to create a signal into the IC-7000. I incrementally increased the XMITLVL value until I peaked the IC-7000's ALC meter into the red. I then backed the XMITLVL setting down one. I make slight adjustments of the XMITLVL depending on the band I am operating on.

With Airmail, connecting to a PMBO is relatively easy. Bringing up the HF Module and selecting Mode>Monitoring Enabled allows you to see all communications between the PC and the modem.

Once you select Mode>Monitoring Enabled you'll see:
cmd= MON ON/OFF
reply=MONITOR was OFF/OFF

Close the HF Module window and then go back to Airmail and select the HF Module again.

This time when the HF Module is stared, Airmail connects to the KAM XL and makes the following setting adjustments (which you can see because "Monitoring Enabled" is ON):

2007/MM/DD HH:MM:SS KAM-XL modem initialized OK
cmd= XFLOW OFF
reply=XFLOW was OFF
cmd= ECHO ON
reply=ECHO was ON
cmd= XMITECHO ON
reply=XMITECHO was ON
cmd= TXFLOW OFF
reply=TXFLOW was OFF
cmd= XFLOW OFF
reply=XFLOW was OFF
cmd= TRFLOW OFF
reply=TRFLOW was OFF
cmd= AUTOCR 0
reply=AUTOCR was 0
cmd= AUTOLF OFF
reply=AUTOLF was OFF
cmd= CRADD OFF
reply=CRADD was OFF
cmd= MAXUSERS 10/10
reply=MAXUSERS was 10/10
cmd= CRSUP OFF/OFF
reply=CRSUP was OFF/OFF
cmd= LFADD OFF/OFF
reply=LFADD was OFF/OFF
cmd= LFSUP OFF/OFF
reply=LFSUP was OFF/OFF
cmd= ARQID 0
reply=ARQID was 0
cmd= ARQBBS OFF
reply=ARQBBS was OFF
cmd= PTHUFF ON
reply=PTHUFF was ON
cmd= SHIFT MODEM
reply=SHIFT was MODEM
cmd= SPACE 3000
reply=SPACE was 1600
cmd= MARK 1400
reply=MARK was 1400
cmd= SPACE 1600
reply=SPACE was 3000
cmd= INV ON
reply=INVERT was OFF
cmd= MYPT AEN5AC
reply=ok
cmd= MON OFF/OFF
reply=MONITOR was OFF/OFF
cmd= PACTOR
reply=ok
cmd= MYPT AEN5AC
reply=ok


Next, select the callsign of the PMBO you are trying to reach. Combined with the integrated ITS HF Propagation software, it is easy to select the best frequency to attempt a connection. Airmail has the ability to control your rig directly and adjust the proper frequency and mode prior to transmitting. Adjustments can also be made manually by using the dial frequency/mode being displayed in the lower right corner of the HF Module window.

When trying to connect, Airmail will make several 1 to 2 second transmissions attempting to raise the distant PMBO. I adjusted the IC-7000s MONITOR function to allow me to hear and confirm that the data is being transmitted. The following is displayed in Airmail's HF Module window when you initiate a connection:

2007/MM/DD HH:MM:SS Calling (PMBO's callsign)

cmd=PACTOR (PMBO's callsign)
reply=ok

Upon connecting, something like the following appears in the HF Module window:


2007/MM/DD HH:MM:SS Connected to (PMBO's callsign)
(LINKED TO (PMBO's callsign))
1AEN5AC (This is your callsign)
(Pactor1: )
[WL2K-2.1.8-B2FHIMT$]
Welcome to.... (info concerning this PMBO you connected to)

The Following are a list of frequencies that this PMBO scans.
Please note that not all these frequencies can be used from all locations.
Please consult your Netplan for proper usage in your area.



(PMBO's callsign) last contacted the Central server 1 min ago.

AEN5AC de (PMBO's callsign) QTC 0 Msgs 0 bytes>
[AirMail-3.3.081-B2FHIM$]
; (PMBO's callsign) de AEN5AC
FF
(PACTOR STANDBY)
2007/MM/DD HH:MM:SS Disconnected from (PMBO's callsign)


Airmail uploads outgoing mail before it downloads incoming mail - the process is automatic.

Despite heavy QRM and QRN, Pactor is able to get through with just a 100 watts. Pactor 1 has a slow data rate, but can get simple text emails through quickly. I have recently upgraded the TNC to an SCS PTC-IIusb Modem with Pactor 3 capability. The PTC-IIusb provides a more stable connection and better data rate transfer.

Future plans for the station include mounting everything in a road case for easy portability.

Visalia man installs radio antennas to talk to son in Iraq

By Nick McClellan
Staff writer
http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070811/NEWS01/708110360

Visalians driving south on Court Street just north of Caldwell Avenue may notice two skeletal misfits between the trees and houses on Oak View Drive.

But don't mind them — they are there so a father can talk to his son deployed overseas with the Marines.
Or at least that's what will happen after some further modifications.

Dan Woolman, who lives at 111 W. Oak View Drive and owns the 60-foot and 35-foot towers, first flipped the switch on ham radio at the age of 13. Now at 55, Woolman has resurrected his past enthusiasm for amateur radio in his retirement by investing more than $100,000 in top-of-the-line equipment and antennas.

"If there's one thing I enjoy, it's ham radio," said Woolman, whose call sign on the airwaves is W6ATR. "It's been a lifelong avocation for me."

Woolman is also involved in the Navy-Marine Corps Military Affiliate Radio System program, which sends messages to service men and women overseas.

He hopes that once he has placed an 80-meter antenna onto his larger tower he will on occasion be able to speak to his 18-year-old son Brett, who has recently completed his fifth week of training with the Marines.

"I'm pretty proud of my son," Woolman said. "He's quite a kid."

Woolman also wants to use the setup to help other families communicate with their loved ones who are in the military and overseas. That communication is usually through computer messages, called MARSGRAMS.

New technology has largely diminished the useful role ham radio once played in keeping military personnel in touch with their families back home.

"It has slowed down now with the advent of cellular telephones," said Wilbert Musselman, a fellow ham radio user in Goldsboro, N.C., who chats with Woolman on air. "But it's still active and [we're] doing a lot of computer correspondence now."

Woolman's friend Mike Meraz of Visalia advised him in the building of the towers.

One of the more difficult tasks, Meraz said, included the piecing together of each of the antenna elements on the ground and delicately placing and balancing them onto the boom, which is suspended in the air.

Though Woolman elicited some attention from the city of Visalia over the structural integrity of the towers, Meraz said the cement has been stress-pressured. Aside from tightening bolts to the boom that may become loosened by torque from the rotating antenna, the structures are sound, he said.

"If he wants to, he can drop [the towers] all the way down, and it can clear

the roof," Meraz said, which Woolman does do when high winds risk toppling the towers.

Woolman added that the towers are designed to withstand 70-mph winds, which are not frequent in the Valley. Woolman said the 80-meter antenna, will enable contact with his son and further participation with the military radio program. It operates at low voltage so it will not interfere with any of the neighbors' electronics.

He said he offers filters to anyone who tells him they suspect the signals are responsible for interference.

Meraz, who will help him place the antenna on the 60-foot tower, said the two plan to install it this month.

As far as the reception on the airwaves to Woolman's high-end hardware?

"By golly you have a good signal," said one broadcaster.

# The reporter can be reached at nmcclell@visalia.gannett.com

Weekend Wrap Up


I finally got the RadioWorks Carolina Windom 80 up in the trees! Again, a wonderful job done by the CSV19 Pneumatic Antenna Launcher. I used it four times, each time it performed perfectly.


The matching unit is up about 50'. I was able to put the 82' leg over the house and tied off to a tree in the front yard. The 51' leg went out the other direction tied off to a tree behind my backyard. Each leg is tied off at about 35'. Unfortunately, the antenna is not in a completely straight line from end to end, but I think its the best I'm going to get. So far I have noticed a lower noise level than my inverted vee. I particpated in the MARS training net tonight and was able to hear all the stations very well. I also had a 20M USB QSO with Argentina and a 40M LSB with southern Florida.

I had a few CW QSOs Saturday night. I hoping to have a few tonight and test the new antenna a bit more.

Saturday.....

Finally checked into the VA MARS net. The net started late and I had almost given up on it. I'm going to try and check in again tomorrow morning. I need to get around to raising the height of my inverted vee - I think it will better help my signal get out.

I was able to catch W1AA (Henry and Whitey) and their activation of the Highland Lighthouse (USA 110) out on Cape Cod. Whitey, K1VV, is usually out ever weekend doing a lighthouse activation - always has a nice signal.

Had a very nice Radio Merit Badge class for a young Scout out at Fort Monroe in the afternoon. I setup my 10' x 10' shelter and the ARSIB. Initially I planned on setting the G5RV (like during the W4M Memorial Day Special Event) but the wind was quite heavy, so I opted to put up the homebrew vertical dipole. To get some height on the antenna, I attached it to the top of the painter's pole. Before I had a chance to tie down the pole, a gust of wind knocked the antenna down. The fall caused the feedline connection to break off. Not good. However, with a little bit of wire and some electrical tape, I was able to reattached the feedline connection. Now the antenna was low to the ground and I was a little concerned about it's performance. The Scout arrived and we started reviewing the Radio Merit Badge requirements. I was able to easily tune WWV on 15 MHz and was also able to find a CW QSO in progress on 40M. Also demoed a bit of CW using my MFJ paddle that has a speaker built in. After we'd reviewed all the requirements, it was time for the HF QSO. The Scout called CQ and after a few tries, received a reply from Charlie, N1MUQ, in Stamford, CT. Charlie had a booming, solid signal and the Scout was able to successfully complete the QSO. We then moved to my mobile VHF rig and the Scout had a nice QSO with Randy, WB7URZ located up in Gloucester. Even with the antenna setup issues, the Radio Merit Badge session was a success and I think both the Scout and I had a good time.

MT63

[http://www.qsl.net/wm2u/mt63.html] Developed by Pawel Jalocha, SP9VRC. It is intended as a conversational mode between two or more Hams. It has 64 tones spaced 15.625Hz apart, in the 1kHz bandwidth. It uses FEC error correction which, even if 25% of the character sent is obliterated, it will give perfect copy. Each character is spread over many tones to reduce interference from other radio stations, and spread over several seconds to avoid noise bursts such as lightening. Despite this seemingly slow data throughput, good text speed is maintained at 100 wpm. It is therefore a very robust mode.

Download available here: http://www.navymars.org/central/reg4/al/MT63.htm

A few updates from the shack....

Scouts: received my Radio Merit Badge pamphlet in the mail today. Between the pamphlet and web resources, I want to put together a course package for the merit badge. One of the gentlemen I work with has a son who is interested in pursuing the Radio Merit Badge... so I need to get crackin'.

Army MARS: put in an application for Army MARS. The VA state rep told me it will be a couple weeks before I get my MARS callsign and initial training information.

US Army Amateur Radio Society: picked up a few more members. need to make contact with the Iraqi folks to check on the status of the pending YI9 applications.

DX: made contact with one of the newest DXCC entity... Montenegro! The YU6AO Montenegro DXpedition team now has a Web page at http://www.yu6ao.info/ and a log search at http://www.yu6ao.info/log.html ... I'm in the log!

eBay: purchased an ASTATIC D-104 microphone. Should be a fun project adapting it for use with my IC-706MKIIG.

Local ham swap: made a deal to purchase a SB-220 Heathkit HF Linear Amplifier! This should give me a little more motivation to improve my antenna situation. Also need to acquire an antenna tuner.

Lighthouse QSL cards: finished my QSL cards for the Bodie Island Lighthouse (USA-062) and the Currituck Beach Lighthouse (USA-212) activations. Some of the Currituck Beach contacts are getting a North Carolina lighthouse key chain/compass/thermometer. Tried to get those to fellow ARLHS members.

W4M Special Event Station QSL cards/certificates: everyone who had sent me a SASE has been sent a QSL card (and certificate if they provided a large envelope).

SkyWarn Net: checked into the Chesapeake Amateur Radio Service (CARS) SkyWarn Net. They had made recent improvements to their repeater and have greatly expanded the coverage.

How MARS Came to Afghanistan

http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/War%20Stories/TW_how_mars_came_to_afghanistan.htm

By Captain Jeff Hammer, N9NIC

It all began in the spring of 2004 when the 76th Infantry Brigade of the Indiana National Guard was notified that we would be going to Afghanistan.

As a 13-year Amateur Radio Operator and National Guardsman I wanted to make use of my skills and do something unique. I decided to establish a MARS station for my Command in Afghanistan. The first step was applying for a MARS license, and it came through before we deployed. C-130 transports flew us to Kabul in July. We began to occupy Camp Phoenix while the unit that had been here for eight months was preparing to move out.

In my case there was a particular motivation to get MARS up and running. Although a few contacts had been made in the past with Special Forces in Afghanistan, no one had successfully established a fixed MARS station here accessible to the troops generally.

I would soon find out why.

Speedway, IN, near Indianapolis, is where I grew up and where my father, grandfather, and great grandfather all called home. Around the 5th grade I started to take a big interest in electronics. My father and grandfather had grown up using CB radios. I got one and joined the Circle City (Indianapolis) Radio Emergency Assistance Communications Team (R.E.A.C.T.) In 1990 I went off to Purdue University hoping to become an electrical engineer. During the first year I joined the Indiana National Guard. At the same time I was going through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps program. After graduation I took on a military intelligence assignment assisting law enforcement in Northwest Indiana I had never planned on joining the military, but Operation Desert Storm sparked something inside me. My father served as an Intelligence Officer and a Military Police Officer and retired after 26 years in the Army and National Guard. My grandfather and great-grandfather both served in the World Wars. There was a lot of family history and pride that continues to drive me to this day.

Basic Training started in the summer of ’91 and it was then, at Red Stone Arsenal, AL, that I decided to get my Amateur Radio license. I studied every night for two months. One November day I walked six miles into Huntsville (after spending a long time convincing my drill sergeant that it was a good idea), took the test, passed, and enjoyed the six mile walk back thinking of all the new radio equipment I wanted to buy.

Back home in Indiana, the fact that I had a full-time job as a military intelligence officer supporting law enforcement and a part-time job as a police and fire dispatcher at the Speedway Police Department didn’t leave a lot of time for play. However, I earned my General Class license in 2001 and got heavily involved in the new world of HF. In Kabul there were all sorts of regular military priorities involved in getting a military post functioning as opposed to just setting up a field site.

Task Force Phoenix, which is made up primarily of the 76th Infantry Brigade, arrived in Afghanistan in mid July. It took about two months to get the MARS station operational at Camp Phoenix. Our SGC SG-2000 PowerTalk HF transceiver, PowerCube amplifier and SG-104 antenna were going to have to wait because there was no place to put them until the previous unit moved out.

So I patiently (not really) waited for the day to come when we completed taking over Camp Phoenix. That day came and went and still no luck finding the time or place to install the station. There was no place to put the radio in the command post yet, so I started coming up with a way to rig it up in our living tent.

Now the problem was where to put this 90 foot antenna. I climbed up a lighting tower behind the command center and installed the antenna in an inverted-V configuration. It didn't work too well because of the nearby antennas for all the traditional military communications. I had to find a new location.

I moved into my permanent living quarters (a very nice plywood hut that I share with 7 other officers). I worked with the Signal Officer to get approval for a location that would not interfere with the existing military communications equipment and provide me with a suitable location for the MARS station. Next I got with the engineers to build two temporary masts with the only material we had—two-by-fours (see the picture titled The MARS Antenna). We cut two holes in the top of each two-by-four and ran the cord guy lines through them. The base of the masts is held down by sandbags. The antenna only sits about 25 feet high right now, but when I went back into my hut and fired up the SGC 2000 and started spinning the dial, I heard the call sign UA4FER on the 20 meter amateur band. On my first transmission I made contact with UA4FER loud and clear and in Russia! Not bad for a 150 watt radio some 2,250 miles away.

The next night after some coordination with the MARS European Gateway in Germany, I made contact on the first try with AEM1USA near Heidelberg, Germany.

Unfortunately that was the last time I heard of AEM1USA. The Army had decided to shut the gateway station down to save money. This caused communications problems for many stations throughout Europe and Asia. For those of us in faraway and remote locations it was especially devastating – like being able to hear one day and becoming deaf the next.

I turned to Amateur Radio to continue testing the system by making as many contacts as possible to get feedback on signal strength and quality. So far I have made contacts in Russia, Germany, Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Hungary, Iraq, and the Faroe Islands. Each has reported great signal quality. I look forward to the day when I can make contact directly with the United States.

The fall of 2004 was the season of the antenna moves. Our 90 foot folded dipole required a lot of real estate and as construction projects moved around the camp, my antenna had to keep moving with them, or rather, away from them– eight times in all. I had 200 feet of a special version of super low-loss RG-213 coax manufactured by The Wireman and needed every bit of it.

The antenna currently sits about 25 feet high with half of it hanging over a road inside the camp. One day as I was getting ready to do my first linkup on digital a truck filled way too high with something caught the antenna and snapped it. I managed to get it fixed and restrung in about half an hour and made that contact. After a long winter of almost no activity on the HF bands due to poor propagation and weather conditions, the approach of spring brought new hope. I started hearing faint voice traffic during the nightly net. Voice still doesn’t work as of March, but AEM6AA and I decided to experiment with digital. (That’s Mike Woolverton WB0ZPW, a U.S. Air Force retiree living in Athens, Greece,) PSK31 was the first try and it went pretty well. We had reliable enough digital communications to pass two MARSgrams back to the states.

It wasn’t long before a lot of interference appeared on the frequency. PSK31 wasn’t cutting it. AEM6AA and I decided to try some other modes. The one we have settled on as of March is MFSK16. It is much more reliable and breaks through the interference where PSK31 wouldn’t.

MFSK16 was the mode I received my first MARSGRAM, a reply back from AAV5MK. That’s Mal Lunsford W9MAL, the Indiana MARS traffic manager. He was letting us know the first message had been delivered. It had been addressed to Maj. Gen. Martin Umbarger, the Indiana state Adjutant General, announcing that our station was operational. We have found that a military frequency near the 40-meter Ham band was the only one that worked for MARS contacts. I use the SGC PowerCube linear most of the time because it is practically impossible to make contact without at least 200 watts. MARS is an extra volunteer duty for me so I conduct it primarily in the evening after I am off shift, between 1500Z and 1800Z. There is still a lot of testing. Conditions are anything but perfect when your site is in between mountains and 3,000 miles away from the nearest station. There are plans to add PACTOR capability and raise the antenna higher in an effort to improve signal quality. My ultimate goal is to establish phone patches. For the Command, I feel that establishing a MARS station that is ready to support the troops is a major milestone. For me personally, I am proud to be part of a network of volunteer communicators that support the troops and the military’s mission. Doing it in a combat theater is just that much more satisfying.

For many if not most of America’s troops overseas, e-mail and cell phones provide a quick link with family and friends back home. But not all service personnel are deployed within reach of these services. Here’s the story of a Ham determined to carry on Amateur Radio’s tradition of handling “morale and welfare” messages via the Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS).

Captain Hammer is assigned to the Coalition Task Force Phoenix III as senior intelligence officer responsible for managing Human Intelligence and Counterintelligence Operations. His duties include fielding a team of more than 400 local interpreters. “Of course,” he says, “I have quality Non-Commissioned Officers who do most of the real work.”

99 Hobbies talks to KB3JUV/AAT3OT

Are you familiar with the website of Dave Bushong, KZ1O, called 99 Hobbies? Dave explores the different aspects of the amateur radio hobby by interviewing fellow hams about their passions.

His latest interview is with..... Justin Kates, KB3JUV.... check it out here.

73 Scott AD7MI
US Army



From: "Justin Kates"
Subject: [usaars] Hello from KB3JUV/AAT3OT
Date: Sun, 25 Jun 2006 14:19:04 -0000

Hello Everyone,

I've been pretty interested in some of the stuff coming across this reflector including some of the Iraq radio deployments.

Scott AD7MI asked if I would introduce myself and what I do in this interesting hobby. One of my main positions is the Section Emergency Coordinator for the state of Delaware ARES. For those of you that know the ARRL staff structure you will know that the job is to coordinate all of the amateur radio assets during an emergency. I just started it this year and I'm probably the youngest SEC in ARRL history (17 when I started).

I'm also a big Army MARS member. I was introduced into the program by John Scoggin AAT3BF and I've always been interested in the stuff that he has been doing. In the state, we provide a lot of support to the Delaware National Guard and Delaware Emergency Management Agency. For those of you interested in still supporting the Army (or any of your other services) after you get out, MARS is a great program to support. Also, in MARS, I'm the state Training Officer.

Some of the things that you will see I'm largely involved with is the Winlink 2000 program. Myself and a working group in the state have been working to develop a statewide system on both amateur and MARS frequencies. Winlink has a lot of really great capabilities that I've been impressed by all along. I've built portable Winlink radio kits to show that you can have e-mail just about anywhere.

You can find out more about me at my website www.kb3juv.com and my Blog at http://kb3juv.blogspot.com. I'm interested in hearing about what you guys do in the hobby as well as your previous or current support for the Armed Services.

73,

Justin Kates
KB3JUV/AAT3OT