Dedicated to Emergency Communications by RADIO

        EMCOMM  MONTHLY   
Official Journal of the World Radio Relay League


VOL.  6 -- No. 1                        September  2009                      

SHORT CIRCUITS - News and Announcements

The EM ADVISOR - "Q and A"




- -

Editorial by D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ, Editor-Publisher

I hope that you all enjoyed a great summer (winter for our Southern Hemisphere readers), and much high-quality time spent with family and friends!  Here at the Lazy T Ranch in the outback of Northern California, we spent most of our free time catching up on vehicle repairs, home and ranch maintenance work, and a lot of sitting out on our observation deck, listening to the Patriot Channel (Sirius 144), while watching the weeds grow, the dogs play, the eagles, hawks, and vultures soar above, (and in the daytime) watching Old Glory proudly fly above our little wilderness sanctuary.  In the evening we often watched electrical light shows on our southern horizon and/or observed the glory of the stars and planets as they parade across the night sky!  We know what Dante (The Divine Comedy) meant when he wrote:
“Nature is the art of God.”  I also did a lot of soul searching as to how I would choose to spend my available time and remaining energy as I live out my days.

EMCOMM MONTHLY was the offspring of a weekly e-letter that began in 2000 as the "5-1-2* Bulletin."  The readership/service area for that regional emcomm bulletin soon expanded, and it was aptly re-named The EMCOMMWEST Bulletin.  The subscriber list continued to expand, both numerically and geographically, and it eventually became an international publication.  Producing a weekly newsletter became increasingly time consuming and difficult, and burn-out was on the horizon.  I wanted to sign-off for good, but others said that the niche we were filling was needed.  So, after much reflection, I (with the counsel of a few close friends), decided to make it into a monthly, and in June 2004, EM appeared. 

From the beginning, our goal was not to save traditional amateur radio emcomm...but to try to slow its decline.  Five years ago, in the PREMIER ISSUE, we asked our readers: "Suppose it is the year 2020.  You are being interviewed by a reporter who asks you to give a one word answer to this question:  “What killed amateur radio?  After thinking about it...what is your answer?"  The following month our readers' replies to that question were published along with an Op-Ed piece: WHAT KILLED AMATEUR RADIO?  Looking back at that article we conclude that nothing much has changed since then except that the number of public service radio operators and skilled traffic handlers has continued to decline.  More and more hams are putting all of their emcomm eggs into digital, computerized, landline-infrastructure-hybrid communications.  In spite of our best efforts, amateur radio emcomm is slowly being diluted and polluted, and the radio part of amateur radio emcomm is gradually being siphoned off and is slowly fading out.  Sooner or later the ability to handle and relay record message traffic, no matter what mode, will be nothing more than a curious relic from the past.

This past July marked the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.  I enjoyed watching and listening to all the special programs commemorating what was one of mankind's greatest technological achievements.  Mark Levin (author of the best selling Liberty and Tyranny) told an interesting story about something that happened at the dedication of the National Air and Space Museum at Washington, DC in 1976.

Levin, who was then serving as an aide to President Gerald Ford, was present at the ribbon-cutting ceremony which was being conducted by Brig.General Michael Collins, (USAF Ret.).  Collins remained aboard the Apollo 11 command module Columbia, while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the lunar surface.

President Ford arrived and with many dignitaries and members of the media present, the actual ribbon cutting included a radio signal being transmitted from an orbiting satellite, which would then activate a laser beam, which would cut the ribbon.  The set-up worked and the ribbon was cut by the laser beam on schedule.  After the ceremony, someone noticed a pair of scissors protruding from Gen. Collins' rear pocket and asked him why he had brought them.  His reply: "I brought them just in case the high-tech stuff didn't work!"

Emergency communications is not rocket science!  How something so simple has been made so complicated is beyond the outer limits of reason and common sense.   Emcomm is simply knowing how to accept, relay, and deliver third party message traffic by radio using a standardized message format.   No amateur radio operator worth his (or her) salt, should ever let his or her basic language skills and tools of communication to be lost or get rusty!  No matter what other systems you employ for emcomm, every one of us should keep a simple transceiver (e.g. - Ten-Tec QRP CW, MFJ Cub, NorCal or Oak Hills QRP rig** or voice rig such as Ten-Tec Scout or Yaesu FT-817), a J-38 hand key and/or mic, and an easy-to-deploy wire antenna.  A 12 v.d.c. power source can always be found...even if its from a wrecked vehicle, or using 8 "D" cells in series.  And a J-38 should fit nicely in your hip pocket!  Other essentials include a clipboard and paper, pen and pencil, plus the "know how" of being able to handle message traffic.

Over the past 40 years your editor has devoted countless thousands of hours to emergency preparedness and response.  As I look back, I enjoy great satisfaction, but I realize that we have done just about all we can do to convince amateur radio operators of the importance of proficient operating and public service.  There have been many times that I have felt like I was shoveling sand against the tide.  Several of my close confidants have often wondered and asked why I do it.  I'm not sure that I have a valid answer.

EM cannot be considered to be anything but a success.  This is due in part to the fact that there has been and there still is a need and considerable demand for practical, useful, down-to-earth emcomm information.  Information that is no longer readily available elsewhere, and that has not been polluted with a lot of superfluous "high-tech-gobbledy-gook."

The "graying" of amateur radio is a reality.  And every week I hear of another key going silent.  And I am only counting the operators that I know personally.  Also, I am personally experiencing the wear and tear of aging.  I'll not list all of the physical problems that I am experiencing, but will say that arthritis and bilateral Depuytren Contractures have crippled my hands to the point that it is painful and increasingly difficult to type.  And long hours on the keyboard exacerbate the condition.

New and interesting emcomm material has become more and more difficult to find and/or originate.  Long-time readers probably have noticed that we have done a fair amount of re-cycling of articles and subjects.  While this may bore some readers, it serves as a review for others, and is a source of useful information for new subscribers.  But over the past few years...we have said just about all that can be said on the subject of emcomm...some of it three and four times over.  And the fundamentals never change!  If serious emcomm operators haven't got it by now...they probably never will.  TO RECENT SUBSCRIBERS:  We hope that you won't feel left out.  Back issues of EM are archived at:  or use our handy site search at:

I have always avoided using EM (or any aspect of amateur radio) as a "bully pulpit" for my political views.  Some readers have been able to read between the lines a few times and have detected that I am a staunch conservative.  With our nation in such a mess and spinning out of control, it has been hard at times to stifle my passion for liberty and not shout out let freedom ring!

Therefore, I have decided to devote more of my available free time and energy to working on projects to help preserve our unalienable rights (Life, Liberty, Property and the Pursuit of Happiness), and our Constitution, (especially the First and Second Amendments).

 are NOT businesses, and while our out-of-pocket operating costs are relatively low, we do have to pay internet service fees, domain registration, other fees and operating costs.  We do not accept advertising and there are no "pop-ups" on our website.  We do not feed at the public (read taxpayers) trough. From the beginning, EM has been funded solely by voluntary donations from the staff and our readers.  We dislike asking for monetary contributions, and simply say: "If you have benefited from our efforts, and would like to support this work in a tangible way, you may do so by sending a check or money order."

For most of us times are tough, but since the last (June) issue, only four readers have made a donation.  A couple of years ago we said "If every reader would send just one 'green stamp' ($1.00) a year, our budget would be in good shape."  Following that subtle hint, eight (8) readers sent a dollar and a few sent a little more.  I am not whining, but I do read this as an indication that few "have benefited from our efforts,"  at least enough to support our efforts in a tangible manner.


Because new subscribers continue to flow in (53 since the June issue),  I just can't bring myself to "cut them off" by putting EM into the deleted file along with Worldradio (1971-2008), 73 magazine (1962-2003), Popular Electronics (1957-1999), Electronics Illustrated (1958-1972), and many others too numerous to list that are long forgotten.  Even RadioShack® recently dropped "radio" from its name.  Does anyone still maintain that amateur radio, as we once knew it, is not slowly fading out?  However,  EM will remain afloat awhile longer...but on a quarterly basis.  Therefore, this is the last issue of EMCOMM MONTHLY.  Starting in December, EM will become EMCOMM QUARTERLY or "EQ."  The next scheduled issue will be issued on December 1, 2009.  Thereafter, EQ will be published in March, June, September and December.  In the meantime, all back issues of EM will continue to be available at EMCOMM.ORG -- the most comprehensive emcomm resource on the internet. - Editor

* "5-1-2" Bulletin" - A regional weekly bulletin for emcomm operators in (ARRL) Southern Oregon District 5 and Northern California Districts 1 and 2.

** RESOURCES (Inexpensive QRP CW Transceiver suppliers):
- -

4x4 (Four Wheel Drive) HAM RADIO OPERATORS
Off Road and On the Air!
Check out:
- ∙ ∙ ∙ -

Two items appeared in the July 2009 issue of Natural Hazards Observer that seem to indicate that common sense may be making a comeback.

The post 9/11 billion-dollar gravy train has long since dried up.  In Cutler Bay's School Bus Brigade (page 5), NHO reports on how the Town of Cutler Bay, FL (Miami-Dade County) converted diesel powered school buses into emergency response vehicles.  New commercially-manufactured ERVs start at around $300,000.  The buses were purchased for $10 each from the local school district and re-configured into mobile communication units, mobile command posts and logistical support purposes.  This wise utilization of the taxpayer's dollars is congruent with the EM PHILOSOPHY.

Natural Hazards Observer (page 15) also reports that Craig Fugate, former director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, volunteer firefighter and paramedic has been confirmed as the new administrator of FEMA.  Do we now have someone in that position who has actually "smelled the gunpowder?"  Fugate told the U.S. Senate confirmation committee:  "We have to begin looking at our citizens as a resource, not as a liability, in our plans.  We have to integrate and build capacity and capability at the local level, the state, and federal level.  It has to incorporate the volunteer, faith-based and community-based organizations, and private sector."  What a breath of fresh air! - Editor

NOTE: The Natural Hazards Observer is published by the Natural Hazard Center at the University of Colorado, 482 UCB, Boulder, CO  80309-0482.
Subscriptions are free.

NOTE: K6SOJ's 1971 Ford/Gillig/Caterpillar mobile communications bus appeared on the cover of the November 1994 QST

∙ ∙ ∙ -
∙ ∙ ∙ -

"FYI" (For Your Information) is commonly used as an abbreviation in email messaging.  Word has been received that some SPAM FILTERS reject or divert email messages that include FYI in the subject to the "junk email  folder."  Caveat Emptor. - EM
- ∙ ∙ ∙ -

October 3, 2009 - St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY
- -



"I have recently set up an NVIS antenna system using a 130 ft. dipole with the feed point at the corner of a wooden fence and the elements at 90 degrees to each other. I used the WRRL NVIS manual as reference. The antenna is 18 inches above the ground and to my everlasting surprise the auto-tuner in my IC 775DSP works very well on 40 and 80 meters. I was prepared to use a manual tuner.  The antenna is fed with 80 ft. of RG 213 and the system works very well. I am still testing it and tomorrow is field day and much can be accomplished then.

"I also have a D4 rotatable dipole and an HF 6V Butternut vertical, both having been in use for many months to use as comparisons.  As advertised, the noise level is very low and signals of S7,8 and 9 have been received from stations as far away as Portland, OR, Hood River, Vancouver Is. Prineville, OR, Lewiston, ID, and Grand Forks, BC(NW of Spokane). Much testing remains to be done. I am very pleased so far."  - Gary  Jones, WB7DIE, Mt. Vernon, WA

COMMENT: Thanks for the report about your experiements and tests, Gary.  Of course, with NVIS, a lot depends upon your ground conductivity, or how far below the surface is the actual "earth ground."  An antenna that is only 18 inches above ground presents a hazard to both humans and animals.  We recommend that antennas be at least 8 feet above ground. - Editor
- ∙ ∙ ∙ -
VoIP, IRLP, Echo link, etc.
"You may be interested in emcomm things Nevada Amateur Radio Repeaters, Inc (NARRI) is doing to support VoIP nets such as the weekly NV ARES®, ARC and Disaster Communicators Forum. See to see real-time mapping of VoIP repeaters/nodes and net schedules. I operate big-pipe, “dual channel” (IRLP and Echo link) VoIP servers for NV and HI ARES® as well as others described in  I am adding an emcomm server for Northern California and Idaho. The servers could be used as full-time links, as we do in NV, a place to go for nets and a real incident.  
"The ARC (American Red Cross - editor) holds a weekly net on Western Reflector channel 7 (IRLP 9257) AND Echo link conference server *DCF-ARC* (336037) Sundays at 6 pm Pacific local time. Many of the ARC communicators use Echo link installed on their PC. The dual server is up 24/7. The NCS is in KC, Kansas.  Perhaps it is something of news for Emcomm Monthly.

"VoIP is a part of amateur radio. The FCC and ARRL agree.  VoIP does not replace HF, but is another repeater-linking tool that more and more emcomm organizations are using.  Commercial VoIP linking is used by Public Service organizations all over the USA for Emcomm including California. The internet was designed to a mil spec. VoIP did not fail ( not once) during 9-11 even in NYC.  The weak link is in the ham shack same as for HF – no emergency power in many cases.  It is used by many ham emcomm organizations, including weather reporting on the VoIP SKYWARN/Hurricane Net  and American Red Cross.  See net listings at  VoIP linking is thought to be more reliable than RF linking (site to site).  Don’t throw away your untried tools." -  Kent Johnson, W7AOR, Las Vegas, NV

EM COMMENTS:  The systems mentioned are complicated, complex and expensive.  But they are a means of communication.  However, EMCOMM MONTHLY and WRRL does not advocate depending upon them for emcomm during "real incidents" or preparedness activities.  We believe that emergency communication networks must not depend upon landline and/or commercial services such as the internet.  Even relying upon repeaters is a gamble.  These services and systems can, and will, fail during emergencies and disasters.   An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP*) attack, or the internet (and cell phone services) may be shut down by "the government."  Emcomm must be able to provide message traffic solely by amateur radio, independent of landline and commercial services and commercial power sources.  Using these systems for emcomm "nets" on a regular basis promotes a false sense of security, and does not provide training, practice and/or experience in actual radio net discipline and procedures.
In spite of what the FCC or ARRL may say, what we haven't had satisfactorily explained yet is: If the telephones, email and the internet are still intact and functioning during or following a disaster or other calamity, or they haven't been shut down or restricted by a government order, why bother with radio at all?   And, if extra personnel is all that is needed to operate the normal means of communication, non-ham volunteers can easily be trained to perform those functions.

I recall an incident many years ago where a ham stationed in a disaster shelter was laboriously reading off a long list of needed supplies (which is unnecessary if resource typing has been implemented), tying up a VHF linked repeater system, and all the while a functioning telephone was sitting next to him on the desk!

In the net examples you mention, there was/is no failure of the "normal means of communications,"  and the "normal means of communications" should be used whenever possible.  However, during Katrina, and many other recent disasters, all of this stuff was knocked some areas for weeks.

Sadly, skilled radio operators who know how to communicate and relay message traffic (using radio only) are becoming fewer and fewer every day.  Fundamental skills are not widely being taught, practiced, or emphasized.  But then...most of society is being lulled into a false sense of security in many areas and disciplines.

FINALLY - These hard-wired systems do not allow for a real-time "broadcast" (CQD, QST, SOS, MAYDAY or PAN PAN PAN**), distress call to all stations.

Re. "Don’t throw away your untried tools."  We prefer to say, "Don't throw out your oars or paddle, just because you have a motor on your life-boat!"  - Editor

* READ MORE ABOUT EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse)
A recent (2008) update by The Heritage Foundation:

From EM archives:

- -
The staff of EMCOMM MONTHLY is happy to answer your questions to the best of our ability.  Some are "FAQs" (Frequently Asked Questions) and others are of a specific nature.  Each month, we will answer questions that may have value to other emcomm radio operators.  Technical questions are forwarded to our Technical Advisor, Ed Ewell, K7DXV.  Questions about our ARCT program or NIMS/ICS are forwarded to Jerry Boyd, N7WR.  Others may be forwarded to other staff members.  Questions regarding emcomm in general are usually handled by D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ. Some will wind up on our FAQ page at:       

Before submitting a question, we ask our readers to check the FAQ page first...your question may have been asked before.  Also, please consider checking our site search page at:      to see if your question may have been previously addressed in EMCOMM MONTHLY.  Thank you.

Q:  "I was looking at the CalFire web site this evening, and saw that they were sending the Latitude and Longitude of a fire.
Example: Lat: 34° 15´ 4" Long: 118° 11´ 41" -- How would you send this in a message via voice?" -  Greg Kruckewitt, KG6SJT, Yolo County, CA ARES® AEC

  An excellent question, Greg.  And, a very important one!  All messages should be handled with 100% accuracy.  But this is especially true when sending, relaying, receiving and delivering vital information such as latitude and longitude.  THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ERROR!  One tragic example was when a forward observer in a combat situation, reported the position of the enemy, and called for an air strike.  He inadvertently sent the position of his own unit.  He and his entire unit were all killed.

In recent years public service agencies (such as CalFire) and the NIMS have adopted a CLEAR TEXT or plain language policy for voice transmissions.  Although this is somewhat vague (there is no way to define "clear text" of "plain language" and what may be clear to one person, could be confusing to another), the method can work fairly well, as long as sending operators express information accurately and receive operators know how to listen carefully, and write it down as soon as it is received!  Do NOT trust anything to memory!

Assuming that there is a clear ("full quieting") point-to-point radio contact, as is usually the case in most tactical FM VHF/UHF public service communications,  I would transmit (in voice) your example (above) like this:

"Latitude thirty-four degrees fifteen minutes four seconds longitude one one eight degrees eleven minutes forty-one seconds"


Now (before someone gets all excited) it is recognized, that in this example no north or south is given for latitude and no east or west is given for the longitude, but in a tactical situation that is acceptable.  Obviously if the operation is in California the Latitude is N (north) and the Longitude is W (west).

The receiving station may want to reply with a "read-back" by saying:
"Confirming latitude thirty-four degrees fifteen minutes four seconds (pause) longitude one one eight degrees eleven minutes forty-one seconds"

Now, this is where it can get challenging:
  Factors such as interference or noise, operator language accent, poor radio conditions, etc.  This is often the case in AM transmissions (as in most VHF aeronautical communications), in HF/VHF SSB radio, voice transmission my need help by using proper prowords* and procedures:


Using your message again as an example, under marginal conditions one might say (slowly):

"Latitude thuh-ree foh-wer degrees wun fife min-utes foh-wer sec-onds (pause) longitude wun wun ate degrees wun wun min-utes foh-wer wun sec-onds.  Over."


ANYTIME, a POSN lat/long message must go through one or more relay station, it must be formatted in the standardized message (RADIOGRAM) format.
This was covered in-depth in the January 2006 issue of EM (how time flies :-)!
The article is reproduced below the FEATURE section in its entirety. - EM

*NOTE: Prowords are not included in any word count or check

- -


By Jerry Boyd, N7WR


Elsewhere in this issue you will read K6SOJ’s editorial regarding Emcomm Monthly becoming Emcomm Quarterly.  I have worked with Dave ( I have always known our editor as "Dave") for years both in actual emcomm incidents (the large and costly Jones Fire of 1999 in Shasta County, California comes to mind) and in the writing of this on-line journal.  I have the utmost respect for Dave, the product he produces, his integrity and dedication to the Emcomm function and, most importantly, as a good and decent human being.  I continue to be amazed at his willingness to keep this on-line journal alive in spite of all the “negatives” he alludes to in his editorial.  That is especially remarkable because Dave is not a one dimensional person.  I know of his other involvements and the impact of health issues on the time he has available for this journal.

Like Dave, I spent the summer months reflecting on how to best use my time and whatever talents I have in whatever time the Lord gives me on this earth.  My decision is a little different than Dave’s, though I certainly respect his.  This will be my last ICS Perspectives column in this publication.  Given what I honestly believe to be issues of far greater importance, I am choosing to devote my energy to those other issues.  Excuse the political comment, but my conscience will simply not let me idly stand by while this country rapidly marches to socialism.  My children and grandchildren mean too much to me not to do everything I legitimately can to preserve the qualities of this nation that I was blessed to experience in my lifetime.  While I have not, in the past, been involved politically, that has changed.  And, to do what I need to do and do it right requires time…in fact all the time I can possibly devote to the effort.  I wish you the reader and Dave the Editor and Publisher the very best in the future.  God Bless and 73 from NE Oregon de N7WR

- -

    Pacific (and Mountain) Time Zones:  PTZNN (aka Jefferson Noon Net/JNN) daily at 1200 PTZ on 7214/± kHz (7204 and 3911± kHz alternate)

    Central (and Eastern) Time Zones:  CTZNN Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 1200 CTZ  on 7214± kHz
 WRRL NET on  MONDAYS on 14.280 MHz USB (listen up or down the band as much as 20 kHz)
   2000Z (When on Daylight Saving Time) and 2100Z (When on Standard Time)
   Map showing the location of WRRL stations can be viewed at:

- -

“For want of a letter, a word was lost.
             For want of a word, a message was lost.
                         For want of a message, a life was lost.”

"Record Message Traffic, by skilled operators, and by RADIO (only)!"   It's all about Dependability, Accuracy and Accountability!

NOTE:  "Record Message Traffic" means that a record is kept of all traffic you handle, (for at least a period of one year), in the event a question comes up later.  It also documents that YOU did your job properly and correctly!   (Assuming that you did...of course.)
- ∙ ∙ ∙ -

MONDAYS, WEDNESDAYS, and FRIDAYS at 1200 CTZ on 7214 kHz ± LSB.
All emcomm stations in the Central (U.S.) Time Zone, PLUS the Eastern and Mountain Time Zones are invited to check in.

DAILY at 1200 PTZ on 7214 kHz ± LSB.  (7204 and 3911 kHz alternate)

Stations in the MTZ (and CTZ, if the band is very long) are also welcome!

The LNN and the JNN are for operators who want to learn and/or practice proper net operating procedures and standardized traffic handling skills.  Stations in the MTZ (band conditions permitting) can potentially participate in both of these nets, and thereby provide a relay circuit between the east coast and the west coast on 40 meters three times a week!   It is anticipated that the LNN will eventually become a daily circuit.

- ∙ ∙ ∙ -
THE “TRAFFIC HANDLER’S MANTRA”  (Recite often to help remember the eight parts in preamble):
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”

To help you to memorize the eight parts of the preamble,  RECITE the "Traffic Handlers Mantra" often:
“No • Prepared • Ham • Should • Copy • Priority • Traffic • Delayed”

your current traffic handling skill.  Take the "TRAFFIC HANDLER’S CHALLENGE" at:         (main page)

- -

The NATIONAL EMCOMM TRAFFIC SERVICE uses designated watch and calling frequencies.   Public service amateur radio operators everywhere are invited to monitor these frequencies whenever possible.  But when disasters or other incidents occur, emcomm operators are asked to warm up their radios and "light up" the NATIONAL EMCOMM TRAFFIC SERVICE..."24/7".  Active operators know which bands are most likely to be "open" depending upon the time of day, season, etc.

During disasters and for other emergencies, the frequencies are "open nets".  When traffic becomes heavy, they will become "command and control" frequencies with a net control station "triaging traffic" and directing stations with traffic to another (traffic) frequency.  (At least 5 kHz away.)  Proper net procedures are essential.

NETS does not maintain regular schedules and does not handle routine "make work" messages such as birthday greetings, "your license is about to expire", "book messages", etc.  NETS is intended to supplement and fortify other networks by providing a vehicle for emcomm operators to originate, relay and deliver legal radio message traffic (I.e. - "first class mail") of any precedence, at any time, from and to anyone and anywhere--especially during disasters or other crises.  NETS stations will cooperate and use other networks that are known to be capable of accurately and efficiently handling RADIOGRAMS.

All listed frequencies (except 60 meters) are nominal.  Actual nets may be up or down as much as 20 kHz
•   1982 kHz

•   3911 kHz RADIO RESCUE (SSB and CW)
•   5332 kHz "Up" to other 60M channels as necessary. 50W maximum ERP. (Activated during actual incidents.)
•   7214 kHz
• 14280 kHz
ALASKA ONLY: 5167.5 kHz (USB emergency traffic only)

•   1911 kHz
•   3540 kHz
•   3911 kHz RADIO RESCUE (SSB and CW)
•   7111 kHz
• 10119 kHz

• 14050 kHz
ALASKA - 3540/7042/14050 kHz
GULF STATES (LA, MS, TX, AL) - 7111 kHz 1100Z-2300Z / 3570 kHz 2300Z-1100Z

  During EMERGENCIES: 7111 kHz daytime,  3570 kHz nighttime.

  (Times approximate depending on band conditions and changes in sunrise/sunset.)


Frequencies listed may be on or near other established net frequencies.

As a matter of operating courtesy, always move up or down a few kHz to avoid QRM when a frequency is in use.
- -
"SHOW US YOUR SHACK" is at:       
• Send a picture of you AND your shack (all in one frame and in JPG or JPEG format) to:     
- -

An EM advanced studies training module by D.W. Thorne, K6SOJ


(UPDATED September 2009)

A question was posed regarding how to properly send a position (geographical coordinates) in a RADIOGRAM text.  Every available source and reference were checked and I have not been able to find any official or authoritative source that gives a standardized protocol as how to send a lat/long in formal (record) message.

I consulted with the EM staff, most of whom have U.S. Navy and other maritime and/or Search and Rescue experience.  I also queried my cousin, Bob Thorne, WA1VRM, of Guilford, CT, a former U.S. Naval Officer, and who sailed his own sailboat around Atlantic for many years, and is now an active cross-country pilot.

None of us are in any position to advocate official policy or procedure. (That will be up to those in a higher pay grade!) - HI   What follows are some findings and conclusions plus a recommendation:

#1 - With the advent of the GPS (Global Positioning System) the time-tested system of reporting POSN in degrees, minutes, seconds (46º32'30") has given way to degrees, minutes, and hundredths of minutes (46º32.50') and is now being used in most (but not all) services.

Aeronautical and land navigation appears to be adopting the “degrees, minutes, tenths or hundredths of minutes” system that is popular with the GPS system.  NOTE:  It does NOT appear that the UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) system has caught on in many private and/or civilian services.  However, some jurisdictions and agencies have adopted UTM for SAR operations, and the trend seems to be in that direction.

#2 - The traditional “degrees, minutes, seconds” system, that can be also be read on most GPS receivers, seems to still be in use by many for maritime navigation.  However, that may change as more and more mariners adopt GPS.

#3 - For most informal voice transmissions the common way to “say your position” is (using degrees, and minutes and tenths, or hundredths of minutes): “We are at” or “our position is”: North 32 degrees 15 decimal (or “DAY-SEE-MAL”) 23 minutes by west 64 degrees 37 decimal 2 minutes”

#4 - The above POSN could be sent in a message text exactly as it was spoken.  It is 15 words and in CW it is 64 characters.  This would work and is acceptable.

#5 - Using deg/mins/secs it would be: 
CW: POSN N 64 51 23 X W 147 52 38
Voice: "Our position is North 64 degrees 51 minutes 23 seconds West 147 degrees 52 minutes 38 seconds."

#6 - RADIO COMMUNICATORS MUST be familiar with both methods. 

#7 - There doesn’t seem to be any consensus as to whether the N (or S or E or W) is sent/stated before or after the figures.

#8 - NOW...(for point of discussion) let’s say you received a message in a RADIOGRAM with the position given as:

POSN N 41 35 10 X W 121 49 77

Most would assume this to be:  N41°35’10” x W121°49’77”

But wait!  The 77 is a dead give away...since there is only 60 seconds in a minute.  BUT if it were 27, how would the receiving station know if the 27 is seconds or hundredths of a minute?

The originator of the message must make it perfectly CLEAR! (E.g. - Where 52.50 minutes = 50’30”.  I’d venture a guess that there has been more than one “mix-up, due to lack of knowledge or unclear signals.)

#9 - This of course (if it were in a 25 word maximum message) will use up more “words”...but it probably would be worth it. 

#10 - Using the above example, my suggestion (whether in a RADIOGRAM or not) as to how to send POSN in a RADIOGRAM text and for ALL MODES would be:

OLD METHOD (deg/min/sec):

POSN N 41 35 10 W 121 49 27  (9 WORDS)
POSN N 41 DEG 35 MIN 10 SEC W 121 DEG 49 MIN 27 SEC (15 WORDS)

It has been pointed out that messages properly formatted, and properly sent/relayed, with proper spacing/pauses between “words” do not need to include extra words such as: degrees, minutes, etc.

(Some traffic operators are of the persuasion that figures/numerals should always be spelled out in formal message traffic.  Of course this increases the word count.  If band conditions are poor, or are expected to be poor somewhere along the path, and/or the message is short (of course SEVENTY requires more brass pounding than 70 so this has some merit.  It is the originating station that decides this.  One a message is formatted no one may change anything along the line. To change “77” (one word) to seventy seven (two words) wreaks havoc with the “check”.)

NEW GPS METHOD:  (Again, this will work for ALL MODES)

POSN N 41 35R10 W 121 49R27 (7 “WORDS”)  Or...

POSN 41 35R10 N 121 49R27 W (same POSN...still seven words) 
(Both are acceptable, but I prefer saying/sending the N or W before the figures.)

By using the R (decimal in CW) it automatically tells the receiving station
that the POSN given is stated in degrees, minutes and tenths (or hundreds)
of minutes.

“The jury is still out” on this subject. If you have any comments or suggestions send them to us.

FINALLY: However POSN is must be sent in a way that CANNOT be interpreted in any other way. And  "POSN" MUST be sent (and received) with ONE HUNDRED PERCENT ACCURACY...EVERY SINGLE TIME!


16 R KP7OOP 23 MARITIME 1900Z SEP 15

541 555 7388

POSN N 42 51R78 X
W 124 35R30 CAN SEE




View at:
$10.00 each or 2 for $18.00 - postpaid

Or, outfit your emcomm team by ordering:
10 for $70.00 - postpaid (shipped to one address)
Mail check or money order to:  EMCOMM, P.O. BOX 99, Macdoel, CA  96058

Features D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ, as the instructor.  The session was taped live at the U.S.F.S. facility at Redding, CA on October 29, 2005 by Paul Peterson (K6PTT).  As you watch it, you'll feel like you are actually in the classroom.  DW begins with a review of the history of communications beyond the horizon, followed by a thorough explanation of the "whys and wherefores" of basic message handling.  Essential information for all emcomm operators is presented in a palatable way. The video includes a brief overview of the ICS.  Thanks to Robert Jackson (KB6YTD) of Weaverville, CA, the quality is good.  Disclaimer: This is not your usual scripted, studio, well-rehearsed, and edited training video--it is raw and unedited and it includes flub-ups, bloopers, jokes, as well as unsolicited comments! There are a few "glitches" that could not be remedied; however, it is not necessary to adjust your player or TV when you encounter them, but rather just let the video run.  Not rated. 155 minutes.   $10.00 ea. and includes protective case, study and instructor's guide.  $5.00 for extra DVD (disc only) to same address.  $18.00 for two complete sets to one address.  The DVD is copyrighted.  Contact us for permission to make copies (for non-commercial use only).
Send check payable to: EMCOMM, P. O. Box 99, Macdoel, CA  96058


• Kent Johnson, W7AOR, Las Vegas, NV - ARES®, RACES, ARC, DCF
• Bill Howard, K7WGH, Mulino, OR - ARES®
• Steven Watters, KJ4KDK, Defuniak Springs, FL - ARES®, CERT
• Rusty Hack, NM1K, Enfield, CT - ARES®, RACES, NTS, EMCOMM ENFIELD
• Thomas Polzin, KCØUYB, South Saint Paul, MN - Dakota County RACES Asst. Director
• Don McRoberts, W3DRM, Minden, NV - ARES®, RACES
• Bernie Goeders, KI6IXT, Huntington Beach, CA
• Brian Harris, KF5AMH, Vancleave, MS - ARES®
• Elmer Myers, WG7P, Florence, MT - ARES®
• Michael Carter, KI6SLA, Culver City, CA
• Joe Giddens, N5IOZ, Bearden, AR - ARES®, RACES
• Billy Jones, N5EVD, Sugar Land, TX
• John Webb, W5JMW, Borger, TX - ARMY MARS, RACES
• Michael Hankins, KI5M, Belton, TX - State of Texas RACES
• Ralph G. Rogers, K5RGR, Dallas, TX - Dallas County REACT, Civil Air Patrol
 Sherri Kennamer, KF7CHA, Issaquah, WA
• Howard A. Baker, KD8DBF, Grand Marais, MI - ARES® EC Schoolcraft County
• Susan Melvin, K4ZXN, Kings Mountain, NC - ARES®, RACES, SKYWARN
• Marvin Morgan, KC5IZF, Grand Saline, TX - Salvation Army
• Kurt Siggard, K7URT, Sacramento, CA
• Carrye Johnstone, KD5RFB, Irving, TX - RACES, ARES®
• Jack Eyster, KI6PPW, Woodland Hills, CA - ARES®, LAFD ACS, LAFD CERT
• Roy Pickett, KC9LKW, English, IN - ARES® EC
• Carl Wheeler, KE6FOA, Hilmar, CA - ARES®
• Frederic Bouchet,  F4EED, Saint Etienne, FRANCE - ADRASEC
• Skip Prinsen, W7PN, Worland, WY - RACES
• Keith Carpenter, WDØFIA, Bridgewater, IA - ARES® Adair County EC, RACES, MARS
• Andy Mrozek, KI6ZHC, San Jose, CA - San Jose RACES Cisco DIRT (Disaster Incident Response Team)
• Skip Taylor, KI6GKS, Lancaster, CA
• Pete Lamb, N1NVE, North Attleboro, MA - ARES®, RACES, EMA Director, Fire Service
• Vic Henry, N7KRE, Camano Island, WA - ARES®, RACES
• Paul L. M. Redd, KJ4HCB, Dunwoody, GA - ARES®
• John Peterson, N4KEA, Fredericksburg, VA - SHARES, SATERN
• Frances Kiperman, Boca Raton, FL
• Douglas Schmitt, KDØDYO, Oskaloosa, KS - RACES, County EMA Director
• Tracy J. Horton, KDØEPS, Chesterfield, MO
• William Stanley, K6QDS, Fremont, CA - ARES®
• John Gosman, N4RJA, Milton, KY
• Daniel Wiley, N9BAV, Goshen, IN - RACES
• Jeffrey Nelson, KG6VMY, Pittsburg, CA - RACES
• Roger Bailey, N6ZOP, Haysville, KS - RACES, ARES®, SATERN
• Michael Sinclair, KD5OUH, Grand Saline, TX
• David Nay, KA4VRN, Woodstock, GA - ARES®, CERT
 Christy Hunter, KB6LTY, Apple Valley, CA
• Frank Forrester, WN4NC, Horse Shoe, NC - ARES®
• Chris Pritchard, WX7B, Mead, WA - ARES®, RACES
• Richard Kilmartin, KB2WAU, Liverpool, NY - ARES®
• Brendan Leber, NØBML - Seattle, WA
• Joe Cunningham, KF4ETH, Freeport, Fl - ARES®
Tom Salzer, W3ROK, Shelton, WA - ARES®, RACES
John Herndon, N5JPH, Athens, TX - ARES®
Ronald Metz, KBØCMD, Joplin, MO
Steven Turner, KC5LCS, Little Rock, AR

RECENT CONTRIBUTOR$ - Thank you for your support!

The individuals listed below have recently made monetary contributions to help EMCOMM MONTHLY and EMCOMM.ORG survive.
John L. Hursey, N8GNV, Willows, CA
 Richard Cloyd, WO6P, Shingletown, CA
• Sherri Kennamer, KF7CHA, Issaquah, WA

EMCOMM MONTHLY and EMCOMM.ORG are private (non-government, non-commercial) endeavors and are funded by donations from emcomm operators who are concerned about preserving the ability of amateur radio operators to be prepared to provide skilled, accurate and efficient emergency communications during times of disaster or other events where normal channels of communication may be interrupted or overloaded.  If you have benefited from our efforts, and would like to support this work in a tangible way, you may do so by sending a check or money order payable to: EMCOMM.

Mail to: EMCOMM, PO Box 99, Macdoel, CA  96058.  Your donation is an outright gift and is NOT tax-deductible.

SORRY: We have no PayPal®, credit card, or other methods to accept the electronic transfer of funds.  "We do it the old fashioned way!"




• ARRL FSD-218.  The famous “pink card” that contains (almost) “everything you ever needed to know about RADIOGRAMS”.
  An electronic version of FSD-218 is at:       
• NTS page by W7ARC:       
• NATIONAL TRAFFIC SYSTEM (NTS) Methods and Practices Guidelines:       
• U. S. AIR FORCE Search and Rescue SURVIVAL MANUAL MIRROR SIGNALING (AFM 64-5 Aug. 1969)       
SUBSCRIBE TO EMCOMM MONTHLY   -- IMPORTANT:  Many internet service providers (ISPs) are installing "SPAM filters" in their system that may block EMCOMM MONTHLY both inbound or outbound (if you try to forward it to someone).  To ensure that you receive EM and SPECIAL BULLETINS add:,, and to your "Whitelist" with your ISP.  Contact your ISP if you have any questions.


ABOUT ADDRESS CHANGES:  Every month, a varying number of EM are returned as "undeliverable addressee unknown" or "rejected due to containing possible objectionable material".  Our very limited, all-volunteer staff does not have the time, energy, or desire to track down everyone who changes their email address and forgets to notify us.  Also, if a subscriber installs a "spam filter" or a "parental control device" and neglects to tell the filter that it's "OK to let  EM  pass through", we do not have time or patience to jump through secret hoops, or solve puzzles, to allow us to send email to you.

If you change your email address, be sure to notify us at:    ... that is, if you want to continue to receive EM.  EMCOMM MONTHLY is originated in 10, 12, 14, and 18 point Arial font and transmitted in HTML format.  Occasionally, selected portions are set up in the Lucida Console font.  HOWEVER...we have received a few reports that on some computer screens...EM appears unformatted in Plain Text or FUBAR.  ("Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition.")  If this happens to you, you can always view EM, as it is intended to appear, at:        

Upon request  EMCOMM MONTHLY will be transmitted in plain text format to visually impaired subscribers who use an email-to-audio conversion program, and/or other subscribers whose computers do not process email in HTML format.


The opinions expressed by individual contributors do not necessarily reflect the EM philosophy, the editorial position of EM, or its staff.


ARES® and Amateur Radio Emergency Service® are registered service marks of the

American Radio Relay League Inc., and are used with permission.

For permission to reproduce material in EMCOMM MONTHLY
contact: D. W. Thorne at:    or write:
EMCOMM MONTHLY, P.O. Box 99, Macdoel, CA  96058  U.S.A.

D. W. Thorne, K6SOJ - Editor and Publisher -   
Jerry Boyd, N7WR - Associate Editor and ICS Advisor -       

Bill Frazier, W7ARC - Associate Editor and Webmaster -       
Ed Ewell, K7DXV - Technical Advisor -       
Ed "FB" Trump, AL7N - Traffic Editor and Alaska Correspondent -     
- -


EMCOMM MONTHLY -- The Official Journal of the World Radio Relay League - WRRL®

EM is published 10 times a year (September through June) and is copyrighted (c) 2009 - All rights reserved.
- - ∙    ∙ - ∙ ∙