Florida Hospital Flagler is now Radio-active

After almost 45-man-hours of work, Florida Hospital Flagler (FHF) is now radio active on both 2m and 440 MHz.

A small team of 5 ARES technicians, working together with the Engineering department of FHF, completed the routing of over 1,000 feet of LMR-400 cable – including  risers to the 4th floor penthouse, then to the roof. As physically challenging as the work was, there were no unanticipated difficulties – although each of us were physically worn-out after routing all that cable.

As you would expect, we have designed a full suite of lightning protection on the roof of the FHF building. Both cables have new Polyphaser devices connected to building steel through an industry standard grounding bar.

The radio is now located in the Security Office of the hospital, instead of the computer room – which wasn’t ideal, due to physical security requirements. Antennas are on the highest point of the hospital.

Now, security and engineering staff of the hospital can talk on the radio VHF/UHF radio, while they also have access to video surveillance, as well as access to the County’s 800 MHz Trunking radio system. Flagler ARES members who have been cleared by FHF to work at the hospital will also have escorted access to this facility.

If you are interested in working at FHF during exercises or incidents, please contact Jason Writtenhouse.



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All Call For NCS Stations.

Just a reminder to all that Flagler ARES is still looking for Net Control Stations.

As we approach our summer travel months I need to get a head count of who is still available and who can fill in.

Also please let me know if you can’t fill an NCS spot so we can plan ahead.

Participation in the ARES NCS program is opened to ALL licensed amateur radio operators regardless of club affiliation.

Any interested operators should email the net manager so you can be added to the roster. Eddie can be reached at eddie.cail@outlook.com

Thank you for your cooperation. I look forward to working with all of you in the upcoming months.

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Flagler County DMR Repeater on 444.975

Flagler County has a new DMR repeater – installed about 2 weeks go on 444.975 (+5MHz). Color Code =1 and current local repeater usage is on TS=1, TG=9.

There are about 4 of us who have DMR radios (both Motorola and CS-700’s) and have been testing the system. The antenna is not optimal (yet), since it is only at about 105-feet. Portable coverage is acceptable (not great) outdoors, but mobile coverage is fine throughout the County with a modest mobile antenna (3db gain or better).

Near term plans for this system include moving it to better than 200-feet, as well as connecting with IP Site Connect to a remote c-Bridge which will give us Florida, Northern-Florida, New England/NY/NJ, California and other state/region TG’s – in addition to the “normal” TG-1 (WorldWide) and North America trunk groups. Target timeframe for the internet is in the next couple of weeks, while relocation to the higher tower may take a few weeks.

We are very fond of DMR (over DSTAR, Fusion,etc.) for the simple reason that the repeaters don’t have to be “linked” to a reflector. Trunk groups on DMR work very differently, allowing radios users to “share” the repeater without having to hard-link the repeater to a specific reflector (and to remember to Unlink from the current reflector). Users simply program a channel position to include the TG that they want to talk with and simply hit PTT. If the system is able to connect, you’ll hear the confirmation tone – if not able, you’ll hear the “denied tone”. In this regard, it allows groups to come up to speed with DMR just by sharing their “code plugs” or programming files (unique to each radio type). No codes to remember, no reflector names to input, etc..

DMR also gives us some awesome capability using c-Bridge technology to link not just DMR repeaters into conference controllers (like DSTAR reflectors), but also to link non-DMR systems into the DMR network (analog, P25 and even DSTAR). Because of this capability, we are also looking to acquire a c-Bridge locally which we can use as an on-demand radio bridge for our work with Emergency Services.

If you’re looking to acquire a DMR radio inexpensively, the best route is to purchase a CS-700 from Connect Systems. That company is also planning on releasing a DMR+DSTAR radio (CS-7000) in the next 6 months, although they’ve slipped that availability date a couple of times already. Target price is $259 from the latest reports.

If you’re a Motorola fan, there are two major options for handhelds – the XPR-6550 and the XPR7550. The 6550 is the older generation which includes the Gen-1 Codec – a great radio that can be had for about $350-400. The 7550 is the current model with the Gen-2 Codec  which has MUCH better sound quality and is also Bluetooth capable, so you can program it without a cable (great for field programming). Current cost is about $700 for the XPR-7550. Our “seed group” already has 3 copies of the XPR-7550 handheld and we’re delighted with the radios.

If you’re looking at Mobiles – the first group has Motorola units – both the XPR-4550 and the XPR-5550. Much like the handhelds, the difference is in the Codec as well as the Bluetooth interface (as well as price). 4550’s can be had for $350-425, while the 5550’s are about $600 (but worth it since you can program with BT and not have to have a cable).

In addition to Connect Systems and Motorola – there are numerous manufacturers of DMR radio – most notably Hytera and some of the Chinese knock-offs (sounding like Hytera but different spelling). Those radios fall between the CS-700 and Motorola pricing.

If you have a DMR radio – give 444.975 a try and let us know what you think. We’ll put notices out when the new TG’s are ready for use, as well as when the relocation to the higher tower is anticipated.


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147.300 Repeater UPGRADED

The 147.300 (+600, PL123)  repeater has been a relative poor performer over the years, due to the site where it has always been located. This is beginning to change as of Monday, 25-May-2015.

As of Monday, the 147.300 repeater has been relocated to a different antenna which gives significantly better coverage. In our community and drive tests, it appears that the new location provides for hand-held coverage (mostly outside, but some indoor) throughout the County. Mobile coverage is excellent with full quieting operation well into St. Johns County and into mid-Volusia on just 5w of power and a very modest mobile antenna.

This new location – although providing excellent coverage improvement – is just temporary. Our plan is to relocate it to one of the new towers that the County is planning to erect for its trunking system – that final relocation would happen some time around February 2016.

Also planned for the next couple of weeks is a call-sign change to reflect ownership by the County – using the call-sign of KF4EMV (to reflect the FEMV program). “Ownership” of this call-sign will be transferred from the current owner to reflect the FEMV program and Flagler County’s MOU with Flagler A.R.E.S.

In the meantime – start using the the repeater and give us your feedback..!

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In light of the monthly meeting reschedule we have added an additional net to the calendar.

Please join us this Thursday evening (May 14th) at 6:30 PM for the Flagler ARES weekly training net.

The net will meet on the 146.745/R -600 offset PL 123. There is also an echolink node of 24216 for stations wishing to check in using this mode.

The NCS is requested to run the net Via RF.

This weeks NCS is W2LEC-Eddie

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May ARES Meeting and FIeld Day Planning

The May 2015 ARES meeting and Field Day planning session has been rescheduled to Tuesday, 5/26.

The ARES meeting will start at 1830hrs, with the Field Day discussions to begin at 1900hrs.

-Jason KK4OSD

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Flagler ARES Net Manager

From: Jason Writtenhouse
Sent: Sunday, May 3, 2015 11:29 AM
To: For Wide Release
Cc: Eddie Cail W2LEC
Subject: Flagler ARES Net Manager

Please join me in congratulating Eddie Cail, W2LEC in his new position of Assistant Emergency Coordinator, Net Manager for Flagler ARES.

Eddie brings several years of experience in ARES leadership and a new vision for local ARES net management.

Please direct any questions regarding ARES net operations to Eddie moving forward.

Jason Writtenhouse, KK4OSD
District Emergency Coordinator
Amateur Radio Emergency Service
East Coast District, Northern Florida Section
http://www.eastcoastdistrict.org http://www.arrl.org/ares

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2015 Florida Statewide Hurricane Exercise

Attached is the “tentative” handout/ExPlan for us in the NFL Section – tentative date is Tuesday, May 19th, 2015 from 0900 to 1200 hours EDT (0800 to 1100 hrs in the Panhandle).

This information to be discussed at the next ARES meeting.

NFL Section ARES Requested Participation Summary: 

Task #1:  Activate your group; staff your local EOC (real or simulated); deploy members to any two served agencies (hospital, fire house, shelter, police/sheriff dept, Red Cross, Salvation Army, church, school or any served agency in your local community) and establish a communication link via an RF based mode (HF, VHF, UHF, CW/FM/SSB, whatever).  Once there, have the member obtain the name of served agency, street address, and point of contact (POC) information (name and position/title is sufficient) and provide it to the county EOC in a NIMS compliant message form (ICS213 form) via the RF communications mode. 

Task #2:

  • The County EC/ARES Group/County EOC members should check-in to any established net :

o   Category A/Radio Based (One Check-in) – any Florida Traffic Net, SARNet, Florida Hurricane Net, any of the nets listed in the NFL Communications Plan (attached.)

  • The County EC/ARES Group/County EOC members should check-in to any established net or send a message using any of the following:

o   Category B/Internet Assisted(One Check-in or message sent)  – D-STAR, D-RATS, Winlink2K, SEDAN, or any of the means to send a message listed  in the NFL Communications Plan.  You can send the SitRep message using this.

The County EC should then forward the Activation, deployment locations/POC information, and what check-ins or messages were sent and forward this via any method to the NFL Section Emergency Coordinator – Strait Hollis KT4YT as a “SitRep’” (Situation Report).  Strait will forward a summary of what he has received to me at noon, and I will forward a copy to the State ESF2 Coordinator at the State EOC before the end of the day.  If the State EOC makes a request it will be thru our established liaison (me) and the request fulfilled as necessary (which means you may or may not get something from me during the exercise – but be prepared!).  That information will be by whatever method is available (cell phone, internet, radio message).

NFL Comm Plan July 1, 2014 Player Handout FL Statewide Hurricane EX 2015

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February 2015 Monthly Report


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Field Day Opportunity at the EOC


Flagler County Emergency Management will be welcoming any and all amateur radio operators to participate in the 2015 ARRL Field Day exercise, to be held at the EOC on June 27-28, 2015.

This will be a COMBINED event for all those who choose to participate – with a prime objective of giving all amateurs from different groups an opportunity to work together in a unified fashion, to promote the benefit of Amateur Radio to the community and to the Emergency Services operation of Flagler County. We will operate under a single FCC Callsign – in keeping with the theme of unity of operations.

We will be welcoming County and City officials to visit he venue and to see, first-hand, amateur radio operators working together toward a common goal – in support of the EOC. Also, in conjunction with the Emergency Services aspect of the event, we will be operating the event under ICS best practices – starting with an IPM (Initial Planning Meeting), as well as IAP’s during the exercise period (Incident Action Plans). Also consistent with ICS, we operate under a single Command Structure.

I encourage all of the groups and your respective members to participate, as this will be an event that will have wide visibility – and will be an opportunity to work together for the benefit of the community.

Please RSVP of your intention to participate, or not – with REPLY-ALL, so that we can get an early gauge of who will likely be participating. Our IPM will likely be in the month of March, with follow-up planning meetings as necessary so that we have all the logistical and tactical support required.

I hope that all of you can join – and look forward to working with each of you..!!

Best regards,

Mike – AA6ML
Interim Radio Systems Manager
Flagler County Board of County Commissioners
1769 E Moody Blvd Building #3
Bunnell, FL 32110

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