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ARES/Red Cross digital modes?

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by W0KDT, Jun 24, 2019.

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  1. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I recently re-upped a very old general license and then upgraded to AE, mostly because I have gotten interested in volunteering with Red Cross. So far I have deployed to FL for Hurricane Michael cleanup and to OK for the recent floods but have not had need of ham radio for these.

    As part of getting going again I bought a used Yaesu FT-60 HT (mostly because it was cheap) and did some playing around with it. I also bought a Yaesu FT-991A, mostly because of its wide frequency coverage. In neither case did I know or think much about digital modes.

    Babel reigns, I guess. D-STAR, C4FM, DMR, ... I have seen this phase, incompatible and proprietary "standards" in other technical areas and seen that it takes time for the mess to sort itself out. Often this is done when customers put their foot down and tell the vendors that there will be standards. In ham radio, though, I don't see that the customers have much of a combined voice, so this will probably slow any serious standardization.

    So, given my interest in disaster volunteering & ARES, what is the wisdom on digital modes? Forget about it until incompatibilities are sorted? Get set up with two or three HTs? (Seems dumb) Jump on one mode that is emerging as a disaster relief standard? (Is there one?)

    (I'm not interested in arguments about which is "better." Politics and pragmatism often trump "better" during the standardization process and "better" is not a good predictor of winners in my experience. I just want to know if there is a trend is adoptions and, if so, what it is.)
  2. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Really? No opinions on digital modes in disaster situations? You guys are usually pretty opinionated. This surprises me.
  3. KC8VWM

    KC8VWM Ham Member QRZ Page

    The "standard" is a matter of what the individual ARES chapter you are volunteering decides to use.

    Have you contacted them to find out what standard they are using?
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
    AI7PM, W4IOA and WU8Y like this.
  4. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yeah, that's what it looks like. But that is kind of crazy, as in a disaster there are people from all over the country coming in. For just the OK floods, Red Cross had 160 volunteers on the ground the day I arrived, most of whom had come from other parts of the country. In that case there was no need for amateur communication but certainly in the early stages of the Hurricane Michael there was and there was also a need in Puerto Rico. Maybe that was all handled with analog? I did read that ARRL shipped in some kits, presumably HF, to Puerto RIco.
  5. W2JKT

    W2JKT Ham Member QRZ Page

    The Red Cross has a standard digital messaging format that is supported by various digital messaging software that works with ham radios.

    Here is the list of message forms that flmsg supports, note the many different forms Red Cross uses. When you get Red Cross traffic handling training, you'll get schooled on how to fill out the 5739 and Safety & Welfare forms properly. flmsg will send the forms digitally via a supported soundmodem in fldigi, on whatever radio you have hooked up. Most likely, frequency, mode, and modem will be determined by whoever at Red Cross is in charge of communications at the time of deployment. Note that it won't necessarily be fldigi/flmsg they use. I was just noting it as an example.

    • ICS-203 - Organization Assignment List
    • ICS-205 - Incident Radio Communictions Plan
  6. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There are at least 19 ham radio clubs within 25 miles of your zipcode. Search here:

    At least a few of them will be involved in ARES or otherewise have some sort of emergency commujnications activity.

    That's where I would suggest you start.
  7. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'd worry more about what the Red Cross says you need to have than ARES. That's just me.
  8. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  9. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I must have left you speechless. It happens.
  10. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Let me step through it for you:

    He asked about ARES.

    You first responded telling him that the standard will be what his local ARES chapters says it is.
    Then a few posts later, you tell him not to worry about what ARES thinks.
    Your first answer was the correct one. Your second answer cancelled it out.

    There is an MOU between ARRL and the Red Cross, that says that ARES will support the Red Cross. Thus, the place to start is ARES. Assumimg the relationhip is active locally, the local ARES chapters are the groups who will serve the Red Cross, and they will already know what is needed. He should work through the system that is already in place, not lone-wolf it.

    He can also contact the MN Section Manager to find out about ARES in that area.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2019
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