This blog is now inactive – see our new blog at

The unit now has a permanent website with our own URL.  THe new site is  Please go to that site for current information.


New Domain Name Registered – W7OEM.ORG

One more step towards our real website/blog was made this morning.  I registered W7OEM.ORG as our domain name.

I’m still waiting to hear from the web hosting company about free hosting for us as a 503C3 organization.  Should hear in the next few days, and then we’ll set up the permanent blog. will have more features, and more content.  The free blogs at have limited features, and limited storage, so I haven’t done much to enhance the website yet. All the content will have to be transferred to the new one, so I’m not adding much in order to minimize that effort.

Drop Box Training

Be Prepared

It’s an old Boy Scout motto that so much applies to our unit and what we do.

The time to climb the learning curve and make mistakes is in practice, not after the big one hits!

Today, a core part of the unit spent about 3 1/2 hours learning the new drop box equipment, and sharpening our Winlink skills.

KD0DUA and KE7NIY prepare their drop box for use.

Working in teams of two, we started at the top, opening the boxes, hooking everything up, connecting the computers and getting ready to work, and concluded by testing many of the VHF packet  and HF pactor gateways, sending traffic to W7OEM via a number of rf routes, including gateways in Texas and Alaska.
In the process, we refreshed our procedural skills in creating and sending winlink traffic, learned the basic ins and outs of the Icom 7006’s and the modems.  We discovered some things NOT to do, and some things to make SURE that we did, learning well from our mistakes.  By the end of training, we were all running smoothly through all the procedures, and showing that we were very proficient in the use of the new equipment.

Vince, K7VV, took us step by step through the entire process, from opening the boxes and setting them up, to running the RF gear and the modem to navigating the Airmail software and the various gateways.  In the process we were able to  shake the bugs out of the system in preparation for the OR Vital Connections exercise in April.

Thanks to:

  • Lisa – KE7NIY
  • Doug – KE7ASM
  • Bob – KE7GBG
  • Patrick KD0DUA

for your efforts, and your commitment to learning the new gear.

We will repeat the training at the next meeting, Tuesday, April 2 at 6:00pm.

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Drop Box training This Saturday – 3-24-2012

On Saturday morning, March 24, at 10:00am, we’ll be spending time learning and operating the equipment in the drop boxes in preparation for the OR VC event.

This will include the Icom 706, the Icom 2820 and the Winlink computers. Everyone will have the chance to become fully familiar with the equipment.

We need to hit the ground running and operate flawlessly in the upcoming exercise, so it’s important for everyone who will be working with the drop boxes to be there, or to make other arrangements to spend time with the gear.

How Prepared Are you?

As a unit, we train and exercise with the purpose of being fully prepared to carry out our duties in a disaster or other emergency. We all have, or will be creating, a 72 hour kit to sustain us if we’re activated and don’t have a great deal of outside support.  (That will be at least one of our training meetings this year)

But if the big one hits, how prepared are you and your family? Do you have a 72 hour kit for your home?

From a purely selfish standpoint, if you’re caught flat footed trying to take care of your family, you won’t be available to the unit.  (Of COURSE your family comes first).

Marion County has published on their website a 12 Month Preparedness Calendar to prepare your household for a disaster.  Follow this plan and you’ll be well prepared at home for whatever may come our way.

There a number of other resources on the Marion County Emergency Preparedness page as well.

Don’t leave this part of our readiness to chance.  Take a look and put it into action.

The Vests and Badges Have Been Ordered

And they should be here in time for OR VC on April 3rd.

We had 7 members order personalized vests, plus the unit ordered another 6 non-personalized which will be kept in the trailer or with the drop boxes for use during a deployment.

The badges are being created by Capital Engraving,
who’s always at the Salem Ham Fair, and will be done in plenty of time for the exercise

ARES Vests

I was surprised to find out yesterday that ARRL has a adopted a standardized look for ARES.  I don’t think they’ve publicized it all that much, but I have run into it as I look at ARES websites around the country.  However I thought it was simply the standard adopted by several units.

A continuing plethora of Amateur Radio garb seen by the public wordlessly made us appear to be amateurs in the worst sense of the word, undisciplined, fractioned and uncoordinated

A proposal for the ARRL to adopt a set of standards for ARES wear, which are to be worn when deployed in public service events or emergencies, was unanimously passed by the Programs and Services Committee of the ARRL in January 2010.  It includes standards for a mesh vest (hot climate use), standard vests and jacket.

You can read the rest here:

As I intepret it, this DOES NOT apply to us while we’re working in the EOC.  We don’t have the same safety or visibility considerations inside the EOC as we would have working in the field.  We’re also working in a climate controlled environment, so we don’t need the flexibiilty of use in a variety of weather extremes.

Plus, the red vest is the same style (different color) as used by OEM, so it fits into the overall scheme very well.

However, for the April Exercise, and just to have on hand for future use, I’m going to order for myself an ARES Safety yellow vest.  I think these would represent us well, especially given the relatively high degree of visibility we’ll have. If anyone else wants to order one as well, we can combine orders and get free shipping .

If, by some wild chance, we order more than 12, then quantity pricing starts to kick in.  These are $39.95,  from  They have the ARES logo on the front and AMATEUR RADIO COMMUNICATIONS on the back.

You can get cheaper ones from ARRL, but these are nicer, in my opinion.

This is entirely a voluntary purchase on the part of each member, although I encourage you to consider it if it fits into your personal budget.

If you decide you’d like one, let me know the size, and whether you want your name and call embroidered above the logo on the left pocket, which is an added $8.  We’ll need to order them ASAP in order to get them here for OR Vital Connections.

Unless there’s an objection, we will advance the purchase cost from the unit account, and you can then reimburse the unit at the next meeting.


More info on OR Vital Connections and added training

This was just sent out as an email to all the unit members:

As more information became available about the upcoming OR VItal Connections exercise on April 3-5, it’s becoming apparent that we are going to play an increasingly important role.

The exercise will divide units into three areas on the Fairview facility.  One of the success factors is the ability for each area to communicate with the others.  This is the inter-operability portion of the exercise.

And guess what……..

Intercommunications between different agencies is very limited.  So we are going to play a key role and  provide communications between the three areas!  

We will be setting up our drop boxes in two of the locations with both VHF voice and HF/VHF digital communications between areas.  So, in addition to providing one of the communications links OUT of the exercise to the counties, we’ll be providing important communications within the exercise area.


This is the first time ARES has been included in such an exercise, and indicative of the vital role that they are recognizing we play in disaster communications. Our visibility will be even great than we first though, so it’s even more important that we execute our tasks in the professional manner we expect of ourselves.

It’s obvious we need to be VERY PROFICIENT at what we do, and since we are working with new and different equipment in the drop boxes, we will be holding an additional training session next Saturday, starting at 10:00 am at the OEM. 

At this session, we’ll become operationally proficient with the Icom 706’s and the rest of the equipment in the drop boxes.  I expect this to last until about 2:00 pm.

Everyone who plans on participating in this exercise will need to be there.  

I also need to know your availability for this exercise.  We need to anticipate and meet staffing requirements, and we’d like to include as many as can participate.