Basic Topics Class – 5 January 2023 – Beginner’s Guide to HF Week 3

Not much of a turn out for the finale of RATPAC's Beginner's Guide to HF tonight, but we had some good conversation around a lot of the points.  This week's presentation covered setting up an HF station, including things like where to put it, what equipment is needed, antennas and grounding, power, and other requirements.  You can watch the video on RATPAC's site or right here:

The slides are available here:


CERT Training Post Mortem

Back in September, October, and November of 2022, MARC (along with some members of the Citizen's Militia of Utah) was privileged to take part in a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) training series offered by our own Murray City Fire Department.  At the conclusion of the final week, which was a hands on practical exam/exercise, we sat down to enjoy some pizza and talk about the experience.  I asked Dan (N7XDL) to write up a summary of our discussion, which I am posting here:



After going through the final CERT training event, held at Murray Fire Station #84, here is a synopsis of what went well and what we could have done better as far as Communications go. Most members of the Murray Amateur Radio Club (hereafter referred to as MARC) were present for this round of CERT training. As MARC members are very familiar with radio communication protocols, it was more “normal” for us to deal with the communication aspects of the CERT event than others not as familiar with radio communication as we are. That said, there were things that we did “right” and there were things that we found needed improvement. This summary document describes each.


The first person that arrived was designated as the “IC”, or Incident Commander. This person was Sherwood. He identified and created Teams that needed to be created in order to perform the various functions of CERT.

Each Team had a Team Leader identified. This person was called by the IC.

Each Team had an assigned “RADO” or Radio Operator. This person was also called by the IC.

Tactical Call Signs were discussed and assigned to each Team based on the function of the Team.

Most times effective communications were used to get vital information back to the IC.

Most times vital information was communicated between Teams.

All RADO operators tried to keep the information flowing.


According to many members of the Murray Fire Department, MARC excelled at communications. They told us time and time again that they’ve never seen CERT classes that they’ve taught communicate like we were able to communicate. With that said, there were a number of items that we could have improved on. The following describes this.

We should have already had pre-identified tactical call signs, or at least a better version of the tactical call signs that were used. Some examples follow:

  1. M-A (Mike-Alpha) was first used as Medical Alpha, which originally was thought to mean the first medical team (Alpha designator). What should have been used was M-1, or “Mike-One” or even better, “Medical-One”. This prevents any ambiguity in the radio transmissions.
  2. S-A (Sierra-Alpha) and S-B (Sierra-Bravo) were the original tactical call signs to designate Search team One (Alpha) and Search team Two (Bravo). Again, we should have used “Search-One” and “Search-Two” as the tactical call signs.
  3. The same issue with T-A & T-B, which originally meant, “Transport Alpha” and “Transport Bravo”, which should have been “Transport-One” and “Transport-Two” respectively.
  4. The Incident Commander did not really have a tactical call sign. This should have been identified immediately. The issue of Sherwood not having a TCS (Tactical Call Sign) resulted in the fact that Sherwood was first acting in a duplicate role, and that of the Medical Triage person. He had to do that as no one else was assigned to this position.
  5. The IC should have really had a RADO assigned to him. That would have been ideal. We were short RADO’s, so we did what we could.

There were some basic FCC guidelines that were mistakenly “modified” for the CERT event. Namely the FCC requirement of proper Identification. These guidelines were even forgotten by some of the most experienced ham radio operators in the club… namely the Founder himself! Wow!

Since I admittedly confessed my sin to the FCC I hope they forgive me 😊

What was missed? I was the RADO for the Transport-One team. Or was it Transport-Two? One of those! Anyway, after I would talk to the IC or some other Team Lead I completely forgot to end my transmission QSO with my call sign. I would use my TCS solely during the QSO. As we all know, that is a “no-no”.

To be fair, I also heard others do the same, but in the same breath, I heard other RADO’s that properly identified themselves as well. My hats off to those who were not as easily swayed into thinking that since this was a CERT activity one didn’t need to follow FCC rules! So that was definitely something that needed to be addressed (if by no one else, by me!)

We all should have followed the Utah SAG RADO procedures more closely. Having done that, we wouldn’t (OK… I wouldn’t) have forgotten that rule of identification. Just to be clear, everyone should have followed the protocol as outlined below:

  1. When beginning the QSO, simply identify the person you are trying to contact, followed by your TCS. As an example, “Search-Two from Transport-Two, do you copy?”
  2. Communicate your message, then when you are done identify properly by saying something like this, “This is Transport-Two, N7XDL, clear”, where “Transport-Two” was my TCS, but N7XDL is my FCC call sign.


Every RADO’s really needed the proper equipment to do their job well. We should have all been wearing headsets and had extra batteries at our disposal. For the headsets, having an “in-ear” or “over-the-ear” speaker would have been preferable than to just relying on the HT speaker. There were some calls that were missed because of this. If you can’t hear the person trying to contact you it’s a bit difficult to respond. Having an earpiece should be standard (and required) equipment for any RADO.

Having extra batteries should also be a minimum requirement for RADO’s as well. There’s nothing worse than to have to bow out of being a RADO because your radio no longer works… because you forgot extra batteries for it.

Other Observations

Sherwood, the IC, should not have been handling a radio if he was the IC.  If he was going to be on the radio for that station (which was necessary due to a lack of radio operators available), he should have handed off IC duties to another qualified person as soon as one was available.


No disregard to Sherwood, he did a great job juggling a complex situation, but trying to combine IC duties, comms duties, and passing messages for medical was a little too much for one person.

Final thoughts

In my professional opinion, the MARC members who were participating in the CERT event, did an exemplary effort in communicating during the event. We laugh about it now, but we also know that identifying these successes and opportunities for improvement is part of improving our skills in radio communications. What a great effort and experience it was to participate in the CERT event. We all learned lots and were able to see how we each needed to improve, for when we do this again, we’ll be all that much better!

A warm thanks to the Murray Fire Department in leading the way! Thanks to them we have been able to attend a few CERT classes.

73 for now.

Dan Lundwall, N7XDL… and I’m clear.

Thank you, Dan, for that well written and detailed exposition on both what went well at our CERT evaluation and what went not quite so well.

You may remember that we have talked about Tactical Call Signs back in March... you may want to review that class.  Dan also gave a presentation on Tactical Call Signs in EmComms in November (working on getting the slides from that online).  We also have an upcoming class in January where we will be talking about Roles and Responsibilities at an Event.  Hope to see you all there!

Camelot on the Moon

For those who missed the holiday party last night, I read a posting from the TELECOM Digest entitled "Camelot on the Moon" by Don Kimberlin, who was a telecommunications engineer working for IT&T when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin of the Apollo XI mission landed on the moon.  Don's article talked about the difficulties encountered making sure that the data, voice, and video feeds from the moon could be received and processed back here on earth.

For those interested, I went looking today for the original posting to the TELECOM Digest and found it in the archives, which you can read here:

There were also several replies to this posting that are included in several succeeding digest issues... they can be found here: (NOTE, there are fifty issues of the digest on this page, encompassing several hundred posts... you'll have to search for "Camelot" to find the specific replies).

Sometimes, we take for granted the amazing resources we have available through the Internet today.  We have essentially unlimited access to historical documents, recorded voice and video, photographs, and an abundance of information.  Most of us have a small device that we can carry in a pocket or purse, that can be held in the palm of your hand, and that can provide access to all of this information.  Not only can it give you access to this data, it can be used to instantly communicate in voice, video, or text with people all over the world.  Think back to 1969 and realize that it was only 53 years ago.

As amateur radio operators, we enjoy using our equipment and capabilities to communicate with others.  Perhaps we take it less for granted as we have had to study and understand some of the technologies and physical principals that make it possible to do so, but when you sit and think about it, it really is miraculous what we can do.

As we continue our journey into the future, I hope we all remember how we got here and the challenges faced by those who came before us.  The future is bright, my friends... as bright as we make it.  Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year!

Basic Topics Class – 3 November 2022 – RATPAC Beginner’s Guide to HF Week 1

RATPAC Beginner's Guide to HF, Week 1

We viewed the first week's session of the excellent RATPAC presentation Beginner's Guide to HF:  HF Bands, Modes, Making Contacts & HF Activities, which was presented by Anthony Luscre, K8ZT & Dennis Kidder, W6DQ.

A link to the presentation PDF is here: (this dropbox bucket contains all three presentation PDFs as well as additional notes from the Zoom session chats).

I'll add the links from the PDF later... wading through the presentation to extract all of the links is taking longer than I expected and I want to get this posted sooner rather than later.


One Day Technician Class at BYU

October 22nd one day Technician class at BYU.


The class will be from 8:30am and end at 5:30pm with a break for lunch at 1pm.

The class is very intensive due to time constraints but around 80 percent of the students get their license that day.  If you are not ready to take the exam the day of the class you may take it later.

The class is free.  The exam given in the afternoon is $14.


To sign up email


If you just need to take an exam you are welcome to come to just do that in the afternoon.  There is always an exam session the third Wednesday of the month at 7pm at BYU.


The FCC now charges a  fee of $35 to apply for an Amateur radio license.  This applies to new licenses, renewals and vanity applications.   The FCC license application fee is paid to the FCC.  You still pay the usual fee $14 to the VE team to take the exam.




Multi-session classes are the best way to learn to get a license or upgrade.  If your time is limited or you are a quick learner a one day class will work especially if you will study on your own a little bit before the class.




**  Note  You must have a Technician class license before you may take the exam for General.  You must have a General license before you may take the Exam for Extra Class.

 [Editor's comment, you must take and pass the Technician test before taking the General test, and you must pass the General test before taking the Extra test.  You do not have to wait until you receive your Technician licence before taking the General exam... just have passed the test.  It is possible to take all three tests the same day.  -KD7ZWV]


For classes available in other States check here:



If you hear of any other classes being taught in Utah please email so I may share it.


If you or someone you know is having difficulty attending a class and wish to get a license please email me for links to free high quality study materials you can get online to study on your own..


If you have a license and wish to get deeper into the technical side or just get on the air to talk there is a new general interest Ham radio club in Utah County.  (no  http://  is required just type “”  into the address bar of your browser).


Steve NV7V

Amateur Licensing, VECs, and VEs

Last week, our own Max (AI7LG) briefed us on how licensing works and especially the history and current operation of the VEC (Volunteer Examiner Coordinator) program.  As a relatively new VE, Max had a great review of the topic and was able to present a lot of useful information.

We tried casting this meeting via Zoom, but had some technical difficulties.  Because of that, we were unable to produce a suitable recording of the meeting.  I will include a link to the slides here, though.  I may be able to sync up the audio to a copy of the slide presentation over the next few days, but I'm not going to promise anything.

Without further ado, here is the link to the presentation slides:  AARG Testing presentation.

One thing to note, Max's VE group, Aurora Amateur Radio Group based in Alaska, is offering FREE remote testing until the end of 2022.  You'll still be on the hook for the FCC fee, but the testing fee is waived until the end of the year.


Radio History

As was mentioned on the last Sunday Net, we received a feedback form on the web site last week from Kathy Ackford, who is a youth services librarian for  Kelly has been using some information from our web site in support of a class she has been teaching 10-14 year old students about radio.

One of Kelly's students, a young man named Dylan, has been doing research on radio along with his father.  He found a link with some great information on the history of car radio.  While this is oriented towards broadcast radio (not amateur radio), it is still quite an interesting read and includes a timeline of how car audio has developed over the decades.

If you are interested, Dylan's link is here:

Note that I have scanned this link for malware and found it to be clean, but I have not traced all of the links within this page.  Remember your computer security and make sure your browser and system patches are up to date!