Monday, July 22, 2024

Emergency Communications

Digital Emergency Communications

Monitoring Winlink Transmissions

This paper by Gordon Gibby KX4Z discusses monitoring communications that are using the Winlink protocol.

Ambient HF Radiated Noise Measurement Protocol

Check out the noise at a proposed antenna site using the method described by Gordon Gibby KX4Z in his paper on Ambient HF Radiated Noise Measurement Protocol.

Transmission of Protected Health Information During Incidents by Amateur Radio

It has occasionally been argued that the Privacy rule does not apply to amateur radio operators in emergencies.  HIPAA Privacy Rule applies to healthcare institutions, business associates, and apparently also to volunteers.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z discusses the in’s and out’s of health information in emergencies in Encryption in Amateur Radio.

Introduction to Automatic Link Establishment (ALE)

Read this article about ALE and learn how amateurs can experiment with ALE and apply it to emergency communication, by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  Introduction To ALE

How to Grow Your Emcomm Group Through Exercises

This article teaches leaders how to head up an emergency exercise, by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  How To Hold An Exercise

Radio-only WININK System for Traffic Handling

This article is designed to assist the nation’s amateur radio traffic handlers in taking advantage of the
radio-only capabilities of HF WINLINK gateway stations—without any usage of the Internet at all– in
the furtherance of traffic passage.  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  Radio Only Winlink For The Traffic Handler

External Daughterboard Modification for uBitx

The uBitx has some unruly harmonics that are a bit higher than FCC limits.  My solution was a small external daughterboard with three relays to separate the “in” and “out” switching of the (otherwise excellent) filters — bleed through inside relays doing double duty was found to be the problem.  So here is a construction document complete with the github references of how to get the pcb gerber files and all the components and assemble this little $15 fix, by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  uBitx External Daughter Board Construction Document

A Primer on the ICS-CTRL Raspberry-Pi Based Repeater Controller

Here’s how to get your Raspberry-Pi controller going, written by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  HOW-TO on the ICS-CTRLBoard

Basic uBITX Construction Improvements

This is the beginning of a series of articles about the uBITX transceiver kit by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  NFARC Building Plans

The circuit board files are located at and​.

uBITX Outboard Relay Modification

An external daughter board is added to the uBITX tranceiver by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  Outboard Relays Design Document

Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment):
Using It to Load / Modify uBitx Software

This is the start of a series of articles on the Arduino IDE.  Introduction To The IDE

CAT Control of Transceivers

Here’s a presentation about computer control of transceivers by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  CAT Rig Control

Short HF Antenna Failures

Gordon Gibby KX4Z tells us how to NOT build an HF antenna.  Short Antenna Failures

Alachua County ARES Hosts HF OCF Dipole Construction

Read Gordon Gibby’s KX4Z report on making matching units for off-center-fed dipoles.  ARES Building OCF Dipoles

KX4Z Homebrew Direct Digital Synthesis VFO, Display, SWR Measurement

Gordon Gibby KX4Z has designed a synthesized VFO using the Si5351 chip and an Arduino Nano.  This multipurpose board has a VFO with digital display, will interface with an SWR bridge, and is programmable.  Read the article KX4Z DDS Application Note.

Shelter Reference Booklet for Emergency Operations

When you’re volunteering as a radio communicator, you need all kinds of “forms” — ARRL radiogram forms, ICS-213 forms, HICS-213 forms, maybe even ICS201, 204, 205 etc.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has pulled together some good information and forms for you use.  See the article Shelter Amateur Reference.

Task Organization

Gordon Gibby KX4Z wrote an article on organizing a volunteer team for a full scale exercise.  TaskOrganization

Uploading New Content to Shelter WIFI Information System

Gordon Gibby KX4Z wrote an article (below) on how to create a shelter WiFi server.  This is a tutorial on how hams stationed at a shelter can upload new information onto that web server.  Uploading New Content to Shelter WiFi System

Off Center Fed Dipole

The off center fed dipole is a versatile antenna for emergency use.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z gives instructions for an inexpensive way to construct the center balun/insulator in his article OCF Center Balun Instructions 2.

Using Internet-Independent Message Pickup Stations

What do you do when the whole Internet system is down in an emergency?  Gordon Gibby KX4Z ofers a solution in his article Using Message Pickup Stations.

Contacting the State EOC in an Emergency when asked to do so by a Qualified Authority

In an emergency it is necessary to have a variety of methods to contact the state EOC.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z explains some ways that may work in his article Contacting State EOC.

Inexpensive HF SSB Radio for Emergency Communications

The BITX semi-kit radios are a good solution for inexpensive emergency radios.  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4Z in this two-part series:  BITX article – Part 1 and BITX article – Part 2.

Creating Emergency EOC Broadcasting Capabilities

Getting bulletins and instructions to the general population is a challenge in a massive disaster.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has provided a solution.  Read about it in Creating Emergency AM Broadcast.

Standing Up an Incident Command VHF Net in an Emergency

What can go wrong with your nets in an emergency?  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4Z to discover potential problems and their solutions: Standing Up a Command Net.

Emergency Broadcasting on Weather Frequencies

Creating the ability for emergency authorities to broadcast on one of the national Weather Service frequencies to reach members of the public who have working weather-radio receivers.  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4ZEmergency NWS Broadcasting.

Lightning EMP Arrestor

Nothing can protect totally against a direct lightning strike; however, this inexpensive system privides significant hardening against nearby strikes.  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4Z Lighting EMP Arrestor.

Building a Shelter Information Distribution System Independent of Normal Telecommunications Systems

Gordon Gibby KX4Z describes a method of moving information when cell phone service fails by using wifi linked to local ham servers.  Read all about it in Shelter WebServer Technical Details.

Alachua County MESH Network

Gordon Gibby KX4Z describes the development of the Alachua County initial microwave MESH network linked to a packet repeater network.  Read the article Overview of MESH Network Development.

EMP Hardened Digitally Controlled HF Transceiver

Gordon Gibby KX4Z explains how to develop an EMP-hardened transceiver for HF service, to include WINLINK and other digital services.  Read the article Creating An Emp Hardened Transceiver.

How to Inexpensively Publish Ham Radio Materials

Gordon Gibby KX4Z has written a “how to” article on publishing ham radio information using the website Createspace  Read the article HamRadioPublishing KX4Z.

Digital Emergency Communications

Gordon Gibby KX4Z delivered a presentation to the Gainesville Amateur Radio Society on February 21, 2017.  Here are the presentation slides:

Part 1 – Ham Radio DigitalComms

Part 2 – Ham Radio Digital Comms

WinLink – Email Over Ham Radio

Gordon Gibby KX4Z has provided an excellent information paper on WinLink – Email Over Ham Radio.  Included in the paper is a good list of websites to start learning about WinLink.  Check it out!

WinLink –  Speed Advantage of Digital Comm

Gordon Gibby KX4Z has provided another superb information paper on WinLink communications concerning the speed of digital communications.  Read the paper at Estimations of the Speed Advantage of Digital or WINLINK Communications over Gold-Standard VOICE Communications For Precise Emergency Communications.

This article by Gordon Gibby KX4Z was written up & quoted in the bulletins of the South African ham radio society on September 11, 2016 by Dave Reece at

Here’s a quote from the South African Hamnet:  “On the matter of transmitting emergency messages, Gordon KX4Z, has done an interesting study comparing messages being sent by voice, by PSK31, by MT63-2K, and by Winlink. Various limiting factors in each protocol do provide problems, with the estimated efficiency of the first 3 systems being assessed at about 50%. Winlink becomes more efficient as messages to send get bigger, because the message headers and error-correction handshakes get less. Gordon estimates the number of 50-word messages able to be sent per minute by voice as 0.3, for PSK31 0.48, for MT63-2K 2, and for Winlink 3.02. He says Winlink messages are 10 times faster for multiple short messages, and up to 69 times faster for large files. His concluding paragraph reads:

“One digital station using a faster digital protocol (MT63 – 2K) is likely to be able to perform the same throughput of short, 50-word emergency messages as 6 voice stations. One WINLINK station using the same Signalink equipment may be able to perform the throughput of 10 voice stations, with error-corrected text transmission. For larger data files, the throughput of the WINLINK station dramatically improves to over 1,000 words per minute, apparently due to decrease in the required message overhead baggage—making it the equivalent of over SIXTY voice stations working together.

“Because of this tremendous throughput advantage in emergency communications, it would be useful both to develop, train, and include both digital and WINLINK-based HF stations in emergency communications planning”. All in all, a good reason to train our HAMNET members in Winlink-based communications.” [end quote from Hamnet]

RFI Fixes

WinLink help forums are forever filled with people who hit XMIT and their computer crashes.   The same thing happens on PSK31 and other digital modes.   The cause is often radio frequency interference (RFI).  Conquering RFI to sensitive computer interfaces can be a bear.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has written a paper to help solve these issues.  Read the paper at RFI and How To Stop It From Crashing Your Digital Ham Radio.

Overview of Ham Radio Software

This is an overview of the software used to train ARES members for emergency communications.  Read the paper by Gordon Gibby KX4ZOverview of Ham Radio Software.

WinLink – Software

Understanding how various WinLink programs fit into a backup Emergency Communications system can be confusing.   Here’s  a guide to demonstrate how EMCOMM systems from very simple single-user, all the way  to a county-wide,  multi-user, multi-location, system that allow officials to use their own computers for email,  can be built.   Read the paper at WINLINKSOFTWARE.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has written a guide to help you.

WinLink – Stages of Experience for Em Comm

Just starting out with WinLink or emergency communications support?  Here are some thoughts to guide you as you grow in experience.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has written some guidance for you.  Read the paper at Winlink – Stages of Experience.

Strategies to use WINLINK Software for your Emergency Communications

Here is the 2016 update of a paper on Winlink configurations written by John Galvin N5TIM.  Read the paper at Winlink 2000A Configurations.

Digital Connections

Here’s some good guidance for hooking up a SignaLink interface device to your transceiver.  Written by Gordon Gibby KX4Z, your can read the paper here Digital Connections.

How-To for Packet WINLINK Express Email

This is a primer on how to get everything going for email via VHF Packet WINLINK.  Written by Gordon Gibby KX4Z, read the paper Red Cross Winlink Express Primer.

An Inexpensive TNC

One can make a very inexpensive terminal node controller (TNC) from a $5 Adafruit sound card dongle, and a simple transistor circuit to key the push-to-talk.  This is essentially a poor-man’s Signalink.  Add UZ7HO’s soundmodem.exe, and you have a packet TNC.   Add FLDIGI, and you have bunches of HF digital modes.  Read the paper by Gordon Gibby KX4ZInexpensive TNC.  Construction information is here, part 1 TNC Construction, part 2 TNC Construction 2.  The schematic is here Schematic 4.

A Raspberry Pi Digipeater

This paper explains how to make a BPQ node (which can be a digipeater, a node, a Winlink Packet RMS and probably lots more) out of a Raspberry PI and free software.    It can work with a soundcard-based terminal node controller (TNC) such as my inexpensive TNC (see “An Inexpensive TNC” above), or a Signalink, or it can work with a KISS TNC like the TNC-X.  Read the paper by Gordon Gibby KX4ZMaking Raspberry Pi Node Digipeater ver 1.4.

Raspberry Pi USB System Patch

This article describes a serious flaw in the Raspberry Pi USB system that causes random outages.  Read the “patch” submitted by Gordon Gibby KX4Z at Raspberry Pi USB Patch.

A Raspberry Pi Node Go Station

Here is a description of how to build a digital repeater station which can be picked up in a moment and sent to a disaster area to create a string of repeaters back to the working telecommunications.  Read the paper by Gordon Gibby KX4ZRaspberry Pi Node Go Station.

Creating a City-Wide Residential Backbone

This article describes how to establish a city-wide packet radio backbone.  Read the article by Gordon Gibby KX4ZCreating A City-wide Residential Digital Backbone.


Florida is blessed to have an extensive packet node backbone known as the SEDAN.  This paper explains how to use WINLINK over the SEDAN network.  Read the paper by Gordon Gibby KX4ZWINLINK via Florida SEDAN.

Disaster Scenarios and WINLINK

This is a briefing formated explanation of different ways to use WINLINK components to handle different types of disasters.  Submitted by Gordon Gibby KX4Z.  Read the briefing here Disaster Scenarios and WINLINK.

Shelter Vignette

Here is a fictional over-the-air emergency net snippet that illustrates the kinds of capabilities that WINLINK can serve.  Submitted by Gordon Gibby KX4Z, read the story here Shelter Vignette.

Soundcard Interface Project

Gordon Gibby KX4Z, has created a printed circuit board using ExpressPCB to build a soundcard interface.  The software to fabricate the board is available free directly from Gordon.  Email him at [email protected].  You upload the file from Gordon to ExpressPCB and receive your board in the mail in a few days.  The file from Gordon is free, but there is a charge from ExpressPCB for fabricating the board.  Go to the ExpressPCB site for instructions about downloading a free PCB board layout software.

Read the Construction Manual before you start building.

Alachua County 2017 ARES Hurricane Test

Gordon Gibby KX4Z, has provided the Alachua County 2017 ARES Hurricane Test – Participant Workbook for the drill planned for Saturday, May 6, 2017.

Building a Wooden Emergency Go-Box

The concept of a “go-box” has appeal in situations where you may be conducting radio communications for an extended period using portable equipment.  Gordon Gibby KX4Z has a simple and functional solution for a go-box.  Read his paper titled Building a Simple Wooden Emergency Radio Go-Box.

Alachua County EOC Technician Class Scores Big!

By Gordon Gibby KX4Z NCS521

When Alachua County Asst. Emergency Manager Jeff Bielling invited our ARES group to hold a Technician Class, we jumped on the chance, picked a date and got the ball rolling toward a two-Saturday, marathon-style training.  As usual, our goal included not just going over the Technician question pool, but outfitting the class with actual radios, and immersing them in amateur radio.  Read more at ARRL NFL Summer Technician Class.