My Public Service and Emergency Communications

Miramar Air Show 2007 Miramar Air Show 2006



Projects and Other Stuff
MonstIR Project QSL CARDS
K6QK (SK) Project N6KI MonstIR Project
Ham Radio Autobiography ZS6YI MonstIR Project

    I had the privilege of being the Amateur Radio Emergency Services Coordinator for the 2005 Miramar Marine Corp Air Station where the famed Blue Angels performed for San Diego.  


    Over 80 members from the combined Citizens Emergency Response Teams (CERT) of the City of San Diego and Coronado participate in a real life practice drill at City of San Diego Fire Training Academy. The practice incident was a simulated terrorist bomb attack on a school bus with victims on the bus, in a nearby liquor store and at a local high school.  In the absence of emergency fire and rescue, three CERT Teams were dispatched to provide search, and rescue for the victims.  

    Communications was provide via Ham Radio under the auspices of the Coronado Emergency Radio Operators Inc (CERO) which has long trained as CERT Communicators. Net Control for the Incident Command Post was operated by Howard, KY6LA, Glenn WM6B and Elaine KF6KVF. A simulated Emergency Operations Center was manned by Steve  WB6TWL and Ted W6GMQ. Each of the CERT Teams was shadowed by a Ham Communicator including Mike, N6GEM, Dave KF6PRZ and Jim N6RSL.   Victoria, KG6LYH, acted as deputy Incident Commander.  Hams again provided vital communications links to the outside world as well as providing necessary incident command and control communications.  Chief Alan Nowakowski of the Coronado Fire Department and Captain Daniel Saner of the City of San Diego publicly commended CERO for their exemplary communications performance.  Both Howard KY6LA and Glenn WM6B were featured prominently on the Evening News on KUSI - Channel 51 and XETV - Fox 6.  

Photos are available at Cert Drill Photos 


My Public Service and Emergency Communications

The Public has always taken Ham Radio for granted and has always assumed with blind faith that during Emergencies, Government Emergency Communications Systems would be more than adequate to service the emergency.  Yet, time and time again, when it comes to true emergencies, these Government Systems invariably fail and Ham Radio is always there to help and in many cases, we are the only communications systems that still work..

On September 29, 2004, Dr. Don Compton, KG6NDX and I were invited to address the San Diego County Counsel on the failure of the government communications and the vital role we amateurs played in saving lives during the 2003  Fire Storms.

While Ham Radio, as a hobby, has always been a lot of fun for me, my primary interest has for a long time now been public service.  I volunteer many hours every week not only to provide volunteer emergency radio communications but also to design, fund and implement Emergency Communications Systems in San Diego County and now Nationally as part of the ARES® National Task Force Digital Network Management Team.

I am Corporate Secretary, Ex-offico Board Member and the Incorporator of San Diego Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES ® ) Group, a non profit affiliate of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL ®)  providing emergency services to San Diego County.  I am also on the Board of Directors and the Incorporator of the Coronado Emergency Radio Operators Inc. (CERO), a 501 © 3 charitable corporation dedicated to providing emergency communications to the City of San Diego and Coronado. I also work with the American Red Cross (ARC), the California Amateur Radio Emergency Services Network (CARES) and the California Department of Forestry (Red Flag Patrols). 

I am proud of the fact that I was recently appointed the ARRL ® ARES® National Task Force Digital Network Management Team.  Our team is charged with a mandate to develop a National network of digital amateur radio communications for the Emergency Communications across the Nation. This is a huge task and I hope I am up to the challenge.

While I am rarely, if ever, humble, I was quite stunned  and rather humbled by CERO voting me  as their 

2004 Ham of the Year” 

for my volunteer efforts.


The 2003 San Diego Cedar Fires

            Most people are unaware that during the recent 2003 Cedar Fires which so devastated San Diego that Land Lines Telephones failed due to downed wires, Cellular Systems failed due to overloading, downed towers, failed links and signal refraction from smoke and most seriously the 800 MHz trunked emergency radio network which was used by all the fire fighters, police and other emergency workers failed due to overloading and severe signal refraction from the smoke.  

The only group that was able to provide consistent reliable communications was a group of 180+ volunteer amateur radio operators operating under the auspices of ARES®, CERO, ARC, CDF and CARES.   This, of course, is not surprising as in most civil emergencies, such as 9/11; Amateur Radio Operators are usually the only ones that continue to communicate reliably when all other means of communications fail.

Why do government communications systems always fail in true emergencies and our ham systems continue to work? The simple answer is bio diversity.  We have many more frequencies, many more modes and many more highly qualified trained operators than the government does.   In the rush for funds, Congress sold off much of the government emergency spectrum to the private sector.  This sale which forced government emergency services into a single tiny band of frequencies coupled with totally inadequate funding leaves the public totally unprotected every time a major emergency hits us.   The government communications systems which work OK during normal times, just can't handle the volume or diversity of real emergencies 

         The San Diego Fires were also a rude awakening for me as well.  While I tried to help, I soon realized that I did not have radio systems in place to be truly effective. More important, I realized that I need to do more to help the community and with my engineering and management experience, I was uniquely positioned to do so. 

On September 29, 2004, Dr. Don Compton, KG6NDX and I were invited to address the San Diego County Counsel on the failure of the government communications and the vital role we amateurs played in saving lives during the 2003  Fire Storms.

 My old Antenna Systems

First I should point out that during the Cedar Fires and for the previous 5 years I had a roof-mounted tower that was 38 ‘ above grade.  It was in the context of these emergency services and the recent fires that these systems had proved inadequate and that it became patently obvious to me that I needed to install a much higher tower if I was going to be able to provide effective amateur radio communications during the next emergency. 

 Subsequent to the fires, I participated with several other radio amateurs where we literally drove the length and breath of the county to produce UHF, VHF and 40 Meter radio coverage maps of the ARC evacuation sites so that we could provide more reliable communications during the next emergency. 

 Prior to erection of the 85’ tower, I also participated in a Data Communications Test for the ARES®  and the San Diego County American Red Cross.   While I was able to participate with my mobile vehicles by driving to the emergency test site at Kearney Mesa Recreation Center, needless to say with my then current 38’ antenna system, I was unable to even attain a radio data connection with the Red Cross Emergency Operations Center for this location.   Needless to say the 85’ tower has corrected this problem and I now have the ability to provide reliable communications that this County so desperately needs from this location.

 Subsequent to the fires, at considerable expense to myself, I have also significantly upgraded my station equipment adding four new higher power transceivers, purchased a SUV that I dedicated to mobile emergency communications, installed transceivers in two of my vehicles, installed emergency power systems so that I can still operate in the event of a power failure and most important, upgraded my antenna systems so that they could provide needed coverage during emergencies.

 As I pointed out I am currently on the Board of Directors and on the technical committee of the Coronado Emergency Radio Operators Inc which co-ordinates Amateur Radio Emergency Services for the Southern District of San Diego County including the City of San Diego.  We are designing a diversity receiving system to upgrade our radio coverage of the City of San Diego from repeaters we currently house at the top of one of 16 storey Coronado Keys Apartments.  One of the receivers would use the 85’ tower to backfill coverage to North County and several of the valleys that are currently shadowed. 

 Further I am a member of the Alpha Test Team of a project called SCAMP, which is a new low cost computer based system for sending emergency emails over Ham Radio the a system know as Winlink.  Winlink is used extensively by boaters and RV’s to keep in contact via email.  Winlink was used extensively for Email communications during the recent Tsunami

 I made the world's first SCAMP two way contact on 40 Meters as a part of the proof of concept.  I am currently installing using my MonstIR antenna what is known as a ePMBO or radio server to be the West Coast hub for Emergency Email Communications on 40 Meters.  The intent of this system will be to provide emergency email to served agencies such as ARC, Salvation Army, CDF and CARES in the event of Internet Failure. 



My Ham Autobiography:

Well I finally broke down and got my US Extra License...,but after 47 years as a ham, I guess I should know that stuff....even had the unpleasant experience of passing the code again after not using it for 30+ year..5 WPM ...slowest speed I have ever copied...like a bicycle you never forget..... now I will never have to copy Morse again...

They issued me "Awfully Extremely Six Sado Masochist"...AE6SM... Which would be a fun call if I was into that stuff..

instead I selected "Keep Yanking 6 Luscious Amazons".. KY6LA  

which is my daughter's name with a 6 in it..as she always said her name should be a Radio Stations call letters.


In the Beginning.....

It seems that I have been a ham forever. In 1958, built my first rig (10 WPM..Canukian General) and my first computer (4 bits total) in 1958 which got me into college far too young for my own good...Got 3 Engineering degrees.... Wrote a few books. Founded a few companies. Early inventor/dabbler in lots of technologies including traffic control systems, vehicle tracking systems, digital RF communications.. Trash to energy systems… in the 60's - 90's. Installed radio antenna towers all over the world for vehicle tracking so I have a very good idea about how to site them in urban environments.  

Did NOT win the Nobel Prize so I stroked my ego by getting lots of patents and even made some shekels on a few of them... 

.I have worked at the "Bleeding Edge of Technology" all my life... which is a great deal of fun.... Had some success combating the negative effects of Luddites.

Took me until 1975 to get 15WPM (Canukian Extra) so I would not have to use CW on HF bands...Never did understand why one had to pass a CW test just so you did not have to use it anymore.. Needless to say I still detest CW.. It is such an inefficient mode compared to digital modes such MFSK or PSK that will pass traffic at much higher speeds when you can no longer copy CW in the noise.

I have had the privilege of working for a living in more than 43 countries and operating from many more... had more reciprocal calls than I can remember....lots of cool ham adventures.. which I will elaborate on sometimes in the future...

And then America.....

Moved to the California in 1986. Love the weather.. Hope to never see the change of seasons again..

Installed a SteppIR - MonstIR 40M - 6M beam on an 85' crank up tower, {Yes I even got a building permit in La Jolla, CA.. it nests at only 24 feet}

(MonstIR a 3 El Monobander on 40/30, 4 el Mono on 20/17/15/12/10 and 6 El on 6} Station is totally computerized. Rig is an Icom IC-756 Pro III and a PW-1 1KW amp. I use a RigExpert USB interface to one computer and a RigBlaster Sound Card Interface to the second computer. 136 countries on PSK31, 75 Countries on MFSK.

I photo print individual QSLs using the picture I took on my 2001 Tahiti DX trip for 100% of each and every QSO as I still like to collect QSLs and I find that if I pay special attention to QSLs I get more of them back.

Never plan to retire... I am having too much fun

Really got into Emergency Communications after the 2003 San Diego Fires....

Recently awarded "2004 Ham of the Year" by the Coronado Emergency Radio Operators, Inc. ......

Love to beta test new digital modes. . Currently a SCAMP Alpha tester.. Made first SCAMP 40M two way QSO....Currently working on setting up Winlink EMCOMM for San Diego and Imperial Counties... 

but "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished"...