Posts Tagged ‘news’

Severe Weather

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

AREN went on alert for the duration of the Severe Weather Warning over the 17th-19th of January. Weather observations were co-allated by EI2GN on an 80m net on January the 19th commencing at 09:30, and a report was subsequently submitted to Met Eireann. Many thanks to all operators that responded from all parts of the country.

Cork and Kerry VES Subgroup.

Monday, January 5th, 2009

After the initial meeting, John Ketch, EI2GN is now representing AREN on the Cork/Kerry Area Voluntary Emergency Services Subgroup. It is anticipated that there will be further meetings with a view towards enhanced co-operation held during 2009.

New Handbook published.

Friday, September 12th, 2008

Members should keep an eye on the postbox over the next 2 weeks or so, as the new Handbook should be arriving. If it has not arrived by the end of the month, please contact John, EI7IG.

Sean Kelly Tour

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008

On the 24th of August AREN members made good use of the APRS Network, in order to keep track of the position of the end of each group of cyclists participating in the Sean Kelly Tour. Good use was also made of the South East Repeater Network for communicating with officials in what would have been communications blackspots (for the mobile phone networks).

In total there were 8 operators involved,

  • Seamus Ryan, EI8EPB
  • John McCarthy, EI8JA
  • Eamonn Kavanagh, EI3FFB
  • Gareth Wilmot, EI7FZB
  • Francis Lenane, EI5GOB
  • John Ronan, EI7IG
  • Conor O’Neill, EI4JN
  • John Ketch, EI2GN

Many thanks to all that participated and to the repeater keepers for permission to use the repeaters.

EmCom Party On The Air, Training & AREN presentations

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

On Sunday 11 November, four AREN stations participated in the IARU Region 1 Emcomm Party on the air. This was the third simulated emergency test of its kind.

Operators were, Conor EI4JN, Tim EI5GPB, John EI7IG and, Declan Ei9FVB, using call-signs EI0RENE, EI1RENE, EI2RENE and EI3RENE respectively.
Conor operated from a hilltop site at coast location in South West Kerry, Tim from his home station in Baltimore, John from his home in Tramore and Declan from his home in Cork.

Messages we relayed throughout the Region and beyond using all the Centre of activity frequencies, except for 15 metres, which was not open on the day.
A more detailed report will be published in Echo Ireland and on the AREN website.

The AREN Winter NETS will reconvene on the first and third Wednesday of each month for training purposes on 3.690Khz, with an alternative frequency of 7.099kHz at 2130Hrs local beginning 21st November. This is a members only net. Non members may call in with reports at the end of the net when invited to do so by the Net Control Station. Full details will be circulated to members in due course.

The AREN stand at the recent Waterford rally was well received. The Demonstration included APRS and Pactor 3. One of the stations set up for the day was used to call into the IRTS 80m news.
AREN will also be represented at the upcoming Mayo Rally.

AREN supports Charity walk – September 2007

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

AREN members Declan Horan, EI9FVB and Conor O Neill, EI4JN supported a walk in aid of the Irish Heart Foundation on Saturday the 29th of September last. The walk in the McGillicuddy Reeks was led by Conor who radio’d regular reports to Declan through the Cork repeater.

Declan operated from his home QTH in Ballincollig Co. Cork. The walkers encountered thick fog on the ascent which later cleared, giving way to clear skies and spectacular views.

AREN support for Circuit Glen of Imaal event

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Irish Amateur Radio experimenters in Dublin and Wicklow provided radio communications for the Circuit of Imaal walk, which took place on the 21st of June.

The walk, organised by An Óige, covered 37 kilometres.

Radio operators were:

Gerry Butler EI0CH (Ballinabarney)
John Hill EI0DK (floating/reserve)
Tom McGrath EI7HT (Donard School)
Joe Ryan EI7GY (Lug)
Kyle O’Connell EI2JO (Table Track)
Philip Pollock EI8JT (Lobawn)

Radio base station made use of Tom McGrath’s personal callsign for the operation.

AREN has been providing safety communications for the Glen of Imaal walk since 1990. AREN has also been providing safety communications for the Lug Walk, held in uneven numbered years, since 1987. Safety communications enhances the overall safety of the Walk by providing the Walk Control Group with information as to the progress of the Walk and the occurrence of any incidents. It does not replace Mountain Rescue Communications in dealing with an incident, although it may supplement them. The initial organisation of the AREN Net was undertaken by John Hill, EI0DK, and more recently by Gerry Butler, EI0CH.

Beginning in Donard village it traversed the main mountaintops around the Glen of Imaal. This year’s walk took place on Saturday the 21st of June, which turned out to be “the longest rainy day of the year”, in the words of one of the walkers.

With an entry of approximately 100 walkers and the worst weather conditions for many years, there were plenty of challenges for the walk organisers and the Radio Experimenters supporting them. With almost zero visibility, many walkers had difficulties with navigation. Amateur Radio communications proved
invaluable in ensuring that a search was launched for a number of missing walkers, and some of the experimenters providing the communications support were also involved in escorting walkers, who had dropped out of the event, safetly back to base.

A special mention must go to John/EI0DK who went, pardon the pun, extra mile for radio operations on the day.

After ascending to his designated operation position he suffered equipment failure due to extreme weather conditions. John hiked back down to the carpark, got his spare radio equipment, extra clothes, and then hiked back up to his station.

This was much appreciated as, without John, that station would have been unmanned.

Well done to those who helped out both in pre-event preparations and on the day.

AREN report of South Tipperary Voluntary Emergency Services Exercise

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

Report: South Tipperary Voluntary Emergency Services Exercise
Date: May 10, 09:00 – 17:00
Attendees: Civil Defence, Red Cross, AREN, SEMRA, SARDA, Order of Malta

AREN attendees: John/EI7IG, Richie/EI9HR, Bernard/EI8FDB, Eddie/EI3FFB

South Tipp Voluntary Emergency Services Activity May 2008
South Tipperary Voluntary Emergency Services Exercise

The morning of May 10th, the South Tipperary Voluntary Emergency Services group held a Emergency Services event in Clogheen, Tipperary.

The main focus of the day was meet other voluntary groups, while learning from and educating other groups about AREN’s capabilities.

The main events were displays and exercises (round-robins) which gave attendees an insight into each groups skills.

Organisations in attendance were:

Civil Defence [1]
Red Cross [2]
AREN – Amateur Radio Emergency Network [3]
SEMRA – South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association, along with SARDA, the Search And Rescue Dog Association. [4] [5]
Order Of Malta [6]

In all, over 40 voluntary members attended.

Registration began at 9:30 in Clogheen. Attendees from each organisation were split-up into groups made up of other organisation members, helping the cross-organisation communications in an informal and relaxed atmosphere.

The morning began with a short 5 minute introduction to each organisation, its beginnings, its members, what their capabilities are, their equipment, and where they are based.

AREN member, Richie Ryan, EI9HR, gave a very interesting introduction to amateur radio and AREN operations.

One member of each group then went to set-up the round-robin display for the days activities. Each round-robin took approximately 30 minutes. The events were held in the near-by Parsons Green campsite. Each round robin was run in parallel to all the others, and each group moved between them.

Civil Defence

The first event was from the Civil Defence members. From the beginning of the Civil Defence in Ireland, radiation monitoring has been the main activity of their “Warden Service”.

The Warden’s role is to take radioactive readings in the event of a radiological incident. Members of the service are trained in many disciplines such as communication procedures and leadership techniques as well as in the reporting of radioactive readings. [6]

The speakers gave a presentation of the main radiation monitoring techniques – a low-level radiation detector which measures down to normal background radiation levels and a second type of instrument would be used to detect and measure the far higher levels of radioactive fallout resulting from nuclear detonations in war.

Red Cross

The next event was from the Red Cross. The Irish Red Cross Society (IRCS) was established by an Act of the Oireachtas on 1 August 1939. The Irish Red Cross is dedicated to the provision of Emergency and Humanitarian Relief both at home and abroad through its network of volunteers both nationally and internationally.

In Ireland, the Red Cross provides both emergency services through its Mountain Rescue Team as well as a variety of broadly-based community services including youthwork and care for the sick and elderly. [7]

The Red Cross members gave a very useful introduction to the operation of, and application of an Advisory External Defibrillator (AED). [8]

An AED is a small, portable piece of equipment that can deliver an electric shock to a victim of cardiac arrest in order to convert the chaotic electrical current of the heart to its normal rhythm.

Every attendee at the day was given the opportunity to practise using an AED and applying CPR.

The instructors stressed the importance of commencing CPR as quickly as possible and the target time for defibrillation is less than 5 minutes.

After the Red Cross display, everyone broke for lunch “al fresco”, out in the sunshine.


After lunch, it was AREN’s turn to show what we can do. [9]

John, EI7IG, had set-up radio comms capabilities for HF, VHF, UHF, and APRS. John gave an introduction to radio technique, pro-words, and basic radio theory. [10]

A lot of attendees had some very useful questions regarding radio operation and “what to do with them”.

John had scheduled (and unscheduled) QSOs with some EI stations, including Jim Claffey EI2DDB in Dublin, and John EI2JA in Waterford, on HF by utilising the NVIS antenna setup, [11] and Robbie, EI2IP, who was mobile near Youghal (through the South East Repeater Network) as he was visible on the Amateur Packet Reporting System (APRS) map visible at the station while a round-robin was taking place.

All-in-all attendees seemed very pleased with AREN’s presentation and made very pleasant comments at the Q&A session at the end.


The final presentation was given by SEMRA. The team was formed in 1977 after an accident occurred in the mountains and a need for such a service was identified. Currently, SEMRA has about 40 members.

The team operate, as their name describes, on the mountains of the South East of Ireland, the Blackstairs, Comeragh, Knockmeasdown and Galtee mountain ranges and all areas in between.

Occasionally they assist other Mountain Rescue teams, such as Dublin/ Wicklow, Glen of Imaal and Kerry MRT’s, An Gardaí, Search & Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA), and The Irish Coastguard. [12]

The SEMRA presenters organised a search skills exercise for attendees which focused on “common sense skills”.

The exercise entailed searching for objects of various sizes, from a piece of tubing to a pair of glasses, to a child’s toy, all using techniques such as “purposeful wandering”, and “hasty searches”. [13] [14]

While they maybe common sense skills, we all agreed that carrying out a search, possibly for an object as small as a set of keys on the side of a hill, is something that needs alot of skill, practice and training.

After all groups had attended each round-robin exercise everyone was treated to a demonstration by SARDA, Search And Rescue Dogs Association.


SARDA is a voluntary 999 / 112 emergency search and rescue organisation concerned with the training, assessment and deployment of Air Scenting Search and Rescue Dogs, to search for missing persons in the mountains, woodlands rural and urban areas including rivers, lakes and seashores, as well as avalanches and demolished buildings.

SEMRA setup a search exercise in a very large field, with different terrain. All attendees were asked to line-up, at the bottom of the field, to try and find the “missing object”. [15]

After 15 minutes and a number of embarrasing “false positives”, Mick Grant and his search dog, Bono, arrived to the “search area”.

All humans constantly emit microscopic particles bearing human scent. Millions of these particles are airborne and are carried by the wind for considerable distances. The air scenting SAR dog is trained to locate the scent of any human in a specific search area. The dog is not restricted to the missing person’s track and can search long after the track is obliterated. [16]

Within, 3-4 minutes Bono and Mick had found the missing object, a member of SEMRA (wearing camouflage) laying in long grass. They certainly put the rest of us to shame!

After the SARDA demonstration, to close the day we had the final “team-building” event – penalty shoot-out.

After a very tense, nerve-racking shoot-out, as always, the best team won – AREN 3, SEMRA 2, Civil Defence 1.

After the photos were taken, there was a final Q&A session where each attendee gave feedback regarding the day. The general consensus: more events like this, more situation exercises, more time spent at each session.

Back in Clogheen Civil Defence treated us to a very tasty buffet which gave everyone an opportunity to chat about the days happenings.



Ham Radio Operators Called to Action in Aftermath of China Quake

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008


To assist Michael BD5RV/4 and the other amateur radio operators, the Chinese Radio Sports Association have requested the following frequencies be kept clear for emergency communications:


A team of amateurs is said to be operating from the epicentre of the earthquake, Wenchuan, using 40m, with nearby the Chengdu UHF repeater being used to direct ambulances.

An article from the ARRL (American Radio Relay League) today details the harsh circumstance the earthquake survivors in the Wenchuan Area of China’s Sichuan province are having to live with. Chinese amateur radio operators are operating from the earthquake zone passing messages, directing emergency support amongst other essential jobs.

The Chinese amateur radio organisation, the Chinese Radio Sports Association, has called on members “to take actions to ensure their amateur radio stations to operate properly, and to the extent possible stand by on often used short-wave frequencies”.

At 1757 UTC on Monday, May 12 an on the ground report from Liu Hu, BG8AAS, of Chengdu a town in the province of Sichuan, reported that a local UHF repeater survived the disaster.

“It keeps functioning from the first minute and more than 200 local radio hams are now on that repeater.
A group of hams from Chengdu has headed for Wenchuan, the center of the quake, trying to set up emergency communication services there,” he said.

Michael Chen, BD5RV/4, said that Yue Shu, BA8AB, also from Chengdu, Sichuan, was reported to be active on the 40 meter emergency frequency on Monday.

“Up to now, there has been no further information available from the center zone of the quake. There are a few radio amateurs there, but all of the communications have been cut out, including Amateur Radio,” Chen said.

At 1858 UTC, Liu reported that the local UHF repeater in Chengdu

“keeps busy running after the quake. It helps to direct social vehicles to transport the wounded from Dujiangyan, Beichuan and other regions. Another UHF repeater also started working in Mianyan, supported by generators, but they are going to face a shortage of gas.”

Chen said that damage in Chengdu remains in the lowest level, but the situation is

“very very bad in the counties around. A few towns are said to be destroyed completely. More than 7000 died in the town of Beichuan. Casualties in several other towns are still unknown and not counted in the published numbers. It is a long and sad day.”

At 0831 UTC on Tuesday, May 13, Chen said that a group of radio amateurs is now transmitting from Wenchuan, the center of quake:

“Its signal is reported to be very weak. They tried to keep communication with BY8AA, the Sichuan Radio Orienteering Association in Chengdu, seeking for all resources needed. During a contact finished a few minutes ago, they were asking for raincoats, water, tents and outdoor living facilities.”

Lets hope the survivors receive the help they need and they are able to rebuild their lives.

AREN April Meeting 2008 Report

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

AREN April Meeting

Last Saturday the 12th of April, commencing at 10AM, AREN held a meeting in the Clonmel Park Hotel, on the outskirts of Clonmel, South Tipperary.

There was a very satisfactory turnout, with members attending from Dublin, Waterford, Tipperary and as far away as Donegal, and West Cork.

The guest speaker was Mr. Paul Gaskell, G4MWO, of RAYNET UK.

The photograph above was taken as the meeting was ending. It shows:
Back L-R:

Paul Sinclair EI5GTB
John McCarthy EI8JA
Fergus Millar EI6IB
Paul Gaskell G4MWO
John Burke EI2JB.

Sitting L-R:
Bernard Tyers EI8FDB
Tim McKnight EI5GPB
John Ronan EI7IG
Conor O Neill EI4JN.
Not shown: Eamon (Eddie) Kavanagh EI3FFB, Paul Norris EI3ENB, John Ketch EI2GN)

The meeting began with an overview of what AREN actually is, and what it’s role within Amateur Radio is. This was very useful to give members a clear understanding of what is required of an AREN member.

A run-through of the organisation internal structure was given and also the new committee was introduced to members, as well as new members introducing themselves to everyone.

The committee changes that took place were:

* Outgoing Finance officer Dave Moore is succeeded by Tim McNight
* Conor O’Neill continues in Operations
* John Ketch stands down as National Co-Ordinator, but remains on the
committee in a new role as Secretary
* Mark Wall stands down as PRO leaving the position open
* John Ronan takes over as our new National Coordinator, again leaving the
Technical Co-Ordinator open

(Expressions of interest are welcomed – please contact us if interested).

A lively discussion around AREN fundamentals, member competencies, technical, operational, and teamwork then took place. These were all important to build a sense of a common team goal, and technical expertise within the AREN organisation.

An introduction to the concept of Net Control was also given. Net Control is responsible and manages such functions as activating and assigning Net resources, assigns tactical calls, keeping a good log, assures that traffic messages are moved quickly and efficiently.

A discussion on the possible usage of the 5MHz radio spectrum also took place. This spectrum would be very beneficial in conditions when other radio spectrum was unusable.

AREN‘s role in national emergencies was then discussed. It is hoped that AREN will be able to assist national voluntary and primary response agencies in an official capacity as part of a National Emergency Plan.

After lunch John, EI7IG and Conor, EI4JN, organised a table-top exercise. This was to put the attendees in the Emergency Communications mind-set, and thinking about some of the problems that could potentially occur.

After the exercise, a review of 2007 exercises, operational details and a financial report was discussed.

John and Conor presented different go-kit set-ups. Essentially a radio go-kit is a small, portable, bag with all the necessary equipment to set-up an emergency radio communications station.

A good rule-of-thumb with making a go-kit is:

“It is better to have the bare essentials always handy than to leave a bulky pack someplace where you can’t get to it”.

Emcomm Radio go-kits

Paul, G4MWO, of RAYNET, gave an interesting and useful talk about RAYNET operations in England, technical discussions RAYNET are involved with, and issues RAYNET have had to overcome when dealing with other voluntary, and non-voluntary response organisations in the UK.

John, EI7IG then gave a technical report of the GAISS project, which was a collaboration between AREN, the TSSG research group in Waterford IT, and the South East Mountain Rescue Association.

The meeting ended with an open discussion on various topics.