Presentation on theme: "NBEMS for Emergency Communications"— Presentation transcript:
1 NBEMS for Emergency Communications Dan N0PI, Scott ARES Asst. ECBob W0NFE, Scott ARES Asst ECNarrow Band Emergency Messaging System
2 Accurate, Rapid Communications We all recognize these disasters Ice storms, tornadoes and flooding are common disasters around hereThe bridge collapse, devastating as it was, demonstrated the failings of cell phone serviceHam radio emergency communications get activated almost every year in the Fargo area during the flooding seasonA few years back during major flooding in the Rochester area ham radio operators from the Twin Cities area were called upon to go down and help out with emergency communicationsAccurate, RapidCommunications
3 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up a NBEMS systemHow to use NBEMSPractice timeHere is an outline of what we’re going to try to cover this morning. Keep in mind that once you get started with fldigi or any digital communications package it will become an ongoing learning processPractice, Practice, Practice
4 Why Digital ECOMSThink back to your last public service event, drill, or deployment.You probably passed a lot of traffic best suited for voice communications but...What if you had been asked to passRoster of evacueesRequired prescription medicationsDirections to a disaster sceneVoice communications are not going awayWe may be asked to pass sensitive information from disaster sites which may include victim names, address, medication, etc.Our transmissions cannot be encrypted and we know there are ambulance chasers or the media out there with scanners just trying to pick up tidbits of informationDigital communications is not encrypted but to the listening public it only sounds like noise. Refer to “Sights and Sounds . . .” tab at
5 Why Digital ECOMS The needs of our Served Agencies have changed. They still need voice communications but...There's an increasing need for data communications.We need to be able to provide more than just voice communications from a ham with an HT.Be sure to include digital capability with appropriate interfaces in your “Go Kit”
6 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up a NBEMS systemHow to use NBEMSPractice time
7 What is NBEMS Narrow Band Emergency Messaging System Consists of four programs:Fldigi – Fast Light Digital modem applicationFlmsg – easily send ICS forms and RadiogramFlwrap – Wrap a file with a checksumFlarq – Fast Light Automatic Repeat RequestCan download fromRuns on Windows, Linux, and Mac.Released under GNU Public License, so it is completely FREE.Fldigi is the basic digital modem softwareAs a minimum you should plan on downloading fldigi , flmsg and flwrapFlarg will be downloaded as part of the fldigi download. You probably won’t use it but should have it availableFlwrap, once installed, does not need to be opened because it works in the backgroundThere are other pieces to this software suite that you might find useful once you become comfortable with the basic programSome of the other pieces include rig control, net operations and logging software even though there is some logging capability built into the fldigi basic programThere is also other supporting calibration software out on the web that works with the fldigi program. We will discuss a sound card calibration procedure in a later foil.
8 NBEMS Homepage This is the homepage for w1hkj.com It will give you the status of the different pieces of the fldigi suite of softwareAt the top of the page is the link to the actual download pageProbably the most important item on this page is the “Sights and Sounds of Digital Signals”You can follow this link to a list of the operating modes you will find in fldigi. Clicking on each operating mode you will be able to see what that signal looks like in the waterfall pane of fldigi. You can also listen to what the signal will sound like in your speaker for that operating mode
9 NBEMS Download Page This is what the download pages looks like The software is listed down the left side of the page and the operating system is listed across the top of the pageThere are other pieces of this software suite that are also listed on this download page such as logging, net control and rig control but I don’t recommend that you play with them until you become familiar with the fldigi and flmsg basicsNote the “Help” column. These are great references to find out more details about the fldigi program
10 NBEMS philosophy Keep it cheap. Keep it simple. Use Open Source software.Don't depend upon infrastructure.Make it fun to use between drills and disasters.Any computer, any radio.It’s freeAvailable for some of the different operating systemsOnce installed, the fldigi software is very easy to use with many resources available to help you work with this mode of communicationsThere are more local groups adding fldigi capability to their netsScott County ARESSibley/LeSueur ARESRochester area ARESThe Southern Minnesota Phone-Digital NetSEMARC Radio Club NetThere is more activity out East on both HF and VHF/UHF – Dave WB0KGNWill work with any computer, radio and/or repeater system, unlike Dstar which is equipment specific
11 Using NBEMS in your net. Auxiliary method to handle formal traffic. Voice used for basic check-in’s etcTraffic passed by digital – Same or different channelMuch faster than Voice.Number / letter sequences are 100% accurate.All message are save to hard drive.Bulletins broadcast to all stationAll Digital netMix of keyboard to keyboard and formal traffic sent via forms.Voice and digital can be used in conjunction with each otherCan be a more efficient and accurate way of moving formal trafficNo repetition requiredNo need for use of ITU phonetics for claritySee more use of all digital mode on HF netsCan use a mix of keyboard to keyboard communications with the use of standard ICS, HICS, MARS, IARU, ARRL Radiogram and Red Cross forms
12 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up you NBEMS systemHow to Use NBEMSPractice time
13 What NBEMS can do for you Fast accurate method to provideKeyboard to Keyboard communicationsSend, save, and print standard ARRL, ICS, Red Cross, and generic forms (new forms added regularly)Typical ARRL radiogram takes ~40 seconds to sendData is verified via checksumCan broadcast messages, one to manySupports unattended reception of messagesNot encrypted, but general scanning public will hear noise.Will work when voice is marginal.We have covered some of this information in previous foilsSome key items from this foil areData verified via checksumSupports unattended reception of messages but operator must make a point of reviewing the received messages folder once returning to stationProbably the most important feature is that digital communications may get through when voice communications are marginal at best
14 What NBEMS will not do for you It is not a store and forward system likeEach station in the system must have an operatorReceive message will be stored on local hard drive.No built in connection to the internetIt will not move large amounts of data2 K bytes, or 1 type written page is a practical limit.Over this size and likelihood of an error increases, causing a checksum failure. Have to resend message.Flarq could handle larger files, up to 8K or more, but requires practice and more training to use.Incoming messages will be automatically saved but an operator must forward the message on to another stationLarger messages are not recommendedIf working through a repeater the time-out limits of the repeater must be kept in mindBecause of the forward error correction within flarg it is able to handle larger files but flarq requires quite a bit more in overhead time for passing messages and more training
15 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up you NBEMS systemHow to Use NBEMSPractice time
16 Components of NBEMS system FlwrapFlmsgFlarqSoftware on ComputerFldigiSound Card InterfaceHardware connection Computer to RadioThis diagram shows the basic fldigi operating systemOnce you become comfortable with this basic system you can expand it with some of the add-on feaatures we saw on the earlier download page foilWe will get into the individual blocks in future foilsRadio and Antenna
17 Components of NBEMS system Bottom Up - Radio Any voice capable radio will workFM, SSB, even AM if you want.Fldigi will work with any voice capable radioFM, SSB, or even AMAlso HF, UHF or VHFWe will cover interfacing in the next foil but I wanted to point out that with HF and the base/mobile station rigs you can interface with the radio via microphone inputs and an external speaker output or via the data port on the back of the radiosThe handheld radio can be interfaced via the external microphone/speaker connector or via acoustic coupling (“cave man”) approach
18 Components of NBEMS system Bottom Up – Radio Interface Signal Link USB – Just needs USB PortRig Blaster – USB and audio portsMarch 2011 QST, Page 34 - Audio Ports OnlyAnything hardwired is better, butAudio coupling (Caveman) does work, and can be used.The SignaLink USB by Tigertronics is probably the easiest interface to work withYou just need to either purchase the interface cable unique to your radio or build your own interface cablesI am using the SignaLink USB interface for this demonstration but I also have a West Mountain Rigblaster Plus interfaceFor the acoustic coupling your laptop will either need a built-in microphone or you will need to add an inexpensive external microphoneYou will then need to manually perform the PTT function
19 Components of NBEMS system Bottom Up - Fldigi I am not going to cover all the details of this software. The different features are well documented within the references available on the download pageLets touch on just a few of the main items of the fldigi screenThe waterfall – Sights and SoundsThe transmit window – this is where you will type your outgoing messages in the keyboard to keyboard operation. If you pre-type a message watch where you leave the cursorThe receive window – Your incoming messages will show up in this screen. Because of the way I have my fldigi configured my transmit message is also shown in this screenT/R button – also control T and control RRxID and TxID boxes checkedIncoming signal strength meter – make sure the squelch level is set low <5%. Adjust by watching noise in the receive windowOp mode drop down tabConfigure drop down tabCall, name, QTH, etc. are used for logging and with macro useMacro buttons to speed up keyboard to keyboard communications - programmable
20 Components of NBEMS system Bottom Up - Fldigi Provides the basic digital communications for the NBEMS systemSupports keyboard to keyboard communication like many sound card programs.Has special hooks to connect to the other components.Supports many modes of communicationsWe will focus on two, MT63-2K and Olivia 16/500We’ve discussed some of these features in the previous screen reviewFrom the download webpage you have seen some of the different programs you can tie into fldigi – flarq, logging and rig control to name a fewAs you will see in a later foil there are many different operating modes this software can utilize. We are going to focus on the MT63-2K and Olivia 16/500 modes
21 Components of NBEMS system Bottom Up - Flmsg Rapidly and Accurately formats and transmits information.8 FormatsICS FormsHICSMARSIARURadiogramRed CrossGenericBlankThis is the flmsg part of the fldigi suiteIf you saw our presentation a few years ago you can see all of the new forms that have been added to this program – from four to now eight formatsGo through the acronymsWe’ll go deeper into this program in a few foils under configuring flmsgFor this presentation we will focus on the ICS213 form and the ARRL Radiogram form
22 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up a NBEMS systemHow to use NBEMSPractice timeNext we will cover the BASIC settings that will get you on the air with NBEMS.Our goal is to configure the software to send and receive a message using MT63 – 2K using VHF.Let’s get started.
23 Basic Fldigi Set-up Operating Mode MT63 – 2000 Olivia 16/500 If you have a decent FM voice channel start with MTWhen MT fails, switch to Olivia 16/500When Olivia fails, no communications.Let’s get this software setup and start playing with digital communicationsWith a clean install of the newest revision most of the configuration is already taken care of but over the years we have gone through a learning process in getting this software configured properlyLet’s go through the configuration just as a reminder of some of the critical configurations. If you run into some configuration problems down the road this power point presentation will be available on our Scott ARES.org webpage under Member ResourcesThe Op Mode drop down tab is where you will set your operating mode to start your digital communications. This operating mode may change with an incoming signal if they are using a different mode and you have the RxID and TxID buttons turned onWith Scott ARES digital communications we spend most of our time on MT63-2KDave, WB0KGN, uses Olivia most of the time on HF
24 Configuration Options Basic Set-upOperatorWaterfallModemsRig ControlSound CardIDsHere are the different configuration steps we are going to cover
25 Operator Callsign Tactical Callsign Location As determined by the situation.First we need to identify who you areYou can provide as much or as little information as you wantThis is a good area to use a tactical call sign if you are operating under that mode. You could put your name/FCC call sign under the Name block such as Bob/W0NFEThe QTH block could be used for your emergency site location such as EOC or Staging, Etc.Once you change anything in this drop down window be sure to save your settings before exitingAlways SAVE!
26 Waterfall Check the three ‘cursor’ options Check “Always show audio frequencies”The three cursor options should be checked. Bandwidth, Centerline and Signal tracksWe recommend that you check the “Always show audio frequencies.” This will show up just above the waterfall with audio frequencies vs operating frequency numbersI personally have the “Monitor transmitted signal” block checked. That way I see in the receive window what is being transmittedAgain, always save your settings before leaving this windowAlways SAVE!
27 Modems - MT63 Check interleave and tone All stations in the net need to have the top two button the same for this mode to work.These buttons need to be checkedIf both the transmitting station and the receiving station do not have these boxes checked you will not copy the transmitted MT63 signalAgain, always save before leaving this windowAlways SAVE!
28 Sound Card Select the correct audio port for your computer. Volume control on computer, recording controlsSelect Mic optionAdjust for a ‘speckled’ waterfallSpeaker – adjust for transmit signalThis screen and the next screen are probably where you will run into the most difficulty configuring your fldigi software and computer interfaceMaking sure your software, computer and radio are talking to each otherBe sure the Port Audio is checkedOn the Audio/Devices tab, make sure you have the correct Audio Port Playback and Capture programs specifiedUsing the SignaLink USB I need to select “USB Audio Codec.” (The external soundcard must be connected BEFORE fldigi is started.)You need to make sure the audio levels are adjusted to levels that show activity on the waterfall and provide transmit audio to your radioThe process to set these levels will vary determined by your computer OS and interface. (On a Windows OS you might want to check the ‘Sounds and Audio Devices’ folder.)Generally, you want to select a mic input and set the volume of that input to provide a blue speckled waterfall with the squelch open. The transmit audio is generated by the speaker setting. Adjust the volume to transmit an undistorted signal. Less volume is generally better than more.Again, be sure to save your settings before leaving this windowAlways SAVE!
29 Initialize and Save after changing Rig ControlIf using hardwire PTTCheck Use Serial PortSelect COM portConfigure RTS or DTSInitialize to test operationDepending on what soundcard interface you use will determine what buttons you will need to checkIf you are using a hardwire PTT interface, check the Use separate serial port box, select the correct Com Port, and RTS or DTR as required by your particular interfaceUsing the SignaLink USB interface I don’t need to check any of these buttonsIt was just a matter of finding out which Com Port the USB connection was usingHit the Initialize button and then Save before leaving this windowAfter setting up this screen and the previous screen I recommend going to the fldigi screen and confirming that you see something in the waterfall and that when you activate the “T/R” button that your radio actually goes into the transmit mode, i.e., the software and computer are actually talking to your radio and vice versaInitialize and Save after changing
30 IDs Reed-Solomon ID DO NOT select “Reception disables detector” Pre-Signal Tone may vary depending on specific delay time in your equipmentHere is the ID configuration window you will need to checkWe are concerned with the Reed-Solomon ID areas. In the Receive ID section, check the two boxes in the upper section: Detector searches entire passband, and Mark previous frequency and mode. DO NOT check Reception Disables DetectionYou may need to play with the Pre-Signal Tone time depending on the delay time in your equipment. This may include adjusting the VOX delay time on your soundcard interface if it has a built-in VOX circuit and delay time is adjustableAgain, save before leaving this windowAlways SAVE!
31 Text Capture Under configuration , Misc, NBEMS. Make sure “Enable,” “Open Message Folder” and “Open with flmsg” is selected.Verify flmsg file locationThe reason for showing this drop down window is to make certain you have checked the NBEMS data file interface buttons to “Open with flmsg” under Reception of flmsg messagesWe will demonstrate this in a few minutesAnother action item in this window will be to correct the path statement for the flmsg.exe. If you had an older version of fldigi/flmsg installed on your computer this path statement has not been updated with newer installations. You should also make certain you have removed older versions of flmsg on your computer. Upgrading does not remove older versions on your computerAgain, save before leaving this windowAlways SAVE!
32 Flmsg Rapidly and Accurately formats and transmits information. ICS FormsHICSMARSRadiogramRed CrossGenericDnDBlankYou have seen this screen before but we will also need to configure flmsg before proceeding
33 Flmsg set-up Personal Data Date/Time format Files format Radiogram Words per line (5)Serial NumberThese four drop down screens appear under the “Config” tab on flmsgYou will need to select the date and time format you want to use. It is important in an emergency operation to that everyone use the same format for Date, Time and message numberingYou will also need to select how you want your “Saved” files named. Be consistent with the entire emergency teamYou will also need to identify yourself for the ARRL Radiogram form. Again, tactical call sign could be used and as much information you give is up to youYou also have the option of selecting how many words per line to use in the Radiogram form
34 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to set up a NBEMS systemHow to use NBEMSPractice time
35 Fldigi Verify communications with keyboard to keyboard Ctrl-T to TransmitCtrl-R to ReceiveWe have covered this screen earlier but will demonstrate it’s use in the demo portion of this presentationOr Use the T/R button
36 Flmsg Rapidly and Accurately formats and transmits information. ICS FormsHICSMARSRadiogramRed CrossGeneric ( )DnDBlankWe have covered this screen earlier but will demonstrate it’s use in the demo portion of this presentationOlder versions of flmsg showed the different formats and form numbers as tabs and sub tabsWith version of flmsg the different formats and respective form numbers show-up under the Form drop down window
37 ICS 213 FormTimeHere is the ICS213 general communications form. The fields match up with the multi-part paper form you will see in an emergency. Preparing the message is a fill-in-the-blank exercise. The Date and Time blanks may be filled in using the buttons for the current valuesWe will show you an ICS213 message in an upcoming foilDate
38 ARRL Radiogram Calculate Check Today Pick ARRL Message Here is the ARRL Radiogram formYou have a button on this form that will select the precedence for this piece of trafficA button for selecting handling instructions, if usedA button that calculates the check sum for this piece of traffic after you have entered the message belowDate and time buttonsAn ARL abbreviated code selector, if utilizedAgain, we will show you a completed ARRL Radiogram form in an upcoming foil
39 WRAP your message Sending your message is easy as selecting: File Wrap AutoSendThe message immediately moves to FLDIGI and is transmittedOnce you have filled out a form you are ready to send the trafficBefore sending the traffic check your fldigi screen for the correct operating modeWhen ready to send hit File/Wrap/AutosendA screen will pop up to ask you if you want a copy of the message saved before transmittingThese files will be saved in your flmsgsend folder
40 Received TrafficReceived messages are stored within the NBEMS.files folderWRAP files are associated with flmsg for viewingMessages sorted by date/time stamp
41 IC 213 HTML DeliveryYou can ‘VIEW’ a received message in Flmsg in html delivery format. When the page is printed from your browser the form looks like a standard paper IC 213 message or ARRL Radiogram form
43 Agenda Why Digital ECOMS What is NBEMS What NBEMS can and cannot do for youComponents of a NBEMS systemHow to use a NBEMSHow to set up a NBEMS systemPractice time
44 Things to Watch Tx & Rx IDs Op Mode Squelch - off Here are a couple of areas that may trip you up from time to time.Check the upper right corner of the screen. Make sure the RX ID and TX ID are checked. This will utilize the Reed-Solomon IDYou can check the Op Mode in the lower left corner of the screen.The squelch, set in the lower right corner of the screen must be set low enough to see the signal on the waterfall. If you set the squelch at the bottom, you may see some garbage print in the Receive Text area.
45 Sound Card Calibration If you run the Sound Card Calibration program this is the fldigi window where you would plug in the correction factors gathered from the programThe Sound Card Calibration program is available at under Member Resources/NBEMS Resources/SCCheckThe procedure for this test is available as a Power Point presentation at the same location and listed as Sound Card Calibration
46 Additional Information This presentation is available at from the Member Resources page.Questions?