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Wisconsin ARES/RACES                         SHEBOYGAN COUNTY ARES/RACES

What is Sheboygan County ARES/RACES?

It is an organization of amateur "ham radio" operators who provide communications for the community. We are officially recognized for this purpose along with being part of the state-wide organization for the state of Wisconsin and nationally for the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL). The communications provided consist of "public service" for private and those along with other events for governmental organizations. Another form of communication is done through weather reporting called SKYWARN. Lastly, the organization is there provide emergency communications of any magnitude in the time of need.

The acronyms "ARES/RACES" stand for Amateur Radio/Radio Amateur Emergency Services. It may have the same wording reversed, but are utilized differently. However, for 99% of the time and the range of activities would follow under Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES). If a particular purpose or members that would perform activities that are "governmental" in nature, this would involve Radio Amateur Emergency Services (RACES).

History of Sheboygan County ARES/RACES

Sheboygan County ARES/RACES existed under the local amateur radio group, Sheboygan County Amateur Radio Club. The overall sense, specific role within Amateur Radio among other reasons caused it created an organization for itself. To my recollection, this surfaced sometime in the late '90s. For most of its history, it provided nets and meeting for training/communication purposes for the reason to participate in several public service events. The group involved itself in weather reporting activities (SKYWARN) and passed traffic to the NWS Milwaukee (Sullivan). The role public service events diminished significantly, but agreements were made with hospitals in the city for mutual aid. A few months afterwards, current membership left the organization. The current leadership did nothing to keep the organization alive and it remained abandoned. The local club did not try to bring it back either and assumed a very minimal role for public service.

Introduction/Background of the Emergency Coordinator:

I have recently volunteered myself to become the Emergency Coordinator for Sheboygan County. My name is Josh Housey, AB9FT. Let's me provide some background on myself: I was licensed as an amateur radio operator at the age 16 in 1995. My current Extra class license has been held for just the past few years.

My first introduction to ham radio was a local Field Day operation that my father, N9YLS, brought me to see and participate in. A "Field Day" is always the last week of June where amateur radio operators go to other locations to operate portable for purpose of testing and test their equipment. Some also use it as a social event to operate, or to experiment/demonstrate the hobby. Otherwise, there is another purpose for stations to operate as a "contest" which the goal is to make the most contacts and/or accumulate the most points.

I wasn't hooked on the "contesting" part but essentially the ability to communicate over the radio to other stations. I never was involved in CB (my dad was) but listened to shortwave and was fascinated by it. Additionally, I need a hobby to accommodate my learning and use of computers. The two merged when I learned and got involved in packet radio. Essentially, this was one of the first and active digital forms of communication in ham radio. It was the ability for hams to chat back and forth with someone over the radio using a computer and modem. Hams also had the ability to send messages back and forth on mailboxes configured in their modems and/or to distant stations through BBS (bulletin board systems). I was extremely active and did just about everything possible with the mode of operation for many years. Some of it is dabbled with to this day but capabilities are rather limited with what can be done with the mode. I was also introduced to and began to explore a venue of amateur radio called ARES/RACES with intent to utilize packet/digital radio communications in some form at that time.

That was never utilized extensively with the local club or ARES/RACES. I've been a member of the county ARES/RACES group for many years by participating in my local nets gaining valuable skills. Additionally, I've had the opportunity to participate in many events and did several consistently throughout the years.

Unfortunately, the ARES/RACES group folded and I possessed no interest with the activities of the local club, so, I pursued Amateur Radio on my own. I focused more on learning and utilizing "all" aspects of digital communications such as the multitude of HF digital modes/operations and digital voice "and" data capabilities, primarily, D-STAR.  This is essentially a pure "digital" transmission mode on several amateur radio frequency bands. It provides a voice/data on two of the bands and there is a high-speed (128kps) data operation on the 23cm band.

My intent is to utilize D-STAR, and other digital modes as much as possible for daily use, training purposes, and operate with it as much as possible by events that are undertaken by this organization. This will also mean exploration and utilization of HSMM, or the Broadband HAMnet, "mesh" networks or any of the other modes utilizing even higher speed on frequencies above 23cm. Also, there is the ability to keep update to date, experiment, utilize and share these and other modes of operation to amateur radio operators as well. Does this mean there isn't any intent to use SSB, FM, or any other modes? No, it just simply has a different role in the communications plan with this organization. For instance, usage of FM/SSB simplex on VHF/UHF will be valuable resource for specific purposes or deemed necessary.

Interested in Sheboygan County ARES/RACES?

Do you share the above goal with keeping update to date and utilize new technologies along with the ability to provide communication services to the community? I would be interested in hearing from you! You can simply contact me by e-mail to join using either at josh@shebcoares.org or ab9ft at arrl dot net. I will assist you to get enrolled. It is open to anyone at any age but there are small requirements. First, it requires an Amateur Radio Technician or above FCC license. I can provide assistance to get study material and location to complete the Technician amateur radio exam. Second, it requires some ICS (incident command structure) courses. These are not mandatory at the present time but will required. Also, I can provide information necessary to complete these to become officially certified for ARES/RACES.