Upcoming SET (Simulated Emergency Test) could provide you with a valuable communications monitoring training exercise!

Imagine a disaster situation where you and your family may be prepared, but your neighbors are not.  You want to try to help those that you can, but that could deplete your own family’s supplies.  What if you could monitor your local ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) volunteer ham operators radio traffic to learn where food and water will be distributed?  Or where shelter locations were being set up?  That information could help your neighbors as well as your own family.

What if there were a situation when your local government began coordinating planned evacuations of communities, road closures, or identifying safe routes, using local or regional ham radio volunteers to help with the communications?  Could that information help you make better informed decisions?  Could that information help the situational awareness of others in the AmRRON network, your local community leaders, and your fellow citizens?

YES!  But you need to train and practice.

This coming weekend (October 11th and 12th, 2014), volunteer ARES  radio operators from multiple counties and multiple states (Including Idaho, Washington, and possibly Oregon) will be conducting a SET communications exercise from noon (Saturday) to noon (Sunday).  They are not saying what the ’emergency’ or ‘disaster’ will be.  You’ll have to determine that from listening to the nets.  This will be a great chance for you to practice monitoring for communications on both long-range HF (long-range) and VHF (short-range).

HF (shortwave radio with SSB, for our SW radio users) – may be able to receive both voice and digital communications several hundreds of miles away from the transmitting stations.

VHF can be received using scanners, wideband receivers, and VHF ham transceivers.

YOUR MISSION (If you choose to accept it), is to monitor the frequencies and take good notes to determine:

– Who is transmitting?

– Who are they talking to?

– Where are they located?

– What are they talking about?

– What frequency or band did you hear it on?

– What was the time/date of the transmission?

Document everything (WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN, WHY, HOW – HOW MANY?)

 The following frequencies will be used for this exercise:

Communications Plan
Frequency Band Mode OFFSET/PL    
147.080 VHF +/100 KC7ODP Kootenai County
147.240 VHF +/127.3 Moscow-Spokane link
146.550 VHF Simplex Latah / Whitman Splx
3929 80m Voice NA
7229 40m Voice NA
3578.5 80m PSK31 USB     500 on WF (Initially)
7073.5 40m PSK31 USB     500 on WF (Initially)
3529 80m CW
7029 40m CW

The objective for the ARES operators will be to check in to their nets each hour:

On the hour:  Voice

20 minutes after the hour:  Digital (PSK31)

40 minutes after the hour:  CW (Morse Code)


Additional state emergency frequencies that may be used, and designated for disaster services, but are not specifically mentioned for this exercise are:

These are state emergency HF freqs to monitor.  They are used also for state interoperability.

3.2024      2.3274      2.8134      5.1364      7.4784



What if the United States was invaded by a foreign military?

What if terrorists or large organized violent criminal groups began carrying out operations in a post-collapse situation, using wireless communications to coordinate their efforts?  You may need to conduct SIGINT (Signals Intelligence) Intercept and Collection operations to aid in the effort to resist such a force.  This is a great training exercise to practice those skills.


Below are some downloadable PDF forms to help you log radio traffic, make notes, develop reports, and conduct SPOT reports to help in the intelligence process.  You can do this either as a team of individuals working together at one location, or as an individual SIGINT ICR (Intercept, Collect, Report) station.  Print hard copies for your communications binder.  It’s also a good idea to begin building a SIGINT binder dedicated to this aspect of your communications plan.

SPOT REPORT (To aid in the documentation and recording of observed activity)  May be any threat group — foreign military, rogue gang activity, terrorist organization activity, etc.

SIGINT INTERCEPT REPORT (To help document intercepted communications, messages, etc.)

SIGINT INTERCEPT TRAFFIC LOG (To keep a log of traffic and message details

SITREP (Situation Report) (To pass along brief reports about a developing situation, and the dangers it may pose to you, your community, or to the region)

*When filling out the SITREP, you may ‘Save As’ and print it, e-mail it, or pre-print blank copies to fill out by hand


Remember, this is a training exercise!  We absolutely do not view ARES radio operators as the ‘enemy’ to be spied upon.  ARES volunteers are our fellow citizens and members of our communities.  We are merely using this SET exercise as a training opportunity for monitoring radio traffic.
If you are not in the American Redoubt region, no problem!  October is a very busy month for ARES and other EMCOMM (Emergency Communications) exercises.  A quick internet search should help you identify training exercises in your region, or maybe right in your own community.


Now, go train!