Three Section RFI Teams attend Training/Receive Equipment

On January 21, the RFI teams from EMA, WMA and RI attended the 1st New England Division RFI training session, held at New England Sci Tech.  The teams received information about some general team-related matters as well as information about the equipment features and techniques for its use.  Nancy, KC1NEK, from the RI team has posted some photos at: https://photos.app.goo.gl/Cy3nTJsdvka7YEwM7.  These three teams now have the equipment funded by the ARDC grant in their possession to use for helping hams with their RFI problems.  Hams needing that assistance should start with the rfi troubleshooting guide.

The guide and decision tree will direct you to the RFI team page when you use the tree to guide your investigation and find you need further help.  You then will see who your team members are and have the opportunity to answer a few questions so they can help you.

Your information will become part of a record that will be used to identify likely RFI sources for future cases.  Even if you find the RFI source yourself, let the team know what you found so that your information can be added to the record keeping.

Even before they received the new equipment, the teams have already been helping hams in the Division find and eliminate RFI and this new equipment will greatly enhance the teams’ capabilities.

The next training session is scheduled for Saturday, February 25, at ARRL Headquarters in Newington, CT.  This session is open to the CT team members and members of the ME, VT, NH teams on request and by invitation.

The last session currently scheduled is Saturday, April 29, at Nearfest in Deerfield, NH.

New England Mesh Network Continues to Grow

WZ0Z in MA and N2MH’s “Supernode” in NJ have added tunnels into the New England mesh system, bringing the number of states linked to 5; these include nodes in ME, NH, CT, MA and now NJ.  Recent ARDC and ARRL grants in ME and RI offer the potential for further expansion and the recent partnerships between the NH mesh and NEDECN nodes raises the possibility of seeing more such partnerships throughout New England.  These connections represent a first step towards linking New England with a system that can survive a commercial internet outage, whether due to natural disaster or cyber-attack.  The nodes, mostly on the 2.4 and 5.8 GHz bands, utilize frequencies under threat from commercial interests and represent an enhanced facility for emergency communications including email, chat, iphone, mapping, remote camera operation and monitoring and many other apps found on the internet and familiar to ARES served agencies.  

If you operate a mesh network in New England and would like to tunnel into the existing mesh system, please contact Rob Leiden, k1ui, Assistant NE Division ARRL Director, Spectrum Protection and Use at k1ui@nediv.arrl.org.

ME, VT and RI Looking for more RFI Team Members

As the RFI Teams prepare to be trained and receive the equipment purchased with the $23.6K ARDC grant, additional team members are sought in ME, VT and RI.  Training and distribution of equipment will occur in early 2023.  This is an opportunity to help your friends and your club and learn something new with some very sophisticated equipment.  You can see who has already volunteered on the New England RFI Team page.  If you’d like to see your name and callsign on the team page, please contact your section team lead listed on the page.  RFI is a major concern for all hams and the knowledge you receive will help you and help others.  For more information, please email me at k1ui@nediv.arrl.org.

NE Division RFI Team Equipment Orders Placed

The RFI team equipment is on order and delivery will begin this month.  When available, the equipment will be used to finalize training materials.  Following that, meetings with each team will be performed to train on and distribute the equipment.  New England Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection and Use, Rob Leiden, k1ui, will be contacting the team leads to establish meeting venues and dates.  Ordering of the two pieces of Division equipment is still in progress but will not directly affect the team equipment distribution.  With the arrival of this equipment, the RFI Team project now can leverage the web page process hams can use for hunting RFI by enlisting team support with more capable, standardized equipment.

ARDC Press Release for NE Division RFI Grant

Amateur Radio Digital Communications logoThe Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) has issued a press release to acknowledge the $23.6K grant it awarded to the New England Division to equip its RFI teams. In part, the press release states:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ARRL New England Division to Combat RFI

An ARDC grant will provide teams in each of the ARRL’s New England sections with the equipment they need to find and eliminate radio frequency interference.

November 11, 2022—Radio frequency interference (RFI) has become an issue for many radio amateurs in the past decade. Solar energy systems, LEDs, switching power supplies, dimmers, variable-speed motor controllers and other non-linear devices have all raised the noise floor. This impacts radio amateurs across the board, including those participating in emergency communications, traffic handling, and those talking with friends on the air. In some cases, it makes communicating via amateur radio all but impossible.

To combat this problem, the ARRL New England Division has created teams to help radio amateurs find sources of RFI and eliminate or reduce the interference. These teams are also able to provide additional assistance when required, such as working with utility companies, the ARRL, or even the FCC.

A $23,640 ARDC grant will allow the New England Division to purchase RFI equipment for each of the seven sections in the division. Each kit will have the following equipment:

● Icom IC-705 transceiver, outfitted with a backpack and spare battery, for RFI detection and spectrum capture.
● DX Engineering NOISELOOP receiving antenna and a DXE-NL-PRE-ATT-1 preamplifier- attenuator to detect sources of high-frequency RFI.
● Elk Antennas 2M/440L5 Dual-Band Antenna for locating RFI sources in the VHF and UHF portions of the spectrum.

In addition, the division will be purchasing a Radar Engineering RE-243 Broadband RFI Locator for detecting power-line noise and a Radar Engineering RE-245 Circuit Sniffer for detecting indoor noise sources. This equipment will be dispatched to the sections when needed.

The funds will also help the division with on-site training for all seven New England section teams. Rob Leiden, K1UI, Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection & Utilization, notes, “This grant will really help our dedicated teams combat RFI throughout the New England Division.”

MVARA Intro to Mesh Training Session

Jay Taft, K1EHZ, writes:

The Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association invites you to a presentation about the basics of mesh networking on Wednesday, November 16th at 7:00pm. Below is the information to join the meeting.
 
 
We will cover topics from planning a network link with a propagation model to installing a link between DMR sites on Crotched Mt and South Uncanoonuc Mt in southern New Hampshire.
 
Bandwidth permitting we’ll do as much live online as we can.  A pdf of presentation material can be found on the MVARA web site here:
 
 
Feel free to distribute this invitation.  The session will be recorded for later viewing.
 
73,
— Jay Taft K1EHZ
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The MVARA-NEDECN Connection – A Model Partnership

Jay Taft, K1EHZ and the Merrimack Valley ARA and Bill Barber, NE1B, representing NEDECN have partnered up to connect several DMR repeaters in southern NH with 5.8 GHz mesh networks.  This approach makes the internet connections between the repeaters more robust and provides the potential for remote monitoring of the sites, both using cameras and spectrum sampling.  The high elevation sites also provide better unobstructed distances between mesh nodes making it possible to deploy more efficient networks using fewer nodes to achieve long distances.  One useful feature of the network is the mapping of the various network nodes in layers that improves visualization and planning activities.  Use of various symbol types for different services and color coding of node speeds and link types provides a compact but also complete view of the network. Watch for future posts that discuss various other mesh network capabilities as the New England Division witnesses expansion of connected emergency networks using recently approved and future grants.  Progress is discussed at the nemesh@groups.io bi-monthly Zoom meetings, next held on Thursday, November 3 at 7 PM.  Membership in the group is open to all interested hams.

Merrimack Valley ARA (MVARA) Achieves 501.c.3 Status and ARRL Affiliation

Merrimack Valley ARA logoThe Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA) had its first meeting this evening having achieved several milestones in its effort to build on recent successes in providing mesh network back-up for NEDECN DMR repeaters.  The club plans to expand its network of interconnected hospitals and repeater sites and it is now positioned to apply for grant funding.  In addition, the club’s ARRL affiliation makes it possible to obtain ARRL support, available to all affiliated clubs.

With the focus on mesh expansion in New Hampshire and grant funding recently secured in Maine and Rhode Island, the expansion of interconnected amateur communications networks throughout New England is making visible progress.

The MVARA Officers and Directors are:

President – Jay Taft K1EHZ

Vice President – John Yurcak K9AEN

Secretary – Steve Nelson WA1EYF

Membership Secretary – Paul Blais KC1KMM

Treasurer – Ken Geddes N1KWG

Directors

Bill Barber NE1B

Steve Davidson NA1T

Jack Duffy NF1L

Ed Leduc KA1IJN

If you or your club wants to start a mesh network in New England, contact Rob, K1UI at k1ui@nediv.arrl.org, and he’ll put you in touch with those folks who can help.

RFI Teams in New England Continue to Grow

The Eastern MA Section has three new RFI team members, Ed K1EP, Stan, KD1LE and Mark, KA1INE.  This brings the total number of team members in EMA to seven and to a total of 29 in the New England Division.  Team information is found at New England Division RFI Teams by ARRL Section – ARRL New England Division. All deserve recognition for stepping up to support their fellow radio amateurs and several cases are already in progress.  Negotiations for the team equipment have been completed and orders will be placed on receipt of approved ARDC grant funds, expected in the next few days.  Distribution and equipment training is planned for the next several months.  Any questions about the RFI Team project should be sent to Assistant Director for Spectrum Protection and Use, Rob Leiden, K1UI, at k1ui@arrl.net.

NEDECN and MVARA Mesh Network Link Up in NH

Jay, K1EHZ and Bill, NE1B, report NEDECN (New England Digital Emergency Communications Network)  has signed a collaboration agreement with the Merrimack Valley Amateur Radio Association (MVARA).

Under this agreement NEDECN provides space on its towers, where feasible, for MVARA microwave mesh network equipment. 
 
MVARA has operated a microwave network in Manchester (NH) for 3 years.
It connects Elliot Hospital, Catholic Medical Center, Manchester EOC and
Manchester Radio Group. As an IP-based network, it can carry most services
the internet provides.

An MVARA 5GHz link between Crotched Mt and Mt Uncanoonuc is now passing DMR traffic from the Crotched Mt repeater to the Mt Uncanoonuc repeater site. Traffic is then routed to the internet via an NEDECN 5GHz link between Mt Uncanoonuc and Bow, NH that has been in place since 2016.
 
First suggested by Steve Berry, N1EZ, following a New England Division Town Hall, this cooperation between NEDECN and ARES Mesh systems offers digital repeater operators backup internet linking and the capability for remote monitoring of the sites and ARES Mesh networks with high sites for further expansion.
 
This achievment represents a significant accomplishment towards the goal of creating a New England-wide emergency communications system that includes  commercial system-independent linking.
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