Austin Amateur
Radio Club

TCARES Overview


The Travis County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (TCARES) provides emergency communications to several served agencies with the motto "When All Else Fails". Monthly meetings are held the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm at the Applied Research Lab, 10000 Burnet Road. Weekly Nets are each Sunday evening at 7:00 pm on the 147.36 repeater (tone 131.8). Activities include training, certifications, exercises, and events, in addition to responses to communication incidents. Visit our website http://tcares.org/ for more information

Our served agencies include:

  • ARCHES (Amateur Radio Communication Hospitals Emergency System) provides back-up voice and packet communications between 15 area hospitals and the Emergency Operations Center
  • ADRN (Austin Disaster Recovery Network) - supplements ham radio operations to needs assessment and disaster recovery efforts
  • EOC (Combined City of Austin and Travis County Emergency Operations Center) ARES equips and mans a radio room connected to the EOC that commands all emergencies in the city and county
  • Infrastructure Awareness gathers information on the functionality of basic infrastructure and provides that information through MARS to the Department of Defense and Homeland Security in the event of terrorist or cyberattack
  • Natural Disasters can make communications infrastructure inoperable, non-functional or overloaded. ARES provides back-up communications locally, in adjacent counties or regionally with the Austin Rapid Response Team
  • National Weather Service - Weather nets are activated any time a severe weather warning is issued for Travis County. Weather reports according to SkyWarn guidelines are reported through the WX net to the NWS, all area EOCs, and all Austin TV stations through a controlled chat room.
  • Red Cross in addition to providing back-up communications as needed, ARES maintains the antennas at the Central Texas Red Cross Center on Pershing Drive
  • VOAD/CERT communications are provided to member agencies as required

If you are interested in supporting one or more of these served agencies, please join us on our weekly nets or monthly meetings.


TCARES Training Net

Sunday Night Net is held @ 19:00 local time on the 147.36 MHz (+) repeater (131.8 Hz tone), or backup frequencies if required.

Travis County ARES (TCARES) holds two training nets each Sunday evening. The first net is a voice net and proper radio techniques are practiced. Important information is also shared regarding upcoming events. The backup repeater is 146.94 MHz (-) with a tone of 107.2 Hz. If needed, the simplex frequency of 146.58 MHz will be used. The second scheduled net is a packet net and is used to test our skills and equipment using 1200-baud Packet to support WinLink/Airmail operations. The Packet Net has been discontinued in favor of TCARES WinLink Wednesday. This provides a regular opportunity to test our hardware and software configurations, and to practice our skills in using the WinLink radio email system.

In an emergency, tune to the Resource and Information Net on the 147.36 MHz repeater.  During a weather event, tune to the SkyWarn and Information Net on the 146.94 MHz repeater.

The table below is the schedule for Net Control operators:

Week #
(day of month)
Odd Months:
Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep, Nov
Even Months:
Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec 
1st (1-7)  K5MSK  KF5JLK
2nd (8-14) K5EJL N5HPC (temporary)
3rd (15-21) KF5YTZ WB5WTF
4th (22-28) N5DFW N0GSZ
5th (29-31) AC5KW KE5DTP

TCARES has several training videos available on YouTube. Visit https://www.youtube.com/user/TravisCountyARES

Travis County ARES WinLink Wednesday

WinLink Wednesday provides a regular opportunity to test our hardware and software configurations, and to practice our skills in using the WinLink radio email system (https://www.winlink.org/). Announcements and reminders go out to past participants via WinLink and via the TCARES website (http://tcares.org/tcares/index.php).

Any TCARES licensed amateur capable of sending and receiving WinLink radio email via VHF or HF is welcome to participate.

WinLink training topics will be included in the acknowledgements that I send. These will include important features and characteristics of the WinLink system (scripts, P2P, creating templates, message precedence, white lists, compressing files). Also included will be tips, shortcuts, definitions, links to other system and training information, etc.

The preferred method is to use any VHF or HF RMS gateway to send your check-in through your radio. Initially, if your setup is not capable of digital transmission, you may use TelNet. But within a few weeks you will be expected to transmit through a Gateway as this is the real value of WinLink.

W3MRC-10 on 145.730 MHz is a public RMS Gateway available 24/7/365 for legitimate amateur radio use. Coverage is quite good around Travis County. You can use the W3MRC-10 gateway, another VHF or UHF gateway, or an HF gateway to participate in WinLink Wednesdays. The WinLink Web site, https://www.winlink.org/RMSChannels , has maps and lists of all the gateways available for use. Also check the Texas RMS Packet Station Uptimes, http://n5tw.ecpi.com/rmsstatus/, for current status of central Texas gateways, nodes, digipeaters, etc.

All TCARES are encouraged to participate and add WinLink, an important part of our ARES® response capability, to your amateur radio toolkit. It’s easy to do, and if you are already set up for digital modes you have all the hardware you need. If not, find a buddy to help you set up your system.

To join this activity, follow the check-in procedure below.

Check-in Procedure

Check-in anytime between Sunday 2359 and Wednesday 2359. W5RZG will send a reply containing a training message by 2359 Thursday. Check for incoming messages from me anytime after that. All check-ins will be acknowledged, and a complete list of check-ins will be sent via WinLink to all participants. The check-in count will also be announced on the TCARES Sunday Net. Try to read the training message before the next check-in.

Please remember to use the correct format for check-in, as shown below (check-in message on a SINGLE LINE:

To: W5RZG
Subject: //WL2K TCARES WinLink Net Check-In
Message body: call sign, first name, city or town, Gateway used (W3MRC-10, N5TW, etc), Session type (Packet, Pactor, Winmor, etc)

Example message:
W5RZG, John, Austin, W3MRC-10, Packet


Presentations

2019-05-28 -- GO KIT by KF5MIB (Peter) - PDF version -or- Original PPT version

2018-09-23 -- Backup Generators, by KG5DLD (Kerby)

2018-08-28 -- Army Futures Command Activation (PDF format), by KG5DLD (Kerby)


Copyright © 2019. Austin Amateur Radio Club.
Austin Amateur Radio Club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit (community service oriented) organization. PO Box 4739, Austin TX 78765.

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