We Made History Today!

Centralia ARES Comm Vans

Today’s Solar Eclipse Special Event Station & QSO Party was a wonderful opportunity to work together as a team and make history today!  Under a cloudless, beautiful blue sky, the team set up our equipment in the Mellen Street Park and Ride, sharing the area with a couple of dedicated eclipse fans from Vancouver, BC with two great telescopes which made the day even more special.  It took just over 45 minutes to set up the communication vans, antennas and generator but we were ready for the first radio contact just before 8 am.

The team came prepared with Eclipse Cookies, Moon Pies, Solar Shots (coffee) and Mars Water.  Nothing but the best for this crew.  After all, it was a “special event”.  We managed to give away all but one of our solar eclipse viewing glasses and even passed out some goodies donated by the police department.

John, AD6KT, working the BawFaw Repeater

Attendance grew through the day topping out at 31 team members and visitors on site.  The team managed a total of 97 radio contacts by the time we closed the event at 1 pm:  five HF contacts, 30 contacts on the K7CEM repeater and 62 on the BawFaw repeater.  We’ll be working during the next week to fill out our two different, one of a kind, special event QSL cards.

Everyone took time to enjoy the solar eclipse – 94% of totality locally – and grab a few team photos.  This crew of dedicated amateur radio professionals can be proud of their work.

After all, We Made History Today!

Working in style wearing our Solar Eclipse Glasses

Great Solar Eclipse of 2017 QSO Party!

It’s Only A Week Away!

Centralia Amateur Radio Emergency Services will take part in the  Solar Eclipse QSO Party, as listed in the August QST magazine – with a few twists of our own.  Here in beautiful, historic Centralia we will see only a partial eclipse – about 95% total eclipse – but that is reason enough to have some fun.

The eclipse begins locally at 9:07 am on Monday, August 21st and is at maximum totality at 10:19 am finally ending at 11:38 am. The ARES team plans to set up our communications van, Comm II, in the park & ride across from the Mellen Street Training Center.  On the air operations begin at 8 am and will continue to 1 pm.  But it’s not just the HF frequencies!  We’ll also be on the air taking VHF contacts during the same span of time, using the BawFaw and K7CEM Repeaters.

We’ve got some fun surprises in store, after all, it is a party!  Come and work the QSO party with us in Comm II and you will receive a full color “Solar Eclipse 2017” certificate.  If you can’t join us on site, check in with us on the HF bands or on the VHF K7CEM Repeater and receive a one-of-a-kind special event QSL card.  Contact us on both the K7CEM AND the BawFaw repeater and receive two different, one of a kind QSL cards!

We’ll also have some special “Lunar Cookies” and Moon Pies on hand, some “Solar Shots (coffee)” to keep you awake and even a few special surprises.  You certainly don’t want to miss this party.  Join us – come on, it’s a Monday for crying out loud.  You wanted an excuse to take the day off anyway.  How often do you get to sneak away on a Monday, play amateur radio AND see a solar eclipse.  If you can’t take the day off, at least take your HT to work and give us a shout!  You will certainly want those amazing once in a lifetime QSL cards.  No one else has’em so get on the air and get’em!

Let’s make history together!

Centralia ARES Communications Vehicles

All Three Communications Vehicles

The large Command Van, designated “Comm I” by the Amateur Radio Emergency Services team, is primarily used by police and fire as an on scene command vehicle when staff need a place out of the rain to conduct business.  It includes four independent seating areas with computer plug ins and law/fire radios.  One VHF amateur radio is located in the first seat by the printer.  This vehicle was a former tool truck converted with a drug seizure grant.

Communications Van “Comm I”
“Comm II” shown here with it tow behind trailer “Comm III”

The blue communications vehicle, designated “Comm II” is assigned to the Amateur Radio Emergency Services team.  It was a military flight line

equipment truck in a former life until ownership changed to the City of Centralia.  ARES volunteers spent their own money and time to convert the vehicle for emergency communications use.  Currently, it has more communications capability than any other vehicle in Lewis County.  Designed with three operating positions (plus two in the cab if needed), it carries VHF, UHF, HF, digital, Fire / Law radio systems and a CB radio.  Comm II is used as a primary command and control vehicle for the ARES team and could function, if necessary, as a mobile Emergency Operations Center (EOC) capable of establishing a communications link with the Washington State ECO at Camp Murray.

Comm III’s radio equipment box

The small communications trailer, designed “Comm III” was constructed by the ARES team.  A stand alone communications vehicle in its own right, this trailer has a full array of comms gear which includes UHF, VHF, HF and Law/fire radios.  Powered by shore power, battery, generator or solar systems, it was designed to provide emergency communications at a shelter or disaster scene.  A 10′ x 10′ tent provides shelter when necessary.  The vehicles communication box also contains a removable VHF/UHF radio system that can be taken into a shelter to establish a communications link with the Centralia Emergency Operations Center or the Riverside Fire Authority Emergency Coordination Center (ECC).

The City of Centralia, though small by many city standards, has experienced just about every disaster short of a full blown Tornado.  During floods and after a large earthquake, the community may become four independent response areas as damaged bridges or demolished overpasses block normal transportation routes.  The three communications vehicles shown here, then become vital as independent “command and control” centers in isolated districts.