It is with great sadness that I report that District 6 EC Steve Jones, WA6GFD, was found dead in his home on Friday, 1 May 2015. He was a dedicated ARES volunteer, a good man, and a good friend. He will most assuredly be missed.

I will add details concerning any memorial funds once that information is available.


Iowa Section Frequency Coordination Redux


By request, have changed Jones to 147.555.


I found the problem…neglected a necessary input parameter. The list below should address all comments so far.

Good thing I’m hard to embarrass.




Folks, I’ve managed to come up with a stable solution. I reworked the code and the setup slightly based on Joe’s comment on the previous effort. (Joe, my apologies for taking so long to get that comment approved. There was a TON of comments, and yours was the only one that wasn’t spam of some sort…it got lost in the queue.) Joe’s point was that there are counties in our neighboring sections that might conflict with what we’re doing.

As it happens, that is not a problem — no conflicts with the first run! But it’s a good point. If this becomes an issue in your county, let me know.

At any rate, here is what I did for the second run:

  • Adjusted the algorithm to balance the assignments across available frequencies. This gives us a larger spread and better use of the frequency space.
  • I accidentally lied on the previous bullet…I was not able to force it to balance, but I was able to randomize the list of available frequencies in a way that it works out that way almost all of the time. Sometimes, you just have to kluge it into submission….
  • I reserved four frequencies to use for District-wide mutual aid. We had the room, and it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.
  • I was able to load up counties with more than one frequency planned by altering the map, as discussed previously. I worked out that doing so makes Iowa even less two-dimensional than altering District 6 did, so if I do this a lot, I’m likely to break something at some point.
  • I had to run it three times to ensure I didn’t hit my “forbidden frequencies” for Linn County. Our DSTAR machine lives on two of them (because local AM station WMT is on 600 kHz, and it just KILLS single-site repeaters unless we have non-standard offsets), there’s a packet cluster on one, and another is just too popular to be useful for ARES. I have yet to work out how to enforce that in the code. At any rate, if your assignment conflicts with some local usage, please let me know. It’s fixable.

If I can have a drum roll, here are the results. Let me know if you have questions, or post them here:
{‘ADAIR’: 146.46,
‘ADAMS’: 147.54,
‘ALLAMAKEE’: 147.435,
‘APPANOOSE’: 146.43,
‘AUDUBON’: 147.555,
‘BENTON’: 146.4,
‘BLACKHAWK’: 147.45,
‘BOONE’: 146.55,
‘BREMER’: 147.555,
‘BUCHANAN’: 146.58,
‘BUENAVISTA’: 147.435,
‘BUTLER’: 146.475,
‘CALHOUN’: 147.57,
‘CARROLL’: 147.54,
‘CASS’: 147.48,
‘CEDAR’: 147.45,
‘CERROGORDO’: 147.57,
‘CHEROKEE’: 146.49,
‘CHICKASAW’: 147.57,
‘CLARKE’: 147.54,
‘CLAY’: 146.475,
‘CLAYTON’: 146.55,
‘CLINTON’: 146.46,
‘CRAWFORD’: 146.475,
‘DALLAS’: 147.48,
‘DAVIS’: 146.535,
‘DECATUR’: 146.49,
‘DELAWARE’: 147.465,
‘DESMOINES’: 147.435,
‘DICKINSON’: 146.46,
‘DUBUQUE’: 146.475,
‘EMMET’: 147.555,
‘FAYETTE’: 147.51,
‘FLOYD’: 146.49,
‘FRANKLIN’: 146.565,
‘FREMONT’: 147.465,
‘GREENE’: 147.525,
‘GRUNDY’: 147.48,
‘GUTHRIE’: 146.445,
‘HAMILTON’: 147.51,
‘HANCOCK’: 146.58,
‘HARDIN’: 147.45,
‘HARRISON’: 147.435,
‘HENRY’: 146.55,
‘HOWARD’: 146.565,
‘HUMBOLDT’: 147.525,
‘IDA’: 146.445,
‘IOWA’: 147.525,
‘JACKSON’: 146.43,
‘JASPER’: 147.555,
‘JEFFERSON’: 146.535,
‘JOHNSON’: 147.495,
‘JONES’: 147.555,
‘KEOKUK’: 147.54,
‘KOSSUTH’: 146.415,
‘LEE’: 147.54,
‘LINN’: 146.505,
‘LINN2’: 147.48,
‘LOUISA’: 147.45,
‘LUCAS’: 146.445,
‘LYON’: 147.48,
‘MADISON’: 147.495,
‘MAHASKA’: 146.415,
‘MARION’: 147.51,
‘MARSHALL’: 146.505,
‘MILLS’: 147.435,
‘MITCHELL’: 147.51,
‘MONONA’: 146.565,
‘MONROE’: 147.45,
‘MONTGOMERY’: 147.525,
‘MUSCATINE’: 147.51,
‘OBRIEN’: 147.57,
‘OSCEOLA’: 147.51,
‘PAGE’: 146.46,
‘PALOALTO’: 146.535,
‘PLYMOUTH’: 146.415,
‘POCAHONTAS’: 146.49,
‘POLK’: 146.49,
‘POLK2’: 146.43,
‘POLK3’: 147.42,
‘POLK4’: 146.46,
‘POWESHIEK’: 146.46,
‘RINGGOLD’: 146.46,
‘SAC’: 147.555,
‘SCOTT’: 146.475,
‘SHELBY’: 146.565,
‘SIOUX’: 147.555,
‘STORY’: 146.43,
‘TAMA’: 146.58,
‘TAYLOR’: 147.48,
‘UNION’: 147.435,
‘VANBUREN’: 146.49,
‘WAPELLO’: 147.555,
‘WARREN’: 146.565,
‘WASHINGTON’: 146.415,
‘WAYNE’: 146.505,
‘WEBSTER’: 147.435,
‘WINNEBAGO’: 147.51,
‘WINNESHIEK’: 146.46,
‘WOODBURY’: 146.535,
‘WORTH’: 146.415,
‘WRIGHT’: 146.475}


Frequency Coordination Update

The first round of frequency coordination is complete! There’s still a bit of work to do, but things look very promising.

Here’s what’s happened:

  • I modified the code to pre-assign a frequency to counties that already have one planned (so that nobody needs to change). These counties are Benton, Boone, Bremer, Buchanan, Linn, Polk, and Story.
  • I know for a fact that Linn and Polk have multiple frequencies planned. I don’t know how to do that in the code yet, so for this run, I have only one for each county.
  • I set up the system to use ALL frequencies in the 146 and 147 MHz simplex segments, 15 kHz spacing, so there is a total of 26 from which to choose. I know Clint suggested a 30 kHz spacing, but due to the first bullet, that wasn’t feasible. I will have to nudge the assignments a little to bias to the bigger spacing, but things are not guaranteed.
  • I then ran the code, and it was able to coordinate all counties using only 13 frequencies. This leaves room for multiple frequency assignments.
  • Someone has suggested reserving a frequency for “mutual aid” in each district. This seems like a good idea given the results, so I’ll look into that as well.

So my to-do list for the weekend includes finding a way to handle multiple frequencies in a county and trying to fit spacing requirements a bit better.

Comments are welcome, and I’ve opened them up on this post. You should be able to comment without creating an account here, but to minimize spam, I’m going to have the comments moderated, so there may be a delay.


Scott, N0GUD

Polk County ARES received Governor’s Volunteer Award

From the ARRL Iowa Section:


Polk County amateur radio operators — commonly
known as “hams” — were presented with the Iowa Governor’s Volunteer
Award by Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds today in a ceremony at Southeast
Polk High School. As part of the amateur radio hobby, operators give
back to their community by providing communications support to these
events and agencies at no cost as part of the Polk County Amateur Radio
Emergency Service (ARES). Amateur radio operators purchase, build, and
maintain equipment and infrastructure on their own to support the
mission of Polk County ARES in addition to receiving professional
training and participating in exercises on their own time as unpaid

Polk County ARES was nominated for the award by Polk County Emergency
Management Agency. The two organizations have a long-standing
relationship, working together to train and prepare to assist in the
event of a disaster of if main communications systems fail, such as
public safety two-way radio systems, cellular or landline phone
systems, or 9-1-1 public safety answering points.

“We are appreciative of the relationship we have with Polk County EMA,
and honored that they value our partnership to the extent that they
nominated us for this award,” Polk County ARES Coordinator Scott
Kirstein said. “These volunteers are truly an exceptional group and I
am proud to be associated with them.”

The Governor’s Volunteer Awards program was created in 1982.
Nominations can be made by Iowa non-profit, charitable, and government
organizations to honor local volunteers with a prestigious state-level
recognition award. The criteria for organizations and individuals
receiving the award includes demonstrating an exceptional commitment to
volunteerism by helping with a special project or ongoing activities;
demonstrating exemplary leadership, creativity, cooperation and hard
work in their service to others; or making an outstanding contribution
to state or community through volunteer service.

New Assistant SEC: K0IVY

Mike Hartley K0IVY has recently accepted the appointment as Assistant
Section Emergency Coordinator to coordinate the Section-wide MOU with
the Iowa Hospital Association and spearhead a Section-wide Hospital
net. Recent storm damage in Oskaloosa has shown the value of Ham
Radio communications. Contact Mike with your input and ideas.

Story County ARES Assists EMA with closing of I-35

[from Story County EMA, with permission]

It Takes A Community: I-35 Closure Response

While most of Story County slept, the hard work of Ames, Iowa State University, Story County Emergency Management, the Ames Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, and Story County Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) came together to take care of travelers stranded by the early morning closure of Interstate 35. Starting as early as October of last year these organizations started working to prepare for this event by practicing activation of a plan to ensure travelers and truck drivers had a place to go if I-35 was closed down.

When the weather forecast indicated the potential for an I-35 shutdown, the Allyson Walter of the Ames Convention and Visitor’s Bureau polled the hotels to see how many rooms would be available should we need to house travelers. Corey Mellies of Ames Public Works prepositioned electronic signs to direct travelers from Highway 30 to safe areas within Ames if the road was closed.

When Story County Emergency Management was notified that I-35 was going to close, they worked with Ames Public Works to activate electronic message signs guiding travelers to the Dayton St exit where they could find a hotel room or allow truckers continue on to Iowa State University who were prepared to allow them to stay in the parking lots near Hilton Coliseum. At 1 am in the morning, Clint Miller of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) was activated to contact travelers using CB radios to notify them of the closure and help guide them to locations where they could stay until the gates were opened on I-35.

The response to the I-35 closure represents what emergency management calls a ‘Whole Community’ response which involves public, private, and volunteer organizations coming together to prepare and respond to emergencies. The time and effort spent by these organizations planning and preparing for this event allowed Story County to rapidly react to the closure of I-35 and ensure travelers passing through our state were safe and well taken care of. Disasters can strike at any time and it is only through efforts to plan, train, and exercise that communities and volunteer organizations, like the I-35 closure group, can be ready to quickly step in and help their community and neighbors. Story County Emergency Management Coordinator, Keith Morgan, ask that everyone consider volunteering with a disaster response organization to help make our communities better prepared.

Website Updates

Hello, everyone! You have doubtless noticed by now that the website has changed. We’ve moved to a WordPress “blog” format. The old site (based loosely on the Iowa state flag…you noticed that, right?) was fine, but due to the difficulty of maintaining 15 years of accumulated cruft, it had become very outdated. The new format should improve things for all involved, but some changes were required.

  • All links have changed. Most of the old links were “deep links” directly to specific parts of other websites. Unfortunately, this results in a lot of dead links — people move things around, rendering the links useless. So all links to external sites will be to their top level pages only.
  • We’ll have more than one person available to maintain the site and provide news! This is a big one.
  • Most of the links to Iowa ARES sites were dead or wrong. We won’t be providing those anymore. Henceforth, if you need a site, just email the EC for that county. How? Easy! Every county in the section now has a dedicated email address! Just use the name of the county (in lower case, with no spaces or punctuation: linn, cerrogordo, obrien, etc) @iowaares.org and it will be forwarded to the correct person.

Please send any comments, errors, or suggestions to N0GUD. Thanks!