The DOD is conducting a nationwide communications exercise (COMEX) that started on 3 November. It will end at 2359Z (basically 7 pm EST) on 18 November.
Army and Air Force MARS members are heavily involved in the COMEX. SHARES and CAP are also involved.
One of the objectives for MARS is to achieve a high level of coordination with Amateur Radio (AR) members and entities.
A DOD digital broadcast will be transmitted on both 60 meters and WWV that is focused on the AR community. This broadcast will be using the Military Standard 188-M110A serial PSK digital mode.
The broadcast is scheduled for 17 November, and will be transmitted during a 30 minute window starting at 0301Z (1001 PM local).
A period for Amateur to MARS reporting will follow from 170331Z until 182359Z November (10:31 PM local 17 November until 6:59 PM local on 18 November) on 60 meters. MARS Regions 1, 2, and 3 typically use the first 60m channel, 5330.5 KHz USB.
There is currently a voice message being transmitted on WWV and WWVH which is for all Amateur operators. WWV is scheduled to transmit the message at about 10 minutes past the hour. WWVH is scheduled to transmit the message at about 10 minutes before each hour. Instructions are contained in the message that will guide you where to go to get the information needed to make a reception report for the WWV message.
I intend to be available at the November 11th CCARC meeting in order to provide technical support and answer questions.
There will be opportunities to test the software both TX and RX during the next week or so prior to the broadcast(s). Testing will be in the “Plain Text” (unencrypted) mode on 60 meters. (Here in FEMA Region 3 we will use the first of the 60 meter “channels”, 5330.5 KHz USB. However you may make your report to any MARS station on any of the 60m channels.)
The 300 baud symbol rate restriction in 47CFR 97.307(3) does not apply to AR use of the 60 meter band, and the Serial PSK waveform conforms to 2K80J2D when transmitted as audio through a 2.8 KHz Single Side Band filter. The software is capable of transmitting and receiving at between 75 and 4800 bps, with either short or long FEC interleave. Typically either 600 or 300 bps speeds are used for best reliability (with long interleave).
MARS stations will be using their MARS call signs on 60 meters. They will use their Amateur Radio call signs on other bands (such as VHF/UHF repeaters) as needed when contacting the AR community for various data points during the COMEX.
Here is where you can get a copy of the software needed to receive the broadcast that will be sent in the Mil_Std 188-M110A mode. The program is referred to as MS-DMT. The zip file contains information in .pdf format for the installation, interface, and operation of the software. Should you get stuck and need personal assistance drop me an email and I will attempt to give you assistance:
MARS stations may be tasked to reach out to Amateur operators on any band (typically 60m or VHF/UHF repeaters) at some point during the COMEX to find out what the current conditions are with regard to civil infrastructure (such as utility status (water, power, telephone, internet, etc), transportation status (road conditions, airport status, etc.), medical status (are hospitals and such open or closed), and the like. Should you have a chance to make such a report -REAL WORLD- conditions are requested… Don’t make anything up, just provide the actual conditions at the time (thank you).
Thank you for allowing me to share this information with you. I hope that many of you will make an effort to copy the various transmissions (from WWV or WWVH, or the DOD Broadcast on 60m) and will enjoy yourselves in the attempt.
All COMEX activities are suspended during the 11 November observance of Veteran’s Day (I suspect that activities will resume at 120001Z or 7pm local on 11 November but we have not been told yet exactly when to expect them to resume).
Thank you to all of you who are veterans. I trust you will enjoy observing the day with your family, friends, and fellow veterans.
Maryland/DC U.S. Army MARS Director