County of Orange (California)
Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service

Orange County Sheriff's Department
Communications & Technology Division

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County of Orange RACES, an auxiliary communications unit of the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), is administered by OCSD's Communications & Technology Division. Members are registered as Disaster Service Workers with OCSD's Emergency Management Division. They are trained to provide voice, video, and data communications during emergencies, using their own equipment on County VHF and UHF repeaters and simplex frequencies. When activated, OCRACES provides emergency communications support, handles messages between incidents and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC), or between public-safety agencies and critical locations, and reports conditions from the field to the EOC or Command Post.

Cooperative T-Hunt: January 15, 2018

The next cooperative T-hunt will be on Monday, January 15, 2018, immediately following the 2-meter ACS net (approximately 7:20 PM). OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, will be the fox. He will hide on paved, publicly accessible property in West Orange County. Borders will be west of Valley View and east of the Los Angeles County line, north of Seal Beach, and south of Cypress. It’s a good size area but very open in space. He will transmit tones on the input of the 2-meter OCRACES repeater. Hunters will compare bearings on an OCRACES UHF repeater and are encouraged to beacon their locations via APRS throughout the hunt. Let's have a good turnout for Lee!

Next OCRACES Meeting: February 5, 2018

The next OCRACES meeting will be on Monday, February 5, 2018, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104 in Orange.

OCRACES Teams Up with OCARC at June 2017 Field Day

Tom Wright, KJ6SPE (left) and Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, assemble an HF antenna at Field Day (left photo). Bob McFadden, KK6CUS (left) and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, at the satellite station (right photo).

County of Orange RACES members teamed up with members of the Orange County Amateur Radio Club (OCARC) during Field Day, to set up and operate HF and VHF/UHF stations at the Walter Knott Education Center in Buena Park. OCRACES members showing up for setup at 9:00 AM on Friday, June 23, 2017, included Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, and Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK. They helped to set up OCARC’s HF antennas and stations. Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, set up his satellite station. The VHF/UHF station was provided by City of Orange RACES (COAR) members Robbie Robinson, KB6CJZ, and Don Poysa, KØVNJ, and was operated by several OCRACES members. Robbie was the OCARC VHF/UHF band captain. A transmit hum problem caused by RF feedback into a switching power supply had to be overcome before the VHF/UHF station was fully operational. The power supply was eventually replaced with a transformer type supply, and the problem went away.

OCRACES members showing up Saturday morning, June 24th, for remaining setup and operations in-cluded Jack Barth, AB6VC, Scott Byington, KC6MMF, Ken Bourne, W6HK, Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ. Ken Tucker, WF6F, signed up to operate Saturday night. David Corsiglia, WA6TWF, and other OCRACES members also visited the site. Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, helped with teardown on Sunday, June 25th, and OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, visited the site.

The OCARC Field Day co-chairmen were Tim Goeppinger, N6GP, Jim Schultz, AF6N, and Ron Mudry, W6FPS. The station setups, especially the antennas, were impressive, and everyone worked hard for a successful Field Day. OCRACES appreciates the warm welcome given to our members by the OCARC members, and the tasty food provided by the Boy Scout troop.

RACES and MOU Units Participate in May 6, 2017, ACS Exercise

Roger Berchtold (left photo) receives incoming messages while RACES Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, operates the 40-meter station during the May 6, 2017, City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise.

Civil disorder was the scenario for the City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on Saturday, May 6, 2017. OCRACES members and applicants arrived at the Orange County EOC RACES Room before 0830 hours to get prepared for the drill, which occurred from 0900 to 1100 hours. They were welcomed by OCRACES RACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, who had prepared all original messages to be sent during the general voice and Winlink segments of the drill. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, arrived soon after the drill began, and expressed his appreciation for the excellent turnout of members at the EOC as well as at field locations. Simplex communications were handled primarily between the City RACES units, to test coverage. About 40 voice messages were received on OCRACES 2-meter and 70-centimeter repeaters, and 26 voice messages were sent via the City RACES primary repeater and simplex frequencies. A few messages were sent and received at the 40-meter SSB station. The Winlink station sent 20 messages and received 22.

OCRACES members at the EOC, in addition to Capt. Bourne, included Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, Harvey Packard, KM6BV, Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and Ken Tucker, WF6F. OCRACES applicants included Brian Ahn, KM6CXL, and Nikko Lawson, KM6ATE, who operated together at the Winlink station. This was their first experience with Winlink, and they immediately became experts! Also at the EOC RACES Room, representing the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS), was Justin Ennen, AI6CI.

Two OCRACES teams were in the field during the exercise, including Randy Benicky, N6PRL, and Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, mobile in South County, and Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, at a portable location in Orange. Both teams were on 2 meters and 70 centimeters, as well as on 40 meters SSB.

Participating City RACES units included Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Seal Beach, and Westminster. Also participating were American Red Cross, HDSCS, and Cal OES.

The civil-disorder scenario generated many interesting messages. For example, a message to Newport Beach PD warned of five submarine snorkels near the entrance of Newport Harbor. A Winlink message indicated a submarine was headed toward a Hornblower cruise ship in the harbor. A reply said the submarine grounded in shallow waters. Costa Mesa PD was warned to prepare for a terrorist attack from a fleet of eight semi-trailer trucks approaching South Coast Plaza at high speed. Buena Park PD was advised of 15 drones near Knott’s Berry Farm. Anaheim Fire was notified of gangs preparing to board a train to rob passengers. A message to St. Jude Medical Center via HDSCS advised of ambulances approaching the hospital that were filled with terrorists and chemical weapons. St. Jude responded that they were being put on lockdown.

OCRACES Activates for Winter Storm on January 20, 2017

Tom Riley, K6TPR, RACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS (left to right), in EOC RACES Room during January 21, 2017, Winter Storm activation.

On Saturday, January 20, 2017, OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, informed OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, that OCSD Emergency Management Division was going to activate the Orange County EOC at a low level the next morning (Sunday, January 21st) at 1000 hours, due to the pending major winter storm with expected flooding, debris flows, mudslides, downed trees, road closures, power outages, property damage, and evacuations. Anticipated continuous rainfall was expected to exceed 3-5 inches within a 24-hour period. OCSD/EMD Director Donna Boston asked that the EOC RACES Room be staffed beginning at 1000 hours on Sunday. After receiving Lee’s information, Ken sent an e-mail to all members, requesting availability. Based on the response, Ken assigned Tom Riley, K6TPR, to the first shift. The EOC was indeed activated at 1000 hours on Sunday and the Public Information Hotline was staffed. Tom arrived at the EOC RACES Room at 0930 hours and worked for more than three hours. After church, Ken arrived about noon and stayed about six hours, coordinating with the EOC Command Center and keeping tabs on shifts. OCSD/EMD indicated that OCRACES could stand down at 2200 hours, but might need staffing the next morning. At 1436 hours, the National Weather Service in San Diego issued a Flash Flood Warning for Orange County. Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, arrived at about 1420 hours on Sunday and stayed for several hours. Fran greeted Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, who arrived at about 1730 hours. OCSD EMD released Fran and Jack at about 2100 hours, and asked Fran to return at 0900 hours on Monday. Fran arrived before 0900 hours on Monday, and expected to work until 1300 hours, at which time he would be relieved by Ken Tucker, WF6F. Fran was soon informed that the EOC was deactivating at 0930 hours, at which time OCRACES deactivated, and Ken Tucker did not need to report for scheduled duty.

Several cities had also activated their EOCs, and some city RACES units were activated. Some roadways were flooded and power outages and downed trees were also reported throughout the County. OCRACES repeaters were monitored for field reports throughout the activation. Members who are not deployed to the EOC during a weather activation are encouraged to report their observations of heavy weather conditions and damage to the EOC via the repeater.

OCRACES Participates in November 15, 2016, Radio Rodeo

County of Orange RACES participated in Radio Rodeo on Tuesday, November 15, 2016, at the Huntington City Beach parking lot in Huntington Beach. The event was sponsored by the California Statewide Interoperability Executive Committee (CalSIEC) Southern Planning Area (SPA). This interoperability training exercise was hosted in several counties simultaneously, with each providing a local site for participants. Participating agencies brought their communications vehicle to the Radio Rodeo site, set it up, and participated in structured radio testing of all interoperability channels over all public-safety frequency bands, as well as on RACES frequencies in the 2-meter and 70-centimeter bands. This was an opportunity for agency personnel to test the radio equipment and ensure proper programming and functionality of the radios.

Leading the Radio Rodeo effort were OCSD/Communications Program Support Manager Delia Kraft, KR6AFT, and Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV. Assisting was “Mr. Radio Rodeo” himself, Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, who was the Division’s Director before the current Director Dave Fontneau.

Participating agencies included Anaheim RACES, California Department of Transportation, Costa Mesa Police Department and Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC), Garden Grove Police Department, Huntington Beach Marine Safety Division, Huntington Beach Police Department, Huntington Beach RACES, Laguna Beach Police Department and Laguna Beach RACES (LBECT), Irvine RACES (IDEC), Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles County Disaster Communications Service (LACDCS), Mission Viejo RACES, Orange County Emergency Medical Services, Orange County Fire Authority (two MCPs), Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCRACES, Samantha II Mobile Communications Center, Field Support Trailer, OASIS Trailer, and Duke), Orange Police Department and Orange RACES (COAR), Santa Ana School Police Department, and West Cities Police Communications Center (West-Comm), which serves Cypress, Los Alamitos, and Seal Beach.

OCRACES did not have its van at Radio Rodeo, since it is now out of service and decommissioned. However, OCRACES was net control for the RACES component from a table outside the Field Support Trailer, set up by Kenan Reilly, KR6J, and Brad Russo, KB6GPM. Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, ran the net, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, observed. Randy Benicky, N6PRL, operated from Samantha II. On-site RACES testing included not only Samantha II but also Anaheim RACES (AF6XY), MESAC (KJ6PFW), IDEC (N6IPD), LBECT (K6WHC), COAR (W6OPD), Mission Viejo RACES (KE6BXT), and LACDCS (K6CPT).

OCRACES net control also conducted RACES testing with Riverside County RACES and San Diego County RACES on the Cactus Intertie system, Also checking in on Cactus were Yuma County (Arizona) RACES (NØRHZ) and Colorado State RACES (WA4HND). Contact was also made with Riverside County RACES on two OCRACES UHF repeaters and on the Riverside County RACES UHF repeater. Don Hill, KE6BXT, and Joe Ayers, AE6XE, from Mission Viejo RACES, set up a mesh network and communicated with Riverside County RACES via a node on Pleasants Peak.

RACES and MOU Units Participate in October 1, 2016, ACS Drill

(Left to right) Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, and RACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, send outgoing messages, while Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, and Randy Benicky, N6PRL, are at the 40-meter station during the October 1, 2016, City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise.

County of Orange RACES conducted the City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on October 1, 2016, from the RACES Room at the Orange County EOC and at the OCRACES van at the “Career Fair” at the Sheriff’s Academy in Tustin. Also participating were 14 City RACES units (Anaheim, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Orange, Seal Beach, and Westminster) and two MOU units (American Red Cross and Hospital Disaster Support Communications System, HDSCS).

At the EOC RACES Room were Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, Sergeants Jack Barth, AB6VC, Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT, and Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, Members Randy Benicky, N6PRL, Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, and Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, and Applicants Brian Ahn, KM6CXL, and Matt Luczko, KM6CAO. Also at the RACES Room was Ken Simpson, W6KOS, from HDSCS.

Operating from the OCRACES van, which was on display at the Sheriff’s Career Fair in Tustin, were OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, and Members Tom Riley, K6TPR, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ. Ken Bourne, W6HK, joined them after the drill.

OCRACES sent 15 messages plus four replies, and received 28 messages, during the “General” portion of the drill. OCRACES sent nine messages with attachments to each of the City RACES units on Winlink and received 15 messages (six with Notepad, Word, PDF, and WebEOC-form attachments). We did not have a simplex position in the RACES Room. In the next drill (May 6, 2017), we might send a couple of members up the hill outside the EOC with a simplex radio.

HF propagation on 40 meters was quite poor during the drill. Net Control checked in eight City RACES Units and one MOU.

For the first time, we tried a DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) test during the drill. Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ, ran the DMR net from another location, and used the N6GGS repeater on Santiago Peak (thanks to Pat Stewart, KA6P, one of the repeater owners).

RACES Wants You!

Experience the most exciting and rewarding part of amateur radio. Being a RACES member gives you the opportunity to sharpen your operating skills and technical knowledge while volunteering your services in public-safety communications. Get involved in emergency communications now. Click the Contact OCRACES link for more information.

Events Calendar

January 13: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region EmComm Leadership Meeting, Riverside County EOC, 1000 hours

January 15: 1900 hours
2 m: Brad Russo, KB6GPM
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

January 15: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

January 22: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ
Pager: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

January 29: 1900 hours
2 m: Joe Selikov, KB6EID
Pager: Jack Barth, AB6VC

February 5: 1900 hours
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ
Pager: Ken Bourne, W6HK

February 5: 1930-2130 hours
OCRACES Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

February 12: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC
Pager: Scott Byington, KC6MMF

February 12: 1930-2130 hours
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

February 19: 1900 hours
2 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F
Pager: Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT

February 19: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

February 26: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE
Pager: Bob McFadden, KK6CUS

March 17-18
Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay

May 5: 0900-1100 hours
RACES Radio Rodeo