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.

City/County RACES & MOU Meeting: Monday, October 21st

The next City/County RACES & MOU meeting will be on Monday, October 21, 2019, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. At this meeting we will have an after-action review of the October 5th City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise. Also at this meeting Laguna Niguel ACS Deputy Radio Officer David Gorin, KB6BXD, will give a presentation on the Orange County Hospital Emergency Amateur Radio Team (OCHEART), which is a successor to the Hospital Disaster Support Communications System (HDSCS). OCHEART was originally established as SOHEART to support the Mission Hospitals in South Orange County, but has now been expanded to cover more of the county, operating mostly under official RACES protocol. Because this meeting is on a third Monday of the month, there will be no cooperative T-hunt in October.

Next OCRACES Meeting: Monday, November 4th

The next County of Orange RACES meeting will be on Monday, November 4, 2019, at 7:30 PM, at 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, in Orange. At this meeting, Phil Burtis, KF6NFA, will give a presentation on Huntington Beach CERT hams working closely with Huntington Beach RACES. RACES members from cities in Orange County are urged to attend, to get an idea of how to make RACES/CERT work in their cities.

ACS Radio Rodeo Rides Again on May 4, 2019 

Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS (left photo), at Control 7 and Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, at his 60-meter portable station during ACS Radio Rodeo on May 4, 2019.

City and County RACES and MOU units participated in the annual ACS Radio Rodeo on Saturday, May 4, 2019, as they gathered at the rear parking lot of OCSD Communications & Technology Division in Orange. They began setting up before 0800 hours with OCSD’s Control 7 Chevy Tahoe providing net-control facilities on 2 meters and 70 centimeters, Peter Putnam’s (NI6E from Newport Beach RACES) surplus news van providing net-control facilities on 6 meters and 1¼ meters, and OCRACES Lt. Scott Byington’s (KC6MMF) portable station providing net-control facilities on 60 meters. At 0830 hours, OCRACES Capt. Ken Bourne briefed all participants of exercise procedures. Questions were answered on 146.595 MHz simplex.

Beginning at 0900 hours, roll calls of stations at the local site were conducted on the five bands. The first local net was on 60 meters, run by Lt. Byington, with 10 check-ins. Near Scott’s setup was a portable station set up by OCRACES Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC. The 60-meter net was run on 5346.5 kHz upper sideband (dial frequency), the same frequency that has been used most Saturday mornings at 10:00 AM for the Cal OES Southern Region ACS Net, usually run by OCRACES. (As of July 28, 2019, the Saturday nets will move to 5371.5 kHz upper sideband dial frequency, due to noise interference.) The next two Rodeo nets were run on the OCRACES 2-meter repeater (29 check-ins) and then on the 448.320 MHz repeater (21 check-ins) by Roger Berchtold, WB6HMW (sadly, now a silent key), from Control 7, while Sgt. Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, oversaw operations. The final two nets were conducted on the OCRACES 6-meter repeater (11 check-ins) and 1¼-meter repeater (16 check-ins) by Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, assisted by Tom Wright, KJ6SPE, from the NI6E van. Announcements of net-frequency changes were made by OCRACES Sgt. Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, on 146.595 MHz simplex. OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, made announcements over the Control 7 public-address system. Other OCRACES members participating and checking into the nets included Matt Luczko, KM6CAO, and Randy Benicky, N6PRL, both checking in from Randy’s car, Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ (who was also the event evaluator), Sgt. Jack Barth, AB6VC, from his portable station, Walter Kroy, KC6HAM, Sgt. Ernest Fierheller, KG6LXT, and Fran Needham, KJ6UJS. Applicant John Pilger, K6PIO, also checked in.

At 1000 hours, OCRACES began checking in on eight different Cal OES nets run from the Southern Region EOC in Los Alamitos. The nets were on 60 meters Channel 2, Cactus 70-cm linked system, SCRN 70-cm linked system, EARN 1¼-m linked system, OCRACES 448.320 MHz repeater, LACDCS repeaters, and a Riverside County 1¼-m RACES repeater. OCRACES checked in from Lt. Byington’s station, Control 7, and the NI6E van. During this time period, local participants inspected Control 7, the NI6E van, Placentia Police Department’s impressive Mobile Command Vehicle, and portable stations from OCRACES members as well as members from Buena Park RACES, Costa Mesa RACES (MESAC), Fountain Valley RACES, Huntington Beach RACES, Laguna Woods RACES (Radio Officer Bruce Bonbright, NH7WG, who also communicated with their Incident Command Post in a field behind the Laguna Woods Community Center), Mission Viejo RACES, Westminster RACES, and American Red Cross. Members from Anaheim RACES, Laguna Niguel ACS, and Orange RACES (COAR) also participated and communicated with their members who were deployed to other events, such as most COAR members who were with the Orange Police Mobile Command Vehicle at the Orange May Parade.

OCRACES Activates for February 2nd Flash Flood Warning

On Friday, February 1, 2019, OCSD Emergency Communications Manager Lee Kaser, KK6VIV, and OCRACES Chief Radio Officer Ken Bourne, W6HK, discussed the Flash Flood Warning that was predicted for the next day, Saturday, February 2nd, and that, if it occurred, OCRACES should activate. Sure enough, the National Weather Service declared a Flash Flood Warning on Saturday. When that happened, Capt. Bourne contacted Assistant Radio Officer Tom Tracey, KC6FIC, and requested him to notify all members via AlertOC of an activation. Upon receiving his AlertOC notification of the activation, Radio Officer Scott Byington, KC6MMF, called Capt. Bourne on the OCRACES 2-meter repeater and asked what was required. Bourne said he was on his way to the Orange County EOC and needed one more member at the EOC RACES Room. Lt. Byington soon headed to the EOC.

Activation announcements stated that flooding or emergency reports would be taken from OCRACES members in the field and relayed to the EOC Command Center from the RACES Room. However, OCSD Emergency Management Division (EMD) did not activate the EOC, but Bourne and Byington could have run any emergency messages to Control One if necessary. After a couple of hours, it appeared that weather conditions were not so severe that the activation had to continue, and therefore OCRACES was deactivated.

On February 14th, NWS issued another Flash Flood Warning and the EOC activated to Level 3 (low level). OCRACES was advised that no response was needed until EMD elevated the level (which they didn't). All members were asked to advise of their availability in case of activation.

RACES Conducts Deployment Drill on October 5, 2018

In the left photo, OCRACES Assistant Radio Officer Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, ran 60 meters, using this pair of MFJ Hamsticks on a mast, at Dana Point. He also ran portable Winlink and checked in on 2-m and 70-cm repeater and simplex frequencies. In the right photo, Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, set up this portable station at Belmont Park high in the hills of Orange. Using a yagi antenna, he successfully relayed simplex stations around the county to net control at Loma Ridge. Tony also operated 60 meters, using a homebrew vertical antenna.

The City/County RACES & MOU ACS Exercise on Saturday, October 6, 2018, from 0900 to 1100 hours, was a deployment exercise to test alternate means of communications in case of repeater failure or inability to access the OCRACES repeaters on 2 meters and 70 centimeters from deep in the canyons or below cliffs in beach areas or even from some “dead spots” in cities throughout the county.

60 meters (channel 2) proved to be an excellent means of countywide communications during the drill, especially when repeater failure was simulated. Net control at the Orange County EOC communicated on 60 meters with portable OCRACES stations in Dana Point, Belmont Park (Orange), Irvine Regional Park, Silverado Canyon, Williams Canyon, Carbon Canyon, and Trabuco Canyon. Net control also communicated with portable city RACES stations in Cypress, Brea (Olinda Village), Huntington Beach, Laguna Woods, Newport Beach (Crystal Cove), and Westminster, as well as with American Red Cross. Portable stations in canyons and beach areas were also able to communicate with each other on 60 meters. N6WIX of Ventura County ACS provided a relay from Ventura between canyons in Orange County, when needed. Other City RACES units participating from non-portable locations included Buena Park, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Laguna Niguel, Orange, Seal Beach/Los Alamitos, and Placentia. American Red Cross also participated.

Six stations participated on DMR on the KA6P Santiago Peak repeater, Local-1 talkgroup. Seven OCRACES and City RACES members communicated via the Zello app on their smartphones during the drill.

OCRACES Braves the Heat at Ham Jam

OCRACES members under the canopy include (left to right) RACES Lt. Scott Byington, KC6MMF, Martin La Rocque, N6NTH, and RACES Capt. Ken Bourne, W6HK.

It was very toasty (105 degrees) at HRO Ham Jam on Saturday, July 7, 2018. Fran Needham, KJ6UJS, brought a nice canopy to provide shade to the other OCRACES members who participated and promoted RACES to many visitors who dropped by our booth. Ken Bourne, W6HK, set up a portable 40-meter station and worked Newport Beach, Laguna Woods, and Ventura with 20 watts into a pair of MFJ Hamsticks up 9½ feet. Scott Byington, KC6MMF, set up a 20-meter station with an Elecraft KX3 and a beam, and Tony Scalpi, N2VAJ, set up a 6-meter station. Also participating were Bob McFadden, KK6CUS, and Martin La Rocque, N6NTH. In spite of the heat, many visitors dropped by the booth and learned about OCRACES.

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

October 12: 1000 hours
Cal OES Southern Region ACS Leadership Meeting, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Communications Center

October 14: 1900 hours
Columbus Day
2 m: Robert Stoffel, KD6DAQ

October 21: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Tracey, KC6FIC

October 21: 1930 hours
City/County RACES & MOU Meeting, 840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange (no cooperative T-hunt)

October 28: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Ken Tucker, WF6F

November 4: 1900 hours
2 m: Tom Wright, KJ6SPE

November 4: 1930 hours
840 N. Eckhoff Street, Suite 104, Orange

November 11: 1900 hours
2 m: Jack Barth, AB6VC

November 18: 1900 hours
2 m: Randy Benicky, N6PRL

November 18: 1920 hours
Cooperative T-Hunt

November 25: 1900 hours
2 m/70 cm/6 m/1¼ m/10 m: Ken Bourne, W6HK

November 28
Thanksgiving Day