Santa Clara County, CA ARES®/RACES

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Countywide Communications Exercise &
Simulated Emergency Test (SET)

Overview     |     Travel

Overview Information

Activation Number XSC-18-08T

This is our annual, large-scale, countywide communications exercise.  It is intended to exercise individuals, teamwork and equipment.  We will offer activities for field communicators, net controls, packet operators and shadows and mesh networking.  Individual equipment and the county communications trailer equipment will be used.  We will operate completely "off the grid". MAC evaluations for advanced qualifications will be available.

This drill is also our primary activity for the annual ARRL Simulated Emergency Test (SET), which is a annual exercise conducted nationally.


A primary objective of our exercise will be providing communications support for CERT:

  • Voice and Packet Message Passing
    • CERT will be operating several field sites where they will exercise their members on various CERT-related tasks (search, first aid, etc.). Each site will include an Incident Command Post (ICP).
    • ARES/RACES will provide communications between each ICP and the Drill City Emergency Operations Center (EOC). Support will include voice and packet.
  • Shadowing
    • Key members of the drill staff will be assigned shadows to aid with their communications as they move about Drill City.

Additional amateur radio activities will include:

  • Mobilization, demobilization and the Resource Net
    • Our standard mobilization and demobilization processes will be exercised, including activation, travel tracking on the Resource Net, and staging.
  • Message passing
    • Additional "inject" messages will be used to ensure participants get to practice with enough volume and complexity in message content.
  • Mesh Networking
    • A mesh network will be established to connect key locations, such as the ICPs, EOC, registration, and radio room for command and control purposes.
  • Evaluations for MAC qualifications will be available for all skill areas (field, net control, packet and shadowing) and at all types (Type III, II and I).

Open to all individual amateur radio operators interested in emergency communications. Everyone MUST sign up in advance.

Since the event is on NASA property, there are a few extra rules:

  • All persons must be 18 years of age or older.
  • All U.S. Citizens, including drivers, passengers, walkers, bikers, etc. will have to show a VALID U.S. State Issued Identification (Driver’s License OR non-driver’s ID OR Military ID). 
  • Non-U.S. citizens that are permanent residents of the U.S. must also show a valid, non-expired green card.
  • Non-U.S. citizens that are NOT permanent residents of the U.S. will not be able to attend this event due to the time constraints of getting NASA approvals.

All individuals will be registered for DSW with Santa Clara County ARES/RACES when they arrive at the drill.  See the DSW section below for forms. Registering for DSW during check-in at the drill may delay check-in by as much as 20 minutes, so plan accordingly.



  • To participate in this drill, you MUST sign up by Sunday, October 21st.
  • For MAC evaluations, you MUST sign up by Sunday, October 14th.

The participation options are flexible in order to allow each individual to get the experience they need. Your options are:

  • Sign up for all day as a radio operator
    • Sign up separately for each of two shifts
    • You can choose the same or different positions for each shift
  • Sign up for one shift as a radio operator, one shift as CERT
    • Sign up for a single shift. Choose the position you'd like to work.
    • Use the other shift to exercise with CERT (sign up separately with CERT)
  • Sign up for one shift as a radio operator
    • Don't have time for the whole exercise? Sign up for a single shift. Choose the position you'd like to work.
  • If you are a MAC, you can also choose to be evaluated for a MAC qualification during each shift that you work
    • Sign up for the appropriate position(s) and contact KE6TIM at ARRL dot net for details

Click here to sign up for Shift 1

Click here to sign up for Shift 2

Click here to sign up as event staff (requires approval)

Date Saturday, October 27, 2018  (rain or shine)
Drill Location

Moffett Field
Mountain View, CA

Driving Map


  • Enter at the Ellis Street entrance
    • You must present a valid driver's license or state issued ID for all people entering. No minors allowed. Vehicles are subject to search.
  • Turn left on Cody Road
  • Turn left at Edquiba Road
  • Parking is at the end of Edquiba Road, just past Bailey Road


  • Leave sufficient time for Staging
    • All drill participants should plan to arrive at Staging no later than 40 minutes prior to the start of their shift.
    • Drill participants will need to read and sign a waiver for NASA, read and sign a safety briefing, and be sworn in as Santa Clara County Disaster Service Workers. They will then receive their info packet, fill in their T-card, program their radios according to the ICS 205, and head to their assignments.
  • Overall Schedule
    • This schedule is flexible and may change to accommodate changes in overall drill circumstances.
    • Staff and some individuals (in particular, some net controls and shadows) may have different schedules to support setup, teardown and continuity of operations. Those schedules will be communicated separately.

Mobilization (06:00 - 08:00)

  • 06:00 - Drill staff arrive; RACES trailer arrives; radio room and staging setup begins
  • 06:30 - Resource Net opens; drill participant travel begins
  • 07:15 - Staging opens; drill participant check-in begins; please do not arrive earlier unless specifically scheduled

Shift One (08:00 - 11:10)

  • 08:00 - ICP operators begin station set up; radio room operator familiarize themselves with station
  • 08:30 - ICP operators ready; on-air check-ins
  • 08:40 - 10:50 - Message handling for CERT shift one activities
  • 10:50 - ICP operators done; on-air check-out; pack up stations
  • 11:10 - Single shift operators return to staging for debrief, sign-out

Break (11:10 - 11:50)

  • Some net control and shadow positions may be scheduled

Shift Two (11:50 - 15:00)

  • 11:50 - ICP operators begin station set up; radio room operators familiarize themselves with station
  • 12:20 - ICP operators ready; on-air check-ins
  • 12:30 - 14:40 - Message handling for CERT shift two activities
  • 14:40 - ICP operators done; on-air check-out; pack up stations
  • 15:00 - Most operators return to staging for debrief, sign-out

Demobilization (15:00 - 17:00)

  • 15:00 - Radio room tear-down begins
  • 15:45 - Staging closes; last of participants should be gone; staff continues tear-down
  • 16:45 - Resource Net closed; all participants should be home
  • 17:00 - Last of staff departs; RACES trailer departs
Weather Average temperatures in late October: Highs in the low 70s F; Lows in the high 40s F. Sunrise: 07:29. Mostly Sunny. Average precipitation: ~1" (be prepared for rain). Can be windy (use weights for papers, pop-up tents).
Lunch Lunch will be provided for those who are there all day, either as staff or as participants working two shifts. We don't have details. So, bring your own lunch if you're particular about selection.

A table and chair will be provided under a pop-up canopy, to protect against rain or sun.

ALL participants, must bring with them or wear on their person the following minimum equipment: 

  • Driver's license or other State-issued identification card (required to access the Moffett Field facility)
    • Everyone entering the facility must be 18 years or older and must posses a valid driver's license or other State-issues identification card
  • Amateur Radio License
  • HT (2m minimum; 2m/440 dual-band preferred) with sufficient batteries to operate for the time you are there
  • Clipboard, note pad, pens/pencils
  • All ICS forms required for your Go Kit (see Operations > Forms > ICS Forms used in Communications)
  • Lunch (if you are staying for both shifts and prefer to bring your own)
  • Sufficient food and water for the time you are there
  • Sturdy, closed-toe shoes (wear)
  • Long pants (wear)
  • Safety vest (wear) [ANSI 107 Performance Class 2, fluorescent safety yellow/lime yellow]
  • Sun protection (wear) [hat, sunscreen, etc.]
  • Net controls and EOC packet operators will use the stations provided to them

If you are signed up to operate field packet (at one of the simulated field ICPs):

  • Bring your packet station (PC, TNC, radio, antenna, cables, etc.)
  • Rather than use a tripod to support your antenna mast, you can strap your mast to the pop-up canopy leg with some Velcro, if you wish.
  • Generator power will be available if you need it. If you can do without it, that's even better.

If you are signed up to operate as a shadow

  • You need a chest pack, vest pocket, radio harness, belt clip, or something to hold your radio. You won't be able to hold your radio and operate at the same time
  • Bring a backpack, fanny pack, shoulder bag or some other hands-free way to carry your other equipment (spare batteries, water, etc.)

MACs and MITs participating in MAC evaluations will have other equipment requirements, depending on the qualification level of the evaluation.  Consult the MAC handbook for a list of the required equipment for each MAC qualification level.

Liability Release NASA requires all participants to sign a release of liability in order to participate in the drill. The form will be provided at staging.

The county is updating its DSW registration process. All individuals will be registered for Santa Clara County DSW, even if you have previously done so. Download a blank registration form and the instructions here. Follow the instructions to fill out the blank form before you come to the exercise. This will speed up the process in Staging.

MAC Evaluations Mutual Aid Communicators (MACs) and MACs in Training (MITs) can request evaluations for the following MAC program qualifications:  F3, F2, F1, N3, N2, N1, P3, P2, P1, S3, S2, S1.  We may offer MAC equipment evaluations if sufficient staff is available. To request an evaluation, contact KE6TIM at ARRL dot net after signing up.
AAR After Action Report


Travel Information

Travel to Drill

If you are a registered county DSW, you are expected to use the Resource Net. Follow standard Resource Net procedures.

If you are NOT a registered county DSW, Net Control can not activate you. But you can still practice using the Resource Net for tracking your travel. Follow standard Resource Net procedures.

Resource Net The following repeaters will be linked together for the drill and will function as the resource net:
  • AA6BT:  146.115 (+) 100.0  (Main; located in East San Jose)
  • W6ASH: 440.800 (+) 100.0  (North; best for North end of the county and near the drill site)
  • N6NAC:  444.625 (+) 110.9  (South; best when South of San Jose intersection of Hwys 85 & 101)


  • Program all three repeaters into your radio memory so you can easily switch between them while driving. 
    • If you are coming from the southern end of the county, you will need to switch from N6NAC to AA6BT approximately when you reach the 85 and 101 intersection in South San Jose.
    • You will need to switch to W6ASH as you approach the park area.
    • If you are coming from the northern end of the county, you can probably stay on W6ASH the whole way.
  • Remember that linked repeaters require you to insert extra delay.  Leave plenty of space before keying up.  Pause after keying up, before speaking.
  • Prior to departure from home:  Check into the resource net. When called, tell net control your starting mileage (last three digits of your odometer) and your street location. (Your odometer does not have a decimal point. If you see a decimal point, you're looking at your trip odometer.  We don't use that because it can be reset.  Switch to your odometer and provide the last three digits to net control).
  • While traveling:  Stay tuned to the resource net and respond to health and welfare checks by net control. A proper report includes the last three (whole) digits of your odometer, your street location, and your call sign.
  • Refer to the above map as you get near the drill site.
  • Upon arrival at the drill: Stay in your vehicle and contact net control. You will be told what to do next.
  • If you do not yet have a current county DSW registration, net control will not be able to officially activate you and you will not be covered under the DSW program until you reach the drill site and complete your DSW registration.
Training Info Additional information on the disaster server worker program, resource net procedures and net types and usage can be found in the Fundamentals of Emergency Communications training course materials. If you have not taken this course, you are advised to review the course presentation prior to the drill.
Staging After checking out of the Resource Net, walk to the Staging Area to complete the check-in procedure.
Net Usage Everyone is required to be on the proper net at the proper time. The county Resource Net is used for travel to and from the event.  Be sure you always check in and check out properly when moving from one net to the other. Always pay attention to the net control operator for whichever net you are on and answer promptly when called.
Check-Out After you have completed each assignment, return to the Staging Area for re-assignment or to check out.  Be sure to fill out an evaluation form and participate in the debrief so we can capture your feedback.
Travel Home Check in to the Resource Net from your car, prior to leaving the park. If you prefer not to be tracked back home, notify net control when you check in. Alternatively, you can check out of the resource net at any time on your way home if you decide to go somewhere else.


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This page was last updated 26-Oct-2018