Santa Clara County, CA ARES®/RACES

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Countywide Communications Exercise &
Simulated Emergency Test (SET)
Saturday, 28-Sep-2019

Preliminary Information

Overview     |     Travel

Overview Information

Activation Number TBD

This is our annual, large-scale, countywide communications exercise.  It is open to both new and experienced amateur radio operators.  Individuals will be free to select one or more activities in a variety of fields (see below for details). We will operate completely "off the grid". Evaluations will be offered for those seeking credentials.

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


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

Participants can select one or more activities. Each activity will have two types of assignments:

  • Newbies:
    • If you're new to amateur radio, or new to emergency communications, no problem.
    • Each activity will have a mentored option to give you the help you need to complete a basic assignment.
    • You'll be able to leave each activity and say, "Yea, I did it!"
  • Experienced:
    • If you're already experienced with emergency communications, you've come to the right place.
    • Each activity will have an assignment designed to give you a bit of a challenge.
    • You'll be able to leave each activity and say, "Whew! I did it!"

You must be registered for DSW with Santa Clara County ARES/RACES to participate. If you haven't done that yet, you will be able to complete the process when you arrive. See the DSW section below for details.


There will be multiple activities to choose from. Each activity has the same two primary goals:

  • Learn something
    • The participant leaves the activity as a better emergency communications radio operator than when (s)he walked up
  • Have fun
    • The participant will leave the activity thinking, "Wow, that was fun. I'd like to do that again."

The list of activities are currently being defined. So far, they include:

  • Net control
  • Field / message passing
  • Packet
  • Shadow
  • Radio programming
  • Cross-band repeating
  • ... others being considered

Evaluations for credentials will be available for all skill areas (field, net control, packet and shadowing) and for types III and II.


Sign-ups are not open yet. Once the activities are defined, we'll open sign-ups for each activity. Sign-up links will appear here.

Once sign-ups are available, please sign-up as soon as possible. The folks who do all the work to deliver these great activities need to know what to plan for.


  • To participate in this exercise, you MUST sign up by Sunday, September 22nd.
  • For evaluations, you MUST sign up by Sunday, September 15th.
  • But again, please don't wait until the deadline. It creates much more work for the people who already work hard to bring you this activity.
Date Saturday, Sept 28, 2019  (rain or shine)
Location Edith Morley Park
615 Campbell Technology Pkwy
Campbell, CA

These times are approximate. The schedule will solidify once the activites have been defined.


  • Leave sufficient time for Staging
    • Depending on when people arrive, staging can get crowded
    • All drill participants should plan to spend at least 20 minutes in staging.
      • Drill participants who need to register for Santa Clara County DSW will need more time (TBD)
    • Each participant will receive their info packet, fill in their T-card, read and sign a safety briefing, program their radios according to the ICS 205, and then 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
  • 07:30 - Staging opens; drill participant check-in begins; please do not arrive earlier unless specifically scheduled

Activities (08:00 - 14:00)

  • 08:00 - All activities open for participants
  • 14:00 - All activities closed; last of participants return to staging; Resource Net continues

Demobilization (14:00 - 16:00)

  • 14:00 - Radio room tear-down begins
  • 14:45 - Staging closes; last of participants should be gone; staff continues tear-down
  • 15:45 - Resource Net closed; all participants should be home
  • 16:00 - Last of staff departs; RACES trailer departs
Weather Anticipated: Highs in the low 80s F; Lows in the low 50s F. Sunrise: 07:01. New moon (it will be dark during setup). Mostly Sunny. Average precipitation: ~1" (be prepared for rain). Can be windy (use weights for papers, pop-up tents).
Lunch Each individual is responsible for his/her own lunch.

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

  • Driver's license or other State-issued 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 > Go Kit Forms)
  • 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 will use the stations provided to them
  • If you are staying through lunch, you can bring your lunch with you (to save time) or leave it in your car

A small backpack or something similar is suggested to carry your water, forms, spare batteries, and other personal gear.

If you are signed up for the packet activity:

  • Newbies and those without a station can use one of the stations provided.
  • Others are encouraged to bring their own packet station (PC, TNC, radio, antenna, cables, etc.)
  • Generator power will be available if you need it. But if you can do without it, that's even better.

If you are signed up for the shadow activity:

  • Newbies who want to see what being a shadow is like aren't required to have any extra equipment.
  • But experienced operators know it's best to have a chest pack, vest pocket, radio harness, belt clip, or something to hold your radio and a headset. It's much more difficult to hold your radio and operate at the same time.
Those participating in evaluations for credentials will have other equipment requirements, depending on the type of credential.  Consult the credentialing program handbook for a list of the required equipment for each type of credential.

All attendees (including staff) must be registered as a Santa Clara County DSW. To save yourself about 30 minutes at the exercise, you are encouraged to register before the drill. But there will be someone at the drill who can register you if you haven't done it by then.

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.

Credential Evaluations Qualified individuals can request evaluations for the following credentials:  F3, F2, N3, N2, P3, P2, S3, S2.  We may offer equipment evaluations if sufficient staff is available.


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 01-Jul-2019