Santa Clara County, CA ARES®/RACES

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

Overview     |     Travel

Overview Information

Activation Number XSC-19-07T

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.

A one-page flyer is available for handout at meetings.


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:

  • Introductory:
    • If you're new to amateur radio, or new to emergency communications, or new to a particular activity, 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 include:

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

Public Safety
Show and Tell

As an added bonus, there will be a public safety communications "show and tell", including: County Fire, County EMS, County Sheriff, and County Communications. A county fire engine, ambulance, and sheriff's patrol vehicle will be there, along with communications experts who can describe how public safety communications works for first responders in the field.

Whether you're waiting for another activity to open up or you're just curious to see some cool technology, stop by to learn about how public safety communications works. When you're done, try your other activities again.


How To Sign Up:

  • To participate in an activity, you need to sign up for it.
  • Review the description links below to see which activities will be best for you.
  • Sign up for as many activities as you will actually attend. If you are present for the entire time of the drill (08:00 - 13:00), you can probably attend three activities plus breaks in between.
  • ONLY sign up for the activities that you will actually attend. The activity planners need an accurate count.
  • Sign up as early as possible to help your fellow amateur radio volunteers plan a great activity for you.
  • If your plans change, be sure to update or remove your sign-up.


  • The last date to sign up for an activity is 17:00 (5:00 pm) Wednesday, September 25th.
  • For evaluations, you MUST sign up by 23:59 (11:59 pm) Sunday, September 22nd.
  • 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.
Activity Level Description Sign Up Planner (and organizing city)
Field Operations  Introductory: Description Sign Up Barton Smith, N6HDN (Campbell)
    Experienced: Description Sign Up Nigel Gore, AF6ZF (San Jose)
Net Control Introductory: Description Sign Up Jim Oberhofer, KN6PE (Cupertino)
  Experienced: Description Sign Up Tim Howard, KE6TIM (Milpitas)
Packet Operations Introductory: Description Sign Up Leslie Grimm, KK6EKN (Mountain View)
  Experienced: Description Sign Up Leslie Grimm, KK6EKN (Mountain View)
Shadow Introductory: Description Sign Up Andreas Ott, K6OTT (Sunnyvale)
  Experienced: Description Sign Up Andreas Ott, K6OTT (Sunnyvale)
Cross-band Repeat Introductory: Description Sign Up Neil Katin, K2LL (Los Altos Hills)
  Experienced: Description Sign Up Neil Katin, K2LL (Los Altos Hills)
Radio Programming Introductory: Description Sign Up Peter Melhus, AA6PM (Saratoga)
  Experienced: Description Sign Up Peter Melhus, AA6PM (Saratoga)
Staff To sign up for a staff position, first contact the planner indicated above to discuss a suitable position for your skills. Then visit the Staff Sign Up page.
  • For Staging, contact Jerry Thalls, KG6HI (Sunnyvale)
  • For Safety Officer or Evaluator positions, contact Michael Fox, N6MEF (SCCo ARES/RACES)

Planner contact info: City Leadership, County Leadership

Date Saturday, Sept 28, 2019  (rain or shine!)

Edith Morley Park
615 Campbell Technology Pkwy
Campbell, CA




  • 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 and additional 30-45 minutes
    • 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, tear down and continuity of operations. Those schedules will be communicated separately.
  • First come, first served
    • Except for the net control positions, all other activities operate on a first-come, first served basis.
    • Why? Because we've found that scheduling all activities just doesn't work. Everyone operates at a different pace. So, some people didn't get to finish their assignment before their time was up, while others finished early and were left twiddling their thumbs.
    • Each activity lasts for about 50-60 minutes. So, if the activity you want to attend is currently busy, that will change soon. You can wait and watch and learn from what others are doing. Or you can move on to your next chosen activity and return later. You'll see, it works surprisingly well.
    • If you finish an assignment but want to stay and do more at that same activity, you're welcome to do so, as long as someone else isn't waiting. Just talk to the activity manager, who can provide an additional/extended assignment.
    • Remember: "Semper Gumby!" Just like in a real deployment, flexibility is the key.

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 - 13:00)

  • 08:00 - All activities open for participants
  • 13:00 - All activities closed; last of participants return to staging; Resource Net continues

Demobilization (13:00 - 15:00)

  • 13:00 - Radio room tear-down begins
  • 13:45 - Staging closes; last of participants should be gone; staff continues tear-down
  • 14:45 - Resource Net closed; all participants should be home
  • 15:00 - 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:

  • New users 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 participants (including staff) must be registered as a Santa Clara County Disaster Service Worker.

Download a blank registration form and the instructions here. Follow the instructions to fill out the blank form BEFORE you register. This will speed up the process.

Also download a copy of the Instructions for completing the Emergency Responder Identification card. You will receive the card to fill out when you are sworn in. Having your own copy of the instructions will make it easier and faster for you to fill out the card correctly.

Pre-exercise registration on Tuesday, 9/24:

  • There will be a pre-exercise registration time on Tuesday, Sept. 24th at 11:30 AM.
  • If you wish to attend, you MUST sign up in advance.
  • Location: County EOC, 4th floor of the Sheriff's Building, 55 W Younger Ave., San Jose
  • You should be done by 12:30.
  • Park next to the Sheriff's office

Day-of-exercise registration:

  • DSW registration will be available the morning of the exercise from approximately 07:30 to 09:30.
  • To save yourself about 30-45 minutes at the exercise, you are encouraged to register before the exercise.
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

Before Leaving

Before you travel to the exercise, remember to start your ICS-214 Unit Activity Log.

If you are new to the ICS-214, view the ICS-214-SCCo Unit Activity Log video training. It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Travel to Drill

Everyone is encouraged to use the Resource Net while traveling to and from the exercise. For this exercise, the Resource Net will be used exclusively for tracking your travel progress. DSW activation will occur once you reach Staging.


Carpooling is STRONGLY encouraged! This is a very big exercise. We expect over 100 people to attend! You'll help yourself and your fellow hams by carpooling. Here's why:

  • Fewer people on the resource net means check-in/out is faster for you
  • Operating while driving is easier on you: you don't have to talk and drive at the same time
  • You will see less contention for parking spaces
  • You will have a great time getting to know your neighboring hams better
  • You will help to preserve our environment!
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; please avoid use near the exercise site)
  • N6NAC:  444.625 (+) 110.9  (South; best when South of San Jose intersection of Hwys 85 & 101)
  • Near the exercise site, use AA6BT or N6NAC; avoid using W6ASH near the site


  • 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.
    • If you are coming from the northern end of the county, you will need to switch from W6ASH to AA6BT as you get closer to Campbell.
  • 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.)
  • Note: 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. 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 to check out of the Resource Net.
Staging Net


  • After checking out of the Resource Net, remain in your vehicle and check into the Staging Net.
  • Staging net frequency: 146.475 MHz
  • When told by net control, walk to the Staging Area to complete the check-in procedure.
  • Remain on the Staging Net as you move about the park between assignments.
  • If your assignment has a separate net, check out of the Staging Net before switching to the activity net.
  • When you complete an activity with it's own net, check out of the activity net and check back into the Staging Net.
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 exercise.
Net Usage Everyone is required to be on the proper net at all times. 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 25-Sep-2019