Santa Clara County, California ARES/RACES
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Monthly Packet Message Practice

Description and Materials



This exercise provides an environment to pass packet messages that simulate participation in a real event as an experienced [see Intended Audience] county packet operator who has been assigned for mutual aid support for Xanadu City. During the course of each monthly exercise, participants will be asked to pass at least two 3rd party messages in each direction (PacketItForm) and at least two operator-to-operator messages in each direction.

The simulated scenario will be different for each month. Likewise, message content and forms used will vary from other scenarios.

Intended Audience:

Experience is required. Participants should be familiar with:

  • Exchanging packet messages with the SCC County BBS packet system including plain text and PacketItForms messages.
  • Standard Packet Message Subject Line
  • Standard Packet Check-In/Out Message
  • RACES Recommended Form Routing Cheat Sheet
  • Most recent Packet Operator Type III Part A and Part B training courses.
  • Retrieving new bulletins from all XSC Notice Areas and City areas, such as XND@XSC.

NOTE: anyone of any experience can give it a try but following SCC standards and training yields the best experience.

Scheduling Info:

The Monthly Package Message Passing exercise will usually start on the third Wednesday of the scheduled month:

  • The exercise will last for one week.
  • The session starts at 09:00 on the Wednesday scheduled for the event.
  • The session ends at 17:00 on the following Wednesday afternoon.
  • An "office hours" Zoom meeting will be held that Wednesday evening following the end of session.

County packet BBSs: W1XSC, W2XSC, W3XSC, and W4XSC.

NOTE: a real-world situation may take one or more BBBs offline. If so, make use of your alternate.


Here are some suggestions and reminders for getting the most out of this exercise:

  • This is an "arm chair" exercise - no need to leave home. This is a self-paced activity. It begins with a properly formatted Check-In message sent to the simulated EOC. It then proceeds by following directions in messages received. At the end a "Thank you" message will be sent. You can do it all in an hour or two sitting or pace it out over the week.
  • There is no "pass" or "fail" scoring feedback for this event. Questions about the session messages, Outpost or SCC BBS operation can be discussed during the Zoom office hours. Otherwise, please do your own self-learning.
  • If you get really stuck email the instructor or ask for help in the packet discussion group.
  • It is known that the simulated Xanadu EOC is picky about following county standards and also about directions you receive in email and packet messages. You may receive a courtesy message if its picky filter detects something.
  • A DELIVERED: receipt is returned for every message received at the simulated EOC.
  • You are not checked in to the packet net until you received a DELIVERED: receipt for your Check-In messsage (properly formatted)
  • You are not checked out of the packet net until you received a DELIVERED: receipt for your Check-Out messsage (properly formatted)
  • The polling cycle of the Xanadu EOC is 10 minutes. After you send your Check-Out message, please wait at least 10 minutes and check again. There may have been other messages queued for you.
Training Questions:

If you have questions or feedback about this or other training activities, you can join our Training discussion group and ask your question(s) there.

For more information about all of our discussion groups, visit our Discussion Groups page.

Preparation for a successful exercise: The following minimum packet computer and Outpost preparation is needed for a successsful exercise:
  • Latest version SCCo Combined Outpost and PackItForms installed and working properly.
  • Windows printer / print driver that allows printing to PDF files.
  • Means to email a PDF file to the course instructor via the Internet (do not send via packet!)
  • Application support for importing, editing, and saving CSV (comma separate value) files.
    • e.g., Microsoft Excel, LibreOffice, etc.
  • In Outpost:
    • Retrieving new XSCEVENT and XND@XSC city notices.
      • Setup -> BBS -> Retrieving -> Custom Retrieval
      • Make sure this is there:
        A XSCEVENT
      • As well as this or equivalent:
        A ALLXSC
        L> XND
    • Know how to set up Station ID for a Tactical Call for all BBS interactions.
      • Setup -> Station ID -> Tactical
      • Check the box next to Use Tactical Call for all BBS interaction
      • Fill in your tactical assignment information as provided for the event
    • Know how to set the global variable for next message number.
      • Tools -> Report Settings -> Global Variables -> Next Message
    • Knowledge of saving to and opening of CSV files in Outpost messages with "No Headers"
Packet Course Instructor Notes:
Jim Oberhofer, KN6PE

(The unofficial) Amateur Packet Radio Field Reference For SCCo RACES Responders:

Sending and receiving spreadsheets in .csv (comma separated value) format using Packet Type III Part A exercises material. See Section 2.5.
Drill/Exercise Instructor Notes:
Mark Laubach, K6FJC

Tips for the Next Time in Packet (PDF)

Opening CSV files with LibreOffice application on Windows

Past Exercises


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This page was last updated on 27-Jan-2022