Santa Clara County, California ARES/RACES
Home Operations Data Training and Events Reference Info.

Monthly Packet Message Practice

Description and Materials

 

Contents

"New" or "Updated" are used to indicated added or modified material since the last monthly practice.

Purpose:

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.

References:
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.
Frequencies:

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.

Notes:

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 groups.io 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.
Immediate Handling Order Messages:

From time to time, packet operators may need to send a message with a Handling Order of Immediate [1]. When sending an Immediate message, please follow this checklist:

  1. If you are just handed an Immediate message and are already entering a lower priority message, stop working on the lower priority message:
    • If a PackitForm, switch windows to Outpost.
    • If an Outpost text form, hit "Save" to save the message to the Draft folder.
  2. Open the new message/Form.
  3. If a formal message, make sure the Handling Order of Immediate is checked (clicked) before submitting to Outpost.
  4. Make sure the "Urg" flag is set for the Outpost message indicating "Urgent: Private Message"
  5. If there are any other non-Immediate messages in the Outpost Out Tray, for each message right click on the message, and select "Move to.." the Draft folder.
  6. Perform a "Send Only" Action in Outpost before entering any other non-Immediate messages that might be in your "stack".
  7. When the Immediate message has been transferred to the intended BBS, contact the recipient via an appropriate voice method, e.g. Command Net, Phone Call [2], etc.
  8. Your message should be short and concise. Follow this example for a voiced messsage:

    "Recipient this is tactical call. You have an immediate packet message to retrieve from us with message number msg number. FCC callsign"

    For example for Check Point 31 and X31-223P:

    "Xanadu EOC this is Check Point 31. You have an immediate packet message to retrieve from us with message number "Xray"31-223"Papa". K6FJC" [3]

  9. For any message moved from the Out folder -> Draft folder, go back and re-open each message and click Send

NOTE [1]: Only use this procedure for Immediate handling order messages and not for Priority or Routine messages.

NOTE [2]: Voice is preferred, but if SMS is available for the recipient, you can type the same message and send via SMS.

NOTE [3]: Keep the proword voicing as simple as possible, no need for "Mixed Group" as each side knows it is a packet message number already.

Outpost ICS-309 Form:

Outpost uses a national ICS-309 form and not the SCC county form format. When using Outpost to generate your ICS-309, please observe the following:
  • Each Monthly Message Passing Practice is assigned a simulated activation number. This number should go in the Task # field.
  • The form's Task Name field is a combination of the Incident Name from your assignment email and your tactical postion name. In general:

    incident name - tactical position name

    Examples:

      Xanadu Halloween Parade - Check Point XX

      XND Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration - Post XX

    NOTE: there may be information in the message that contains "Xanadu officials have released you" that give specific instructions for the incident name field - follow these.

  • How to set these values:

    When you bring up the Forms -> ICS 309 Communiation Log, the ICS 309 Comm Log Builder options are presented. Enter the above information into the and fields there.

    If you open Tools -> Report Settings -> ICS 309 you can enter the information there. Note: do this before opening the ICS Comm Log Builder.

Postion: Manual Operation

P2 credential evaluation requires operation without Outpost: just a terminal emulator and PackItForms. This position is available for those that wish to practice for P2. This is not for everyone. Some notes:

  • Be current with the most recent P2 training course material
  • Use Putty or an equivalent terminal emulator that permits session logging. For Putty details see Pages 31 to 36 of the 31 October 2022 Packet P2 course slides.
  • Your packet network ICS-309 can be:
    • Handwritten paper ICS-309 and scanned to pdf or jpg.
    • Fillable ICS-309 that is saved as a PDF file.
    • Excel spreadsheet that is saved as a PDF file.
    • or any equivalent that resembles the Outpost generated ICS-309 or the SCC ICS-309
  • What to turn in at the end of the practice:
    • The packet network ICS-309
    • A separate ICS-309, if an actual or simulated voice frequency was used
    • Your Putty (or equivalent) log
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
        LA
      • 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 Packet Manager Notes:
Mark Laubach, K6FJC

Tips for the Next Time in Packet (PDF)

Opening CSV files with LibreOffice application on Windows


Past Exercises
  • 21-December-2022 to 28-December-2022.
    • Scenario: Xanadu City holidy event of some sort - T.B.D.
    • Forms exercised:
      • ICS-213
      • t.b.d.
    • End of Exercise Review presentation: T.B.D.
    • Scorecard: T.B.D.
  • 21-September-2022 to 28-September-2022. Hosted by K6OTT.

 


Web Site Home Page

This page was last updated on 25-Nov-2022