Santa Clara County ARES®/RACES
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Pop-Up Packet Practice and Outdoor Recreation Activity

June 13, 2020


Outdoor Recreation

  • This event is an Outdoor Recreation activity. Outdoor recreation is considered an essential activity under the Santa Clara County stay at home order.
  • Attendees will set up their own individual packet station outdoors and are free to walk around the park as much as they want, all while maintaining social distancing.

Packet Practice

  • Pop-up Packet Practice is a quick, simple, fun way to practice setting up a packet station in the field. It doesn't have the formality of typical drills/exercises. You go, you do, and you leave. How long you stay is up to you. What differentiates it from practicing at home (which we should all do, right?!) is you have to set up in the field, plus you get to see the setups used by other operators and there is technical support available.
  • Why do this? We have observed that operators can have difficulty getting their station set up and working in the field, even if they regularly send their weekly practice messages from home. And being able to set up in the field is what we're all about, right? So, this practice is designed to give everyone an opportunity to practice a field deployment with packet without the complexity and overhead usually associated with more complicated exercises.


This practice session takes place at the same time and place as the Field Packet Mini-Drill. But the activities you will perform are different. The key differences are:

Practice (this activity):

  • No pressure opportunity for learning and experimenting
  • Come when you want, stay as long as you want, leave when you want
  • Set up, send/receive a few messages, packet up and go; easy peazy
  • Limited documentation requirements
  • This is the preferred choice for first time packet users who are not yet comfortable operating in the field
  • ***BUT*** practice is NOT an approved exercise for credit toward an SCCo ARES/RACES credential


  • Arrive on time and participate for at least 2 hours, including setup and tear down of equipment
  • Operate on the air for at least one hour
  • Execute the provided exercise scenario
  • Complete all standard documentation and follow all standard operating procedures
  • The mini-drill is the preferred choice if you've already been to one pop-up practice session
  • A mini-drill ***IS*** an approved exercise for credit toward credentials
  • For more information and to sign up for the Field Packet Mini-Drill instead, go here
Intended Audience: Anyone involved in SCCo ARES/RACES. Packet is our primary/preferred message handling method because it's fast, accurate and automated. Just like everyone today knows how to use email, every ARES/RACES operator should be able to use packet (or working to get to that point).

SCCo ARES/RACES Training Courses:


Hellyer County Park
985 Hellyer Ave.
San Jose, CA 95111

A map showing the best places to park and operate is located here.

The vehicle entry fee is currently not being charged. If that changes, each individual is responsible for the fee (usually about $6.00).

  • Park opens at 08:00
  • Technical support available: 09:00 - 12:00
  • Most people can come at any time and leave at any time. Of course, we encourage everyone to get there early and stay long enough to complete the entire set of practice tasks.
Sign Up: You must sign up in advance to participate in this exercise. See: June 13, 2020 Pop-Up Packet Practice sign-up and location details

Bring your own equipment

  • You will set up your individual packet station in the grass right next to your car.
  • You can set up with something as simple as a card table and chair.
  • You'll need a radio (HT recommended) to be in contact with the voice net (our normal procedure), plus your packet station.
  • You'll need something to keep papers from being blown around. Clipboards work well.
  • You'll need something to shield your screen from the bright light of the outdoors. In a pinch, a cardboard box painted black inside works.
  • If you bring a pop-up tent, do NOT use stakes because you may hit the sprinkler pipes. Be sure you have about 40 lbs of weight per leg to ensure it doesn't get blown into and hurt someone or damage something else (like the cars nearby).
  • Antenna
    • If you use a pop-up tent, you can secure the mast to the tent legs with velcro straps. This avoids tripod legs that people can trip over.
    • If you bring a mast and tripod, be sure to bring 10-20 lbs of weight per leg to secure the tripod from tipping over.
  • Be sure not to block any walkways or get in the way of other park users.
  • We recommend skipping a parking place between yourself and the next packet user. This will help you maintain social distancing as you set up and operate.

No AC Power

  • There will be no AC power available and we don't want anyone to bring generators. Remember, this is supposed to be quick and easy. The operating time will be about an hour (less, depending on how fast you are!). Everyone's station should be able to operate for at least one hour on battery.

Any of the SCCo ARES/RACES BBSs on any available access frequency. See our frequency list here.

  • Your best bet is probably W2XSC. And W4XSC is reachable with a mag mount antenna.
  • If you have a taller mast, you may be able to reach W1XSC.
  • If you have a 220 radio, please use it. It will help reduce the load on the 2m channels.

Follow all social distancing protocols and requirements from the SCCo Health Officer:

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home
  • If you are in the high risk group (over 65, have other health conditions), it's best to stay at home
  • Maintain social distancing at all times
  • If you need a mask, we will have them available

Follow all standard personal and RF safety procedures, plus:

  • Stay out of the traffic lanes in the parking lot. Stay within the parking spaces.
  • Bring sun protection. At a minimum, a wide-brimmed hat will work for some. Of course, if you bring a pop-up tent, that works, too.
  • Bring sufficient weights to hold down and stabilize any equipment you set up.

Suggestion for getting the most out of the practice session:

  • Come at the beginning.
  • Stay until you complete all of the exercises.
  • Set up your field station just like you would do in a real situation.
  • Avoid using your vehicle, except for transportation. In a real situation, it's highly unlikely that you will be operating next to your vehicle.
  • Take the time to see what everyone else is doing and what they use for their setup. Share ideas for your own station.
  • If you have questions or feedback about this or other training activities, you can join our Training discussion group and ask your question there.
  • For questions about packet, use our Packet discussion group.
  • For more information about all of our discussion groups, visit our Discussion Groups page.


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This page was last updated on 06-Jun-2020