ECOM 101 announces Red Cross exercise!

For fans of Ecom 101 – our on the air net for hams interested in public service and emergency communications – I’m delighted to announce the American Red Cross Spring 2021 exercise and training events leading up to it. It’s open to all currently licensed ham radio operators, and the first training event is Thursday, January 7 2021. Read on to try out your Ecom skills!

As we’ve discussed on Ecom 101 – by the way, the next meeting is coming up on Monday January 11, 2021 – real emergency communications are moving to a preference of text and forms based messaging. The standard is Winlink 2000. If you haven’t signed up for a Winlink account start by visiting and download the Winlink Express client. Once that is installed it will help you set up your account.

Just choose Winlink Telnet to send and receive messages via your internet connection until you get your radio connected.

Next, join the group – that’s where you will find event and exercise schedules and how-to’s.

On Thursday, any time during the day or night, open Winlink and compose a new message.

Select: “Message”, “New Message” then “Select Template”, open “Standard Templates” (+) and scroll down to “General Forms”, and open this form “Winlink Check In.txt.

The form will come up in your browser. Please enter the following:
Click Setup and add the title “ARC Drill Check-in”.
Click on Date/Time and select your time stamp.
Select Net Check-in for Status.
Choose what band and mode you will use. (If Telnet, then N/A for band).
Send To: ARCSOUTHWEST is our Divisional Clearing house tactical address, and your internet email
address separated by “;” (semi-colon). (This is just to show you the data can also be sent to any internet address in the world; if not received in Winlink it will just be the contents of the form, and not displayed as a form). So, in my case, that would be ARCSOUTHWEST;

Call sign of Initial…: Enter the RMS node you will use in this field, like W5FC-10. (You may have to first test which RMS node you can hit before bringing up this form, so you will know which Node you will use. For some, a VHF Packet node will always be accessible. For HF, you may not always be able to use the same Node due to propagation. If using Telnet enter N/A.
Sender will be your call sign.
Location: TWO LETTER STATE only PLEASE. Probably TX
Enter your Decimal GPS coordinates, your Grid will be calculated.
Comments/Message block: Enter your name and city (has to be on the same line separated by comma).
Name: ___________, City: _______________

For example, I might enter Name: Kevin Grantham, City: Farmers Branch

Click Submit.
Close browser to get back to Winlink Express where the message should be ready to Post to Outbox.

Now select a mode – Winlink Packet, Winlink VARA, Winlink ARDOP, etc. – and send your message. If you don’t have a radio connected go ahead and use Telnet for now. We’ll have training on how to get your radio connected later on.

That’s it! A bit involved if you haven’t done it before but once it’s set up it’s as simple as filling in the blanks and sending an email.

Drop me line at if you have any questions. We’ll review the results on the Ecom 101 net on Monday.

Note that we’ll do a simple exercise every Thursday in January and then go to more complex exercises once per month leading up to the Spring nationwide exercise.

See you on the air!