||US Ham Operators and Government Test HF Radio Communications
|Disaster Communications Compatibility Exercise Uses Automatic Link Establishment
Washington, DC, and San Francisco, CA – 27 March 2014 - US Amateur Radio
operators (ham operators) and Federal Government radio stations
are engaged in a nationwide test of their capability to communicate with
each other by shortwave radio, in case of an emergency or disaster.
They are participating in a 12-day joint readiness exercise running from
27 March through 7 April, covering all areas of USA, using a digital
High Frequency (HF) radio system known as Automatic Link Establishment
(ALE). This High Frequency Interoperability Exercise 2014 (HFIE-2014)
runs concurrent with the federal National Exercise Program (NEP) 2014.
ALE is a standardized digital signaling protocol used by each radio
service, ham and government, to establish HF communications between
their own stations. For the first time, the government regulatory
agencies (FCC and NTIA) have authorized these stations to communicate
with each other using ALE. HF radio enables long distance communication
independent of terrestrial communications infrastructure, internet, or
To facilitate the communication testing, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) secured temporary authority from the National
Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC). Federal Government radio stations and
hams are allowed to communicate with each other using ALE during the
exercise. Under existing rules, hams have secondary access to 5 HF radio
channels on which Government stations are the primary users.
HF radios used by Federal Government stations have the ALE capability
built into the hardware. Amateur Radio operators have implemented the
same ALE protocols using their personal computers with ham radio
equipment and software. The Special Temporary Authority allows for
on-the-air testing of interoperability between the hardware and
software-generated ALE implementations.
Participation in the interoperability exercise is open to all
ALE-capable Federal Government radio stations and to all ALE-capable US
Amateur Radio stations. While five channels are available if needed, the
test plan calls for using only two of the channels in order to minimize
impact on other stations not participating in the exercise. Specifics
of the STA are as follows:
modification of the authority granted at NTIA Manual section 7.3.8(4),
which authorizes Federal Government stations to communicate with
stations in the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, to allow
communications with any Amateur Radio station utilizing Automatic Link
Establishment, limited to the five channels in the 5 MHz band which are
available to the Amateur Radio Service on a secondary basis, for the
period March 27th through April 7th 2014.
(2) Concurrent waiver by the FCC of that part of FCC rule 97.111(a)(4)
which limits communications with US Government stations to transmissions
necessary to providing communications in RACES, limited to the five
channels in the 5 MHz band which are available to the Amateur Radio
Service on a secondary basis, for the period March 27th through April
The HFIE-2014 is a semi-annual ham radio readiness exercise coordinated
by the HFLINK organization http://hflink.com and the Global ALE High
Frequency Network http://hflink.net
It is open to all ALE-capable ham radio stations. Technical and
operational guidelines for ham and federal government stations are
available at: http://hflink.net/hfie2014
National Exercise Program (NEP) 2014 is a complex emergency preparedness
exercise with activities sponsored by government departments and
agencies, designed to educate and prepare the whole community for
complex, large-scale disasters and emergencies. As part of the National
Preparedness Goal (NPG), it enables a collaborative, whole community
approach to national preparedness that engages individuals, families,
communities, the private and nonprofit sectors, faith-based
organizations and all levels of government.
Media and Technical Contact: Bonnie Crystal, KQ6XA, HFIE-2014 Coordinator
|HF Interoperability Exercise|
Start: 27 March 2014
End: 7 April 2014
| International ham radio HF Interoperability Exercise sponsored by HFLINK and HFN. |
Ham operators are invited to participate at any time during the 10 days
of this free and open informal exercise.
Operators can look forward to certificates and wallet cards
showing they are qualified in ALE. They will continue to keep track of each other on the air
and by using an inter-connected chat room with a map feature that picks
up their transmissions.
Non-governmental and government organizations worldwide use
ALE for HF interoperability communications. This Interoperability Exercise covers standard ALE (Automatic Link
Establishment), NALE (Non-Automatic Link Establishment), and SELCALL (HF
Operators get real-world
experience and become proficient in HF Interoperability communications.
They initiate and respond to ALE calls, link up with fellow operators
for text or SSB voice QSOs on HF, and share helpful information about
setting up ALE stations. It's not a contest, and many just do
it for fun.
Join the thousands of amateur radio operators worldwide with ALE-capable
stations. Participants discuss, learn, and ask questions using the HFN ALE COMM CENTRE chat room.
HF Interoperability Exercise 2014
2014 HF Interoperability Exercise
Starts:1200 UTC 27 March 2014
Ends: 2359 UTC 07 April 2014
Previous HF Interoperability Exercises
2013 HF Interoperability Exercise
2012 HF Interoperability Exercise
August 2011 AOTAW
May 2009 GlobalSET
Novermber 2008 AOTAW
March 2007 AOTAW
October 2006 AOTAW
|Autotuners & Broadbands Popular Among ALE Ops
|The HFLINK 2013 Antenna Poll Results are in...
The 5000+ member HFLINK forum was asked: "What type of antennas do you use for ALE?"
Operators responded to the poll with many different types of HF
the above chart shows, autotuners and broadband antennas tend to be
used most often
by ALE operators. Autotuners mounted at the antenna feedpoint (32%) are
deployed slightly more often than broadband antennas (31%) or autotuners
at the radio. The single most popular type of antenna is the T2FD
(14%). Click on the
chart to zoom in for a more detailed analysis of poll results for all
the popular ALE antenna
|HF Interoperability Exercise
The Sound Of ALE
|If you tuned into your shortwave radio in October 2013, you may have heard a gobble-gobble noise. What may seem like a flock of wild turkeys were actually the sounds of the HF Interoperability Exercise,
and it was in full swing. It started Friday the 4th of October,
and ran for 10 days. Ham operators all over the world were on
the air for this international communications preparedness exercise,
using Automatic Link Establishment (ALE). The innovative ALE system is a
digital selective calling method, enabling radio users to ring each
other up on High Frequency shortwave using their callsigns like a phone
number. HFIE, as it is known among hams, happens several times per year
and is sponsored by HFLINK.COM and the Global ALE High Frequency Network (HFN) organization.
Kurt Stephens KJ4AYT, a radio operator in Florida, had this to say: "I
use ALE a lot, both in my professional career and as a ham. I'm really
excited to be participating in HFIE. Within the first hour, I was able
to easily get signals to three different continents with my Micom 2
radio. I recently designed a new antenna for my station and I'm checking
the performance of it in this exercise. I call it the WOLF antenna. It
has good broadband SWR on all the HF bands, perfect for ALE. I look
forward to making lots of new contacts with it."
Another ham, John Lawson W4JML, commented, "I'm in Wyoming and I need to
use ALE with Army MARS, so I decided to get some more experience with
it during this exercise on the ham bands. I downloaded the free PCALE software
and hooked the computer up to my Icom IC-765, running into an 80m delta
loop antenna. Amazingly, within a few minutes after setting it up to
scan, I made my first ALE contact when Kurt KJ4AYT called me on 7
megahertz, and did some texting. I'll be on this again tomorrow for
Over three thousand ALE stations have registered so far, and many of
them are on-the-air this week talking by single sideband (SSB) analog
voice or digital texting. Some use the exercise to provide training or
maintain their proficiency in HF Interoperability; an important issue
these days, due to the new digital standards for governmental and
non-governmental organizations in emergency and disaster communications.
The distinctive turkey gobble sounds of ALE can usually be found on the following frequencies.
|Over a Decade of ALE HFLINK
celebrated 13 years of ALE in 2014. The HFLINK forum has become a
gathering point for amateur radio operators and professionals in HF.
The organization was founded by Bonnie Crystal KQ6XA, as a High
Frequency Interoperability international resource for ALE and Selective
first large scale organized Ham Radio ALE nets began in late 2001,
during the recovery from the 9-11 disasters. Since then, HFLINK has
grown to over 5500 members. Through teamwork, frequency coordination,
technical standards, and protocol optimization, ALE has become a widely
accepted ham-friendly, interference-free system worldwide.
|FCC Changes 5MHz Ham Radio Rules, Adds Data Comms
In 2012, FCC adopted new rules for the 60 meter band.
How do these changes affect USA hams?
the new rules, Ham Radio operators in USA are allowed to use Data modes
on 5 channels in the 5MHz band, with some restrictions. The maximum
power level is 100 Watts PEP with reference to a dipole. One of the
channels that previously was prone to constant interference has been
replaced with a clearer frequency. For a more detailed information
about the changes, please see HFLINK 5MHz News.
||Global ALE High Frequency Network Celebrates 7 Years of Continuous 24/7/365 All Band HF Digital Service in 2014
Global ALE High Frequency Network (HFN) set a new up-time record by
operating 100% continuously on all international amateur radio
shortwave bands simultaneously 24/7/365 for 7 years.
Relying on HF (High Frequency)
ionospheric communications, all radio stations in this worldwide system
scan the ham bands every 10 seconds, rapidly maintaining contact
through short digital bursts of signals using a system known as ALE
(Automatic Link Establishment). With about 4000 registered operators,
the HFN covers a vast area of the planet.
All ham operators are welcome and invited to participate in the net on
the air at any hour of the day or night, for normal QSOs and messages,
soundings, or priority Emcomm use.
GlobalSET EmComm Radio Events
ALE operators participate in Global Simulated Emergency Test communications
exercises sponsored by International Amateur Radio Union (IARU)
|GlobalSET is the on-the-air international emcomm
radio event sponsored by IARU.
The objective is to promote readiness for
international emergency disaster relief communications. Operators
participate in the Global Simulated Emergency Test by sending text
to the central IARU GlobalSET headquarters, relayed via amateur radio stations. Hams may
activate their ALE stations, start scanning and sounding before the event, and send messages during the day of the event.
For more information, please read the details on the HFlink forum.
1. Increase the common interest in emergency communications.
2. Test how usable the IARU Emergency Center of Activity frequencies are across ITU regions.
3. Create practices for international emergency communication.
4. Practice the relaying of messages using all modes.
ALE for Emergency / Disaster Relief Communications
Presentation at the IARU Global Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Conference
|The International Amateur Radio Union's Global Amateur
Radio Emergency Communications Conference GAREC-2007 was held in
Huntsville AL, USA, with international delegates from IARU Region 1 and
Region 2 attending. The focus of the GAREC conference was: How
the amateur radio service can apply advanced technologies to emergency
communications in the service of early warning, emergency response and
disaster relief. The ALE presentation at the conference included information about how ALE can provide an
interoperative method for all emergency and disaster relief
communicators to communicate with each other. more...
A conference report for HFLINK members is available on the HFLINK forum.
ALE was originally an expensive system for government
services, but recent innovations in digital technology have brought the
cost way down. The first organized amateur radio ALE nets began in
2001, corresponding with the release of the free PC-ALE software
controller for ham radios. Several years of development by the
4600+ member HFLINK organization adapted ALE to be a ham-friendly,
interference-free system. In 2007, the internet- connected HFN
network went into full scale 24-hour service. HFN rapidly expanded to
cover large areas of the earth, and it has become the prime framework
for ham radio operations using the global standard ALE system. In
keeping with its roots, ham radio ALE still maintains compatibility and
interoperability with goverment ALE radios, many of which are also
available now on the surplus market and being used by hams. Nearly
every major HF SSB radio manufacturer in the world is now marketing an
HFLINK MEMBER SUPPLIES
High Frequency Network
The services currently provided by Global ALE HFN stations using Automatic
Link Establishment, include: HF Interoperability, HF SMS Phone Texting, Text HF Email messaging,
HF-to-HF Relay, Net Call ups, Net
announcements, and individual station direct HF calling. Real-time
reporting of who is on the air and able to communicate with each other,
is tracked by the global network of stations through ALE COMM CENTRE on the web.
A team of radio operators is on the air
, in the global constellation of
ALE HF stations, the new ham radio ALE Global HF Network (HFN). The new HFN Pilot
Stations are equipped with scanning ALE transceivers, multiband antenna
systems, and special software control systems for internet connectivity. Ham radio ALE users in
the field on HF connect with the HFN Pilot Stations to exchange digital
ALE-SMS text messaging to and from internet devices such as cell mobile
phones, black berry type devices, PDAs, PCs and laptops. ALE users also
relay ALE messages to other ALE HF users via the same system. more...