Echolink Update – World Wide Access to the Main Repeater

Cherryland Amateur Radio Club has given permission for the TBARG/Munson Emergency Communications to access the main region wide repeater (146.86).  This allows coverage for a large part of Northern Michigan.

Thanks to Joe Erlewein for his IT/Ham Radio wizard skills, we now have Internet access to this repeater for those with a ham radio license. Joe has been programming and testing the Echolink Raspberry Pi/mobile radio interface at home. He has moved the Echolink device to my office.  Please feel free to download the app to your mobile phone or computer – you can login after validation of your ham radio license. Look for W8TCM-R and add this to your Favorites.

Please let me know how the system is working and email me back if there are any connection issues.

Glen Johnson

TBARG/Munson Emergency Communications

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Notes from TBARG Meeting 6-1-2017

TBARG Meeting ~ June 1, 2017

Review of Munson Exercise on April 19

  • Badges are essential for hospital access. The badges give us access to all Munson affiliates. 23 hams now have Munson credentials.
  • Munson had positive reviews and praise for our participation.

Areas of concern

  • Voice communication was a serious issue and it created a bottle-neck.
  • Voice using form 213 is a slow method of communicating
  • Need minimum of 2 people per location- each location needs a dedicated operator and a runner
  • Possible Munson volunteers to help with running messages
  • Need a digital means to send communication
  • Possibly e-mail based
  • Needs to be printed documentation that traffic was sent and received
  • Packet is already in place at both Munson and Glens office. Could Munson provide packet at each hospital?
  • APRS automatically finds the required nodes to find recipient.

Action Suggestions

  • Need a master plan what we want to accomplish and how
  • Need more than one frequency for communication- need additional channels to handle traffic and then switch back to working/ calling channel
  • Have all our radios programmed to the same channels so frequencies would be standard- possibly first 25 channels could be “local use” but next set of programmed freq. would be standard. Might help people think globally rather than local
  • Training on the 800 MHz could be an option
  • Hospitals and locations need to have a runner component to it so radio operator stays with radio
  • Form a Digital committee to explore digital communication options incl. pricing and availability
  • Work on getting a buy in from 911 services passing traffic between 911 and other emergency services
  • Get 800 training

Future Exercises and Projects

  • Monthly net from Munson
  • Explore unified memory channels
  • Form a link (cooperation) with other regional ham groups
  • Drills using message passing
  • Explore “fire chat” app to send messages via smart phones without internet utilizing Bluetooth
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In Review – April 19th Munson Exercise

The TBARG/Munson Emergency Communications exercise on April 19, 2017, was our first major exercise for 2017.  A huge thank you to all those who volunteered and a thank you to Munson for this opportunity.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • We now have 23 ham radio operators with Munson ID’s and credentials. These ID’s are valid at ALL of Munson Healthcare facilities in Northern Michigan.
  • We staffed the Munson EOC, ran Net Control from the Munson “penthouse”, staffed TBARG Operations (Glen’s office), Munson Community Health Center, Paul Oliver Hospital, Charlevoix and McLaren Hospitals, Petoskey EOC (a especial thank you to the CCE group), and maintained contact with the Leelanau exercise that was happening at the same time.
  • We used ICS policies and procedures using the ICS forms 205 and 213 during the procedure.
  • Used an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of locations, personnel, and communication frequencies. This and other exercise data was easily viewed on a Google Drive shared folder.
  • Developed a magnetic/dry erase board for a visual overview of locations, personnel, and command structure. Business cards for each volunteer was also developed.

Glen Johnson

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Emergency Communications Apps

Even if there is no cell phone or internet access, that cell phone is still a great survival tool.  I am starting a list of useful apps for Emergency Communications and Disaster Situations.  Do you have a favorite app or tool to recommend?  Email Glen at and I will add it to the list.

GPS Apps

MAPS.ME          Android                           IOS        Free

This app works without internet access to give your location, roads, directions, and local services.  This works anywhere in the world.  When you download the app, look for the options menu and “Download Maps”.  If you want maps for say Michigan, tap the “+” then United States of America > Michigan > then download the maps you want.  Once your map is downloaded, works without internet.  If travelling abroad, remember to turn off your cell phone service.

Gaia GPS            Android ($9.99)              IOS ($19.99)

Designed for backpackers, this app gives topo/satellite views and tracks where you have been.  Once you download the app and download locations, it works “off line”.  You can also upload your GPS history or “track”.  Very nice for search and rescue.

APRS.FI              Android                                         IOS

This uses the internet to upload your GPS coordinates so that other ham operators can see your/their location in map form.  Great for situational awareness.


Echolink             Android                                         IOS

You can access the Traverse City 146.86 repeater using this app from anywhere in the world.  Search for W8TCM-R and save to Favorites.

Repeater Book               Android                                         IOS (free)

This will use your phones GPS to give you the nearest repeaters.

Documentation and Reference

Solocator                         Android                                         IOS

This app takes a “standard” photo but also saves a photo that embeds the title that you create, time, date, GPS coordinates, compass bearing into the picture.  This is a valuable tool for disaster assessment and reporting weather conditions.  Remember to email photos to TBARG using the account.    The app is free but get the upgrade for around $6.

Google Drive                   Android                                                       IOS (free)

I would highly recommend getting a free Gmail account.  For those of you who do, are you aware that you have 15 Gigs of online storage for free.  Load the Google Drive App into your phone.  You can save important documents to your phone and access them even when there is no internet (use the View File Off Line mode).  TBARG/Munson files will be updated frequently.  

Got a lot of photos on your phone?  Back them up for free using Google Photos.  There is no limit to this free account.  Make sure you have Wi-Fi access and using the following link to download the app.  If you have a large number of photos, I would suggest plugging your phone into a charger and backing your photos overnight.

Red Cross First Aid                       Android                                         IOS (Free)

What to do for the most common first aid situations.

Merck Manual                              Android                                         IOS (Free)



The standard for medical disorder symptoms and information.

FEMA Mobile App                       Android                                         IOS (Free)

Weather alerts, safety reminders, submit disaster photos, etc.

WISER (Hazardous Materials)    Android                                         IOS (Free)

Wireless Information System for Emergency Responders – designed to assist emergency responders on hazardous material incidents.

Cherryland Electric Power Outaged Map                                        Web Link

Not an app but a web link to show where power is out.  Bookmark this page in your browser.

Consumers Energy Power Outage Map                                           Web Link

Not an app but a web link to show where power is out.  Bookmark this page in your browser.

Weather Radar and Info

Weather Underground Storm                  Android                                        IOS (free)

Excellent weather app.

Needful Things

Getting Pictures Off Your Phone – USB Drive

For IOS – Amazon – HooToo USB Lighting Drive 32 Gigs – $29.99

Let’s say you have a number of photos that you have taken of a disaster and you need to share these photos with Incident Command.  There is no email and/or you have a lot of photos.  This USB drive plugs into you iPhone and using the HooToo app, allows you to download up to 32 Gigs of photos.  The drive can then be plugged into a laptop to transfer photos.  It is also a good way to back up your photos while on vacation.

For Android, use the following (32Gigs is $15.25):

Flashlight Phone Charger (Pocket Size) $12.99

This is a great pocket sized phone charger and bright flashlight (3000 mAh):

Portable Battery Pack to recharge your Android/iPhone for up to one week of use (20,000 mAh) $29.99



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Charitable Donations?

Thinking about that charitable donation?

TBARG is a 501-c-3 non–profit organization that depends on charitable grants and donations to fund ham radio emergency communications in the Grand Traverse area. Please email us at for more information.
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