Revision 9 – 9/12/04
The Virginia Digital Emergency Network (VDEN) was formed on October 1, 1995 to build and maintain a network for amateur radio digital communications in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The primary purpose for this network is to provide a stable pathway and system for digital communications during emergencies in the state. The primary route to be maintained is into and out of Virginia Emergency Operations Center (“VA EOC”) in Richmond. VDEN may be utilized for digital communications by the National Weather Service’s Skywarn program, local emergencies and public service events whenever the need arises. When the network is not operating under an activation, it operates as a normal statewide network. VDEN is a digital package.
145.730 – Users, forwarding as required
446.075 – Backbone links and forwarding
441.050 – 9600 bps link between Tidewater and VA EOC
We have established a UHF backbone between our nodes on 446.075. Ideally, this is where all forwarding should take place but we know that it is not always possible. Using UHF for forwarding would allow users easier access on 145.73 and allow the network to operate smoother. 441.050 is a 9600 bps network between Tidewater and the VA EOC. VDEN uses other forms of technology as practical to get the message through such as faxes and the internet. Keyboarding is not an accepted part of the VDEN system during activations and drills.
All Node, BBS and non-BBS operators are invited to participate in the VDEN. Stand-alone TNC’s are encouraged to setup on 145.73, where reverse polling can be used by the full service BBS’s. Stand-alone TNC’s can assist in such ways as providing relays into the system and can be easily transported for mobile operations when needed. Full service BBS members are encouraged to have their own “portable” setups and emergency power supplies.
Full service BBS’s that participate in the VDEN are asked to follow these guidelines:
1) Have a forwarding “path” to the VA EOC BBS (W4ZA) defined. Please note it is not necessary to forward a message directly to the VA EOC. Simply put it as a traffic message on your BBS or the closest BBS to you and let the system forward it. Besides being addressed as ” ST W4ZA @ W4ZA ” it must be signed by an official such as City and County Emergency and Shelter Managers. This traffic will normally be Situation Reports and requests for aid and/or supplies at shelters.
2) Have a forwarding path to the local NWS packet station defined, if such a station exists.
3) Provide automatic NTS and personal message forwarding. Have an NTS instruction sheet readily available to assist with message encoding and decoding.
4) Be able to shut down routine bulletin forwarding during emergencies and drills.
5) Carry ARES/RACES/ARRL/VANET/VDEN bulletins. Other bulletins such as the @USA and @WW should be forwarded on frequencies other than 145.73 whenever possible. The @USA and @WW bulletin forwarding on 145.73 should only be during periods of non-emergencies and drills. NEVER should bulletin forwarding be allowed to interfere with emergency traffic forwarding! Time triggers should be used to help regulate forwarding schedules. Sysops should work out a schedule among themselves. Forwarding of bulletins should be stopped at 1800 local and started again at 2300 local to allow for easy network navigation by the users . Multi-nodes forwarding is not encouraged on 145.73 unless it is necessary to simply get the messages to the next station in the chain. Always let them forward to the next station and so forth as is built into the system. Direct BBS to BBS forwarding is the most favored method of forwarding whenever possible.
6) Ensure that any mail addressed to SYSOP @ VDEN goes only to SysOps and NodeOps of VDEN systems. This is addressed as P$ Sysop @ VDEN.
7) Sysop’s should observe the practice of no BULLETIN forwarding between the hours of 6pm and 11pm. This will allow users easier access to the BBS’s.
Nodes operators that participate in the VDEN are asked to follow these guidelines:
1) Allow access to all users unless otherwise requested.
2) Broadcast a nodes list on a hourly basis.
3) Multi-port nodes and stations that operate on 145.73 and one other common frequency should be setup to forward on the non-145.73 port if possible.
4) When two multi-port nodes, as described in #3, have equipment failure on their common forwarding frequency they will be allowed to use 145.73 to pass their traffic.
5) It is *not* necessary to restrict BBS’s on VDEN to special interest BBS’s. Full service BBS’s and stand alone TNC’s are always welcome to participate in VDEN and are asked to observe the VDEN guidelines.
6) If a neighboring node is abusing a VDEN node or the VDEN system, the VDEN node operator is expected to lock out the offending neighbor node once contacts with the other NodeOp have proven fruitless. The VDEN NodeOp should send a message addressed to SYSOP @ VDEN and advise our other SysOps and NodeOps of the situation.
IV. PROBLEM RECONCILIATION
The amateur radio community prides itself on the ability to “police their own”. To that extent the VDEN will “police it’s own network”, while always attempting to co-exist with all users. If a member of VDEN or a user will not abide by the VDEN guidelines then that person will be locked out of the system after efforts to resolve the problem do not work. Deliberate interfence will be reported to the FCC. There are frequencies and networks for all digital interests, just as 145.73 was designated for emergency messaging support by TMARC/DMARC.
VDEN was originally started to provide backup emergency communications for ARES, RACES, SkyWarn and other local emergency, public service organizations. We know the best way to ensure that the network continues to function is to allow it to operate as normal as possible during periods of non-emergencies and drills.
If a VDEN SysOp or NodeOp is approached by a Local, County or State official and is requested to go into an emergency mode of operations, all routine bulletin movement will cease on the VDEN system. Activation notification will be delivered by whatever means practical to VDEN members ASAP. VDEN members should keep each other informed of all network activities in a timely manner.
Neighboring nodes or BBS’s that interfere with the operation of VDEN will be locked out of the network as required to maintain the network’s functionality when the problem cannot be rectified with the abuser.
“P$ SysOp @ VDEN” is a way to send packet messages to other VDEN operators BUT make sure that it is P$ and not B$! Have VDEN entered in your forward file for all VDEN members you forward to.
Sole active member of the original Steering Committee and VDEN co-founder is:
Ben Sager, KC4ASF, Fredericksburg, VA. KC4ASF@KC4ASF and email at KC4ASF@KC4ASF.ORG
The Steering Committee will make suggestions and attempt to resolve problems that arise within the network. The Steering Committee will in no way attempt to run another SysOp or NodeOp’s system. However, in order to maintain order and operation on the frequencies used by VDEN, the Steering Committee may suggest that offending Nodes or BBS’s be locked out of the system until the problem created by them ceases to exist. Lockout is the last solution when all other solutions have been tried. Such interference will be reported to the FCC.
As of this DTG, KC4ASF, Ben Sager and Earl Moore, KR4MA are the Network Managers. KR4MA is located in the Tidewater area. Contact either one for digital assistance.
V. MEMBER INFORMATION
All members of the VDEN will receive an update of activities within the network as needed. Members may receive this update either by email or by packet. Anyone requesting to be on the email list should send a message to email@example.com. Any news that is to be included in the updates should be sent to:
Packet address: KC4ASF @ KC4ASF.#FRED.VA
Internet address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earl Moore uses KR4MA@KR4MA and email@example.com.
VDEN meetings and drills are held whenever possible but it is known that we all have jobs, families and other responsibilities.
VI. REVIEW OF THESE GUIDELINES
These guidelines will be reviewed and revised by the Steering Committee or Network Manager as needed. Members of the VDEN are encouraged to provide input. VDEN members may use whatever method of technology gets the job done fastest such as the internet or faxes whenever practical.
VA ARES/RACES attachment for the VDEN guidelines .
1. VDEN is a communications SERVICE. We exist to provide backup communications services to Public Service officials and Public Service offices throughout the state of Virgina.
2. Traffic to and from the Virginia EOC (VA EOC) is expected to be in formal ARRL NTS format whenever possible. We have adopted the ARRL message format because it contains the essential information and should be known to VDEN operators. If the traffic handling path is completely packet, the word count is optional, if any voice handling (such as VHF/HF relay) is involved it is required. A NTS instruction sheet should be at all operator locations. NTS formatting is expected to be replaced by another more user friendly format soon.
3. Traffic to VA EOC should be addressed to a specific person or office known to be present at the EOC. Messages simply addressed VA EOC are forwarded to a central clerk who will try to make sense of the message based on context on a time available basis. It is not unusual for the situation room at the VA EOC to be populated with 50+ Public Service officials representing 50 or more state agencies. Traffic that is not addressed to a specific person or office is likely to get lost in the shuffle. It is assumed that Public Service officials are aware of their organizational alignment and SOP’s during states of emergency.
4. The Virginia EOC is NOT a public information agency. Information requests will be referred to the state PIO for handling. Persons seeking information should the advised to contact the state PIO directly rather than tying up emergency communications channels.
5. ALL traffic for the VAEOC must be originated and signed by a Public Service official…i.e., /s/ Joe Hamm, EC of Anytown, VA.
6. Except as may be announced by EOC officials, the EOC does not solicit random observations on current weather conditions, road conditions, or similar observations. Persons wishing to report such information should be directed to contact their local emergency operating facility.
7. The proper form of address for official traffic to the VA EOC is:
Unofficial traffic, i.e., Sysop comments between VDEN operators (discouraged during busy times) can be sent in informal format and should be addressed to:
8. ARES/RACES stations are expected to send a check-in message to the Virginia EOC as soon as possible after call up.
The messages should contain:
a. Station call sign and name/callsign of operator.
b. Time of activation and time of check in.
c. Identification of the public service agency being supported and name and title of chief communications official in charge.
d. Provide the route by which messages may be replied to. Such as “yourcall@your homebbs” or another address or method that is functional.
e. Communications capabilities, i.e. hf, vhf voice, packet and especially any relay capabilities to adjacent facilities that you have.
f. If you want your msg acknowledged by the EOC Sysop then please indicate so and by what method, ie, packet, voice, pager, email, fax, etc… If you don’t ask then they won’t do it.