Important info for all ARES® members


Important Winlink Software Info:  If you’re not currently up-to-date and using the newest RMS Express Message Templates, you’re missing an opportunity to make the most of your operating skills. 

Beginning with RMS Express v1.4.3.0, message templates were automatically installed in the Standard Templates Folder.  Better yet, beginning with v1.5.6.0, message templates are automatically updated when you accept the system’s start-up message to update.  The “old” templates in your Global Templates folder should be deleted and never used again.  Get downloads and information at
Go to  for a quick guide to installing or updating RMS Express along with tips on using message templates.

Reminder # 1:  Gwinnette ARES Basic Skills Test

Everyone in ARES® should have taken the Gwinnette ARES Basic Skills Test by now – and most of you have:  Thanks! – but just in case, here is the web site for this free service.  By the way, this is one of the requirements for the Georgia State ARES badge, too:

Register with my name, call, and

Reminder # 2 – Register for

All ARES® members should be registered with,

Amateur radio ops who are not members of ARES® or who are inactive members should not register for GHA911 until they join ARES®.

The main benefit of registering for GHA911 is that you’ll automatically be registered in the ​Everbridge Mass Notification
Everbridge ​will keep you informed before, during and after all events whether emergency or non-emergency  by way of email, text messages and/or a phone call​.​  No more “phone trees”!​

Anyone who fails to register for GHA911 may be assigned to inactive status in ARES®.

 ARES Members:  Please go to for directions on how to register.
Reminder # 3 – Please join your local hospital’s ARES® Team – here’s how:

We are now looking for charter members to join an ARES® hospital amateur radio operations teams for:

  • Burke
  • Jenkins
  • Richmond – Doctors Hospital
  • Richmond – Augusta University Medical Center

If you would like to be included in one of these groups, please send your name to John MacDonald,, the DEC for East Central Georgia ARES®.

Reminder # 4 – Technicians:  Please upgrade to at least a General Class license

MAKE NO MISTAKE:  We are very glad to have Technician Class amateur radio operators in our ARES® group and we look forward to their participation with us during “incidents” that occur in our ARES® District.  Technicians are certainly valuable members of our ARES® team by handling very important local communications on 2 meters and 70 cm (440).  That will be an important way that we stay in communications with other agencies in- and outside of Burke County.

General class ops can also communicate on 2 meters and 70 cm, but they also have much needed privileges on two very important ARES® bands:  75 meters and 40 meters.  According to the state EMCOMM plan, 75 and 40 meters are the #1 priority for all ARES® operations.

We have a shortage of General and Amateur Extra Class operators in all of our counties.  Having a cadre of HF operators is critical to our ARES® group’s response to incidents.

Therefore, I am asking all Technician class operators to begin working, if you’re not already, on getting your general class license.  Thank you so much in advance!  If you need any help, please let me know.


Reminder #5 – If you do not have a 2 meter / 70 cm (440) transceiver, power supply, antenna, etc., please acquire this equipment as soon as possible

You worked hard to get your amateur radio license.

You paid a test fee to acquire it.

I’m pretty sure that some of our local hams have never purchased at least a 2 meter/440 50 watt mobile radio.
During the January, 2014 “ice storm,” did you feel isolated, even alone?  Those of us with a radio did not have that feeling!  It’s a nice feeling to be connected rather than disconnected plus we’re even more prepared now due to several recent improvements in our system!

The main reason I can think of for getting a ham radio license is to get a radio and ancillary equipment and to get on the air.  Participate in the fun and other activities!  If you have never bought at least a 2 meter/440 50 watt mobile radio, it is now time!  🙂  We will really need your participation!

We need for you to participate in our Amateur Radio Emergency Service®, too!

———– Buying a radio, part 1 ———————

I’ve said this before, but it’s definitely worth repeating again:

— a $25 Baofeng or any other kind of handheld, no matter how much it costs, is not appropriate for ARES® or repeater operation

— not enough power to be reliable into a repeater – advertised as 5 watts, actually has only 4 watts out
— tiny, rubber ducky antenna further reduces the effective radiated power (makes a 5 watt radio transmit like a 2 watt radio)
— In the last couple of years, I have owned three (3) Baofeng UV-5R $25 radios.  All three have died and not one “traveled upwards” after death.
On the other hand – for just $26 delivered by Amazon, go for it.  Just don’t expect to transmit very far and don’t be shocked when it dies.

———– Buying a radio, part 2 ———————

— Minimum recommended radio would be an analog 50W mobile radio capable of accessing both the 2 meter and 70 cm bands

— minimum recommended radio would be something like an analog FM Yaesu FT-7900
— $269 delivered to you
— at $269, this Chinese-made, but brand name radio is still cheaper than the no-name Chinese radios

———– Buying a radio, part 3 ———————

— Minimum radio (2 meters only ) would be a 50W mobile radio, 2 meter band only.
A good, inexpensive radio in the 2 meters only category would be the $132.95 delivered Kenwood TM-281A that is actually 60W!
I just noticed that Gigaparts has an open box TM-281A for $123.

———– Buying a radio, part 4 ———————

— Highly recommended radio would be a D-STAR digital 50W mobile radio for 2 meter/70 cm bands
— D-STAR 2 meter/70 cm radios are the new standard for ARES® in Georgia
— D-STAR radios are highly recommended if you can afford one plus why buy old technology like an analog FM radio?
—  Icom ID-5100A   $489 delivered to you after a $10 mail-in rebate.
— I just bought one and it is the best new radio since Marconi’s transatlantic radio
————————————- If you buy one of the above transceivers ————————-————–

I have the programming software and programming cables for the above three transceivers.

For all BARC and/or Burke ARES® members, I will program repeaters plus a few other frequencies for you

You’ll need to purchase at least a mobile magnet mount antenna for it and, since most cigarette lighter power sockets only provide 10 amps, you’ll need to wire it straight to your battery.  If you want to use it in your house, you’ll need at least a small outside antenna and some kind of 13.8 volt power supply capable of providing at least 12-14 amps depending on which radio you buy or a rechargeable battery and a charging unit.


Questions?  Please call me at 706-466-5646.
John MacDonald, K4BR
EC Burke County