Current weather forecast through email/winlink

I wanted to document this as a reference. When in the field (or anywhere) that you have accèss to create an email, including using winlink, and you’d like to get the current weather conditions and forecast you can send an email to the National Weather Service. Momentarily you will receive a reply with weather conditions for your county.

Let’s cut to the chase. In your email include the following (this is for Dane County Wisconsin)


Subject: anything you’d like


cd data
cd forecasts
cd zone
cd wi
get wiz063.txt

Send your email and in a few moments you will receive a reply with the current weather conditions for your area. The above email will get you a reply that includes this information.

You can get information for any US.county by changing two things, the state abbreviation under the zone line and the text file name on the “get” line. For example to get information for Iowa county replace the get line with get wiz062.txt.

Another example to show the substitutions for Hartford, CT, the body of the message would be:

cd data
cd forecasts
cd zone
cd ct
get ctz002.txt

If you want the full help file replace the text in the body of your email with the word “help”

If you want to get information on a different county you will have to find the appropriate file name. All of the available files can be found under each state abbreviation here:

I haven’t found an easier listing connecting county to file name but if I do I’ll update this post.

Simulated Emergency Resource Net – Oct 7, 2023

Rather than let the SET weekend pass without any acknowledgement we decided to have a Simulated Emergency Resource net. We asked any operators who were able to check in using our normal net repeater and give us a call sign, location and whether they were using a battery or commercial power and if they were using a fixed or mobile station. We had 14 check-ins. We had a scheduling conflict with a home Badgers game so some of our regulars would not be able to check-in. You gotta have priorities!

Just for fun(?) I decided to map the check-in and you can view the map here.

Thanks to all who were able to participate.

September 2023 Monthly Meeting

We will hold our monthly meeting this month on September 28 at 7:00 PM, however, we will not meet in person. We’ll be using Google meet this month, you can either click on the link and join or call the number. We’ll talk briefly about the upcoming SET, review how all the Public Service Events went this year and brain storm what we’d like to do next year. I’ll not publish the link here so we can avoid bombing. Please check your email tomorrow. If you do not receive an email drop a note to and let me know and I’ll send you a copy.

Staffing Emergency Services

While on a tour this past week I had the opportunity to sit with a retired public health director. He drew the lucky wild card and retired just before we even knew there would be a pandemic. In his closing interview he noted specifically that he would recommend budget to plan and provide for a pandemic and mass vaccinations among other things. Prophetic.

It got me to thinking about how do you plan, budget, staff for unanticipated emergencies. Certainly you can’t hire hundreds of staff people for something that may never happen. No one has the budget for that and it would be a ridiculous waste of money.

Our conversation helped me to better understand our role as Amateur Radio Emergency Service (#ARES) volunteers and my role as Emergency Coordinator for Dane and Iowa Counties here in Wisconsin.

Staffing for emergencies seems to be all about relationships. You don’t have to “own” every resource you need but you need to foster relationships so if/when you need a particular skill set you know how to contact them and have a good idea of what kind of expertise they can bring to bear when needed.

As a group of enthusiasts we

  • play with our gear
  • we learn how to overcome problems
  • practice our craft
  • provide communications for public events
  • maintain amateur radio equipment at various public locations like hospitals, and county and state emergency operations centers and
  • attend a menu of training classes so we are knowledgeable about FEMA’s National Incident Management System

and that is just off the top of my head. And we do all this mostly for free, at least not for money.

We have radio frequencies allocated for our exclusive use across the radio spectrum enabling us to communicate across town across the continent and around the globe. We can communicate with the space station as well! It is true that during normal times those frequencies are exclusively for amateur use but there have been times (during WWII) when “our” frequencies were set aside for Federal use and we were not allowed to use them but that almost never happens and the frequencies were returned to use as soon as the war was over.

What the community gets for this group of folk out in back yards, parks, downtown and out in the hinterland “playing radio” is a stable of folk who at the drop of a hat can provide coordinated communications off-the-grid, with or without commercial power in virtually any conditions, either as primary incident communications or a secondary channel for additional communications.

It also gets a group of curious experimenters who have historically pushed the edges of how we can use radio waves for communications. We have figured out how to send email (#winlink), files, images, phone calls over radio. If needed we can set up computer networking and webcams. Even as I write this I am following the location of support vehicles for a Bike event using Automatic Packet Reporting System (APRS), a radio based messaging system that we use for mobile stations to automatically report where they are on the course so we can intelligently deploy support where needed.

This is me, thinking out loud and trying to understand better why we do what we do and how we can do it better.



Nearly every level of Public Service at which we could be deployed has a FOG or Field Operations Guide. Even if you are not in the middle of an incident they have a wealth of information on operating and equipment and procedures. It is Free so its worth every penny.

On Android or IPhone go to your app store and search for “Public Safety Library” (at least that is what it is called on my Android).

Once it is installed the three FOGs you will want to install first will be

  • Wisconsin Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guide (WIFOG)
  • National Interoperability Field Operations Guide (NIFOG)
  • Auxiliary Communications Field Operations Guide (AuxFOG)

Once you have them installed go ahead and browse. You’ll find some interesting stuff in there. And let us know what you think.

We Are Now Federated Using ActivityPub


There is a growing number of social media platforms that are using a protocol called ActivityPub to allow users on disconnected social networks to follow one another. You may have heard of Mastodon, an open source web service that supports ActivityPub. Others include Pixelfed, PeerTube, and Lemmy and many others. The key is that using Federated platforms you can follow and communicate with people on different systems. What would email be like if you had to have a yahoo account to send email to a yahoo user and you couldn’t email a gmail user. ActivityPub solves this problem for social media. This protocol is growing rapidly. Soon it is expected that the new social media site “Threads” by Meta will also be federated allowing users to follow accounts outside of the Meta ecosystem.

All this is to say that the Dane/Iowa County ARES/RACES site is now federated as well. If you have a social media account that allows you to follow federated accounts you can add @KB9ORN or to those that you follow and every new post that we create on this site (including this one) will show up in your feed.