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.

Setting Up Outside Show and Tell

Thanks to all who came to Badger Prairie Park on Aug 31 for a show and tell on setting up outside. We all learned something from each one of the setups. I was asked if I could provide a breakdown of some of what we learned. It wasn’t recorded and I wasn’t taking notes and although I don’t usually open posts for commenting I will on this one so I can rely on people who were there to comment below on any interesting take aways they had from the evening.

3 responses to “Setting Up Outside Show and Tell”

  1. Joe N9TWA Avatar
    Joe N9TWA

    I have a hard hat. Never throught to bring it. I have steel toe boots too which might come in handy. I do have a large amount of equipment to bring, but it often gets trimmed to meet the needs of my role. A list of what to bring for different assignments would be good. I forgot to mention that I also have a pair of FRS radios. Store batteries in a baggie with the light/radio etc., with all of it in a second baggie. This will protect the equipment if the batteries leak.
    Might come in handy when working with non-hams.

  2. Thomas Pugh W9TDP Avatar
    Thomas Pugh W9TDP

    Look for Public Safety Library in either the Apple App Store or the Android App Store. From the Library, I have downloaded, ‘Wisconsin Interoperable Communications Field Operations Guide’, ‘National Interoperability Field Operations Guide’, and ‘Auxillary Communications Field Operations Guide’. aka WI eFOG, eNIFOG, and eAUXFOG. Open each one while you have WiFi access; the files will download and you will have them when you need them in the field.

  3. KC9UNZ Avatar

    Here’s my take aways:
    Put a Hard Hat in my go kit.
    Make a list of stuff to take with me… I can’t set aside stuff just for deployment so I found I forgot obvious stuff for our evening I need to create a go kit list
    Deployment manuals can be found by installing the Public Safety Library app on Iphone or android. (More on this later)
    Bring a camp chair
    WEM Go-Kits can be requested through the county EOC.
    Everyone should create a Winlink Account. There are two parts to Winlink. You can create an account and install the software and use WinLink WITHOUT a radio. Create an account and get familiar with the software. Once you get that down, then wrestle with doing RF winlink (because wrestle you will!)

Badger Challenge (UW Cancer Research)

Event Timing: Sunday, September 24, 2022
Event Address: 6000 American Parkway, Madison

The Badger Challenge (formerly The Ride) consists of a cycling event (100mi, 100k, 50k, 25k, 5k) and a Run/Walk event (13.1mi and 5k).

The Badger Challenge would not be possible without its numerous caring and dedicated volunteers! This year, it takes place on Sunday, September 24, 2022 at the same location, 6000 American Parkway, Madison (American Family Insurance).

We are looking for volunteers for staffing communications support for traffic direction and parking for the event, Course Sweeper Vehicles, Bike mobile for patrolling the Run/Walk event, Rider transport, net control/dispatch. We will try to accommodate your availability as much as possible.

To volunteer please browse to this address:

August 2023 In-Person at Badger Pairie Park

Join us on the last Thursday of the month, August 31, at 7:00, at Badger Prairie Park County Park in Verona for a show and tell. When we asked what people wanted to see during the year one of the requests included ideas and examples of setting up outside and operating. If you have a way that you set up outside bring it along and we’ll set up a few stations outside on Thursday Evening. I’m not exactly sure where in the park we’ll be so come on down and drive along the main road through the park until you see what looks like a bunch of hams!

Please note, there will be no zoom connection available for this meeting.