Hawaii State Civil Defense (SCD) serves as the coordinating entity for the State of Hawaii during times of emergency that affects one or more counties in Hawaii. SCD interacts with the county government civil defense agencies and with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
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Hawaii State Civil Defense uses amateur radio as a radio communications backup with Emergency Operating Centers (EOCs) located at the Neighbor Island counties. SCD partners with civic-minded amateurs registered with civil defense agencies to extend radio communications to backup existing communications systems from outage or congestion. SCD also uses amateur radio communications as a communications backup to California, the FEMA Region IX mainland support center for Hawaii. Amateur radio communications is accomplished through the State Civil Defense Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES) program.
During the early phases of an activation, command and control of the State RACES operations is accomplished via an interisland Very High Frequency (VHF) radio network. This is the Hawaii State RACES VHF repeater network.
Commercial-grade two meter amateur radio repeaters on each major island are linked via the State government microwave system to provide simultaneous and instantaneous communications for the command net. This permits amateurs equipped with common and readily available VHF walkies, mobile and base radios to informed of activations and receive direction.
The VHF repeater system provides a means of rapid response to the initial condition and to coordinate activating additional communications. Contrary to some views, it is not intended to provide communications during or after a hurricane. The primary vehicles for post-hurricane inter-island communications for the affected islands are HF NVIS communications, VHF repeaters on the surviving islands and simplex operations.
Emergency communications radio nets are scheduled weekly. Sponsoring radio amateurs are:
- Maui Emergency Net/State RACES Net - Monday 7:00 pm HST, NCS: KH6H
- Big Island Emergency Net - Wednesday 7:00 pm HST, NCS: Big Island ARC
During non-emergencies, the State RACES VHF system is open to normal amateur communications to enable amateurs on each island to become familiar with each other. Being familiar with each other's radio capabilities and practices increases the likelihood of success during an emergency. Radio contacts during non-emergencies should be limited to fifteen minutes. Commercial and phone patch traffic are prohibited.
The PL (CTCSS subaudible tone) for accessing the repeaters is 103.5 Hz (Tone 1A).
Primary operations for around-the-island and inter-island communications are on 40 and 80 meter high frequency (HF) frequencies. SCD takes advantage of near-incident vertical skyway (NVIS) radio propogation to achieve a highly reliable repeater-less system with around-the-clock coverage. Operations commence on one of these frequencies:
- 80 meters - 3993.5 kHz
- 60 meters - 5330.5 kHz
- 40 meters - 7088 kHz
- 40 meters - 7290 kHz
A packet radio system is available for passing bulletins and similar messages between the islands. This is the Hawaii State RACES Packet network.
UHF repeaters are used to maintain communications and coordinate with other agencies while working around the mutual interference caused by operating multiple radios within the VHF spectrum.
Another capability for SCD RACES is D-STAR (Digital Smart Technologies for Amateur Radio). A UHF D-STAR repeater is operating on Diamond Head on 442.000 MHz, plus offset as of February 21, 2012. The RPT1 repeater callsign is "KH6HPZ B" (don't forget to put in the blank between KH6HPZ and the letter B).
The repeater is an open repeater, with emphasis on emergency communications during times of emergencies. Specific tasking for the repeater has yet to be worked out, and is in progress. Limiting QSOs to 15 minutes is appreciated.
The repeater is currently operating at low power 2 watts into a 3 dB antenna. Coverage has been confirmed between Hawaii Kai and West Oahu. The gateway KH6HPZ G is operational and is passing position reports via the DPRS gateway.
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