San Antonio HamsSan Antonio Area Hams Operator


Serving the Amateur Radio Community
in San Antonio and South Central Texas
since 2003

2006 Section 4 American Red Cross Drill - November 18th


Dawn broke on Saturday morning at the San Antonio Chapter of the American Red Cross. Birds were chirping. Cars were passing. Life was normal on the East side. But inside "The EGG", something stirred. A presence awoke and attempted to communicate with the outside world.

"NS5D, this is KD5Y-Zed-U. Do you have the donuts?" inquired Erik Rabe KD5YZU of the Radio Operators of South Texas club (ROOST). Erik was fully clad in battle dress uniform, cigar in hand as he huddled inside his warm, hard-shelled travel ovum. "Roger, Roger..." came the sleepy reply.

But let us return to the day before, when a small group of intrepid ham warriors converged on the unsuspecting Chapter, armed with antennae, telescoping poles, coax and a determination to get on the air.
Erik Rabe KD5YZU operates from inside The EGG,
The Emergency Get-up and Go trailer.

Antenna Install

Led by a brain trust consisting of senior HF afficionados Danny McCarty WA5KRP of the Alamo Area Radio Organization (AARO) and David Freiberger K5OLE of the San Antonio Radio Club (SARC), neither of whom had ever met before, the team scaled the walls of the Red Cross like some eerie techno-ninjas, unspooling coax behind them as they festooned the place with radiating elements.

A crisis of faith descended with the evening shadows upon the weary wire-heads as they realized they still didn't have an antenna that would tune up on 40 meters. Shane O'Neal NS5D, let out a surprised yelp as he keyed up the metal desk mike of his aged Yaesu and the full force of 100 watts of RF energy was directed back upon his fingertips. The vertical was not going to work after all.

Above (Left-Right) Standing - Erik KD5YZU (ROOST President), Lothar KE5JXS, Seated - David K5OLE (SARC President), Mike KD5OZM (AARO President) and Schuylar KE5VIP operating the radio (back toward camera)

Antenna MountJust when hope was all but lost, out of the darkness emerged a mysterious figure. Obie Weathers N5VYS of the South Texas DX and Contest Club (STDXCC) materialized from the ether as if summoned by supernatural powers, and began to offer subtle hints to the astonished crew. "Quit messing around and put up a real antenna!" he suggested in his polite but authoritative manner.

The team followed suit and produced the B&W folded dipole, on loan from AARO, which they had sequestered for just such an occasion. "Will this do?" they asked meekly. "That'll do just fine." said Obie, as he secured one end and then faded back into the night.

Antenna Setup

Hams use Danny WA5KRP's truck to get that extra height so that the ladder can safely reach the roof of the American Red Cross building.

AntennaMilton KE5CLV operating WinLink using his laptop at the table, while Barry W5BLH offers assistance. Don AC5XK and Shane NS5D inspects vertical antenna used in The EGG on 20 meters.

"How did he know we needed him?" inquired Erik, still in disbelief that an uber-elmer had appeared out of thin air. "You just dial 5 from any phone" replied David, a satisfied look upon his face.

With mission accomplished, the warriors somersaulted away, leaving only a lone sentinel and his trusty Emergency Get-up and Go trailer (The EGG), to secure the premises.

ARC Anntenna Setup

"NS5D, this is KD5Y-Zed-U. Do you have the donuts?'. "Roger, Roger... I have the donuts and I'm inbound to your location."

With that simple exchange, a new day began at the Red Cross chapter in San Antonio. One-by-one, hams new and old arrived and worked as one to get the coffee on, the donuts down, and the radios aglow with activity. Taking advantage of some excellent band conditions on 40 meters, they made a few casual contacts with other chapters in Texas and Louisiana before the official start of the exercise which was the purpose of their gathering.

The November 18th exercise was dubbed "The Southwest Area Amateur Radio Preparedness Exercise". It was designed by the Red Cross to get as many of their chapters in the five state service area known as SA4 engaged with the local amateur radio operators who support them.

As chapters near and far checked in on 40 meters, 20 meters, Winlink and VHF, the coordinating chapter in Dallas (using the special event call sign K5D) was doubtless awed by the overwhelming show of force from the ham community.

KE5VIPThe success of the exercise was ensured within the first few minutes, as chapter after chapter came booming in with simulated emergency traffic.

Among the many call signs heard by K5D was W5SC, the venerable club call of the 87-year-old San Antonio Radio Club, which was made new again by the efforts of volunteers from clubs all over Bexar County who are collectively known as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service.

My personal thanks to the following hams who participated in San Antonio portion of the event, and my apologies if I left anyone out:


McNeillShane NS5D briefs Red Cross Rep Mac McNeil on today's operations. Schuylar KE5VIP operating radio to pass message reporting tornado touch down near Hondo, Texas with unknown damages at present time. Of course the message was a drill, not a real report, but it was successfully passed along to Dallas American Red Cross Communications via 40 meters Amateur Radio.

(left) Robert K5KRP and David K5OLE prepare the grill for fixing HAMburgers (naturally, what else would Ham's eat?).

Well done! And a special thanks to Mac McNell of Disaster Services, who made us feel at home at the chapter.

Best Regards,
Shane NS5D
AEC, Bexar County ARES
Communications Coordinator, Hill Country REACT Team

Climing ladder

KD5OZMMIke KD5OZM tries to come up with the best exercise message to have Schuylar KE5VIP to pass along to Dallas via 40 meters.

Milton KE5CLV sits in the shade trying to get the glare off the screen of his laptop while connecting to a remote computer via WinLink over 2 meter Amateur Radio.

LotharLothar KE5JXS operates from inside The EGG. The laptop was connected to the Internet using a cell phone modem interface.


While the Net Control Station up in Dallas Red Cross was monitoring and accepting calls on 20 and 40 meters Amateur, they were accepting reports locally on 2 meter, 440 mhz and GMRS radios as well.

We experimented with different antenna configurations and radios during the event which was held from 9am until 1pm this day.

In addition to the Red Cross volunteers who popped out back to check out our operations, one local pastor who had stopped at the gas station next to the compound came up to the fence and asked if he could buy a couple of hamburgers for his wife and self. He walked all the way to the front of the Red Cross building, signed in as a visitor, and returned back to the rear where the hams were stationed. He left with two hamburgers, a couple of flyers promoting the January ham class plus information about San Antonio VOAD and Amateur Radio in general.


Hams take over the vehicle compound behind the San Antonio American Red Cross HQ on the east side of San Antonio, Texas.


The Red Cross Disaster Services Department rolled out the proverbial red carpet for us, sending students from one of their classes outside to tour our operations.

Cooking lessons

Robert K5RPB flips burgers for the other hams to enjoy.

Cooking lessonsLothar KE5JXS enjoys a burger while Erik KD5YZU shows The EGG to a couple of Red Cross volunteers who also enjoyed the hamburgers.

Webmaster's Footnote: Amateurs from just about every area Ham Club participated in this drill. With cross-membership, I suspect just about every group was represented. Ham Clubs / Organizations represented were (included in no particular order), Alamo Amateur Radio Organization, San Antonio Radio Club, South Texas DX Contest Club, Hill Country REACT Team, Bexar County ARES, Radio Operators of South Texas. We thank the San Antonio Chapter of the American Red Cross for their hospitality and support of this event. We consider it to be a big success, and proof that permanently installed HF antennas at the Red Cross building was a necessity that we needed to address. All photos on this page were taken by Lee N5NTG. Photos may be used with permission if proper credit given. Narrative in white boxes above written by Shane NS5D. Permission to reprint was given by the author when credit is provided.

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