Digital Command Station
By Don Felgenhauer K7BFL
Question -- During a Emcomm event, what is a "Digital Command" station? What does it do?
Answer -- The Digital Command (DC) station assists WL2K and peer-to-peer stations which are operating during the Callout or Training Event. This is done in close partnership with the event's Voice Command station (NCS). The DC is there to help, not hinder the operation. The DC is there to increase the production of the Digital Stations, thereby unloading the use of voice channels. The need for a Digital Command station increases with larger number of digital Field Digital Stations. Tasks might include:
1. Upon becoming operational, each ARES/RACES Field Station would ask Voice Command for the WL2K name of Digital Command. The Field Station would then send a test message to the DC, including the mode being used (packet Keyboard, packet 1200, packet 9600, WINMOR, pactor 1, pactor 2, pactor 3) and the expected primary RMS station to be used . DC would Reply with an Acknowledgement message.
2. All WL2K messages sent by each Field Station should be cc to Digital Command. This will enable DC to "monitor" the digital traffic relating to the event. DC would notify Voice Command of pertinent information from those messages.
3. Field Stations often do not know the CORRECT WL2K address of other Field Stations in the event. Digital Command should send updated lists to each Field Station, containing the correct WL2K address of all other Field Stations.
4. All messages received by DC will be checked for "errors", particularly those related to spelling errors of Addresses in the message. Feedback concerning the possible errors should be sent back to the Sending station and the message Forwarded to the correct address.
5. DC should query each Field Station concerning which RMS Stations (and frequencies) they are primarily using. Digital Command would then suggest the possible use of alternate RMS Stations, which would unload the use of "overloaded" RMS Stations.
6. Digital Command should be very familiar with the use of WL2K software and systems. Monitoring of the Winlink web page "status pages" may give useful information for Field Stations.
7. Digital Field Stations may ask Digital Command to assist with solving "path problems" to desired email addresses. Field Stations may ask DC to educate "outside" stations needing to send messages to Field Stations regarding the need for small message size, etc. DC is a mentor for the Field Stations.
8. If Peer-to-Peer operation is being used, DC should suggest to Voice Command frequencies which should work between Digital Stations.
9. DC and Voice Command should periodically get a "Mission Assessment" from each Field Station. What is not working well? Do you need more/different personnel or equipment? What procedures should be changed, added, or stopped?