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Emergency communication

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:58 am
by sallen
During the Cascadia Rising emergency drill in the Pacific Northwest I realized I needed to get my Ham license for emergency communication needs. I maintain 6 transmitter sites in my area and one is an EAS primary. During a walk through on scenarios, it quickly became obvious that I should have a basic ham license for emergency communications. I plan to get my license in the next month. Test are given weekly in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Know I have the abilities to pass the test, that’s not an issue. Lots of resources to help with that.

What is a good handheld radio. I need to get one. I would like a 12 volt base unit to use at home with my 12 volt solar power system. And a good handheld unit for the car/out in the field use. I also need to get a base unit for one of the transmitter sites. What would be a good base unit either 12 volt or 120 for the transmitter site. How do the Boafeng units stand up against Yaesu. AAny rig suggestions?

Maybe take one of the surplus Continental 317C out here and turn it into a ham rig! (just kidding).

Thinking from the emergency communication aspect a ham license is almost a must if you maintain sites that have to work in all situations and you need to communicate with other engineers.

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 10:02 am
by jammerdave
Congrats on working towards the ham ticket!

I've experimented with a number of those cheapo chinese handhelds and mobiles. I am not impressed, and actually disappointed in the performance. Some have spurs/harmonics, etc... I would avoid them, just not worth it.

That being said, I would stick to the big name brands in the ham radio world. Icom, Kenwood Yaesu, Alinco....

I personally use a Kenwood TM-281 for a mobile. 65 watt 2 meter VHF radio with a front firing speaker. I love it, and it was only $137 from Gigaparts.
For a 2 meter handheld, I use an Icom IC-V80. Rugged, performs well. About $110 or so.

I got spoiled on commercial grade gear when I was young by my Motorola tech mentors/elmers, so I still have a bunch of that that I use on the ham bands as well. The ability to front panel program a radio on the fly is really handy though.

I still have two of the chinese handhelds, but they don't get used much.... One of those is for the 220 band.

73,

Dave NA6DF


sallen wrote:During the Cascadia Rising emergency drill in the Pacific Northwest I realized I needed to get my Ham license for emergency communication needs. I maintain 6 transmitter sites in my area and one is an EAS primary. During a walk through on scenarios, it quickly became obvious that I should have a basic ham license for emergency communications. I plan to get my license in the next month. Test are given weekly in the Seattle/Tacoma area. Know I have the abilities to pass the test, that’s not an issue. Lots of resources to help with that.

What is a good handheld radio. I need to get one. I would like a 12 volt base unit to use at home with my 12 volt solar power system. And a good handheld unit for the car/out in the field use. I also need to get a base unit for one of the transmitter sites. What would be a good base unit either 12 volt or 120 for the transmitter site. How do the Boafeng units stand up against Yaesu. AAny rig suggestions?

Maybe take one of the surplus Continental 317C out here and turn it into a ham rig! (just kidding).

Thinking from the emergency communication aspect a ham license is almost a must if you maintain sites that have to work in all situations and you need to communicate with other engineers.

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 3:17 pm
by Chris Arnesen
The first handheld I got was a Yaesu FT-60R in 2005. It is a workhorse and other than replacing the battery pack when it stops holding a charge, I still recommend it for newcomers as it will last and isn't difficult to program. I also have an Icom IC-91AD for digital (D-STAR) use and just bought a Tytera MD-380 for digital (DMR) use.

For mobile/base VHF/UHF use, I have an Icom IC-208H and Icom IC-880H for digital (D-STAR) use. They're both fine radios and fairly inexpensive on the used market.

With whatever you go with, I would definitely recommend that you get a dual-band (144 & 440 MHz bands) radio. Handhelds will pretty much all be 5 watts, mobile/base units will typically be about 50 watts.

You'll be disappointed with the Baofeng radios as they are really built to a cost. Working in high RF environments, the Baofeng radios will be pretty much unusable.

Good luck with the test!

--Chris, KU7PDX

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 9:18 pm
by Shane
I'll second Dave on the IC-V80, except I wish it was dual band.

Careful what settings you monkey with. I thought I spoke rather loudly (so the wife tells me) so I turned the 4-step mic gain down to 2, then I couldn't figure out why people couldn't hear me!

FINALLY, somebody said, instead of "your signal is weak here," "your audio is really low." Aha! So I put that puppy back on 4 and all is fine now. So I'm guessing the only reason to fool with that is if you use an external mic that might need some padding.

I also found I needed to have a print out (or a file on my phone) of some of the programming instructions as they are somewhat arcane. (Plus I am somewhat arcane!) For example, how you set the squelch isn't intuitive at all but works ok once you get the hang of it. The squelch setting is "simplex" for lack of a better word. It doesn't go into the memories.

I have an old Radio Shack dualbander that saves the squelch setting for each memory slot so that spoiled me some.

W7MSL

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 9:09 am
by Kelly
sallen wrote:
Sat Jun 11, 2016 10:58 am

Thinking from the emergency communication aspect a ham license is almost a must if you maintain sites that have to work in all situations and you need to communicate with other engineers.
Provided you didn't communicate via amateur radio with other Engineers about business-related issues. For example; for the sake of argument you're working for Bonneville, and are looking for a spare generator part from one of Clay's stations, that would be verboten.

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 12:14 am
by Shane
True. But in certain emergencies (not including "we're off the air but everyone else is on!") I believe you can even repeat amateur transmissions on the broadcast air as well as use amateur freqs for communication regarding the station operation. Many broadcast stations don't make any money during, say, weather emergencies and their aftermath although that's not necessarily the deciding factor in utilizing amateur communication in this way.

That's how I understand current Part 97 and 73 rules on the subject. After 50 years as a ham I might have missed something. --W7MSL

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:35 am
by sallen
If I'm at the KIRO transmitter and Jim drives by sometimes he will call me on the ham radio which is usually on at the transmitter and listening to the local Vashon repeater. We usueally talk about What we are doing, going to coffee, sometimes the conversation will turn to a specific Item like don't forget that the generator is getting serviced Thursday. I realize I should not use the Ham radio as a replacement for the phone (cell or land line) to conduct station business. But in keeping the ham radio operational at the various sites I maintain, I do have to talk on the ham radio during non emergencies with various people. Usually because of the nature of my work the topic does turn to what I'm up to at the transmitter, usually this takes the place as "shop talk" and not specific to actual station operation or request for parts or help.

I have enough RPU surplus gear and frequencies that I don't see having to use the ham radio to provide programming. In actual emergency and power outages on Vashon Island I have used the ham radio to communicate with the local hams reporting power outages and road closures.

In listening to the local repeaters in my area, I have heard hams ask for parts/help for commercial repair of equipment. Heaters and refrigeration being the most talked about.

On the non commercial side I have heard hams give advice on lawnmower repair and request for parts or "Hey stop by and give me a hand"'.

I could see sharing my "Top 10 List" of things Nautel told me not to do while the transmitter is on the Air, to Clay via the ham radio. Of course we should all know #1.... Don't apply firmware updates with the RF on. #2 Don't log into the exporter when On the Air.

I do see where the line is crossed with general shop talk on the ham radio versus talking about repairing specific commercial equipment. I think what we are talking about here is the difference between a ham operator talking to another ham about how to repair their home furnace versus two employees of a furnace repair company talking about a commercial repair/request for parts on the ham band.

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 9:18 pm
by Shane
Absolutely. There is a Sunday morning sked among a few locals I chime in on occasionally and we'll have a little bit of shop talk about what we're working on from time to time. Should be no problem there.

It could get really boring if you can't talk about what you do.

Happy hamming!

Re: Emergency communication

Posted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 7:32 am
by NavyBOFH
I am no expert on the laws for amateur radio, but our state amateur radio system is designed for hospitals in emergencies since at that point it is "used for life saving information which the hospital does not profit from". Based on that logic, since as an engineer you are working in an emergency to support emergency services (which can be articulated by having an EAS primary station), the use of amateur radio then would be only for the assistance of emergency communications and for your own wellbeing.

That being said, a decent HT would be a good idea. If these are "your" stations, I could even say you can argue getting some cheap(ish) 2m radios, power supplies, and base antennas and putting a fixed installation in each building which can be powered by your UPS and/or generator so you can have a reliable form of communication when the phones fail.

Here we are not only the "owners" of a statewide linked ham system, but then we also own the microwave backhaul and we are all licensed at least to the technician level to maintain the system. When it comes down to it, we will have no issue using the system if it means keeping our stations on the air so the state Emergency Management can keep passing out valuable information (as we are a State Secondary EAS station, and have TV announcement and alerting as well).

That's just my opinion, others here might blast me for how we do things but in the end the ham radio system has been up for almost a decade in current form and not a single complaint from another user, club, or the FCC about it.