Advice on bands & antennas needed for my emergency-comms situation

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by MCNALLY04, Oct 11, 2019.

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  1. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yup....those fancy systems will work....until they don't. The new federal systems....are based on cell towers. Hurricane Michael demonstrated just how reliable those are. I'm all for great technologies!!! But knowing a bit of old school also helps. And some systems are much more infrastructure dependent than others......which is why I like systems that are less infrastructure dependent...

    There is nothing wrong with ordinary humans wanting to have their own communications. There is no need to disparage them for that. This is one of the things ham radio is useful for --- and if one criticizes every person who comes to amateur radio for their various interests (whatever and how diverse they may be....) well, then should be be surprised if there are fewer people in your club?

    In the panhandle sure those towers had generators.....only they were underwater. And sure they had refillable diesel tanks...only the truck was mired in mud 3 miles up from them.....and sure they had fiber...only the buldozer that just knocked that precarious tree down....just took out your backup fiber or hyour replacement fiber....for the 6th time. Travel time seemed to be 2 hours per mile in needed a good sized tire patch kit!!!!

    It is alwasy funny to me when people who don't actually know what went on in XYZ write disparaging comments about it. Or when people who don't atually know the statistics insult people with false statistics....or when people who don't actually understand an advanced system, disparage it. I'm all for advanced systems!!!! More power to you. I'll still keep around a few older ideas, because there just might come a long a time when the advanced stuff......finds a vulnerability no one thought out. There are really bad things out there. I just heard a lecture from an epidemiologist who explained that people who didn't know that......diagnosed Ebola as Malaria....fatal difference for the person making the diagnosis, also!!!
    KK4NSF likes this.
  2. W0KDT

    W0KDT XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Wow. Calm, calm, calm, sir. You completely missed my point.

    1) There are still disasters, like Michael and Puerto Rico, where the communications and power infrastructure is wiped away to the extent that ham communication becomes very useful or critical. The Cali fires may fall into this category as well; I don't know.

    2) The number of those disasters is reduced in modern times because the cell and public service radio systems are fairly robust and adequate for most localized emergencies like tornadoes and most floods. I also worked for Red Cross in the Oklahoma flash floods and tornadoes. Our cell phones worked just fine through the whole thing.

    3) In our state, MN, the probability of a widespread disaster and consequent need for ham support is very low because we just don't have hurricanes, wildfires in populated areas, or earthquakes.

  3. K6BRN

    K6BRN XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    The idea of amateur radio operators as a trained and ready emergency communications force has always been a sketchy dream. Amateur radio operators are a motley crew and range from zero training with minuimal ability, literally tripping over themselves, to trained and capable professionals and those who simply want to be, but aren't. The latter crowd often gets into trouble with professional emergency responders.

    So, in an emergency, amateur radio and amateurs are an OPPORTUNITY, rather than part of the infrastructure. And the local leadership, whoever that may be (or lack thereof), determines how effective amateur operators and their equipment is in serving the community, in a disaster. Good leadership and organization, wherever that comes from, makes ALL the difference.

    As in Purto Rico, ARRL efforts provided an opportunity, not "the answer".

    For emcomm, a ham's OWN biggest opportunity may well be for themselves. In 1992, during the L.A. riots, I was able to cross-link, via a 2M FM repeater, into a telephone network that had NOT been taken down by massive numbers of panic calls (I used a repeater phone patch situated in an evacuated indistrial town) and from there to my XYLs cellphone. She was doing an inspection right in the path of the rioters and had not even heard of the event. After I convinced her this call was not a bad joke, she got to the nearest elevated highway just ahead of the mob, and got out of the danger area. I've never had a complaint from her about my antennas or equipment since. In fact, she talked several friends into becoming hams, one of whom I work with today.

    Brian - K6BRN
  4. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    well... I don't disagree with that. The real thing is what the op means with "reliable". If he means regular communication on a dailly basis, most likely during the gray zone or at night.... then a his task is not too difficult. If he needs to be able to talk at any time, day or night then his task is going to be a bit more difficult.
  5. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    you might want to try to tell that to a few of the hams in the Bahamas, too. I don't know how many hams helped out, but I know we relayed several messages to anxious family members the day of the storm, and the day after..... when the phone systems and other communication links were down entirely.
    It was a small contribution to say the least, but it was great to be able to tell folks that their loved ones were alive and well.

    Maybe.... maybe not. Hams from our area were asked, and responded to help out in Panama City last year.... and were on the ground for at least two weeks, until the replacement infrastructure was up and running. Even though the various state and county agencies thought their systems were hardened enough, and redundant enough to withstand the storm surge and wind, as it turned out they were not.... and until they were back up and running, hams helped out a lot.
    KX4Z likes this.
  6. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hi, friend, no ill will -- some of the comments didn't apply to your thoughts at all ("shoe fits, wear it")--- I *agree* that many times there isn't much need for additional communications. But a lot of people don't quite grasp just how often there IS

    The more I read and learn, the more I realize this. Take my friend who runs a 100-foot Mutual Assistance Radio Communications tower for the state of florida. He can provide VHF/UHF repeater service for a 10 mile radius (300sq miles!) --- but then he is stuck. In Palatka he couldn't even read anyone outside his 10 mile circle. What if HE needed help? Or someone inside his 300 sq mile radius needed to get OUTSIDE there? He realized he had no answer, despite having a literal ton of aluminum and steel and wiring towed behind their huge truck --- so they are adding HF SHARES as well as other systems.

    When that group deployed to the panhandle, to Mexico beach --- I think they had the same issue (I'm not certain about that).

    Think about a group like Baptist Disaster relief, in Michael. Cellphones unusuable for days. No radio. You have maybe a dozen, maybe two dozen crews out doing repair tasks --- wouldn't you want to be able to keep in touch with them????? What if they get stranded? Don't return in time.

    Solutions include business band, gmrs, ham --- but they all involve someone who knows towers, coax, transmitters,......yada yada

    And how are you going to order the next 5 tons of food? You have only VHF if you didn't bring satellite (THAT WORKS --- theirs quit, I have YET to see a working satellite VSAT systems.....) or HF or SHARES or business frequencies. Some of those systems are $1000/day

    And those issues are in good times! There are lots of worse things that SOMEONE has to be thinking about: SARS, hemorraghic fevers for two. And what about a ragwing dropping spores? What about a malicious attack on power systems like the Ukraines had to deal with in the dead of winter 2 years ago? Or the sniper attack on San Jose power system? Or a CME? or a EMP? I sure hope SOMEONE is thinking about that.

    I had the hance to speak to the former head of the FEMA. For an hour. So I asked what were the plans to take care of the CITIZENRY in some of those events....answer: they don't. Continuity of government, YES, plans for millions of citizens: No.

    So there is plenty to keep us busy, and all you have to do is think about it to realize some of them.

    YOu and I agree a lot more than we disagree, probably! Thanks for your input!
    KK4NSF likes this.
  7. KX4Z

    KX4Z Ham Member QRZ Page

    Great points!
    What I see often are people who just aren't willing to put in the time to gain some real skills. Merely pressing a mic button is not enough of a skill to be useful. I did a search for published full scale exercises....and found very very few, almost none written up in HSEEP format, and giving candid frank commentary. Most are pat-yourself-on-the-back. In our first such exercise we had thirty-six points where improvement was needed, and we probably got across about 50% of the pre-written scenario messages.

    The authorities do have procedures. A fireman put us all to shame in one of our exercises because HIS stuff was simple, but IT WORKED. AFter an hour that is -- they had their own problems! Testing, exercises, --- those are the name of the game if you want to be useful. In our county we are putting in the work to do that, but obviously not everyone is on the same page......but the group grows and we're doing something right. About 5 exercises published, one of which made QST for two issues.
  8. KK4NSF

    KK4NSF Ham Member QRZ Page

    A good friend of mine is heavily involved with the Baptist Disaster Relief group over here, and they are always training, planning and recruiting others for when they are needed. While they are not strickly a "ham group", they most cetainly do use ham operators within their group to support their operations. Not only are they very well organized, they are well respected in this area.
    KX4Z likes this.
  9. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    One thing to keep in mind is that one-way transmissions are problematic for two reasons. First of all, it's illegal. With a few exceptions that don't appear to be relevant, hams are allowed to engage in only two-way communications. So if you are trying to be heard by someone with only a receiver and no transmitter, it's probably illegal.

    And from a practical point of view, it's not going to work. Whatever you come up with, it's not going to be 100% reliable. Generally, you can live with much less than 100% reliability. You want to send a message from Point A to Point B, and you decide that most of the time, 40 meters would work best. So you call on 40 meters but get no response. You know that your backup plan is to go to 80 meters. So if you call on 40 meters and don't establish contact at the top of the hour, then you switch to 80 meters at 10 minutes past the hour. Or if you don't get through at Noon, you try again at 6:00 PM. The probability of any of these working is less than 100%. But the probability of at least one of them working is close to 100%.

    If you're just transmitting blind, you have no idea if your message was received. You only know if it's received if the other station comes back to you and tells you they received it.

    Specifically, in your 10-20 mile example, then 2 meter FM will probably work fine. It would probably work with a simple ground plane antenna, but it's more likely to work with relatively small beam antennas pointing at each other. Of course, the Sangean shortwave receiver won't be able to hear them.

    For contacts in the 200 mile range, then 80 or 40 meters would probably be the best, with 80 being somewhat more likely to work more of the time, especially during the day. In general, a horizontal antenna will work best for that distance. At night, there will be times when 200 miles is too close for either of those bands. 160 meters might work at night.

    It's relatively unlikely that anyone will hear you on a consumer shortwave receiver with just a whip antenna. It's possible, but they would need to be tuned in at just the right time, on just the right frequency. Also, the receiver needs to be able to tune SSB. I'm not sure if that particular model does. If they are off by 1 or 2 kHz, then they definitely won't hear you.
    AG6QR and KX4Z like this.
  10. K0UO

    K0UO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    This should be posted under ANTENNAS.

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