All WX Solar Powered Field Station

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by OH8STN, Nov 13, 2017.

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  1. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Hello Operators.
    In today's video I'd like to discuss the concept of a solar-powered field station for amateur radio emergency communications. Those of you who follow the blog, probably already know about this project. For the rest of you, here is a video introduction of a concept I call the All WX Solar-Powered EMCOMM Field Station.

    The concept for a rapidly deployable, man-portable field station, came to me after the grid down disaster caused by Hurricane Maria. As you undoubtedly already know, Hurricane Maria knocked out electricity and communications throughout most of the affected area, leaving hospitals in cities and distant regions, without reliable communications.

    I'm under No Illusion about amateur radios ability to completely replace network communications. However amateur radio can provide essential Communications between hospitals and health centers, pass well & safe traffic, or create an HF datanet to manage amateur radio operator, resources, and logistics, while no other communication services exist.

    The article is work-in-progress, so it will certainly adapt and change as it becomes more mature. The goals are there, and the ideas are solid.

    I wouldn't normally post a link to my blog but it's an important part of the video. Link to Blog:

    Julian oh8stn
    K4JNS, AC7DD, KO3Z and 7 others like this.
  2. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think that this concept requires a step up in transceiver ruggedness. Amateur gear simply is not engineered for this niche. Professional gear, something like the Barrett 2050 series, is what I have in mind. I haven't went that far with it, myself, but I have initiated movement in that direction; more to follow on that.

    I'm not completely sold on ALE yet. The antenna issue alone is enough for me to give pause. Low powered field stations are best served with efficient antennas, as a general rule.

    I might have mentioned before that I am a fan of Winlink. I use it all the time with a Signalink sound card. However, for this project I would be taking a hard look at Pactor P4 Dragon.

    The Toughbook is the way to go; anything less is a compromise that will fail at the most inopportune time.

    I'm digging your holistic approach to field comms. (And I like the term "field communications" as it is so much more descriptive than simply "portable", which means different things to different people.) A Concept of Employment paragraph might be in order on your blog. You hit most of the key points already.

    G6HXI, N9PBD and OH8STN like this.
  3. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Probably it is refer to the work on the air AFTER the disaster but not DURING. I think Pelican case would be enough to prevent damage the radio.
  4. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Thanks for the kindness/feedback.
    In a perfect world I would be using a Codan 2110 or similar. The only problem with it, is its horrific weight. But It is a Codan! I think I wrote in my blog that I'm using what I have just to get this project off the ground, and drive the discussion. Despite the comments to contrary, YouTube is a loss making endeavor hi hi, so the Codan will have to wait.
    ALE is worth the antenna "trouble". The real-time group messaging and automated voice initialisation work flawlessly. WinLink lacks in real-time capabilities but offers excellent off-line messaging since the messages are there, even if we're not to collect them right now. So I don't see them as competing, I see them as different types of tools in my toolbox.
    Why FSQ hasn't been adopted by the ham radio Community for emergency communications is baffling to me. FSQ is like single channel ALE messaging. You get heartbeats from stations like APRS. Any station you hear, can be used to route through to a station you can't hear. Files, images, and telemetry can be sent, and reception of those files images or Telemetry is completely automated. Also station to station, or group messaging. All of this with no special modems. Best of all it's already built into fldigi.
    I have no argument for the efficient antenna comment, in fact I agree with you. I do hope to receive two new, more efficient ALE/WinLink gateway station compatible long-wire dipoles in the coming weeks/months, but a Broadband antenna is always less efficient then something tuned for a specific band.
    Again thanks for the feedback, and challenging my ideas. It's my hope that the discussion will inspire others to step up, putting something together, and driving the ideas.
    Julian oh8stn
    2E0ENM likes this.
  5. KM4DYX

    KM4DYX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Even after the disaster the field communicator is going to have to contend with austere conditions, inclement weather, dust, and the inevitable bumps, drops, spills, etc. that go along with long periods operating in the boonies.

    When the UN or Red Cross or whatever NGO journeys into a famine zone in Africa they are equipped with professional grade kit for good reason. Imagine travelling thousands of miles from home to help out in a disaster and you're completely useless because somebody went cheap on comms.

    G6HXI likes this.
  6. US7IGN

    US7IGN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think each of us would not have refused financing by UN to buy cool equipment from the Codan radio, but Julian showed a perfect example of how each of us can do the same things with stuff that already has each of us.
    Concerning the working conditions I worked in the field in the rain, snow and frost. To provide protection of the radio is much easier than protect an operator.
    In Finland or Ukraine there are no elephants or stones from the sky. But I think Julians stuff will work perfectly enen in Africa.
    AK5B, OH8STN, NK9Y and 1 other person like this.
  7. OH8STN

    OH8STN Ham Member QRZ Page

    At the end of the day this is just a concept. Operators or organisations will build their own kits using equipment they have available to them. Of course we all want to have green radios and bulletproof laptops, but at the end of the day it's more about building some level of capability and preparedness.
    I for one am not going to shame anybody who put forth the effort, even though they might not necessarily be using top shelf gear. This is a "hobby", and we are actually volunteering our skills and equipment. We take the risks with what we have, and I think that's absolutely okay.
    Julian oh8stn
    N9ETH, K7BOA, W7ASA and 5 others like this.
  8. KB2UEW

    KB2UEW Ham Member QRZ Page

    nice station Julian 73 and good dx my friend
    OH8STN likes this.
  9. AC8UC

    AC8UC XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    GREAT endeavor, I enjoyed your video and I do understand the challenges of putting together a station completely off grid with only solar power to power all equipment needed for a sustainable and functioning system, my system is not paired down to a back pack yet, but it fits into the back of a sub compact car, or can be transported on a one wheeled Travois. I very much enjoy working at being able to be 100% field solar, I have a few pics on QRZ if you would like to take a look. At present the station operates up to 100 watts in the field, and I do understand that your objective is one person portable.
    73 Julian
    OH8STN likes this.
  10. NU4R

    NU4R XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    When I see "EMCOMM" in ANY article all I'm reminded of is...EMCOMM being the DEATH KNELL of emergency preparedness and folks required to do it!

    Nice tent ya' got there though, Julian!

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