Ham Talk Live! Episode 89 - Puerto Rico Disaster Communications with Val, NV9L

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by WB9VPG, Nov 7, 2017.

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  1. WB9VPG

    WB9VPG XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thursday at 9 pm Eastern on Ham Talk Live!, it's your chance to call in and talk to Val Hotzfeld, NV9L about the trip to Puerto Rico for disaster communications. She will talk about the work that was done, and give us a first hand insight into how things are on the island.

    Tune into Ham Talk Live! Thursday night at 9 pm Eastern time by going to hamtalklive.com. When the audio player indicates LIVE, just hit the play button! If you miss the show live, you can listen on demand 24/7/365.25 also at hamtalklive.com; or a podcast version is on nearly all podcast sites a few minutes after the live show is over. Some sites include Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, SoundCloud, and iHeart Podcasts; and it's also available on YouTube.

    Be sure to CALL in with your questions and comments by calling 812-NET-HAM-1 live during the show, or by Skype. Our username is hamtalklive. You can also tweet your questions before or during the show to @HamTalkLive.

    Hurricane Maria-Val NV9L and Mike KI1U credit ARRL.jpg

    Credit ARRL

    val nv9l.jpg val pr.jpg
  2. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    Excellent counter-scoop by Neil ! Looking forward to some live cross-examinations and more detailed explanations of issues that have been raised in other threads.

    73 de John - WØPV
    KD4OKR likes this.
  3. K0IDT

    K0IDT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Would have been nice to hear some counterpoint or even cya. Different day same information.....'how I spent my summer deployment'.
    AD0JA and KG7LEA like this.
  4. AE7XG

    AE7XG Ham Member QRZ Page

  5. K4AAQ

    K4AAQ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Neil has a 45-minute time limit (Spreaker isn't free), which usually means the show is just getting good when it's time to quit. Unlike most other shows, he takes a few live calls toward the end.

    This interview wasn't what you'd call 'hard hitting'. It didn't address the dispute brought up by Jeremy NSOS that started on Reddit (in the r/Amateurradio sub) and we discussed on HamRadioNow (my show - https://www.hamradionow.tv/episodes/2017/10/27/hrn-359-emcomm-extra-18-force-of-two). But she did acknowledge that there were plenty of problems, and a need for a trained group of hams who could respond to a situation like this in the future.

    Which begs the question "Will there be a situation like this in the future?"

    On one hand, Puerto Rico following Maria was unique. A large island, accessible mostly by air, totally devastated and lacking nearly all communications. The hams were told they were 'writing the book' on something new. So that's not likely on the mainland. It could happen to Puerto Rico again, the Virgin Islands (it kinda did) and Hawaii. Does Guam get hurricanes? And of course many areas that aren't part of the USA, but where hams could be called to help.

    On the other hand, hams already do frequently travel from one area to another to assist because hams in the disaster area are overwhelmed, and coping with the disaster with their families and jobs. That happened in spades after Hurricane Katrina. The ARRL set up a processing center for volunteers in Mississippi.

    What made Puerto Rico unique was the travel, isolation, and extent of the damage. But the hams - or some hams - should have had the experience and skills to bring to bear on the situation. At least, that's our claim.

    So the idea of needing a trained cadre of hams who can travel to respond to something like this exposes the uncomfortable idea that our existing Emcomm training is - what - lacking? Haphazard? Too localized?

    Well, if that's the case (it seems to be), then we should rectify it. Every ARES/RACES/Auxcomm/Emcomm group should look at how ready their members are for deployment with an unfamiliar group to another area.

    And it seems to me that the ability to deal with a bureaucracy - be it the Red Cross, FEMA or our own internal leadership - should be part of that training.

    I'm aware that a few hams have given us the reputation of "I'm from Ham Radio and I'm here to tell you what you're doing wrong!" So dealing with a served agency that's fumbling their ball, or at least the one we're carrying for them, is something we should be prepared to handle delicately. If that happens, it's not going to be pretty. Better to have an idea of what to do when we step into it.

    Or should we just keep quiet and try to do our job?

    Understanding what really happened in Puerto Rico will help answer that question.
    KX4O, W7RCA, AA5AZ and 5 others like this.
  6. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Act locally.

    What needs to be fine tuned is a system that allows local hams --everywhere and anywhere--to be up and running DESPITE their isolation by the disaster. 'Manning' (sexist term)fire stations and hospitals CAN ONLY BE ENABLED BY LOCALS if that have an a priori ability to communicate despite their temporary isolation to the community. To wit: if they can communicate then they can help others communicate and coordinate, which then speeds up the ability to bring up the infrastructure to minimum requirements, allow mobility of the community, and then their opportunity to help themselves. The failure of this in PR is clearly a result of the extreme magnitude of the disaster.

    It would be naive and insulting for anyone to 'blame' th people of PR for this: NO ONE HAS ANY SUCH GUIDELINES (above) for such a disaster. The problem was involuntary isolation and (lack of) power.

    EXPECT MAJOR disaster: chain saws; generators; gas; food; water; medical supplies; charged HT's. HF go kit; Dipoles; Batteries.

    Plan for an F4 TORNADO (on a large scale)--without the tornado. Snowstorm, fire; weather; earthquake. Doesn't matter. If you plan for an F4 you are 'planned' for anything short of nuclear war.

    Harden the repeaters. Involve licensees. Then all else is easier.
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
    KX4O, KT5OT and N8PVW like this.
  7. N8PVW

    N8PVW Ham Member QRZ Page

    That was the correct answer. Thank you.
  8. KG7LEA

    KG7LEA Ham Member QRZ Page

    The other side of this is how a local ARES organization, with its own served agencies and networks, should interact with/incorporate the imported volunteers. The Puerto Rico hams worked for the Red Cross with some guidance from the ARRL section head Oscar, but did not interact much with local teams. One volunteer told me they locals weren't much of a factor and another called them "rock stars."

    Imported volunteers will "dance with the one who brung 'em," e.g., Red Cross, but with several groups on the same bands and repeaters there will need to be some coordination.

    Weather events will increase in severity. In the West we endure wildfires while waiting for earthquake and tsunamis.
    KT5OT likes this.
  9. N7KGA

    N7KGA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Good morning;

    The main critical issue in any true disaster will be the ability to provide electrical power for our radios. All the things most people consider, such as a generator, or using their batteries, are all finite. They will run out of power at some point.

    My philosophy is to NOT USE something that will require an outside power source to recharge or refill our batteries, and that includes getting gasoline, diesel, or propane for a generator. Instead, I suggest using alternative or renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic solar panels, which are usually available most commonly in the polycrystalline Silicon cell form with 36 cells and going through a charge controller, and also small wind generators. Yes, that is an "and" between the two types. Solar power and wind power are compatible, complementary, and portable. They go together very well to provide a good back-up electrical power system. When we have sunlight, the solar panels will do most of the work. You will get about 10 % of the rated power out of a solar panel in the rain or under clouds. If the batteries begin to drop in voltage when we have rain or clouds, often we will also have wind. Then the small wind generators begin to shine, and they also work well at night when there is wind. At night when the side of the tent begins to flap, and I perk up my ears and hear the whistle of the wind generator blades begin to pick up in sound pitch and volume, I know that the batteries will be feeling better.

    For operating a common 100 Watt HF ham radio transceiver, 180 or 200 Watts of solar panel energy will do very nicely to operate a nominal 100 Watt radio that is "rated" to draw 20 or 21 Amperes of DC power at 13.8 Volts. In full normal sunlight, 180 Watts of solar panels will provide just over 10 Amperes of DC current. 200 Watts will be just over 11 Amperes. When talking on Single Side Band (SSB), the average current draw for the radio will be right at about 10 Amperes or only 50 %. The radio needs that 20 Amperes only for the voice peaks for which the battery provides that extra 10 Amperes. For our normal speech, there are pauses and differences in our modulation will vary the current draw for the radio around that 50 % or 10 Ampere average point while transmitting. While you are listening, around 90 % of that 10 Amperes from the solar panels is going to recharge the battery or batteries. CW is about the same as SSB. AM is between 50 to 100 % of the rated current draw depending on modulation, and FM and the digital modes can be considered to require the full 100 % duty cycle, and that is why they ask you to drop your power down to about 25 Watts for long term digital and FM voice conversations.

    By the way, this 180 Watt solar power system I described above has been out as far as Herschel Island, latitude 70 North, longitude 139 West, for the 2003 IOTA NA-193 activation that ran for a full week. Trying to get a radio signal OUT of the auroral oval is a real trial. I could talk to Argentina or Chile almost any time that I wanted to, but I could not get into Ohio.

    I say again, the critical issue in EMCOMM is the electrical power to operate the radio. Solar and wind power can do that for a very long time. I am the main limiting factor in determining how long I can be out there on station and operating my radios, before I need to be resupplied. My radios can go much longer than I can.

    Enjoy, and 73;

    Ralph, N7KGA
    Latté Land, Washington
    KX4O and WP4TM like this.
  10. K4ZLK

    K4ZLK Ham Member QRZ Page

    I was one of the volunteers and I'd just like to say that we had nothing but courtesy and help from the people of P.R. Calling the local hams "Rock Stars" is a bit of a cheap shot. We had two H.F. frequencies and one was used by the Spanish speaking hams and the other by the English speaking hams. The good folks of P.R. kept our frequency cleared for us when other latin countries found a temporarily open spot on 40 and set up a chat. Keep in mind the the Puerto Rican hams had serious personal losses to deal with as well as trying to serve the community.
    KP3BR, W7RCA and WP4TM like this.

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