JS8Call for Emergency Communications

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KM4ACK, Sep 27, 2019.

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  1. KJ6KK

    KJ6KK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Amateur radio digital comms for emergencies has both benefits and disadvantages.
    I like the way JS8 and Olivia deliver error free text. I prefer Olivia bcz it is not bound to time slices. I don't always understand voices on SSB, but I can still read text on the screen.
    Digital adds several layers of complexity. If a computer is involved, when things stop working, it can take hours or days to troubleshoot and resolve. An anecdote, a local team and I were setting up and testing an amateur radio network using a digital mode. Right in middle of teams involvement, Microsoft decided to update my O/S. Well, you say, that could have been avoided ---. In that era, perhaps not, but the point is it did happen, my digital comm system was down for the count, it was a major hours long upgrade from Msoft. Even when O/S is working well, configurations to sound devices and levels have a way of becoming unconfigured. Not every operator at an emergency comm station up to immediately fixing the problem .

    First priority at the emergency comm station is Reliability/Resiliency.

    So, my fellow hams, like the president said in the movie 'Mars Attacks', "Why can't we all... just... get along?" After which, of course, the Martians zapped him.
  2. PA0MHS

    PA0MHS XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    @KJ6KK: but what are the chances of windows being updated when the only remaining method of communication if HF? ;-)
    But I agree with you, you don't want that to happen. In my line of business (marine electronics and interfacing navigation equipment with computers), in many cases the Windows computers used are not connected to the internet for safety reasons. But then again, using the word "windows" and "safety" in one sentence opens up a whole new can of worms...
    W7ASA likes this.
  3. KA4DPO

    KA4DPO Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    When Hurricanes David and Frederick hit, I lived in Melbourne, and was a member of PCARS, and also the Harris amateur radio club. Since communications were critical we did two things right away. First we assisted the Brevard County emergency crews, and the Melbourne police and fire in making sure their comms systems were up and running. We also provided needed health and welfare communications, and transportation assistance to the Red Cross.

    Since most of us were young, we also pitched in to clean up debris and help older residents get their homes in order after the storm.

    So I don't know about the other guy, but yeah, I have been in real emergencies and we hams did a very admirable job of helping where help was needed. I suppose times have changed a lot since then and emergencies require a lot more amateur radio communication than they did in the past. We didn't have broad band digital networks, truth be told we would not have needed them anyway. It is an unfortunate fact that amateur radio is becoming less and less relevant in emergencies as time goes on. Lending a helping hand however, never gets old.
    K0IDT likes this.
  4. KD2MIC

    KD2MIC Ham Member QRZ Page

    As a newbie to our local ARES group I have been quite baffled by all the items involved with FLdigi. It looks like a good software suite, just a bit complicated for me so far. We haven't hit that training yet in my group so I hope I get some more out of it at some point.
    I've played with FT8 a few times. Looks and feels boring and not my cup of tea, I'd rather converse. I'm glad others enjoy it though and it's that sort of ongoing innovation that will keep pushing our community forward and hopefully relevant.
    JS8 has some promise; for both ecomm and regular conversations. I think that's the important part, another alternative. The more tools we carry the better chance we have of being interoperable with other individuals and agencies. Isn't that what's really important, being able to make a difference? Knowing that you CAN do something for your neighbor?

  5. ND6Q

    ND6Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    WOW, there are some on here that I certainly would not want to have to rely on during a deployment. First of all, egos have no place in emergency comms, our focus should be on how we can be of service. Secondly, teams that are deployed into disaster areas are usually up to date (or should be) with specific comms procedures that are to be used by that team. This includes frequencies, modes and equipment. If that is the case then learning curves for new modes should not come into play as the participants should have already been trained on their systems and procedures as is the case with most teams/groups. One of the things I am wondering here is whether or not anyone complaining about the idea presented here has actually been in a large scale deployment. If so than you should also know that there are times when documented communications with the EOC or Command Center is necessary. Additionally, it is good to sometimes have hard copies of communications that include inventories, personnel lists, etc. available for review. Pretty difficult to print out a voice communication between shelters, emcomm sites or the incident command center. It is true that in many cases the comms situation only calls for somewhat local coverage which our 2 meter and 70cm bands handle nicely. JS8Call can be used on those as well. As far as Winlink on HF is concerned (pactor especially), it works great when propagation is decent and there is no widespread internet outage If propagation is bad it is all but unusable, and if we have a widespread internet outage the possibility of sending standard e-mail type messages within a stricken area is all but impossible. The newer Winlink modes are good for peer to peer connections which could work. Winlink packet on the other hand will do the job nicely on a local basis using either 2 meters or 70cm, but so would good ole packet radio in a peer to peer situation. I have worked extensively with JS8Call on HF and find it to be quite useful in miserable HF conditions. Sure it is a bit slow but it gets through even when you can barely see a signature on the waterfall. Also, it will do so with low power allowing for power savings where it may be important (I run 15 watts at most and have been able to communicate clear accross most of the country even with marginal antennas). One more thing then I will QRT. With JS8Call, as with several other modes, you are not necessarily locked into using a Windows based computer. JS8Call can be effectively and reliably run on a Raspberry Pi which requires very little power to run. In my experience it is best if the computer you use for emergency comms. is only used for that purpose and is tested on a regular basis. That way you can be sure that no glitches occur at the wrong time. The Raspberry Pi is great for that use as they are very inexpensive. Thanks for listening to my rambling thoughts. 73 to all de ND6Q
    K6ETA, KF7VUT and W8APP like this.
  6. K4SUE

    K4SUE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I don’t think the furor, if you can call it that, is as much against the mode as it is against the cheerleading by some authors. I have operated the mode and find it interesting but not the savior of the world as some would make it out to be. Give me OLIVIA any day, but that’s my choice, and sorta the theme of this post.
    NN4RH likes this.
  7. ND6M

    ND6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    Can a person really QRT on QRZ?
  8. KB0OTY

    KB0OTY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    KM4ACK has a couple of videos (and scripts) that helped me get Winlink ARDOP going on my mobile raspberry pi setup. His videos lack the polish of some others, but he is working on stuff that I have found most useful.
    W8APP and KG5ILR like this.
  9. KE5ES

    KE5ES Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    There should not be any form of communication within an emergency response besides CW on a hand built tube radio running 1500 watts into a hand built all bands yagi at 140'. Yes, THAT is sarcasm. I guess if I write in all capital letters it means I know what I am talking about and if I S P A C E T H E L E T T E R S O U T I T M E A N S I A M T A L K I N G S L O W E R. There will be haters and "it only works my way or the ARRL/Red Cross way". If you show up at an emergency and they ask you to maintain the coffee pots guess what? You make the best coffee you can AND get the first cup when it is done. 73!!!
    K6ETA and KD9NXQ like this.
  10. NN4RH

    NN4RH Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Whatever is used - and I don't care as long as it meets the needs - just make sure you know how to set it up and use it and it works well before showing up for a deployment. That means you've drilled and trained using the equipment and mode.

    We've got people touting how wonderful JS8Call is for emergency communications. OK. But from reading the thread, it's not clear to me whether it's actually been used for that before, or are we all just theorizing and having a peeing contest over who thinks they know what's best for Emcomm?

    If JS8Call is the best thing, then great. No problem with that at all. But in the middle of an emergency or disaster is not the time to be "experimenting".

    About the most embarrasing thing I've ever witnessed was a bunch of hams showing up to "support" an event after telling the officials and everyone how great their digital mode network (packet at the time) was going to be for them - then spent over an hour trying to get the system running and working out the bugs. In the meantime the event organizers gave up on the hams and decided to just use their cell phones and handle communications themselves.
    KK4HPY, K6ETA, KX4O and 1 other person like this.

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