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Author Topic: If we REALLY wanted to help...  (Read 1646 times)
KC2IXE
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Posts: 59




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« on: October 13, 2004, 06:26:00 AM »

I've been doing my end of ARES year review, and I've been thinking about ARES.  One think we have been playing with is Winlink2k - OK HF guys - It might be horrid there, but    I can't see much traffic going HF - if properly setup, it's going to hit a VHF node that has internet connectivity fairly quickly, and the message is going to go "down the wormhole"

That got me to thinking - If we REALLY wanted to help out in big disasters (like what happened in Florida) what should we be doing.  I came up with an answer many of us are not going to like.  We should be showing up with long distance wireless routers (Hi CISCO), a PC to run a mail hub/DNS/etc sever, and a 802.11 WiFi hub and getting Internet connectivity back up on line.

I _DO_ see a need for continued TACTICAL use of things like VHF?UHF (6m and up) with SOME small amounts of HF.  AKA telephone replacement.  But as for "traffic", I think we would be better off learning to setup networks

Food for thought - what do YOU think?  I might be wrong
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KI4EKJ
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2004, 08:47:54 AM »

I've been interested in trying something like this for quite a while.  You may not even need to hit an Internet node to provide a valuable service.  Just using TCP/IP to form an adhoc unconnected (to the Internet) network you could still setup things like email, file transfers, instant messaging, etc...  However it will take a tremendous amount of planning and training to be able to set something like this up on the fly.  I still think it would be fun to try though.

Tim.
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KI4BUM
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2004, 11:54:37 AM »

You cant shoot an 802.11 IP network any further than a few miles without large specially built antennas and violating FCC regulations on power usage. Even then you have to be line of sight to the other end.  Who wants to climb a 400 foot tower in the middle of disastor zone to get an 802.11 network operating over a few miles?

The effort would be better spent getting a VHF/UHF Winlink network operational in your area.

It's not full Internet connectivity with web browsing and the like but it was designed to pass email in the worst of conditions and it does that well.
 
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KI4EKJ
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2004, 12:16:45 PM »

So use IP over AX.25 on 2m/70cm for the longer range stuff and 802.11 for short range service inside of buildings.  The "Lan" side of your wireless router serves all of your short range laptops within a building, and the "Wan" port connects to a PC with a TNC and tunnels the IP traffic using AX.25 to the rest of the network.

Tim.
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KC2IXE
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2004, 12:28:45 PM »

Tim,
can't really do IP over AX25 due to the restrictions on commercial traffic BUT winlink does come close - if you configure box right, you are an SMTP/POP server on the winlink net - and you hook to the clients Intranet - as you grant access to users, they can send email as if there was internet service - in fact, you can setup your winlink box to look for Internet first, then VHF, then HF etc, and it will use the highest priority one first - aka - it'll use internet if it can
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W0IPL
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« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2004, 10:35:15 AM »

I think you may be overlooking one point here. We are of the most use when we provide service where - no infrastructure exists - or has been severely damaged.

Any kind of super whiz bang communication that requires "outside" infrastructure can be very iffy, in situations like Florida. That is the beauty of what we do. We build the infrastructure, on the fly, where and when needed.

Is it elegant? No, but it provides necessary communication while the existing infrastructure is being repaired. We can be fully functional in the middle of the plains of Siberia where there is no other infrastructure, or Downtown New York on 9/11/01 - in minutes, and none of what we provide needs structures over fifteen feet tall.

Pat
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KI4EKJ
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« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2004, 11:41:50 AM »

I agree with you that any solution should be completely independant of outside infrastructure.  I think the question that this thread is asking though is can we do a better job of communicating digital information by incorporating more modern methods.  I would say that the answer here might be yes, but it will really come down to training and equipment.

From a strictly technical perspective, I think that a small number of hams could arrive on scene and set up a basic independant TCP/IP network and be providing basic internal network communications quickly.  It's not a very difficult technical problem.  The bigger problem from what I've read and observed is finding the team of people who are trained to do this.  Just read some of the after action reports of hams trying to use basic packet.

If the question is "Can the job be done better" I think the answer is yes, but if the question is "Can we do a better job" then my answer is maybe.

Tim.
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KC2IXE
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« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2004, 01:54:48 PM »

You say we can't rely on outside infrastructre - there is ALWAYS outside infrastructure - the question is - 1)How much, and 2)How far away

You bring up the WTC site.  I deliberately did NOT sign my position on the first post - I'm the EC of Queens County NY - now I personally did NOT have ANY involvement with the WTC stuff (I got my ticket that December), but I'll tell you that my AEC, many of my members, and folks in the other parts of NYC did.

Was there infrastructure?  Sure - none of the repeater in Brooklyn, Midtown, Queens, Staten Island etc went down.  Phones and cell phones were messed up, but in MOST of the city, the internet was working

For what is now Winlink2k, you would only have had to reach the node in the Rockaways.  If we were putting in wireless internet, you only needed a site to reach that  was north of Canal.

We've been putting a LOT of work into pre packaged "Boxes"  Grab the box, open it, read the instructions, and away you go.  At least one member has a complete winlink2k setup in a box, and we want to have at least one in each county.  Need a VHF/UHF station?  Grab box#2 - all the NYC repeaters are pre programed, there are operating manuals, message sheets - all you need except POWER.  Need power?  That's box3 - which has a 80Ah battery on a float charger, plus a power supply.  If you have AC - it's charging, and your running on AC - you lose power - it automatically switches (at least 3 people in Queens have boxes #2 and #3)

Even in Florida - I looked at the reports.  Worst case I could not see you having to go more than 30 miles to infrstructure (that we be a devistated path 60 miles wide)  Think you could do that with 4-5 "digis in a box"?  Sure

The beauty of wireless internet is we can use "Non hams", but your right - range is a problem - you have to setup lots of nodes.  How many Lan admins are out there compared to available hams?

Need longer range - you have winlink2k (aka email over packet that is easy to use) - and the beauty of that is that if you do it right, the nodes can be remote control.  You've just cut back on your manpower requirements by a huge amount.  Yes, setup is harder, but getting a long term commitment crew is harder yet.    Plus the hams job is easier - he is just monitoring the traffic - NOT physically having to pass it

The largest expense on Winlink2k?  The computer at the originating nodes and/or whatever packet node you run in the middle.  Radios are cheap for this kind of work ,heck, you can buy an old 8 or 16 channel VHF commercial rig for about $50 and program almost every packet freq into it that you will ever use - sometimes you find a real buy and get one for $10 or so.  BTW those $10 to $50 radios are exactly how you can afford to have dedicated Packet, Voice, APRS, etc "boxes"

People complain they are not fexible enough - heck, I have problems finding enough freqs to fill a 64 channel unit.  On top of that, we have semi standardized on one  brand of radio, and a couple of us have invested in programmers - now we have flexibility - just reprogram as needed

I'm just saying that we have to think "outside the box" communications wise.  In a particular emergency, are we better off setting up a "Ham" infrastructure, or a "Non  ham" infrastructure - for instance - never underestimate how handy a pair of ex-military field telephones and a spool of wire are

73 de KG2V (note new call sign)
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KC8VWM
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Posts: 3124




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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2004, 09:16:29 PM »

Before we can do a "better" job, we need to determine what it is we are trying to accomplish.

Providing "communications" does not answer the question adequately.

What are the needs?
What do we need to accomplish?

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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2004, 09:00:07 AM »

<< What are the needs?
What do we need to accomplish? >>

AMEN!!!

In Florida my agency did not need email or written message handling. What we needed, and received, was communication between HQ and mobile disaster units. We were provide both voice and APRS, all of which worked well.

There is a nice piece in the latest CQ about our use of APRS - a first for us.

Lon
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K2GW
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2004, 09:54:23 AM »

It's great that you were able to meet the served agencies needs in this event! That's the bottom line in EmComm.

But it's also true that we should not fall into the trap of thinking that what was needed in the last operation will always be what's needed in the next one.

Conversely, we should always look at new technologies as supplementing, not necessarily replacing, older technologies. Even with direct internet e-mail, there will still be a time where a formal, hand written message might be required to go somewhere over a voice circuit.

We want to have a lot of tools in our bag, as we can't predict which will be the right one for the next emergency.  

Looking at this thread, I think a lot of us sometimes fall into the trap of being a given technology or mode zealot and forget that it's the variety of communications skills and our flexibity that make us valuable as the "Disaster Communications Experts" for many agencies.

73

Gary Wilson, K2GW
SNJ SEC  
       
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W0IPL
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« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2004, 12:15:49 PM »

If we REALLY wanted to help we would:

1) Be fully trained in ECom processes/procedures
That means - know - how to do voice and data AND
Be able to setup and be operational in ten minutes MAXIMUM
after you arrive. That does not mean know where the book is so
you can look up how to do something.

2) Maintain proper perspective in our operation and techniques
That means do what works, immediately, and use other means of
communication as follow-up or once there is time to get it set up.
That also means providing actual communications for the served
agency within VERY few minutes of arriving.

3) Provide what the served agency WANTS, not what we think
would be super-whiz-bang or more fun.

4) Understand that we provide supplemental communication. We
are not there to replace mainline infrastructure.

That's how we could really help.

ipl
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NA4IT
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2005, 09:01:45 AM »

Something we all need to realize...I am sure there is a lot of aprehension against using Winlink, because most folks associate it with sending emails into the internet system.

BUT

Did you know you can send the messages radio to radio? We do it in the MARS with BBS's setup, and our traffice NEVER goes out to the internet. I do almost ALL my traffic via Pactor now and love it.

And yes, I was a Winlink opponent for this reason...I figured we would be seeing digital signals all up and down the HF spectrum. BUT that is not so. Most everyone is playing nice, staying on the called for freqs, and waiting their turn. Shoot, in MARS we do a whole region on one freq and it works well.

If you have a "book" of traffic you need to send say from the field to an EOC, Pactor, Airmail & Winlink just may be the answer.
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