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Author Topic: What to Put in an EmComm Van or Truck?  (Read 3638 times)

Posts: 2

« on: October 18, 2004, 01:38:18 PM »

What should go in an EmComm van or truck?

Our local OEM and RACES office has asked us this, as they are ordering equipment now.

It isn't a mobile incident command center, or a mobile first aid station. Just a communications van, truck, or trailer.

Please give your opinion, but be specific and concise. Include equipment model numbers next to the equipment descriptions.

Assume the purpose is ham radio emergency backup of public safety communications. Data and voice are to be included.

Thanks for any help you can provide.

-- Rich, WB2CRD

Posts: 59

« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2004, 05:00:43 PM »

A _LOT_ of what you asked is a matter of taste - do like Icom, Yaesu, Kenwood, a mix, etc?

It also depends on what you need to do, and what is in your area

I would have:
Dual Band VHF/UHF with V/V, U/U and V/U capability at the drivers position - and either a 2nd rig or that rig setup for APRS

In the back - at least 2 dual band VHF/UHF rigs for voice, another rig for your local packet setup.  A PC (read laptop) for the packet station.  A 6m FM rig, and a HF rig (which may also act as a second 6m rig)

ALL stations should have GANGED headphone jacks with independant volume controls (so that more than one person can listen)

There would be an ATU for the HF rig, and there would be an antenna switch -one for the truck mounted HF rig, one going to a bulkhead connector that goes through the truck wall (in a covered compartment) - this is where you hook up your coax to go to external antennas - be it wire, or a beam on a mast etc

LIGHTING is important - both inside, and OUTSIDE - be able to light the entryways and surrounding areas

Dual batteries are a must - setup as a "house" power system, and the starting system.  The truck should have a generator.  It should also have a way to hook to "shore" power - aka plug in the truck to the wall - you should be able to plug in the truck and run the radios, and at the same time, charge the batteries.  I would also love if it had a block heater (keep the engine warm) and air conditioning that can run without starting the engine - think a coleman type unit

Posts: 410


« Reply #2 on: October 19, 2004, 12:00:31 AM »

First: This presumes that you are NOT crazy enough to run NCS from
this vehicle!

A Kenwood D-700 for the driver position. This provides VHF/UHF, wideband
receive and APRS (cans the chatter about "Where are you?")

2 - Either Icom 706s or Yaesu FT-857s (NOT one each) These will supply
160M to 70CM (except 220Meg) all modes. The Icom are easier to set up
than the Yaesus (I have both) but either brand will do quite well. With
that said, the Yaesu will provide better transmit audio on VHF if you
pull the radio from HF (with Icom you have to remember to manually turn
off the speech compressor).

2 Antenna tuners. If you get Icoms, use the AT-180s. If you get the
Yaesus, get LDG Z-100s PLUS the LDG Yaesu OTT interface cables.

2 KAM98s for HF data.

2 - Kenwood D-700s for voice and data. (That is three total) Saves
having external TNCs and everyone will have a "single" radio to learn
for VHF/UHF. Use the free Kenwood memory management software to have
all three programed exactly the same (200 memory positions so there
should be no problems with that - at all).

3 Comet GP-6 Dual band, gain antennas WITH each having a tripod and
its own mast available.

Have a GOB of external antenna connectors (bulkhead). If you end up
running three VHFs at once, the antennas need a LOT of separation.

At least four pairs of 12V deep cycle batteries with an Astron N2412-24
for each pair. Many radios will work ok on 12V but don't develop full
output with less than 13V.  The Astrons provide regulated 13.8 volt
output from 24V input (that's why batteries in pairs).

100 Anderson PowerPole 30 Amp connectors. By the time you get everything
connected and have it so things can be moved when you need to, you will
use almost all of those.

200 feet of RG-8X so you can get the HF NVIS antennas away from the
vehicle. (2 at 100 feet each)

300 feet of RG-213 or better. Make four cables (2 at 100 feet and 2 at
50 feet) to get the VHF/UHF antennas away from the vehicle.

3 Alinco DM-330MV power supplies. These are 30 amp units and perform
quite well when you have commercial power available.

7 Power Panel 8 (Saratoga Amateur Radio Products) for the 12V power
distribution. (four for battery and three for power supplies)

4.5 feet ABSOLUTE MINIMUM bench space PER operating position, thirty
inches deep with NO foot traffic behind the operating position. Well
lit, ample shelf and drawer space, comfortable chair.

And the other mundane items like laptop computer (Pent III minimum),
printer, cables, expendible supplies, etc.

Posts: 535


« Reply #3 on: October 19, 2004, 06:44:51 AM »

Assuming that this is a vehicle sanctioned by your local Office of Emergency Management, don't forget to include an operator position that has the capability to operate on all of the appropriate public safety frequencies used in your area.  Note that these radios are not Amateur radio ones with the CAP/MARS modification, but the appropriate FCC Certified commercial radios used in the area.  Obviously, operation here would be under the fleet license issued to the appropriate agenies and only in an emergency.

Our County EOC radio room has one UHF, 2 VHF-High and and 2 VHF-Lo Uniden 100 channel public service radios programmed with every police, fire and public works frequency used within the county.  We also have a computer to quickly reprogram them to new frequencies if necessary in an emergency.  Normally these are used as glorified scanners, but during the recent Delaware river floods we were able to link the Deputy Sherrif in the EOC directly to his incident commander's walkie talkie handling the evacuations on scene.  The EOC operations folks were very impressed.

Flexibility is a good thing in an emergency. We always strive to be the "Emergency Communications Experts" and not just the Ham radio operators.  Amateur Radio gains a lot of credibility as a result.


Gary Wilson, K2GW

Posts: 1003

« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2004, 07:49:24 AM »

W4EOT, the communications trailer that
operates with Wake County ARES*/RACES,
has a HF position with a ICOM-725 and
a R-71A receiver (muted when transmitting)
for monitoring another frequency.
It has seperate 2 Meter and 70 cm radios
in the next position.  The supv position
has 2 meter packet, marine VHF radio,
Air Band radio, a RT-524A (for use on 53.30
for RACES comms with National Guard)
and a SB-22 SB for setting
up a landline system.  The HF and VHF
positions each have TA-312s and the supv
position has the TA-312 with the add on
DTMF dialing for use on telco system if
available.  Antennas on roof for the
VHF/UHF comms and a 12 feet whip for
the HF Receiver and a 16 feet whip for
HF Tx/Rx.  Also, a mast on the tongue for
raising HF wire antennas.  There are
several wire antennas for mounting on other
supports, a military NVIS antenna and
a 292 antenna for the RT-524 in case needed
for longer range that the whip.

There are extra PSs with power poles
for other equipment that might be needed.

For pix go to our URL:

73 de Ronnie

*ARES is a registered Service
Mark of the American Radio Relay
League, Inc and is used with

Posts: 105

« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2004, 04:22:41 PM »

Lots of snacks like potato chips and cookies.
A television with a DVD player and lots of DVD's.
A 2KW minimum power generator with lots of fuel.
Boredom will be your greatest enemy.

Posts: 28


« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2004, 06:44:07 AM »

As this thread goes forward, I would like to offer a resource to a company that manufactures command vehicles. I am not suggesting you shouldn't bid for these services, but I will offer some knowledge of the founder and the staff.

North American Catastrophe Services in Melbourne, Fl produces some of the finest command vehicles in the country. Founded by Mike Ferrall, the company has produced vehicles for Insurance applications, communications vehicles for DC, NY and several other communities. Mike and I have know each other for more than 20 years when we served in the Submarine Service together. When Mike retired from the US Navy he founded NACS, and hasn't looked back.

Technically these vehicles offer state of the art features such as servers, networking, ACU-1000, satellite internet/voip and the integration of any kind of RF device you may desire. Mike has a couple Hams on staff that can ensure the needs of the amateur community are addressed during the design phase. Mike produces a quality product at fair prices, and will work with you to get as much for your dollars as possible.

I don't have any ties to this company; I only offer this information as a resource to anyone looking to procure this kind of vehicle for their communities.  Rick Aldom - W7STS - EC Maricopa County, AZ

NACS can be reached at the following:
(888) 595-6227

Posts: 657

« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2004, 06:31:02 PM »

so far, a lot of good info, but I would not waste the money on ham gear. Go with COMMERCIAL RADIO. Pay the extra bucks, it will pay off in the long run.

The reasons are many;
Commercial gear is less prone to desense, intermod and other receiver eating maladies.

Commercial gear is legal on the commecrial freqs as well as the ham freqs - program in MURS, GMRS as well as the local FD. On HF, add the CG and CG AUX as well as CAP.

Comm gear is channelized. it is easier for someone to use in a tough environment.

Ham gear has lots of pretty lights.

Posts: 657

« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2004, 06:34:22 PM »

oh yea, add a small phone system, even if it is just some multi-line keyless phones. Something that you can drag dial tone to the interface.

Do not forget a LAN, CAT5 to each work/op station, add a small brouter so you can connect to the outside world.

Posts: 59

« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2004, 08:15:55 AM »

RE commercial gear

As you saw above, I recommended Ham gear - BUT that was for one reason only - field fexability.  I would want at least ONE ham radio besides the HF gear - Other than that, I do agree commercial gear rocks - particularly if you go with the "newer" era stuff that can be programmed with a PC (even if it needs a rib).

I'm a 'GE guy' not a 'Bat wing" guy, but that's a matter of taste plus knowing a GE tech

In GE - you can get a RIB for the NEWER delta-sx and Rangr (nice rigs - limited channels - can be very high power), and just about any rig newer than that - MVS,MDX,Orion (want a pair of these) or Jaguar

Also, if you get a Rangr/Delta with a S-825 control head they can be RIB programed

The Old Phoenix needs a programmer, and the old MastrII is "rock bound" so unless you need NO frequncey flexability, or you have a friendly GE dealer who is still willing to work on one....

Posts: 10

« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2004, 07:09:15 AM »

Flexibility is a good thing in an emergency. We always strive to be the "Emergency Communications Experts" and not just the Ham radio operators. Amateur Radio gains a lot of credibility as a result.

Spot on mate!  I agree!!

Posts: 1

« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2004, 02:06:38 PM »

Doughnuts. Lots and lots of doughnuts.


Posts: 60

« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2005, 01:34:25 AM »

I just built an RV for our local EOC/RACES. We were given a 45' Bounder motorhome, and this has made a great mobile command post/first aid station. I removed the bedroom in the back, and built a wraparound counter for the ops. We have commercial VHF, UHF, 800MHz, 2 meters, a mobile repeater with 2 dozen HT's for field use, two laptops with wireless internet, and digital phone service, not to mention a satellite link with the National Weather Service. In the kitchen area, we have a full first aid/BLS station setup. It still provides comfortable sleeping for 4, and all kitchen and bathroom facilities are fully functional.

If you feel that you must go hogwild with all the HF stuff, tuners, antennas, dipoles, pushup poles, etc., that is up to you. In a real emergency, you simply don't have time for all of that. In the event of an emergency, we just turn the key, and are online and ready to serve.
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