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Author Topic: HF field station way out in the field  (Read 12176 times)
K7RBW
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« Reply #15 on: June 01, 2010, 05:23:24 PM »

Seriously. If you have only the clothes on your back, no way to do laundry, what do you do for your family? Wear the same clothes for a week?

I suppose looting could be justified if dirty laundry becomes a life-threatening condition.

I think it's important to bound the scenario and assume (or define) some level of civilization and civility. If you're down to looting and foraging and a "Mad Max" decay-of-civilization scenario, then a radio becomes very low on the list of priorities replaced by a defensible and well-defended (and supplied) position. Your nice comfy radio truck quickly becomes someone else's (who's more desperate and more heavily armed) camper and you become dinner for the dogs.

So, back to a more civilized setting, I was looking at what AT&T posted on their web-site (http://www.corp.att.com/ndr/) and they describe some of their emergency operations and contingency planning and it looks like getting cellphones online is a pretty high priority. Are there any after action reports that give some idea how long after a disaster cell-phones are not usable (due to loss of capacity or overloading by the thousands of people trying to figure out what happened). Is it hours? days? weeks?
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AF6WI
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« Reply #16 on: June 02, 2010, 01:33:22 PM »

>  Are there any after action reports that give some idea how
> long after a disaster cell-phones are not usable (due to loss
> of capacity or overloading by the thousands of people trying
> to figure out what happened). Is it hours? days? weeks?

The only references I've seen are in self-promotional materials from cell companies, and they say it's days. But that depends on where you are.

Here are some anecdotal posts regarding restoration after a disaster:
http://www.howardforums.com/printthread.php?t=1157559&page=2&pp=15
mentioning Greensburg, KS, which was basically wiped off the face of the earth by a tornado.

There are problems, though. One is recharging your phone, even if there's a COW in range. There may be a powered COW in a day or two, but if we don't have electricity, we can't charge our phones. Or, as in Greensburg, we no longer have a house, so we can't plug in to recharge. Another problem: the people in my county that do emergency planning and services have mentioned that their phones are special. They get priority connections to phone lines. Even if cell service is restored, there may be no dial tone for us regular folks.

I have inverters in the van, so we could recharge items using 120VAC wallwarts off car batteries.

Why do we send hams off to disasters if everyone magically has a cellphone and dial tone, by the way? Why do we all have go bags with batteries, food, clothes, and such for a three-day adventure if everyone is going to have cell service?

> If you're down to looting and foraging and a "Mad Max"
> decay-of-civilization scenario

Look again at New Orleans in Katrina. Nobody had food or clothes, so looting and foraging were common. I read that people would have favorite intersections where they'd congregate and exchange information on what was available and where. But no decay of civilization, no armed gangs, no desperation and violence. Civilized behavior still ruled, although some rules changed. People still helped each other.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #17 on: June 02, 2010, 06:34:14 PM »

Why do we send hams off to disasters if everyone magically has a cellphone and dial tone, by the way? Why do we all have go bags with batteries, food, clothes, and such for a three-day adventure if everyone is going to have cell service?
I think the point is that everyone might have cell service (or they might not). You won't know 'til you're there. Ideally you'd be prepared for either case: No cell phones (e.g. for the first couple of days) you have your HF radio & batteries. Some cell service, you still have your radio and your cell phone if it happens to work. Full cell service, great, you can call in (on either your ham radio or your cell phone) and see if you're needed somewhere else. I think the attitude of "I don't need no stinkin' cell phone" is silly at best and just plain foolish at worst. (I'm not saying that AF6WI is suggesting that, BTW). It seems to me that your go bag should have a radio that is programmed with the local frequencies as well as a phone that is programmed with the approprate phone numbers. (All of which are also listed on a piece of waterproof paper).

Look again at New Orleans in Katrina. Nobody had food or clothes, so looting and foraging were common. I read that people would have favorite intersections where they'd congregate and exchange information on what was available and where. But no decay of civilization, no armed gangs, no desperation and violence. Civilized behavior still ruled, although some rules changed. People still helped each other.
Like I said, you need to specify your expected degree of civility for whilch you're planning because in the absence of that, we'll just use our imaginations to fill in the blanks. I would imagine that what you experience depends on how long people have been without what they need and how soon it appears things will return to normal.

The New Orleans situation you describe, might put you in an ethical and practical predicament. For example, should you communicate the locations of these meeting spots to help others even though you might risk overrunning your supply sources?

Thanks for starting this thread. It's good to think of these things before the fact. Much better than during the event itself.
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AF6WI
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« Reply #18 on: June 03, 2010, 04:27:39 PM »

> The New Orleans situation you describe, might put you in
> an ethical and practical predicament. For example, should
> you communicate the locations of these meeting spots to
> help others even though you might risk overrunning your
> supply sources?

People did swap locations of various goods. My _initial_ response in a Katrina-like situation is that we're all in it together, so let's all help each other out. Then as we all learn who can be trusted to share and help out, we have a tribe of supporters of various kinds. I do not expect wild savages and killings and such. I expect people to be helpful to each other, at least for awhile. :->
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KD4LLA
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« Reply #19 on: June 19, 2010, 08:34:46 PM »

Food, water, and a roof over my head, that's what I want in a disaster situation.  If I need your battery to run a radio and you are not there to defend it, its mine.  I'll worry about recycling it later.

Cellphones are getting pretty dependable.  Most of the time power and cell sites will be up within 24 hrs in the US.

I was surprised the evening but my county's (southern MN) response to a bunch of tornadoes in a short time.  Officials handled it well and took care of the folks.  We in the ham radio community are being left behind by better radio's, technologies, and training.
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ALCO141
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2010, 03:07:54 PM »

so you have your food and support covered,   you have a station to operate out- of the van,  i assume you can cook your food, keep warm, and keep out of the weather.  you have a water supply.

you will need some type of security, yes in Katrina there was a need for security, friends of mine were involved in SAR early during Katrina it was not all fun and roses. there were some tense moments that several folks personally witnessed have relayed to me so you will need some type of security. to what degree you want to make your security arrangements are up to you  but it would be short sighted to not have a security plan of some type.

antenna- dipoles may be the way to go, simple is good, there are a lot of masts from military surplus fiberglass to lengths of plastic pipe or plastic conduit, they can be attached to anything stable, a plywood base can be made to place under the wheel of your van and the mast attached to it.
they can be mounted attached to your van.  radio and antenna tuner are dealers choice.

power, i have one of these,
http://www.eham.net/articles/24023

 it is a dandy battery charger, a couple gallons of gas will last a long time, 3.5-5 hours per gallon.  keep a gallon of two cycle engine oil, it keeps a long time also and you have a part of your battery/power requirements resolved, if you want to go big then get a Honda.  keep some extension cords and maybe a couple of outlets to charge cell phones and other rechargeables, it puts out about 8 amps power continuous.  if you are not liking the scavenging battery scenario you can just add a couple of deep cycle batteries to your van, charging one and using the other.  

you can run a few electric lights although some folks recommend you get some leds to handle the lighting needs for their frugal power consumption.  lights will bring people to you , this may be good or bad, thinking about your security,  you can run a led spot light bulb attached to your mast to give you some perimeter  lighting.  your generator will power this easily and still charge your batteries.  as far as gasoline a 5 gal can will give you about 20 hrs run time,   along with your batteries this should give you days of operating your radio.

alex

kc9pwt






« Last Edit: June 22, 2010, 03:10:57 PM by alex cocco » Logged
K2ZA
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Posts: 13




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« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2010, 07:53:28 PM »

PSK-31 is a great option when you are power constrained (both RF and DC).

You might want to consider this device:

http://www.nue-psk.com/

It runs many hours on a pair of 9V batteries, can be powered with external 12 volts, and doesn't require a computer or sound card. A nice complement to your FT-817.

73 de John K2ZA
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DC8KH
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« Reply #22 on: June 24, 2010, 07:05:17 AM »

Well, in a disaster situation you surely will need anything more than a radio.  Other things are much more important such as a well sorted medical supply or tools for excavating the victims.
I stayed in South East Asia during the x-mas tsunami 2004 and established one of the very first communication links from the Thailand disaster zone to the outer world and collected my own experience that way. And exactly that is the reason why I state that a radio is not the most important thing to have. Basically your plans are not bad – from your theoretical point of view, but nothing else. A disaster will not be a nice playing ground for self established commo heroes.
For me it sounds more like you are a passionate radio amateur willing to operate a radio in a disaster scenario? Whom will you contact with your radio? Will it bring any favor for you or others in the situation you dropped in?  That a disaster occurred will be well known by the officials, so you do not have to tell one. What will the things be you will like to tell?  What frequencies will you use? Ham band frequencies?  If so, you will come in contact with other amateurs that are, what the word implies – amateurs that may not be able to be of real help for you and your situation. Or will you change to non-amateur frequencies to communicate with the rescue teams on their own frequencies?
Not a good idea, not necessary to tell that this is unlawful. But despite that fact you should not do it. In a disaster scenario the official frequencies are crowded, a stringent  frequency management will be in use and also specific call signs and operating procedures. And, as a radio amateur, you do not have that knowledge or experience to take apart the disaster communication and be a big help for the officials.  So stay off the air and let the rescue services do their job. Every penetration in the official radio communication will make the rescue situation more difficult for the helping services.
And, not to forget, that the officials do not like to have freelancers beside them. Be aware that the officials will confiscate your radio equipment for three or more reasons – 1. to use it for their own communication, 2. to prevent an unauthorized use of their frequencies, 3. to keep control of the disaster communication. Imagine what would happen if in a disaster zone every one with a radio would call others.  Not a real help for the disaster management, indeed. You may think that you can, may be,  be some kind of radio operator for the official services. By the way, they do not like it as you are not part of their structure. They do not know about your experience, your abilities and your motivation. You are not a reliable communication source in their sense. They do not know what you probably can offer and you will not easily fit in their communication system structure.  So be not offended if your help will not be appreciated.

So forget your radio stuff. It will be of little use. What is really needed is a good knowledge of medical aspects, a good constitution to be able  to do hard work while rescuing victims that may be buried under tons of destroyed buildings, and the will to do what is really needed. Hard words, I know, but born from a disaster I survived and got my own view of the usefulness of a radio in such a situation. If you plan to start a life as a hero in a disaster, do it by really helping the victims and not by practicing your radio hobby in this situation. 
Most of the radio amateurs reading this lines will be very upset now, but why not? Probably this may start a good discussion and may  help to see things in a larger surrounding field and not only from the own point of view and the own wishes. Let’s start to discuss ….

Harald
DC8KH
 
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AA4PB
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« Reply #23 on: June 24, 2010, 08:52:48 AM »

I can tell you from experience that in the Metro DC area on 9-11 you couldn't get a cell call down the street even though the cell towers were all in service.

You also couldn't establish an Internet connection to any of the news sites.

Systems are designed to handle average loads. When all the user's they have signed up try to use the system at the same time things fall apart almost instantly.
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AE5NE
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« Reply #24 on: June 24, 2010, 02:43:02 PM »

The cell phone system in South Louisiana was slammed for MONTHS after Katrina.  Not hours, not days, not weeks.  The displaced population overloaded the system in Baton Rouge for quite some time.

It was difficult to get calls in or out unless you had a land-line phone.  It eventually worked with multiple tries required.


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ALCO141
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« Reply #25 on: June 26, 2010, 06:57:33 PM »

in an earthquake there will be a lot to do, one of your priorities may be to get folks organized to search for survivors, some heavy tools like sledge hammer large wrecking bar, a power pull and a sheepherders jack with attachments may be helpful , consider this van as rescue vehicle either self rescue or to start a rescue group to look for survivors, have some work gloves to protect your hands.  i think there is a place for the radio, there is also a place for tools and food and water. hopefully enough to share with some folks for a couple of days.  i think the radio can be useful to coordinate your rescue group even if they are equipped with gmrs radios, in order to get a handle on an event of this magnitude the authorities will want on the ground info as soon after the quake as possible, you may be a local provider of this, either cell phone, radio or land line, if you happen to have casualties at your location you will need to get them help, so establishing comms will be a good thing.  also to decide where to send support, what type of support to send, yes they will have survey teams out but this event overwhelms the system in the first few days.

look at the radio as one more tool, not the only tool, talk to your emergency preparedness coordinator to see what you might do to get your community ready, take first aid courses, talk with the folks in your community and with the ems to get a sense of what the ems plan is for your area, where will the triage center be where will the morgue be, where will you be able to find food and water.e are a lot of plans made already for these events, look into this .  knowledge is power, see what the plan is now and how you can adapt to the plan to help your community.

and yes get on the radio as part of your effort!!!

alex
kc9pwt
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AF6WI
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« Reply #26 on: July 02, 2010, 12:34:27 PM »

Thanks for the link to the nue-psk digital modem. I'll be looking at that.

My wife and I have many hours of training in first aid, back-country first aid, CERT, SAR, and such. We're volunteers with the local fire department, we go on their drills as volunteer communicators, and we train with them in first aid and SAR.

Our concepts are for communications on ham bands with other hams. I'm surprised some seem to think that's 'amateurish.' I know of many ARES groups, and we're all trained by local fire and police departments. Many hams I know were at Katrina, and some were at the Twin Towers on Sept. 11. The communications they provided are just as professional as from the EMTs, cops, and fire departments. But it's all on ham bands, so concerns about using other frequencies are misplaced entirely. Local authorities know who the local hams are and work with them to continue communications through all means that work. Confiscating radios isn't on their agenda - they need the radios and they need us to work them so the cops, fire, and EMTs can do what they are trained to do - not sit at a desk pushing to talk.

Our training with the fire department is self-preservation. This means we're trained for light search and rescue, first aid, and some triage. We're not going to do power pulls, sheepherders jacks, and all that stuff. Our primary goal is to locate people in collapsed buildings, assess their situation, help them out if possible, and report to fire and rescue people so they can do the heavy lifting. Heavy rescue is not our job, we don't have the training, and we don't have the equipment. I'm too old for that. That's why I got my ham license - I'll do comms and let the trained youngsters do the grunt work. :->

Many thanks for all the comments and the ideas.
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KD7GHZ
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« Reply #27 on: July 08, 2010, 07:22:18 AM »

For the past several years I have been practicing deploying myself, usually, at a nearby park.  However, the more I thought I knew the more I have to learn.  Here are some ideas that I have been thinking about.

1) Weight - look at keeping it down.  There is an excellent book "The 100 pound Dxpedition" by NE1RD.  You can google it, the book is free. 

  Example:  Coax - weight RG-213 vs RG58 or LMR100 for say 100ft.  Some current thinking is that for lengths less than 100 ft and less than 100 watts there is not a noticable difference in loss.  I have also seen some experiements with RG174 and LMR100.

2)  Antennas:  For my use I use a Buddipole for when I need to get out more than my homemade NVIS which is a AS2259 for 80 and 40 meters.  Both are light and go up when there no trees.

3)  Power -  One can make many more contacts 20 watts with an 18 AMP battery versus at 100 watts.

4) CW - I passed the test several years ago, I am in the process of reacquiring the skill to make contacts with CW.  It just gets through when everything else fails.

5)  Airmail/Winmore - These digital modes work and you can pass traffic especially long messages easier than by voice.

I do not claim to be an expert, but, these are things that I have thinking about and have used.

Hope this helps.

Michael, KD7GHZ Smiley

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AF6WI
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« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2010, 10:12:18 AM »

Re: your comments
1) I find the guy's blog, and I see a 332-page .pdf of his blog but not a book per se. Is the .pdf file of his blog the book?

3) Not immediately obvious, but a real nice point.

4) I knew CW long enough to pass my test for General, and I keep meaning to bone up on it again. C'est la vie.

5) My local REACT group uses this for traffic. It's _especially_ helpful when the Red Cross is asking for drugs. :-> Not having to say all those names and spell them makes for significantly shorter on-air time, meaning less draw on the battery. I read your point 3 again and think even using a laptop and radio, the draw on the battery is less than having to transmit the arcane words multiple times by voice. Your 3) is a real nice point.

Many thanks.
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ALCO141
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« Reply #29 on: July 12, 2010, 11:12:34 AM »

i understand that you are not going ot do the heavy lifitng, but having tools that others may use to do extraction may be important, there may be some young folks that might find a need for these tools.


digital modes of communication are energy efficient, and may allow many more contacts than simple voice.

many good points and i applaud your efforts to serve your community.  i have learned a lot from this thread even though i dont live in a earthquake zone.

alex
kc9pwt
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