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Author Topic: CW/QRP in Emcomms?  (Read 8750 times)
KB1WSY
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« on: March 21, 2012, 02:47:44 AM »

Greetings,

I'm a new ham still putting my equipment together. I am building it from scratch using tube technology exclusively. It will be QRP and small, but not very portable and totally reliant on a reasonable source of AC -- grid, generator or inverter. Meanwhile my 17-year-old daughter is in the leadership of the statewide Red Cross youth branch and part of that involves emergency drills and so on. Am I correct that it would not be useful for me to try to become involved in their Emcomm? I presume that nowadays Emcomm is phone only and needs reliable, modern, solid state gear plus a reasonable amount of ERP in order to participate reliably in emergency nets.

I was going to contact the local Red Cross through my daughter and mention ham radio but I am a bit worried that they might welcome my contribution without fully understanding the limitations of my equipment: technology, power, and the CW-only focus. Plus, the added factor that I am a new ham and therefore might lack enough experience on the air.

Finally, I also assume that bureaucratically speaking, contacting the Red Cross directly is the wrong way to go. Instead, I should presumably first be in contact with my local ARES?

I apologize for the really basic questions but I am new to all this.

73 DE Martin, KB1WSY
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NA4IT
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« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2012, 04:26:37 AM »

I'm going to try to comment here without hurting your feelings.

CW/QRP would probably work, however, the trend in EMCOMM is to be able to send "forms" of text, such as the ICS-213. There are digital modes that area way more efficient than CW for that. And, they require decent power to get the signal to the RX station.

So, what I am saying is, the fact you are a CW purist probably won't lend much to EMCOMM. You might want to 1) begin exploring the digital modes and 2) get involved with an amateur radio EMCOMM group. Red Cross is not the place to go, as they want trained, effective communications, not experimenters. And they are not interested in doing the training of hams in various forms of communications.

Like I said, not trying to hurt your feelings, just stating the truth.
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K7RBW
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« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2012, 06:36:51 AM »

I think it's important to distinguish between volunteering yourself and volunteering your equipment.

Even if there's not much use for some home-grown, QRP, tube radios in EMCOMM, that doesn't mean there's no use for the person who knows how to operate them. You could still operate whatever equipment the served organization has on site (or stashed away for the occasion) and do other, desperately needed volunteer jobs. Likewise, becoming expert in operating QRP will give you the skills to work at higher power under difficult circumstances.
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W5ESE
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« Reply #3 on: March 21, 2012, 09:38:03 AM »

If you are interested in public service communications with CW/QRP
equipment, I think your best bet is to investigate the National Traffic
System. Look for NTS CW traffic nets in your area in the ARRL Net Directory.
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N2RRA
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« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2012, 06:41:17 PM »

Hello Martin and welcome to amateur radio!  Grin

If you plan on joining an EMMCOM team, red cross ,or other you'll make a fine team mate. Now at days most lack in CW skills because of all the other digital modes used to convey messages. One day those CW skills of yours will come into play and at least your skill will become a contributor.

I feel if Emcomm folks are gonna fill the role then they should be fully capable of any situation. There are many that lack CW skills.

Either way like very much your interest in building tube gear and QRP. I for one love QRP and have many videos on YouTube showing my QRP adventures at work. Check them out!

73 and have fun!


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KB1WSY
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« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2012, 07:48:27 AM »

Quote
I think it's important to distinguish between volunteering yourself and volunteering your equipment.... You could still operate whatever equipment the served organization has on site (or stashed away for the occasion) and do other, desperately needed volunteer jobs.

That's a very good point, and so is your suggestion that being a skilled QRP operator also builds the experience to operate generally under difficult circumstances. Anyway I'm not on the air yet, so it would be best to acquire some real-life experience and then see how I can help.

Quote
I'm going to try to comment here without hurting your feelings.

No problem at all, in fact one reason I asked here first was to sound y'all out on the soundness of my idea. I was a bit dubious about it, but my daughter's intensive involvement in the local Red Cross was bound to start me thinking! Your points are well taken: the organizations in question are looking for practical skills in real situations and not "experimenters." Will work on becoming dual-mode! Probably that means the fixed home shack will remain an "experimenter's den" and have no part in any EMCOMM work, with the latter using the organization's own equipment or my own (modern) mobile gear when/if I get that going.

Quote
If you are interested in public service communications with CW/QRP equipment, I think your best bet is to investigate the National Traffic System. Look for NTS CW traffic nets in your area in the ARRL Net Directory.

Will pursue this eventually, sounds interesting.

This is all for the future but meanwhile, thank you everyone for your advice.

73 DE Martin, KB1WSY

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WB6BYU
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« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2012, 09:38:06 PM »

Quote from: K7RBW

I think it's important to distinguish between volunteering yourself and volunteering your equipment.



Yes, excellent point.  And just because your primary operating mode is QRP CW with tubes
doesn't mean that you can't learn to pass traffic using voice or digital modes using
another station, or help to set up antennas, or many other tasks.

My operating preference is also QRP CW.  But that doesn't mean I can't use other modes
when needed, including HF SSB, VHF/UHF FM, digital, etc.  I also design and install
antennas, help set up trainings, teach classes, etc., to help the other members be better
prepared to operate in less-than-optimum circumstances.  There are lots of tasks that need to
be done.  And if I ever need to pass traffic on a pocket 40m CW rig, I can do that too.

Find out what ham group provides communications for the Red Cross and talk with them.
There may be a ham station set up that needs operators - you don't need your own
equipment in that case.  (Though they may expect operators to have VHF/UHF capability
to coordinate assignments.)  Actually that can come in handy - I find it handy to discuss
tube and/or QRP equipment, antennas, and other topics during my commute.  In fact a
recent discussion was about building a 1927-vintage Hartley transmitter for 40m.
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KC9TNH
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« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2012, 04:57:31 AM »

No EMCOMM authority here, just passing along something that was put to me by someone who is heavily into ARES/RACES, paraphrasing the old "they also serve who only stand & wait." Am exploring this as well, so thanks for your thread.

One of the things ARES/RACES material - if you read it - should make clear is that you don't want to be involved in remote support of an incident if there's possibility that you could become part of the problem. Asking tough honest questions of oneself that answer the "am I really preoccupied with something & my mind/energy is somewhere else?" question may help decide one's level of participation & what one can do well, versus wish they could do even with best of intentions. (Ex: in my case I deployed enough in my Army career and bride of many decades has some health issues; I'm not going anywhere - I wouldn't be any good to anyone.)

It's lately been pointed out to me, however, that from my shack I can still help because someone has to be willing to COPY the traffic for delivery and follow through with its delivery. Segue back to previous mentions of the National Traffic System; as pointed out voice & CW nets are around. Participate in them & be willing to be the distant-end if necessary. What works to do that may dictate further directions in equipment or mode. YMMV.
Smiley
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73
Wes -KC9TNH
"Don't get treed by a chihuahua." - Pete
NA4IT
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« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2012, 06:12:30 PM »

http://www.wrrl.org/ is a pretty good resource for learning and being involved in traffic handling.
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K1CJS
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« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2012, 05:45:19 AM »

Pretty much the same responces here, and they're right.  QRP/CW and emcomms are not a good match--especially if the power source needed is 110 volts.  Digital modes are becoming the wanted method of communicating along with voice, and sometimes that station has to be able to operate with no commercial power and no generator.  CW does have its place, but the idea of having a stack of messages to be transmitted as soon as you can get from one to the next isn't going to fly in today's world.  Emcomm groups are looking for people who can do things fast--yesterday sometimes, yet get them done accurately.

I would second the idea of using the methods you want to concentrate on to pass messages in the NTS, not in the role of EMCOMM operator, where a few minutes may make the difference between success and failure.  On the other hand, using digital modes, equipment and higher power may make the difference for you if you do want to do Emcomms.  Sometimes being a purist is a good thing, and sometimes it isn't.  73!
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GILGSN
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« Reply #10 on: August 28, 2012, 07:56:18 AM »

Hello,

In my opinion, it depends on the severity and extent of the emergency. In case of a local, regional, or even state wide event, QRP would not be best. However, for a nationwide crisis, where power won't be available for a while and civil unrest would become a problem, QRP might be the only game in town, because of low current draw, hence better mobility, as one might need to relocate and transmit on the go for security reasons.. More here: http://radiopreppers.com/index.php/topic,111.0.html

Gil.
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W7ASA
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« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2012, 04:24:50 AM »

The question is not defined enough.  If we are talking about supporting county/State emergency services, then digital for traffic , voice for rapid coordination is usually the way that it works.  At least, that's how we do it in this multi-county area. Naturally, digital and CW get through when conditions cannot support voice. Lists of refugees, names, next of kin data and etc. are always better sent as a data file, rather than read in voice in phoenetics... Remember though: no computer = no digital and that applies to all stations involved.

HOWEVER, if the question revolves around keeping a radio station operating as an individual, without commercial power, generators, back-up fuel and facilities and doing it for personal communication, news & information from further away that you can SHOUT, I know from personal experience that the magic combination of 2 meters for local and CW QRP for long range works very well and is much easier to keep powered, protected and transported than a large, high powered station. Of the two, I'd keep my QRP rather than the 2 meters, but that's for this area, which has little VHF/UHF activity.

I can toss my KX-1 into a bug-out-bag and be out the door in 3 minutes (It used to be faster, but I'm getting older...) , but my Ten Ten Pegasus and laptop...welllllllllll, that's not going to happen and even If I COULD shoehorn them into the book bag, //make that a rucksack//, I'd have a very difficult time keeping a laptop & big rig powered-up as I can with my KX-1, which also has a general coverage shortwave receiver inside of it for news from outside of the country. Rather than relying upon the controlled US media, at least I can do a little 'information fusion' from multiple sources each with their own agenda & read between the lines and probably have a better idea of what is happening.  The general coverage also allows me to listen to voice nets - CW as necessary.  All that I need is the occasional sunny day for recharging and/or access to any 12 volt source and at 34 mA rx current drain, I can operate for a looooooong time from a car battery before it would require recharging!   I've operated portable for weeks at a time in wilderness areas, operating out of my rucksack, so it's not mere theory.

If keeping track of friends and family and general information from outside of your area (and a bit of 'down-time recreation) is the goal, I'd include QRP and that usually means - but is not limited to - CW. An off-the-shelf QRP rig that recommends itself and includes a general coverage shortwave receviers is the R4040 as sold through Ten Tec.  I recommend buying directly from them, so that Ten Tec assures the quality control of this otherwise Chinese manufactured radio. Ten Tec's rigs work when delivered.  
"4 Band QRP Go Pack"  http://www.tentec.com/products/4-Band-QRP-Go-Pack.html


73 de Ray
W7ASA ..._ ._




« Last Edit: September 16, 2012, 04:32:08 AM by W7ASA » Logged
K1CJS
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« Reply #12 on: September 16, 2012, 06:24:11 AM »

The last two commenters seem to have missed the part where the original poster says that his units work on ---110 VOLTS---. 

While I agree that CW is sometimes preferred because of its simplicity and its ability to get through when other modes couldn't, a low voltage radio undoubtedly is more useful than one that has to run off 110 volts AC.
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