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#263447 - 09/10/13 09:06 PM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
Nomad Online   content
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 482
Loc: Just wandering around.
I am quite a few questions from the non-amateur community here on the Equipped web site as well as on other sites on which I have posted this information. So let me share my concept for an ideal community Grid Down preperation.

I welcome comments especially from those who have no or little communications experience. Would something like the community system I describe here be of value to you? If there was a community GMRS repeater available, would you spend $80 for a 3 year license that covers your entire family? Good radios are now available in the $35 to $60 for handhelds and in the $200 for 50 watt mobiles. All plug and play with no technical skills required.

GMRS is available in many communities and many are open, allowing any licensed operator to use them.One particular set of frequencies is set aside (by convention,not law) for travelers.

There are not many open access repeaters compared to the amateur world, but most metro areas have at least one and many rural areas have pretty good coverage. Perhaps there is already one in your area. I can help you find out if you ask.

So, please read this an let me know what you think. It is not very well expanded so there will likely be many questions. Have a read....

A Community Communications System.

There are 4 different communications arenas that need to be considered. They are, in brief, the following.

FRS: Family Radio Service. This service regulates those bubble pack radios that have become so common. No license, no control and very short range.

MURS: Multiple Use Radio Service. Like FRS, unlicensed. However the frequency used and the power levels provide much better range. Detachable antennas are allowed and with proper selection, this can be used to advantage. They can not be connected to any other service.

GMRS: General Mobile Radio Service. A lisenced service that allows repeaters and 50 watt radios. The license covers the whole family and community repeaters are common.

There are a number of significant aspects that make this service attractive to our needs. It shares some frequencies with FRS and GMRS licensees can use 5 watt radios with gain antennas when communicating with FRS users. I will discuss this in detail later.

Amateur Radio (Ham); A bewildering assortment of technologies and regulations. Basically we can do anything that is non-commercial, not encrypted and within very broad regulation. Most of which makes sense in terms of good engineering practice.

In the Ham world, one of my interests are relatively short range communications (meaning 400 miles radius or so). I use special techniques to bounce signals so that they fill that circle with a very solid and strong signal using relatively little power and simple technology.


So how can these services be used?

My situation can be used as an example. I winter in a remote desert area. Look at a map of Arizona. About 130 miles or so west of Tucson (follow route 86 west) you will see a north south road (route 85). I live near that intersection.

Zoom out a bit. With the exception of the small town of Ajo, 10 miles north and Sells, 60 miles east, there is pretty much nothing. The nearest metropolitan areas are Tucson (120 miles), Phoenix (130) and Yuma (130). I said it was remote.

Our small community hangs on a single fiber for communications and a pretty simple power grid. Actually there is no commercial power available even close to where I live. All of us are 100% solar powered.

If I install my GMRS repeater someplace that gives good coverage to the area, I believe others will get a license so that they can use it. There are a lot of great wild places around us and having good repeater coverage open to the community would be an asset.

So as each of the new GMRS repeater licensees become active on the repeater, I hope to convince them to also configure their radio to comply with the requirements to communicate with FRS users.

Likewise I intend to "sell" the GMRS advantages to other hams in the area. Not just the fact that any of their family members can use the repeater, but the community service aspects as well. Should be an easy sell.

So now we have a system that allows anyone access on various levels. my experience with community radio has convinced me that the interconnection of people strengthens the community bond and provides a real asset in situational awareness. See something, say something takes on new meaning when the "say something" goes to your peers in the community.

In the event of an emergency, we will be able to disseminate information quickly and with a fair amount of reliability.

Comments Appreciated.

Nomad.
aka Ron, N1AHH
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#263449 - 09/11/13 12:00 AM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7415
Loc: southern Cal
Originally Posted By: Nomad


If I install my GMRS repeater someplace that gives good coverage to the area

Nomad.
aka Ron, N1AHH


On Baboquivari Peak? - I am being facetious. I am sure there would be considerable local opposition on religious grounds.

More seriously, how would you deal with undisciplined "Yak" usage as your group gets larger? Wouldn't the internet and cell phones work just about as well?
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#263451 - 09/11/13 12:38 AM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: hikermor]
Nomad Online   content
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 482
Loc: Just wandering around.
Originally Posted By: hikermor

On Baboquivari Peak? - I am being facetious. I am sure there would be considerable local opposition on religious grounds.

More seriously, how would you deal with undisciplined "Yak" usage as your group gets larger? Wouldn't the internet and cell phones work just about as well?

You must have spent some time in the area. You not only know about the peak, you can spell it.

As for the yak factor, well the size of the group will be self limiting. Not many people around here. And as for cell and Internet, this project is designed for grid down. And you probably know how fragile the infrastructure is out there.

The rest of the time, well there is always the OFF switch. Just because I build it does not mean I have to listen to it. I have done a number of other repeaters. It always seems to work itself out. The yakers soon run out of people to talk to.
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#263452 - 09/11/13 11:37 AM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7415
Loc: southern Cal
I've lived in SoCal for the past twenty-five years or so, but at heart I am still an Arizonan. Good country and great people.

Babo? I can not only spell it, I have climbed it! (considerably more than once...)
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#263453 - 09/11/13 01:56 PM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
Outdoor_Quest Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/17/09
Posts: 305
Loc: Central Oregon
Originally Posted By: Nomad
Re: J-pole antenna.


If you want a J-pole I obviously recommend his.

I have spent the last few days writing a section about antennas and antenna gain vs coax length. How high a mast is high enough and what are the trade off's between height, coax loss and antenna gain. It is a complex subject.

Probably more than you wanted to know....





I talked to Dr. Fong yesterday. He was very helpful and his price can not be beat.

Blake

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#263515 - 09/16/13 03:50 AM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
Nomad Online   content
Addict

Registered: 05/04/02
Posts: 482
Loc: Just wandering around.
Here is an article about how amateur radio is being used in the Colorado disaster. The article mentions two amateur drones, one helicopter, one fixed wing with amateur television that are being used to locate stranded people. They have a 5 hour flight time.

Also mentioned are amateur repeaters that are providing the only communications for several isolated mountain communities.

http://www.arrl.org/news/amateur-radio-provides-critical-communication-in-colorado-flooding-response

Nomad
aka Ron, N1AHH
http://tinyurl.com/GDC-Welcome
_________________________
...........From Nomad.........Been "on the road" since '97

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#263530 - 09/16/13 04:15 PM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
hikermor Offline
Geezer in Chief
Geezer

Registered: 08/26/06
Posts: 7415
Loc: southern Cal
Thanks for the reference. I think drones are the coming thing in SAR, if they aren't here already. Maybe it's time to think seriously about a HAM license.....
_________________________
Geezer in Chief

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#263534 - 09/16/13 05:10 PM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: hikermor]
chaosmagnet Online   content
Sheriff
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/03/09
Posts: 3483
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: hikermor
Thanks for the reference. I think drones are the coming thing in SAR, if they aren't here already. Maybe it's time to think seriously about a HAM license.....


Let me know if you need any pointers on where to get study material.

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#263543 - 09/16/13 11:06 PM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: Nomad]
CANOEDOGS Offline
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 1852
Loc: MINNESOTA

i have a old short wave radio and tune in once in awhile,winter nights seem best.i have the book for the HAM test and look around for a unit on Ebay when the thought hits me,but--thinking about it trying to use a HAM radio in a real "grid down" national emergency would be trying to drive north to what is in normal times a quiet camp ground.it would be full,full of everyone who has a radio,ticket or not trying to push thru to whoever to get info or give or take commands,you get the idea.there is no control of who uses the airwaves the radio with the most power wins that frequency.with millions trying to get on the air HAM would be a lost bet for most users.
also it would be a source of misinformation for folks like me who just have a receiver.you could never trust any info and how would you know if a official station was real.even a HAM who you had contact with in the past might say anything to keep you from a source of,say food and shelter when it would be in his best interest to tell you nothing..."gee bill i would stay in chicago things are really bad in minneapolis"

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#263554 - 09/17/13 02:13 AM Re: Grid Down Communications. [Re: CANOEDOGS]
dougwalkabout Offline
Crazy Canuck
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 02/03/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Alberta, Canada
Originally Posted By: CANOEDOGS
there is no control of who uses the airwaves the radio with the most power wins that frequency.with millions trying to get on the air HAM would be a lost bet for most users.
also it would be a source of misinformation for folks like me who just have a receiver.you could never trust any info and how would you know if a official station was real.


It's a valid question to pose, certainly, but I wonder if that's really the case. Maybe on the 2m repeater bands it's more of a wild west situation. But it seems to me that HAMs have been through many a dark crisis and have, as a community, maintained a broad base of respect. This is earned, not given.

I suspect HAMs regulate themselves individually and as a culture the same way we regulate ourselves individually/culturally in this forum. We do not have the right to do as we please; we have the privilege of participating. We give each other a kick under the table if we're pushing the boundary. And if we overstep, there is that giant Monty Python foot, poised to thin the herd.

My 2c.


Edited by dougwalkabout (09/17/13 02:16 AM)

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