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Author Topic: Example comms deployment - Nevada Day Parade  (Read 907 times)

Bear

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Example comms deployment - Nevada Day Parade
« on: November 02, 2014, 12:35:18 pm »

One of the members in our radio club organized the communications support for
the Nevada Day Parade this last Saturday. I volunteered to help out and I thought
I would detail what I did before and during the parade as an example the kind of
thinking that goes into going out in the field and doing radio communications support,
regardless of the event.

What We Did and Why

Because of the length of the parade route, there are multiple announcers along
the route to read scripted comments to the crowd about the group or float
currently in view. There are always some groups that end up as last minute
"no shows" after the announcer notes have been printed, or some other issue
like floats appearing in the wrong order.

The ham radio operators form a net with a Net Control station that pass along
updated information to the announcers. Yes, this could be done with cell phones
if everyone had one that vibrate and cold pass text messages. The City decided
sometime back to use ham radio operators for this as it off loaded a little bit of
work from the announcers and gave the radio operators practice in ad hoc nets,
and this could be good experience if there ever were an emergency.

Equipment

The net operates on the 2 meter band. One of the club members sets up an
actual repeater in a parking lot for the event.

While I could use a 2m hand held radio, I choose to use my Yaesu 8900-R radio
in a radio box, Buddipole antenna, and battery box. This is allows me to use a lot
more power and put it into a better antenna than a "rubber ducky".

Since this is a single day event, there was no need for camping gear. I did bring
a lunch and some water.

Preparation

Since we had to arrive meeting spot between 6 and 6:30AM, I checked and
packed my equipment the night before. Because of the forecast for possible
rain and snow, I worked out a way that I could either use a camp table and
chair for my position, or operate from inside my Jeep.

An interesting point -- because we might be setting up in the dark, I decided
to 'pre-fab' my set up as much as possible. The Buddipole is sort of an Erector
Set for ham antennas, so I took the parts that I could connect ahead of time
and did so, putting them in a separate box. This way, I would not have to find
and assemble black parts from a black bag, in the dark. I would have lights
with me, but why make it difficult?

Deployment

We met and had breakfast, then moved to our locations.

The Buddipole is an antenna, mast and tripod. To keep it from falling over,
the user drives stakes into the ground and ties off guy lines. However, my
location put my on concrete and asphalt, so that wasn't an option. Tieing it
to the Jeep didn't work too well either, so what I did was to put the battery
box under the tripod and anchor the tripod to the box with rope. With a
heavy deep cycle marine battery, that tripod was not going anywhere.

Because or the rain forecast, I figured out a way to wrap the (now) open
top battery box in a big plastic bag. I also wrapped the exposed cable
connections with electricians tape to keep the water out.

I put the empty VHF radio box on the front passenger seat. On top of this
I put the VHF radio tray (also has other scanner radio, and LED light bar)
on top of the empty box, and then put battery box lid with the power
distribution panel on top of the radio tray. I ran the 12V power and coax
cable through the window of the passenger door.

  -- Comfy and pretty weather proof.

Doing the Work

I tore up some sheets of paper into message-sized slips, numbered them
and put a spot for the time. When an update came, I noted it in my log,
the copied the info to the message slip, along with a time stamp, and
walked it over to the announcer's stand.

Pretty straight forward execution of an idea.

"Be Prepared == Free Drinks"

I had some extra lengths of short ropes that I keep in the box for odd
chores. It turns out that the wind came up while the street vendors
were setting up their booths. I helped the buy next to me get control
of his pop-up tent. He had forgotten to bring ropes with him, and he
was having to fight the tent to keep it from blowing away. I helped
him get control and used my scrap ropes to tie down his tent. He was
so happy an relieved that he gave me free drinks. I kept it to hard cider
during the event.

Bear
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"There is no good idea so perfect, so pure,
that Government can't do it badly."
-- Bear

Kurt

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Re: Example comms deployment - Nevada Day Parade
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2014, 08:56:26 am »

Great writeup Bear.  I wanted the ability to deploy something along the same lines, but needed it to work with no prior arrangement/planning, and potentially with a hodge-podge of dissimilar equipment anyone might have available at the time.  A SAR operation that needs to start immediately, no time to run home and get additional equipment for example.  Maybe out hunting with some buddies and one doesn't return at dusk to the vehicle, or I drive to my favorite lake for some fishing and learn someone's 5-yr-old has wandered off in the woods and the parents need help finding him/her.  In the first example we might all have Baofengs to help coordinate the search for our friend, but hilly terrain makes HT to HT comms difficult.  In the second example, maybe we have a volunteer in a boat with a marine radio, me with a dual band HT, and the child's parents have bubblepack GMRS/FRS radios.

It's a work in progress, but been experimenting with a simple setup of using a cheap ($100) cross band repeater system in my vehicles to increase the range of HT to HT comms in the field, and be able to setup a impromptu net with any VHF/UHF radios anyone may have.  Already had an assortment of mobiles and HTs (some VHF only, some dual band) and a base, to implement this plan I added:

1 Puxing PX-UV973 dual band radio with built-in crossband repeater
1 12v adapter for the PX-UV973
1 SMA female to SO-239 adapter
1 Tram 1185 magnetic mount dual band antenna

The Puxing fits snugly behind the rear headrest in my truck, with the coax run out the rear window.  The cord for the 12v adapter reaches the 12v power point in the back seat without having to move the radio.  Pulled everything out slightly for the pic:




The radio is preprogrammed for the most common freqs we use (or would likely need), and is left in "TX stun" mode so it will not transmit until the unstun code is received.  The PX-UV973 allows programming 8-digit DTMF codes that can be used to remotely stun and unstun the radio (sent from a different radio). 

Here's the other radios I always have with me in the truck (FT-2900, PX-777, and Baofeng UV-5R):



In the simpliest usage scenario, I park the truck where it has line-of-sight to my home base, plug in the UV973 repeater, and grab a HT to take with me on my hike into a valley.  If needed, I send the unstun code to the repeater in the truck from my HT, and now I have a functioning crossband repeater to increase my range and allow me to talk to my home.   If I needed to, I could even crossband to an amateur repeater and potentially get MUCH greater range.

Or, from the example above of arriving at a lake and needing to search for a lost child, I have everything I need to crossband 156.425 MHz (marine channel 68) and 462.5500 MHz (GMRS channel 1) - and then the parents with their GMRS radios, the guy searching the shore from his boat with a marine VHF radio, and me with the Baofeng can all communicate with each other easily.
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Bear

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Re: Example comms deployment - Nevada Day Parade
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2014, 10:20:41 am »

Kurt,

That's very cool.

Bear
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"There is no good idea so perfect, so pure,
that Government can't do it badly."
-- Bear
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