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The June meeting of the RANV club will be at the State Police Barracks in Williston. Address is 2777 St George Road. The barracks is just above I-89 Exit 12 on Route 2A. Bob W4YFJ will discuss the E-911 system in Vermont and give a tour of the dispatch center.
When you get to the barracks, come to the door next to the garage doors. Ring the bell if no one is at the door and tell them you’re there for the ham radio tour. Inside, the conference room is on the second floor immediately at the top of the stairs. Bob’s pretty good a marking things, so we probably won’t lose too many of you. But...hey! 911 can quickly dispatch someone to do a search and rescue, so no fear!
After the tour, we’ll meet back at the conference room for snacks and to discuss the last minute details in preparation for Field Day 2010.
The 2010 edition of Field Day is near. The dates this year are June 26th and 27th. We start our setup on Friday afternoon and can use lots of people to help with lots of things.
I am looking for help for one aspect of the weekend in particular: the GOTA operation. For those who don’t know, GOTA is “Get on the Air.” This is one of the operating stations at Field Day. No experience is needed to operate here. Anyone licensed in the past year, any level, anyone who holds a Technician license, or anyone who is considered to be “inactive” is eligible to operate. Even those who do not have a license can operate! The purpose of the GOTA station is to give those who haven’t had on-air experience the chance to do so. You don’t even need to know how! There will be a mentor there to help. There is no pressure to make hundreds of contacts, but there are bonuses for every 20 contacts each operator makes. Will anyone make 100 or more contacts this year? For the last few years, the GOTA station has met its goal of at least 500 contacts. Let’s do it again this year! Please let me know as soon as possible your plans so a schedule can be put together. We want to give everyone a chance, and if everyone shows up at the same time, this gets to be difficult.
I’m also looking for some mentors who can help out with the new operators. We also get extra credit for having under 18 year old operators make at least one contact. Get together with your friends and make plans for Field Day.
United States Border Patrol: Paul AA1SU got the idea for the May meeting when he noticed a border patrol building with an impressive assortment of antennas on its roof. Four people from the U.S. Border Patrol came to our May club meeting to tell us about their equipment and their work. The visitors were Lucas Hursey, Mark Pynduss KB1EWA , Stephen Fuller, and Mike Raymond N1IRN.
The Border Patrol has three main nets of linked VHF repeaters. The nets cover the Canadian Border from somewhere in New York to Maine. The communications are digital and encrypted. There is a separate net for data. They can also use U.S. Customs radio nets. There is a communication center in Florida, as well.
The border is monitored by live video, remote video, thermal imaging, and motion sensing detectors. Remote video means that the device “phones home” when it has an image or video clip to send. Though some of the devices are linked to the Internet, others are battery powered with small transmitters. Sensor batteries last for a year.
The original devices had small tape recorders that would transmit voice messages like “Whiskey 4 has detected motion.” Later, devices sent a synthesized voice, while the current generation sends digital data. The Border Patrol has become pretty good at distinguishing people from animals.
Each agent has a $4500 hand-held Motorola radio for encrypted digital communications. Stephen gave us a quick demonstration, working a repeater on Jay Peak with very good sound quality. The radios have over-the-air rekeying. When the net’s encryption key changes, each radio can be easily updated. However, any lost radio would soon become unusable.
The men feel that border security is “pretty good.” They get good cooperation from the Canadian border patrol. The U.S. Border Patrol can hear the Canadians’ sensors, and they can hear ours. If our Border Patrol detects someone crossing into Canada, they notify the Canadians and vice versa. The border does not have wide forbidden areas that keep people away. In fact, there are some homes and other buildings which actually straddle the border!
The next meeting will be at the Vermont State Police barracks in Williston. I will bring donuts! Field Day will be the weekend of June 26th.
As I write this I’m falling asleep, not because this is boring or anything but because the place I work for has gone into overdrive mode for a while and for that reason this will be short and sweet (this is where the newsletter editors groan, rub their temples and start looking for more copy).
It is almost June, Field Day month, and I’m looking forward to it even if I can’t attend all of it due to work (see above). The plans are being made, the antennas and gear is coming out and being tested as you read this.
Please do all you can for this event, as it is the premier test of emergency field operations there is and is a lot of fun. Did I mention that RANV frequently scores in the top ten stations nationwide in the 2A entry category (2A has the largest number of entries), and has won in 1999, 2000, 2006, and 2008! There is opportunity to operate if you are a contester type (contact W1SJ), or a relatively inactive ham (contact AB1DD), or you want to take a chance with 6 meter at the VHF station (contact KB1FRW).
We setup three main operating areas with four 50-foot towers and antennas, three tents including a 32' x 16' unit for GOTA and VHF. We need setup and tear down help plus some one with a pickup truck to move things Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon (contact the above call signs to help); all jobs are important and make the whole event work. Anyone want to take care of the food?
This all takes place June 25th-27th at the site on Redmond Road in Williston. Come visit even if you can’t help out and be sure to get on VHF and HF and give us a contact. We are usually right near the VHF calling frequencies and will move to any band you have.
As you read this I am winding down from the Essex Memorial Day parade which was huge this year (35-40% bigger than last year) and we really needed more help. You should have seen me trying to be at both ends of my division at the same time, boy my feet hurt!
Tomorrow is the Vermont City Marathon, the biggest athletic event in the state. This involves 40 hams and I can tell you that, considering the stress these runners put their bodies, we serve a critical function in providing health and welfare for them.
I’m tired, and nodding off, so I’ll let you move on to the next article and maybe next month I will remember to tell you about my adventures getting and putting up a 40 meter rotatable dipole. I had to do it twice to get it right.
Meet at the Ground Round on Williston Road on the 3rd Tuesday, at 6:30. Help us plan meetings and discuss club issues and upcoming events that might need to be presented to the membership.
For more info and details visit www.ranv.org/fd.html.
We work very, very few amateurs in the local area and would like to increase this number. In particular, we especially need local VHF contacts on our QRP solar powered station. All QSO's with us qualify you for the coveted W1NVT QSL card!
The Memorial Day Weekend is the largest public service weekend of the year in Vermont with two ham radio supported events back to back. In fact there are a lot more parades on Memorial Day that hams do not provide service for, so it could be even larger.
Saturday was the 25th running of the Essex Memorial Parade. This event was notable since an entirely new crew was running the show after the former organizers called it a career after 24 years. I got involved in some of the organizing meetings, providing some of the logistical details from past years. I also wrote a communications manual for the non-ham marshals who use the commercial radios.
Despite a new crew and many new marshals, the parade went off as smoothly as ever. In a parade, “smoothly” is mostly a relative term in what is mostly a cat herding exercise! But we had a very large turnout of participants, very few no-shows, and no injuries. We did have an issue with a Shriners Go-Kart losing a wheel, but their own Tow truck Go-Kart hooked it up and towed it down the route without running too many folks over. The RANV Go-Kart and parade herding car worked flawlessly for the first time in a while.
Thanks to AA1SU, KB1FRW, N1LXI, N1WCK W1DEB W1OKH, W1SJ, and W4YFJ for their help.
Less than 24 hours later, a larger group of hams found themselves assembling in various spots in Burlington for the 22nd annual Vermont City Marathon. Like the parade mentioned above, the Marathon had a new leadership, with a new Executive Director and some course changes. Ham operators provided more support in the form of radio shadows and more operators on the busses. A major concern was the weather for race day. When we installed the repeater on Wednesday before the race, it was 93 degrees. A race run in those conditions would have completely overwhelmed the ability to take care of everyone. As it turned out, luck played a major part in this. The temperatures dropped to a high of 70 degrees during the race making it smooth sailing for most runners. Another concern, which we didn’t know about during the race, was the smoke from the forest fires in Quebec which choked our area on Monday, one day after the race. That would have been a major problem and we are lucky that the weather Gods were smiling on Burlington that day.
But we did have a rash of ambulance calls that we processed and the Medical tent did get filled up at one point. And we dealt with a lot of other details like getting hams on the busses, and then getting runners on the busses, and the obligatory couple of lost kids who had to find parents. But it was an unusually smooth day for a race which had a record number of participants – over 8000 at one point or another.
We also had a full slate of ham operators – 40 in all. While a good number (25) are RANV members, every club in Northern Vermont was represented. We also had 15 hams from outside of Chittenden County from as far away as Rutland and New Hampshire. Many have been doing the Marathon since its early days. Some 15 of our operators have been out there 8 years or more!
Run Vermont, who organizes the Marathon, held their first ever awards reception on Saturday night before the event. They induct runners into their Hall of Fame and also bestow their Key Achievement Award to volunteers. This year we were pleased to have Carl Phillips ex-KC1WH be posthumously honored with this award for his 16 years of service on the Committee and heading up race communications. I checked my files, and confirmed that Carl got his license in my 1990 Ham class and started working with the Marathon that year! Carl’s sister Ruby flew in from Seattle to accept the award and give a very nice acceptance speech. It made for a very nice evening and cemented the strong relationship ham radio has with the Marathon.
While it is fresh in your minds, please provide comments on how the Marathon worked.
1. Marathon Net (things we can control): Good things, bad things.
2. Marathon in General (things we cannot control, but can make some noise about).
We do provide feedback to VCM and they do take what we say seriously, so this is a valuable part of the job!
Contact Mitch via the VCM Radio website‘s e-mail link to leave your feedback.
This is the ARRL’s replacement for their EmComms Levels II and III courses. I just happened to stumble across it on the website. I hadn't seen any mention of it published anywhere yet. This is a self-paced, online course with numerous prerequisites, most are FEMA courses; ARRL
membership is required. It’s aimed at those in managerial/leadership positions rather than those of us out in the field as operators. They indicate that the course is expected to take a minimum of 30 hours and suggest planning it over 2 to 3 months. This is in addition to time for any FEMA courses, and activities associated with the course itself. Cost is $35 for the final exam and certificate.
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