During the Friday evening “Tech Net” July 17th, George King AJ6BP asked a very intriguing question “during an emergency, if the Cell towers and repeaters are overwhelmed (or worse) fail, what modes of amateur radio are available to us?” The responses given by our net members focused solely on Simplex VHF/UHF operation, there is far more to EmComm than Simplex modes.
What came to my mind first was “APRS”, Winlink, HF SSB relay to out of area allowing local communication through a willing HF operator and with the right equipment in place Hammesh/ARDEN mesh networks.
Shortly after becoming a Ham I was thrust into one of the Scenarios that George is concerned about. During The 1994 “Northridge Quake” Red Cross was tasked with setting up temporary shelters in several parks throughout the San Fernando Valley. Amateur Radios supported by a single repeater were their preferred method of communications. Unfortunately the Fault line ran almost directly under the hilltop repeater site disabling most of the site and rendering the repeater unusable. with the topology of the San Fernando valley Simplex “Park to Park” communication was unreliable to unusable. Fortunately the Los Angeles DWP had invested in Amateur radio equipment with high level antennas at their new fleet shops and promoted Ham Licensing classes. We were monitoring the simplex frequencies and were able to relay information from/to those shelter sites and exchange information along with being a “landline” relay back to their headquarters. I was introduced to the value of high level antennas and the RF power of mobile/base radios.
Now, my Challenge to our GOTAhams, Do your research, think outside the box, look for modes/methods/bands etc. that will be useful to Amateurs preferably easy to deploy and works independent of Repeaters, internet, Cell towers. My plan is to compile this information, add a web page to our site to support “Emergency Communications” and begin adding these methods to our weekend “In The Park” operation? If/When we are barred from operating as a group in the park we could still schedule and operate these modes/methods from home.
I believe this is a great opportunity to broaden the clubs knowledge, Talent and capabilities. Another new adventure for the GOTAhams! I’m looking forward to the Journey ’73 Ken KC6WOK