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Tracy
Manteca
Stockton
Lodi
Outside the county
ARRL Volunteer Examiner 

SJC EMCOMM Freqs
SJC1 - 147.210 + 114.8 Stockton (Stockton Pri)
SJC2 - 146.655 - 100.0 Tracy (County Pri)
SJC3 - 145.210 - 100.0 Tracy (County B/up)
SJC4 - 147.090 + 114.8 Lodi (North Pri)
SJC5 - 146.985 - 100.0 Manteca
SJC6 - 147.165 + 107.2 SDARC
SJC7 - 147.015 + 114.8 Copperopolis
SJC8 - 147.105 + 94.8 Stockton
SJC9 - 146.895 - 114.8 Mt. Oso - Disabled
SJC10 - 444.400 + 114.8 Copperopolis
SJC11 - 444.325 + 94.8 Stockton (Stockton Pri)
SJC12 - 443.825 + 107.2 Mt. Oso
SJC13 - 444.575 + 107.2 Stockton
SJC14 - 444.850 + 114.8 127.3 Tracy 
SJC15 - 444.500 + 114.8 Stockton
LLNL - 146.775 - 100.0 Livermore


TAC1 - 146.550

TAC3 - 146.535
TAC4 - 146.430
TAC6 - 156.565
TAC7 - 146.595
TAC8 - 146.445
All simplex
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N5FDL/CEVOL Repeaters

Stockton: 147.210 + N5FDL and 444.500 + K6TRK Both PL 114.8 (linked)

Copperopolis/Gopher Ridge: 147.015 + and 444.400 +  (not linked) N6GKJ 

Mt. Oso: 146.895 - N5FDL and 443.825 + PL 107.2 (not linked)

Tracy: 444.850 + KB6EMK PL 127.3

Affiliated Repeaters

Bear Mtn.: 146.090 + and 444.250 + WB6ASU Both PL 114.8 (linked)

Mt. Delux: 145.210 - PL 100.0 WA6SEK (10mi S of Tracy)

All repeaters are open to all users.

Tuesday
Jun102014

How to Create a "Help Line" for Supported Events

One of the challenges supporting a bicycle ride is the need for sag drivers to be essentially everywhere at once, able to quickly solve participants’ on-the-road troubles. Having multiple courses and a handful of mobile units make this an impossibility.

How do we provide excellent support in such a circumstance?

Most riders, we’ve noticed, carry cellular phones. And oft-times some or all of the course has cellular coverage. Even if not, another rider can make a call for the stranded rider from further down the course where coverage is available. If most riders how phones. how can we make them useful during the event?

The solution is to print a telephone number where riders can call for assistance on the ride “cue sheet” (directions) and maybe even other materials (wristbands, numbers, etc.). This number is answered at net control and the closest mobile can be dispatched to offer assistance.

But, what number to use?

Thanks to Comm Boss John Litz, NZ6Q, of the Stockton Delta ARC for these suggestions:

1) Get a Google Voice number (Stockton was looking at 234-7220 (Stockton Bike Club+0) )

2) On the day of the ride Call Forward that number thru the Google Voice Portal to a cell phone located at net control

3) Riders calling the Gvoice number then ring into “dispatch” for SAG help

4) After the ride, forward the number to the main info number for the Bike Club until the next event 

Advantages

  • The same number can be used for multiple rides and can be forwarded to more than one cell phone 
  • Cell phones of the “dispatch center” remain agnostic and can be different every ride or even changed during the ride
  • Event coordinator can be programmed for ‘overflow calls’, but “dispatch” gets the calls - or 2 phones can be programmed to “hunt” incoming calls on larger events.

That sounds great and either the bike organization or the ham provider can get the number. I am a little concerned that free Google Voice numbers may be going away, but there are other providers who offer the service for a fee.

I carry a MagicJack VoIP dongle in my go-kit, allowing me to make and receive calls from any location where broadband is available. The number never changes and can be forwarded to a cellphone if I need to operate where broadband is not available.

Of course, there is no reason why net control must be physically at the event, at least if you are running on a repeater. Having net control someplace else means all the resources of the operator’s shack are available to then event.

Regardless, the idea to print a “helpline” number for participants is a good one. Just make sure it is thoroughly tested before the event takes place. Like weeks before.

Monday
Jun022014

Try Our Yaesu System Fusion Repeater

We are presently operating a Yaesu SystemFusion repeater at our Gopher Ridge site near Copperopolis. It is on 444.400 and operates in Yaesu digital mode or analog mode (PL 114.8). The repeater has sensitivity problems so we plan to move it closer to Stockton where it might actually be useful.

If you have one of the new digital Yaesu rigs, send your telephone number and we can setup a time to test the repeater in digital mode.

In the interim, 444.400 is not linked to 147.015 PL 114.8.

Sunday
Jun012014

Tactical ID No-No's

Scattered thoughts about tactical IDs and how not to screw them up:

1. Sometimes operator names and/or callsigns work just fine. But not if the location or task matters and operators will change over the course of the event.

2. Fixed locations should be given a place or facility name as a tactical call. (EOC, Dameron Hospital, Scout Camp, etc). It doesn’t change with operators and is clear to everyone on the net. Operators come and go — or multiple operators may be working at the same time — but the tactical call stays the same.

3. Do not give fixed locations a number as a tactical call. Way too confusing for all concerned. I know.

4. Mobiles can use different types of identification. If the mobile has a route or a beat that will not change during the day and especially if the operator(s) will change, it makes sense to use some sort of geography plus the word “mobile” as the tactical call. As in “Northside Mobile” or “Linne Road Mobile” depending on your needs. This has the additional benefit of being clear to everyone on the net.

5. If the mobile is attached to a task or ICS designation, that can work, too.

6. For events where mobiles can be anywhere at almost any time, I’d use a mobile identifier associated with the operator. So, Fred is always Mobile 3 and Tom is always Mobile 2. Don’t reuse numbers on the same day. This is a case where call signs may work just as well.

Tactical callsigns should probably not be used in an attempt to conceal locations as it is too easy to screw that up. Ideally, everyone listening will have a pretty good idea what’s where, who’s who and how it’s going.

Bonus suggestion: Send confidential information — and all addresses — as a text  message, that is to be confirmed over-the-air. You will save lots of repeats when you can ask, “N6TCE, did you get my message?” and the other station can reply, “Yes.”

Just some thoughts for the first day of June. Sorry for the long gaps between posts.

Saturday
Apr262014

About Wind Noise

The sound of rushing wind can seriously disrupt communications from mobile or portable stations.

Often the affected stations don't realize they are transmitting wind noise through their microphones.

Net controls may not recognize the sound of wind noise -- telling stations to improve their position when the signal is actually fine.

On windy days, it's best to face the wind and, if possible, cup your hand behind the microphone. Alternately, seek cover or sit inside a vehicle to cut down on the noise.

Of course, keep your vehicle windows closed while talking and driving.

Thursday
Apr172014

Review: Quicksilver Radio EMCOMM Kits

Quicksilver Radio is selling a pretty complete emcomm kit, built around the not-my-favorite-radio Baofeng UV-5RB, for $149.73. If all you need are the bag, fused cable and battery, the cost is $69.73.

After publishing a post about the kit last month, one of our members purchased the complete kit and yesterday I got to play with it. This is a product review.

Recommended for: This is a very good “first radio” option for the new emergency-oriented ham or as a way for an experienced operator to have all they need assembled in one place.

I especially recommend these for CERT members and others who need a radio that don’t expect to use very often. This kit includes all the “must have” items they will need and nothing they will never use.

New hams tend to buy a handie-talkie as their first radio but end up using a second, mobile radio, for most of their communications. In that scenario, an inexpensive kit such as this one — which costs about the same as a Yaesu FT-60 talkie alone — makes a whole lot of sense as a first purchase.

The key is to leave the kit assembled and not allow it to be spread out. So if you want to use a talkie all-the-time, then also purchase a better radio, such as the FT-60. You might want to purchase the power-only version of this kit to go with the FT-60 or whatever other radio you use.

Here’s the vendor’s product description:

Our Deluxe Grab ‘n’ Go Kits are packed with everything you need for an emergency deployment, public service event, or just plain old Ham Radio Fun.  Yes, the radio is included!! You get:

  • Baofeng UV-5RB dual-band (2M & 70CM) hand held radio — includes rechargeable Li-Ion battery, belt clip, and antenna ;

  • Earpiece speaker/mic with PTT;

  • Charging stand with wall plug;

  • USB programming cable;

  • Set of professionally produced, printed and  laminated reference cards;

  • External magnet mount antenna;

  • 7.5 Amp-Hour Rechargeable Gel Cell Battery;

  • Fused Gel Cell Cable with Anderson Powerpoles and lighter socket;

  • Gel Cell wall charger with Anderson Powerpoles

  • Powerpole cable to fit the charging stand;

  • And our heavy-duty 9-pocket bag to carry it all in.

All at a great price. Whether you’re newly licensed or an old timer, you’ll get plenty of use — and plenty of fun — out of this great package. Under typical conditions you’ll be on the air for up to a week.

The review unit included all that, plus a six-AAA-cell battery holder for the Baofeng, necessary because you cannot feed 12-volts into the radio directly (there is no external power jack).

Pros:

  • This is a very complete kit and a good value.

  • The provided documentation is well-prepared and nicely laminated, but no instructions are provided for charging the gel cell battery (see Cons).

  • The provided bag is quite nice.

  • Powerpoles! Everything uses standard Anderson Powerpole connectors — and fusing is provided. Very professional. You can power the charging base and something plugged into the cigarette lighter outlet at the same time.

  • The cigarette lighter jack is idea for charging phones and other devices. Be sure the add appropriate charging cable(s) to the kit. (See Cons)

Cons:

  • No battery charging documentation, but I am told it will be added soon.

  • The included mini-mag mount antenna uses the required reverse-SMA connector. This is only a con because it will not work with the more common standard SMA connection. Some other Chinese radios use the reverse connection, however.

  • No speaker/mic provided.

  • The Baofeng only charges in its charging stand. I’d recommend purchasing an extra rechargeable battery (or several) so you can operate during charge cycles. The included AAA battery holder should support full transmit power (a win) but not for very long (because of the AAAs). 

  • The cigarette lighter outlet may be too deep for the small adapters that provide two USB connections, but will accept a full-sized cigarette lighter adapter.

About the power-only kit:

Includes our heavy duty go-bag, 7AH rechargeable gel cell battery, charger, and a fused cable that fits the battery and provides power through Anderson Powerpoles (of course!) and a lighter socket. 

This is an excellent addition to pretty much any ham’s emergency kit. Add a cigarette lighter adapter or Powerpole connector DC cable for your portable and you are in business. Then add whatever else your radio needs and you are good to go.

This bag could easily house and power a small APRS station that could be dropped into a vehicle and connected to a small mag-mount antenna.

Bottom Line:

If you are a unit leader, you need a way to program the radio (Chirp works with the included cable)  and do some training. I would make my own laminated local information card to go into the kit — a good thing to have anyway.

The Baofeng is not a radio that a beginner should be asked to program. You also need to set the dual-watch feature, which causes confusing rado behavior, to “off.” This is menu item #7.

QuickSilver Radio is a trusted vendor. The kits represent excellent value and good attention to detail. This is a better kit than most of us would assemble ourselves. I not only recommend this kit to my HamCram trainees, I will probably buy the battery-only kit for use with one of my portables. And maybe another for APRS.