How can you prepare?

How can you prepare?

Amateur radio emergency communication is all about preparation, and there are SO many facets to it. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Versions – What I mean here is, what version of your emergency communication software are you running? Is it theĀ latest version. Most likely you will want it to be. You certainly don’t want to be far behind in updates. Sometimes incidents happen suddenly and sometimes they are known about in advance. If you have prior knowledge, then take that opportunity to upgrade to the latest software versions. Some software updates automatically when you engage it, but that can slow you down when you are in a hurry. Want a tip? Practice using your software on a weekly basis and chances are you will stay updated.
  • Practice – Wednesday nights have been the place to be for amateur radio EMCOMM digital practice around here. We meet on the Covington 146.925 repeater at 9PM local using the MT63-2000L format, with a center frequency of 1500Hz. If you have a mode you wish to try or an idea which might be useful, we want to know. If we don’t practice, we won’t be ready if we are ever needed. It’s a fact: When an incident occurs, amateurs come out of the woodwork and want to help. Too bad they don’t practice ahead of time.
  • On your own practice digital modes. It doesn’t have to be Wednesday to light up the 1’s and 0’s. In fact, you might get more HF practice that way. Besides, you can send a message to your buddy down the street via HF…. the scenic route!
  • Other methods that you might not have considered are available and are begging for your attention. Have you tried D-Star, DMR, System Fusion, P25 and so forth? Those all fall into the realm of digital communications. Have you considered mesh nodes? This is one area I REALLY want to see grow. I installed three nodes around North Georgia but gained no traction with it. I still believe though. It’s a wideband system that costs very little and could be SO useful.
  • Cross-mode Links – What I mean by this is, links between incompatible platforms such as DMR and System Fusion. (System Fusion is Yaesu’s brand of C4FM, not unlike P25 Phase 1, however those two are also incompatible). We have many digital languages being spoken, yet they cannot understand each other. What’s the solution? Cross-mode linking, and it’s taking place in a big way. Now there are many devices which will convert one to another, and there are virtual conference rooms doing the same thing. My favorite example is the Alabama Link on Yaesu’s WiRES-X servers. It accepts at least six incoming reflectors that would otherwise not be able to communicate. This is awesome! I want to do the same thing with the Yard Dogs WIRES-X room and I plan to start with Allstar Link.
  • The Internet – Huh? What did he say? Internet? Sacrilege! Yes well, it’s here to stay and we might as well use it when we can. No, I have not forgotten it is prone to failure in a disaster and is beyond our control. That is all true, but our mandate is to get the message through, however possible. Large segments of amateur radio communication now involves the Internet. Just make sure you have alternate means of communication.
  • Your own Internet – This man is crazy! No I’m not. Why not have our own Internet and reduce some of those frailties mentioned in the previous paragraph? Firstly, YOU control your own Internet and it is not subject to priority users, except for you! How in the world do I get my own Internet? Go back to the paragraph about mesh nodes. That’s a great place to start. There is BBHN, AREDN and HAMWAN. Three different systems that mimic the Internet. They use RF and are not expensive. We really ought to do this.