ARCA Main

The blog of the Amateur Radio Club of Alameda.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that has been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Team Blogs
    Team Blogs Find your favorite team blogs here.
  • Login
Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Public Service

Posted by on in Main

Recently there has been concern that K6QLF is not performing as well as it has in the past.  As part of an effort to address these concerns, I have carried out s signal level survey to test K6QLF's coverage and signal quality.

The goal is to benchmark repeater signal levels at ground-level using a simple mobile setup. During the test, the repeater broadcasts a test signal consisting of of tones followed by a CW station identifier. I drive a van-mounted Yaesu FT-8800 with a mag mount antenna to each of 23 predetermined locations.  I record an S-level at each location. Note that these are "Yaesu S-units", stated as the number of bars shown on the display.  They are a Yaesu engineering approximation to "true" S-units used on HT and mobile radios.

I also make an RST estimate of signal quality. The S-units are predictive of the perceived RST readings enabling me to report them as range estimates grouped  by S-unit. This is useful for interpreting the results.  The table mapping S-units to RST estimates, along with a descriptive label, is included in the presentation linked below.

The test was carried out during  the day (11 am to 5 pm).

In general it appears that K6QLF's current coverage is "usable" to "excellent" in downtown Alameda, and it is "fair" to "good" on Bay Farm Island.  However, the West End and Alameda Point areas range from "fair", near Encinal High School, to "poor" and "unusable" in neighborhoods north and west of the Webster tunnel.

While we have no prior benchmark to compare with these results, they allow us to see what the current coverage of the repeater is.  It will help us to set goals for improving performance and for determining the best approach.

The club has scheduled a meeting to discuss improvements for the repeater at our upcoming meeting on 

  • Date: December 8th (Saturday) 
  • Time: 9:00 am 
  • Place: Alameda Hospital
  • Room: Meeting Room A, 2nd Floor. 

Here is a presentation summarizing Signal Level Survey Results.

Posted by on in Main

This Monday I will run the new portable repeater from the Fire Department Training Center at Alameda Point from 7 to 9 pm. You can hit the repeater by using the "ROMEO3" frequency at 441.875 +, PL 88.5. If you need ROMEO3 added to your HT, come by and I will help you update your radio. I have cables and software for the commonest Baofeng and Yaesu units as well as for some ICOMs and the Wouxun KG-UV3D. If you have a different radio, bring your own cable, and I will try, best effort, to program it.

You can download the channel list (here) or the data file (here). You can also find sample instructions for using Chirp to program the Yaesu FT-60R (here).

When: Mon, March 5, 7 pm
Where: AFD Training Center,
431 Stardust Pl, Alameda Point

Posted by on in Main

The K6QLF repeater is Alameda's "goto" rendezvous for on-the-air volunteers in an emergency. But how do we keep service alive after the Big One, when power fails and battery backup is exhausted?

The problem is that K6QLF is six stories up on an old hospital wing where there is no emergency power. The building predates recent earthquake codes, and access could become problematic after a quake. So one solution is to to have a portable repeater in reserve, which can be brought to safe sites with a generator and an antenna. Portability would insure flexibility in keeping K6QLF on the air.

With this in mind ARCA has acquired a Motorola GR1225 which provides the needed flexibility. It is a rugged commercial grade repeater which packages the transceiver, power supply, controller and duplexer in a single durable unit. I have cleaned it up, tested its performance and enabled it to run on batteries as well as AC. In its current configuration, it can deliver 8W or 16W continuously on either of two channels - one for the K6QLF frequencies and an alternate one for testing, training and  events.

GR1225 Rear Chassis ViewVolunteers need do nothing special to access the new repeater should K6QLF fail. However, the alternate channel may be used as an adjunct tactical repeater, if needed. To prepare for this eventuality, program your radio to add a channel with the tactical call sign, "ROMEO3":

Frequency: 441.8750 MHz
Duplex: +
Tone Type: Tone
PL: 88.5 Hz

For more information about the ROMEO 3 repeater see the slides from this month's ARCA meeting (here).

Posted by on in Main

 Kudos go to Bruce Gillis, KI6CYT, for this year's effort pulling together the K6QLF Field Day.  ARCA had a full house at the Fire Department Training Facility, and propagation was hot.  So there were a lot of contacts resulting in ARCA racking up more points than any Field Day since 2005. All the action was at 5 watts and on emergency power.

32 people participated,  including Alameda Mayor Trish Spencer and the ARRL's Jim Latham, AF6AQ. The most contacts were on CW and PSK31, which did about equally well.  But the SSB folks put in a strong performance at 5 watts, boosting the total substantially.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_592.JPGSetup began at 8:00 am, and operating started at 11:00 am sharp.  With a break for pizza, the action continued until dinner time. All stations ran on 12V batteries.  Additionally Jerry Juhala, KT6CRT,  put together his solar power rig outside the building - one of two demonstating how to sustain activity on emergency power.

The antennas included Al Sweet's (KG6HM) G5RV in the parking lot, Bruce's 40m vertical next to the Red Cross building and my 20 meter antenna on the Training building.

Howard Harawitz, WA6YAG, in what is becoming a Field Day tradition, shot some great photos of the morning activities (available here). I took afternoon pictures, including those of the Mayor's visit (available here - also including Jerry's picture of Jim Latham).

Posted by on in Main

Saturday, June 25th
8:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
431 Stardust (Alameda Point)
Alameda Fire Department’s Training Center

Help set up antennas.

See HAM radio in action - voice, Morse Code, digital.

Learn how to do it all on emergency power!

Join us for a cup of coffee!

 

Our Field Day Invitation and flier for you...

Posted by on in Main

At one time or another it occurs to most members of ARCA and CERT that it would be fun to build a widget that you could toss into a tree and use as an emergency repeater. With the advent of inexpensive Chinese hand held transceivers, it becomes possible to try this out.

On Monday Shop Night, this August 3rd, we will get together at the AFD Training Center to see what it takes to put together the bare bones “Baby Baofeng” Emergency Repeater. Consisting of little more than two Baofeng radios and cable, it is the simplest possible solution. Does it actually work? Come, bring an HT and find out!

Event: ARCA Monday Shop Night
When: Monday, August 3rd at 7:00 pm
Where: AFD Training Center, 431 Stardust Place, Alameda Point
How to (updated): So You Want to Build an Emergency Repeater?

 

Posted by on in Main

This year's Field Day came off smoothly. Not only did ARCA pull together to implement Fred (KI6BES) and Bruce's (KI6CYT) plan, but the enthusiastic participation of CERT and ARES members did a lot to make it a success.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_580.JPGRon (KF6LSY), Dean and Wade arrived early towing two CERT Mobile Disaster Units from Fire Station 4 to the Bay Farm Shopping Center. These were set up quickly, with Bruce's vertical and dipole antennas going up soon thereafter. Al's (KG6HM) G5RV was raised along with various VHF/UHF antennas.

One MDU was dedicated for use as a PSK31 operating position for Howard (K6SID) and Lea (KJ6BNS). The other MDU hosted Sam (KJ6AF), Cass (AG6NT) and others for HF voice. Joe (KC6ZZT), Michael John (KF6YRG), Doug (KI6BZT) and Al held down the fort in the CW pavilion, while Fran (KF6UVB) and Al manned the GOTA pavilion, talking with Boy Scouts in Texas and getting Bruce's grandson on the air for the first time.

Rose (K6LEZ), Ruth (KI6TYZ), Marianne (KI6MTU), Fred and Joann teamed up in the VHF/UHF pavilion. They signed in visitors, explained Field Day activities and provided literature.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Field_Day_2013_592.JPGThe CERT and ARES folks were very active. Jerry (KT6CRT) set up a complete, self-contained emergency radio position including antenna, battery, generator, solar energy and shelter. In the CERT pavilion, Dean, Carmen, Wade, Jerry and Eric (KJ6UHP) showed visitors an impressive display of emergency tools, including a full MDU medical kit.

One innovation this year was the addition of bandpass filters to the HF stations. The filters enabled simultaneous activity for voice, data and CW without interference. David (KI6AWR), along with Cass and Bruce, spearheaded this initiative, which was a success.

Later in the day we had visitors from the Red Cross, including Madeleine Biskintaoui (AF6NL) and Richard Fateman. Chief Ricci Zombeck came by from the Alameda Fire Department, and Jim Latham (AF6AQ), Jim Tiemstra (K6JAT), Bob Vallio (W6RGG) and John Rabold (KS6M) represented the ARRL.

All in all it was an excellent day, with beautiful weather, good contacts on 15 and 20 meters and a much appreciated dinner at Harbor Bay's Penca Azul.

For more pictures of Field day activities, see here or here.

Posted by on in Main

Rehearsal crew ready for Field Day!Saturday the 22nd is ARRL Field Day, when Alameda's Amateur Radio Club shows what can be accomplished by setting up from scratch under emergency power and making as many contacts as possible. Field Day will be held in the Harbor Bay Shopping Center in front of CVS.  You can't miss it - there will be two Alameda CERT Mobile Disaster Units, several pavilions and antennas everywhere.

On June 8th the team rehearsed pulling everything together to work out the kinks. In two hours ARCA members were on the air and talking to other hams.  Here is the tired, but proud crew at the end of the morning.

Join us Saturday!

You can see more pictures here or here.

Request for Ham Radio operators to support the Alameda July 4th Parade.

 

The July 4th Parade Committee has again requested help from the Amateur Radio Operators in town to support the Parade. 

The City of Alameda / Alameda Police / Alameda Fire will be activating their Communications Command Center to provide contact between all functions of the Parade. This will cover most of the functions we have provided in the past plus ham radio interface with police, fire, and all city functions through a command center. This includes helping float participants find where they need to line up at the start of the parade, provide information about issues or problems that occur along the route, provide the location of the start and end of the parade and assist the Parade Chairperson with gathering information during the parade. We will not be transmitting the winners of the various parade categories this year, they want to try something different with laptops and texting.

The Committee has also requested the assistance of Radio operators and CERT volunteers in helping the Alameda Police Department and Police Volunteer members in minor traffic control, manning barriers at intersections to prevent vehicle traffic from getting on or through the parade route, and assisting with crowd control in terms of answering questions about the event and directing people to various venues.

 

These skills are important in a disaster when it is very important to know how to safely direct Emergency vehicles into an area and direct the general public away from the disaster. We also may be used in emergencies to help direct crowds of pedestrian traffic through an area and keep them out of hazardous areas.

If you are interested in helping out with this event please let us know as soon as possible. If you want to help out with the traffic portion along with radio duties, the APD traffic department will be providing a class on traffic control that you must attend.

The training date is scheduled for June 19th, 6:00p - 8:00p, at Leydecker Park on Bay Farm. This will be a Potluck-Training event. We will eat and socialize in a fun and casual way.

 

If you are unable to attend the Traffic training you can still function as a radio operator for this event, you just may not be assigned to a position that does traffic duties as well.

 

Your ARES vest, or CERT vest if you have one, is required when participating. If you are interested in helping with this event, please contact Jerry Juhala at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for the radio portion, along with Veronica Hallam at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by phone at 510-337-2121 to sign up for the traffic control class

Thanks in advance for your continued volunteer support for the City of Alameda ARES Program. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

 

Posted by on in Main

Last runner of the Oakland MarathonThe Oakland Marathon (aka "Oakland Running Festival") took place last Saturday. Sixteen amateur radio operators supported the event, which included over 9,000 runners. There was a full marathon, a four person marathon relay, a half marathon and a 5k run, with the various courses overlapping. The fastest marathon time was two hours, thirty-seven minutes, while the slowest time was a little over seven hours. This meant that radio operators supported the run from 7:30 AM to about 3 PM.

There were three amateur radio operators on bicycles, four at net control, and nine at fixed locations on the course. The operators on bicycles roamed over the length of the course. Three operators were from the ARCA club: Cass AG6NT at net control, Jerry KT6CRT on bicycle mobile, and Bruce KI6CYT stationed at 10th and Alice St. Happily, there were no major medical incidents during the various runs. The biggest issue seemed to be hearing the operators over the cheering of the crowd. Definitely a fun event to take part in. Hopefully we'll see you next year!

Tagged in: Public Service

Posted by on in EmComm

Welcome to the ARCA EmComm Blog entry.

We hope to have several changes available in the coming month and make the EmComm page more inter-active for all users.

I plan to write a monthly blog with information on EmComm in the Community and tips on what you can do to make sure you are prepared for a disaster or for a Public Service type event.

Be sure to view the Public Service events page. This tells you about many of the events that are available in the Bay Area.

These events help operators learn about their equipment, what works and what does not and about their own skills and abilities. It is a good way to get out there and use your gear in a fun and friendly environment with lots of support.

Because when we have to use our gear in an emergency, we need to make sure we know what we are doing and how to be self sufficient, since there will be very little support that we can count on other than ourselves and our abilities

Jerry Juhala 

ARES Emergency Coordinator.

Posted by on in Main

Hams are needed for the 2013 Oakland Running Festival on Sunday March 24.

Last year several members of ARCA volunteered, including Jerry, who was 'bicycle mobile'. That proved to be especially effective in monitoring public safety in segments of the course lacking course marshals. Other members of ARCA took part as Course Marshalls and Net Control Operators. 


Ham radio jobs include:
Net Control Operators and Scribe
Course Marshals
Race Director Shadows
Bicycle (or moto) mobile

You can suggest your job preference and time availability. The marathon length starts first, around 7 AM and ends around 4 PM. The 10K length starts around 9 AM. Half the runners are back by around noon, but the stragglers need the most monitoring. Course marshals along the early parts of the route start early but end quickly. In later parts of the marathon route, you can arrive later, but you must remain there longer.

Please respond directly to Mike Pompa (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) if you are interested.

Tagged in: Public Service