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What I heard on a three day road trip... (not much)


WRHS218
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@WRKC935  true story about many new Ham and the ARRL. But the new Hams need guidance, which is where we come in as elmers.

 

While it's all anecdotal, my experience is a little different than yours on the EmComm side. I am an engineer by trade and work for several government agencies as a consultant. I have been around long enough to notice cycles in the EmComm world.  What I have seen is, some major "thing" happens and only Hams and DOD are talking to anyone. They incorporate Ham volunteers into the response plans. Nothing crazy happens for a decade while everyone tries to figure out how to replace the old, overweight or disabled Amateur volunteers (because young people just aren't stepping up). They build their new technology on the same single point of failure instead of learning from the Hams. Another "thing" happens and then they are activating RACES again because none of their stuff is working. 

 

The whole thing is pretty funny.

 

We actually did a drill last year involving a Code Black, including internet outage. The higher ups wanted to see how we could move data from one location to another (several states apart). They were calling on digital radio trying to get my team to do stuff and we flat out ignored them.  Our EC called and said "why aren't you answering the calls on the radio?" Of which he promptly got a reply of "What calls? The internet is down, remember?"  

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51 minutes ago, marcspaz said:

some major "thing" happens and only Hams and DOD are talking to anyone. They incorporate Ham volunteers into the response plans. Nothing crazy happens for a decade

So true, this made me laugh....because it is an endless cycle. I am now the old engineer that used to be military comms, being invited back to teach the "next generation" how to interop with local elements (shilling the NIFOG), while other former members of my crew work for FEMA and other fedgov agencies also in the mix, and currently running fire radios for many stations across the country (private fire stations-they do exist). Hang in there and stay the course.

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On 1/16/2022 at 9:53 AM, wrop206 said:

GMRS has been a savior here in Arizona for overlanding offroad because you lose a cell phone signal as soon as you leave the pavement.

Of course you do know that cell service mostly follows paved roads. Why would any company put up expensive cell towers on dirt roads out in the middle of nowhere? 😂 

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15 hours ago, WRKC935 said:

Uhh, yeah.... they told me that too almost 30 years ago when I got licensed. I realize that if you read the FCC rules pertaining to ham radio that's what it says.  But the emcomm thing, and expermentation (most new hams aren't even qualified to operate appliances so I will NOT refer to them as appliance operators) is about done.  Mind you I am also a commercial radio tech and have been for 13 years now.  I keep seeing more and more government entities getting away from ANY reliance on ham radio operators and going other directions.  And I am seeing this as they are actively looking for alternate methods, buying equipment to fill those needs and removing ham gear from their operations centers.  Rather or not I agree with it, I am seeing it in my day to day as a commercial tech.

Oh, and when you are at the ARRL booth at Hamvention... stay away from the Koolaid.  Just saying

I thought you had some good anecdotal points to consider, until your BS postscript exposed your bias. Just saying

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12 hours ago, wrop206 said:

GMRS is not a hobby for me, it's a survival tool with a longer reach than a cell phone. A satellite can be shut down with the flip of a switch or three key strokes on a computer. I don't care to chat with someone I don't know or ask some 'good buddy' how it looks over his shoulder. Nor do I care for idle chit-chat about what kind of antenna I'm using or why I haven't bothered to get a ham license. I'm retired and do a lot of off roading and overlanding here in Arizona where you lose a cell phone signal almost as soon as you leave a paved road. Before GMRS all I had was a CB radio that was sketchy at best. At 75 years of age I had to ask myself how far in did I want to go that I would be willing to walk out from. Well, with GMRS I have been able to make radio contact everywhere I've been so far and found it amazing how many others I have made contact with in similar remote areas as well as folks sitting at home on a base station that could contact emergency services if necessary. So yeah, GMRS is a great tool and I highly recommend it for adventurers.

WELL SAID

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5 hours ago, MichaelLAX said:

I thought you had some good anecdotal points to consider, until your BS postscript exposed your bias. Just saying

Well, here is what COVID has taught us.  Hams are typically older retired guys that have nothing else to do so they volunteer.

Problem is with that is things like COVID are specifically more harmful to them and that's who's gonna show up.  As mentioned before, young guys are NOT typically involved.

Then you have the issue of ham radio operators being volunteers, and not paid employees.  With a paid employee you have the employment to leverage them to show up and do a job.  With a volunteer, that doesn't exist.  And short of a quarantine or lock down situation, you have no method of holding that person in place and demanding their continued work.  And even in the lockdown situation, you can hold them but demanding they work is not possible.  Not to mention that they are only able to do so much.  Operating radios and making coffee.  

So, pertaining to my comments and the league.  Go look at their web site and the sites of the typical ARES groups.  It's a sea of hi-viz vests and name tags with their call sign on it.   Mind you I am tainted by ARES.  The local group has been in the past a poster child for the way to do ARES WRONG.  Demanding they be involved in public safety training exercises and other dumb stuff.  So yeah, I don't see the need.   And I do see EMA groups trying to move away from any reliance on ham radio for various reasons.

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Our SAR team has been asked quite alot recently to help the county with EMA requests vs the ham guys. We have a much better radio system and all our members have needed training. I have pulled ham gear out of shelters all over the east coast due to horrible installs. Ive been a ham for years. Tried to work with our local RACES/ARES group and couldn't get them to do anything but the annual drill. I agree none of them would show up when the poop hits the fan. And the ARRL. Well they are no different. Useless.

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@gortex2  Unfortunately, what you are saying about the Hams is all too common.  I have seen some crap installs, gear not fired up and tested for 5 years or more, no one showing up for training.  When they do show up, they will gab all day on the radio, but get mic shy when it comes to moving voice traffic.  Almost none of them know how to align the parabolic antennas for the WLAN and even if they did, they wouldn't know how to troubleshoot if they don't link.  Almost no packet/data experience at all.  It's a struggle to get them to complete the headers on IC213 and IC214 forms correctly and use them.

 

I am not going to name names, but I am part of 2 ARES/RACES groups.  One of them exemplifies everything a well run ARES/RACES team should look like.  The other team has 6 active members of which 3 are the EC and 2 AEC's.  By active, I mean, show up twice a year for training.  If I don't put a training session together, training for that group just doesn't happen, and I'm not the one who is supposed to be training people for that group.

 

I pray the served agencies never call this second group, because they can't do anything.  Myself and one other operator have amazing portable stations that can provide any service.  I don't trust the gear in place at the served locations, nor does the other Ham... we both agree that if they ever call us, we are bringing our own gear and hoping the neighboring team can provide additional support before one or both of us pass out from exhaustion. 

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On 1/17/2022 at 9:21 AM, marcspaz said:

 

@WRKC935  true story about many new Ham and the ARRL. But the new Hams need guidance, which is where we come in as elmers.

 

While it's all anecdotal, my experience is a little different than yours on the EmComm side. I am an engineer by trade and work for several government agencies as a consultant. I have been around long enough to notice cycles in the EmComm world.  What I have seen is, some major "thing" happens and only Hams and DOD are talking to anyone. They incorporate Ham volunteers into the response plans. Nothing crazy happens for a decade while everyone tries to figure out how to replace the old, overweight or disabled Amateur volunteers (because young people just aren't stepping up). They build their new technology on the same single point of failure instead of learning from the Hams. Another "thing" happens and then they are activating RACES again because none of their stuff is working. 

 

The whole thing is pretty funny.

 

We actually did a drill last year involving a Code Black, including internet outage. The higher ups wanted to see how we could move data from one location to another (several states apart). They were calling on digital radio trying to get my team to do stuff and we flat out ignored them.  Our EC called and said "why aren't you answering the calls on the radio?" Of which he promptly got a reply of "What calls? The internet is down, remember?"  

Funny how that works. Satellites can be shut down with a 3 finger salute (Ctrl/Alt/Del). Uncle Sugar always goes with the lowest bid. I'm sure they would use HAM operators exclusively if they didn't have the required security protocol to deal with. By the time they ran a secret background check on every 'volunteer' HAM enough money would be spent to purchase the best high end equipment that only tier one operators get to have.

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Im surprised you didnt hear a little more, especially on gmrs because so many different people use it for various things, example Repeaters, work crews, retail stores, small medical facilities etc. Ham you would need the repeaters for your route programmed in, and also the simplex call channels, but seems less and less people on ham radio. As far as the accident, no surprise there. If you want real time road inforamtion, NOTHING beats the good ol' cb. But even it has fewer people on it these days, but an accident with a traffic standstill will definetely liven up the cb.  Unfortunately everyone is so glued to their cellphones these days, any "communications" they carry on while driving is on the phone, unless they are hobbyists and or radio nuts like us. I always monitor cb 19 when traveling, usually scan the cb band to hear some traffic, and have some gmrs repeaters programmed in just in case I want to reach out a bit. Also have a network radio, its great for world wide crystal clear communication and yes, Im aware its not "real" radio. So good luck on the return trip, my advice add a cb for road trips, you can pick up the old "emergency kits" for around $20 bucks and they are perfect for a temporary cb and with the little magmount actually get out and receive pretty well. I keep one in my wifes suv and my pickup truck in the door pocket, "just in case".  

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1 hour ago, BradfordD said:

What type/model/brand of car exterior antenna (and cord) would you recommend for a HT?  That type of setup would surely extend the range - but seems awkward in practice....? 

It can be, though a speaker mic definitely helps.

I picked up a short cable (18", I believe) from amazon that has so239 on one end, and sma-m on the other (I use a sma-f adapter from signal stuff as needed). This has been working well with a mag mount nmo, on both the truck previously, and now on the beater car for ham.

Edit:

This is the one from my Amazon history, though check the major radio retailers (DX engineering,antenna farm, etc) as they may have better connector options (depending if your radio wants sma-m or sma-f). I tried ordering the little DHT 2 pack twice....disappeared en route both times, 3rd try was what I have: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B07CPVF1GG/

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  • 3 months later...
On 7/23/2021 at 7:59 AM, WRHS218 said:

Time was a concern so we took the 10. I am neither encouraged or discouraged, this is just anecdotal information. I was surprised I didn't hear more in the Phoenix area both on GMRS and HAM. To me, radio is a tool, I have no emotional connection. I have had an amateur general ticket for years and had experienced the lack of use on long trips before. This is the first time I have had a chance to listen on GMRS. But, I am part of what is wrong with the HAM experience (at least that is what I have been told), as my use of the radio spectrum is utilitarian. I do enjoy the research, installation, and use of two way radios just not the way a lot of people do.  Now I have brought my lack of chattiness to the GMRS realm. I'll be scanning on the return trip.

I have learned that pretty much everyone does what you do. Everyone is listening, no one is talking. I have learned that if I am bored and feel like talking I can do one of two things.

1. Throw a repeater check out there, someone usually answers, and then you can start talking distances etc, to get a conversation going.

2. I have previously acted like I was talking to someone on the repeater when in reality there was actually no one on the other end, and then HOLY S*** did people start joining in.

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On 7/23/2021 at 8:59 AM, WRHS218 said:

I have had an amateur general ticket for years and had experienced the lack of use on long trips before. This is the first time I have had a chance to listen on GMRS. But, I am part of what is wrong with the HAM experience (at least that is what I have been told), as my use of the radio spectrum is utilitarian.  I do enjoy the research, installation, and use of two way radios just not the way a lot of people do. 

It's interesting that your compadres in the HAM world chastise you for using the airwaves as a form of communication rather than just a medium to run their cools gadgets on. I look at my radios like any other appliance. I'm not a HAM guy, but since you are, 73's.

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7 hours ago, kmcdonaugh said:

I have learned that pretty much everyone does what you do. Everyone is listening, no one is talking. I have learned that if I am bored and feel like talking I can do one of two things.

1. Throw a repeater check out there, someone usually answers, and then you can start talking distances etc, to get a conversation going.

2. I have previously acted like I was talking to someone on the repeater when in reality there was actually no one on the other end, and then HOLY S*** did people start joining in.

Just ask what pizza place is best.  That usually brings hams out of the bushes on 2m. 

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