Re: DST Communications tools


Hi Bob
I do not believe you are giving VARA a fair chance. If you could really experience what it can do on a good path, you would be convinced of its usefulness.
As for creating a drill - I guess square one - would be to poll the DST members both in San Diego and up North, to see who has or would like to get VARA capabilities. From that list,  then some drill or exercise could be created. If you have the updated VARA program in your computer then you have P2P capability - It even shows up as a selection in the Winlink program when VARA is selected. If we can get enough DST members active on VARA then we should be able to easily pass message traffic around San Diego County using P2P, on VHF (with no gateway needed) - which is a skill I would like to practice. Eventually, I would like to see a regular  Red Cross DST digital net on VHF, where these skills could be learned and practiced.

The Palomar gateway is "N2DDS-10 on 431.070. I gave a listen to it and it was barely breaking squelch, like 10 % quieting.  
This is because it is blocked by "Black Mt"  to my Mira Mesa roof, just like it blocks AREDN. Also it being on UHF causes a lot of signal attenuation because of foliage and trees. I keep hoping an AREDN node could be put in at one of the four Amateur repeater vaults on Black Mt. Lacking that, there is a tall building next to the I-15 near Mira Mesa Blvd. This building might be able to "see" Otay - as Red Cross does. Then a node could be put up there to cover Mira Mesa, and Scripps Ranch, area. Speaking of AREDN, After the Red Cross building becomes available, could a AREDN node dish be added pointing towards Mira Mesa, to see if a path could be established to my roof? After seeing what was in the chapter radio room and its very high HF noise floor and the lack of Internet capabilities, I do not see how you are going to get HF SHARES to work there. There needs to be Internet available to be able to connect with the "KIWI" SDR  so the radio operator can hear the net stations. Also a computer is needed to copy the digital traffic that is sent on the HF nets. lacking that capability, then If a reliable high speed AREDN link can be established between Red Cross headquarters and my house, then I could relay SHARES HF radio traffic from my station to the Red Cross radio room. Speaking of SHARES,  I NEED THAT FORM 1 SIGNED! it is been over a year waiting! I cannot access the SHARES data base files until that Form 1 is signed!! Because of help from other SHARES members, I am now checking into four HF SHARES nets representing San Diego Red Cross DST. They hold drills that I have not been able to participate in - because the drill info is not available to me - all for the want of getting that form 1 signed!
Also my bruce.haupt@...  is STILL non functional.

73  Bruce   WA6DNT@...   WA6DNT@...  

On 9/4/2021 4:37 PM, Bob Birch wrote:

Bruce understand I’m not against VARA. It’s up to each member to determine if they would be willing to spend around $160 to get that capability. The lack of gateways here in San Diego/Imperial Counties is also an issue if you can’t do P2P. The is a new gateway on Palomar Mtn that came on the available list, I will have to try it when I have time.


As I stated during the meeting, which I will stand by is Jose is one person. Yes he has done a great job of developing software and supporting it. My issue is if god forbid he were to get extremely sick or pass on, who would continue the VARA software.


My other question would be, how many in DST have VARA capabilities?


Next, if you would like to create and coordinate a VARA P2P exercise here in San Diego, I will support you and help anyway I can. I or Jer don’t have to be the individuals that create the exercise/drills





From: [] On Behalf Of Bruce
Sent: Saturday, September 4, 2021 4:05 PM
Subject: [ARC2-SDICC] DST Communications tools


Red Cross Disaster Service Technology (DST) by definition supplies communications capabilities to our "served agency" which is to Red Cross functions such as Mass Care, Shelter management, Damage Assessment. When "All else fail's" during a disaster, Red Cross functions look to DST for communications to enable them to serve their clients - those who have been affected by the disaster event. The "Technology" part of DST means we are to develop, test, train and use, what ever technology that is  possible, to pass accurately and  efficiently, disaster message traffic using the communications tool that best meets the current need. If cell phones and the Internet are available then they can be used. But on the front end of a disaster, when ALL normal means of communications are destroyed, just how is message traffic to be passed out of the "Last Mile" in the disaster zone - out to where normal communications path's are available? (including no gateways)  Then DST MUST utilize what ever communications tool will meet the need. This can be the use of the obsolete 40 year old slow 1200 baud Packet, or FLDIGI, PACTOR, or High Speed VARA, on HF or VHF.  At this morning "Teams" meeting the efficient accurate high speed VARA communications "tool" - was rejected out of hand because it was "controlled" by one person. There are many communications technologies that have been "developed" by "one Person" We should be thankful that these highly skilled software developers have created communications tools that can be used during a disaster! Would I quit using my cell phone because it is "controlled" by Verizon? Should FLDIGI be avoided because is is "controlled" by "Dave W1HJK"? Should I quit using "Winlink, because it is "controlled by "Mike "XE2/N6KZB"? Should PC-ALE be avoided because it is "controlled" by  "Steve N2CKH", Should MARS-ALE not be used because it is "controlled' by "Steve N2CKH", Should PACTOR not to be used because it is "controlled" by SCS? Should we not use "Shares" because it is "controlled by "Steve" K4CJX? Should we then also reject Hi Speed VARA  because it was developed by "EA5HVK"? Yes VARA is "Controlled" by Jose after all HE WROTE the computer code for it! Who else would you choose to make upgrades to the program?? I have found Jose VERY responsive in making needed upgrades. Just this week, an issue came up when users of VARA-FM  had, (when trying to pass VARA traffic thru a FM Voice repeater)- of the VARA HF "time limits" dropping the connection because of the repeater "turn-around" time." Jose was notified of this problem, and in less than one day had changed the computer code to accommodate the transmission of VARA thru voice FM repeaters!!

The other complaint was the "cost" of VARA. Should Jose after hundred of hours of software development and on going maintenance, be deprived a small $69 dollar fee?? Speaking of costs: The "Masters Communications DRA50" modem kit is $50 or fully assembled and tested with case is $95. Would you prefer it yo be free?  The "Sgnalink USB" is $114.95. The Packet KPC3 is $199.95. 

Then there is speed of the traffic flow. If you had a stack of ICS213 and Red Cross 6409 forms to send - as well as H&W message traffic to send - which would you prefer? An Obsolete 1200 baud Packet link with all its overhead "handshaking"? OR would you prefer VARA-FM which can move traffic at over 25,000 bps!   The VARA HF can pass traffic at over 4000 bps.  VARA also offers high speed traffic using P2P direct or even thru a voice repeater, or on the existing gateway network.!  PACTOR can almost match VARA speeds on HF but the cost is $1628! 

I want to put this to a VOTE!    How many DST members would prefer passing disaster traffic on Packet or on VARA??   

73 Bruce   WA6DNT@...   WA6DNT@...     

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