Re: DST Communications tools


Hi Mark and DST group.

Thanks for the AREDN-mesh map. I saw many available nodes in the flat L.A. basin and others down south to San Clemente.
Further South it gets sparse.   I like the idea of establishing nodes in High Schools which maybe used as shelters during disasters. Just how was this accomplished ? How was it funded? How were school districts convinced that AREDN would be beneficial to them?
For San Diego, schools - most used during disasters by the Red Cross - are located in the back country in "radio holes" just how could AREDN work there? Red Cross never knows which H.S. will be used as this is determined by conditions on the ground. It would take many relay nodes for AREDN to be able to reach these locations. Would it take many portable mobiles with their "Go-Kits" to drive to high locations and on the top of valleys to relay the AREDN microwave signals, down to the schools in these radio holes?  Could these high locations be even accessed during a disaster? To establish and maintain these many portable AREDN nodes, would require that the operators stay at these locations, for the duration of the disaster event, or equipment could be stolen. .

As I have mentioned, there is a large pool of AREDN talent in the L.A. area.  There is also the subject of what I call "Critical Mass" that has been reached in the L.A. area - that is: many active AREDN nodes attract more nodes and users. In San Diego, we are way below "Critical Mass" which has the effect of turning off new participants. The thought is, "if there are no usable AREDN signals available on my roof why should I spend the money in setting this up?" Also how can I learn how to use AREDN with no means of connecting to it?  True, I could purchase AREDN equipment as a "Go-Kit" to deploy, then all we would need is hundreds more to make a usable Mesh network!  

During the 2003, 2007, wildfires in San Diego County, There were multiple shelter's set up (in radio holes) and then the fire changed directions and what was a safe shelter was now threatened, and the shelter occupants had to be moved, to another H.S. (in a radio hole). Also animal rescue for horses, goat's  to Dogs were sent to the Del Mar Fair grounds (another radio hole) that needed communications. I also remember the wild fires burning underneath the H.V. power lines depositing soot on the insulators causing flash overs!! So the "Sun-link" line from the East and the "Path 15" from the North had to be shut down! This left San Diego with not enough power to meet basic needs! I was in the County EOC that was fully staffed with many in front of laptop computers "working" the disaster - WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT"!!! Every thing that was not saved went "poof" and the 911 Sheriff Dispatch on the second floor went down as well. We were supposed to have the highest priority for power, yet the place went dark!! There was a collective "gasp" in the room. It seemed to be a very long time before the diesel generators in the basement fired up - filling the EOC with Diesel fumes.  
So I ask this question, during the events mentioned above, how would have AREDN met the communications needs??!!   

Using the AREDN-Mesh Map, I noticed that some nodes were on 3.4 GC - is not the FCC taking that away from the Amateur service?  I scrolled down to my area and I found a station "K6MRW" in the Scripps Ranch area SE of me in Mira Mesa. I noted he is on 2.4GC which has MANY users = high noise floor. Also "tunnel installed" = false. I thought that perhaps this station could provide me a way to connect to AREDN. I looked this station up on the FCC data base, and drove to the station location. Driving out, I went up-up-up the hill past the Miramar Reservoir. I thought this location above the lake would be perfect and there would be no trees in the way! But alas, as I continued my course to the address, I had to travel down-down-down into a deep radio hole surrounded by a thick stand of trees. I drove to the address and found "K6MRW" lives in an HOA "Thou-Shalt-Not zone" - antenna location. I saw no antennas on the house. K6MRW lives only 5 miles from my house, yet it is a no-go. So that leaves me again with no way to connect to AREDN.
Again I see P2P VARA on HF or VHF much more usable.(no gateways needed!)
73 Bruce   WA6DNT@...   WA6DNT@...

/8/2021 8:36 AM, Mark Warrick (KM6ZPO) wrote:

Hi Bruce,

I want to point everyone's attention to the Irvine area of Orange County.  See the AREDN map:

IDEC didn't wait around for people to install AREDN access points on mountain tops.  They solved a problem for a specific "customer" need.  Their high schools are used as evacuation shelters.  Every high school already had VHF / UHF radios, but they wanted to be able to dial each other via IP phones, see each location on camera and be able to transfer large data files between each other.  The installed their own AREDN mesh network with low-level nodes at each high school to form a mesh network which is all connected back to the main police station, where they have their EOC.  IDEC is connected to the "greater AREDN So-Cal mesh" through a long-range link to KE6BXT on Pleasant's Peak.  

If you scroll around Orange County, you'll notice a whole bunch of nodes in the south county area.  Our south county is similar to the San Diego area - lots of low-lying hills.

I get the push back a lot that they are waiting for "somebody" to make AREDN available to everyone.  That's not how the mesh works.  Rather, it works by individuals and organizations filling in the gaps - the valleys, the dead zones.  Unlike typical radio comms which require repeaters a high sites covering a wide line of site area, AREDN works best at a range of 5-10 miles.  The equipment most people can afford would be in that range.   Essentially, if everybody had an AREDN omni antenna their home, we would have a network that covers al of those gaps. 

I don't think it's important that we cover every area of San Diego county.  Rather, we just need to make sure that the EOC is well connected and that anyone in the parking lot of the EOC can get on the local mesh.  If there are other "served" clients in the region, they need connections as well.  AREDN, like ham radio, can be done in the field.  All of my equipment is field ready.  We already use WiFI when deploying laptop kits.  It's not a huge stretch to add an AREDN node kit. 

With thoughtful planning, we can predict where AREDN would be needed in the San Diego County region and then plan for where nodes need to be to cover those areas, whether installed permanently are as go-kits. 

P.S. I live right next door to the 600 Parkcenter Orange County chapter office.  I don't have an AREDN RF link because we have not been allowed to put the omni back up on the roof and I cannot install a dish on my apartment roof.  The chapter building has AREDN, but I don't have access to the radio room.  So essentially, unless "somebody" provides me access, I can only be useful with my field equipment.  

On the VARA side of things, I agree, the LAX ARES group has led the way for VARA around here.  I encourage everyone to join their Groups.IO groups:

Lastly, I mentioned it a couple times via this group.  I know most of you are not able to attend, but we're running a P2P relay exercise this weekend in Orange County.  This is organized by the OCRACES group.  I am running the south county relay station and my friend Scott is running the north county station.  I'm somewhat dismayed that more people don't want to practice P2P.  I agree with you Bruce, it's an essential skill to learn and practice and will be the last line of defense for transferring large amounts of information when all the RMS gateways are down.

P.S. I'm not in the LA Basin.  And the Angels are from Anaheim, not Los Angeles.  :)

---mark, KM6ZPO

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