DST Communications tools


Bruce
 

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@...     


Bob Birch
 

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

 

Bob

 

 

From: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io [mailto:main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Bruce
Sent: Saturday, September 4, 2021 4:05 PM
To: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io
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@...     


Bruce
 

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

 

Bob

 

 

From: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io [mailto:main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Bruce
Sent: Saturday, September 4, 2021 4:05 PM
To: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io
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@...     


 

Hi Bruce,

I disagree with your assessment that packet is "obsolete".  There are currently 1,063 packet FM gateways vs. 349 VARA FM stations.   I'm not discounting VARA as a possible future replacement of packet 1200/9600.  I am a little concerned that one guy controls the market though.  For that reason, I don't see VARA as the future replacement of packet.  What i see here instead is a story of VHF vs. BETAMAX.  Remember, BETAMAX was better, but VHS ultimately dominated the market as an inferior product because more than one company was able to produce it.  Eventually, the DVD kicked both of them to the curb and then streaming took over.

If we truly care about the speed of communications, the usefulness of those channels (multi-purpose) and the cost involved in getting up to speed, the AREDN data network is thousands of times faster and costs less to implement.  In the same amount of time you can send one VARA FM message at its fastest possible throughput, I could submit hundreds, maybe thousands of the same type of message over AREDN while conducting a video conference call!  Currently, there is no technology I'm aware of (aside from the Internet itself) faster than AREDN.  AREDN is simple. The adoption of this data network is going to be a lot smoother as the AREDN network develops further.

Therefore, I'm not focussing upon trying to convince people to adopt a technology that is, at best, only four times faster than the best packet FM technology available.   Packet 1200 is common, reliable, and a lot faster than passing information with your voice.  For that reason I strongly recommend that people at least have 1200 baud capabilities.   I discourage 9600 baud stations because of the lack of 9600 baud gateways, and the cost of the radios you need to use 9600.   I am not going to push VARA.  I will, however, push AREDN.  See my website http://km6zpo.com for examples of how I have put AREDN to work in EMCOMMs.

---mark
KM6ZPO


Bruce
 

Hi Mark
I was impressed with your web site and the you tube presentation on using AREDN to connect computer networks!.
I totally agree with you, that AREDN is VASTLY superior  to any of the current Amateur radio digital message programs currently in use. I also agree that there is a large number of Packet stations and gateways across the nation. Packet has been with us for over 30 years, where as VARA is just getting started. Addressing your concern that VARA has "one guy controls the market" I have been in communications with the author of VARA - Jose EA5HVK. I will post his reply - be assured the source code is safe and would be given to responsible people who would continue to support the program in the event that Jose could no longer support the VARA program.
 
The Los Angeles basin, where most of the people live is huge, and mostly flat. It is surrounded by mountain top repeaters sites to the North ,East, and South where AREDN systems can be set up. Also there is a lot of skilled talent available to set up AREDN systems. If an 8.0 Earthquake should ever hit your area, the Em-Comm traffic load would be huge and AREDN is the only system that could hope to meet the demand! (That is assuming the earthquake had not misaligned the dish antennas!) 

In San Diego it is a totally different  story. San Diego County is by no means flat. It is covered with hills, canyons, and valleys.
There are relatively few good available mountaintop sites that have any space in the vault for a lowly Amateur Radio system. Vault space cost is measured by the square inch! The cost would be beyond reach for any new technology like AREDN. The AREDN network was started years ago,  and sites on T.J. - Palomar and Otay Mt were obtained, but that is as far as it went. Only those who had LOS to these sites could get AREDN. Most of the Amateur Radio population could not benefit from the AREDN due to trees, hills, valleys, and canyons, all it takes is a tree branch to stop the signal. I have been waiting for years for the AREDN network to deliver  a usable signal to my roof in Mira Mesa. The LOS path from Palomar is blocked by Black Mt - which has 4 Amateur repeaters on it. Since Andre illness has sidelined him, all development work on AREDN has stopped in San Diego, to my knowledge. 

So what is left for em-com communications? The ONLY Packet and VARA gate way in the San Diego, is in T.J. Mexico. (there is a new UHF VARA gateway on Palomar Mt - but it is in the noise - blocked by Black MT). The Mexican gateway site is a long reach from North San Diego. From Mira Mesa, I can get very good VARA speeds on VHF VARA-FM thru XE2BNC. But what about a real life disaster? There is NO guarantee that any gateways will be available. AREDN in San Diego, the backbone works, but signals are too weak for general use. In a disaster, any communications tool that gives fast, efficient, and accurate message delivery to the key staff working a disaster, should be used. When a disaster has destroyed ALL the normal communications infrastructure, there is a need to get critical communications out of the "last mile" (During Katrina the "last mile" was more like 50 miles) out to an area that still has Internet connectivity. This may require HF PACTOR or HF VARA.   I realize in some rural areas, there may be more Packet gateways available than VARA, If that is the communications tool available, then it should be used. But I have noticed that the number of VARA stations  are  increasing, especially in the larger cities, while packet is decreasing.  I used to use APRS on 144.39 MHz when I drove across country, but now there are so few active Packet nodes left, I have given up on its usefulness. 

 But back to the realities of a disaster. If there are NO gateways available for Packet or VARA, then we must learn how to pass and relay  traffic using P2P to send traffic in the disaster zone. This is where VARA wins the speed contest, but if packet is all you have, then use it.  I am hoping to get a simplex VHF net going to learn how to pass traffic using VHF VARA P2P relay.  That is a much needed skill to develop. 

Thanks for letting me share my opinions on this important subject, and I appreciate all you and others have done in the L.A. area to set up a very reliable communications network. I am especially impressed with the VHF-VARA network that Oliver K6OLI and others have set up in N.E. L.A. to support Hospital communications. I would sure like to see a network like that in San Diego, but we are hindered by the topography.

73 Bruce    WA6DNT@...    WA6DNT@...


On 9/7/2021 9:12 AM, Mark Warrick (KM6ZPO) wrote:
Hi Bruce,

I disagree with your assessment that packet is "obsolete".  There are currently 1,063 packet FM gateways vs. 349 VARA FM stations.   I'm not discounting VARA as a possible future replacement of packet 1200/9600.  I am a little concerned that one guy controls the market though.  For that reason, I don't see VARA as the future replacement of packet.  What i see here instead is a story of VHF vs. BETAMAX.  Remember, BETAMAX was better, but VHS ultimately dominated the market as an inferior product because more than one company was able to produce it.  Eventually, the DVD kicked both of them to the curb and then streaming took over.

If we truly care about the speed of communications, the usefulness of those channels (multi-purpose) and the cost involved in getting up to speed, the AREDN data network is thousands of times faster and costs less to implement.  In the same amount of time you can send one VARA FM message at its fastest possible throughput, I could submit hundreds, maybe thousands of the same type of message over AREDN while conducting a video conference call!  Currently, there is no technology I'm aware of (aside from the Internet itself) faster than AREDN.  AREDN is simple. The adoption of this data network is going to be a lot smoother as the AREDN network develops further.

Therefore, I'm not focussing upon trying to convince people to adopt a technology that is, at best, only four times faster than the best packet FM technology available.   Packet 1200 is common, reliable, and a lot faster than passing information with your voice.  For that reason I strongly recommend that people at least have 1200 baud capabilities.   I discourage 9600 baud stations because of the lack of 9600 baud gateways, and the cost of the radios you need to use 9600.   I am not going to push VARA.  I will, however, push AREDN.  See my website http://km6zpo.com for examples of how I have put AREDN to work in EMCOMMs.

---mark
KM6ZPO


 

Hi Bruce,

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

http://usercontent.arednmesh.org/K/5/K5DLQ/livemap2.html#13/33.7010/-117.7478

http://n6ipd.org

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:

https://areslax-northeast.groups.io/g/main/messages

https://areslax.groups.io/g/main/messages

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


Nat 2733E N6BRV
 

Hello Mark,

   Like the idea about not waiting around.  I would like to set up an Omni AREDN Antenna at my QTH if that all goes well, I’ll consider the mobile. My QTH is 57 degrees to Palomar Mountain and 30 miles away, to which I believe to have a back bone for AREDN.

 

My first exposure to AREDN working with Andre K6AH back 4+ years ago. à (24) AREDN 052717 Workshop - YouTube

No further since then.

 

Please let me know what I need to do OR point me to the right people for further AREDN engagement.

I can C++, C#, MS SQL (SSMS), but only in times of need.  Well aware of à Amateur Radio Emergency Data Network (arednmesh.org)

 

73' N6BRV Nat S.

 

From: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io [mailto:main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io] On Behalf Of Mark Warrick (KM6ZPO)
Sent: Wednesday, September 08, 2021 8:37 AM
To: main@ARC2-SDICC.groups.io
Subject: Re: [ARC2-SDICC] DST Communications tools

 

Hi Bruce,

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

http://usercontent.arednmesh.org/K/5/K5DLQ/livemap2.html#13/33.7010/-117.7478

http://n6ipd.org

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:

https://areslax-northeast.groups.io/g/main/messages

https://areslax.groups.io/g/main/messages

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


Bruce
 

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:

http://usercontent.arednmesh.org/K/5/K5DLQ/livemap2.html#13/33.7010/-117.7478

http://n6ipd.org

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:

https://areslax-northeast.groups.io/g/main/messages

https://areslax.groups.io/g/main/messages

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