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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 03-07-2014, 10:37 PM
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I had my butt handed to me in a forum over this. I simply suggested we as Amateurs try to get a slice of the new 700Mhz band and emission modes. I can't remember a time as a member of Public Safety that the hams didn't have our stuff programmed.

Wow. That stirred a pot.

Anyway, this all-on-one-system stuff is a double edged sword.

On one hand, I bet it's nice to not need an ambulance alternator and three feet of floor space anymore.

And, it's probably great for non-radio types to just be able to spin a dial and reach whoever they need to.

On the other hand, the main need for interop is big emergencies. I don't know of a jurisdiction that has bought enough infrastructure to handle 10-12 talkgroups talking at the same time, which is what you'll get quickly in a real emergency.

Also, in the famous words of Scotty, 'The more complicated they make the sink, the easier it is to stop up the drain', or something like that. Make of that what you will.


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Old 03-08-2014, 8:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by high_order1 View Post
I had my butt handed to me in a forum over this. I simply suggested we as Amateurs try to get a slice of the new 700Mhz band and emission modes. I can't remember a time as a member of Public Safety that the hams didn't have our stuff programmed.

Wow. That stirred a pot.

Anyway, this all-on-one-system stuff is a double edged sword.

On one hand, I bet it's nice to not need an ambulance alternator and three feet of floor space anymore.

And, it's probably great for non-radio types to just be able to spin a dial and reach whoever they need to.

On the other hand, the main need for interop is big emergencies. I don't know of a jurisdiction that has bought enough infrastructure to handle 10-12 talkgroups talking at the same time, which is what you'll get quickly in a real emergency.

Also, in the famous words of Scotty, 'The more complicated they make the sink, the easier it is to stop up the drain', or something like that. Make of that what you will.


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And to think after all those millions spent, we're supposed to be "safer".
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 03-08-2014, 10:07 AM
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Default Amateur radio and 'interoperability'

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Originally Posted by high_order1 View Post
I don't know of a jurisdiction that has bought enough infrastructure to handle 10-12 talkgroups talking at the same time, which is what you'll get quickly in a real emergency.

Shawn

Where I live, our city has a simulcast EDACS system with 20 RF channels. So it WILL handle 19 simultaneous talk groups talking.


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Old 03-08-2014, 10:28 AM
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'20 RF channels'... And how many of them are free of use so they could be used for those 'emergency' chatters? Not too many cities/towns have non-dedicated frequencies available. And does your city have the equipment to 'loan' to use those frequencies?
I think post #21 pretty well sums up things. It's nice to have volunteers to help when needed, but they have to be able to -help- and not just get in the way.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:01 AM
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It's an EDACS trunked system. It doesn't make any difference how many channels are free. Most trunked systems are set up so that low priority users are bumped off in favor of high priority users if all voice channels are busy.
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Old 03-08-2014, 11:02 AM
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Default Amateur radio and 'interoperability'

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It's an EDACS trunked system. It doesn't make any difference how many channels are free. Most trunked systems are set up so that low priority users are bumped off in favor of high priority users if all voice channels are busy.

Bingo.


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Old 03-08-2014, 1:17 PM
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... and who decides??
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Old 03-08-2014, 1:22 PM
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Guys, this isn't about the management of trunked public safety systems during emergencies. If the public safety system becomes overloaded, then there is a possibility that amateur radio may be able to help. How the public safety system gets into that predicament is outside the scope of amateur radio. Let's get back to amateur radio.
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Old 03-08-2014, 2:11 PM
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Originally Posted by high_order1 View Post
I had my butt handed to me in a forum over this. I simply suggested we as Amateurs try to get a slice of the new 700Mhz band and emission modes. I can't remember a time as a member of Public Safety that the hams didn't have our stuff programmed.

Shawn
We already have 900mhz and 1.2 ghz, and they are underutilized. There's even an argument we don't use 70cm enough and risk losing spectrum there. Asking for a slice of 700 probably wouldn't get great review. The manufactures aren't providing us with any (designed for hams) 900 equipment, and only 1 or 2 rigs at 1.2ghz. Motorola is great equipment, but from the average ham's point of view, expensive to acquire, and expensive to program (software cost and pc compatibility).
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Old 03-08-2014, 3:04 PM
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The manufactures aren't providing us with any (designed for hams) 900 equipment...
Alinco DJ-G29 handheld. The only 222/900 MHz amateur radio that I know of.

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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 03-08-2014, 5:49 PM
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...There's even an argument we don't use 70cm enough and risk losing spectrum there...
That's a grossly uninformed person making that argument. In most metropolitan areas, 70cm isn't just busy, it's saturated.

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...The manufactures aren't providing us with any (designed for hams) 900 equipment
As stated, Alinco is.

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Originally Posted by profiledescent View Post
Motorola is great equipment, but from the average ham's point of view, expensive to acquire, and expensive to program (software cost and pc compatibility).
This old wives tale needs to be buried. 900 MHz radios, Motorola and otherwise, are plentiful and cheap on eBay. Discontinued software for discontinue radio is "out there" to be found, downloaded, and used... for free. And Motorola doesn't actually care about old software products.

An old PC can be had at a garage sale or thrift store for $20. DOS is free. A RIB on eBay is $35. Cables are for the cost of the connectors, i.e. close to free.

So, let's change the "average ham's" point of view on that. It's wrong.
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Old 03-09-2014, 8:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by high_order1
I had my butt handed to me in a forum over this. I simply suggested we as Amateurs try to get a slice of the new 700Mhz band and emission modes. I can't remember a time as a member of Public Safety that the hams didn't have our stuff programmed.

Wow. That stirred a pot.
Shawn
As it should have stirred the pot.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around this. Why do hams need the same spectrum as. Public safety? We do not, as hams, talk directly to PS on their systems, and if we do, we use their equipment, not modified ham gear.
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Old 03-09-2014, 1:24 PM
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Reading this thread, I see three significant items that were often touched on but never actually stated:

1. Interoperable communications are all first and foremost all about timely communication; getting a message from point A to points B and/or C while it is useful, and receiving feedback that it got there accurately. Whether that is done via digital, analog or sticky-note is secondary. That is something amateurs do automatically.

2. Many Public Safety "professionals" view interoperable communications as an extraordinary situation requiring special authorization, and believe that everything will always work magically and perfectly on demand. They forget that primary/complex/proprietary systems normally fail when you need them the most. Amateurs view interoperability as a required and dynamic challenge with every PTT.

3. Divergent technology and unusual situations are speed bumps that us Geeks can work around if we have enough time, resources and a big enough stick (emphasis on the latter).
 


Some other thoughts on the matter:

Interoperable failures fall into one or more of the following categories.

Politics and Training.

How many jurisdictions bought a 'modified' non-standard standard to suit a political requirement? Interoperability is built into that system but nobody can seem to remember that it exists, much less how or when to use it. You can talk to them directly via their primary communications system, provided you have their 'modified' sole source equipment and special authorization from the Governor/Mayor/Whomever.

Genuine interoperability, including 'unusual' methods, is given lip service but seldom considered a necessity. "Our digital 800 trunking system works perfectly (almost) all the time, so when our analog VHF Syntors became obsolete we abandoned all that old-timey stuff in our fleet."

FYI: Authorization and procedures for establishing special operations and amateur inclusion in significant incident communications can be found in the footnotes on page 367 of Appendix K of the TICP. Everyone knows that, right?

Ignorance.

Too many "professionals" only remember two radio settings: "Talk" and "Listen". Technically savvy "professionals" may occasionally master the concepts of "Our Channel" and "Another Channel".

Asking "professionals" to leave "Our Channel" and communicate with Incident Command on 1TAC13 and Incident Operations on Fireground RED will be more often than not be met with a blank stare or a flat refusal. (The latter often because they will not admit they don't know how. "What's analog simplex? Zone 3? I have that?")

Here is a big difference between amateurs and "professionals":

Many "professionals" honestly think they only need to know "Talk" and "Listen". Everything else is off-the-wall special Geek stuff. They probably looked at their communications handbook exactly once: during the training session three years ago where they were paying more attention to beating Angry Birds on their cell phone.

Amateurs (and interoperable practitioners) have a wider view and make understanding the operation of every system a moral imperative. They can tell you from memory that Fireground RED is 153.8300 11K0F3E simplex with a 69.3 CTCSS. The have also opened every radio's instruction manual at least twice: once when the radio came out of the box, and a second time to commit every capability and function to memory.

Habit.

"Professional" responders are used to talking on their one primary communication system all the time (whatever band and format that may be). They are also creatures of habit whose comfort zone shrinks as their stress level rises, compounding the problem. Getting them to communicate differently from their every-day method is like pulling teeth. Even worse: "For thirty years we've only talked on Grand Dad's private fire channel and can't change." Its genetic.

Ever hear LAW call dispatch on "Our Channel" and ask them to relay a warning to Fire or EMS on "Another Channel" about a patch of black ice on the road? That's interoperable, isn't it?

"Us" vs. "Them"

I like to call this the Lone Ranger Syndrome: "We're super-trained professionals. We can handle anything. We do it every day. We don't need to use "Another Channel" because Dispatch can tell "them" whatever "We" think they need to hear, and cover our asses if we forget. The rest of you are amateurs and might be moderately useful, but stay out of Our way."

Or so they thought until it hit the fan.

Unrealistic expectations.

News Flash: It's radio.

Too many "professionals" expect all radio communications to be exactly like their cell phone: always pin-drop clear. (They forget that in many situations their cell phones won't work at all.) A tiny hint of static and they throw up their hands, screaming at the techs because communications were unintelligible.

Amateurs think static is a challenge to be overcome, tweak the settings and work through difficulties.

Another unrealistic expectation is that everything will always work. Guess what folks, Mr. Murphy was an optimist. When everything has gone south, you are more likely to restore communications by utilizing an amateur with a backpack, roll of wire and a tree than you are training "professionals" how to switch their radio to a simplex zone.

Not having a big stick.

How many incidents have you gone to where there is no single person in command and multiple "Our Channels" were in use? Or where establishing knowledgeable Command was a casualty of a political or turf war, and Command expected you to instantly bridge 800MHz 'modified' P25 encrypted trunking to carrier-pigeon?

Or where you were given the responsibility of establishing a sane, workable interoperable system, but not given clear authority to require all of the "professionals" to use "Another Channel" until they received written approval from their Governor/Mayor/Whomever. (And probably shown how to switch zones in their radio.)

Without the clear authority to require responders to get off "Our Channel" and communicate your way, or include "rank amateurs" in your communications plan you're beating your gums.

It is not just a "First ICS Operational Period" issue. Most significant local incidents where interoperability is required are over in a few hours.


OK, I'll slide down off of my high horse now.

PS: Several local jurisdictions authorize amateurs to communicate directly with their EOC on Public Safety channels (typically analog repeated or simplex VHF), and have 2M and 70CM amateur radio equipment in the EOC as a backup. A pretty good system, most often used during pre-planned, organized storm spotter activation. Let's face the simple fact that when the fan is blowing brown a properly deviated 11K FM signal is a properly deviated 11K FM signal, Part 90 or not.
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Last edited by jeatock; 03-09-2014 at 3:10 PM.. Reason: Added PS, and corectd speeling.
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 03-09-2014, 3:34 PM
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Originally Posted by high_order1 View Post
I had my butt handed to me in a forum over this. I simply suggested we as Amateurs try to get a slice of the new 700Mhz band and emission modes...
No need to get your butt handed to you over that idea, but getting a chunk of 700 MHz is not a good idea, and it's extremely unlikely to ever happen.

What emission modes are you talking about? P25 is already in use on amateur frequencies now.
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Old 03-09-2014, 3:36 PM
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...Too many "professionals" expect all radio communications to be exactly like their cell phone: always pin-drop clear.
I haven't heard "pin-drop clear" on a cellphone since the last of the analog systems went away.
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Old 03-09-2014, 4:21 PM
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There's another Unrealistic Expectation.

PSC carriers think nothing of dropping a million bucks or so into building a tower site that will improve their coverage (and profitability). For a rural county with a $4M total annual budget, even a $70K coverage improvement is a significant expense.

The pin-drop clear troops expect nothing less from their PCS carrier, and don't stop to think why their jurisdiction can't do the same.
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