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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 04-22-2017, 8:36 AM
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Originally Posted by KE0GXN View Post
Are you sure they are learning to use it?

From what I have seen, they buy a $35 Chicom, throw it in their "go" bag and they are done. Never hear them on the air or utilizing their radios on the amateur bands. IMHO, passing the Tech exam does not teach anyone how to "use" a radio.
At least some of them are, and maybe in their way of thinking not drawing attention to their real purpose for operating on the amateur bands is the goal. As ko6jw_2 mentioned in regards to family or church groups, some survivalist/prepper/patriot groups cannot match up their particular interest in radio with any of the basis and purpose items listed under 97.1. Having an effective means of emergency communications for their group as opposed to providing emergency communications to the public, or just wanting to "use" radio but no desire to contribute to the advancement of the radio art, as examples.

To their credit, particularly considering the entry level cost of the cheap chicom sets and the number of them out there, not many seem to be causing trouble or much interference. I know "not many" doesn't equal "none", but still.
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Old 04-22-2017, 9:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jparks29 View Post
In my previous ARES membership, we all got EOC IDs, not only for city/county, but also for one of the largest military installations on the west coast, because a state run EOC was there....

BUT....

None of the members were card carrying whackers... I think only 2 members even had amber lights and that was because they used it in their day jobs (one was a mail carrier, the other worked construction, IIRC)..

I quit after about a year....

Why?

Lack of direction. Lack of leadership.. I addressed this with the people in charge and they said that they wanted things very flexible... For someone with commercial/Public Safety experience (communications and otherwise), their 'we'll do whatever we gotta do, and we'll figure it out as we go' attitude just irked me.. Didn't seem like much planning... 'Here's a freq. list, here's who's doing the net this week, and oh BTW we need some volunteers for this walkathon thing'.... is pretty much all I heard... They required FEMA courses which I already had, but the whole situation was just WAY too lax.. not enough structure...

Drills were calling from EOC to EOC, which was a joke, as half the time the other EOCs wouldn't answer because they weren't staffed, or we would get a 'good signal' from them...

EMCOMM is NOT ARES/RACES IMHO, not in the prepper mindset at least....
You have hit the jackpot with your comments. I have been in public safety communications some 45 plus years. Your not going to walk into an EOC with an attitude of "I am hear to save the day". Those people already have the knowledge, for the most part on what needs to be done. Their radio system will probably still be intact, unless it took a direct hit from a tornado. What the ham radio groups need to understand is that they can cause more problems than they are trying to help with.

Let me digress just a little, now that I have set the stage. A number of the hams that I have run across over the years trying to help have almost turned into a "Whacker" type of a person. Remember, your there as a visitor trying to help. until you break the ice with those at the EOC that are in charge, your a liability rather than a resource.

It is better to build a relationship with those that you are trying to help and work with. If your not very good with politics, better find someone in your group that is and make them your representative. Let that person do the smooching as i call it. Let that person work the politics so that you as a group can be accepted as being a resource.

As for the group leader, you need to know your different people in the group. It would be a big help if everyone has had military training. That way, they are already use to following directions (ORDERS) and can blend in. If you have one or two that tend to be a RAMBO type individual, you would have been better off leaving them at home. Remember, you have to be accepted by those your trying to help before those public safety agency people will allow you to do anything.

Another point here is if your going into a region that has been devastated by a hurricane or a tornado, you had better bring your own food and water for about a week. These type of items and resources will be in short supply. Don't expect the agency your trying to support to provide you with them. They need time to have FEMA and other agencies to motivate and bring in supplies from the outside. Local resources will be stretched to the breaking point. Simple items like even automotive fuel will be hard to come by. Sleeping quarters will be non existent for a number of days. You should expect to be thrown in with the general population and be part of the people that the Red Cross will come in and set up shelters for.

Credentials are an item that will be hard to come by in the middle of the cluster that will be going on. Having a laminated ID card from some agency will be the key to being able to get around. These should be issued from the state level and not just from some races group. Like I said, an ID that will be accepted is hard to come by.

Let me give you an example. When Hurricane Andrew,Katrina and a few others came into the New Orleans area, the state police at one point were not allowing the National guard from the state into the city. How ever absurd this may seem, there was a problem out on the Interstate roads that took some time to be resolved. So you as just a plain civilian, don't expect much sympathy to trying to get through a road block without some heavy support from a state agency.

I have said enough for now. Not trying to discourage you from trying to be helpful. But these are the realities of what your facing trying to be helpful.
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Old 04-22-2017, 10:54 AM
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There are different flavors of emergency communications. Not everyone aspires to be the comm link between public safety agencies during a disaster, or has an interest in playing with radios every day. All some folks care about is maintaining communication with family/friends/neighbors in the event phone and/or internet service goes down for an extended period of time. For those folks, it's entirely reasonable to buy some radios, test them, and then put them in their emergency equipment stash, and maybe get them out once or twice a year for testing and topping off the charge in the batteries.

And there's nothing wrong with that.
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by jonwienke View Post
There are different flavors of emergency communications. Not everyone aspires to be the comm link between public safety agencies during a disaster, or has an interest in playing with radios every day. All some folks care about is maintaining communication with family/friends/neighbors in the event phone and/or internet service goes down for an extended period of time. For those folks, it's entirely reasonable to buy some radios, test them, and then put them in their emergency equipment stash, and maybe get them out once or twice a year for testing and topping off the charge in the batteries.

And there's nothing wrong with that.
Well put. I know a fair number of licensed hams who do precisely this.
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:31 AM
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You have hit the jackpot with your comments. I have been in public safety communications some 45 plus years. Your not going to walk into an EOC with an attitude of "I am hear to save the day". Those people already have the knowledge, for the most part on what needs to be done. Their radio system will probably still be intact, unless it took a direct hit from a tornado. What the ham radio groups need to understand is that they can cause more problems than they are trying to help with.

Let me digress just a little, now that I have set the stage.............
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Old 04-22-2017, 1:37 PM
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I just wish more of the ARES / EMCOMM groups would regularly train on other types of communications instead of just focusing on Amateur Radio. I would rather have a group of guys that have a bit more technical knowledge than guys that just want to talk on the amateur bands.

Examples:
Install portable base 800mhz P25 radios
Run IP phone connections
Troubleshoot a radio console (both analog and digital)
Install a POTS line
Install a WIFI antenna
Cut whips for other bands
Maintain fixed/mobile satellite terminals
ETC

I am sure there are groups out there that do this...but they are few and far between. Become more of an asset to your served agencies and make yourselves more useful during a disaster.

CE
THIS PART.

Many hams, while well meaning, think that having a hoard of radios means they are an asset. Equipment is not an asset if no one in the right positions, at the right places, and in the right time- and knows how to use it and when.

All I have to do is look at the roof of my building where a local ARES group placed their antennas and I know their skill set. I wouldn't dare let them touch my trunking system, CAD or RMS.
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Old 04-22-2017, 6:45 PM
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I have seen our group, worked with them at various weather related problems, and they are of the up most professionals. When disaster hit, they were one of the first that had contact with the provinicial EMO. In fact, in their work related lives they are professionals in healthcare, EMS, Police etc.. As mentioned, not everyone got into amateur communications to serve agencies, but to serve their family. That is the aspect of amateur radio in that one is not shoe boxed into one specific situation. Amateurs are able to adapt to what ever situation is available. There are those that turn their nose up to this. So be it. But professionals have seen how these "amateurs" work and often call them "professionals".
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Old 04-22-2017, 7:59 PM
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Everyone has some good valid points. I'm part of the newer generation that decided to be licensed. My sole purpose for this was to be able to take care of my family and friends when the power goes out or grid down. We live in a hurricane prone area, so it's good to learn and be self sufficient. It's also a great way to stay informed when the Internet is down due to power outages.

In terms of helping agencies, at least in South Florida, I don't believe that the HAMS are prepared enough to back these agencies. Not even for the smallest assignments ie shelters or hospitals. Something as simple as knowing, programming there radios with the correct frequencies is a chore. Last hurricane threat we had, net control had to repeat the frequencies over 7 times. A simple task took over 10 minutes. The hams I've meet in 3 clubs I've been to, are wayyyyy into retirement. I know these guys can't lift there own equipment without going into short of breath or needing a lot of rest. Field Day is a perfect example, erecting an antenna should not take hours to do. But yet it does. But yet they expect to volunteer for a full fledged event. Another example, NBEMS, very view people know how to set up and use it from there own laptops. Again, this is South Florida I'm talking about.

Yes, this is a hobby. Yes, I treat it as such. Yes, I have the latest and greatest toys available to us. I do HF, DMR, Mesh, SDR, UHF /VHF. Yes, I have all my NIMS courses complete. Yes, I do work in EMS. Does that mean I'll be an asset to a large agency, I don't think so. Maybe a small city or town, perhaps. But in Palm Beach, Broward and Dade County, I just don't see it. These counties have massive budgets, equipment, generators etc.

What I would like to see in the HAM world would be younger operators. Ham fests that attracts young professionals. Ham fests that don't like a flee market of used stuff sold at incredibly high prices. Charging a cover at these places should be removed. Paying cover does not thrill me to go into a place that reminds me of a nursing home. Have actual presentations, hands on demonstration with attendees own gear etc.
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:44 PM
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IMO, whenever I hear "ARES/RACES/Emcomm" I think of a bunch of whackers with lights and stickers on their cars all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I used to have a tech license and in the early 2000's (post 9-11) they attempted to recruit me into the world of whackers. I went to the meeting at the EOC , saw all the whackermobiles in the lot and got to meet them. Your rank amongst this gaggle of people was determined by how much "access" the local police department gave you to their HQ.


The ARRL in a likely calculated effort to drum up extra money is using "Emcomm" as a lure and have basically turned 2m and 70cm into auxiliary police bands.

Not trying to offend anyone, but this whole ARES/RACES/Emcomm gig is out of control.
Left unchecked, their reputation and the public's view of all amateur radio operators as a whole will be affected. The regular amateur radio operator will be lumped in the same category as the whacker by the public.

I'm sure others share this opinion.
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Old 04-22-2017, 11:54 PM
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You see a massive gap between your average RACES/ARES member and someone who works in public safety grade communications for a living, even reading the posts here. When I moved, I never bothered catching up my RACES information…why? I'm one of the (six) Astro 25 techs on a call rotation for a large P25 system (~50 sites with two of those being prime sites for simulcast, each having at least 10 sub-sites). The system is large enough that a single event, wouldn't cause widespread issues (it covers multiple regions). Coverage is so overbuilt, that sites could be vaporized and the users would never notice it.

Supplies are a real potential issue. For example, widespread power outage, it becomes difficult for emergency personnel to get fresh batteries for their portables. Same scenario, we have to start worrying about getting fuel to the sites to replenish the generators (many of those sites use propane).

Of course, that is about the time Murphy's law dictates a MCC5500 running an entire dispatch center will go down…or an edge router issues will cause a MCC7000 based console to loose core connection. That's why no dispatch position is complete without a backup radio though…
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Old 04-23-2017, 1:17 AM
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Originally Posted by RayAir View Post
IMO, whenever I hear "ARES/RACES/Emcomm" I think of a bunch of whackers with lights and stickers on their cars all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I used to have a tech license and in the early 2000's (post 9-11) they attempted to recruit me into the world of whackers. I went to the meeting at the EOC , saw all the whackermobiles in the lot and got to meet them. Your rank amongst this gaggle of people was determined by how much "access" the local police department gave you to their HQ.


The ARRL in a likely calculated effort to drum up extra money is using "Emcomm" as a lure and have basically turned 2m and 70cm into auxiliary police bands.

Not trying to offend anyone, but this whole ARES/RACES/Emcomm gig is out of control.
Left unchecked, their reputation and the public's view of all amateur radio operators as a whole will be affected. The regular amateur radio operator will be lumped in the same category as the whacker by the public.

I'm sure others share this opinion.
Not all ECOMM access has to do with police HQ. It is working with Emergency Management in ways they require. Don't see any of this "auxiliary police bands" at all. But today, everyone has their opinion. Even reading ECOMM journals, I see professionalism, and none of the whacker types. But then each place is different.
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Old 04-23-2017, 3:07 AM
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That's why there are volunteer fire departments, where whacker lights and big pickup trucks are welcome.
Bandit asked Sheriff Justice if he knew what a certain two letters meant. That to you, sir.

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Old 04-23-2017, 3:50 AM
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Originally Posted by RayAir View Post
IMO, whenever I hear "ARES/RACES/Emcomm" I think of a bunch of whackers with lights and stickers on their cars all dressed up with nowhere to go.

I used to have a tech license and in the early 2000's (post 9-11) they attempted to recruit me into the world of whackers. I went to the meeting at the EOC , saw all the whackermobiles in the lot and got to meet them. Your rank amongst this gaggle of people was determined by how much "access" the local police department gave you to their HQ.


The ARRL in a likely calculated effort to drum up extra money is using "Emcomm" as a lure and have basically turned 2m and 70cm into auxiliary police bands.

Not trying to offend anyone, but this whole ARES/RACES/Emcomm gig is out of control.
Left unchecked, their reputation and the public's view of all amateur radio operators as a whole will be affected. The regular amateur radio operator will be lumped in the same category as the whacker by the public.

I'm sure others share this opinion.
Lol.... That is 100 % accurate from what I've seen. Seeing old Toyota Corollas with mickey mouse antennas, light bars and "Emergency Communications" on them is hilarious. How can I possibly take anyone serious with this vehicle. That's like security guards in old beat up cars with light bars on them. There's no way in hell I'm going to take to you seriously. As a true professional you are riding in a heat up car. Sorry not sorry!... Buy yourself a newer vehicle and look the part. Then I may think you ate a true professional.
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Old 04-23-2017, 3:57 AM
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To top that you off.... You'll most likely see a huge old man squeeze out of that corolla, decked out in gear like he or she is ready for war... Rocking some baofengs or if he has hook ups to software he'll be rocking 6550, 7550 or perhaps an apx unit. That's comical. Or better yet, how about those types that have at least 4 radios on there person. MONITORING EVERY single band you can think of for a "bike ride". Police, Fire, call freqs, marine channels, weather bands etc. A bike ride consisting of 300 participants. For 300 participants, that's over kill. Now for a massive event, yes, I do get it. Pulling actual weather reports from the NWS. How about you just an app to see what the weather will be like. I think WE ALL KNOW these types.

Don't get me wrong, they seem to be well intentioned but in my point of view it seems like they want action but can't handle the true action. Simple word... Whackers!!!

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Old 04-23-2017, 8:56 AM
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I learned in a DHS Auxcomm class that referring to what amateur radios operators do as "emergency communications" is potentially A Bad Idea. Most amateur radio operators will never do emergency communications. The ARRL mantra of "when all else fails" is somewhat misleading to the point of being offensive to owners and maintainers of public safety communications systems. However, amateur radio operators can be trained, drilled, and utilized to provide Auxiliary Communications thus taking some of non-emergency, non-priority, non-critical load off of the public safety communications systems should they become overloaded.

The debates about the effectiveness of ARES/RACES personnel and their ilk will probably go on ad infinitum. I'm not sure that there's anything to be gained from continuing to beat the dead horse.

That said, the OP in this thread had to do with whether or not "emergency communications" is continuing to drive the increase in the number of amateur radio operators. Let's stick to that topic.
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:06 AM
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Most of the serious preppers I know are actually quite serious in amateur radio. Repeaters are not an extremely knowledgeable subject to them but simplex and HF sure are.


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Out of all the amateur radio operators I have met in my area who are into the prepper movement, I can only come up with two who I know are active in ham radio. Whether its on the repeaters or HF. Each area is different I guess and I can only speak on what I see in my area.
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:12 AM
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At least some of them are, and maybe in their way of thinking not drawing attention to their real purpose for operating on the amateur bands is the goal. As ko6jw_2 mentioned in regards to family or church groups, some survivalist/prepper/patriot groups cannot match up their particular interest in radio with any of the basis and purpose items listed under 97.1. Having an effective means of emergency communications for their group as opposed to providing emergency communications to the public, or just wanting to "use" radio but no desire to contribute to the advancement of the radio art, as examples.

To their credit, particularly considering the entry level cost of the cheap chicom sets and the number of them out there, not many seem to be causing trouble or much interference. I know "not many" doesn't equal "none", but still.
I get what you are saying.

My thing is, how long will we have the amateur spectrum available to us if fewer and fewer people use it under the basis or purpose listed under Part 97?
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Old 04-23-2017, 10:28 AM
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That said, the OP in this thread had to do with whether or not "emergency communications" is continuing to drive the increase in the number of amateur radio operators. Let's stick to that topic.
Is emergency communications" continuing to drive the increase in the number of amateur radio operators?

Yes, it is increasing the number of amateur radio operators and if we are just playing a numbers game then I guess the hobby is in wonderful shape.....right?

So then the question becomes, is the hobby actually "growing" as a result of that?
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Old 04-23-2017, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by kayn1n32008 View Post
ARES was not my initial interest when I got into amatuer radio either. At about 9-10-ish, I ended up at a Field Day near where I grew up. I spent hours with the guys there, and was hooked.

Once I got involved in the hobby, I bcame interested ARES, but from the technical challange of trying to communicate from point A to point B when there is no existing infrastructure. The last two incidents, where I currently live, we could not use HF due to equipment and propagation issues and had to get creative with portable repeaters and linking using cross band repeaters.



Agreed. It seems here in Canada, that RAC is either blind or just does not care what the reality of the situation with new people getting licensed. ARRL and RAC are trying to spin a story to stay relevant.



I agree. In Alberta there is a four wheel drive club that requires that their members get licensed and install, at a minimum, a 50w 144MHz radio. They learned that CB just does not cut it here in the mountains along the eastern side of the Rockies. 99% of the members will never get involved in amateur radio as a hobby, It is like a radio to a fire fighter, just another tool they carry with them and use because they need it.
Agree with everything you stated too.

Surprisingly enough, it was the amateurs on this forum are who got me interested in the hobby.

After getting my ticket I joined ARES more so to find Elmership and interact with like minded individuals. I have no desire to be issued an ID, reflective vest, car magnets or to spend my money on a light bar. My day job provides me all the authority, gear and marked lighted vehicle I will ever need, which in of it self will likely prevent me from playing an active role with ARES anyway when a major incident occurs, as will be preoccupied with other duties.

With that said, I mostly volunteer my time when I can, just trying to be an asset to the group by helping when I can. Much like you, I use my membership in ARES to learn more about the technical challenges of communicating and to gain knowledge of amateur radio in general, etc..
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Old 04-23-2017, 12:06 PM
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The ARRL mantra of "when all else fails" is somewhat misleading to the point of being offensive to owners and maintainers of public safety communications systems.

System owners and users may find it insulting, but I think that is because they are sold a bill of goods from Harris, Motorola, Tait et-all that these wiz bang networks will never fail, or get over loaded.

They feel insulted, until that network fails, and they have no way to effectively communicate. They are stuck with Sat phones, and runners.

Been there done that. Our local group has had to provide the conduit for EM officials communicate with a disaster zone 300km away from where provincial emergency managers were.

Does it happen every time? Nope. But everything can fail, and failing to plan is planning to fail.
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