Amateur radio and 'interoperability'

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kayn1n32008

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Here it is Robertmac. A thread dedicated to the myth of interoperability.





Well, I guess I will express my attitude.
that's the idea. Sharing ideas.

The discussion is within ham radio use and being interoperability has been discussed in other posts and different forums.
yea the amateur community already does 'interop' everyday when we talk on the radio.

I am not talking of interoperability with other agencies.
inevitably it leads there! along the lines of 'first responders use P25 so should we' wacker justification of using digital modes.

For example, are we heading to the point when working a car rally that one has to decide what mode we use?
I sure hope not! As a volunteer I expect the organizer to have decided on repeater/emission/back up frequency. That tells me what I need to take. Usually though I take a couple of spare radios just in case someone shows up with a dead battery or a radio fails, or an appliance op can't program his radio ect. ect.

Or how many radios we have to take?
The more the better. I actually do participate in public service events, regularly. Usually others there are people I actually enjoy talking to, Usually we go to another band so that we can chat and not desense our radio operating on the event(event on VHF so we go and chat on UHF) at the last event we chatted on simplex UHF DSTAR while the event was conducted on VHF analogue.

Even with the need for APRS at car rallies, parades limits ones ability to help. Now if our income allowed, we could probably buy all the radios we want.
You are not limited when a parade or race is using APRS, for the Fallen 4 Marathon we have a tracker we put on the tail end vehicle, the net control station has a computer they can watch where the last person is. Not having APRS does not limit one ps ability to pitch in and help out.

For the next parade, car rally, flood, search and rescue do I take the SSB, FM, P25, D-star, Yaesu, Kirishun, NXDN, etc..
Again, what radio to take should be detailed in an info pack you should receive long before you head out to the event. Anything less turns said event into a Cluster F*ck and makes the amateur community like like a joke.

Same goes for ARES, I know what I need to bring when we go to support AEMA, i also know what to take if I get deployed. This is called planning. And practise. Will every thing go according to plan? Nope, but I can think outside of the box and can make things work, if not I have the right people to ask to make things work.

Yes, for general hamming, it matters beans about what mode.
For any hamming, mode does not matter. Even ARES, we improvised during last years flooding and used DStar to talk to both Canmore and Medicine Hat. At the time we had no plans to utilize DStar, yet now we have included it as another tool in the tool box.

Or if one is a wacker.
wackers are sick and need help.

I do like to support the clubs that put up repeaters. There are some cases where if I had the capability to use all the digital modes on repeaters, I would have a hard time supporting these clubs let alone the radios to use on the repeaters.
All clubs need support, my support is selective.

D-Star needs support, P25 needs support.
They do not "need support" we choose to support the modes we are interested in. I enjoy APRS, and have helped put a few digi-peaters on the air.

We have yet to get into NXDN, TRBO repeaters in Alberta.
Hopefully in the near future DMR will be coming to Alberta. I have already applied to and received my RID for when I get a DMR radio.

My attitude, right or wrong, is that all these digital modes are fragmenting hamming.
Hams were whining the same thing when AMA was invented, and SSB, and FM. It goes on and on. History repeaters itself. These new digital modes are no different. Yet we still communicate.

I know this was discussed when AM voice, FM, SSB came out.
yet the hobby is still here ant thriving with all these digital modes.

A lot of younger hams were not around when this happened. No different today. And I don't smoke the good stuff or the bad. Some people haven't lived long enough to have spent money on the "latest and greatest widget" only to see it sit on the shelf collecting dust or trying to sell at the next garage sale.
ummmmm you just made my point.

There isn't enough dollars or amateur radio operators to go around to have all these ham radio manufacturers developing their own "digital mode".

Well I would say that you are wrong. Icom seems to think DStar is the way to go, Yaesu thinks their format is the way to go, DMR is gaining traction as is P25 and NXDN. All these modes have people using them, and that pool is growing.


And at the end of the day if the radios we buy can transmit wfm we CAN all talk to each other.



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kayn1n32008

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Though of something else. Amateur radio operators do not interoperate, we communicate. When done in most settings, with prior proper planning, things go very well. When done on the fly it is sloppy, but does the job.


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W9BU

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Actually, I think we do interoperate.

When I'm sitting at my EOC and call an adjacent county's EOC on their 2m repeater, I'm interoperating. Which is easy when everyone is on 2m and everyone knows everybody else's frequency, tone, etc.
 

n5ims

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I remember working a flood quite a while back where I was basically the "interoperability". This flood was sufficiently severe that President Regan stopped by to tour the damage (did that date me?). There were three main groups providing assistance that had to be coordinated, the local city and county folks, the national guard, and the ham radio community.

My job was to communicate with the hams assisting with the flood and be the person that coordinated any traffic that needed to be passed between the groups. I had a city/county official assigned to me and a national guard sergeant assigned to me. Our radios were placed where we all three could hear any traffic on any of them and could easily pass information or requests along as needed. This was rather efficient and helped to preserve the command structure from the various organizations.

There was no arguing about the guard not being able to take orders from the local FD or the hams forcing the guard to handle a request that wasn't in their list of authorized duties. We three had the knowledge of what each of us could do and the authority to handle the necessary requests. If there was a need to have the city trucks deliver 10 loads of fill dirt to a guard company to shore up a levee to stop a leak discovered by a ham that was patrolling that section, it happened and happened quickly. No arguing over "Is that a city levee or a Corps of Engineers levee?" or "We can't use city trucks past there since that's county property." etc.
 

kayn1n32008

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Actually, I think we do interoperate.

When I'm sitting at my EOC and call an adjacent county's EOC on their 2m repeater, I'm interoperating. Which is easy when everyone is on 2m and everyone knows everybody else's frequency, tone, etc.

I respectfully disagree. You are talking to another amateur op. You are simply communicating a message from one EOC to another. While I suppose one could say that knowing the frequency and tone is interop, we talk to other amateurs, using our own infrastructure. I guess if a club member A passes traffic on club B repeater to club C op, it could be construed as interop, but I maintain hams communicate. Police, fire, ems, NG, DPW, EMO, ect interop. To say that 2 separate ARES groups work a Comms failure for a county/province/state and talk to each other is interop, but who is the 'inter' of interop? They are both the same 'agency'(bad choice I know) so they communicate.


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kayn1n32008

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And at the end of the day it's safe to say that, amateur or public safety, interoperability occurs in spite of the various digital modes, not because of them.

Agreed. But the vendors make a killing making suckers, I mean public safety, believe that they need a fancy digital radio system to talk to each other.

I believe it is good to have every one on the same band, and mode. While a multimillion dollar P25 system has its place, it does not need to be the be all end all for all agencies.


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PACNWDude

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I have seen the attempt at interoperability for quite some time now. The military went from Motorola XTS5000 handhelds and XTL mobiles to Thales AN/PRC-148 and Harris AN/PRC-152 handhelds. Then Homeland Security started issuing Harris Unity radios. Other agencies tried Thales Liberties. Everywhere though, I would see copies of the NIFOG manual with frequencies and an interoperability plan in place, but not being used or sometimes not even programmed into the radio.
 

PACNWDude

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I'm currently using a Harris Unity for amateur and work use. It is nice having enough memory on board to program everything local into a handheld. But it is not as useful on the amateur side as my Vertex VX-7R.
 

rapidcharger

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I'm currently using a Harris Unity for amateur and work use. It is nice having enough memory on board to program everything local into a handheld. But it is not as useful on the amateur side as my Vertex VX-7R.
I'll tell you what...
If you want to trade with me, I will take that useless Harris Unity off your hands in exchange for not one, but two brand new Vertex VX-7Rs. One for work, one for pleasure. Since you work for the feds, you don't need part 95 certification :) How about it?
 

rapidcharger

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I'm not sure where the thread got its start from but Kayn said it best... Interoperability isn't a technology, it's an attitude. In the ham band, where there is a want to interoperate, we find a way. When there isn't (for example dstar vs DMR Marc), then there isn't.

The technology is 100% a non issue here with a couple groups in town that want to talk to each other using either analog or any digital mode or even a computer or smart phone or even an analog telephone adapter.

If an event were to take place in my town, using the infrastructure that is in place, you could talk on analog VHF or UHF or if linked in, there is another group with 900, 6m and 10m, you could be on digital NXDN, DMR and I'm not sure if there is any p25 or dstar but I have not heard of any, you could be on a smartphone or computer with a data connection. If we lose Internet then the smartphone and computer linking goes away and so does the digital to analog but RF links of the various bands still exist. You could bring basically anything you have and communicate. I lost track of how much I've spent setting up my end of the network but what I can tell you is it was a lot less than $25 million. All it took was a little planning and willingness for others in our group to get on the same page.
 

MTS2000des

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The value in the amateur radio service is not the equipment, equipment in the LMR world far surpasses any technology hams toy with.

What makes the amateur radio service more interoperable is the flexibility of the modes and bands available, and more importantly the operators themselves.

The operators are the ones who have the technical skills to create ad-hoc networks, choose the best path (e.g. mode, band, etc) for the task at hand. That can be digital mode of choice, analog FM, IP, HF, CW, satellite, HF, VHF, UHF or SHF.

At the end of the day, it is the people who have the willingness to talk to each other that set us apart. After all, most of us did get into radio as a hobby to push the technical limits, and talk to each other doing it!

Public safety is a much different animal. They are usually closed working groups who are hardwired NOT to want to be inclusive of others. The Feds are working hard to change this mentality through NIMS, unified training exercises and standards, etc.

We have one of the best "interoperability" exercises worldwide and have been doing so for decades: it's called Field Day. Amateur radio operators all over the globe prove they can make the best of the resources they have available to go as far as they can and contact as many others as possible.

Our governments throw billions of dollars at their toys pining to get to where we are as amateur radio operators. They are getting there (COM-L and COM-T training is a great stride at empowering them to make the best of their equipment) but the biggest limitation is their radio service (part 90) itself. You can't just "spin the dial" and plop down on any ol' part 90 frequency and mode you want to like we can in part 97 (within our license class of course). They have a LONG way to go to change the thinking, and I am sure a few trillion more of our tax money will get spent in the process.

But those governments also cannot get there buying equipment alone, it is only as valuable as the person using it. I live in a county who loves buying "stuff" that just sits around collecting dust.

Stuff is just stuff. People are the key. Interoperability is a state of mind.
 

kayn1n32008

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The value in the amateur radio service is not the equipment, equipment in the LMR world far surpasses any technology hams toy with.

What makes the amateur radio service more interoperable is the flexibility of the modes and bands available, and more importantly the operators themselves.

The operators are the ones who have the technical skills to create ad-hoc networks, choose the best path (e.g. mode, band, etc) for the task at hand. That can be digital mode of choice, analog FM, IP, HF, CW, satellite, HF, VHF, UHF or SHF.

At the end of the day, it is the people who have the willingness to talk to each other that set us apart. After all, most of us did get into radio as a hobby to push the technical limits, and talk to each other doing it!

Public safety is a much different animal. They are usually closed working groups who are hardwired NOT to want to be inclusive of others. The Feds are working hard to change this mentality through NIMS, unified training exercises and standards, etc.

We have one of the best "interoperability" exercises worldwide and have been doing so for decades: it's called Field Day. Amateur radio operators all over the globe prove they can make the best of the resources they have available to go as far as they can and contact as many others as possible.

Our governments throw billions of dollars at their toys pining to get to where we are as amateur radio operators. They are getting there (COM-L and COM-T training is a great stride at empowering them to make the best of their equipment) but the biggest limitation is their radio service (part 90) itself. You can't just "spin the dial" and plop down on any ol' part 90 frequency and mode you want to like we can in part 97 (within our license class of course). They have a LONG way to go to change the thinking, and I am sure a few trillion more of our tax money will get spent in the process.

But those governments also cannot get there buying equipment alone, it is only as valuable as the person using it. I live in a county who loves buying "stuff" that just sits around collecting dust.

Stuff is just stuff. People are the key. Interoperability is a state of mind.


I wish RR had a 'like' button. Very well said.



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W9BU

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To say that 2 separate ARES groups work a Comms failure for a county/province/state and talk to each other is interop, but who is the 'inter' of interop? They are both the same 'agency'(bad choice I know) so they communicate.
You seem to be defining interoperability as two completely different agencies being able to talk to each other. In other words, you seem to be saying that if a fire/rescue agency from one county talks to a law enforcement agency from another county, that's interoperability.

In the real world, that just doesn't seem to happen. The fire guys talk to the fire guys, The LE guys talk to the LE guys. Interoperability, from a technical standpoint, is when the fire guys from a county that uses conventional VHF repeaters can talk to the fire guys from another county that uses an 800 MHz P25 system. Interoperability, from an operations standpoint, is when the fire guys from two different counties that just happen to be across the state line from each other, can work together in spite of having different state certification standards, different training requirements, and different procedural norms. Sometimes it's as simple as "can I connect my hoses to your hydrants?"

All that said, if you take two ARES groups in different counties with different casts of characters, different leaderships, different levels of training, and different equipment brand loyalties, it's very likely that they will still be able to talk to each other. We have each other's frequencies programmed into our radios. We see each other at hamfests. We check into each other's nets. It's in our DNA to get along with each other (though that isn't always the case).

Interoperability isn't a technology, it's an attitude.
True. The interoperable attitude has to come first and it will drive us towards interoperable technology.

At the end of the day, it is the people who have the willingness to talk to each other that set us apart. ... Stuff is just stuff. People are the key. Interoperability is a state of mind.
Bingo!
 

Jay911

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You seem to be saying that if a fire/rescue agency from one county talks to a law enforcement agency from another county, that's interoperability.

In the real world, that just doesn't seem to happen.
That is exactly what my FD is now doing - by policy, at the LE agency's request - on all incidents they might want to respond to with us.
 

sloop

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Interoperability really applies to part 90 stations (gov./private agencies) not to part 97 amateur service. As a park ranger (fed.) my communications unit in my vehicle had not only the parks freq. but local sheriff/police, fire, and EMS. These freq. were programmed into our units so whenever an incident occurred I was able to communicate with those agencies on a common frequency (that is interoperability). If they needed to communicate with me they used one of the common freq. As a firefighter/EMT/HazMat responder in North Carolina, we also have a common frequency to talk on when incidents involved multiple jurisdictions/agencies. As much as we amateurs would like to think otherwise, we are authorized to operate only on part 97 freq. as amateurs. We are a tool in the arsenal under the Incident Command System. I find that sometimes there is a lot of confusion about our role in emergency communications, esp. when people start asking the 'what if' questions. If you really want to cloudy the issue more toss in the NITA regulations concerning transmitting equipment in the part 90 freq.
 

AgentCOPP1

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My job was to communicate with the hams assisting with the flood and be the person that coordinated any traffic that needed to be passed between the groups. I had a city/county official assigned to me and a national guard sergeant assigned to me. Our radios were placed where we all three could hear any traffic on any of them and could easily pass information or requests along as needed. This was rather efficient and helped to preserve the command structure from the various organizations.
That must have been a cool experience!

About you getting your own sergeant, I'm sure that was pretty cool haha. Last year when I volunteered to park airplanes at the Oshkosh, WI airshow, I was assigned the leader of a small squad of pre-boot camp military trainees (I'm so damn tired right now that I can't remember what that organization was called) acting as reserve manpower, so I was like YEAH POWER! Haha.
 

n5ims

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That must have been a cool experience!

About you getting your own sergeant, I'm sure that was pretty cool haha. Last year when I volunteered to park airplanes at the Oshkosh, WI airshow, I was assigned the leader of a small squad of pre-boot camp military trainees (I'm so damn tired right now that I can't remember what that organization was called) acting as reserve manpower, so I was like YEAH POWER! Haha.
It was quite an experience. I still remember my answer to a reporter that asked me what I was doing out on that cold night. I responded with "I'm helping to keep the streets safe to swim." I was a bit disappointed that my answer didn't make the paper though.
 
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