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System Design Coms and GPS Tracking Ski Patrol

kwsanders

Newbie
Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
2
Small ski patrol with limited budget.

Current system: Business FCC license. 30 year old single UHF analog repeater with a 50ft tower, base station dispatcher, and 20 old handheld radios on the mountain at one time. Coverage is currently good. Limited cellular service on mountain. Internet available only where the dispatcher and repeater are located.

Money: Plus minus 10k. Less is better. Willing to purchase additional FCC licenses as needed.

Goal: Same arrangement as above but with a new repeater, base station and handhelds AND the ability for the dispatcher to have a detailed computer map showing the exact location of each ski patroller on the mountain updated say every 60 sec. Man down trigger for safety would be nice. Remain FCC compliant. Need to continue to be able to communicate with 4 other on mountain services via their UHF analog repeaters.

Thoughts: Please forgive my limited knowledge and likely incorrect statements. Please correct me, I want to learn. New analog or DMR repeater. Base station radio tied via modem (TNC-X or software version) into a computer with map software with APRS type capabilities. Use low cost radios such as Anytone 878 with GPS and APRS type features. Now the dispatcher can see where each patroller is on a digital computer map.

Questions:
1. Would something like the above work? Better ideas? Can't afford Mototrbo type system. We are trying to help people while having limited funds.
2. Can we stay analog? Other on mountain repeaters are analog. Simplicity. Good coverage in trees at present. Pros/cons switching to digital (dreams of two connected repeaters someday for expanded coverage).
3. I don't know what equipment to use. Good map software? Good modem software? Good repeater options? Base station radio? Radio to computer cable? Anytone 878?
4. Staying FCC compliant. Repeaters Ident but other things we needed to do? Programming part 90 Anytone radios for GPS/APRS features? We are not ham operators. GMRS is on the mountain as well (may be irrelevant). I have looked at SARTrack as a pseudo tracking option for us. They talk about FCC commercial limitations for APRS typically done in the ham realm that I don't fully understand (https://www.sartrack.co.nz/HowtoTrackyourTeams.html) .
5. How many frequencies do we need to do this? Number of repeaters? Good to have GPS data on VHF and continue voice on UHF? Yep I really have limited knowledge.
6. I really don't understand the nuances of using a GPS APRS / AX-25 comms designed in the ham world in a private non internet connected commercial world. Seems like everyone pays the huge Mototrbo type system prices to do this when a good DIY could accomplish something similar. Am I totally off base?



Thank you for any guidance and suggestions! Kyle
 

blantonl

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This is something near and dear to my heart, as I'm an avid skier, and also a business partner and property homeowner on a ski resort in Montana.

I would tell you that given the conditions that patrollers work under, you doing a "good DIY" solution isn't a good approach. You are going to spend more time and effort trying to engineer something that is going to frustrate your patrollers and dispatcher (and you) and not provide good long term value. Patrollers don't have time to dick around with radio issues - they are either busy putting up bamboo, doing early morning avy work, sledding someone down, or tackling a myriad of other responsibilities.

Kenwood has excellent, affordable handhelds that provide GPS fleet services on single channel UHF NXDN solutions, although I believe that any solution under 10K isn't feasible. you probably should reach out to a sales specalist there and get some quotes on what it would actually cost. If you REALLY want GPS capabilities, you're going to want an integrated solution from one of these TRBO/NXDN vendors and just bite the bullet on the cost.

 

Firebuff880

Member
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Aug 28, 2006
Messages
442
Location
Boynton Beach, FL
@kwsanders

We have been doing this for major Ski resorts for a couple of years now. Our solution uses Motorola MOTOTRBO systems, Motorola Wave PTX solutions and an LTE Tracker all feeding into Esri via enterprise GeoEvent or ArcGIS online via Velocity. We also have an implementation that feeds a Google Map via a portal for Last Know Location for a scout camp situation.

There is no good "cheap" way to do this safely as Lindsay said, however if the area already has an Esri license you are part way there.

You should look at the Smart Mountain solution - SmartMountain - Earth Analytic Inc. One of things we feed Location Reports to.

Also the presentations from Esri's UC2020 on the Telluride Solutions -

Happy to talk offline if you want --
 

kwsanders

Newbie
Joined
Nov 17, 2021
Messages
2
Thoughts are much appreciated. Would love to have access to a Kenwood type system and Telluride's money! Our grants for systems have failed bc we are not public service and being a necessary evil on the mountain, ie money loser, dollars are not free flowing. Sounds like we are best giving up on GPS and simply do a low cost analog upgrade under our 10k budget. Simple tracker devices that are not built into radios? Problem is limited cellular. I was so hoping a team with more time than money could construct something for the added safety and increase response times. Regards, Kyle
 

kb2ztx

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Jul 29, 2012
Messages
837
Location
South West Virginia
As said I dont think you can do this for the 10K budget. However you may be able to start moving that way with a MotoTrbo repeater and new handhelds with GPS. Down the road work to add mapping. I dont think the cost between analog and digital is really that much at this point.
 

Firebuff880

Member
Joined
Aug 28, 2006
Messages
442
Location
Boynton Beach, FL
@kwsanders

I completely understand the budget issue, and building a repeater site on the mountain can be interesting if not outrageous, in terms of dollars do to access constraints.

But even with all the costs involved in a good / clean digital solution for your teams. The potential saving from law suits, if there is just one incident with a negative outcome, can usually more than offset the dollars of doing it right.

Include your safety and risk management teams into your conversations if you have not already done so -

PS: six months ago you could probably have put together a good solution with quality used / refurbished DMR hardware. But due to today's supply chain issues, like everything else in our lives, this equipment has suffered from inflation pressure.
 

dazey77

Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2015
Messages
122
Considered Hytera? They have some serious business issues in USA but they may come in priced under Moto.

I wouldn't suggest the 878, too difficult to lock them down to be simple to use (I have one for ham use). With Moto or Hytera you can have non-display radios for simple users and display radios for others.

You could even run a SFR repeater (UK price about £1000 for a MD785 (MD782 in US) full duplex with SFR licence) which would be cheaper than the full repeater.

Standard repeater RD985 £1400 (RD982 in US)

You would pay for dispatcher services but you could just ping radios from the base station to get locations.

GPS no-display handsets
PD605G is £280 (PD602 in US)
PD705G is £300 (pd702G in US)

(This is all DMR with GPS info on the same UHF frequencies)
 
Last edited:

blantonl

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San Antonio, TX
Here's something to check out if you want to experiment with a DIY solution:

 
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