Saturday, May 2, 2009

Comm Support for GA Power MS Bike Ride

Members of CARS, ARCS, and Chatham County ARES provided communications support for the 2009 Georgia Power MS Bike Ride here in Savannah today. Many of us met this morning at our normal Saturday morning breakfast spot at 0600 and then moved on to our assigned locations along the route. Steve-K4SDJ was the Net Control Operator positioned downtown near the Start/Finish Line. And the rest of us were scattered all around Savannah along the 50+ mile route. Our primary task was to provide real time information from various points along the route back to the event staff. The weather was beautiful and everything ran very smoothly. Our participation in these events provides a great public service and gives us valuable experience operating in a controlled net environment.

Friday, May 1, 2009

High Sierra Sidekick Mobile HF Antenna Installation

Well, I recieved all the parts and pieces for my new HF Mobile antenna this week and have had a great time installing it over the last few afternoons. It's proven to be a little more involved than I expected and I'm still not finished! I did get all of the cabling and everything run, the antenna mounted and the radio installed in time to make a few contacts on Thursday evening. Very nice. First contact was to a station in Texas and then my first DX contact was to a station in Italy. SWR is great and everything seems to be operating well. Still got a bit of work to do to abate the RFI noise that I'm getting while the engine is running. I expect I'll need to do some more bonding and perhaps install a few chokes. Once I get all of that done then I can "pretty up " the installation and get everything looking good. Stay tuned for more updates and pictures.

Vidalia Onion Festival Airshow Radio Fun

Had a great time last Saturday at the Vidalia Onion Festival Airshow! Dan-KF4MND invited me and my family to come along with him and his family and make a day out of it. So Dan, Karen and Maggie, and me, Lori and Jackson met up in Reidsville on Saturday morning around 10:00 to caravan the remainder of the way to Vidalia. Of course Dan and I were communicating on simplex to coordinate our meeting. We decided that we would enhance our airshow experience with the use of several handhelds, a scanner, and a couple of FRS radios. As soon as we arrived at the airshow, Dan and I were tuning up the local frequencies. I had done some research a couple of days before to make sure I had an idea of what freqs to expect to hear something on and programmed my Pro-96 scanner accordingly. I also brought my VX-7R and my VX-2R which have wideband recieve and allow for monitoring of the airbands. Earlier in the week I performed the "freeband mod" on both radios primarily so that I could use them on FRS and talk to Lorie and Jackson. We quickly spotted the "airboss" who is the airshow coordinator for any airshow and is the primary hub for all communication to the air trafic. You can see some pictures below of thier setup. Since we weren't hearing the aircraft we decided to get some help. We went over to the airboss and found a guy that gave us the two frequencies that they were using to communicate with all the aircraft. Bingo! We were now in the loop. The guy that we talked to happened to be an active duty Air Force guy who was down from Robbins AFB and we had a good chat with him. Armed with the proper frequencies, we were now able to listen to all the activity. We even were able to listen in on the B-2 Bomber as it made it's way down from Whiteman AFB, MO. We first began hearing him talk to the airboss as he passed over Dublin, GA. What a treat to see the B-2 make three passes and be able to listen to the pilot. Using the radios sure added an awesome element to the whole airshow experience.

About midway thru the show, Jackson and I decided that would would take a flight on the Vietnam era Huey helicopter that the Army Aviation Heritage Foundation Sky Soldiers were offering. Jackson was excited and so was I! So we paid our money, signed our waivers, got our pre-flight briefing, and off we went. It was about a 10 minute flight and worth every penny. I had my VX-7R with me and made contact with Dan on the ground. He suggested giving the 146.970 Savannah repeater a try since I was up and had some good altitude. I thought, heck yeah! So I made a call and contacted Mark-KD4PDX in Savannah as an aeronautical mobile. What fun.

Of course Dan and I were both monitoring the local Vidalia 2 meter repeater and had made contact with a couple of local HAMs and found out that they had the Toombs County EMA mobile communication unit there at the show. So naturally we had to go check it out. We met up with Bill-KG4BKO and got a nice tour of the unit. You can see a few pictures below.

So after an awesome day in Vidalia, we packed it up and went our seperate ways very satisfied with our experience. Takes so much to Karen and Lorie for endulgeing us as we "played radio" most of the day! Looking forward now to the Beaufort airshow in a few weeks.

You can see more pictures on the W4LHS Yahoo Group or on my Facebook page.