Monday, October 25, 2010
I drove out to Doug’s house in Rincon arriving around 1015. We loaded up in Doug’s truck and headed over to Statesboro to pick up the GA Baptist Comm Unit 5C which we keep stored at the Statesboro Bulloch County Airport. The Ogeechee River Baptist Association sponsors the communications unit and worked it out with the airport for us to store the unit under one of their open hangers. We arrived at the airport around 1130 and checked in with airport personnel. After checking out the tires, lights, and such we hitched up Doug’s Dodge Ram to the trailer and pulled out.
After a brief stop at Subway for a sandwich we were on the road toward Norman Park. We decided to drive down through Claxton, Baxley then Alma where headed east traveling through Douglas, Ocilla, and Tifton before arriving at the Georgia Baptist Conference Center in Norman Park, GA. We pulled in right around 1600. Plenty of daylight left so we scouted out a place to setup the unit and got it unhitched for the truck.
Doug and I checked in and received our rooms keys, agenda, and assorted paperwork for the conference. Now that we were all checked in we went back out to the comm unit and setup the local repeater frequencies in our 2 meter and 70 cm radios and got some comm checks. Then decided to go ahead and put together a 40 m hamstick dipole and put it up on a mast to give it a try. Got it up and operational and coordinated to try and make contact with Mac-KF4LMT in Brunswick. Conditions were not the best but we did manage to contact Mac. Satisfied with things, we went ahead and broke down the antenna and closed up the unit for the night.
Getting hungry by now so we decided to head over to Moultrie and grab a bite to eat at Zaxby’s. Doug’s GPS and my GPS were not exactly in agreement on how to get to Zaxby’s and we ended up calling to get directions. After chow we headed back to Norman Park to get some sleep.
Friday morning we met the rest of the attendees in the cafeteria for some breakfast. After breakfast we gathered in the conference room for our Unit Director Roundtable. Unit Directors from around the state who have responsibility for supporting, maintaining, and operating the various feeding units, cleanup and recovery units, shower units, supply units, and comm units met to provide updates on their ministry area and to discuss future activities. The roundtable finished up around 1600.
At 1700 everyone gathered for a Volunteer Appreciation Dinner with entertainment. Good food and fellowship. At 1930 each ministry area broke out into various sessions to provide Phase 2 training to Disaster Relief volunteers. Larry-W4WLT led our session with three HAMs going thru the training. In addition to Doug and me, we also had Horace and Ed representing Communications Unit 14C which is positioned up in North Georgia. We were able to spend a little time in the comm unit before shutting down for the night around 2100.
Saturday morning came early with breakfast at 0700. Then we all met at the comm unit at 0800 and began the Phase 2 training and unit familiarization training. Larry kicked things off and then handed it over to me and Doug to carry on. Doug gave instruction on providing external power to the unit and walked the team through the power up sequence. Once powered up, I walked the guys through the contents of the unit including radios, antennas, and all of the various support equipment. We also walked through typical use of the unit when deployed to the scene of a disaster. The guys were very attentive and asked lots of great questions.
Once everyone felt comfortable with the layout of the unit, we set up the same 40m hamstick dipole that Doug and I used the night before. We let the guys put the mast and antenna together and then we put the analyzer on it and made a few adjustments to bring the SWR down. We connected the antenna to the HF radio and Jonah tuned up to the South CARS net and began to try and check in using the call sign of the unit, N4GBC. The band was in very good shape and the noise floor was very low. While Jonah manned the HF radio, we brought up the VHF and UHF radio up and tested to the local repeaters again. We raised a local HAM, Tom who was in Moultrie. Tom said he would come by and visit us later in the morning.
I contacted Mac-KF4LMT back in Savannah on the phone and asked him if he could meet us on 40m. He was all too happy to oblige and we had a great QSO. Jeff and Jonah were about to chat with Mac as well as they got familiar with the Kenwood HF radio.
As the morning progressed we received a call from Mike-KE4FGF on the local repeater. Mike said he was heading over to visit with us after having breakfast in Moultrie with some fellow HAMs. Mike is the SEC for the GA ARES program and we were very happy to have him coming over to see us. Right about the time Mike arrived so did Tom James-W4TBJ, his wife Theresa-KJ4NBG, son Tommy-KJ4SWI and daughter Taylor. Had a great visit with all of them and enjoyed showing them around the comm unit. Tom and Theresa expressed interest in joining the disaster relief ministry and we gave them info on the next Phase 1 training to be held in Waycross on Jan 15th.
As 1130 rolled around, we began to break down the unit and stow everything so that we could meet the other ministries for lunch in the cafeteria. We said so long to Mike, Tom, and Theresa as well as Horace and Doug who decided to get an early start back to North Georgia. It was a very successful session and I think we all benefitted greatly.
Had lunch with everyone else at noon then hooked the trailer back up to Doug’s truck and pulled out of Norman Park just before 1300. Took the same route back to Statesboro and on the way talked to Dan-KF4MND on 2 meters as we passed by Glennville. Got to Statesboro around 1600 and stowed the unit at the airport. Another hour to Doug’s place in Rincon to pick up my truck and I was on the way back to Savannah. I was home around 1800 or so. What a great trip.
Learn more about our ministry at http://www.georgiabears.com/.