Friday, January 28, 2011

Jan 28, 2011 D-Star Airborne Exercise

Chatham County ARES participated in a short notice D-Star exercise this morning. Mac-KF4LMT got the word from Steve-W4SKB who is the DEC for Georgia State Patrol that there would be an exercise to transmit some aerial photographs from an aircraft flying over Savannah and Brunswick to the SOC in Atlanta via the KJ4GGV D-Star repeater in Pembroke. So we got permission to participate here in Chatham County and we decided it would be a good idea to operate from the Chatham EMA EOC to show the D-Star capability. Steve-K4SDJ and I arrived at the EOC around 0945 and began to set things up.  We reported in to Dustin Hetzel and Jennifer Rodriguez who are two of the Emergency Management Specialists at CEMA that we work closely with. 

I brought my Icom ID-800H radio and connected to the EOC dual band antenna. Steve brought along his D-Star DV Dongle and setup his laptop to connect to the D-Star Network. Once I had the radio ready, I made a call thru the KJ4GGV repeater to John-WB4QDX at the SOC in Atlanta. John came back with a good copy and gave us an update on the aircraft. He said they had left Briscoe Field in Gwinnett County around 0900 and should be in the Savannah area by 1100. Steve-K4SDJ got a good comm check on the DV Dongle as well.

We also established contact with Steve-W4KSB and Jim-WB4NWS who were manning the ARES station-WX4GMA, at the SOC. Once the aircraft and Scott-KF4PWI, were in range of the repeater in Pembroke we began to her him on the frequency. Scott was using a Icom D-Star handheld running 5 watts from the aircraft. We had a great copy on the aircraft during the entire time they were in the area. Unfortunatley there seems to be a problem with the 23cm D-Star repeater as they were unable to establish a data downlink from the Icom ID-1 transciever in the aircraft. John-WB4QDX tried to bounce the gateway with no luck. Looks like the photo download will have to wait for another trip. The airborne HAMs decided to fly on down to Brunswick and land to grab some lunch before heading back to Atlanta.

In the meantime, Joey-NC4D told John-WB4QDX that he would be happy to go to the repeater site and help to troubleshoot before the next attempt. We will provide an ID-1 transciever here in Savannah to test the data link with when the time comes. Even though things didn't quite work out as planned because of the repeater, it was still a productive exercise for us to participate in.  While we were at the EOC we went ahead and did our routine monthly comm checks on the CEMA equipment.  Steve-K4SDJ and I secured the radio station at the EOC, debriefed the CEMA staff and headed home.

Looking forward to troubleshooting and testing the 23cm D-Star repeater and preparing for the next exercise.

Guy McDonald, K4GTM
DEC Southeast District
Georgia ARES

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Started New Amateur Radio License Class

We started a new amateur radio license class here in Savannah on Jan 25th.  Kevin-KW4B and I are teaching another Technician class.  I think we have a total of 28 registered and we had around 24 in attendance last night!  That's a pretty big class.  We have students from a wide range of backgrounds.  From teachers to students to engineers to healthcare workers to retirees.  In fact two of my own harmonics (children) are in the class!  Charlotte who is 15 and Jackson who is 13.  I can't wait till they get thier license! 

Most folks seem to be interested in the emergency communications aspect of amateur radio.  Pretty good reason.  In addition to teaching the students what they need to know to pass the FCC license exam, we will also expose them to all of the various facets of our hobby.

Can't wait till next week to dive into Electricity, Components, and Circuits.