As a follow up to my tool box story earlier in the week, there is a question!
What is in your tool box?
Now, the reference is to your Emergency Preparedness/Public Service Communication Equipment!
This can be narrowed down to a county or regional (adjacent county(s) incidents, in which several common modes of communication have failed or not available.
Including cell service, internet and public service digital systems.
While I have procrastinated for several years now to create a formal go-kit/box, much of my equipment is here and ready for use, 80% of the time.
A drill last weekend showed me that was indeed not sufficient, as a serial-to-usb converter that was needed for a connection to my packet radio was missing in the laptop bag. Seems it was in the other laptop back that was at work. Why? Well, I had acquired another similiar laptop which was being formatted for my go-kit (per-se) and I had not completed merging both set-ups.
In preparation, I had also failed to charge 2 of 3 my ht’s, that were still packed from the last event in Bandera! Luckily, the 3rd HT had a spare battery which was fully charged.
Now, this was in preparation to deploy to a fixed station, that was for the most part supposedly ready to activate, although lacking a second laptop for VHF-UHF packet, while the laptop that was there was connected to the Winmor station.
Anyway, as a Amateur Radio operator, I am pretty much set for the standard stuff:
VHF Packet Radio, Laptop and TNC (although this one has developed an low audio issue)
VHF/UHF HT’s – several, although it helps to keep the batteries at full charge
And a variety of antenna’s, coax and army still poles to elevate them.
HF Radio and 40/75 dipole (although I am now convinced that portable capabiliy in bands from 10 – 30 are badly needed)
Now for the non-standard stuff:
HT’s that are programmed to cover all the personal non-licensed frequency’s:
–GMRS: I know, one is supposed to be licensed here, but the bubble pack user do not comply and the FCC is refusing to do anything about it and when the SHTF, the FCC is not going to complain.
– MURS: both the color dot frequency’s and the narrow band 3.
- Citizens Band/CB/11-meters: Yes, this wasteland of frequency’s has a large role in community communications when the SHTF. FEMA, MARS, Citizen Corps, and the list goes on has proven this, and one should be in everyone’s tool box. I personally used the CB in my truck several years ago during major flooding in Kansas to coordinate with a local ARES team for a Airlife extraction of a pregnant woman that was in labor and we were stuck between 2 flooded tributaries. The further north you go, the more they still believe in the value of the old CB.
– in the construction process – deployable Broadband-Hamnet nodes (5 planned), micro server with VOiP capability among other things.
- the 10×10 pop-up with a wall kit – quick portable station set-up and shelter
- 6 man tent – may need somewhere to sleep
- various battery’s (which need to organized better)
- portable gas heater,
- small and large propane bottles
- various security and defensive items (will not delve into the details as those tend to cause bickering)
- and other personal items.
And most if not all of this equipment gets used for community service events, to make sure it works, and to continue to learn how to use it, and fix it, or work around it when it breaks.
So, what is in your tool box?
A recent conversation/situation made me think about some things.
In my day job as a Diesel Truck/Heavy Equipment Technician, I drive a Dodge 3/4 ton truck with a service/tool bed on it. There are 3 compartments on each side with various shelving and such.
My tools are compartmentalized for the most part, with the tools I use the most in the center drivers side, mostly for lighter duty work of various complexities.
The front box on the drivers side are my heavier duty sockets, rackets, and wrenches. Also my various sprays and cleaners.
The rear drivers side box are pry bars, breaker bars, hammers, and large crescent and pipe wrenches.
In the boxes on the other side are separated by air tools, electrical and diagnostic tools, oils, air hoses, and of course one that is packed with various items left over and pack ratted for odd reasons that come in really handy sometimes.
Anyway, one evening on the way home, had to make a pit stop at Home Depot, so I locked the compartments in case someone decided they needed my tools worse than I did.
The next morning, the boss called kinda early. We had a regular customers truck broke down on I-10 and I had to get there quick to replace some airlines. Out the door I go without my usual key, phone, wallet check before leaving the driveway.
Get to the location of the broken down truck and checked out the situation. I knew parts were already enroute as the driver did a good job of describing the issue. Went to get the correct wrenches for the job and …. and … crud, the doors are locked on the boxes and the keys …. well, they were on the nightstand at home.
It is too far back to the house to get the keys, the parts driver is already enroute and a couple of miles away, and I do not have the correct tools. Out comes the leatherman, as I know the front compartment lock can easily be jimmied. Remember, this is the compartment with the heavy duty stuff.
Just so happens for some reason a 7/8″ wrench was in there and a pair of channel locks. Guess they were tossed in there from a rush to get packed up and head home one day. And my leatherman.
After a little longer than it should have taken, the job was done, the truck was on the road, and I was cutting back roads to the house to get the missing keys, as my next job site was not far from home.
A truck loaded with several thousands of dollars in tools, and the right ones were not within reach, but the job got done.
In our lives as Emergency and Public Service communicators we find ourselves sometimes without the right tools for the job, but we have others that will work with a little bit of thought.
We strive to be prepared for the next situation, even if we do not know how simple or complex the task will be.
We think after having done the same event for 12 years, that we have everything loaded not only for our station, but some spares for the others in case they forget something.
We think after numerous Nets, Training courses, drills, and actual deployments that we are prepared for anything the Emergency Manager or Incident Commander can throw at us.
We think we have a plan for everything, but then the unthinkable happens!
The keys get left at home, the antenna is missing, a special cable is missing for a plug-and-play connection, or you find out that your trusty always good to go radio has a issue and will not power up.
Survey what we do have, determine what is needed to correct, and execute!
For every situation, there is a solution, a fix, a workaround in that tool box of ours.
To many times I see people vapor lock over not having the perfect solution, only to find that the solution is right in front of them..
While written and verbal plans are great, and preparation to the max is fantastic, one thing we must also be, and that is flexible and tolerant! Being not so rigid that if there is a minor or major malfunction, we still have the flexibility to succeed in the task.
We must always remember, that the most important tool in our tool box, is sitting on our shoulders!
The tool that makes all the other tools function, good or bad, to get the job done!
Thanks for reading! Not real sure what drove me to put these thoughts into words on the internet, but hopefully I will sleep good tonight knowing that these same thoughts are now floating in someone else’s head! LOL! And by the way, there is now a second tool box key ring for the trucks ignition and one in a hidden cubby hole. LOL!
(Note: there is a couple of slight edit’s from the original post that was created.)
L. Upton – K5STX
HAMSter Weak Signal Net
0:00 UTC / 6:pm Central Time
The HAMster Amateur Radio group is about promoting this exciting area of our hobby from 50 Mhz to 1296 Mhz. The goal is to bring Experienced Weak Signal Operators and Weak Signal “rookies” together. To encourage and promote weak signal operations, contest activity and contact weekends.
Our weekly net has enjoyed checkin’s through out San Antonio, and Kerrville, Alice, Nixon, Houston, Cureo, Dallas, Schertz, Boerne, Seguin.
Let’s keep expanding that coverage areas
If you have not yet experienced the thrill of making contacts, 700, 1000, 1400 miles on 2 meters and up, or daily 2 meter and up contacts of 100, 200 and 300 miles….then you are not operating Weak Signal SSB.
The HAMSter group is about experiencing those thrills and encouraging and promoting others to learn more about this exciting aspect of our hobby. Read the rest of this entry »
Save The Date!
HT Rodeo sponsored by ARES will be held April 19,2014!
Charge your HT Batteries, but otherwise, there will be no charge for this event!
This is an all day event with HT competitions in the morning and training sessions in the afternoon.
FREE picnic lunch included! Prizes! More details to follow regarding location and RSVP.
Ruth Lewis KE5MHJ
Bexar County ARES EC
The class will be an entry level Test Equipment Class. This class is for newcomers to amateur radio or old timers that just want to learn how to use test equipment, the tests and how they can apply to us as hams. Our equipment list includes but is not limited to:
- Digital VOM Fluke
- Analog VOM Simpson 206
- Oscilloscope 20 mHz Tektronix
- 30 Amp Power Supply
- Motorola Signal Generator
- Elecraft RF Signal Source
- MFJ-259 / 269
We will explore capacitors, resistors, diodes and ohms law! There will be lots of “hands on” activity in this class! Bring some paper, pen or pencils, and a calculator with you. This information will help you understand the Ham Radio hobby, and might even help you better understand the questions on the Extra Class test as well.
Hams are needed to help coordinate medical communications for the 2014 Alamo City Run Fest being held on Sunday, March 2, 2014, in downtown San Antonio, Texas. They have multiple routes ranging to as long as a 1/2 marathon (13.2 miles), with about 9 medical stations scattered around the various courses. The routes all start and end at the Alamo Dome. See http://www.alamocityrunfest.com/Course-Maps.html for copies of the route maps.
Radio Communications for this event are being coordinated by MaryAnn N5NYM and Royce KA5OHJ. They are asking for more help. This was (as usual) a sort of last minute decision that the “professional skilled services” of the amateur radio community would help make this event safer for the participants. Hopefully, the ham community will once more rise to the challenge and help make that statement true.
We have lots of skilled communicators in our group of active hams, and it’s time to step up and do it again. Besides, the past couple of months without any major events has been boring, right?
Please contact Royce KA5OHJ at 210-707-8125 to volunteer or to get more info.
March 15 and 16th 2014
Hill Country State Natural Area – Bandera, TX
2 day Equestrian Endurance Competition
Hill Country REACT and other area Amateur Radio Operators will be providing radio, safety and tracking support for this event. Typically participation is 75 – 100 riders/horses.
The events typically start around 07:30 hrs and we are usually in from the field around 15:00 hrs, sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Lunch and Dinner will be provided both days.
We have 5 positions to monitor throughout the event and provide tracking information back to net control. Comms is typically 2 meter simplex, so a mobile/portable unit with 20 watts or more and possibly a elevated antenna for 2 positions will be suggested.
This is a fun event and volunteer appreciation amongst the event management and participants is great.
Camping is available at the Chapa’s Group Camp which is the event central.
We could use a few more operators to fill some slots and enjoy the great Texas Hill Country.
Contact Louis – K5STX at k5stx at k5stx dot net to volunteer or get more information.
Note: I you have previously told me you were not available and I have replied back, Thank You!
Technician Class Ham Radio Course
When: Saturday, February 22 and March 1, 2014. 9 AM till 5 PM. Examination will be administered at approximately 3 PM on Saturday, March 1, 2014.
Cross Church Fellowship Hall
314 H Bauer Street, Seguin, 78155
Cost: $15 for the examination. If you wish to obtain the study guide, approximately $21.00 (Strongly recommended), it is “Technician Class Study Guide” by Gordon West. (Available locally) Please start studying ASAP.
- $200 – Timewave DSP 599zx
- $500 – HAM IV - CD45 Controller Computer Control with Brake Delay and Release. 75 ft 8-conductor cable, Bottom Pole Mount Bracket
- $50 – KPC 3 8.2fw
- $100 – KPC 9612 9.1fw
- $100 – 220 5 Elem MYA2205
- $100 – 220 5 Elem MYA2205
- $50 – 220 3 Elem MYA2203
- $60 – WRT54g-TM w/dd-wrt same as gl but with 32MB memory
- $60 – WRT54g-TM w/dd-wrt same as gl but with 32MB memory