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Default [KB6NU] Some thoughts on public service events

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Some thoughts on public service events

Posted: 10 Jul 2016 05:18 AM PDT

More than 1,800 riders enjoyed One Helluva Ride yesterday.

Yesterday, our local club, ARROW, provided communications support for the
Ann Arbor Bicycle Touring Societys One Helluva Ride*(OHR). This was the
40th year of the ride, and it attracts more than 1,800 riders from
Southeast Michigan and surrounding states. ARROW has been providing
communications for this event for at least the last 20 years.

This ride covers more than 100 square miles, including a variety of
terrain. The repeater that we used, WD8IEL, on 145.45 MHz, provides good
coverage, but there are some spots from which communications is kind of

I worked the afternoon shift (noon 5 pm) as net control. Here are a few
observations on yesterdays operations:

A combination of cell phones and amateur radio allows us to serve riders
quickly. The Sag Vehicle*Coordinator put his cell phone number on all of
the maps, and riders were instructed to phone that number if they needed
assistance. He would then relay that information to me, and I would
dispatch a SAG vehicle to help the rider.
A good antenna and a little power is really important. For an operation
like this, mobiles need at least 50W and a 5/8 wavelength antenna.

The sag*vehicle that had the best signal had a 75 W radio and a*Diamond
SG7900A antenna. The SG7900A antenna is a 7/8 wave center fed on 2 meters
providing 5 dBi gain and a 3 x 5/8 wave center fed on 440 providing 7.6 dB
gain.Of course, this performance comes at a price. The SG7900A*is more than
five feet tall. At least once, the antenna hit a low-hanging branch and
knocked the antenna off vertical.
Classes net volunteers. Three of the 12 volunteers were graduates of my
one-day Tech courses. Its important to keep feeding the pipeline and
recruit new ops, not only for club membership, but to provide volunteers
for events like this.
It was fun. Events like this are part of the reason that we amateur radio
operators are allowed to get on the air, but the real reason to participate
in these events is because its fun. Youre not only helping people, but
learning about radios and antennas, and what works and what doesnt.
One way I tried to keep it fun is by not being a strict net control
operator. For example, we had one station located at a food stop about 20
miles from rides finish line. Since there really wasnt much for him to do
yesterday, he didnt call in at all, so Id call him occasionally and ask if
he was still breathing.
Even if youre a new ham, and perhaps dont have a 50W *radio, you should
volunteer for these events. Often, the public service coordinator can find
a radio and antenna for you to use. For example, since I was net control,
someone could have used my radio and mag-mount 5/8 wavelength antenna.

The post Some thoughts on public service events appeared first on KB6NUs
Ham Radio Blog.

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