Its been a busy couple of days but all the planning for Friday’s Amateur Radio Demonstration for the Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria Ontario is finally complete Today some of us are heading out to do some last minute equipment checks and then we will be set for the demo…
We will be showing them that Amateur Radio can communicate between Alexandria and Ottawa using the following modes:
VHF FM Analog communications- using two different 2m repeaters. One located in Ontario and one located in Quebec. We were fortunate to find two repeaters that were within range of both Alexandria Ontario and Ottawa. Having one in each province narrows the risk of a power failiure taking both off the air. If you think back to the blackout of a few years back Ontario was knocked off the grid but Hydro Quebec was up and running.
APRS Text Messaging- As proven by those of you who “ Tweet ” there is a lot you can say in a short line if you think about what you say. The APRS Structure in the area is fairly robust and Alexandria is close enough to the other areas they would want to talk to that they would not need IGATES and could easily reach each other using the standard WIDE 2-1 settings. This could easily augment the VHF FM Analog Repeaters
HF NVIS (40m)- The oldest mode and most mis understood. The bands are the most dependable they have been in years and I know some of you would disagree with that but… Because this is not an exercise, or a test but a demonstration of methods we will show it as well.
As some of you know the “Coles Notes” principal of Near Vertical Incident Skywave (NVIS) is really just lowering your 40m or 80m antenna to a suitable height (close to the ground but high enough not to take off hats or heads) which does the following. First it lowers your noise and the signals coming in. Second it shortens your “first hop”. What this means is that it uses the ground beneath your antenna to bounce your signal more straight up causing it to bounce back and as it bounces more straight up in then bounces more straight back in effect shortening the first bounce which makes it more suitable for contacts in a closer area. Now to you technical types out there please no flames… I did say the above was a quick and dirty version of what has been the subject of many different technical papers…
The plan is to set up a NVIS Station in Alexandria and a Receiving Station in Ottawa and if the bands work we should be able to contact each other on 40m. At least like I said ” Thats the plan…” Given the fact that 40m is usually “long” at that time of the day I am hoping we will be able to shorten the first hop enough to communicate but we won’t know till we try…
DSTAR Digital Voice
This is the “Dark Horse” in the demo as to be painfully honest I have never really looked at DSTAR seriously before and so I will be seeing it for the first time during this demo. But it meets the criteria and Alexandria is 20 miles away both from the DSTAR Repeater in Rigaud QC and the DSTAR Repeater in Cornwall Ontario. And through the DSTAR network they could reach the DSTAR Repeater in Ottawa. So once again they have a repeater on both power grids which increases their chances of staying on the air in an natural emergency situation. In addition the DSTAR radios can also work in Analog mode so the same repeaters we used in the VHF Analog test could be used as backup.
Now there also is a Digital Data mode as well they can use but I know little about it. I’m not sure if thats a simplex only mode or if they can pass data between two station on the repeater network.
Above map shows Ottawa (major hosptials), Hawksbury Ont, (region hospital), Rigaud QC (DSTAR site) and Cornwall Ontario (regional hospital and DSTAR site)- Its not an overly large area to communicate within.
Now before you start telling me that the DSTAR Network does need an internet connection remember that the Alexandria Hospital might have to need to talk to other local hospitals (Cornwall – Hawksbury) in Ontario and those would be in straight repeater coverage on the DSTAR System and not needed the internet.
Yes I agree that for either repeater (Rigaud or Cornwall) to reach Ottawa the DSTAR network would need to access the internet… Like I said its a demo.
So back to the demo itself… We will have stations at the hospital in Alexandria and we will have stations in Ottawa on the the different frequencies and modes… If all goes according to plan they will be able to communicate and the Demo will showcase our talents to the Hospital Administration. After the demo the Hospital Admistration will meet up with the Stomount, Dundas and Glengarry ARES people and start the process of getting the hospital “Radio Active” so to speak. The demo brought all concerned to the same place at the same time which has speeded up the process to allow SDG ARES group to assist their new communications partner.
As I mentioned earlier this is not an exercise, this is not a test… This is a demo…. It proves to us what works or what does not…
There will be much more on this topic in the next few weeks (after this Fridays DEMO)