Seattle ACS and MST Annual Meeting

Curt Black, WR5J

Curt Black, WR5J

Please join us for Western Washington Medical Services Team and Seattle Auxiliary Communications Service’s annual meeting and holiday lunch. Our keynote speaker will be Curt Black, WR5J and he will present “Lighthouse Activations and RAMROD Data from the Backcountry: Outdoor Radio as Training for Emergency Communicators”

Date
Saturday December 12, 2015
Time
10:30 AM (doors open), 11:00 AM (meeting begins) 11:30 AM (lunch)
Location
Seattle Public Utilities Operations Facility, 2700 Airport Way S (Please park across Airport Way in the parking lot.)

Overview of Curt’s presentation:

The “Big One” is coming. Hurricane force winds and freezing weather periodically and historically paralyze our region. We are one bird flu sneeze away from a pandemic. Reasons abound to motivate you to prepare to support your community as a member of the amateur radio service. Luckily, as a ham, there are many activities where emergency-preparedness practice can be combined with great pleasure and reward.

Lighthouse on Patos Island in the San Juan Islands (Curt Black, WR5J)

Lighthouse on Patos Island in the San Juan Islands (Curt Black, WR5J)

Campsite and Portable Station on Patos Island (Curt Black, WR5J)

Campsite and Portable Station on Patos Island (Curt Black, WR5J)

For many years in August, Curt Black has established up a multi-band, multi-mode, multi-station amateur radio installation on Patos Island in the San Juan Islands. The event is International Lighthouse and Lightship Weekend organized by some hams in Scotland. It is a relaxed event where contacts are made with stations all over the globe, many operating from famous lighthouses or lightships. Patos Island is the northern-most island in the San Juans. Its lighthouse has shone for the last 122 years. It is as quiet, from an RF perspective, as a site can be. It is a nearly perfect place to practice emergency-style radio.

Hams operate from a mix of generator, battery and solar power. The team uses voice, CW and a range of digital modes including messaging with RMS Express and WINMOR. The crew works all bands from 160m through 70cm which provide wonderful opportunity to experiment with many antenna designs and implementations. Multiple radios are located on the same picnic table and this has required the team to establish practices to minimize interstation interference. Many of these practices and approaches are suitable for hams preparing for emergency communications or other events such as field day. A journey to an island is much like a deployment in an emergency: If you don’t bring “it” you won’t have “it”. That reinforces the practice of setting up everything in a practice setting and tracking exactly how many feedlines, adapters, jumpers, switches, and which tools and repair items are useful and which are unneeded. The challenge is to bring just the backups appropriate for every component and every failure mode.

For the last several years Curt has been involved with the digital side of another event: The Ride Around Mount Rainier in One Day, RAMROD. This 158 mile, 10,000 foot climb by 800 cyclists in July each year. The ride is a logistical wonder with 100 volunteers feeding and safely stewarding the cyclists around the mountain. From the communications side, the mountain itself is the primary challenge. Massive glacier fed rivers have sculpted the course into deep valleys and knife-edged ridges. To provide continuous coverage many voice subnets are established on VHF and UHF to keep food trucks, SAG vehicles, mechanics, ambulances and event organizers all moving relentlessly and safely to the finish line. On the data side, each rider is equipped with an RFID tag on their required helmet. Riders pass under readers located around the course and the data collected on tag number and time is relayed back to the Start/Finish. Data stations range from the Start/Finish Line in Enumclaw to the Nisqually River Park Entrance (deep, narrow, bending canyon) to Backbone Ridge on the opposite side of the mountain, to Cayuse Pass – a tiny triangle intersection of major roadways with minimal room for large HF antennas. The event organizers have a bias for attempting to use frequencies and equipment within the amateur radio service for communication.

In his talk, Curt will look at logistical and operational challenges specific to operating from distant mountain ridges or islands. He will discuss tactics for successful operations and how they transfer directly to emergency communicators and dire communications scenarios.

Please join us to hear about these topics; it should be fun and informative.

Curt Black, WR5J, recently retired from many years of service in the US Environmental Protection Agency, he is a resident of West Seattle, lectures and conducts field seminars on the life and habitat of bats and enjoys and is active in many organizations and events associated with amateur radio including: West Seattle Amateur Radio Club (Vice President), Seattle ACS (Senior Radio Operator), Red Cross Communications Team, Puget Sound Digital Hams/Washington Digital, active in many contests and ham community events.

Curt’s contact information: 206-755-4541 cell, wr5j@arrl.net