Meeting notes

Because of Viadocalypse (viaduct-apocalyse), this month’s meeting took place at N. Seattle College.

We reviewed several things including:

  • the progress being made to make the new radio room ready, including the antenna work that had been done and the need to get the HF loop installed.
  • the 5th Saturday drill and some lessons learned from other departments
  • the Hwy 99 tunnel test (more detail in the previous article)
  • PSRG’s trial of DMR, currently on TX 440.775 / RX 445.775, Color code: 2 – Doug also mentioned that there will be some opportunities to learn more about DMR at the Comm Academy.
  • Monday’s multi-repeater net which will include; simplex UHF, DMR, MT63-2k, and a repeater.
  • a few updates that were made to the ICS-217 for incorrect labeling of some digital channels
  • new ACS badges! Rapid tag is now in effect which should provide us with faster check-in/out and better and easier reporting

One additional thing that came up was, if you were at the December 8th meeting at Discovery Park and you received an ACS “Go Drive”, you will need to update the ICS-217s on there as the offsets are incorrect. Delete the ones on the USB and replace them with ones in the Google Drive – link here

After the break, we heard from Lauren Paolini of AT&T about FirstNet. She reviewed how it came to be and explained the different tiers of users and the way AT&T can prioritize FirstNet users, not just over the new Band 14, but across all its bands. Generally speaking the Primary users, with the highest level of access will be Law enforcement, EMS, a Fire, or as Laura put it “Guns, needles, and hoses.” The next tier, “Extended Primary”, would consist of healthcare, utilities, transportation, etc

AT&T claims to have 78+% coverage across the country (2.74 million sq/miles) but also has 72 deployables to extend coverage or service an area that has lost it. Washington has 9 dedicated to the state, with 7 of those being stationed in North Bend.

They are also working on an “Enhance push-to-talk” that would be a radio-like bridge to existing LMR radios over their data network.

Many newer phones are capable of utilizing Band 14, so if you are interested, you can sign up for FirstNet through AT&T. Apparently, the service rates are quite competitive.

Finally, Scott Currie gave us a talk about APRS, what it can do and he’s utilized it at RAMROD. He demonstrated the software they use (APRSISCE/32) to keep track of the various moving vehicles required to support the ride.

If you weren’t able to join us this time, we hope to see you next time!

SR99 Tunnel Radio Project

If you’re like me, then you read every ACS email, in which case you also know we got to play with radios today and not just our own! We had about 30 people out today to assist with our SR99 testing project. Most of those being ACS members, but we were also supported by SFD and WSDOT. The task was to determine the range of effective communications of our radios in and through the new tunnel.

We were also loaned 800 MHz radios by SFD for the exercise. Our testing consisted of staging a ham every three-tenths of a mile for the entire 2.1-mile stretch, end to end on both the north and southbound lanes. We tested simplex frequencies on VHF, UHF, and 800 MHz.  We found that the higher frequencies had the best coverage. The 800 MHz radios were readable from start to finish, while 440 covered a majority of the length for HT’s with the standard “rubber ducky” antenna.

Overall, it was a fun afternoon despite the chills of the first day of Winter. Thanks to Franz (N3HFS) for the idea, everyone who assisted, and leadership for making it happen!