Special Stage Forums banner

21 - 32 of 32 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I'm both an amateur radio operator and use radio communications as part of my regular job. I was volunteering at Rocky and we had some serious issues at one point which I'm not sure whether they were malicious interference/inadvertent "sitting on the mic", or impending repeater failure. The repeater owner mentioned earlier in the day that the repeater's batteries had issues.

The typical options for time-out timers for ham radios are far too long in my opinion. My professional radios' timers are 30, 60, and 90 seconds. My ham rig's options are 1 minute or 3 minutes. Yes, on a regular "rag chew" it would not be unreasonable for someone to tie up a repeater for over a minute, but for purposes of a rally net, transmissions shouldn't be longer than 30 seconds at a time, IMO.

I can understand the trepidation for publishing the radio info, because I have been to some of the same crisis situations that Keith refers to, and broadcasting the information to the world is not ideal. It has to be remembered, though, that security by obscurity isn't a real solution - anyone with a mild working knowledge of ham radios or even radio scanning will find the rally net given a few minutes at the beginning of day 1.

I've done radio work for Targa Newfoundland too, which uses commercial radios rented from a pro radio company (more likely donated, but that's beside the point) on licensed commercial frequencies. Again it doesn't take any time at all for a radio-savvy person to sleuth 'em out, especially if you know the company being rented from and bother to look up their standard licenses in the online government database. The point is, no matter how diligent you are at protecting the identity of your comms frequencies, people are going to find them out, and if they can monitor them, they will. This is why it is vital to keep sensitive details off the radio.

Personally, I think that having as many competitor cars as possible on the radio net is a good idea. They're part of the rally, obviously, and having them able to break in and alert the net (and officials) to a situation is a valuable resource. The details of the incident (concise and without identifying information) reported from a radio-equipped car right on the scene may only be a few seconds to a minute quicker than getting it radioed in from the next blocker/radio position after that car has continued down the road, but it is quicker, and eliminates one exchange of words/ideas (preventing "telephone tag" mistranslations of the situation).

One thing I would like to see entertained is having more than one frequency in use. In the areas I've volunteered, it's quite difficult, as there may only be one repeater that suitably covers the stage. However, there are a lot of situations IMO where time is spent discussing logistical situations, exchanging time details, etc., while start/finish reports aren't able to be reported (and/or potential emergencies aren't able to get through). I've seen portable repeaters tried, and they're of limited success because they can't be put in an area which covers the whole stage/leg. In the situation where there's only one repeater suitable, arranging for various simplex frequencies to be "reserved" for timing/scoring, logistics, etc., would be helpful.
 

·
Shotgun!
Joined
·
473 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
It is far easier to unplug and plug in the RJ11 connector than it is to negotiate the controls to effectively do the same thing.

alan
With my interface its just a turn of a knob and the PTT button is inoperable.


After considering the comments by several of you, I think I will program my radio with 2 memory slots right next to each other. Label one of them NET and the next one EMERG. The one under NET I will disable transmit. and of course EMERG will be fully ready to go. This way I can still loiter on the NET and remind myself how awesome our volunteers are and how much work it takes to keep the event running. Then if we need to get on the horn as it were, I can switch us over to EMERG.
 

·
I am not here anymore
Joined
·
2,798 Posts
With my interface its just a turn of a knob and the PTT button is inoperable.
Keith has the same radios as me, so he might correct me ... I think on the mobile, I have to hit set-up, turn a dial until the menu item is displayed, press the dial button, select which radio I want to disable PTT on (left, right or both), then press and hold the dial button to exit set-up. Of I could just unplug the mic.

alan
 

·
Shotgun!
Joined
·
473 Posts
Discussion Starter #24
Keith has the same radios as me, so he might correct me ... I think on the mobile, I have to hit set-up, turn a dial until the menu item is displayed, press the dial button, select which radio I want to disable PTT on (left, right or both), then press and hold the dial button to exit set-up. Of I could just unplug the mic.

alan

Turn of a knob... that is all.
 

·
I am not here anymore
Joined
·
2,798 Posts
That's nice. But I just have the head for my radio mounted on the dash of the car. The rest of the radio is mounted in the back of the car. Or it will be, once I find all of the pieces from the previous install and then install the radio in the new (to me) car.

alan
 

·
Dramamine is for DramaQueens
Joined
·
4,813 Posts
I don't think there is one 'right' answer.
Bryan's intercom interface is a great tool and allows the radio to be isolated easily, but not everyone will have it.

Regarding Alan's comment - all I know are the Yaesu radios, and locking any of the features is a 'global' item, not one that can be assigned to each memory position. With some, you have to go through four(ish) steps to lock or unlock the radio. With others it is a single button.
 

·
I am not here anymore
Joined
·
2,798 Posts
Curious, is this in a rally car or a course opening car?
Both. Well, not course opening, but serving in some other official capacity. I am a CARS steward (mostly in BC) and Olympus Rally Recce Coordinator and CRO.

I am mostly retired from competition, but try to compete in one event per year. When I am competing, I usually have the HT. But I got the parts to carry the mobile with me and plug it in if there is a convenient spot for power.
 

·
pressing on tirelessly
Joined
·
2,225 Posts
Hm. I just turn my radio off when I'm on stage. All this extra setup and talk of mute buttons and stuff seems sort of silly to me.
 

·
Shotgun!
Joined
·
473 Posts
Discussion Starter #30
Hm. I just turn my radio off when I'm on stage. All this extra setup and talk of mute buttons and stuff seems sort of silly to me.
This is a logic free zone. Your answers must contain at least one contradiction and overly complex process. Just turn your radio off... rookie ;) (jk)

I cant reach my radio when strapped in tight. So I leave it on the Net except when going back to service.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
276 Posts
I've seen way too much on the many years of working I've got behind me. Maybe that's made me, I don't know... perhaps the word is "jaded." At any rate, I've been through a ton of emergencies both when working a rally and during normal life (whatever the heck that is). I know how I react and what I'd do in a situation and I also know the reactions of the vast majority of other folks I've seen in many incidents.

Plain and simple fact is that while most people say "if X happens then I'll do A, B, C" in reality the huge majority of people forget every bit of logic and rational thought they've ever had. And that's perfectly normal. Doesn't help much but it happens all the time and I've come to expect it.

What's needed is a one page "Do this and Don't do that" list of instructions adjacent to the Red Cross/OK page. That, backed up with an emphasis on what to do and not do made to all competitors should work. However, that had better be one well written, thought out, and concise page.

Strict protocol has to be followed and everybody has to repress the urge to broadcast what's happened. Only information that needs to go out is that there is an incident, exactly where it is, what emergency help is needed (medical, fire, rescue, etc.), and nothing else. No info about who or why, just what and where.

That has to be drummed into a lot of people and enforced with a strong hand.

I've seen too many problems to think it's a simple thing to do and that more help necessarily means better help.


One other thing I hear alot from hams is that their radio is really great and they've used it a lot... but to do quite a few things that should be simple, they still need to refer to the manual or a cheat sheet. Are competitors going to carry that? Probably not. So the K.I.S.S. approach is the only way to go (take your choice -- Keep It Super Simple or Keep It Stupid Simple).


(and my computer seems to be having a mind of its own tonight. That and a bout of insomnia might make this less than cogent).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,570 Posts
I'm in favor of an event frequency list being made available ahead of time. Doing so allows one to pre-program any radios ahead of time before the race (though understanding that reprogramming or adjustments may have to be done on the day due to interference or other issues e.g. repeater down, unplanned repeater now available etc.) I am okay with the event frequency list not being publicly published on the web, as long as there is a note on the event website and/or in the supps as to who, e.g. the radio comms captain, to contact to get the event frequency list.

I am in favor of more radios being installed/available in competitor cars. In certain emergency conditions, it could save time getting relevant info to the people that need it sooner, resulting in e.g. stage start getting stopped sooner, EMS getting activated sooner, where appropriate etc.

As a competitor, I also find having a radio on the car useful for information purposes e.g. in the event of a delay. When co-driving, I usually bring a handheld in my co-driver bag & break it out to listen in to net control and/or stage frequency if there is a delay. I also understand that while a handheld could potentially be useful in an emergency scenario, that with the lower TX power of a handheld there is no guarantee of being able to reach net control or even the stage frequency. However, in some situations, it'll be better than nothing, and so is worthwhile bringing along. I also have my own rally car, and when I get back to driving again, I plan to have a mobile ham radio installed to have a better antenna with ground plane, and greater TX power for better TX range, as well as not having to fish around in a bag for a handheld.

Yes, there needs to be some etiquette & procedures followed, e.g. radio off, or mic disconnected, to prevent accidental unintended transmit, but most people who have a ham license should be mostly familiar with that. Yes, in an emergency situation someone without a ham radio license can use a ham radio e.g. you have one in your car but are incapacitated, but I still think having a radio available is likely to be preferable to not having one available at all, even if proper etiquette & procedures are not followed. Experienced net control & comms captains should be able to get a situation under control under these circumstances.

Appropriate first aid training, familiarity with procedures & being able to remain calm (or at least relatively collected) under tense or critical situations are separate but related issues, and can also be improved with relevant training & experience. As a spectator at a local rally (unable to commit to volunteering due to not knowing until last minute whether I'd be available; I didn't want the organizers to rely on me, only to have to pull out at the last minute), I witnessed a situation where a competitor crashed fairly seriously, and the local ham radio block screamed hysterically 'they crashed' 3 times before managing to regain some measure of composure, and didn't seem that familiar with the emergency procedures. Though, ultimately, the procedures & emergency plan were all activated as designed. Note: I am not faulting the volunteer in this situation, as a competitor I am extremely thankful to have them, and this type of knowledge often only becomes ingrained as one is exposed to it through training & experience. If one hasn't been exposed to this type of situation before, it's difficult to predict how one will react, and each situation (as well as one's reaction to it) may indeed be different. In any event, having at least some experienced radio & ops personnel that can remain collected under pressure & execute the emergency plan when required & manage the situation go a long way towards a preferable outcome.
 
21 - 32 of 32 Posts
Top