Thursday, January 24, 2008

Even if you don't speak French you will appricate this one 

If you have never spent any time browsing You Tube you are missing out on some entertaining content. There are a number of great videos on the site aimed at amateur radio and you can find most of them buy simply searching on the term "amateur radio" at the opening page.

In the meantime follow this link and check out Paddle Rescue. It is great to watch.


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Monday, January 21, 2008

Some interesting follow up thoughts on this weeks scanner net 

Frank K3FSS posted this following comment to the TRAMA list concerning discussions on last nights net. Perhaps we will pick up this conversation again next week. By the way if you are reading this blog and don't subscribe to the TRAMA Mailing list you should.

"I couldn't get to a radio last night, but I was listening.

Some comments. First, yes any delay is bad. However, not listening to Bellevue you can't be sure they didn't send both out. Not along ago this would not have happened. You had to dial the now ten digit number for who you wanted. In some places this was three different numbers. If you managed to dial the ten digit number and got disconnected no further action would have been taken, or it would have taken much longer to track it down. Also not long ago if you called 911 you got the city. Again if you were disconnected, nothing further would have been done, or again it would have been a much slower process. Today, call 911 and hang up or get disconnected, and very soon afterwards an officer will be checking.

The database is supplied by the telephone company. They give out the numbers. The county does correct things they happen to find. EVERYONE should have by now checked to make sure 911 is getting the correct info. The county explains this on their site :
If in doubt call the number at the bottom to make sure. I have done this. My address has been listed incorrectly in the phone book for at least seven years, yet they get the right address for billing every month. I called then South Hills Regional, and checked the info they were getting, and it was correct.

Interoperability. The county is making great progress in getting everyone moved to UHF. There are two freqs, one VHF (155.880), and one UHF (471.1375) that ALL agencies should have programmed in their radios (dispatched by county or not). There are more agencies on UHF than ever. One UHF portable can contact more agencies than ever before in the county, and its getting better, slowly. Keep in mind Plum police is on a ring down center, so there is some delay, and that is Plum's fault. I've heard the county set up numerous UHF-UHF, UHF-VHF high and low crosslinks for both police and fire incidents. The officers involved didn't need to change channels, the county brought them all together by a cross link. I can tell you, that right now there is only one agency nearby that we need a VHF-high radio for. All others are on UHF, and we can talk to them. A big improvement from not too long ago. Also remember there are simplex police and fire tac channels from the county as well.

The only limited experience I've had does not support your delay claims. I've called them twice for minor things. Once on a walk I called my wife to call the boro building about something (it was minor). She had to call 911 anyway. Soon afterwards my cell phone rang, and it was the county. The officer was at the location and wanted more info. They sent him to meet me at my location. This all took place in about a five minute span. Lately I've been hearing very quick if not instantaneous relays of messages between agencies. There can be some delay, and its always been that way.

So, in general its an improvement. Some, if not most police dispatchers were fair at best. For those agencies this is an improvement. There were some, a small minority, that were run very well, and those agencies had some changes, some good, some bad. I can tell you, that in this area there were several fire departments doing what they could to switch, due to the quality of what they had.

The pluses :
You and anyone visiting you can call 911 and get help. No longer do you need to remember up to three different ten digit numbers to get help. I can remember looking up police department numbers to call for help, when I needed to get help for someone on the radio.

More and more users are on the same band. It is definitely getting easier to get who you need. One UHF portable can contact more agencies than not now. If you can't, the county can cross link you to who you need.

Its not perfect, and never will be. Its run by and operated (on both 911 and public sides) by humans, and they make mistakes. Just keep in mind some of the people they have to deal with. Allegheny County is no different than any other county in the country, and these types of systems work there. There are some dispatching things I don't care for, but thats the way it goes. The fire chiefs have the say in those procedures.

I just thought it was time to look at some other aspects of it. Its not all good, but its also not all bad.

I'll step off the old soap box now.

Frank K3FSS"


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I don't know who Mark is but he has a great web site. 

While surfing some links that had been sent to me via email I ran across Mark's Scanner Page. One of the more interesting features of Mark's site is that he has taken a number of scanner manuals and coded them in HTML. As he did so he also attempted to include his experience with those models and simplify the manuals and correct errors. Surf on over and check them out. I think you will find it worth your time.

Mark's Scanners

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Interesting discussion on RR forums 

For those that are interested one of the topics on the net yesterday evening was M/A Com's performance in a trial system in New York state. Of course the subject came up as a result of the long running attempt by M/A Com to bring the state government of Pennsylvania onto a common radio platform the results of which have not impressed most members of our group.

Here is a link to a discussion on the Radio Reference page forums that includes a magazine from M/A Com published in the early days of the PA system. Worth while reading.

Link to discussion on PA system.

Link to M/A Com Channels Magazine.


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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Weather watchers' meteorological interests provide real-time observation data to Skywarn 

Kudos to the Skyview Amateur Radio Club who not only has done a lot to increase the ham population in the Pittsburgh area but also does an excellent job of getting publicity for the hobby in the mainstream media in south west Pennsylvania.

The excitement of a touchdown, unexpected icing or watching the throwing of some heat brings these spectators out of their seats.

It's not all about sports for these Pittsburghers. Actually, it's not about sports at all.

These people are weather watchers who come alive when a funnel cloud touches ground, find it thrilling as a cold chill blows through or feed their curiosity about an ongoing hot spell.

Follow this LINK for the entire story.

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Notes from the Scanner Net January 20 2008 

We had a great net this evening despite a low turnout and the biting cold outside of the shack window. Thanks to all who took the time to check in with us.

Here are some links for items that were discussed on the net.

Railroad Frequencies from the Radio Reference Page Wiki.

I completely forgot to bring this one up on the net but it bears repeating.

Hello to All,
I have resigned the position of Section Emergency Coordinator in Western Pennsylvania.
I want to thank everyone I had the pleasure of meeting and wish you the best.
Kathleen Peca, WY3R

Our thanks to Kathleen for the fine job that she has done in the position.

The rest of the items discussed really didn't have a web presence but were items from various mailing list on the Internet. I hope to soon get back to podcasting the Sunday evening net so that if you miss it you can hear the entire conversation.


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