RESCUE RADIO: GEORGIA HAMS GIVEN $165,000 TO BUILD D-STAR RESCUE RADIO NETWORK
Its one of the largest government grants ever given to ham radio emergency communications. This as $165,000 in Federal funding has been secured by Georgia Emergency Management Agency to complete a statewide D-Star based ham radio emergency communications network.. Amateur Radio Newsline's David Black, KB4KCH, has the story of the grant and the all digital rescue radio network that it will create:
The network's creation is the result of a dream that started in 2005 according to John Davis, WB4QDX. That's when a vision was born for what amateur radio emergency communications could one day achieve in the state of Georgia. Mark Fehlig, WA6NGC, is the former director of Engineering for the state's Public Broadcasting System. When the opportunity arose to install two amateur radio antennas on each of nine television towers providing statewide coverage, Fehlig jumped into action. Fehlig designated Georgia's Amateur Radio Emergency Service to control the use of those sites for emergency communications. The next task was to figure out the best technology to use at those sites.
Linked FM repeaters and packet were among the modes considered. But radio amateurs were also watching emerging D-Star technology. They recognized it as a state of the art platform providing simultaneous voice and data communications. Knowing that D-star also allows repeaters to be linked on a flexible basis and that it permits simultaneous voice and low speed data along with high speed Internet connectivity at 1-point-2 Gigahertz...and the decision was made to go D-star for the state's new system.
When the network is finished, radio amateurs will have access to voice and data repeaters on all nine towers across the state, operating on 2 meters, 440 MHz and 1-point-2 Gigahertz. Because those towers are strategically located to provide maximum public television coverage, amateur radio communications will benefit from wide area coverage, as well. Commercial grade inch and 5/8 transmission lines will connect the antennas, which will be between 500 and 600 feet above ground. Georgia's Public Broadcasting Network will provide indoor space for equipment, along with backup power at each site. Internet access
will be available, too, thanks to the broadcasting system's DS-3 data network...this means flexible linking of repeaters will be possible using a stock D-Star interface.
The federal money will also pay for 20 dual-band D-star radios to be installed at EMA offices across the state, along with a portable UHF D-Star repeater available for emergency deployment. In addition, three 1-point-2 Gigahertz D-star radios with laptops for sending data and photos from field locations will also be purchased. The money will also be used to build a robust reflector to serve the state's network during emergency conditions and also for general use during non-emergency times.
Two of the emergency network's D-star repeaters are already on the air. One is located at Pembroke, Georgia, near Savannah. The second operates from atop Stone Mountain, serving the Atlanta metro area. The complete Georgia D-star amateur radio emergency communications network is expected to be in operation in early 2010.
For the Amateur Radio Newsline, I'm David Black, KB4KCH, at the South-East bureau in Birmingham, Alabama.
The Georgia network will complement other D-Star based emergency communications systems planned or in operation in the neighboring states of Alabama, Florida and South Carolina. Once all are in operation, it will create a regional ham radio emergency capability across the American Southeast. This monetary grant is only second in size to one of $250,000 given by the governor of Oregon in 2007 to that states ham radio first responders. This, to build a Winlink-based state-wide amateur radio emergency communications network. (WB4QDX, Georgia ARES via Southgate) via ARN news