Author Topic: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications  (Read 5623 times)

Offline nitehawg

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Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« on: February 09, 2013, 02:06:17 PM »
Hi Everyone,
                   Thanks for joining in.  My job for 32 years was responding to emergencies.  I knew how to operate my radios properly, and that's where my comm.'s knowledge ends.  With the CAC teams communications will be vital.  Please work from the premise that we will be operating in areas with no power and no cell phones, we will be totally self sufficient in the comm.'s arena.  Also, if we are able to provide cell phone signals to the disaster victims at some point in time it would be a big plus.  We see our needs as multichannel local comm.'s for team members on scene, mid range comm.'s (say up to 50? miles) for recon teams, and national comm.'s to communicate with a central dispatcher.  We would also need the ability to communicate with disaster victims who may be seeking help using FRS-GMRS, CB, or Ham.  Naturally, the terrain will change with every deployment.  Blue sky ideas are always welcome ( you never know when someone will donate $500 million) but for now we should plan on equipment that our average communications team members would already have or could be reasonably purchased.

Thanks for joining in we truly appreciate your help.

Stay safe and enjoy

Nitehawg

Offline idelphic

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2013, 08:52:43 AM »
If you want to go with Blue Sky Ideas -

Modified 20' SeaPak
  • 5kw Generator
  • 40-60' Fold down Crank up tower
  • WiFi hot spot with beam link - Mesh network
  • Weather station
  • Video camera on tower
  • Repeater - commercial and alternate
  • GPS beacon

If you want to do at a Ham operator level, cost s will always be a issue.  But it can be done.  I operated a 2m station for a bike race years ago with a Radio Shack Push up pole (38'), a Kenwood TM-241 and a car battery.  Was hitting the repeater from almost 60miles out on a home made beam.

Problem with communicating with the average person running GMRS or FRS is the shear number of people trying to use a single channel.  One person may not be able to monitor all that.  You MAY want to have some means of recording all voice and digital communications...

As for providing cell phone signal to people - You'd have to work with the carriers on that..  There are few if any private means to do so.  Most carrier towers are already in place with battery backup and generators...  and many have rapid deploy-able rigs for spots.

Offline nitehawg

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2013, 07:37:54 PM »
Thanks for the reply idelphic.  Through my own fault approximately 90% of your reply is Greek to me.  What we really need is about 10 more people like you to get this discussion going and to come up with some communications plan for us.  So if you have some comm savvy friends invite them over here and let's work on this.  In the mean time I would appreciate it if you would explain some of the things in your post to me, beginning with the wi-fi hot spot (which I think I understand) but the beam link-Mesh network has me baffled.

Again, thanks for the post and the help.

Nitehawg

Offline idelphic

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 09:01:38 AM »
Thanks for the reply idelphic.  Through my own fault approximately 90% of your reply is Greek to me.  What we really need is about 10 more people like you to get this discussion going and to come up with some communications plan for us.  So if you have some comm savvy friends invite them over here and let's work on this.  In the mean time I would appreciate it if you would explain some of the things in your post to me, beginning with the wi-fi hot spot (which I think I understand) but the beam link-Mesh network has me baffled.

Again, thanks for the post and the help.

Nitehawg
Beam link may not be a 'true term' but it worked in my mind when I was typing my reply.  Nuts and Bolts is that it's a directional antenna with only one purpose.  Connection to either a sourcing point of the internet (X)miles away.  It's the feed for the local node.

Mesh Network is a type of 'self healing' wireless and wired network.  If you have 5 points or 5 'Pods' then each pod has a minimum of 2 connection, but generally 5, so five x five is 25 interconnects. 

In the image above, if node 6 were to go down (power, etc) then the network continues to function by routing information via the other nodes.

A larger sample is a Cellular system...  You have towers everywhere,..  and you drive past them, your call or texts are routed via the closest tower into the system and handled by the server to be sent on.


Offline nitehawg

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2013, 05:09:20 PM »
OK idelphic now that's an explanation that I can understand  :)  It also happens to be one of the ideas that has really appealed to us.  Now some questions.  How doable is it?  How close to the sourcing point would this have to be?  Would we have to be the sourcing point?  Ball park guess $500 million or somewhat less?

Again thanks, you're a big help

nitehawg

Offline idelphic

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 07:17:45 AM »
OK idelphic now that's an explanation that I can understand  :)  It also happens to be one of the ideas that has really appealed to us.  Now some questions.  How doable is it?  How close to the sourcing point would this have to be?  Would we have to be the sourcing point?  Ball park guess $500 million or somewhat less?

Again thanks, you're a big help

nitehawg
Well - I will do what I can to figure things out,..  I will openly and right up front say that I won't be able to spec or build this by myself.  I'll see if I can't recruit some wise minds to assist with the project.

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1 How Doable is it?
Anything is doable - as you refer to the Blue Sky theory.  However since much of this could be funded by the limits of our members and or DRT members,.. you have to respect the need versus costs.. I deal with this daily working for a Non Profit.  I'm expected to create 'magic smoke' and resolve issues with next to nothing as far as equipment or,...  I'm 85% self taught over the last 25 years in the computer field.. I do pretty well for the most part.  The other 15% is been learn from mistakes or just out right asking someone.. so..

Sorry for the side thought there - Yes it is doable .  I can't begin to give any specific details right off, but as a ham operator, I have always wanted to build a mobile command center for ARES / RACES - EmComm.  I've mentally designed several using RV's and Trailers over the last several years,..  Hmm Unimog or maybe CMXTerra 109 build....

If the DRT group is a Non-Proft, then that opens up grants, and other sourcing areas not otherwise available.  I use <a href="www.techsoup.org">Tech Soup[/url] for software and some hardware for my office.  It's pretty sweet to get Cisco equipment for 20% of the retail / commercial  pricing.

Lastly - it depends on how main stream equipment / software you are willing to go.  I use some 'non standard' but still off the shelf software and hardware.  I'm all about Open Source.  My office firewall is a Open Source system called Untangled.  I feel it's pretty powerful for the aspects you get in the free version.  You get a multitude of controls and features and you would have to spend quite a bit of money to get out of Cisco...  And it's easy to work with,..  I've been thinking of using it at home,..  I just don't.

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How close to the sourcing point would this have to be?  Would we have to be the sourcing point?

This is a interesting area,.. since it can be both, and maybe should be.  You can get a mobile satellite systems installed on a suburban, so why not use it.  I don't think the downlink will be a issue,.. it's the uplink that will be slow.   But in a Mesh network system, you can route data to go a certain way... so if you are willing to do some trial and error, you can most likely manage to optimize it very well.
Quote
Ball park guess $500 million or somewhat less?

This is the tough one..  If you take off the shelf,.. nothing new,..  I say you could do it for a few grand.  But that is just a wild guess.  Keeping it simple, but self healing is important.  But there are ways to do a NASA level Mars (successful) Landing but on a limited budget.  It's about taking what is already available,.. and using it in a way it may not have been meant to.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2014, 10:41:21 AM »
Now that CaC is up, can this thread come back?

I have researched the HMESH (http://www.broadband-hamnet.org/) and while each node can be built rather inexpensively, I am still looking for some anecdotal evidence of it being used in a localized grid/comms down emergency.

Basically there need to be enough nodes spanning far enough where one of them has internet connectivity.  Personally I think it'd be a neat project for $100 for a basic node (I have a ham license, so it's legal too), but unless I can reach other nodes, and so on and so forth, it doesn't really have much value. 

While I don't have the gear yet, I think getting setup for HF packet email, like winlink would be prudent.

Basically you use a modem similar to the dial up internet era, but instead of using landline phone networks, it's transmitted over ham radio frequencies.  On the receiving end a station decodes the RF back into the email text and then sends it out over the internet (assuming receiving station has an internet connection).

Here's a recent video that demonstrates sending an email from a backpack radio in the middle of the woods with no cell coverage, etc.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqZR2jM8mIc

Now, this is painfully slow by modern standards and should be regarded as "one way" in an emergency context.  Seems appropriate for emailing HQ a SitRep, etc.

Offline Canadian Prepper

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Re: Citizens Assisting Citizens Emergency Communications
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2014, 10:04:34 PM »
The Linksys modem most commonly used for setting up a Mesh node can sometimes be had for as little as $30, with the software required to reprogram it available for free. Even if a couple of ham groups converged to deal with an emergency they could at least use their modems to set up a LAN and share documents and forms for everyone's laptops. I saw that happen at a local meeting of several ARES groups who had them set up in their command posts and for the demonstration I witnessed.

The antennas to connect each of those nodes at farther distances probably raises the cost to about $100 per node, though if one has internet access at one point they could direct that to the rest of the MESH.

There's currently an initiative to set up several nodes with antennas in one of the urban areas adjacent to me. The few modems within a km of any of those nodes should be able to connect without needing the antenna, but more nodes connecting to those points via antennas will be needed to fill out the areas in between.

It's not the answer to everything but a useful addition to the larger communications package. The ability to share forms and information between computers alone would make it worthwhile, but if offers the potential to offer more.