Re: Narrow Band Emergency Messages

WA7SKG <wa7skg@...>

Thanks for your comments. My concern with mesh networks is the heavy reliance on infrastructure. As I understand mesh networks, you have a bunch of tiny cells making a network. Without those cells, you have no coverage. The beauty of ham radio is generally its lack of infrastructure. Generic radios talking to generic radios. Sure, there are repeaters on VHF/UHF, but emergency systems cannot totally rely on them. And, they can easily be replaced with basic radios. Mesh networks take a lot of specialized equipment and still only cover a relatively small area per radio. In a major disaster environment, you have to be able to make up networks with "Run What You Brung" equipment. Lose a repeater and you can cobble one together with a couple mobile radios and some junk box parts to get back on the air with county wide coverage. How many mesh nodes does it take to give county wide coverage and how many hams would be able to use it?

Don't get me wrong, I love playing with mesh stuff, although I haven't had much opportunities in my rural area. I encourage everyone to play in whatever aspect of ham radio they enjoy. But don't look at exotic systems like mesh networks to be viable in SHTF situations.

With NBEMS systems, one can take pretty much any generic ham radio and laptop computer and communicate over a wide area to pass traffic, files, and images. I just saw it tonight on the ORCA network. Great fun with basic equipment.

Good luck with your mesh network. In a highly populated area like L.A. with thousands of people per square mile, it might have moderate success for day-to-day operations. In areas like mine with dozens of square miles per ham, not so much.

Michael WA7SKG

Sarah wrote on 09/18/2018 07:39 PM:

Hello Michael:
Simple answer first: Although I can't speak for Los Angeles Co., CA as a whole the groups I work with use MT63-2000L.  There are regular nets out here on 2m and 220.
WinLink:  The ARES organization in LA County is split up in to sections because the county is so large.  I understand one of the sections regularly alternates their weekly digital net between NBEMS and WinLink. I haven't work with WinLink but I take your point about station-to-station versus station-to-everyone in comparing WinLink to NBEMS.  There must be other people working WinLink in my county but I'm just not tuned into it.
Standardization between digital modes:  That would be nice.  Sadly I don't even think LA County is "standardized" much less Southern Calif. or the entire state. But I'm a low on the totem pole and willing to be corrected.
What we ought to be doing:  Based on discussions with my Elmer and others I think hams in LA County who have the interest and can obtain the equipment need to focus on building a Mesh Radio network.  It's great that folks know and use NBEMS and WinLink but my understanding is that Mesh Radio is really the future.  There are active Mesh Radio groups running in Ventura (the county west/northwest of LA) and Orange Counties (to the south/southwest).  It would just be a darn shame for LA County _not_ to be connected to them.
73, Sarah, N6OPE

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