The West Coast Wheelers Cycle Race was run on Sunday the 22nd of February and this was our first event of the year. The course was set in the hills around Loughrea which has many tough uphill climbs along with some long protracted downhill sections where considerable speeds may be achieved. The weather conditions were not fantastic with rain throughout the event. Road surfaces were slippery in places.. (continue reading)
Archive for the ‘activities’ Category
On the 24th of August, radio amateurs from the South East assisted at the Sean Kelly Tour Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). Our primary role was to establish communications between some of the Voluntary Emergency Services and the EOC, tracking, using APRS, the head and tail of the three events (50k, 100k and 160k), and acting as roving weather observers for the Medical Coordinator. The total area covered during the day was approximately 1500 square km.
Many thanks to EI2HIB, EI3HLB, EI5GOB, EI5HHB, and EI7IG.
EI4JN, EI7IG and EI8JA assisted on three safety boats at An Rás Mór in Cork Harbour earlier today. Good use was made of the EI7FXR repeater up at Farmers Cross for coordination. Once all three vessels were back in simplex range, operations were then conducted on 144.525, this allowed for coordination between ourselves while leaving the Marine channels free for Race Control, and more important safety traffic.
Conditions were ideal for the day, with no major incidents. A enjoyable day on the water.
Mick, Gary, Matthew, Conor (EI4JN), John (EI7IG), John (EI8JA), Harley
Our principal task this year was to track the sweeper vehicles in each event, on the day we were also tasked with establishing a radio link with Order of Malta.
The APRS units from Byonics worked quite well, giving us information as to the sweepers location, and after discussion with the Officer in charge of Order of Malta, a communciations link was successfully established.
Everything worked as expected on the day and it was great to see the different organisations all operating together.
We are delighted to invite you to our third AREN weekend training and social event. We return to the shores of Lough Derg, for a relaxing ,enjoyable, social and educational event.
This years focus is on progressing three tems from our strategy which have been selected by members. There will be a variety of activities both indoor and outdoor to interest everyone.
Our host Declan EI2GE has kindly arranged generous rates for accommodation and meals.
We look forward to meeting everyone in Lough Derg House, Dromineer, this coming weekend for a training and social event.
Could those attending please confirm with Conor, EI4JN, and we look forward to seeing you there.
AREN was requested by the local Coast Guard unit to be present in Dunmore East for the Tall Ships should our services be required. AREN has previously demonstrated the ability to provide communications into various blackspots along the coast between Dunmore East and Tramore.
On Sunday the 3rd of July, an early start was required to get inside the Garda Cordon. The MCP was set-up and ready to operate by approximately 09:30, and was shut down by 13:00. EI7IG and EI5GOB were on-site for the duration and were pleasantly surprised to find that they had a very nice vantage point from which to view the Tall Ships leaving Waterford Harbour.
It is planned to have a training weekend over the 13th and 14th of November on the shores of Lough Derg. This central picturesque location has been popular with other Voluntary Emergency Services for training and social activities.
Attendees can arrive on Friday night or Saturday morning.
Saturdays activities will include practical training and a taste of GlobalSET. It will wind down with a tour of the local RNLI station followed by dinner before moving on to the Whisky Still bar for ‘craic agus ceoil’ with local trad’ musicians.
An afternoon finish on Sunday will ensure you are home early that evening. Our host, Declan EI2GE, has kindly arranged generous rates for accommodation and meals. Full details will be circulated to members in due course.
Since 2007, the Sean Kelly Tour has taken place on the last weekend of August. This year AREN was asked to assist Waterford County Civil Defence with locating the head and tail of both the 90k and 160k events to allow for efficient and effective ambulance deployment.
EI2GN, EI3ENB, EI7IG, EI5GOB and EI8JA turned up on the morning, and quickly set about the task. As the mobile command post was being set up, APRS was deployed into the sweeper vehicle for the 90k event, however the 160k sweeper had already left so a plan was formed to intercept the 160k sweeper later in the day, and EI3ENB, was dispatched to a food station to carry items to a Civil Defence ambulance already deployed to that station.
Below are a series of screen shots (from Xastir) depicting the progress of the event during the day.
Screenshot 2, EI3ENB is in Clonmel, EI8JA is heading to Rathgormack to let us know when the head of the 160k arrives there. 90k sweeper is nearing Bunmahon. Civil Defence Officer is at the Tramore foodstop.
All-in-all the day was very successful. Civil Defence were very appreciative of the information being supplied to them by us. Amateur Packet Reporting System (APRS), was used both for status updates/short messages, and, obviously for position reporting during the day. This meant that our own voice channels were kept free for more important traffic, and, in fact, very little voice traffic was passed during the day.
The Burren walk traditionally takes place on the last Saturday of August each year. In its earlier years this event was run by an orienteering group that was about to be wound up when the Galway VHF Group and the Galway Civil Defence decided to continue to run the event themselves.
The walk is a circular route from Fanore Beach car park onto a Green Road, towards Gleninagh and Black head before a descending route to the Finish at Fanore Beach car park. There are six checkpoints manned by a Radio operator and Civil Defence personnel. There are three circuits in this walk that offer a 27k, 24k and 14k loop designated the A, B, and C walks. The operation is on 80 meters as this is the only suitable means of communication across mountainous terrain. Four of the six checkpoints can be operated from vehicles and the remaining two require a good portable set up which is light enough to carry over a distance of some half an hour of a walk. Walkers were supplied with maps and directions and if all else failed they could ask the checkpoint operators to point them in the right direction.
The Galway VHF Group and Civil Defence met at 08:30 am in the Fanore Beach car-park. The registration area was in a large vehicle with slide doors on one side. In the mean time, Tom EI2GP placed direction signs along the route. A quick meeting was held to designate tasks, checkpoints and operations packs to the Civil Defence and respective Radio personnel.
Registration commenced from 09:00 onwards and the first few walkers were underway by 9:30. At this point each team made their way to checkpoints. Accountability for walkers is essential so the logging aspect was of paramount importance. At intervals a check-in to base occurred where the numbers we logged also. At times walkers would appear to go missing which was probably due to a delay whilst they had lunch. Sure enough they would appear at their next point eventually. There was no excuse to get lost, although many actually walked past signs as they ware so busy soaking up the scenery.
The portable operators used FT817 transceivers with an output power of five watts (Peak Eenvelope Power) Single Side Band into an MP1 mini-screwdriver antenna. This is a very lightweight kit easily transportable in a rucksack. Probably the heaviest part of this station would be the lead acid gel battery. For a full day of activity a 7 AH battery is recommended. The internal battery pack is slightly short of 2 AH and seldom lasts for the full day. The mobile operators used Pro-Am whips and sufficient power to enable good readability for the duration of the event. Apart from the FT817 operators, the rest could get by on 10 watts with no difficulty. One operator was using the Tarheel mobile screwdriver on his vehicle which worked well also.
Net Control would periodically update each checkpoint with the numbers of walkers that had registered until the cut off point at mid-day. One or two were sneaked in after that time on the proviso that they would not delay in the early stages. Once all walkers were accounted for at a checkpoint, 20 minutes grace was given to allow for them to turn back otherwise it was assumed they were to continue. The checkpoint could then stand down. At times a walker would decide to transfer from a shorter walk to the longer walk in which case net control would be alerted by the checkpoint in question who would then appraise the following checkpoints of the walker’s intentions.
Probably the most worrying point of the walk is the last two checkpoints where walkers occasionally manage to bypass a checkpoint and it is then not possible to account for them until they are reach next point or even the finish. This year there were only a few that managed to miss the vital point at checkpoint 5. As a precaution, another point was set up along the road to take numbers of walkers passing. Often walkers do not check in at the finish point. By having the checkpoint on the road we were able to check that they were off the hills safely. It is surprising how many people purposely make it their business to bypass checkpoints. We had told them at the start that any who did not check in would have the rescue services initiated on their behalf and that they would be liable for the bill afterwards. This year none bypassed the finish line!
At the end of the walk, the gear was stowed away and a final check of the site was made before leaving. All of those who participated were treated to a sumptuous feast and drink in Hyland’s Hotel in Ballyvaughan as a reward for the day’s work.
In conclusion our 80 meter links worked well despite the fact that number of operators in the another country decided to establish a net on the frequency we had been using since 09:30 and then whine about the Interference from Irish stations! The FT817s can only be described as a fantastic radio with their performance surpassing all expectations, although one has to bring an additional gel cell battery as the internal battery pack is not sufficient for a long day of operating. Would be SOTA enthusiasts do take note! The days operation was very smooth and uneventful, with only one walker eluding a checkpoint but was caught at the following one. The success of this operation is generally dictated by the long periods of silence that denotes all is well. The end of walk accountability worked well and there were no excessive delays as everybody was checked in at the final checkpoints and the finish.
Special thanks to the following operators: Gerry EI8DRB Checkpoint 1 and the final check along the road section, John EI7FAB Checkpoint 2, Enda EI3IS at checkpoint 3, John EI1EM on checkpoint 4, Tom Rea on Checkpoint 5, Joe EI3IX on checkpoint 6 and Steve EI5DD on registration and Net Control. Special thanks to Civil Defence who provided First Aid cover and personnel to assist at the checkpoints.