Centralia ARES Next Comm Van Coming Together

Comm I (large grey van), Comm II (blue box van) and Comm IV (trailer)

Comm I, the Centralia ARES team’s first mobile communications van, is a large all-purpose van owned by the Centralia Police Department.  The ARES team installed a VHF amateur radio into the van just after the team was formed in 2008.  While it serves its purpose, it is not really “our” van.  We do transport the van for the PD and set it up making it ready to operate where needed, but we had very little say in how the communications equipment was installed.  Comm II was a different story.  This great little 19′ ex-military box van came to us as a project from the PD.  They obtained it from the military and in a previous life, it was used as a flight line tool van.  We spent almost a year transforming it into a mobile communications vehicle that met our needs perfectly.

Dan Olmsted wiring us up!

Getting ahead of ourselves, Comm IV was the next project we built.  It was a small open 5×8 foot utility trailer and using this as a starting point, we created a communications trailer that could be towed behind any comm van.  Designed as a communications system that could be set up at any disaster shelter to provide VHF, UHF, HF and Fire/Law comms, it can go anywhere.  Metal boxes protect the electronics and the system can be run off generator, battery, solar or shore power.  A large 10×10 tent protects the trailer and operators in bad weather.

Comm III – walls, floors, bulkheads, some cabinetry and lots of stuff to install.

Finally, in the summer of 2017, Comm III was handed to us by the police department.  A twin to Comm II, we have been working on the van through the fall and winter, duplicating our first van’s capabilities.  The floors, walls and bulkheads are done and some cabinetry has started to show up for installation.  This week, the electrical system was installed with some help from Dan Olmsted, our favorite “non ham” volunteer worker bee.  Things are moving into high gear now.  Thanks to an amazing donation by TwinStar Credit Union, we can purchase all the supplies we need and really get to work.

Last year, Centralia ARES displayed our Comm II van and communications trailer at the Seattle Communications Academy.  The 2018 academy is about six weeks away and we hope to be back this year with both vans.  If you’re attending this year’s communications academy in April, come see us and say hello!

Short Deployment Go-Bag Winner

Eleven team members entered the Short Deployment Go-bag Challenge

Eleven team members entered the Short Deployment Go-Bag Challenge last Monday.  Each go-bag had to meet specific requirements, weighing no more than ten pounds including at least one HT and had to contain the necessary items for a 2-6 hour flood deployment.  Most entrants used a small backpack as their starting point with a couple using a waist pack.  One person entered the challenge with two ideas – a vest and an old camera bag – both great ideas.

Skip Kingman, K1HEK, with his winning go-bag

Each contestant had to weigh his bag, then empty it onto a table and explain each piece included in the go-bag.  When everyone had a chance to explain their bag, the entire team took a few minutes to look over each entry and ask questions.  After a silent vote, Skip Kingman, K1HEK came away with the win and the $25 prize.  Total weight:  eight and one half pounds!

Photos were taken and Skip’s photo will be attached to the QST article.  I’d like to compliment all the team members who took the time to enter the contest.  There were some great ideas and several have said they went home and immediately changed the contents of their own go-bag based on what they viewed this evening.  Nice job everyone!

February 19th Training

The Short Deployment Backpack

The next training date for the Centralia Amateur Radio Emergency Service team will be Monday, February 19th and will be held at the Mt. View Baptist Church, 1201 Belmont Street in Centralia.  A check-in net will begin at 6pm on the K7CEM repeater.  Training will begin at 6:30pm.

This Monday, we will be judging entrants for the “Short Deployment Go-Bag Challenge”.  Those willing to participate should bring their go-bags to the meeting.  Remember, each short deployment go-bag must weigh no more than 10 pounds including at least one HT.  Each go-bag must be packed with the necessary equipment you might need for a 2-6 hour flood deployment.  After all bags have been shown, we will take a silent vote to select the winner.  The winner gets a $25 cash prize.  In addition, he or she must allow us to photograph the bag, its owner and bag contents for possible use in an article for QST magazine.

Entries can be a backpack, waist pack, utility bag or any other kind of bag as long as it otherwise meets the weight and equipment requirements.  Remember, this QST article is about using a smaller go-bag specifically packed with supplies for a flood deployment of 2-6 hours.  Don’t forget the HT.

After a winner has been selected, if time allows, team member Jim Pace will present a PowerPoint presentation about  Puerto Rico’s road to recovery.

 

 

 

 

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