Installers Linc K0ZCO and Lyle KB7PI
This week saw the completion of one of the last projects left to do on Comm II, Centralia ARES’ communication van. The vehicle currently runs three VHF radios, one UHF radio, one digital radio and one fire/law radio but the team also wanted to be able to set up various HF radio systems for field day or disaster work. With several different HF antenna systems available for use, we needed a coax pass through installed in the vehicle. It was decided to install two pass through adapters thereby covering all anticipated needs.
On a sunny morning with the help of Bill McGowan, W7FQQ and his shop full of tools, team members Linc (K0ZCO) and Lyle (KB7PI) bravely drilled two holes through the side wall of the van, just above the work table inside. You know the old adage “measure twice, drill once”? There is a reason for that saying.
Measure twice, drill once – oops
See the two little holes above the pass through adapters? Yup! Anyway, being the resourceful hams we are, we discovered the external and internal covers would conceal the “mistake” which we are now claiming was a “planned ventilation system”.
Finished Coax Pass Through
Weather seal covering the “ventilation system”
With the assistance of Riverside Fire and Airlift Northwest, Centralia ARES will add some realism to its helicopter landing zone training scheduled for May 18th. Riverside Fire will begin the drill with a medical extraction in the Lincoln Creek area and will transport their patients to the Centralia Industrial Park for airlift out. Centralia ARES will set up the helicopter landing zone and establish communications with the aircraft into and out of the landing area. If all goes according to plan, Riverside Fire volunteers will practice patient transfer procedures to the aircraft, Centralia ARES team members will put their LZ training into practical use and all personnel will get the chance to examine the Airlift Northwest helicopter up close. This will also be our first opportunity to use “Comm II”, our new amateur radio communication van to control communications in a drill with Riverside Fire.
Several Centralia ARES team members attended this year’s Communications Academy in Seattle, held April 11th and 12th. The conference was packed with amateur radio operators and emergency services workers. Both the National Guard and Washington State Guard were highly visible this year as well. Team member Micah Goo, KF7GKZ, spent the weekend working the Washington State Guard’s table and even survived the wind and rain to display the Washington State EOC’s communications trailer.
A large assortment of communications vans from around Western Washington were available all day Saturday. Everyone took the opportunity to take a close look at their equipment and tour the vehicles. Sunday morning’s guest speaker from the ARRL was a powerful voice for amateur radio and receive a standing ovation when he was finished. Classes seems centered around digital operations and earthquake / tsunami upgrades as we move towards the 2016 Cascadia Rising drill that will involve British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Amateur Radio will play an important role in this drill. As the scenario stands today, the first 3-7 days after the event will see a complete communications failure as far as cell phones, telephones and the internet are concerned. Amateur Radio will need to step into the gap and provide total emergency communications until normal communication systems can be brought back on line. Time to prove what we have always said…”When all else fails, Amateur Radio works!”