- Written by Brian Keahl
- Category: Emergency Communications
- Published: 01 April 2011
- Hits: 1914
It seems to be a law of nature that when an actual weather net or emergency deployment happens some part of our tried and true equipment will most certainly malfunction. If not that, then some other extenuating circumstance tosses the proverbial monkey-wrench into the mix.
Take a recent weather net. Our big-bad Great Pyrenees decided the thunder was just too scary. We’d normally let him into the basement but we’re keeping some other dogs downstairs right now so that was out. What more to do than hang out in the garage with my trusty friend.
That wasn’t all bad, because I could step out the garage door and look at current conditions. The problem was my HT decided to act up, and although it was functional enough to get by, I was marginal into the repeater and the audio on the HT was poor at best. I was already considering the fact that storm season is coming and this will probably not be the only time spent hanging out with the Pyrenees out there.
While there I realized that my VHF coax was passing right over my head on the way to my external VHF antenna. I also have two of those 12v battery boosters sitting on the table, charged. Already I had a contingency plan in the making.
I’ll be splitting that cable and reconnecting it with a BNC male/female combo. I can then hook my auto or base rig up on the table out there with a short hop to the outside antenna. Now I can operate with greater power and a better antenna configuration. As a fallback, I’ll be sure to have an SMC to PL-259 adaptor so I can hook the HT up to the outside antenna. I can hardly wait to find out what goes wrong with that plan.
Okay, so what’s the point of this story? Things never go as planned, and while we can’t think of every possibility, we can utilize each experience to build a better plan, backup plan, and backup plan for the backup plan!
It also had me thinking about other fallback positions. What if my external antenna fails? I do have the rig in the car and an HT is marginal, but usable from inside the house. However, many have had success using a magnetic mount antenna on a file cabinet or refrigerator – yet another fallback position to test.
We should be thinking of the things that can go wrong and what we can do to mitigate. Perhaps a backup mic for our base or mobile rigs? A spare mic for our HT? In my case the mic would have resolved my poor audio problem experienced during the recent weather net.
We’ve talked about having backup power, and several of us are not only equipped, but exceptionally equipped. But are we ready for something other than a power failure? In my case, despite my belief I was ready for most anything, reality quickly disabused me of that notion.
I hope you’ll give some thought to the less obvious situations or equipment failures that might impede your ability to function during a weather net or emergency deployment. I certainly look forward to hearing the thoughts and suggestions of others.