Propagation Causes a Shift to Simplex For Special Event
We thought we were going to use our standard repeater frequency during this event but knew we were in trouble early that morning when we could hear repeaters from all over the state of Florida breaking the squelch. Here in central Florida it was unusual to hear stations from Miami and Fort Myers reading full scale on our s-meters. This propagation phenomenon was probably caused by ducting but would raise havoc with our ability to deliver radio services to the March of Dimes. What to do? Well we switched to a simplex frequency instead and that worked out surprisingly well considering the distances we had to cover. The only problem we had was with a couple hand held units in the fringe area but that was solved by going back to regular mobile rigs which ran anywhere from 10 to 50 watts. The other thing that helped was to put the 2 meter antenna at the top of the crank up tower attached to our new emergency communications trailer.
The Lake County ARES group set up their trailer at Wooton Park in Tavares , Florida from which the net control station kept in touch with 13 rest stops that provided water , juice , fruit and cookies to the walkathon participants. Each rest stop had a ham operator to coordinate with the net control station reporting on needed supplies , people passing through these check points and with walkathon personnel at Wooton Park. In addition we provided a van with a 2 meter mobile rig to transport walkers back to the park who found the seven mile trek too demanding or had a minor injury that precluded their continuation.
The rest stops were sponsored by local businesses from the Tavares area such as banks , retail stores , service clubs and the Lake County Sheriffs Department. These stops provided all the goodies as well as the personnel who manned them. Many walkers and runners were thankful for these rest stops.
This is an annual event in Tavares which is always a great success and raises a lot of money for medical research and programs that help babies begin healthy lives. This year the weather was great with plenty of sunshine and a comfortable temperature so our Lake and Sumter County EMS people didn’t have to deal with dehydration problems.
The Lake County ARES hams always enjoy the opportunity to provide VHF radio communications for the March of Dimes Walkathon and it provides an excellent chance to train our members by helping them improve their communication skills and fine tune our portable equipment.
The Lake County ARES radio operators are well aware of the seriousness of these opportunities to practice their special skills as many of them were deployed about three years ago in the aftermath of the Ground Hog Day Tornado that blew through this area .
You may find out more about the Lake County ARES group by going to the following web site. < www.n4fla.org >
More pictures available on request.
John T Luebbers
Lake County ARES P.I.O.