This post thanks to Neil King, VA7DX.
Saturday July 18, 2009 the CARESS (Coquitlam Amateur Radio and Emergency Services Society) satellite emergency communications trailer was successfully demonstrated to members of the Cross Border Communication Group at Green Timbers, the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) South West Region Headquarters. The CBCG is an informal group of volunteers from both sides of the border representing various amateur radio clubs, ARES, RACES and various other organizations such as BCWARN (BC Wireless Amateur Radio Network) and the Blaine and Ferndale Police Departments.
The demo consisted of establishing a high speed digital communications link to the Internet via the Intelsat Galaxy 18 commercial satellite Ku Band transponder and to demonstrate email and data access, web browsing, VOIP telephone service and streaming video. A wireless bubble was extended from the Sat trailer to provide these digital services to the PEP building and surrounding area.
In addition, UHF/VHF voice and data packet services were in operation as was HF Pactor3 Winlink email on 80m connecting via the VE7SCC EMCOMM PMBO. Use of a 30’ telescopic mast to support the UHF/VHF/1.2 antenna and 40/80 meter dipoles ensured excellent coverage on all of these bands. Testing included accessing various VHF and UHF repeaters in the Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island and Washington State.
This prototype vehicle was developed to demonstrate the ability to provide a suite of complimentary communication VOIP phone services, data access and other Internet accessible resources when conventional communications infrastructure is destroyed or non-functional due to a major disaster such as a major earthquake. In a disaster, the ability to communicate quickly and effectively is essential as is the ability to operate for extended periods of time on self generated power. Saturday’s demonstration was performed using a 1KW generator and no other source of power.
Additional capabilities will be added to the trailer over the coming weeks including a portable EMCOMM PMBO providing Winlink email services, a UHF repeater system, IRLP, an Asterisk VOIP telephone switchboard and auto-patch capabilities to interconnect UHF radio and the VOIP telephone services over the satellite link.
The vehicle will be demonstrated to other municipalities and interested groups on both side of the border as an affordable example of providing a basic suite of communications capabilities to incident command sites, remote sites and between stricken communities and the outside world in the event of significant disaster affecting traditional forms of communications.
The development of this prototype communications vehicle was possible due to the tremendous support of the City of Coquitlam who provided a grant to fund the trailer and satellite equipment, and to Russ Montgomery, president and owner of DishPro services, who has provided tremendous technical direction and guidance and is graciously providing the funding to operate the satellite access links for demonstration purposes and testing. Without the support and partnership of both organizations this project would not have been possible.
Many people from CARESS and BCWARN have been involved in the development and construction of this vehicle over the past year.
In the days leading up to this demonstration an incredible amount of work was expended in a short period of time to bring the vehicle to operational status. Special thanks is extended to Ian Procyk VE7HHS, David Sinclair VA7DRS, Ryan Stelting VE7STK, Duncan Meakins VE7NEO, Wayne Galaugher VE7ZNU, Russ Montgomery of DishPro Services and the folks from General Dynamics who selflessly burned the midnight oil more than a few times over the past couple of weeks to make this demonstration possible!