The following is based on my experimentation and experiences with field radio operation. I am blessed with the opportunity to operate field portable, almost monthly, while camping with a Boy Scout Troop. Sometime the duration is a single evening, most times a weekend, and annually for a week long event. Sometimes the setting is urban, mostly it’s at a state/regional park, and sometime the setting is remote wilderness.
Initially this task of supporting communications seemed daunting, as experimentation continued, clarity formed about what was ‘need to have’ and what was ‘nice to have’. There is no single answer, but there are several capabilities and systems that need to be thought through and tested. With that, I present a list that tries to address those capabilities and systems required to provide comms support for a group.
The task is to, in a self-sufficient manner, support a small group’s communications needs; that group could be anywhere from a Scout troop at a camping event, to a team helping with disaster relief, to a community protection team (which is kind of disaster relief). The goal of the list provided below is to identify, at a high-level, the necessary capabilities and systems. Once that is established, we can discuss suitable means to address each.
- HF NVIS communications for regional communications
- Squad radios for team member communications
- Base radio to support squad radios; depending on operating environment, either simplex with control operator, cross-band repeating, or same-band repeating
- HF NVIS antenna system
- Antenna system to operate with base radio
- Antenna support system; needs to be adaptable to the operating environment (setting up in a desert is different than setting up on an urban rooftop)
- Power system; enough capacity to operate all radios and support systems for event duration
- Human sustainment; water, food, shelter suitable to the operating environment and duration of event
- Transportation system; suitable to delivery of the radio operator(s) and supporting gear to the event location
- Maintenance system; all of the above needs to be maintained at an operational level over the duration of the event
I’m very interested in other’s thoughts.