Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another Successful Event!

And more APRS goodness to boot!

Today Duval County ARES supported the 2010 Gate River Run. This is an ever-growing 15K race that draws runners from around the country in search of $85K in prize money. I was happy to have every mile marker covered this year (though I did decide to skip mile 1). We also had a few additional positions along the route for extra coverage.

Myself and another operator serves as net control. He handled most of the radio traffic and I monitored the tail car. Once again we used APRS in the patrol car that was serving as the tail car at the end of the race. I think it's safe to say that we considerably reduced phone and radio chatter since nobody had to try to get in touch with the office to find his location, they just had to ask us and wait for us to check the map. Our APRS updates were set to broadcast every 180 seconds at a fixed rate. This worked very well for us and we always knew where the last runners were within a block or two.

In addition to the LEO and Fire personnel in the communications tent with us, other LEO got a sneak peak at what we were doing. One of our operators used his iPhone to show the position of the tail car to two motorcycle officers. "They were very impressed and wanted to understand how the heck that was working....!" is the report I received.

Unfortunately next weekend's event, the St. Johns River Celebration Cleanup, won't really provide us any opportunity to use APRS. While we do have several boat ramps in areas that are being cleaned we won't have any maritime mobile stations at these locations.

River Run APRS Track

I was quite pleased that I finally had what I would call a successful round with Depiction. I had my doubts as it didn't seem to want to work for me but during the net I spent some time working on it again. Fortunately this was a very small area we were working in and I only had a few stations to add. I fired up the Quickstart and was pleasantly surprised to see our tail car (JSOTL-9) appear on the map. I think I still have a number of kinks to work out but at least it would appear that I'm making some progress.

On Monday I meet with the Tour de Cure team again. I'm looking forward to sharing with the event director the results of our test last weekend. Now we just need to start scrounging up some radios that we can use as well as some inexpensive GPS units to go with the TinyTraks. I know we won't have enough this year to put one in every vehicle but if we can cover even half of the vehicles and cover the others with actual radio operators that would make me happy. We can spend the rest of the year coming up with more self-contained units that we can deploy as needed.

Our APRS testing has also caught the eye of our Red Cross liaison. He's very interested in putting these soon-to-be kits to use with vehicles that are deployed as part of disaster assessment.

We're making headway with our goals to really implement some good technologies in the county. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

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