Reason for this cross-post is due to the large number of AMSAT folks who have TH-D7's and TM-D700 radios and are maybe not using them to their full potential for HAM radio... Especially in light of our New interest in EmComm...
POST: Had another great Scout Event using TH-D7's for troop score reporting.
There were 17 event stations and 50 scout troops. We were able to field over half of the stations with D7's for score data entry (10). In an afterthought, we could have done at least 3 more stations for a total of 13 with data entry if we had thought about the D700's also parked nearby.
Using the D7's for score entry substantially reduced voice traffic and transcription errors, and repeats, while providing error free Troop scores to the HQ tent. See
http://www.ew.usna.edu/~bruninga/aprsevent.html The 2008 photos are at the end.
Too many people ignore the message and data distribution aspect of these radios. Not only did the D7 data entry stations not have to busy up the 146.43 voice net, but we operated on 445.925 with our data to avoid any QRM to the 2m voice traffic -AND- we could also chat on the same UHF channel for data coordination.
Further, every D7 operator could be tracked on the main APRS map back at HQ as operators moved around the event -BUT- without the encumberance of any GPS's, wires, laptops or fussy cables. We prepared a LAT/LON grid on the event map, and every location in the entire square mile venue could be entered on the D7 by just pressing the POS key and dialing in the last 2 hundredths digit of LAT or LONG. These were "scouts" and dads by the way, who should know how to look at a map and estimate their position from the grid.
To make that even easier, we prepared the four XX/YY digits for each of the 17 event stations in advance, so that if an operator changed locations, he only had to adjust those 4 digits to update his position.
RESULTS: It worked great! Net control could leisurely look at the incoming scores on the D700 control panel mounted to his clipboard, and pass them to the score keepers. The contrast with Voice reporting is that each voice report, interrupts the netcon's chain of thought and the voice net everywhere, and demands immediate attention, while with the data messages, they arrive in the background, and can be viewed by Netcon at HIS convenience.
Even the newly trained D7 HT operators said it was great (after they got the hang of it). Of the 10 D7 operators, only 4 had ever used a D7 before. Training was 5 minutes on the spot when they were handed a D7 and a gouge sheet.
1) Don't plan on the NETCON with the D700 on his clipboard at HQ trying to use it also as his voice rig... Everytime he might decide to read some messages, a voice call might come in, and the PTT bumps him off the message screen.
2) Don't assume the battery on your 10 year old D7 is any good. Yours truely showed up with 5 overnight-charged D7's, but two of them were dead in the first 15 minutes.
3) The few other ops that had D7's also had D700's in their cars. We should have realized that the D700's could just as easily been used for data entry at those stations, thus freeing up their D7's for use elsewhere. Score reporting is only a one-time event every 45 minutes. Easy enough to walk over to the car and enter the data on the Mic Keys.
4) The D7 is ideal for this application. Operating dual band, it was able to do both the 146.43 voice net and the 445 APRS data net at the same time. But to save power, either band could be toggled off when not needed with one press of the DUAL key. Or both could be on for voice but the TNC toggled off between entries.
5) Too many owners of D700's and D7's I fear are not practiced and ready to send, receive and edit messages and data. These radios (and APRS) are much more than just vehicle tracking!
Sorry for the cross post, but we have had the D7 radio now for 10 years and it is the hottest selling Kenwood HT, yet I continuously find operators that are not prepared to use it to send messages, email, objects, alerts, bulletins and announcements locally and anywhere in the world from the palm of their hand.
If AMSAT is going to take on an EmComm responsibility, we need to practice with what we have now...
Along that vein, also see the Satellite Simulated Emergeny Test web page: