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[aprssig] emcomm and ham cheapness

Jim Lux jimlux at earthlink.net
Sat Nov 10 21:58:08 UTC 2007


A recent post made the following comment:
"I would prefer NOT to use a mobile because it is to be located on a hospital roof and, on occasion, will be powered by the building's emergency 
power system. Cost is an issue, as always."

First, I'm not poking at Jim, the original poster, here... it just happened to neatly capsulize a thought I've run across a lot in hamdom.

Seems to me that if you are providing a critical functionality that cost should be down on the list of criteria.  Not that you want to be profligate, but if the capability being provided is truly mission critical, then one should be willing to pay for what it takes to do it.

I'm not talking here about the legendary willingness of hams to step into the breach when all else comes crashing down.  In that situation, you're already in a compromised situation, and you take what you can get.

This is more addressed at the group of hams who get together and pitch a concept: "We can provide emergency tactical comms".. then go out and cobble together stuff that was acquired at hamfests over the past 30 years, relies on one or two people for maintenance who are the only ones who remember how that gear was modified. 

In the context of any served agency that actually NEEDS reliable emergency comm, a budget of several tens of thousands of dollars shouldn't be a big deal.  What the hams can bring to the party is not the fact that they happen to have a bunch of surplus motorola gear in their garages, but that they have practical experience setting up and running properly selected gear.  AND, when something inevitably goes wrong, they know to have stashed spare parts, duct tape, wire, etc., and can, at that time, cobble together something.

Now, before folks leap on flaming.. It might be that Jim has just arranged to have his node parked on top of the hospital, but that there's no illusions about it being part of the mission critical infrastructure, in which case, scrounging up the cheap radio to do that other part of hamdom: experimentation and fooling around, is just what the doctor ordered (to carry the hospital theme forward..)

Jim, W6RMK




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