Connecting the dots grid down – off grid comms

Hello Operators.
If you have not seen it already, I posted a video entitled Grid Down Ham Radio. It was inspired by the Texas snow storm which caused the rolling blackouts and ultimately the grid down we saw in parts of Texas, during February 2021.

Unfortunately there are times when we as content creators, make grid down or off grid comms presentations too abstract. In fact I believe we rarely take the opportunity to connect the dots between videos, blogs, posts, … So, in this first video (a prequal), the discussion is on grid down communications, our misconceptions, and considerations for preparing for this type of scenario.

The next section is the actual playlist of videos, referenced in the Grid Down Comms | Texas video. Hoping this playlist will do a better job connecting the dots, than these videos published on their own. Of course you need to do your part as well. Investing the time to watch and understand, is just as important as the content itself.

Finally, here are the videos broken down individually. There is a short description to help readers jump right to the material, most relevant for their interests.

Mentioned in the video.

Grid Down Comms for the people – This video is sort of an introduction to grid down comms strategy and logistics for those who already know what ham radio is, and have decided to use it as a tool in the informed toolbox. My buddy the Canadian Prepper may have something more basic incoming (if that’s what you need). I’ll add it to the playlist when published.

Asynchronous messaging and Winlink Email – Asynchronous messaging is important since in reality, we are rarely able to sit in front of a radio, waiting for comms to come in. The radio and field computer need to do the heavy lifting, working for us when we are not able to do it ourselves. This particular winlink video is also important because it shows us how to bridge email from off grid networks, to grid email services like googlemail, hotmail, … bidirectionally

Asynchronous Messaging Winlink Peer to Peer – Peer to Peer Winlink is a completely off grid messaging strategy, unreliant on a cloud server. Instead, stations connect directly from one station to another, without the need of a “man in the middle” RMS Gateway. Messages are stored directly on the intended stations, meaning we have complete autonomy, in our station to station messaging. It must also be pointed out, an operator doesn’t need to “operate” the station to receive P2P Winlink messages. Our station simply needs to be on.

NVIS JS8Call – Near Vertical Incidence Skywave sends signals straight up to the ionosphere, where they are reflected back to earth, for communications roughly 0-600km from the originating station. This is very reliable on 160m, 80m, 60m, 40m, and possible on 30 meters if the MUF favors the bold. It serves as an excellent method of regional communications, without the need for repeaters or infrastructure.
JS8Call is a Narrow bandwidth data mode allowing low power or QRP stations, to communicate over great distances with relative ease. In this video, NVIS and JS8Call are combined to demonstrate local to regional coverage using HF 80m, with no intermediate infrastructure or logistics. Also without the need for setting up and maintaining repeaters or gateway infrastructure. It is not as fast as packet, but is extremely reliable.

Grid Down Comms Power – This video goes in to ideas for better management of our power for communications. As you may have seen on the channel, this type of information evolves as we gain more knowledge, experience, and as technology moves us forward.

Portable JS8Call– This is an interesting video showing showing the strength of JS8Call for weak signal messaging. In this video my station located at KP26XV above the arctic circle, is enjoying keyboard to keyboard chat with my buddy Mark M0IAX who is maritime portable, in a rigid inflatable. It was extremely exciting showing the low power capabilities of a mode designed specifically for those with limited power, capabilities, in the middle of nowhere. Comms were not blinding fast like Telegram on a 5G connection, but fast enough without any infrastructure to speak of.

Winter Field Day 2021 After Action Report – This video is important because it shows a real world test of the equipment and methodology discussed on the channel and blog, almost every day. In this video I used a low power radio, palm sized field computer, and a PowerFilm Lightsaver Max, to power it all. Instead of focusing on contest points, I focused on the logistics of getting my messages to their intended recipients, wherever they happened to be around the world. This pragmatic methodology is sound, the equipment didn’t fail, and the operator went home with a pocket full of useful experience, to share with all of you.

Shelter & Gear – This video goes through shelter and supporting gear for portable operations Hopefully it also reminds us how getting out in the field from time to time, makes us better grid down operators at home as well. When we take time to operate outdoors for more than an hour at a time, we learn lessons which can be applied to a grid down where we didn’t expect it to happen. Even if you don’t believe it, it is still a very nice video to watch, and is lite on the “communications”.

Station Strategy Rpi Field Computer – This video represents the last iteration of my low power QRP station, before moving away from a Yaesu FT-81x/Raspberry Pi based station, to a lighter, smaller, and easier to deploy station. It goes into the station strategy at the time, one which has proven to be a solid. This station was not a fail, but we do have better options going forward, option which only a fool would ignore.

Julian oh8stn #hamradio

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