Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ham Radio In The Back Country - A Milestone

 Before you read my latest blog post entry, I have to mention that I have reached a milestone, as 'Ham Radio In The Back Country' is my 700th blog post that I have published since I started this blog in March of 2005.

When I first began publishing my blog, I felt for the longest time that I was the only one reading what I was posting (probably true). Over the years this began to change, and my statistics page now shows that I have acquired a faithful group of followers over the years that continues to grow, and now numbers in the tens of thousands each month

I would like to think that my blog has continued to evolve with improvements made to the content, my writing skills, and the photos I include with each entry.
Along the way I became more proficient at working with HTML code improving the look of my blog, with changes made by going from a stock 2 column page to a custom 3 column page greatly enhancing the look.
Another major change made along the way is having my latest blog post the only one published on the front page.
This eliminates the need to scroll down the page to read past entries, and for those of you wishing to read past blog posts that I have published, my last 10 entries are listed for your reading enjoyment.

Another change I made is the use of labels which allows you the reader to enter keywords in the search box bringing up related past blog posts.

So enough shop talk about my blog, and I will continue to write about what interests me, and hopefully you will continue to find it interesting enough to continue the journey with me.
I thank you all for your continued support.       Jerry

                                  Ham Radio In The Back Country

Early morning just after sunrise finds me in the area of Sibbald Flats, part of Kananaskis Country located along the eastern slope of the Alberta Rockies.
I was in the area moving one of my trail cameras from one location in K Country to this new location.
This new location is seen on the map where my Kenwood D72 beacon waypoints can be seen ending in heavy cover near a stream where I positioned my trail camera on a good sized pine tree overlooking a a clearing that includes part of the creek with several large trees that had fallen over and were lying across the creek.
 After looking the area over, there appears to be  the possibility that a cougar has been using these fallen trees as a bridgework, allowing him to cross over the creek without getting his feet wet.

  Once I had my trail camera set up and ready to capture images, I recorded the lat/long coordinates supplied by my D72 that I had set up to manually beacon as VE6AB-7 and was being heard and digipeated by my APRS weather station VE6AB-8 mounted in the cargo bay of my mobile parked on a forestry road a kilometer or so away.
That way when I return in a month I can find the location of my trail camera, as it is easy to forget how to find the location if you don't take the time to record the lat/long coordinates, making sure you can find the particular tree you mounted the camera on.

Give it a month and everything looks the same in heavy cover, although the creek would probably allow me to find the location of my trail camera without to much difficulty.
I also shot several photos of the area in the vicinity of my trail camera with my cell phone, allowing me to check these photos upon returning.
Upon returning to the area in March to where I parked my mobile initially, and by entering the lat/long coordinates into my Garmin Montana, I will be able to easily hike in to the location of my trail camera, as the Montana will lead me directly to the location.

Once I have finished swapping out the memory card and installing fresh batteries in my trail camera, I won't have any problem finding my truck again, as its as easy as using the saved waypoints on the Montana to run the course in reverse when returning to my mobile.
It's important to always carry a topo map and compass in your pack if your not real familiar with any area, as you do not want to bet your life on a device like a GPS receiver that runs on batteries.
Carrying spare batteries in your pack for your devices is a good idea as well.
While out in about in the back-country whether it is fly-fishing a mountain stream, or visiting one of my trail cameras, or just out for a hike, there is always the possibility of encounters with wild animals, and therefore I always carry bear spray, as it works equally well on fending off bears, cougars, or even wolves.

                                 Connected with Robust Packet HF APRS

I should also mention that conventional VHF APRS is a hit and miss situation in many parts of the southern Alberta Rockies, and as what is a normal daily occurrence for me while I'm mobile, I was running RPR (Robust Packet Radio) HF APRS allowing me to stay connected with the APRS network.

I have RPR HF APRS available to me through the use of the SCS Tracker DSP TNC device mounted in the radio stack of my mobile, and paired with the Kenwood TS-480HX and the Garmin Montana showing the stations on the screen that I was hearing across Canada and the US as well as other parts of the world.

The SCS Tracker and robust packet is amazing to see in operation as seen in the insert photo.
On this day I was being gated by HF Gateways located in Canada and the US as seen in the insert photo above showing the waypoints on the map of the Sibbald Flats area, at distances of 900 to 3100 kilometers depending on which gateway heard me first when I beaconed.

While travelling in this area of Kananaskis country, It gave me a good feeling to know that my mobile was connecting with the APRS network, and if I ran in to trouble I could get a message out asking for help if required.

All of the HF RPR (robust packet radio) APRS activity across North America is on the top end of the 30 meter band on the frequency of 10.147.30 MHz, the main RPR frequency used by those of us using the SCS Tracker DSP/TNC that also can be used with a computer running APRSIS/32 allowing for keyboard messaging between RPR stations.

Note....all photos expand.

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