Hike Across Maryland 2011
Amateur Radio Communications

Overview

The Mountain Club of Maryland hosts a biannual hike across Maryland event in which approximately one hundred hikers attempt to hike forty one (40.9) miles on the Appalachian Trail in Maryland from the Pennsylvania line (Penmar) to the West Virginia line Harpers Ferry).  The event starts at five o’clock in the morning and ends at approximately half past eight in the evening on Saturday, the seventh of May.


Frederick County Amateur Radio Emergency Service with assistance from hams from around the region assist the Mountain Club of Maryland by providing communications services at each checkpoint manned by MCM staff volunteers and assigning able bodied hams to hike with the MCM sweep hikers at the end of the line.

In addition to Amateur Radio voice communications, the digital operations using the Automatic Packet Reporting System will be used as a back channel for short messages, informational bulletins, and position information.  

Schedule

Net Control

0500 - 0900 N8AAY operating from home QTH

0900 - 1330 N3RO operating from Boonsboro checkpoint

1330 - 2030 KB3FIO operating from Harpers Ferry Checkpoint

Sweep Hikers

0500 - 0930 Pen Mar - Cowell:   WA3USG-7

0900 - 1330 Cowell - Wash Mmnt:         NE3R-7

1030 - 1430 Wash Mnmt - Gathland:    WE4APR-7 (ahead of most, not sweeping)

1300 - 1715 Wash Mnmt - Gathland:   N3ATO-7

1700 - 2030 Gathland - Harpers Ferry: WA4APR-7

Checkpoints

(map) https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1JQyKBtQS5naT7baAYRHTJZ2JACw9sdSxVlPvB1AEai0

Location

Start

End

Operator

Notes

Pen Mar

0500

0630

N3VNG

High Rock

0515

0730

KB3LNM

ICOM T90A HT (5 watts) with 2 extra batteries and a 2 meter J Pole that I can use if needed

Raven Rock Road

0600

0830

AB3KS / K3HCP-6

Kenwood TM-D710A APRS Mobile, 50 watts, 2m & 440, Two Band Mobile Antenna and a Buddipole 2m - 40m portable dipole antenna.  There is NO 440 on the Buddipole.  APRS identifier - K3HCP-9 (Mobile)

Kenwood TH-D72A APRS HT, 5 watts, 2m & 440 bands, 1800 mAh battery,15" HT antenna, also connectible to all other antennas on site.  A spare 1800mAh battery will be provided.  APRS identifier - K3HCP-7 (Kenwood TH-D7 HT)

Ensign Cowell Shelter

0630

1200

K3PDK-6

Yaesu FTM-10r voice, th-f6a + tnc + laptop for aprs

Power will be 3 7ah batteries. Kenwood TM-D700 digipeater in the parking lot.

Boonsboro Road

0845

1300

N3RO / AE3RS-6

Taesu FT-8900 voice, Yaesu VX-8DR APRS

Washington Monument

0900

1530

KA1FFO / KE3FL / N3SB

APRS Equipment TBD

Yaesu FT-8900, Yaesu FT-580, two 12V @ ~7AHr batteries& one 12V @ 15AHr batt, 12V ~ 80AHr batt if needed, foldable J-pole antennas + extra coax.

Lambs Knoll

1000

1630

WB3KDS-6 1000 - 1300/ K3TED 1300+

Kenwood TH-D7 early, Kenwood TH-D72 later, Kenwood TM-D700 digipeater in parking area

Gathland

1130

1915

N3TCR-6 /

N3EVF 1530 on

APRS (Bill’s equipment)

Weverton

1345

2030

K3RTW / AE3RS-6

Yaesu FTM-350 / Kenwood TH-D72(late)

Harpers Ferry

1400

2030

KB3FIO / WB4APR-6

Kenwood TM-D710, Kenwood TH-D72, Kenwood TH-D7, Icom IC-208, Icom HT.

Operating Procedure

Voice

The Mountain Club has defined start time for each checkpoint with approximate end times.  Amateur Radio volunteers may secure when the last hiker / sweep crew arrive at the next checkpoint.  Contact the net control station upon arrival at your assigned checkpoint and prior to securing your station.

Operating Frequencies, target linked repeater system.  Use the best for your location.  The 70cm repeater is ideal, no desense to/from APRS operatoins.

443.850+ T123 Repeater (linked)

146.745- T123 Repeater (linked)

147.06+ T123 Repeater (linked)

146.58 Simplex backup

If you haven’t heard from a station in a while, or the station you are calling is not responding.  Attempt to make contact on 146.58 simplex on 15 & 45 past the hour.  If you can monitor a second voice frequency, make it 146.58 (another good reason to use the UHF repeater).

All traffic is expected to be informal, with a few basic procedures.

APRS

Our APRS expertise varies widely, so we’ll do what we can.  Most of the stuff below isn’t critical, but whatever you can do will make the APRS operation more effective.

Operating frequencies.  144.39 and 144.99.  I’ll discuss APRS station details with individuals.  Be prepared by programming the following memories.

144.39 fixed station operation

144.39 +600 sweep hikers

144.99 -600 digipeaters


Use tactical call for MyCall and add your call sign to the status text for station identification

If you are not comfortable changing the mycall setting - try adding the tactical call to the status text

Begin your status with your tactical or FCC call (the opposite one from your MYCALL) and any other fixed info that might be useful as shown below:

Position Comment (Kenwood / Yeasu rigs), use the following

RUNNER REPORTING:  With over 100 runners, we cannot track individual  runners for the first few hours because there will just be too many.  But after several hours, it should be possible to simply enter say a handful of runner numbers in a message that passed a give check point for a given minute.  An example message would be:

COWELL:

 0937 123 114 09 23 45 17 36 …(etc)...

This shows that Cowell is reporting at 0937 the accumulated list of runners at that time.   We are not at all after "minute-by-minute" precision, only a time stamp to approximate when that report was made.  It would only take a dozen such messages to report all 100 runners, so this is easy to do... (after they spread out)

OBJECTS:  You can use your HT to enter OBJECTS if you are at the location where you want to place the object.  Just choose an object NAME and enter it temorarily into your HT's MYCALL.  Then change the STATUS text to describe the object, then transmit the packet a few times until you are sure it was digipeated.  Then change the MYCALL and STATUS back to your original tactical call.  Those packets will be seen as OBJECTS by everyone else.  The challenge is that the object name (in MYCALL) is limited to only 6 characters...

For example to report a runner down, do these settings:

MYCALL: 023DWN

STATUS: Is awaiting routine pickup

These Objects are BEST used by SWEEP or APRS hikers on the trail.

Names & Call Signs

Here are some names that go with the call signs related to this event, some you may see on your APRS display, some you may hear on the voice net, others, may be just far enough behind the scenes that you’ll never know they are there.  I’ve ordered them in roughly the order that they will appear, I figured that made more sense than ordering them by call suffix.

N8AAY                Eric

WA3USG        Dick G.

N3VNG        Tim

KB3LNM        Joe T.

AB3KS                Mark

K3HCP        Herb

K3PDK        Danny

NE3R                Joe

N3RO                Rick O.

AE3RS        Rick S.

KA1FFO        Al

KE3FL                Phil

N3SB                Steve

WE4APR        Bethanne

N3ATO        Scott

WB3KDS        Jackie

K3TED        Ted

N3TCR        Bill

N3EVF                Don

WA4APR        Andrew

K3RTW        Tom W.

KB3FIO        Jeff

WB4APR        Bob

WN3R                Dick H.  (remote 144.99 digi)

K8WDX        Tom A. (remote 144.99 digi)