News Gathering and Community-Service Volunteers Helping to Meet the Needs of Cities and People in Western Washington.

In the event of a natural or man-made disaster information-gathering is vital for broadcasters! Each day, thousands of area residents turn to their radio for information about events that impact their lives and property.  Broadcasters HAVING that information is a prime concern! Consequently, a system that will STILL work when normal land-line and cellular service is disrupted, is a must!

One good example here.   Another here.

The Oly-Comm two-way radio systems not only fulfill this need, but also have sufficient operational space to accommodate additional operators active in various forms of community response. We have chosen to construct and operate Oly-Comm in the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) mostly for practical purposes. Although access to additional radio spectrum exists there, communicating business and news-gathering for broadcast operations within Amateur (Ham) Radio is prohibited (97.113) and significant operator-restrictions (even with immediate family members) exist. This caused us to look for a radio service with enough flexibility to allow for all local circumstances and the GMRS provides just that. There are no technical tests, just registration and FCC licensing (with a modest fee) that covers many family members for ten years.

Condensed rules are here Complete GMRS eligibility details are here.

 

Oly-Comm has a Tri-Level Structure

Tier One - News-Gathering Volunteers

Operators who are willing to gather and report reliable information regarding items of interest, the condition of the public infrastructure and general state-of-being in their particular area are encouraged. Links to area designation maps will be posted on-line as they are developed.

Volunteers can obtain their application form here. Please return your completed application to the address listed on the form. Multiple-service radio Operators are encouraged!

Tier Two - Community-Service & Support Traffic

Operators who typically have traffic to pass, regarding preparedness or response activities by either public or private agencies (ACS, Red Cross, CERT, Food Banks, Shelters, etc.), are welcomed to take advantage of Oly-Comm availability.  Joining this radio community can have numerous benefits. If recent history is any guide, local first-responder agency communications infrastructure may occasionally be subject to physical damage, or other operational limitations as large disasters may generate, so those operators are also encouraged to participate within the Oly-Comm framework as needs may dictate.

Volunteers wishing to establish a relationship of this nature can obtain their application form here.  

Tier Three - General Operations

When Tier One or Tier Two Traffic is not present, communications of a more general nature are permissible and even encouraged, as prescribed in CFR 47 Part 95E.  While transient usage is also permitted, we encourage all frequent operators to make their presence known and to regularly "belong" to the Oly-Comm on-air Family.

In the future, weekly Practice Nets will likely occur on an evening (yet to be determined) at 19:00 hours for "Maynard", at 19:15 hours for "Uptown" and 19:30 hours for "Metro".

Be sure to review the helpful Operational Protocol Documents and Terms and Conditions.


Compassion in Action!

Emergency-Preparedness and Disaster-Response Communications Support for the Peninsula & Beyond.

Why is Radio of Hope involved in a project of this nature? In a Word - Service! While Jesus did say that His Kingdom "was not of this world" (John 18:36) that doesn't mean that His people are never to be concerned with the issues that surround or disrupt daily life for their fellow human beings. Christ took a personal interest in men and women while He lived on this earth. Wherever He went, He was a "medical missionary".  We are to go about doing good, even as He did. We are instructed to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and comfort the sorrowing. Persons impacted by man-made or natural disaster (whether large or small) are opportunities for the Kingdom to be seen in a loving and practical manner. However, there is no religious requirement for Oly-Comm membership. If you care about people we are happy to have you working together with us! Our motivation doesn't have to be your motivation. Oly-Comm radio operators are community-service minded individuals who are willing to be helpful when practical needs arise.

Radio operator participation, overlapping within other public-service, private agencies, NPREP, CPREP and Amateur Radio, are encouraged for purposes of broad interoperability. Additional frequencies to carry vital information during times of congestion and stress...who can argue with that? The question remains...and is always helpful...can there ever be too many backups?

Volunteers can register their intentions here.

In the event that you have not had much, if any, experience with repeater-based, UHF-FM, two-way radio systems, some basic configuration details are presented below. Knowing what to expect, by way of system performance, will assist all operators in achieving their best usage.

Documents outlining Operational Protocols

 

 

As can be seen from this image the ability to communicate over significant distances, and to overcome local obstacles to a sufficient response, is accomplished with the proper system design. The radio service in which this installation is licensed is the General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS) which began as the "Class A Citizens Radio Service" with roots dating back to the late 1940s & early 50s.  Bearing little resemblance to the 27 MHz "Class D CB Radio Service", so popular (and frustrating) in the 1970s & 80s, the GMRS is operated with modern UHF-FM communications equipment with performance nearly identical to current Police, Fire and other First-responder systems, yet still permitting "family-style" operation.

Base, hand-held, and mobile units can communicate directly between individual units, when the local need exists, BUT they also have the ability to conduct wide-area communications by connecting THROUGH the mountain-top repeater. In fact, this is the typical mode of communication as it helps to regularly connect all Oly-Comm members thus developing their two-way radio skills and sense of community. 

The Oly-Comm1 repeater ("Maynard") upon which this system is based has been a Kenwood TKR-850. Operating at 462.675 Mhz, PL 100.00, it operates in a dual-back-up mode with a UPS which is, itself, backed-up with an on-site generator powered by 400 gallons of LP gas.  This machine is being replaced/upgraded with a Motorola Quantar capable of 100% duty operation at a full 50 watts of RF power. The current antenna (Tram-1485) is a proof-of-concept device (5db gain) that will also be replaced with a larger and more capable CommScope DB411-B antenna (11dbi gain) mounted on our main tower and 65' higher above ground. The new antenna was mounted on the tower 11-12-2020 by Harrington Aerial and will be placed into service soon.  The tower elevation is 2077 feet above sea level.

 

 

Our second "close-in" saturation repeater Oly-Comm2 ("Uptown") for Port Townsend is a Vertex VXR7000  (462.675, PL 210.7) which is enhancing operations over the difficult terrain of the northern Quimper Peninsula.

The Oly-Comm3 repeater ("Metro") has been developed to thoroughly cover the Seattle-Tacoma-Olympia region (462.625, PL 91.5) and extends Oly-Comm Peninsula communication capacity across the Sound. This is being done in cooperation with the SeaTac Repeater Association as an existing-equipment upgrade to increase power levels and hardware durability. This repeater is multi-tone with general operations currently on 141.3 Hz (open system, known as East Tiger, with no permission required) and internal Oly-Comm operations on "Metro" 91.5 Hz by application only. "Metro" is expected to improve service into somewhat isolated locations like Shelton, Brinnon, Hoodsport and portions of Northern Kitsap county not reachable through "Maynard".  Field-testing and verification is on-going. As an example, the photo below is one of the towers on East Tiger. Whether it is the actual tower for "Metro" is unknown at this time. Once more precise information is available we will post it here.

 

 

If our enhancements at "Maynard" fail to provide more than an incremental improvement to system coverage in mid-western Clallam County then we plan to strengthen our coverage over the mid-western end of Clallam county beyond Port Angeles with an Oly-Comm4 repeater ("West") (462.675, PL 91.5)

Expansion plans have called for additional equipment to provide expanded coverage and to "harden", or make more resilient, the Oly-Comm systems. This includes eventually adding solar/battery backup to our existing UPS and LP-fired generator systems.

Some Really Good News!

Collaborative contributions toward the various projects have been significant! A generous grant in the amount of $5,000.00 was provided by the First Federal Community Foundation. The Community Services wing of the Sequim Seventh-day Adventist Church also provided $1,500.00. This funding level has enabled both the upgrade to "Maynard" and the establishment of "Metro" through a gracious cooperative arrangement with the SeaTac Repeater Association and facilitated by City of Seattle technical personnel. 

Service area map - "Maynard" Comm Site Repeater

This prediction is based upon typical equipment performance histories and the known terrain. Green and gold shading indicate areas of operation, depending upon specific transmitter power. This map was generated with an arbitrary distance cut-off beyond about 100 miles. This UHF-FM system was designed from a regional-coverage perspective. 

 

Service Area Map - "Uptown" Repeater

While this prediction is also based upon typical equipment performance histories, and the known terrain, actual performance exceeds the boundary-line with good coverage into much of Sequim. 

 

Service Area Map - "Metro" Repeater

This prediction is also based upon typical equipment performance histories and the known terrain. Field-verification will occur upon completion of construction and any updates will be posted here. Green and yellow tinting indicates mainly mobile (higher-powered) coverage. As with every radio system, "Your Mileage May Vary" so it is always best to plan for mobile operations first and foremost, and recognizing that hand-held radio coverage will be best-used in conjunction with localized mobile-commands events!