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Wabash River Ride

The 2017 Wabash River Ride will be held on Saturday, August 26, 7 am – 5 pm. The Ride is sponsored by the Wabash River Cycle Club. The start/finish will be at Fort Ouiatenon, located about 3 miles south of West Lafayette on South River Road.

Local amateur radio operators have provided communications for this event for the past several years. This is an excellent opportunity for our ARES members to help with a public service event and get some field operating time in the process!

Our plan for providing communications support for this event is outlined below. There are 4 fixed locations to operate from, as well as mobile communications needed for "SAG wagons" that will cover the entire route. APRS tracking may optionally be used for the SAG wagons.

Our primary mission will be to provide the communications support requested by the Wabash River Cycle Club. The secondary mission will be a communications network exercise for TCARES. Please keep these priorities in mind as you consider volunteering for this event.

Event Mission

This year's Wabash River Ride will involve bicyclists on a route extending more than 100 miles through remote areas of western Tippecanoe, Fountain, and Warren counties. Cellphone coverage along the route varies from good to marginal to non-existent. This poses a safety risk for those involved, and a challenge for event coordination.

Amateur radio will be used as the primary means of communication between WRCC personnel at the start/stop location (Fort Ouiatenon), multiple mobile SAG wagons that will travel the four "loops" of the route, and three designated SAG stops.

Be aware that we will be working with WRCC personnel that are not hams, as well as some amateurs that are not ARES members for this event, and we should conduct ourselves accordingly. Please be cordial, cooperative, and professional.

Mission priorities for this event:
  1. Provide voice comms between Fort Ouiatenon and the SAG wagons anywhere along the route
  2. Provide voice comms between all SAG stops
  3. Provide voice comms for any roaming WRCC officials
  4. Optionally provide automatic position tracking (using APRS) for the SAG wagons

Resources / Logistics

Mobile communications equipment being utilized for the SAG wagons should consist of a dual-band 2M/440 mobile transceiver with up to 50 watts output, with single-band 2M acceptable only on the Cicott Road and Trading Post loops. Mobile operators deploying in vehicles other than their own will also need a good quality magnet-mount antenna and a high-capacity, self-contained battery pack to power the radio, or a safe, reliable means of utilizing the vehicle's electrical power. APRS trackers may optionally be deployed in the SAG wagons. Mobile operators should arrive early at Fort Ouiatenon to coordinate these logistics with WRCC personnel and amateur radio volunteers with previous experience working this event.

Mobile operators riding in vehicles provided by WRCC personnel will also serve as primary navigators for those vehicles. It will be their responsibility to provide both communications and navigational assistance for the drivers. Having the detailed route map will be essential.

Each of the fixed locations should be capable of simultaneous voice operation on 2 meters and 440 MHz. Mobile transceivers capable of up to 50 watts output power should be used, as HTs will not be suitable for this operation.

Gain antennas for VHF/UHF and support masts of 15'-20' should be used at all fixed locations. All antenna deployment areas should be well marked and isolated from the public for safety reasons.

Commercial electrical power may not be available, so be prepared to power all equipment (radios, computer, etc.) by generator, battery, or other means for the duration of the event. Other resource considerations include tables, chairs, and shelter from the sun, wind, rain, etc.

Some food and drink are available at the SAG stops, but keep in mind that this is primarily for the ride participants. WRCC personnel may offer it to you, as well, and you are welcome to partake of it, but do not rely on it. The type of food available is quite limited (fruit and high energy snacks, for example), so expect to provide your own substantial food and drink for the day.

Plan for any possible weather conditions (heat, high humidity, rain, winds, etc.). All stations will be kept updated on any weather developments during the event, but being prepared is crucial.


Fort Ouiatenon

  • 40º 24' 20" N  /  086º 57' 54" W
  • Cellphone service: solid
  • WIRES: low power, NE
  • Nearest town/food: West Lafayette, 2.5 miles
  • Possibility of access to commercial AC power

 

Cicott Park SAG

  • 40º 20' 15.75" N  /  087º 09' 56.65" W
  • Cellphone service: marginal
  • WIRES: high power, NE
  • Williamsport repeater: high power, SW
  • Nearest town/food: Attica, 5 miles
  • Possibility of access to commercial AC power

 

Fountain SAG

  • 40º 13' 19" N  /  087º 20' 01.3" W
  • Cellphone service: minimal to none
  • WIRES: high power, high mast, NE
  • Williamsport repeater: low power, NE
  • Nearest town/food: Williamsport, Covington, 5 miles
  • Possibility of access to commercial AC power

 

Carbondale SAG

  • 40º 21' 34" N  /  087º 20' 50.7" W
  • Cellphone service: minimal
  • WIRES: high power, high mast, E
  • Williamsport repeater: high power, S
  • Nearest town/food: Attica, 8 miles

 

Volunteer Registration Form

Everyone planning to help with the Wabash River Ride is asked to complete and submit this registration form as soon as possible. Cheryl, K9HER, is coordinating this effort and will contact you prior to the event to confirm your commitment and discuss the details of your assignment. Be sure to click the "Submit" button at the bottom of the form when you are done.
*=Required
Your call sign: *
Your email address: *
Your availability on Saturday, August 26 (select one): *
Are you able/willing to drive the route and provide your vehicle as one of the SAG wagons? *
Vehicles must be large enough to accommodate a WRCC navigator, at least one rider (preferably 2), and be able to haul 1 or 2 bicycles.
Brief list of radio equipment you will be using or can provide: *
Any comments, preferences, suggestions, etc.:

Deployment Locations & Tactical Calls

Location  Tactical Call (Voice)
Fort Ouiatenon  Net Control
Cicott Park SAG Stop  Cicott Park
(pronounced "see-COT")
Carbondale SAG Stop  Carbondale 
Fountain SAG Stop  Fountain 
Trading Post Loop Mobiles  (Individual Call Sign)
Cicott Road Loop Mobile  (Individual Call Sign)
Rocky Ford Loop Mobiles   (Individual Call Sign)
Fountain Loop Mobiles  (Individual Call Sign)
VIP Escorts for WRCC Officials   (Individual Call Sign) 

 
Here is the route for 2017: 

http://wrcc-in.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/2Map.pdf

Tactical call signs will be utilized during the operation. Remember to identify with your call as required by the FCC, but please don't identify excessively. Standard procedure is to identify with personal calls only at the end of brief exchanges.


Net Control will be the station at Fort Ouiatenon. Net operations for this event are semi-directed, and the frequencies may be utilized by others during brief periods. Operational considerations may cause that to change at some point during the event, but that will be implemented on an as-needed basis.

Operations

The Fort Ouiatenon (Net Control) station should be set up and operational no later than 06:30. Operators providing communications for the mobile SAG wagons should be at Fort Ouiatenon by 6:30 for assignment. The Cicott Park station should also be operational by 06:30, with Carbondale up and running by 08:00, and Fountain by 09:30.

Primary communications will be on the WI9RES repeater (147.135+ MHz, 131.8 Hz), with the Williamsport (443.675+ MHz, 156.7 Hz) repeater providing extended area coverage. These circuits should be established at the first available opportunity and should be monitored by all SAG stops for the duration of the event.

Mobile comms through the 147.135 repeater will not be possible along some sections of the route. In these areas, mobile stations should attempt to establish contact with Net Control via the Williamsport repeater on 443.675+ MHz, 156.7 Hz. Alternatively, when within close range of one of the SAG stops and unable to access either repeater, mobiles may try 147.135 MHz or 443.675 MHz simplex to make contact.

Any repeater "dead spot" areas along the route (where access to either repeater is impossible) should be noted in detail by mobile operators on their map, and reported in person upon their arrival at the next SAG stop.

APRS Operations

APRS trackers may be deployed in the SAG wagons, based upon equipment availability. This equipment will be separate from the voice communications gear, and should operate automatically without operator intervention.

All APRS trackers should utilize good quality antennas, placed as far away as practical from the voice radio's antenna to minimize interference. Transmitters used for the trackers should have a power output of at least 10 watts. Handhelds, while not ideal, may be utilized if logistics require it.

APRS trackers will operate on the common APRS frequency (144.390 MHz), and should be programmed as follows:

Parameter Contents 
Callsign Your callsign
Path WIDE1-1, WIDE2-1
Beacon Rate every 3-3.3 minutes (180-200 seconds), if smart beaconing is not available
Mic-E Format Enable (if available)
SmartBeaconing On (if available)

There is no reason to transmit altitude data for this event, so disable that feature (if applicable) to reduce packet size. Smart Beaconing should be utilized if your APRS radio is so equipped. Beaconing rates of between 3 minutes and 3 minutes 20 seconds should be more than sufficient for our tracking purposes.

All APRS trackers to be used should be thoroughly tested well before the event date. This includes verifying the programming and testing the RF network accessibility.