I managed to get up at what is sometimes referred to as "Oh Dark Thirty" or Half Past Dark (actually 5:00 AM local time) to get ready to head over to the Emergency Management Office to help with this year's Labor Day parade. A shocking foretaste of Autumn was in the air as it was only 49F (9C) when I left home. A quick stop at the local coffee establishment helped to wake me up and keep me warm! When I got to my assigned spot, which was near the Community Pool, it was cool enough that a mist was rising off the water's surface!
There were quite a few CERT members who showed up and quite a few of those CERT members were Amateur Radio ops, which proved to be a fortunate thing. We had things quite under control providing communications between the parade organizers and the town's emergency services. It was a good practice excersize. Not only did we pass routine traffic containing standard parade information; but we were also able to help to quickly reunite a child who became separated from his parents.
We used a 440 MHz simplex frequency and I was happy to see that this was quite ample for us. South Plainfield is not a huge town, by any stretch of the imagination; but using UHF frequencies without going through a repeater can be tricky at times. No problems whatsoever. Not only was each radio op able to communicate with the command station; but if necessary, we could have communicated with each other directly. We were all using various brand handhelds with rubber ducks at 5 Watts.
For all intent and purpose, this was my first practical "in the field" test for my Wouxun. We chose a frequency that was not in my unit's memory; and I was quickly able to program it in and add it in seconds. This is one of the reasons that I chose to program the radio NOT using the computer software when I first got it. By doing it manually, the programming procedure became second nature. This is a good thing to know in the event of an emergency, when the situation is fluid and you have to adapt at a moment's notice.
I was at the starting point of the parade and had to relay various points of information to the command center. I did a lot of communicating and the battery held up well. In the past years with the Alinco, I would have to swap out battery packs at least once during the event. That didn't occur this morning, as the battery held up just fine. Needless to say, I had a fully charged spare on my belt, ready if needed. With the handheld also securely fastened to my belt, I used a Kenwood speakermike which I attached to the lapel area of my CERT vest; and there was more than adequate volume coming from the speaker. All my communications were done using Amateur frequencies and I pretty much ignored the municipal radio that I had been issued. It seemed our radios worked better than the town's anyway, as there were often requests for repeats of information between the people using the town's radios.
Tonight there will be a fireworks display and CERT members will be needed once again. However, my wife Marianne had to go to work today, so Joey and Cara and I will head over to their school which has a good view; and we will watch them from there.
For those of you thinking of a new handheld, as a spare, or even perhaps as your main unit, I would definitely recommend the Wouxun. So far it has performed well and the price is definitely right. It may not have all the fancy bells and whistles offered on the handhelds from "The Big 3"; but it sure did a great job for me today.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!