|Top of the Hill||Boots and Blisters||Business as Usual|
|Who's Who and New||Feature Article||Web News|
| Recent Missions
|| Callout Information
|Top of the Hill||by David Dixon, President|
The fire starting method was interesting but the real kudos go to Steve for his hard work on a great mock search on the 21st. Things actually started with a real mission which added some initial excitement. But after things settled down and we weren't needed on the La Luz most of the team responded to the other side of the mountain for a great training and sar learning experience. It was also well attended by a large group from all over the state including canines. Everyone certainly benefited from the experience.
It's October which means it's time for Halloween, golden aspens, and most importantly officer nominations for 2003. As you have all heard before, there's much more to this organization than missions. Without the further dedication of not only officers but committee chairs, websiters and editors there would be no Cibola SAR. Yes it does mean more hours and meetings, but just like missions it can be rewarding to know that your help keeps the engine running. If you are interested, or know an active member that is or deserves a nomination, let an officer know before next month. Nominations close at the end of the November meeting.
It's nice to be back to more missions a month. If you haven't gone through your pack lately now is the time to winterize, and since it will certainly weigh more it's also time to keep your back and body strong. To quote our ex-President Larry Mervine, "keep exercising" and from me, good rescuing!
|Boots and Blisters||by Aaron Hall, Training Officer|
We have two events coming up in October, a four-wheel drive training on Saturday the 19th and a Litter evaluation on Saturday the 26th at the Embudo trailhead at the East end of Indian School. The manager of Desert Rat is going to put on the 4WD training for us. [Ed. Note: details of the training were not available at press time]
We also have two events coming up in November, a Man-Tracking training which our very own Chris Murry has volunteered to lead, and a Land Navigation Evaluation at the Embudo Trailhead.
|Business as Usual:Meeting Minutes||by Joyce Rumschlag, Secretary|
New faces include Jerry Axford and Kevin Mohr. Welcome!
Membership voted on joining NASAR. The cost is $170 and requires no other special action on the part of the team. Membership approved with a 15 to 0 vote.
Steve Buckley went through all the changes to the membership guide. 17 members voted to accept the new membership guide changes with no one objecting.
Active members were reminded to keep track of their own trainings and evaluations so they know what they need to remain active.
Meeting was adjourned at 2030.
|Who's Who and New||by Steve Buckley, Membership Officer|
I want to thank all who attended our Mock Search. I especially would like to thank those Cibola members that volunteered to "do stuff" I needed help with. Larry Mervine did a great job of keeping track of three very busy missions. Tom Russo had a busy time planning the activities of all of the teams. He did it by-the-numbers and came up with a great plan. Thanks to both of you for helping to fill the ICS staff and your fine effort during the mission.
I want to especially thank the "subjects" for this mission. Chris Murray (A.K.A Chris McMury) did a great job of serving as a "target" for the dog teams. Chris had the longest hike and spent the most time in the field. The dog handlers were very impressed with the "large scent pool" Chris supplied (a consequence of sitting in one place for a long time). Thanks Chris!
David Chapek (A.K.A David Chapstick) was supposed to provide a close "surprise" find that would drive a high-angle rescue and a litter evac. David was about 1000 feet from the Incident Base. As it was, the dog team missed him, ICS staff failed to respond to "calls from the woods nearby", David's medical condition changed several times (including a "faith healing" at mid-night) as Mock Search conditions changed, he even flashed "SOS" to one of the teams (Joyce noted his SOS but her call noting David's location never got past her team's Strike Team Leader)and he served as a pretty good "comm. link" to Chris. Sorry to yank you around David and thanks much for the flexible support.
David Dixon (A.K.A. Dave Dixonary) was the horse team subject. Dave did a great job of dealing with the real mission that just happened to be called out at the same time as the Mock Search as Pager 1 then hit the field as the "let's see if I can really annoy the ICS staff by handing them one more subject" subject (it worked). Thanks for all Dave.
Many of you participated in several "training scenarios" that worked various objectives. Thanks to all. Finally, Aaron and Jennifer provided some great ideas for several of those scenarios. Thanks. Despite everything that could go wrong...and did, the Mock Search went great thanks to your help, support, and participation. The AC, Beck Atkinson, gave James a great after action report. Cibola was recognized as providing a valuable training event for New Mexico SAR.
|Web News||by Gones B. Bygones|
|Toy Story Three, a review of some electronic gadgetry.||by Tom Russo|
This is by far my favorite new toy. It is a "dual band" mobile ham radio that I have mounted in my truck for use all around town, enroute to missions, and on the occasions when I get to play in incident base.
My new radio replaces the jerry-rigged handheld on a docking booster amplifier that I've had held "temporarily" onto my dashboard with a wire coat hanger since 1997. After years of sitting in direct sunlight on the dash the display on my trusty spare ADI AT-600 handheld finally began to give up the ghost, and the booster amplifier started, well, not amplifying.
The Kenwood D700A is a VHF/UHF dualbander, but can be made to operate on two VHF channels simultaneously. It is capable of 50 Watt output on VHF and 35 Watt output on UHF. My previous "mobile" radio was also a dual bander, but I found that I never had a use for the UHF band. There are several UHF repeaters around the state, but most of the action among folks I talk to is on VHF.
So why would you want a radio that can deal with two VHF channels at once? Well, The really nifty thing about it is that it comes with a built in "terminal node controller" (TNC). A TNC is essentially a radio modem with some added intelligence, and is the primary tool one needs to use the Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) that we've been seeing more and more on missions over the past few years. Attach a GPS to the Kenwood, and it's an APRS tracker, transmitting your position as often as you like it to.
In addition, the radio will display incoming APRS transmissions on its front panel, so you can see who is out there, where they are and how fast they're going. Attach a computer running APRS software, and you can plot these stations on a map in real time --- there's even APRS software available for the Palm Pilot. Very nifty stuff.
The rig mounts under the dash and has a remote faceplate that can be attached anywhere. This is a nice arrangment, as you can keep the main radio safe out of the sunlight while keeping the small LCD display mounted right where you can see it. THe faceplate can easily be removed from its mount on the dash and placed somewhere safe out of the sun when not in use.
The one gripe I have with the radio so far is that the remote faceplate only serves for the main radio controls. The microphone attaches to the radio itself, not the face plate, and so you are limited in how far away you can mount the rig, although Kenwood sells a kit of extension cables. The speaker is in the radio proper, not the microphone, further limiting how out-of-the-way you mount the rig unless you install external speakers --- the radio has two jacks for that purpose. Nevertheless, the radio is easy to install (it was out of the box and installed in the truck within an hour of UPS delivering it), the controls are quite easy to learn, and the displays are very informative.
Of course, a mobile radio doesn't help you much once you hit the trail. Good news: Kenwood makes a similarly featured handheld radio, the D7A.
Bad news: Neither radio is particularly cheap --- the D700A sells for around $600, the D7A for about $430. Still, when you factor in the cost of the TNC, which usually costs around $150 or so, the radio isn't such a bad deal. If you're on the market for a new mobile or handheld ham transceiver then I heartily recommend the Kenwood.
I bought mine from Ham Radio Outlet, a dangerous place to websurf with your credit card handy.
This is my most recent acquisition. It is a $30 kit (bag of parts and a PC board) that serves as an APRS encoder when connected to a GPS and a handheld radio --- it can't decode APRS packets, but we seldom need that on the trail. If you don't feel like shelling out $430 for the Kenwood D7A APRS-ready handheld, this could be a viable alternative if you aren't afraid of solder fumes and can scrounge some parts.
The Tiny Trak II is a simple kit, consisting of only about a dozen parts to solder onto the PC board. You have to provide an enclosure, power and radio connections yourself -- I used the cord from a broken speaker-mic and a 9V battery clip from Radio Shack that I had in my junk box. It took about an hour to assemble, and a few seconds to program using the software you can download free from the web.
If you have a spare handheld radio, or have just one radio but are assigned to a team where you will not be a communicator, the Tiny Trak II will allow you to carry an APRS tracker without needing to be outfitted by SAR Support. On our mock search we had a problem where SAR Support's trailer was enroute to a real mission, so none of our mock search teams had APRS trackers on them. If some team members had their own APRS trackers then when SAR Support arrived later they could have used their tracking equipment to keep better tabs on where teams were.
The Tiny Trak II is made by Byonics. I ordered mine on a Tuesday and it arrived via regular mail on Friday, so they're quite responsive.
This is a little item. Garmin has chosen a very non-standard connector design for its GPS-to-PC interface. The 12XL and friends use a round four-pin plug, the eTrex family uses a flat rectangular connector. Garmin sells cables with its connectors, but at a hefty price: the GPS to PC cable runs about $40.
The Purple Open Project has the answer. Its founder had access to a computer controlled milling machine and an injection molder, so he simply made molds for the Garmin plugs and now sells them really cheap. You can buy two connectors for about $15 and make your own cables quick and easy.
Since my new Kenwood radio came with a cable to connect a GPS to it that has the Kenwood connector on one end and bare wires on the other, all I needed to do was buy one of the Purple Open Project's connectors, wire it up to the Kenwood cable and voila! I also picked up the POP's 3.3V regulated power supply built into a cigarette lighter plug, and now I can run my GPS in the truck without burning up its batteries. I used the second connector to make a PC-to-GPS cable for downloading GPS data from my old eTrex into my computer.
Visit the Purple Open Project's web site at http://pfranc.com/
This is the acquisition I'm most excited about. About three years ago I replaced my Garmin 38 with the original Garmin eTrex, and after an initial bout of dissatisfaction with it's "cutsiness" (see Lost and Found volume 5, Issue 5) I finally upgraded its software, settled in and got used to its ease of use, fast acquisition times, and basic functionality. For $120 the eTrex is a good choice for a basic GPS. Cibola just bought a bunch of them for its cache.
But then I found the eTrex Venture. Only slightly more expensive than the basic eTrex --- $170 at REI --- it is much more fully featured. While I had to build a cable out of junk parts and Purple Open Project connectors to save the $40 that Garmin wanted for their cable, the eTrex Venture comes complete with a data cable included. That practically accounts for the price difference between the original eTrex and the Venture.
The Venture is identical in size and weight to the eTrex. But unlike the eTrex it has a "click stick" --- a five position (left,right, up, down and "in") joystick of sorts that allows the Venture to support the one feature I missed most in the eTrex: panning the map page. The click stick impacts the user interface dramatically, and while the Venture has the same buttons on the sides that the eTrex does, they don't always serve the same purpose. It takes a little re-learning to move from the eTrex to the Venture, but it is well worth the effort.
The Venture also has a higher resolution greyscale display than the eTrex, and it is very pleasing to the eye. Along with the higher resolution display comes the ability to zoom the map in much tighter. The original eTrex allows you to zoom only down to a 200ft scale. The Venture lets you zoom down to a 20 foot scale, and provides a small positional error circle to let you know when you're zooming in so close that you are looking on a finer scale than the resolution of the GPS fix.
I really like how Garmin has fixed a big complaint I had about the original eTrex. The Garmin 12XL and family had a single page with most of the relevant data on it: position, speed, altitude, time, etc. The eTrex had a navigation page that would display one of those pieces of information at a time, and you had to cycle between these with the "up" and "down" buttons; it was very clearly a misfeature for SAR purposes. The Venture has a "trip computer" page that can display a user-selectable set of data: By default it contains a trip odometer, time in motion, time stopped, odometer, speed, maximum speed, moving average and overall average speed, but you can tailor it to your needs: each of those fields can be changed to contain just about any piece of information you'd like. This is a GREAT feature and I really am glad that Garmin went this way.
Another nicety that the "click stick" brings is in the input of waypoint names. I've owned two other Garmin units (the GPS 38 and the eTrex), and on both one had to select each letter position in the name, then scroll through the whole alphabet using the up and down buttons until you got to the one you wanted, then hit "enter" and go to the next letter. It was a very time consuming process, and coming up with fast abbreviations was the only way to speed the process --- and of course now I don't recognize my waypoint names. The Venture, on the other hand, displays a 2-dimensional grid of letters and numbers, and you use the click-stick to move to your letter, then press down on the stick to select that letter. Much, much more convenient data entry method.
In the first few minutes I owned the unit I was surprised to be receiving signals from those, and soon my GPS was saying it was getting corrected signals to the other 8 satellites it was receiving. But I noticed that as I moved around --- even on the scale of a few feet --- the satellites dropped in and out, so my average position error wasn't really getting that much better. Since then, I've seen estimated position errors as low as 7 feet (2.1m), but not for extended periods of time.
For additional anectodal evidence, Katarina and I went "geocaching" (http://www.geocaching.com/) with both the eTrex and the Venture last weekend, and we got a good look at the superiority of the newer unit. For starters, the Venture did show a better estimate of when we were near the published cache location, but neither unit was precise enough to be relied upon to get us to the exact spot --- once we were within about 20 feet we had to fall back on search techniques instead. But the Venture was much more precise while we were on trails --- although we retraced our steps back to the truck at the end of the day, the eTrex showed our inbound tracklog about 100 feet south of our outbound track log at its tightest zoom level. The Venture showed much less variation, more on the order of 20 feet.
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