Rescue Team starts trials with new radio system
November 8, 2021
On Sunday 7th Nov., a significant portion of Aberdyfi Search & Rescue Team was out on Cader Idris helping run some tests with their new digital VHF radio system.
“On a very simplistic level, the new digital handsets perform much the same task as our old analogue radios” said Team volunteer Chris Dunn who has been leading the implementation of the new system. “However, the real magic of the system starts to happen once you introduce a repeater network. Analogue VHF handsets work on a line-of-sight basis, and their range can be greatly hampered in mountainous terrain. However, digital signals can travel via the internet, so if a digital handset can contact an internet-enabled repeater, then it can communicate with any other handset with contact to any other repeater. Effectively, we should be able to achieve full communications from one side of the mountain to the other, which will be a massive boost when we have large operations on the mountain.”
Behind the scenes, a good deal of work has gone into calculating the positioning of repeaters to maximise radio coverage whilst at the same time trying to keep the number of expensive repeater sites to a minimum. On Sunday it was time to test those coverage theories with some temporary repeater masts and a whole lot of people spread all over the mountain.
The resulting numbers are still being crunched, but Chris was very encouraged by the experiment. “The predictions on coverage seem to hold true which is great. If anything, it was better than expected; we got coverage in some really notorious VHF blackspots on the mountain.”
“We should once again mention that none of these massive improvements to our communications would have been possible without substantial and generous donations from charitable funds associated with Tywyn CoOp and HF Holidays, and we are extremely grateful for their support.” added Chris.