Colorado Region SCCA Forum Index Colorado Region SCCA
Visit the Colorado Region SCCA
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

HPR radios and workers

 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Colorado Region SCCA Forum Index -> Worker Discussion
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Cliff Young



Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:42 pm    Post subject: HPR radios and workers Reply with quote

Hi fellow workers.
Over the winter with the help of Nancy Foster, along with folks from the PCA and Vintage, I have come up with some thoughts on the use of HT’s (Handy-Talkies/Hand Held Radios) at HPR. I am going to state some facts which most workers know but a little review won’t hurt, and then combine it all together as four suggestions.

1. A few years ago most of us had to throw away our old TV set and get new ones because of the conversion to High Definition Television. During the conversion most, but not all stations had to change their transmitting frequency. An example would be channels 2 thru 12 were in what was called the VHF band, but after the conversion they ended up in the UHF band. As a result of the frequency change a number of TV viewers are no longer able to watch their favorite stations. I can see Channel 6’s tower but can no longer watch their programming. It so happens that the radios used by racers are also in the UHF band. UHF is primarily for line of sight communications.

2. The portion of the UHF band (450–470 MHz) that all racers use is basically a more streamlined and controlled version of the old Citizens Band, which is still in use. An FCC mandate stated that starting on January 1, 2013 “Any equipment that is not capable of operating on channels of 12.5 kHz or less will need to be replaced.1 “The FCC also states:” It has been estimated that Narrowband compliance can result in a 3 dB loss in signal strength.1” That folks is in effect cutting your power in half. On top of cutting the channels from 25 kHz to 12.5 kHz the FCC is looking at way to cut the channels further to 6.25 kHz.

3. Boeing Aircraft did a study on the human body and its effect in blocking radio waves. The result was reported around Dec 2012. In any case the body blocks radio waves the same as 125 pounds of potatoes, because of water content.

4. The concrete barriers are full of rebar and are never 100% dry.

5. Most worker communications at HPR go thru a repeater that is on the tower next to the classroom. The tower also has the outdoor speakers.

6. A radio repeater is a combination of a radio receiver and a radio transmitter that receives a weak or low-level signal and retransmits it at a higher level or higher power, so that the signal can cover longer distances without degradation.(from Wikipedia)

6a. Most repeaters will start transmitting within a 10th of a second upon hearing a transmission. This is not true at HPR. Because of a lag in the equipment of 1 to 2 seconds it is recommended when calling Control say Control twice because the first Control you say will be lost due to the equipment lag.

6b. If a worker comes to HPR with a receiver, so they can listen to communications they most likely will be told to set their receiver to 463.262500. Now if that worker is at bunker 7A which is line of sight to both Bunkers 6 and 7 and they are listening to the “manned and ready” calls from around the track and the signals from 6, 7, and maybe 10 are not as strong as the other bunkers, it is not that you can’t hear those bunkers; it is the repeater that can’t hear the transmissions from those bunkers. Like wise if you are monitoring communications and the other person in your bunker transmits remember that signal has to go to the repeater before it gets back to you.

Here is how all the information you have just read comes into play. None of what I have said in and of itself will cause radio problems. It is the accumulation of the little things that cause the Perfect Storm of Radio Problems.

.For Example:
If you are standing in bunker 6 with the radio hooked to your belt and there is a problem and you go to call it in, this is where all the little problems come together. First, the FCC NARROWBANDING MANDATE effectively cut the power output of the HT by up to 50%. Second, you are no longer line of sight to the repeater. Third, the radio headset cord is probably hanging around the antenna of the HT, and this sucks up radiated power. Fourth, you are probably standing next to one of the concrete bunker walls which being damp and full of rebar is either blocking or sucking away the radiated power of the HT. Fifth, you may be wearing the radio on your right side which now puts a lot of water content between the radio and the repeater.

While there are only a few bunkers where this perfect storm comes into play, I think it would be good to practice the following at all bunkers.

1. Make sure the HT’s antenna is as high up on your person as possible.
2. Never have your body between the HT and the repeater.
3. Keep the headset cord away from the HT’s antenna.
4. Keep the HT away from the concrete bunkers, the tire barriers are no better.


1) FCC NARROWBANDING MANDATE A Public Safety Guide for Compliance,
Copyright 2006, International Association of Fire Chiefs and The International
Municipal Signal Association. (FCC Web site)

http://transition.fcc.gov/pshs/docs/clearinghouse/guidelines/Narrowbanding_Booklet.pdf
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ed Shuler



Joined: 03 Jun 2007
Posts: 366
Location: Aurora, CO

PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 1:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great info Cliff. We will incorporate this into the radio training.

The baffling part of this issue to me is; If we have problems with radio communications, the standard solution is to remove the headphones and operate as a handheld station. This is generally not a valid solution during a race, because the marshals can't hear calls from control if cars are racing past the station.

How does removing the headsets (which almost always works) fit into the info you uncovered?

Not casting aspersions or trying to start a flame war, just saying...
_________________
Current F&C Worker and FV Racer.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Cliff Young



Joined: 03 Aug 2007
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes the headset is the problem. By Pulling the headset off and using the radio conforms to suggestions 1,2,3, and 4. If you talk straight into the radio you now have the antenna high, the antenna is not near the concrete, the headset wire is nowhere near the antenna, and most of your body is not between the radio and the repeater. Though the major problem is the loss of 50% of the transmitted signal because of the narrowbanding. I am bringing this up now so us grunts can kick this around ,so this coming year will be mostly free from gotchas. I have been told on more that one occasion that my "radio voice" sucks. I have spent the last few months experimenting with equipment that I own and two of the club radios trying to find a magic setting. I am trying to improve the track experience for everyone, myself include. By the way so far talking IN a bucket of water seems to hold the most promise for me.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Patrick Frank



Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 192

PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I may not make friends with this but Ill weigh in on the whole radio issue.

1) Every other club uses the same radios (different headsets) at HPR but yet were the only ones that have a problem. (Ill let you guys figure that one out)

2) If SCCA would spend the money to get the appropriate licenses we could get much better radios that would never have a problem at any track. Case and point my handheld (on high power) can hit the repeater on Pikes Peak from the paddock at HPR but yet corner 1 cant hear corner 6 at HPR... Without the licenses your limited to a max of 5 watts of power but with them there is no limit (but a lot more hoops to jump through)
_________________
CDR T&S
2010 Regional Driver of the Year
'97 Mazda Miata "Baby Cop Car" #30 ES
'84 Mazda RX7 #30 S7 "The Famine Car"
'81 Mazda RX7 #31 S7 "The Famine Car 2"
Help stop world hunger
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ed Shuler



Joined: 03 Jun 2007
Posts: 366
Location: Aurora, CO

PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Having worked races at HPR with every sanctiong body (MRA,RMVR,PCA,leMons) I can tell you for a fact that every club has radio issues at HPR. In fact PCA purchased copies of our radios last year, after researching the various options that other clubs are using. PCA determined that SCCA radios are the least troublesome. I.e. The SCCA radio setup provides the most reliable RaceCom setup available.
The first few years (2009 - 2011) we had HORRIBLE radio issues. In 2012 the COR BoD rented new headsets from Racing Radios and 95% of the problems evaporated. The COR BoD then purchased the Racing Radio headsets, Racing Radios wouldn't sell us the rental units, they insisted on selling us new headsets.
I think, at this point, we are just fighting user issues and perhaps, 1 or 2 faulty headsets. We also are facing battery and other routine radio issues.
Personally, I consider the radio issue at HPR for the SCCA, resolved. After working other events like the 24hrs of Daytona, the runoffs and F1. Our radios are on par with the best equipment available.
_________________
Current F&C Worker and FV Racer.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Patrick Frank



Joined: 05 Apr 2010
Posts: 192

PostPosted: Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So got to thinking this morning (dangerous) EV doesn't use the repeater at HPR correct? So in theory we should have more radio troubles on the EV channel then the corner worker channel. Why is it then that theres many a weekend where we cant hear a corner in the tower (specifically the corner 6/7a dead zone) but when EV responds we can hear them just fine? Without knowing how the repeater is setup and just using my general knowledge of radios sounds to me like even though there is a repeater the radios are not programmed to use it and are instead still using simplex. unfortunately since the radios have no screen or indication of signal strength there really is no easy way to test that as the 2 normal ways of telling is to see if you transmit on a different frequency then you receive (how a repeater works, receives on frequency X transmits on Y) and checking signal strength on what your hearing. With a repeater no matter how weak the signal the repeater receives it will always transmit at the same level so the end user (guy holding the radio) would show equal signal strength for the corner coming in loud and clear as the corner hardly coming in.

Oh and as far as no more radio problems are you sure were listening to the same radios? Almost every weekend last season there was delays/frustrations due to radio problems and this only happens at HPR. As far as other clubs having similar problems having worked many an HPR lapping day and a couple PCA time trial days the only time Ive ever heard of a problem was during a PCA day when their radios weren't using the repeater frequency, as soon as we swapped to the HPR radios (2nd session of the day if I remember right) all problems went away for the rest of the weekend.
_________________
CDR T&S
2010 Regional Driver of the Year
'97 Mazda Miata "Baby Cop Car" #30 ES
'84 Mazda RX7 #30 S7 "The Famine Car"
'81 Mazda RX7 #31 S7 "The Famine Car 2"
Help stop world hunger
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Lindsay S. Wilson



Joined: 27 Sep 2007
Posts: 21
Location: Colorado Springs, CO

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 12:34 pm    Post subject: radios Reply with quote

Hi Cliff,

I'm Lindsay Wilson and I've been working to get CDR radios all narrow banded.
Been doing this for CDR Club Racing, Rally-X and Solo programs BTW.

Wondering if you have thought of trying headset mounted antenna?
http://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=182_691&products_id=741

You can also get a "longer range" antenna.

Also, CDR has a mobile radio, Motorola CDM1250, mounted in a portable case which uses an external antenna.
I've programmed the Xmit output power to 16 watts.
Don't know if there is a 'hole' in the race control building at HPR,
but if there is, you could run the antenna cable outside then mount
the antenna on a mast (10' length of pvc pipe.)
You are welcome to borrow it any time.

Could support some off season testing. Smile

Let me know if there is anything CDR can do to help.

Lindsay - in Colorado Springs
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Ed Shuler



Joined: 03 Jun 2007
Posts: 366
Location: Aurora, CO

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Oh and as far as no more radio problems are you sure were listening to the same radios?


I don't think I said we don't have radio problems. I said we are fighting user issues (I'm guilty of using the handset PTT button while wearing headphones) and bad batteries, poor connections and faulty inline volume controls etc..

I fall back on my experience, that if we remove the headsets, everything works superbly, even from 6/7a.
_________________
Current F&C Worker and FV Racer.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail AIM Address
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    Colorado Region SCCA Forum Index -> Worker Discussion All times are GMT - 7 Hours
Page 1 of 1

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum


Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group