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Made it another year & computer is still working

Posted: Sat Dec 31, 2016 10:51 pm
by Jim202
Well, the computer made it to another year and even shows the correct date and time. Wonders never cease.\

Too bad updating radios didn't go as smooth. Maybe, just maybe the radio companies might just think more about the customers and not so much for their bank accounts. There have been way too many customers getting ripped off and sold features, extra tower sites, encryption and the likes just to push the bottom line higher.

There use to be a whole lot more radio companies around years back that have died off along the way for different reasons. Link and RCA come to mind. Then there were some that were swallowed up in mergers or out right purchases like Daniels, GE, EF Johnson, Mobat and a number of others.

Every now and then I pull out one of the bench drawers and see the pile of keys there from some of these, past into history, radio companies. Makes me think back to the days when radios had tubes in them. If you go back a little further, they had these funny looking motors inside the cases that made this whirring sound when you keyed the mic. Even made the headlights dim at night time when you pressed that PTT button on the mic. Most of the radios were on low band in those days. If you were in New England, you probably had a problem talking with your dispatcher on some summer days and nights. But you could talk to a dispatcher out in California with no problem.

Yup, those were the days. Didn't have any fancy computer to do all the work for you and tell you what was wrong with the radio on the bench. You had better learn real fast where not to let your fingers drift to inside the transmitter back then. Otherwise you might find yourself sitting on the floor after this flash of light in front of your eyes. You had this funny taste in your mouth from the training lesson you just received.

There was a tool called a diddle stick used to poke and prod with that was made out of an insulating material for good reason. One end might have a small flat piece of metal used to turn threaded shafts on the cans that the tuning coils were mounted in. The other end might have a flat surface like a screw driver. The shaft was about the size of a pencil. If you ever opened up a radio technicians tool box, there were always several of these sticks in them.

So much for dreaming about traveling down the yellow brick road years ago. Today, the radio service business is a dying element of progress and changes in how we communicate. Haven't made it to the Dick Tracey watches, but we are not that far off. There are very few small two way radio shops left. You use to find many one and two person run radio service places all around the country. Now today, unless you have very large customers with large fleets of radios that you maintain, there is no way your going to come out putting money into the bank every week.

Well so much thinking about how it was 25 or more years ago. Between cellular phones and surface mount component radio construction today, us radio techs are slowly going the way of the dinosaurs. Even many of the earlier cellular companies are no longer around. Look at the paging industry. It too has fallen by the wayside. Not sure what will be around in even 10 years from now.

Anyway, just thought I would check to see if my computer was still working going into the new year. It surprised me and is still going strong.


Re: Made it another year & computer is still working

Posted: Mon Aug 15, 2022 7:40 pm
by Jim202
Just thought I would add to my post of some 5 years ago. Thought there might be at least one comment made.

Tonight at the fire department training, a couple of us older members were talking about our radio system. It use to be just a VHF local repeater. Noe most of the radio traffic is done on the state P25 700 trunking system. One drawback is that the dispatch center pages out the calls on both radio channels. But only gives the voice information for the call on the 700 talkgroup.

When the state came out with the statewide P25 700 trunking system, I suggested that all the fire departments keep and maintain their VHF radios. The reason being that come a major hurricane, the 700 trunking system would be so cluttered with traffic that the normal users couldn't use it.

You might ask why this situation happens. Well consider this, our Parish, which most people think of as a county is a bedroom area. People that work in New Orleans and Baton Rouge live here. So when the come home for the night, they tend to leave their portable radios on while they are at home. This way they can listen to their normal dispatcher.

But here is the problem, the simulcast towers for our region only have 8 voice channels available. If a fire fighter from New Orleans is home, a police officer from New Orleans is at home, some one from the state DOT that covers the New Orleans or West Bank area had their radio on, how many channels have been tied up at the same time in some transmission. That is 4 channels already that can be used.

Now lets add the State police from the New Orleans area, another state police from the north shore where we are looking at and the DOT for the area on the north side of the lake, we have added another 3 users that all could be talking at the same time. Now we are at 7 channels.

So lets add the Slidell police, Pearl River police, Mandeville Police, Covington Police, Folsom Police, Several Parish and State jails, I just added 7 more users. This puts us at 14 talkgroups that are fairly active.

We haven't even talked about the numerous fire departments in the Parish. Plus the state Fish and Game units on different regional talkgroups that are in the same area.

Now you can start to see why the bad storms can upset the best of designed trunking system. Also bare in mind that there were some complaints on the original system design with the over built simulcast system with the 8 voice channels. This is compared to the normal 3 or 4 voice channels that most of the heavy traffic areas of the state have.

So even a well design trunking system can be brought to it's knees in really bad weather.

Just thought I would bring this story to the surface before the hurricane season hits our region for thoughts of others considering a large trunking system.

The fire departments made out well as the dispatch center had the smarts to keep all the old VHF base stations that they could still use and dispatch over. But the fire departments had to pull their VHF portables out of storage and charge up all the portable batteries. They all made out well and had no problems falling back on their old VHF radio systems. They did keep all the old VHF radios in the fire vehicles. So the fire side of the emergency calls didn't miss a beat.

Just some thoughts that other trunking radio system users should look at.