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This Event Has Ended

We Need Amateur Radio Operators to Help

Sumter County ARES will again be coordinating amateur radio support for this year's event, which is scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2023, 7:30 AM to 4:00 PM.  For more information about this event, click here or on the Bicycle Challenge logo above.  The event headquarters, as well as the ARES Communications Command Post will be located at the La Hacienda Regional Recreation Center near the Spanish Springs Town Square in The Villages, (1200 Avenida Central, Lady Lake, FL).  

 

This event consists of 5 different routes.  Below are links to view each route:

  

100 Mile - https://ridewithgps.com/routes/42714270

62 Mile – https://ridewithgps.com/routes/41434018

32 Mile – https://ridewithgps.com/routes/39051780

20 Mile – https://ridewithgps.com/routes/32470969

10 Mile -  https://ridewithgps.com/routes/41433909


We are seeking assistance from licensed amateur radio operators who would like to volunteer their time for this worthy cause. Below are descriptions of the various assignments which need to be staffed by amateur radio operators. 

Assignments
  • Net Control Station (NCS)
    (2) amateur radio operators are needed for this stationary post.  One operator will perform NCS duties communicating with field assignments, while the second operator updates the APRS screen.  Relief will be provided as needed.

  • SAG (Supply And Gear)
    (2) amateur radio operators are needed for this assignment.  As the name implies, these units are positioned at designated locations with bicycle mechanic tools and parts to make on-scene bicycle repairs.  SAGs may also be dispatched by NCS to locations where a cyclist needs assistance with repairs.  For this event, SAG duties will be performed by a commercial bicycle company and bicycle club members.  We will need (1) amateur radio operator to ride with the SAG to provide communications with NCS.  
     

  • Service Vehicle
    At least (3) mobile amateur radio operators are needed for this assignment.  Additional Service Vehicles is recommended.  This unit will patrol an assigned route to provide limited assistance to riders.  A Service Vehicle typically carries bottled water, paper towels, tire-pump, Vaseline and band-aids offered to the rider, (not administered or performed by the Service Vehicle Operator).  Because Service Vehicles may need to transport a rider and his or her bicycle, a pickup truck, van, or other vehicle with a bicycle rack is needed.  Any transportation is typically to the closest rest stop, SAG location or finish line.  

  • Sweep Vehicle
    (4) mobile amateur radio operators are needed for this assignment, one for each route.  This unit patrols his or her assigned route to report any incidents to NCS.  This unit must closely monitor the last rider and periodically report that rider's location to NCS.  

 

  • Rest Stops
    (5) amateur radio operators are needed to staff designated rest stops.  One operator will be needed at each of the below listed rest stop locations.  Operators will provide communications between the rest stop and NCS. 

    Stop A: El Santiago, (2373 Enrique Dr, The Villages, FL)
    Stop B: Bacall Recreation Center, (2041 Canal St, The Villages, FL)
    Stop C: Manatee Recreation Center, (1512 Hillsborough Trail, The Villages, FL)  **
    Stop D: Spanish Moss Recreation Center, (3225 Spanish Moss Way, Wildwood, FL)
    Stop E: Webster Community Center, (49 SE 1st St, Webster, FL)

    ** Note:  Rest Stop C was changed FROM the Eisenhower Recreation Center

Pre-Event Briefing

There will be a pre-event briefing prior to the event.  This briefing will be from 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM on Thursday, November 9th at the Sumter County Emergency Operations Center, located at 7361 Powell Rd., Wildwood, FL.

At this briefing we will explain the responsibilities of each volunteer and to answer any questions they might have.  At the briefing each volunteer will receive a packet that contains all the information he or she will need for the event.  Each volunteer will be issued a high-visibility Sumter County ARES vest which will need to be returned when you have completed your assignment.  If you are unable to attend, please contact Mark Newby, KX4LEO, at 352-444-2216 Ext.3 for alternative arrangements.

What to Bring
  • Mobile Amateur Radio 
    If you are assigned to a SAG, Service Vehicle or Sweep Vehicle, you should bring a VHF mobile radio that can connect to the vehicle's DC power system, and an externally mounted antenna.  Although not required, a dual band VHF/UHF mobile radio with cross-band repeat capabilities is useful if you would like to have the ability to use your HT outside of your vehicle.

    If you are assigned to one of the rest stops, you should also bring your VHF mobile radio that is connected to your vehicle's DC power system, and an externally mounted antenna.  A dual band VHF/UHF mobile radio with cross-band repeat capabilities is particularly useful at the rest stops to allow you to move around freely outside of your vehicle.  For those who have a Go-Kit, be sure to bring a DC power source for the radio and an antenna.  You will need to bring your own table to put your equipment on.  I have found that a metal pizza pan or metal burn barrel lid provides sufficient ground plane for a mag-mount antenna.

    A typical mobile setup on medium power should have no problem reaching the repeater located in Sumterville, Florida.  Do not rely on an HT solely even if it is connected to an external antenna.  If you intend to use an HT for cross-band abilities, bring a spare battery. 

    Your radio should already have the following repeaters and frequencies programmed in analog mode:

    K4HOG Repeater,  147.030 MHz (Standard + Offset), PL TX Tone 123.0 Hz, RX Tone 123.0 Hz
    KI4DYE Repeater, 145.490 MHz (Standard  - Offset), PL TX Tone 123.0 Hz, RX Tone 123.0 Hz
    K4VRC Repeater,    443.150 MHz (Standard + Offset), PL TX Tone 103.5 Hz

    Simplex Frequency:  147.585 will also be monitored by NCS at the command post.
    Webster Repeater: KX4LEO,  147.360 MHz (Standard + Offset), PL TX Tone 97.4 Hz, RX Tone 97.4 Hz

  • Cellular Telephone with APRS Application 
    We will be using APRS to view the location of our units on a large-screen television at the command post.  Operators at field assignments will need to bring an Android or IPhone smart phone or tablet that is capable of installing an APRS application on it.  Because APRS applications typically drain a battery quickly, be sure and bring your charger and power cord.  Sumter ARES member Gil Chapin, WB2UTI, will be in contact with each volunteer to assist with APRS application installation and use.

  • Food and Drink
    Although the event will provide food and drink for our volunteers at El Hacienda and at the rest stops, it is suggested that you bring your own non-alcoholic beverage, snacks and cooler.

 

  • Clothing
    Because we cannot predict the weather, wear clothing that is comfortable for the weather conditions forecasted for the day.  For safety and to easily identify you as official event staff, those volunteers working a field assignment will be issued an ARES high-visibility Amateur Radio Emergency Communications vest.

Communications Plan
  • Tactical Call Signs

    Use the tactical call designated for your assignment, i.e. Service-1, SAG-2, Stop-Bravo, Sweep-3.  Remember to speak slowly and clearly , and keep your message brief.  When calling Net Control the typical exchange will be:

    YOU:  "Control, Stop-Alpha"  
    NCS:  "Stop-Alpha"
    YOU:  Proceed with message.
    YOU:  When finished, "Your FCC Call sign, CLEAR"
     

  • Communications Plan-A

    The primary repeater will be the K4HOG Repeater located in Sumtervile, Florida, on frequency 147.030 MHz (Standard + Offset), PL TX Tone 123.0 Hz, RX Tone 123.0 Hz.   A typical mobile setup on medium power with an external antenna should have no problem reaching this repeater from anywhere on any of the routes.   All operators should remain on this repeater unless instructed to change to another frequency.  An HT should only be used if you are in close proximity to this primary repeater with full-quieting or you are using the HT in cross-band mode to the repeater.   If you are unable to reach this repeater or the repeater fails, revert to Communications Plan-B described below.

    NCS will also monitor simplex frequency 147.585 MHz for anyone who must use an HT in and around the command post, or for anyone who cannot reach the primary repeater.

 

  • Communications Plan-B

    The backup repeaters will be a combination of the K4VRC and the KI4DYE repeater.  NCS will monitor both repeaters.  The K4VRC repeater is located at the Villages Hospital in Lady Lake, Florida, on frequency 443.150 MHz (Standard + Offset), PL TX Tone 103.5 Hz.  This will provide reliable coverage for the north end of the routes to as far south as State Route 44. 

    The KI4DYE repeater is located in Bushnell, Florida, on frequency 145.490 MHz (Standard - Offset), PL Tone 123.0 Hz on both TX and RX.  This repeater will provide reliable coverage for all of the south routes.

Sign Up to Volunteer

If you would like to sign up for any of these functions, click on the SignUp logo below.  Once you have signed up, a member of Sumter County ARES will contact you to discuss the assignment and to answer any questions you might have.  Please note that actual assignment times may vary slightly from the times listed for the event.

To sign up, click on the SignUp logo >

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