Appendix I: Radio Operation
BENDIX-KING RADIO DESCRIPTION AND OPERATION
VOLUME AND SQUELCH KNOBS
To turn the radio on, rotate the volume knob to the right (clockwise). Additional rotation to the right increases the volume of reception. The squelch knob controls an electric circuit that cuts off the radio receiver when the signal is too weak for reception of anything but noise. Too low a squelch setting will cause continuous static. Too high a squelch setting will prevent lower-level signals from being received. The optimum setting may be achieved by turning the knob until continuous static is received, then backing off until the static stops, then backing off a little bit more.
The HI/LO switch selects the transmit power level. LO will minimize power draw, but will often be insufficient to contact your desired target, possibly even causing excessive transmit attempts and wasting even more power. It is therefore recommended to leave this switch set to HI, and to minimize your time transmitting by speaking succinctly. This switch has no effect on power draw when receiving.
The following is a typical channel setup pre-programmed for our Bendix/King radios:
|Channel Number||Channel Name and Tones||Description||Scan||Priority|
|1||Tahoe NF Fire Net [tones 1,5,6,7]||By permission only||_||_|
|2||Tahoe NF Net [tones 1,5,6,7]: USFS dispatcher, Grass Valley||All normal communications with the Forest Service by patrols operating in CA||X||X|
|3||Donner Summit Fire Dept. (DSFD) Net||Other rescue agency||_||_|
|4||Donner Summit Fire Dept. (DSFD Local||Other rescue agency||_||_|
|5||Tahoe NF Local||TBSP Team within a patrol. All areas||X||_|
|6||Lake Tahoe Basin Mgmt Unit (LTBMU) Net Tone 6||Backup for Ch. 8||_||_|
|7||Calif. Dept. of Forestry (CDF) Net [tones 6,7]||Other rescue agency||_||_|
|8||Humboldt-Toiyabe NF Net [tone 1]: USFS dispatch in Minden, NV||All normal communications with the Forest Service by patrols operating in Nevada (Tahoe Meadows and Galena Crk)||X||_|
|9||Placer Search and Rescue (SAR) Repeater||Other rescue agency||_||_|
|10||CDF Local||Other rescue agency||_||_|
|11||White Fire III||Other rescue agency, helicopter||X||_|
|12||Search and Rescue (SAR) (Washoe Red)||During SAR missions only.||_||_|
|13||Search and Rescue (SAR) (Washoe Orange/Placer)||During SAR missions only.||_||_|
KEYBOARD OPERATION: REPEATERS AND TONES
Whenever you use the Tahoe National Forest net (channel 2), or the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest Net (channel 8), you must select one of several repeaters, which are identified by "tones." This allows communication with others who are not within line-of-sight. The four we use are:
- Tone 1 (Mt. Rose repeater) [primary tone for all areas]
- Tone 5 (Grouse Ridge repeater) [use at CP]
- Tone 6 (Babbitt Peak repeater) [use at CP, MP and PC]
- Tone 7 (Squaw Peak repeater) [use at CP, MP and PC]
- (Refer to the radio card inside TBSP radio pouches for a map showing these locations.)
To use a repeater, you must select the desired tone by pressing the corresponding button on the keyboard, and when speaking you must give the normal call signs followed by the tone designation. This is so that the receiving party knows which repeater has been activated by the tone selection, and can set their radio to use the same tone/repeater. This has dual benefits: first, only one repeater is being monopolized by the communication; second, if the initial transmission is received adequately, the response will use the same transmission path and should also be received loud and clear. When a tone has been selected on the keyboard, the display should indicate both the channel and the tone. NOTE: to enter a tone, both PRIORITY and SCAN must be turned off. This will be explained in the next section.
In the following example, you are the Patrol Leader at Tahoe Meadows (Nordic 20) and are calling the Humboldt- Toiyabe National Forest dispatcher at Minden (NV), using the repeater on Mt. Rose. Before transmitting, you ensure that your channel selector is set to Ch 8, and then you press '1' on the keyboard; the display shows 'Ch 8 1'.
Nordic 20, using Ch 8, tone 1: "Minden, Nordic 20, tone 1' Minden would respond: "Minden" [or "Nordic 20, Minden"] Nordic 20 would then continue the communication.
Note that Nordic 20 uses the same order of call signs as one would use for names in a regular phone call (e.g. 'Hi Tom, this is Mary), except that the extraneous words ('Hi', 'this is') are eliminated. In a second example, you are the Patrol Leader at Castle Peak (Nordic 10) and are calling the Tahoe National Forest dispatcher at Grass Valley, using the repeater on Mt. Rose. You select Ch 2, and press '1' on the keyboard; the display shows 'Ch 2 1'.
Nordic 10, using Ch 2, tone 1: "Grass Valley, Nordic 10, tone 1" Grass Valley would respond: "Grass Valley" [or "Nordic 10, Grass Valley"] Nordic 10 would then continue the communication.
For a third example, you are a patroller at Pole Creek (Nordic 42) and are calling the Mountain Manager (Nordic 2), who is on patrol at Castle Peak. Not surprisingly, you discover you cannot raise the MM with channel 5, so you switch to channel 2. After trying tone 1 and getting no response due to the surrounding terrain, you decide to select the nearby tone 7 (Squaw Peak) instead. You press '7' on the keyboard; the display shows 'Ch 2 7'.
Nordic 42, using Ch 2, tone 7: 'Nordic 2, Nordic 42, tone 7' The Mountain Manager receives this and, realizing that Nordic 42 must be using Ch 2 because of the reference to a tone, turns PRIORITY off (see next section), selects Ch 2, and enters '7' on the keyboard. MM, using Ch 2, tone 7: 'Nordic 2' [or "Nordic 42, Nordic 2"] Nordic 42 then continues the communication.
In areas of poor radio transmission, it may be necessary to try several repeaters before you connect with one. You can tell you have hit a repeater when you momentarily depress the talk switch and hear feedback [called a squelch tail] from the repeater. This will be demonstrated in the field.
PRIORITY AND SCAN MODES
When the PRIORITY switch is "on" (pointing toward label 'PRI', or back of radio), the radio will monitor the Tahoe NF Net (Ch 2). Reception on other channels will be superseded by traffic on this frequency. Patrol Leaders at Tahoe National Forest venues (CP, MP, PC) should activate PRIORITY on their radios whenever they switch to a simplex channel for normal communications within their patrol area. This will allow them to monitor the dispatch channel. To transmit on Ch 2, which invariably involves selecting a tone (see previous section), you must turn PRIORITY and SCAN off, turn the channel selector knob to Ch 2, and enter the number of the desired tone on the keyboard. When you have finished the communication, you may restore the previous settings of channel, PRIORITY, and SCAN.
When the SCAN switch is "on" (pointing toward label 'SCAN', or back of radio), the radio will scan the Tahoe NF Net (Ch 2), the TNF Local simplex channel (Ch 5), the Humboldt-Toiyabe NF Net (Ch 8), and White Fire III (Ch 11). This means the radio will lock on to a message coming over any of those four channels, which are monitored in sequence. SCAN should only be activated when patrolling at Tahoe Meadows or Galena, or during an emergency or joint training exercise, when it becomes necessary to communicate with emergency personnel on White Fire III (Ch 11). When patrolling at Tahoe Meadows or Galena, the Patrol Leader should activate SCAN on his or her radio, but all other radios should have SCAN off. During an emergency or joint training exercise, SCAN should be activated on all radios, or one radio should be dedicated to White Fire III (Ch 11) with SCAN off. To transmit on any channel while in SCAN MODE, you must turn the channel selector knob to that channel. If the selected channel uses a repeater (and hence a tone), PRIORITY and SCAN must both be turned off, and then the desired tone may be entered as described previously. When you have finished the communication, you may restore the previous settings of channel, PRIORITY, and SCAN.
AREA-TO-AREA COMMUNICATION - USING CHANNEL 2
The Tahoe NF Net (Ch 2) is used to contact the Forest Service dispatcher at Grass Valley, and to make brief radio contact between patrollers in different patrol areas after first attempting to contact them on Ch 5. Whenever communication of the latter type is necessary, keep it brief and to the point. Remember, the entire forest is listening.
USING SIMPLEX CHANNELS - COMMUNICATIONS WITHIN PATROL AREA
The Tahoe NF Local simplex channel (Ch 5) is used for communications within a patrol area. Patrol Leaders should have everyone (including themselves) switch to Ch 5 at the trailhead after the Patrol Leader has checked in at the parking area with Grass Valley using Ch 2, or Minden using Ch 8. Patrol Leaders reporting to Grass Valley should then activate PRIORITY so they can monitor messages from Grass Valley or from other patrol areas on Ch 2. Patrol Leaders reporting to Minden should then activate SCAN.
When reporting an emergency incident, use the term "Emergency Traffic." E.g., "Grass Valley, Nordic 10, Emergency Traffic." All field units will either stop their radio communication in progress or delay intended communications until the frequency is cleared to "Resume Normal Radio Traffic." So if you hear someone use the term "Emergency Traffic," stay off the radio until the frequency has been cleared.
ICOM RADIO DESCRIPTION AND OPERATION
The ICOM works on the same principles as the BK with the following differences:
- No numbered channels to remember - all alphanumerical.
- No squelch knob - it's automatic.
- P0 is for transmitting.
- There are specific channels for each tone (e.g., GRVAL-T1, equals Grass Valley Tone 1).
- Default channel is 'TBSP' (same as BK channel 5).
- If you want to transmit on a channel other than 'TBSP', press P0 and use up and down buttons to scroll to the channel on which you wish to transmit. (Circular list - see the 'TBSP Radio Training Guide ICOM' in the Operations folder of TBSPedia for a list of channels.)
- P1 is for scanning. Scan channels are for listening only.
- To select a channel to scan, while the digital display reads TBSP, hold down P1 button for one second to enter scan list. Scroll up or down to the channel on which you wish to scan. (Circular list - see the 'TBSP Radio Training Guide ICOM' in the Operations folder of TBSPedia for a list of channels.) Press P1 again to 'enter' selected scan list, and press P1 again to turn the selected scan list on.
- To confirm you are in scan mode, you should see a pixel blinking in the lower right corner of the digital display.
- While you are scanning, as you are picking up radio chatter, the channels will flash on the digital display. It will always return to the scan channel you have selected.
- You can press P0 at any time to get to TBSP and/or scroll to another transmission channel.
- You can then push P1 at any time to return to scan to your previously selected channel.
- The Patrol Leader should be on the appropriate scan channel for the area being patrolled (CP for Castle Peak, TM for Tahoe Meadows, or GR for Great Race).
- Note: Patrol Leaders should select SCAN and not ISCAN; ISCAN stands for 'incident scan' and includes applicable outside agency frequencies that are excluded from SCAN, but essential during an incident. ISCAN should only be used when Patrollers are involved in an incident.
- All other patrollers should be on TBSP. When you are in TBSP, you are not scanning, and you will have a solid pixel in the lower right corner of the digital display.
- The red button on top has been programmed to temporarily suppress a channel when in scan mode, such as one creating noise or is unnecessary.
- The P2 and P3 buttons are currently not programmed.
RADIO SKILL CHECKLIST: ICOM
Here's how to perform all the basic tasks during patrol:
- Install battery - ICOM has rechargeable battery, so remove entire radio from charger.
- Turn on radio - Rotate volume knob.
- Check battery - Immediately after turning on read the display for battery voltage. Normal is about 8.0 volts - if voltage is less than 7.0 take radio out of service - needs new rechargeable battery.
- Check transmit/receive functions - Turn on, and the display should show the TBSP channel. Press the PTT (Push To Talk) button and speak into the microphone. Red light is on during transmit, and green light is on during receive. Ask a fellow patroller to listen, and then transmit back to you.
- Hand Microphone use - Clip on collar or epaulet. PTT on the hand microphone operates the same as the radio.
- Check-in with USFS (Minden and Grass Valley) - Press P0, then press UP or DOWN buttons to find the channel (and repeater) you want, then press PTT button and talk.
- Switch to a Tone if not being received - Use UP or DOWN buttons to get to a different USFS dispatcher/tone channel combination.
Set-up for patrolling
- For Patrol Leader (or Mountain Manager) - While on TBSP, hold down P1 button for one second to enter scan list, select the correct Scan list using UP or DOWN buttons. Press P1 again to 'enter' selected scan list, and press P1 again to turn the selected scan list on.
- For patroller - Turn on, and display should say 'TBSP.' From a scan list, press P0 button to get to 'TBSP' default channel from any other channel.
- Talk within patrol - Press P0 or P1 buttons to get to 'TBSP' default channel and out of a Scan list. The Patrol leader can use the UP or DOWN buttons to get to the TBSP channel within the Scan list, and still stay in the Scan mode.
- After an Incident, to talk to USFS Dispatch - Switch to the appropriate ISCAN list (Incident Scan) for your area, and then use the UP or DOWN buttons to get to the USFS dispatcher and press P1 to enter the channel. All of the patrol should switch to the same ISCAN list.
- Switch channels to talk to helicopter or DSFD or TNSAR - Press P0 to get back to the TBSP channel, then use the UP or DOWN buttons to get to the appropriate channel for the responding rescuer, and press P1 to enter the channel.
- Resume transmitting within patrol - Press P0 to get to back to TBSP channel and out of Scan. If the Patrol Leader wants to stay within SCAN list, use the UP or DOWN buttons to get to the TBSP channel and press P1 to enter.
- Change battery when low - ICOM will show a battery symbol on right side of display if the battery is getting weak.
- Sign off with USFS - Press P0 and then the UP or DOWN arrows to get to the correct USFS channel.
- Return to shed, and charge radio/battery and put away radio harness - The ICOM radios must be seated properly (against back of charger cup) to accept a charge. Charging light will come on (orange = rapid charging; green = trickle charging) when radio is properly seated. No light = not seated.
ICOM RADIO CHANNEL SUMMARY
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|Order & Abbrev||Channel Name and Tone||Description||BK||CP SCAN||CP ISCAN||TM SCAN||TM ISCAN||GR SCAN||GR ISCAN||MM SCAN||MM ISCAN|
|TBSP||Tahoe NF Local||Within a patrol.||5||x||x||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|GRVAL-T1||Tahoe NF Net||tone 1 at (Mt. Rose]: USFS dispatcher in Grass Valley, CA; all CA patrols||6||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|GRVAL-T5||Tahoe NF Net||tone 5 at Grouse , Grass Valley dispatch||6||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|GRVAL-T6||Tahoe NF Net||tone 6 at Babbit Peak: USFS dispatcher in Grass Valley, CA||6||x||x||x||x||x||x|
|GRVAL-T7||Tahoe NF Net||tone 6 at Squaw Peak: USFS dispatcher in Grass Valley, CA||6||x||x||x||x||x||x|
Humboldt-Toiyabe NF All comm with 6th Net [tone 1 at Slide Mt.]: Forest Service by
MINDN- USFS dispatcher in patrols operating 6 6
8 T1 Minden, NV. in NV (Tahoe Meadows). 7th Lake Tahoe Basin Mgmt Backup for BK
LTBMU- Unit (LTBMU) Net [tone Ch. 8 6 6
6 T6 6 at Babbit Peak] 8th TNSAR ý Placer Search Other rescue GRT_ and Rescue (SAR) agency. 6 6 9 RACE Repeater, Mt. Pluto 9th CDF Truckee Fire Net 10 6 6
CDF-T7 [Tone 7 at Donner Pk]
10th White Fire I Other rescue 6 6 6
11th White Fire II Other rescue 6 6 6
12th White Fire III Outside rescue 11 6 6 6
13th NOAA Weather 14
Not Used Tahoe NF Fire Net [tones By permission
1 1,5,6,7] only
Not Used Donner Summit Fire
3 Dept. (DSFD) Net
Not Used Donner Summit Fire
4 Dept. (DSFD) Local
Not Used Calif. Dept. of Forestry
7 (CDF) Net [tones 6,7]
Not Used Search and Rescue (SAR) During SAR
12 (Washoe Red) missions only.
Not Used Search and Rescue (SAR) During SAR
13 (Washoe Orange/Placer) missions only.
Abbreviations: CP= Castle Peak, TM = Tahoe Meadows, GR = Great Race, BK = Bendix King, TNSAR= Tahoe Nordic
SAR, SAR = Search and Rescue, NF= National Forest
Radio frequencies can be found in the documentation at TBSP Docs. Tahoe Backcountry Ski Patrol Manual