Steps

Determine Location to Test

The first step in channel propagation testing will be to select a location to test.  The first priority should be to concentrate on Delaware County High Schools, which are often those first considered to be used for shelter and/or point of dispensing locations in the event of an emergency response.

Emergency Shelters

Other locations you may choose to test would be other local schools, businesses and municipal buildings.  Of course you should test from your own home, and other locations you are at often, as well.

Setup Go Kit Radio

At your selected location, first setup your go kit.  If you are using the standard included Diamond magnetic mount antenna (recommended), then make sure that it is stuck onto a magnetic surface.  Placing it on the center top of your vehicle’s roof is ideal, since you will have a good base plane and some height.

Document Your Location and Setup

At this point, you should start filling out the ARES of Delaware County Channel Propagation Report Form.pdf (Word document version: ARES of Delaware County Channel Propagation Report Form.docx).  You can use the Channel Propagation form online as well.

Note the current date and time and your call sign.

Channel

Check off the Channel that you will be testing on.  We recommend starting with the W3KG - Boothwyn Analog Repeater and then also trying to test both of the DSTAR digitial repeaters: W3AEC - DELSTAR West Digital Repeater System and N3AEC - DELSTAR East Digital Repeater System.  Also it is a good ideal to check one of the Simplex (SIERRA) channels that we use, this will not use a repeater and gives a better idea of your signal strength to the receiver’s location.

Location

Next determine your location.  Since we are checking propagation and line-of-sight, which can vary depending on your exact position, you should detail this as accurately as possible.  Best way to do this is to use an app called What 3 Words, which will give you 3 simple English words to locate your GPS position down to a small square area.  If you have GPS coordinates, these are good as well, just more difficult to transmit over the radio without error.  Taking a picture of your location and setup could be very helpful as well.

Call for Propagation Test

Next call out for a propagation test.  You can do this anytime, as we typically have members listening to the repeaters throughout the day.  We will also send out some set dates/times when we would like to coordinate some propagation testing as well.

Call Readability

Readability is a qualitative assessment of how easy or difficult it is to correctly copy the information being sent during the transmission. In a Morse code telegraphy transmission, readability refers to how easy or difficult it is to distinguish each of the characters in the text of the message being sent; in a voice transmission, readability refers to how easy or difficult it is for each spoken word to be understood correctly. Readability is measured on a scale of 1 to 5.

Call Strength

Strength is an assessment of how powerful the received signal is at the receiving location. Although an accurate signal strength meter can determine a quantitative value for signal strength, in practice this portion of the RST code is a qualitative assessment, often made based on the S meter of the radio receiver at the location of signal reception. Strength is measured on a scale of 1 to 9.

Equipment Details

Finally we need to know what equipment you and the receiver were using.  Check off if you were using a county issued Go Kit.  Under Radio, check off if you were using the 5100, 4100, 880H, or fill in the model radio if using something else.  Select if you were using High, Medium, or Low transmit power on your radio.  Check off if you were using the county issued Diamond NR77 antenna, or enter details about the antenna you were using.  You can also include any comments about the testing that you see fit to include.

Form Submission

Once you are all finished, you can email the completed form to propagation@delcoares.net.  You can either fill out the fillable PDF file, save it, and attach to an email.  Or, if you print out the form, you can scan it or take a picture of it to attach to an email.  If you used the online form version, nothing else is needed.

Forms

Delco ARES Channel Propagation Form

Should print out several copies and keep in your kit.