South Arm NEFR – A Tough Radio Challenge
The South Arm and Icicle Brook stages of the NEFR present challenging communications issues for radio operators.
What is the Primary Problem?
Look at the topographic map below and pay attention to the steep hill/mountain inside the red circle. The top of it is 1,200 feet higher than the roadway at the start and finish of both stages.
What Can Be Done to Ensure Clear Communications?
You need a tall antenna and lots of power to get a signal from the start to the finish if you intend to conquer the mountain using simplex transmissions. The distance between the start and finish as the crow flies is just under ten miles!
A repeater could be located across Upper Richardson Lake about 2/3rds of the way between the start and finish of the two stages. At this location, it would have a very clear shot of all radio operators along both stages. The tall mountain would not hinder communications whatsoever.
You can also put a repeater in a circling airplane or suspended from a tethered balloon. Both of these options create their own set of very specific problems, not the least of which is cost.
What About an HF Solution?
Yes, you might have great success using high frequency (HF) on 80 meters. All operators would have to have HF equipment and be able to deploy an 80M Near Vertical Incidence Skywave (NVIS) antenna. These are somewhat easy to deploy as they work well horizontal with the ground about 6-8 feet in the air.
If you have ideas, put them in the comments below.