VHF drill includes airborne repeater

by Mike Walters, W8ZY

DEC Region 5


August 6th, is the date of the annual Region 5 Simplex Drill for CT ARES. This exercise, designed and managed by Paul Gibb – KB1TOR, ADEC for Region 5, is designed to test the following:

  1. Activate as many of the EOC stations in Region 5 as possible.
  2. Man those stations with ARES operators.
  3. Test the ability to communicate on through a directed net controlled from Winchester Center.

This year we tested the following capabilities:

  1. 2 meter simplex test to stations all over the region with relays designated as needed.
  2. Test an airborne 2 meter simplex repeater carried aloft by the Danbury Civil Air Patrol.
  3. Test a 40 meter SSB net among stations with HF capability.

We had the following results:

  1. Approximately 75 operators in a total of 35 locations participated.
  2. The 2 meter simplex test proves that we can operate over a large area without the repeaters.
  3. The airborne repeater worked very well in allowing communication with distant EOC’s.
  4. An APRS tracker on the plane allowed real-time tracking so we knew where the plane was.
  5. When the plane was in a turn the antenna picture changed and reception on the repeater changed.
  6. As expected 40 meters was challenging with only local traffic. Most stations have NVIS antennas.


We have proven that in an emergency we can hold a net across the large area that is Region 5 without the aid of the repeaters. The airborne repeater, while functional is only another available tool in the toolbox for emergency communications. The concept works and could be put into action if needed. A stationary simplex repeater can also be evaluated.


The test is an annual event and we will do a smaller version in February so we can compare winter conditions.


Thanks to Paul and all of the operators that manned the EOC stations across the region.


Job well done.