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The Emergency Communications Trailer of the MARC

January 1, 2002     

     Ecomm 1 is the identifier of the Massillon Amateur Radio Club's Emergency Communications Trailer. This 10 foot by 18 foot insulated box trailer provides 180 square foot of usable space and was custom outfitted and designed by the members of the club's Trailer Committee to serve as our main instrument of Public Serve. Completely outfitted with communications equipment, the trailer can operate on all Amateur frequencies and modes from High Frequency (HF) used for National Communications to Very High Frequencies (VHF) used for local work. Through special arrangements with neighboring public service agencies, we can also communicate directly with local police & fire departments or provide an operating console for use by department personnel. 

     The trailer was originally conceived in 1995 as a great idea for Field Day, although it has evolved to become the focus of nearly every major public service event participated in by the club. It has been equipped with both a 115 volt AC power and a separate 12 volt DC system. On need we can "plug in" directly to an available external AC source or generate our own with an onboard Honda 3,500 watt generator that drives both the AC mains and an Astron RM35M battery backup power supply. Both are safety fused through a panel box with circuit breaker protection. This heavy duty supply was ordered with battery revert and trickle charge that provides a steady charge to our heavy duty Marine battery. Normally we will operate the trailer from the 115 volt supply system. Should we lose power or be in an area without commercial power, the entire trailer can run from 12 volts for at least 5 hours if necessary or nearly indefinitely from the generator. With both radio's and lighting designed for 12 volts, this proved to be the best design for power distribution.

     The trailer also has installed a 4,000 BTU RV style Heat Pump Unit that can provide both heating and cooling to the entire unit. Our systems are designed to operate year around in all weather conditions.


     There are two independent operating consoles on board EComm 1, designated Primary and Secondary as well as a single area dedicated to the commercial station. The Primary console currently has permanently installed a Yeasu FT5100 50 watt dual band VHF/UHF radio. A Ten-Tec Triton 4 is a tried and true High Frequency transceiver that was made to operate at 12 volts. An LDG automatic antenna tuner  completes this station. Continuing along this console is a fully operational Packet radio system consisting of an ADI AR-147 transceiver connected to a Kantronics KPC-3 TNC both running from an IBM 486 color laptop computer. Two operators can run simultaneously from this console. A storage shelf runs along the entire length at ceiling height. 

     Along the front of the trailer is an eight foot wide Secondary operating console which has been designed to serve numerous functions as needed. Station equipment currently installed is a GE Delta commercial high band unit for direct communications to several local public safety agencies. A Red Cross transceiver, Realistic Base Station Citizens Band Radio and scanner are also mounted just below a generous overhead storage compartment that provides nearly 20 square feet of safe storage. The center is set with 16 square feet of bulletin board area to display important information.

     The trailer also contains a complete Amateur Television Station consisting of two portable ATV transmitters for "live" surveillance and includes two 5 inch color monitors with down converters all designed to operate from 12 volts. A VCR completes this station to document and replay visual status reports to local officials. 

Our Antenna System

     The exterior antenna systems are just as impressive. Multiband capability requires multiple antenna's. Several vertical dual band VHF/UHF antenna's are strategically placed along the roof line. Front and rear corners sport high band commercial, CB and Red Cross antenna's. High frequency operation can be quickly set up by a tongue mounted crank up military style mast system. This unique "Launcher" is a crank up mast that can be raised to a height of over 50 feet with both a multiband beam and wire antennas for additional coverage. VHF beams can also be mounted to this mast which is manually rotated. When not in use, the whole system stores in a 2x2x8 foot rack permanently mounted to the chassis.

     Additional items include indoor lighting throughout, a 6 square foot "white" writing board for status reports and along the back wall is a 3' by 5' fully detailed color county map under Plexiglas and a wall mounted clock. We also have on board storage of numerous feed lines, AC power cords, rope and antennas in a large removable plastic tote. A complete First Aid kit is also readily available. A two drawer file cabinet provides additional storage for manuals, etc. A multiple use fire extinguisher is also mounted for easy reach in case of emergency.

     As with any complicated project, this one is forever in a state of change and is always being upgraded. Our goal is to insure we have the capabilities for any and all situations.

     Ready for service 24/7, EComm 1 can be quickly transported to anywhere within Stark County and beyond within one hour including setup. It is available for use by all local public safety forces including Red Cross, and the Stark County Emergency Operations Center. 

     Future plans call for the installation of exterior lighting for safe night time operation, an on board tool cabinet complete with tools and an Information Center to quickly locate important telephone and other information. Ideas for improvement are always welcome by the committee. 

     Shown below are some recent pictures of EComm 1. 



The MARC Emergency Communications Trailer "EComm 1"

The Primary Operations Console

The Secondary Operations Console & Overhead Storage 

The Rear Of The Trailer Showing Rear Storage & Maps 


ECOMM 1 Mast Installation Nearly Complete

(Nov 26, 2004) --   The 60 foot pneumatic mast purchased by the club several months ago is nearly installed in EComm 1, the clubs emergency communications trailer. Within the last several weeks final trim installation has been completed and the special mast lubricant has been applied courtesy of Will-Burt Company manufacturers of the mast. The lubricant will allow the mast to be raised in cold weather without fear it will freeze in the extended position.

The installation of the mast has been under the supervision of Crew Captain Jim Farriss - WA8GXM and has gone very smoothly. Jim's planning really helped the job go well and we are now in the final stages of this project.

The mast installation was complete enough to show it off at the Ohio Section meeting in Columbus in September where it was demonstrated to ARRL Ohio Section Emergency Coordinator John Chapman - WB8INY and several Ohio Emergency Management Agency personnel. It was also on display at the Massillon Hamfest in October with many hams asking us about it.

The last phase of the installation involves installing several air tanks that are needed to raise the mast. The EComm trailer crew has tentatively decided to install several tanks under the trailer chassis connected to the mast by a remote air line. A regulator will be installed at the mast fill valve to make sure the maximum fill pressure is not exceeded. The tanks should contain enough volume to fully extend the mast and maintain full extension. An onboard air compressor will be available to refill the tanks should additional pressure be needed.

The base of the mast is secured to the trailer chassis by means of an aluminum plate at the floor. The plate is tied to the chassis by bolts through the floor. The mast is secured at the ceiling line by a steel collar around the lower tube that is attached to the rear endwall steel frame.

Some final cosmetic trim installed around the inside at the ceiling line and cleaning the mast tube inside the trailer and the installation will be complete. The mast came complete with circular Ny-Coil, the flexible conduit that houses the antenna cables, an air compressor and tank, and finally a Yaesu medium duty antenna rotator. 

When fully complete, it will be a great addition to our trailer as we prepare it for emergency service whenever and where ever it may be needed. A Diamond Dualband Vertical antenna was also purchased recently which can be raised by the mast to provide excellent range for our VHF communications capability.

Several pictures are available below showing the installation.

Click Here to see the complete video presentation in a nice slide show format courtesy of Ralph Bugg, K8HSQ. 



The base section & plate ready for the mast


A closer shot of the base plate


The ceiling hole with guide pipe


The guide pipe ready to accept the mast

ECOMM 1 Gets Upgrades

  (Apr 13, 2003) -- The Massillon Amateur Radio Club's Emergency Communications Trailer "ECOMM 1" recently underwent a few upgrades thanks to Jim Farriss - WA8GXM of the Trailer crew.

The first upgrade was the installation of two "RIGrunner" DC Power Panels, one at the primary operations console and the other at the secondary position. These multiple outlet panels come equipped with the Anderson Power Pole connectors and are a safe, secure, hot connected method for adding twelve volt accessories. The ARES standard connector system, these will easily allow us to add stations at Field Day time or during public service exercises.

The second long overdue upgrade was the replacement of our main 12 volt battery. The existing battery has been in use since about 1995 and for the last two years would hardly hold a charge making portable operation nearly impossible. The new battery is a commercial duty deep cycle type with a 75 amp hour rating. This will be sufficient to power the lighting, HF and VHF stations for about 5 hours continuously.

At the March meeting the club also approved the purchase of a tool kit for the trailer. A multi-purpose kit with hanging storage box was purchased at Sams Club and has also been installed. The kit provides a good general assortment of wrenches, sockets plus various other hand tools which will be put to good use at Field Day. We also intend to add a selection of smaller electronic type tools and a selection of RF type connectors and adapters that we will purchase at Dayton.

The third upgrade scheduled to be completed before Field Day is the installation of some exterior lighting. Plans call for two 12 volt halogen fixtures installed on both the front and back. This will provide both safety and service lighting during our night time operations.

Previous EComm 1 Upgrade Projects 



    On Saturday, September 23, 2001 members of the EComm 1 Trailer Committee including Crew Chief Terry - N8ATZ, Crew Captain Jim - WA8GXM, MARC President Don - W8DEF and long time club friend Marty - N8XPK completed installation of our new Duo-Therm High Efficiency RV Rooftop Heat Pump unit. This installation completes the third and final major EComm 1 Trailer Project for this year. The first & second projects were the remaining exterior lettering and the installation of the new packet radio station.

    This unit, approved for purchase at the September club meeting will finally allow us to enjoy efficient cooling and heating in one package. This 120 volt unit was purchased from BEGG'S Motor Homes in North Canton, Ohio at a discount thanks to the clubs record of service to the community. It's high efficiency rating allows it to run very well using the club's Honda generator and will certainly be a benefit at next years normally hot & muggy Field Day exercise and no doubt the heater will get a workout during our Special Event demonstration this December at Massillon's 175th Anniversary Celebration.

    Below are some pictures taken during the installation process.....

If this doesn't work, we have a new skylight ! The easy way to lift the unit into position! Jim on the forklift & Marty directing. 
Jim & Marty center the unit into position over the opening. Done, and it even works !

EComm 1 Sports New Packet Radio

    On Saturday, September 1st, the ADI AR-147 Plus packet radio was installed in the club's EComm Trailer. The installation was performed by Crew Chief Terry - N8ATZ and Crew Captain Jim - WA8GXM. Thanks to the availability of ready made cables, everything went together quickly and easily. The ADI Radio was chosen due to its very small size, high power rating and very affordable price. The final station now consists of an IBM 486 Laptop running Hostmaster Software, a Kantronics KAM 3 TNC into the ADI 2 meter radio. It makes for a perfect packet station in EComm 1.

The Packet Station  on the Main Operating Console

The new ADI AR-147 radio fits perfect !



 This page was last updated on  12/31/09

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