The River Paddling Marathon 2017 has come and gone, and once again AREG in conjunction with the Riverland Radio Club and a number of interested radio amateurs who approached us asking to participate was successful in providing three radio networks covering 200km of the River Murray through the canyon country of South Australia’s Riverland district. There was a 2m voice network for canoe tracking traffic, a 2m APRS network for tracking the safety boat locations, and a VHF commercial network for the safety boats and medics.
The following report from Matthew VK5ZM, AREG President, sums up the weekend:
“I just wanted to say a big Thank you to all the volunteers that came and assisted us with the RPM again this year. Without your support and assistance there is no way the AREG could assist with this event.
This year I saw flexibility and professionalism being displayed across the board as small hiccups occurred people came with solutions and simply got on with the jobs and tasks. With this many willing hands a vast amount of difficult work got done in a very short time.
To the checkpoint operators my profound thanks. For some of you getting out of bed between 4-5am, driving for up to an hour to sit by the banks of the Murray in chilly temperatures and watch the sunrise makes for a very long day. I truly hope that our volunteers enjoyed themselves and had fun. This year I’d also like to note that both Scott VK5TST and I observed our accuracy in reporting boat numbers was far higher this year, this made the job at the Bus significantly easier.
I’d also like to thank Sharon VK5FSAW, Irene, Colleen & Nonna for packing the lunches, preparing dinner on Saturday night, kicking Sharon out of her kitchen for a bit and keeping the troops fed and dishes done. With 31 people on ground that is not an insignificant number of sandwiches, slice, cake and fruit to pack each day. There will be much swapping of recipes this year I think…
Again I’d like to personally thank Peter VK5KX for the use of his Bus each day for net control, without the Bus and Peters preparation of the net control radio systems the Comms team manning net control wouldn’t have anywhere near as much fun. I know this year with the increased number of people at the Bus, Peter spent a much larger time running around making coffee and keeping people ticking over, for which I am personally thankful and likewise all that attended the Bus.
I’d also like to thank Grant VK5GR (and team: Andy VK5AKH, Kim VK5FJ, Darin VK5IX, Scott VK5TST, Mark VK5QI and Marcus VK5WTF) for piecing the radio network together. This year was a challenge and seemed like a war of attrition at times as equipment hiccuped within the network. However the network and tech teams kept the beast running, cracking the whip when required or threatening to send it to Darin VK5IX for a reprogramming/tuning it would never forget. This year, at least, Darin frightened the Tait 2000s’ into submission, not a single one gave a problem out on the water, unlike previous years.
Another monumental task is checkpoint planning and notes preparation. So a big thank you to Andrew VK5XFG and Kim VK5FJ for stepping up this year. I know that your help reduced the workload on Grant and I significantly. It takes a good week to just prepare and print the materials necessary. I’m waiting on Andrew to tell me how many pencil sharpeners we got back this year.
Lastly I’d like to thank Scott VK5TST for his work at the Bus and on the software/database that we use to track the paddlers. Scott has worked in the background on this software over the past year (ok last two months prior to event *grin*), taking suggestions from bus operators last year and tweaking the GUI/HMI to suit. The improvements in efficiency was huge, I often amazed at how quickly he could come back with answers to common questions, closing of checkpoints and reconciling of paddler numbers when asked. Entering the data was fast and painless, better yet it assisted operators with keeping within the procedure which was fantastic.
At the presentations on Monday afternoon the Race Director Martin Finn and all paddlers thanked the AREG (led) Comms Team for a job well done to the applause of the entire crowd. I think the comms team this year should also pat themselves on the back for a job well done.”