lockdown comms exercise

Terence ZL1BTS running base from his home

Exercise Lockdown

25 September 2021

Lockdown in Auckland saw the postponement of the area SAREX as well as Greenhithe community day, both hands-on activities supported by AREC. Not to miss an opportunity, AREC Regional Manager – North and Branch 29 Group Leader Andy Brill ZL1COP used the date to conduct “Exercise Lockdown”, an on-air exercise designed for people to do from home.

The exercise attracted 18 AREC members from across Auckland. Six were base operators, using the SARTrack system to assign tasks and record messages sent and received. The rest were field stations – their job was to receive a task from Base (in the form of a question relating to radio or other field), use local resources to find the answer and compose and send their reply in a message format back to base.

To keep traffic moving, the exercise was split across the 730 Rodney and 670 Waitakere repeaters.

There were two base teams of three people. One person would handle the radio traffic; another would complete the SARTrack work and a third to deal with any other tasks that came up – with members cycling through the roles. We originally looked to use the SARTalk system for back-channel communications between base operators (everyone was working separately at their own location) however we had a few technical issues so the “670” team used the EE122 Search and Rescue repeater and the “730” team used the ZL-TRBO DMR ZK talkgroup.

The purpose of the event was to give operators the opportunity to practice message handling, and to help base operators get to grips with using SARTrack. “Overall, the exercise was a success” said Andy ZL1COP, “the award for best field operator of the day has to go to Alec Lilley, ZL1HAZ. (ZK1EAL) on the 730 repeater. His radio procedure was exemplary. His use of procedure phrases, message composition, speed of delivery and clarity, together with his ability to follow the instructions for the operation were a lesson to us all. Well done Alec – a most professional performance.”