Sunday, 15 February, 2004
I got up this morning at 3:00 am in order to help out at the Motorola Marathon. At 4:15 we were climbing on busses attaching GPS and 2-meter radio antennas. At 5:00 I was sitting on the bus babysitting the equipment and handling communications from net control. Our job was to ferry runners and spectators to and from the finish line, the start line, and the half marathon finish. We had 14 busses each with a ham radio operator onboard, and a few other operators at each of the three stops. The GPS antenna fed data to the onboard APRS (Automatic Position Reporting System) radio, which then broadcast the bus' position every minute. Net control was able to see all of the busses' positions at a glance, and direct us around traffic problems or change our destination. It all worked very well and I learned quite a bit about the APRS technology and how to work with a directed net. All good practice for emergency situations.
I didn't get to see much of the race, but then marathons aren't all that exciting to watch anyway. I did enjoy the scenery, though, and conversations with some of the runners who were riding the bus before and after the race.