CQ On The Cover October 2014
When Hurricane Irene provides your introduction to amateur radio, followed a year later by Hurricane Sandy, you tend to think in terms of emergency communications. And that’s exactly what happened with William Akins, AK1NS, of Hicksville, New York.
William says he had a lifelong interest in ham radio but never acted on it until three years ago, and was promptly put to work handling communications during Hurricane Irene. When Sandy struck a year later, he found that some of the greatest needs at the shelter to which he was assigned were power, light, connectivity, and access to television for watching the news. Plus, he found, even when cellphone service had been restored, people had trouble finding power to recharge their phones.
From these needs grew his emergency communications trailer, which is regularly used by Nassau County (NY) ARES, which he serves as Assistant District Emergency Coordinator. The trailer has three masts — a 35-foot telescoping main mast which can hold three antennas at once, as well as two walk-up, tilt-over masts that can be cranked up to the 20- to 25-foot range. The trailer has its own 100- watt solar panel, which charges a bank of deep-cycle marine batteries, which in turn provide power for radios, computers, and cell phone chargers. He can also roll a generator aboard for additional power capability. The trailer is equipped with antennas (stored in sections in the horizontal tubes) and radios for HF, VHF and UHF, amateur MESH networking, and TV. Modes include voice and digital, including packet, NBEMS, and MESH. The trailer also has three LED floodlights and a 1,000,000-candlepower marine light; and William is in the process of adding a cellphone amplifier to provide both phone service and an Internet hotspot in just about any location. His main goal, he says, is for quick, easy deployment wherever he’s needed.
William's shack contains much of the same equipment that he has for the trailer and his station console is a self-contained emcomm setup, complete with battery backup. One thing is for sure — no matter what the weather, when you're around AK1NS, you’ll have communications! (Cover photo by Larry Mulvehill, WB2ZPI)