I strongly believe, as an auxiliary emergency-trained communications personnel using the HAM transceivers as one of my many tools, it is important to be part of a working, functional, reliable communications network; hence, CARLA System is my go-to primary repeater network.
Because, the CARLA network consists of hundreds of repeaters, countless volunteer personnel, all working 24/7 to ensure communication is available in the event of an emergency situation or catastrophe. The CARLA network has repeaters from Los Angeles and into the Pacific Northwest. Like the mobile network for our mobile phones, like the iPhone, these repeaters extend the range of our HAM transceivers’ signals so an operator from San Francisco, California can communicate with another operator from Beaverton, Oregon; and, depending on the operator’s equipment, contact can me made up the the space station or across the world — anytime and anywhere without the use of the mobile cellular network.
Of course, there are many networks out there that cover territories that CARLA System doesn’t cover and vice versa; so, the important thing is to pick a network that covers your state and city. If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, definitely include CARLA into your HAM transceiver programming.
Whether your realize it or not, the cellular network, most likely, won’t work in the event of a catastrophe, such as, an earthquake or severe storm like Katrina.
I met so many kind and supportive HAM operators on CARLA. With their input and guidance, I quickly learned the rules of the road — believe me, unlike CB, the rules of the road are complex, must be followed, and strictly enforced by HAM operators and the FCC.
Before I got my FCC license, I purchased my Yaesu VX-6R, and the very first station I plugged into by chance and luck of the draw was N6MVT: CARLA System 2. I would listen to the engineers of CARLA do their engineering work — Tom would be adjusting the transceivers on-site and doing system tests while George, up in the Lake Tahoe area, would be climbing towers in the snow repairing and installing new antennas.
All of this stuff was exciting to me — although I am a passionate working full-time actor and acting student, I have a strong passionate technical interest in electrical engineering — specifically, transceivers, signal propagation, and frequency behaviors.
The moment I passed my FCC test, I immediately got on my Yaesu VX-6R and channeled right into CARLA System 2. The moment I got a chance, I stated my newly assigned system generated FCC call-sign (KM6JLI) over the CARLA network; and, George made contact with me.
George said, “Ok, you just got our ticket — good. You talk with confidence and know how to handle yourself out here…I’ll give you that; but, you need some work.”
He schooled me over the air, and I quickly took notes writing all the stuff he said to me. The schooling continued over email — he would tell me all the stuff I needed to improve while communicating over CARLA; and, I followed every single word he said and wrote to me in his emails.
Soon, I met one of the founders of CARLA, Tom Nasso. Like George, he congratulated me on my new license and welcomed me to the network. He gave me a lesson on the Local PL versus the PL Link that CARLA uses. Recently, he explained to me frequency hopping algorithms, radar activities with UHF, Pave Paws, and CARLA’s network tie-in with the US Government.
Dave also provided guidance with programming CARLA’s repeaters into my transceivers — yeah, it’s kinda complicated, but Dave and Tom got me on the right track; and, now, I’m a pro.
Wayne helped me with my Yaesu FT-857D; and, he found a new vanity call-sign for me: K6ASF.
Mike and Ken helped me out with my mic problems and gave me tips on placement of the mic to my mouth in order not to come in hot into CARLA’s system.
So, if you’re interested in reliable and functional repeater system that has ongoing support and a friendly group of people, add CARLA System to your existing repeater list; and, I hope to talk to you there.
/s/ Alfonso Faustino (K6ASF)