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Re: Tevis coverage...

Michael K. Maul wrote:

> btw - what do you mean by digital coverage as opposed to
> voice?

Because of the rugged terrain and distances involved, we have to rely on HAM
radio.  The opportunities to use telephones of any kind are few.

Our volunteer HAM'sters are members of a local Radio Club that is geared to
mobilize during disasters to provide communications over a wide area.  The Tevis
Ride and the Western States 100 Run provide them with live situations to
practice their skills.

For the last four or five years they have been using a digital transfer method
as a supplement to the ususal voice transmissions.  By positioning a
laptop-equipped HAM operator at each of several checkpoints along the trail
route, they are able to transfer ascii files among themselves.  

Typically, all such file transfers are between remote locations and a "network
central" station, although sometimes the distances are such that a file has to
be retransmitted by an intermediate station.  The files are in a standard format
so that on receipt they can be applied as a database update by the central

By drawing periodic reports off the database, net central produces the HTML
pages to update the event website.  As you would expect, info that is transfered
this way is much more reliable and large amounts of data can be passed quickly
with a minimum of "you're breaking up, say again" transmissions.

If all goes well (a very big if) then net central can typically maintain a
database of runner/rider arrival times and drop/pull information that is never
more than about 30 to 45 minutes behind real time.  When things are going well,
we are able to pump out reasonably accurate checkpoint listings on an hourly
basis.  Moreover, we can answer the "Where is runner/rider so-and-so?" type of

But if things don't go well, the situation gets messy in a hurry.  Next year my
plan is to recruit a number of volunteers (separate from the HAM folk) that can
help with pulling the picture together reliably for both the web and Ridecamp
for the full 24 hours.  

I'm cc'ing Ridecamp on this note in the hope of stirring some early interest by
those who could maybe help out with the Tevis 2000 webcast.


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