Bickford shows Red Cross interoperability vehicle at APCO
The company name, Bickford Broadcast Vehicles, tells where the company started its work in mobile telecommunications outfitting. On display at the APCO national conference in Nashville, Tenn., a vehicle outfitted for the Red Cross demonstrated the company’s mobile radio communications interoperability configuration.
“We’ve done a lot of engineering to make a small package with this much equipment work,” said Paul C. Bickford, president of the Chantilly, Va.-based company.
He explained that the company’s background in outfitting vehicles for remote TV broadcasting includes placing a lot of vehicles in service, and that led to the Red Cross choosing the company as a supplier.
He said that his vehicle has more capability than some similar units, such as the Raytheon first responder vehicle, including bandwidth and interoperability among bands.
“Our installation also is ore tightly integrated. Our background in building communications trucks for television is evident in how we get everything to fit with an arrangement that allows for easier maintenance and better power distribution. The ‘first responder’ looks as though a cabinet was placed in a rack and bolted to the vehicle floor. Everything in our truck is custom-designed in its application,” Bickford said.
Bickford pointed out that his vehicle’s racks are aluminum and reduce the vehicle weight.
“Weight is a big issue on a truck like this. There isn’t a lot of payload to work with. That’s true for the Ford Excusion and Chevy Suburban. You only have about 2,500 pounds of payload to work with,” he said.
Bickford said that he is proud of the vehicles satellite capabilities. He said that satellite capability is not new to TV broadcasting, it seems to be new to public safety radio communications. The satellite capability allows WAN connectivity for voice and data without relying on local infrastructure to link back to headquarters during an emergency that may knock out or overload other connections.
Steve Hailey, a project engineer and account manager for Daycom Systems, San Diego, who was helping in the Bickford booth, said that the vehicle allows voice and data connectivity, 802.11b LAN for on-site wireless LAN access, radio and voice communications and VoIP over satellite, all integrated with two-way radio systems. Hailey consults clients on business continuity and disaster recovery.
As configured for the Red Cross, the vehicle includes HF radios, amateur, government, and commercial, that meet NTIA and FCC type acceptance. Other radios cover VHF lowband, VHF highband, aircraft, marine, UHF low for government frequencies (403–430 MHz), UHF center (450–470 MHz) and UHF T (470–512 MHz). It includes an all-mode receiver and amateur 6-meter, 2-meter and 450 MHz transceivers. The complement integrates public safety and community activities.
The vehicle includes a JPS ACU-1000 computer-controlled cross-connect. Hailey said that the company also is working with Telex for a cross-connect with features that JPS may or may not be able to provide.
The vehicle as configured for the Red Cross includes a lot of amateur radio capability because the charitable agency had a requirement for an installation that could talk with all modes and bands in amateur radio and integrate them with other systems in the truck.
Bickford estimated the fully equipped vehicle would cost about $250,000, but that some of the equipment had been donated to the Red Cross, as was the Ford Excursion.
Hailey said that the vehicle combines interoperability with a fast response.
“You can put this equipment in a bus, but when you need to get to the scene of a hurricane, for example, you need a vehicle that can get you there. This has four-wheel drive, and it can be deployed by air if necessary,” he said.