RF newcomers become familiar with radio concepts at IWCE 2014
By Jill Nolin
LAS VEGAS–Three years ago, Lt. Steven Chanter was a precinct commander for the Kent County Sheriff’s Department in Grand Rapids, Mich. Now, the career law-enforcement officer is responsible for the department’s radio operations.
“It’s a very different animal, indeed. [Instead of] being an end user now I oversee all of it,” Chanter said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “So it’s definitely different.”
Chanter was in good company at IWCE 2014’s College of Technology, which started Monday and will continue today at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Chanter attended “RF for the IT Manager,” which is a course designed for those who have found themselves tasked with managing their organization’s communications system without the benefit of an RF background. Almost all attendees of the session recently inherited RF operations as a new responsibility.
Mark Pallans, a communications consultant with Pallans Associates, outlined all of the essential functions of RF technology, starting with the simplest of concepts—the units of measurement in the industry. He also explained roles of repeaters, antennas, trunking, intermodulation, propagation, transmitters and licensing in private communications systems, as well as the pros and cons of analog radio compared to digital offerings. He also attempted to instill in the attendees a profound respect for the FCC.
“You have to understand how the FCC operates,” Pallans said. “They control everything you do in the world of radio. They are the absolute power. Don’t question them. Whenever they say jump, you say ‘How high?’
“They’re not unreasonable. You can get away with a lot, but you never, never go against them.”
For Chanter, his new role has come with other major responsibilities, such as department’s procurement process during 800 MHz rebanding.
Currently, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department is using a conventional non-trunked VHF system and is undergoing a simulcast project on the system, but Chanter said he believes the department eventually will migrate to a trunking system. The more he learns about RF technology, the more possibilities he envisions for the future.
“We are not looking right this second to change,” Chanter said. “However, as I gain more knowledge about systems and how they operate, I can definitely see where there are advantages to moving to some different systems.”