Northeast Georgia Road Trip Radio Report; 6-10 June 2022

For the second year in a row, I took a road trip to Northeast Georgia for my summer vacation. This year, I stayed in Lavonia on the first night of the trip and then based out of Helen for the rest of the trip. I wandered all through the northeastern corner of the state in Franklin, Stephens, Habersham, Rabun, White, Towns, Union, Lumpkin, and Dawson Counties. On Monday afternoon, I drove up to Lavonia, stayed overnight and then visited the Foxfire Museum, Black Rock Mountain State Park, and Tallulah Gorge State Park. It rained on me at the Foxfire Museum and Tallulah Gorge, so I only walked one of the Rim Trails at Tallulah Gorge. Black Rock Mountain was socked in and you couldn’t see much. Given that the weather wasn’t cooperating, I called an audible for the rest of Monday and went to see Toccoa Falls and the Currahee Military Museum in Toccoa before driving over to Helen. On Wednesday, the weather was no better, so I went to Dawsonville and visited the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame, to Dahlonega to the Dahlonega Gold Museum, and drove up to Brasstown Bald in the afternoon to see if the weather had improved. It hadn’t much – I could see a bit, but not much from the observation deck at the top. After that, I drove around Union and Towns counties looking at the sights before heading back to Helen. On Thursday, the weather was much improved and I toured the Hardman Farm State Historic Site in Sautee-Nacoochee, then went back to Brasstown Bald and Black Rock Mountain and was finally able to see the world from both. While touring Hardman Farm, I learned that the Nora Mill Granary in Sautee-Nacoochee was once part of the Hardman Farm, so on the way out of Helen I stopped there before heading back to Savannah with a stop in Comer for lunch. I’ll have blog posts coming out about visits to:

While on the road, I listened to public safety, MilCom, Aviation, and FedCom using the Uniden HomePatrol 2 and the Whistler TRX-2 in the mobile station and listened and talked on amateur radio using the Anytone AT-578UVIII. In the hotel rooms, I used a Uniden BCD436HP, a Whistler TRX-1, and an Airspy R2. I also used an Anytone AT-D878UVII for Amateur Radio, GMRS, and listening to White County FD.

KF4LMT Mobile at one the overlooks on the Russell-Brasstown Scenic Byway; the Comet SBB-7 antenna I mention below is on the right rear. Another Comet CA-2x4SR that I use as a scanner antenna is on the left rear

Amateur Radio and GMRS

Prior to leaving on this road trip, I replaced the Comet CA-2x4SR 2m/70cm antenna I’ve been using on the mobile station with a Comet SBB-7 2m/70cm antenna that is taller and has a bit more gain. During one of my visits to Brasstown Bald, I did an experiment with the two antenna; I don’t know if it’s because of the slightly higher gain, the added height that gets is a bit more over the roofline, or a combination of both, but the SBB-7 did indeed allow me to hear more. During my first visit to Black Rock Mountain, I had a QSO with David, N4TS on the 443.150 Mountain City repeater and learned that both it and the 147.120 Mountain City repeaters are located on Black Rock Mountain and that they were multi-mode capable (Analog, DMR, and P25). That night I made some changes to my codeplugs and when I re-visited Black Rock Mountain on Thursday, I talked to David again and we used both Analog and DMR (note: the DMR mode is local only, the repeater is not connected to the internet). On my way back to Savannah, I threw my callsign out on the Wrens DMR repeater when I was about 20 miles north of Wrens and immediately got an answer from Bill, KG4BKO in Vidalia. Bill and I talked until I was around 15 miles south of Wrens when I began losing the repeater – it really does have a great coverage area. As soon as I put the radio back in scan after talking to Bill, I began hearing a QSO on the Twin City DMR repeater, so it has an impressive coverage area as well. If you plan on traveling through the Eastern Central Georgia area and DMR capable, you’ll definitely want both in your radio. I never got around to throwing my callsign out on GMRS, but I did hear some traffic on the Lula North Georgia GMRS repeater while I was in Northeast Georgia.

The Black Rock Overlook on Black Rock Mountain at 3,446 feet; the mountain is 3,640 feet tall and there are two repeaters located on it. I had QSOs with N4TS on both of them during my visit.
443.5625 (DMR CC1) - Twin City
444.1750 (DMR CC1) - Wrens
145.3300 (PL 123.0) - Athens
147.3750 (PL 127.3) - Athens
442.4750 (PL 103.5) - Lavonia
443.2000 (PL 151.4) - Lavonia
146.8950 (PL 100.0) - Carnesville
147.1200 (PL 67.0) - Mountain City, Black Rock Mountain
147.1200 (DMR CC1 S1 TG1) - Mountain City, Black Rock Mountain
443.1500 (PL 127.3) - Mountain City, Black Rock Mountain
145.2500 (PL 71.9) - Toccoa
147.3300 (PL 127.3) - Toccoa
146.9100 (PL 100.0) - Cleveland, GA
444.9500 (DMR CC1) - Cleveland, GA
443.1000 (PL 100.0) - Dahlonega
146.6700 (PL 131.8) - Gainesville 
145.1700 (PL 100.) - Ellijay

462.6500 (PL 91.5) - North Georgia GMRS Lula Repeater

MilCom

There’s not as much MilCom (military communications) to listen to in Northeast Georgia as there is on the Georgia Coast, but I still heard a bit. When I was at higher elevations, I could hear F-16s from Shaw AFB working in the Bulldog and Gamecock MOAs. When in the Dawsonville and Dahlonega areas on Wednesday, I could hear some traffic on the Fort Benning TRS sites at Camp Merrill in the mountains. Most nights, I caught an HC-130J from Moody AFB doing low level and/or aerial refueling in North Georgia. On the way to and from North Georgia in the Augusta area, I could hear traffic on the US Army TRS sites at Fort Gordon.

Fort Gordon
US Army TRS (Fort Gordon Sites)
 TG 10 - Fort Gordon Forestry
 TG 27 - Fort Gordon Range Control
 TG 75 - Fort Gordon Unknown

Robins AFB
293.525 - 116th/461st ACW "PEACHTREE Ops"

NAS Jacksonville
306.000 - VP-30 Base

Shaw AFB
311.200 - 55th FS Ops "SHOOTER OPS"
228.800 - 55th FS Air-to-Air

273.700 - 77th FS Ops "GAMBLER OPS"
   -DECK (F-16CM, 77th FS)
259.900 - 77th FS Air-to-Air

320.525 - 79th FS Ops "TIGER OPS"
   -CLAW (F-16CM, 79th FS)
270.900 - 79th FS Air-to-Air; unid
276.150 - 79th FS Air-to-Air; unid

Ranges/MOAs
343.750 - Bulldog MOA Discrete
254.350 - Gamecock C MOA

Misc
324.600 - AR-207 Primary
276.500 - AR-216 Primary
289.700 - Racoon AR Track (W-161/177)
303.000 - Unid Air-to-Air

Aviation

There is a lot of aviation traffic to listen to in North Georgia because of all of the commercial aviation going into Atlanta. Eventually, because of how busy they were, I had to lock out all of the VHF ATC frequencies I had programmed in except for Atlanta Center Logen Low on 121.350 because that’s the frequency the Moody HC-130J I mentioned above was on when I could hear it. On the way to and from North Georgia in Eastern Central Georgia, I could also hear traffic on some Jacksonville Center frequencies.

Athens
132.475 - Atlanta Center Athens Approach

Atlanta ARTCC
254.300/133.600 - Atlanta Center Hinch Mountain Low
257.675/124.875 - Atlanta Center Allatoona Ultra High
269.175/125.925 - Atlanta Center Burne High
269.625/123.950 - Atlanta Center Sinca Low
282.225/134.075 - Atlanta Center Blue Ridge Ultra High
290.375/125.825 - Atlanta Center Hampton Ultra High
291.750/125.025 - Atlanta Center High Rock Ultra High
292.175/133.175 - Atlanta Center Rocket High
307.050/126.425 - Atlanta Center Dublin High
307.350/132.975 - Atlanta Center Pulaski High
322.325/128.100 - Atlanta Center Augusta Low
323.025/124.425 - Atlanta Center Charlotte High
327.150/120.425 - Atlanta Center Georgia High
342.425/134.800 - Atlanta Center Commerce Ultra Low
353.925/124.375 - Atlanta Center Lanier High
360.625/124.325 - Atlanta Center Clark Hill Ultra High
363.100/126.675 - Atlanta Center Crossville High
371.950/119.375 - Atlanta Center Macon High
377.050/121.350 - Atlanta Center Logen Low

290.800/133.100 - Atlanta North Departure Low
360.750/134.500 - Atlanta South Departure Low

Jacksonville ARTCC
281.550/124.075 - Jax Center Summerville High
282.300/135.975 - Jax Center Alma High
285.650/126.125 - Jax Center Statesboro High
290.350/132.425 - Jax Center Hunter Ultra High
319.200/127.875 - Jax Center Aiken High
363.200/132.925 - Jax Center Allendale/Savannah Low
370.950/133.625 - Jax Center Georgetown High

FedCom

I didn’t hear much FedCom (Federal Communications) during the trip, but I did hear what I think was a Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest repeater on Brasstown Bald on 170.4625 (PL 127.3). It came in strong while inside the hotel room in Helen, so I’m guessing it was coming from one of the antennas on top of Brasstown Bald (see photo below). I left the TRX-1 in the hotel room in search mode and one day it picked up one transmission of DMR on 163.675 (CC10 Slot 1); it was only a key-up and no voice, so I’m not sure who it might belong to. I programmed it in the TRX-2 to listen for it while I was on the road and never heard it again.

I think one of the antennas in this photo of the fire tower on top of Brasstown Bald could be the source of 170.4625 (PL 127.3)

Public Safety

Most of the Public Safety communications in Northeast Georgia are either Analog, DMR, or NXDN. Most of the counties are using conventional repeaters, but there are several DMR trunking systems in use. Pretty much the same applies to traveling the East Central Georgia area, although there are more P25 systems in use than there in Northeast Georgia. With the exception of Hall County, however, all of the P25 trunking systems are encrypted, so if you plan on traveling East Central and/or Northeast Georgia, you’ll definitely want something that’s DMR and NXDN capable.

159.1200 (PL 127.3) - Georgia Forestry D1 Stephens Repeater

154.3250 (PL 146.2) - Banks County Fire Dispatch
155.5275 (PL 110.9) - Dawson County Fire/EMS Dispatch
151.4300 (PL 173.8) - Emanuel County EMS Dispatch
154.3700 (PL 167.9) - Franklin County Fire Dispatch
156.1800 (PL 167.9) - Franklin County EMS Dispatch
155.145 (PL 192.8) - Lavonia FD Dispatch (Franklin Co)
155.1750 (PL 94.8) - Greene County Fire/EMS
154.2350 (PL 156.7) - Habersham County Fire Dispatch (multicast with DMR TRS)
155.3100 (PL 186.2) - Habersham County Fire Dispatch (multicast with DMR TRS)
154.0700 (DCS 712) - Hart County Fire Dispatch
154.4150 (PL 103.5) - Hartwell FD Dispatch (Hart Co)
155.0550 (PL 167.9) - Lumpkin County Fire/EMS Dispatch
155.2650 (PL 131.8) - Lumpkin County EMS Dispatch
154.3850 (PL 103.5) - Madison County Fire Dispatch
154.9250 (PL 218.1) - Madison County EMS Dispatch
151.4075 (NXDN96 RAN 10) - McDuffie County FD Tac; encrypted
154.4300 (PL 146.2) - Rabun County FD Dispatch
155.1750 (PL 131.8) - Rabun County Rescue Dispatch
155.6625 (PL 192.8) - Rabun County 911; used for EMS Dispatch
154.2500 (PL 85.4) - Stephens County FD Dispatch
151.4225 (PL 210.7) - Stephens County EMS Dispatch
154.4150 (NXDN48 RAN 25 TG 65535) - Towns County Fire Dispatch
154.1000 (NXDN48 RAN 25 TG 65535) - Towns County EMS Dispatch
154.1900 (NXDN48 RAN 50 TG 65535) - Union County EMS Dispatch
155.7150 (CSQ) - White County FD Dispatch (multicast with DMR)
153.5325 (DMR C15 S1 TG 154600) - White County FD South Dispatch
152.5475 (DMR C15 S1 TG 154600) - White County FD North Dispatch

155.1600 (PL 151.4) - Cherokee County NC EMS Dispatch
154.1300 (PL 103.5) - Oconee County SC FD Dispatch
151.1300 (PL 210.7) - Oconee County SC Rescue Dispatch
152.4050 (PL 192.8) - Oconee County SC EMS Dispatch

Banks County NXDN TRS
 TG 80 - Banks County Fire/EMS Dispatch

SEGARRN (Candler County)
 TG 16912 - Candler County FD Dispatch
 TG 16914 - Metter FD Dispatch
 
Clarke County P25 TRS
 TG 10040 - Unknown; encrypted

Habersham County DMR TRS
 TG 300 - Habersham County Fire Dispatch
 TG 301 - Habersham County Fire Response
 TG 302 - Habersham County Fire Fireground

Hall County P25 TRS
 TG 5031 - Hall County FD Primary
 TG 5179 - USACE Lake Lanier Park Rangers 1

Hart County DMR TRS
 TG 161 - Hartwell FD Dispatch (multicast with 154.415)
 TG 170 - Hart County EMS Dispatch (units encrypted, dispatch not)
 
Jefferson County DMR TRS
 TG 109 - Jefferson County FD Dispatch

MCA DMR TRS (Screven County)
 TG 10008 - Screven County Fire/EMS Dispatch

Food

No good road trip is complete without good food, and this one was no exception. I had an outstanding burger on Tuesday, delicious German food on Tuesday and Thursday evening, great BBQ and Catfish on Wednesday evening, and a great breakfast on Friday morning.

For lunch on Tuesday, I stopped at The Rusty Bike Café, a motorcycle themed grill in Clayton on US-441 south of US-76. I decided on the Randy Burger, a cheese burger made with ground angus and ground bacon instead of just hamburger. It was the first time I’ve had a burger with bacon ground up into the patty, but it was absolutely delicious. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait for a seat, though, they seem to be a pretty popular breakfast and lunch spot.

On Tuesday evening, I ate at The Heidelberg on Main St in Helen. I decided to try the Allgäuer Zwiebelbratwurst (grilled pork sausages with gravy and onions) with Spätzle and Mixed Vegetables and I wasn’t disappointed. The sausage and onions were delicious and the savory gravy was a perfect accompaniment to it. The service is friendly and the restaurant is right on Helen’s main drag, so it’s a short walk from many of the hotels along Main St/GA-17.

On Wednesday, I was driving around the Northeast Georgia mountains and stopped at the Hawg Wild BBQ and Catfish House overlooking Lake Chatuge on GA-76 in Hiawassee. Everything on the menu sounded delicious, so I ordered the three meat plate with Pulled Pork, Beef Brisket, and Fried Catfish (in a light cornmeal batter) with Macaroni and Cheese and Cole Slaw as the sides. The Pulled Pork and Fried Catfish was excellent but the Brisket was a bit dry, but still good. They have a variety of sauces, but I found that their JP’s Vinegar Carolina Traditional went great with the pork and the JP’s Original Sweet & Smokey went well with the beef. The service was wonderful and if you sit at the front of the restaurant, you’ve got a beautiful view of Lake Chatuge.

On Thursday evening, I went to my favorite restaurant in Helen, The Bodensee on Munich Strasse. The Bodensee sits off of the main drag in Helen and isn’t as attention getting as some of the restaurants in town, but it’s the best German restaurant in town. On this visit, I tried the Hauspfaennle (Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Bacon & Mushroom Cream Sauce) with a side of fried potatoes and it was easily the best meal I had all week long. The pork was tender and the bacon and mushroom cream sauce was rich and savory. Their service is excellent and the servers all have good knowledge of German food in case you need to ask any questions about what you’re ordering or thinking about ordering. If you’re visiting Helen or anywhere near Helen, The Bodensee is a must-stop.

The best breakfast I had all week was no contest. The breakfast at the hotel I was staying in was disappointing, so on Friday morning before I started heading back to Savannah, I walked over to Hofer’s Bakery and Café on Main St in Helen. When they opened at 8 AM, there was already a line at the door, so if you’re going for breakfast, you might have a wait. I ordered the Bacon Onion Hash (bacon and onion chopped fine and sautéed combined with hash brown potatoes and over baked with cheddar jack cheese) scrambled eggs, and two fresh baked rolls. It was quite good and even though they were busy, the service was quick and friendly.

Over the next week or two, I’ll have some posts out about the places I visited on this road trip, I just need some time to look through the photos and get them written. It was a wonderful road trip in one of my favorite parts of the state. If you’re a radio geek like I am and want to visit the northeast corner of Georgia, hopefully this will help you know what to listen for.

2 thoughts on “Northeast Georgia Road Trip Radio Report; 6-10 June 2022

  1. Mac, I always enjoy your detailed and informative blog posts (with great pictures). I feel like I was on the trip with you but unable to enjoy the good food. You do great work that is highly appreciated by me and, I am sure, the rest of the amateur radio and monitoring community.

    Like

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