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Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology

from Dale Kubichek, N6JSX on July 12, 2014
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Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology

For HAMs that have been active, locally, in our hobby for +20yrs, we have seen a steady decline in repeater activity since the hay-days of the 70/80’s when the original purpose of repeaters (extending the operational distance of weak power stations, i.e. HT) has expanded into becoming ‘social’ groups. Repeaters have now evolved into ‘support’ groups for SkyWarn, Red Cross, EMA-HLS, etc. and repeater support in general.

HAM repeater truisms:

1. 2m is the most used and active of HAM repeater bands,
2. repeaters are routinely most active during first-shift commutes,
3. repeaters are infrequently monitored (and 146.520 is even more rarely monitored),
4. when a NOAA Warning or Tornado Sirens sound - HAMs come out of hibernation onto the repeaters demanding to participate (even if they are not current in training),
5. NET attendance is waning, coinciding with the rising age of HAMs, becoming SK’s all too soon.

Today you can travel through North America scanning 2m & 70cm, the most popular bands, hearing virtually nothing, why? Is it due to a deterioration in conversational civility, the shift from a technical hobby to a more social hobby, or has the WWW-Internet taken over as our social gathering medium for HAMs (i.e. QRZ, eHam, FB, YGroups, etc.)? Or is it due to programming our newer super +300 memory VHF/UHF radios has become so technically burdensome that often only the first 20 memories get manually programmed?

Why have repeaters becoming non-emergency ghost towns - it cannot solely be caused by the proliferation of cellular telephones or the Internet? Could it be due to the difficulty in finding active repeaters that are infrequently used? For decades we have had the ARRL Repeater Guide – with lots of bad/missing data (but don’t blame the ARRL, the guide’s accuracy is proportional to the accuracy of the data given to the ARRL for the Guide). How many times have you been traveling and programmed your radio with ARRL data to find you must search for the PL-tone, ker-chunking until the repeater keys up, if it keys up? I found ARTSCI publication the most inaccurate, listing barely 50% of the area repeaters; the maps are nice but outdated and way short on area data. ARTSCI does not appear to use the FREE area repeater coordination databases, as evident with my own 2005, coordinated repeater never being listed in ARTSCI but it is ARRL listed. The current Ohio OARC database can be downloaded free from web any time.

And herein lies our problem, there is ‘NO’ National HAM Repeater Database ‘FORMAT’, our own methods are stifling progress in radio technology. Each Coordination body does “their own thing their own way,” and this is the autonomy we all must suffer. Since the database ‘formats’ are different from State to State, area to area, band to band, group to group, how do the radio manufactures incorporate any radio memory programming features? I envision a Bluetooth (or cable) link from your Smartphone/Tablet/Notebook to the radio, using a Smart-APP/program to quickly search a specified Repeater area, find the near repeaters, and send the data to the radio to program your specified memory group(s). This will be much SAFER and quicker with far fewer fat-finger errors than trying to manually program the radio while driving. Plus you would not have to get the manual out (that you left at home) or decipher the short cheat-sheet to rediscover how to program that radio. Or once again tempt fate, using one hand on the manual, the other hand on the radio, and one knee on the steering wheel --- and how many of us condemn cell phone talking drivers as being unsafe?!?

In getting to a ‘National Standardized Repeater database FORMAT’ there is an issue that needs to be addressed, many repeater owners do not want their physical repeater location made public for security reasons. Here is where the physical location needs to be changed to a service-area location, i.e. 6-digit Grid-Square. A repeater’s typically service area is usually never bigger than a 4-digit Grid-Square (Grid-Squares within continental USA; 4-digit “EN70” is 70x100mi: 6-digit “EN70vh” is 3x4mi).

I recommend the standardized repeater database format FIRST nine columns shall be:

All other columns added to the database are for the local coordinators use. The first seven columns contain all the pertinent data needed for searching and programming a radio.

With this recommended ‘FORMAT’ the radio manufactures would have a standardized ‘FORMAT’ to use to include auto-programming features within their radios. This would make it so much easier, faster, and safer for the traveling or impaired HAM’s to find and use in and out of area repeaters.

The bigger issue will be HOW to get omnipotent repeater coordination groups to adopt this ‘FORMAT’ or any National FORMAT? There is no USA “super” repeater Coordinator and the ARRL can only apply ‘peer’ pressure to obtain compliance. I do not see the big radio manufactures (Icom, Kenwood, Yaesu, Alinco) collaborating in adopting a one-fits-all FORMAT forcing area Coordinators into a format. I do not want the FCC to get involved, but then again Charlie did set the enforcement policy between coordinated vs. uncoordinated repeaters. So it will likely take some type of FCC ‘policy recommendation’ to get USA Coordinators to standardize to a common ‘FORMAT’ as well as directing ALL USA Coordinators to publicly share the first nine columns of data, annually.

Member Comments:
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Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KG4RUL on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
And if you had the nationwide, "super" coordinator, WHAT would change to keep the various repeater databases from suffering from the problems that currently exist?

Paper repeaters - Incomplete or inaccurate information
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K5LXP on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I don't think it's an issue of the data format more than it is just having accurate data.

Part of the problem with ARRL's repeater directory and now their "app" is that users can't readily add or update data. You need an interactive database like (which is way better than the ARRL's app). This provides feedback from users as to the accuracy of the data. It can also generate a location specific repeater list on your smartphone/tablet that you could potentially link to your radio via wireless link as you describe. No typical mobiles support direct frequency entry that I know of but maybe the standard you need to define besides a data format is the wireless interface for amateur radios.

Another issue is paper repeaters. If coordinators would exercise the authority to "expire" and reassign coordinated repeaters that never made it to the air, it would offer more pairs to individuals or groups that would actually put something on the air. Myself and numerous others I've known simply put uncoordinated repeaters up on these idle pairs and bet the coordinated user never uses it themselves.

Overall I think the decline in activity isn't knowing what the frequencies are, or the data format. It's a shift in the interests of amateurs to other things, plus a lack of available time and motivation to participate due to other obligations.

Mark K5LXP
Albuquerque, NM
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K1CJS on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Have to agree. A national repeater list isn't the answer. It doesn't address repeaters that are nothing but entries on a list--no actual repeater existing. It doesn't address actual repeater owners who either don't notify coordinators when changes are made to their machines--or who just can't be bothered doing so.

And how about the repeaters whose owners don't want their listings made public--those who have repeaters up that are 'private' repeaters?

Still another killer of the VHF/UHF frequency use is the proliferation of the "emcomm" repeater--the repeater where the owner or his representative keeps telling users the repeater "may be" needed for a drill or other traffic--and to get off the frequency!

The other view--that the internet has taken over the role that repeaters used to fill--has merit, just look at the proliferation of hams on the sites here and on other ham sites. Something else that has killed off frequency useage is the cell phone--something that can also be taken with you just about anywhere, and that can be better simply because the cell phone now has better coverage than any repeater.

If you have trouble finding traffic on 146.52, the national calling channel, simply having a "national" list of repeaters isn't going to increase frequency useage. The heyday of the repeater--and the VHF/UHF spectrum is gone, period. It isn't coming back.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K6JHU on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Like AM radio, the 2m repeater is an idea who's time has passed. I asked my wife the other day, what did we do before the age of cell phones. The answer was 2m repeater. But, like AM radio, once the facility is in place, it is easy to keep it going whether there is anyone listening or not. And a club is still proud to say "We have a repeater" even if it is never used. I would suggest a heretical idea. Repeater use would go up if we seriously pruned the number of repeaters. There is a critical mass of users that keep a repeater active. Traffic begets traffic. If a repeater is not active, nobody monitors. It is that simple.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KQ4KK on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Check the DSTAR Reflectors such as 001C or 030C. Always busy.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KF4HR on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Once most of us once got around exclusively on our feet, a bicycle, or horse. Technology has moved on and now those transportation modes have given way to motor trains, motor vehicles, and aircraft, and the previous modes of transportation are now mostly hobby activities.

Once ham radio was a new method of communications, now thanks to technology moving on, it's mostly a hobby with a loosely woven emergency component.

I see a time in the not too distant future where commercial communication will improve with the required redundancy to where ham radio will no longer be required for its emergency component at all.

Ham radio has been evolving into a pure hobby for a number of years. Let it be.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KB4QAA on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Repeater data format is NOT the solution to the numerous issues stated.

This is a logic failure. The greater issue is cooperation and coordination among all the players. A common data format is just one part of improving the system.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KI5WW on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Wow, you got the first 20 memories entered.? I got bored and uninterested at 2 channels.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K8QV on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As technology marches on things become obsolete. It might still be fun for people to play with 2 meter repeaters, the NTS and MARS, but the real world has no need for them. Amateur radio is only a hobby and has been since the advent of cell phones and the Internet. We can't artificially boost interest or participation and we can't pretend outdated methodologies are relevant beyond a hobby interest. We also can't get a 12 member club to have everyone agree and cooperate, much less the entire ham nation.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by WA7SGS on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Over here in SW Oregon/Coos County we have around a dozen repeaters despite the low volume of radio traffic. They were built in such numbers so as to provide redundancy in case of an emcomm situation that could knock out several of them. Think "Columbus Day Storm 1962" or Cascadia Subduction Zone quake. We get hit hard when Ma Nature strikes! Thankfully it is not frequently and luckily for us we have both the money and expertise to set up such a system.

Netwrking repeaters has led to us having access to one put in by the Peak Repeater Association, which is focused on the I-5 corridor but it also extends to the coast in some parts and central Oregon. This netowrked system is active due to the network being centered around Oregon's most populated area. Another network focused on 70cm ops came about when three groups combined to link and offer coverage along all of US 101 in Oregon. It does not get much use but almost anyone on the coast who is into repeaters knows it is there.

Our busiest local repeater is the club-owned one. The ARES/RACES net, club net and YL net are held on this repeater. Traffic runs from light to moderate. It's not busy like CB Channel 20 from that band's golden days in the 70's for local traffic but it essentially provides the same home frequency for the local amateurs.

As I read articles about VHF/UHF usage I notice there are a lot of different environments out there, some quite active while others are MIA, which get written about. I would imagine the solution for each area's problems would be as unique as the radio environment is. Come here and you had better know the .610 repeater is THE repeater, so a list of whatever repeaters we have won't mean much to someone reaching out trying to talk who is not from here. You would also need to know the state of Oregon linked networks and their activity level if you wanted to communicate on them effectively as you travel. Other places with even more repeaters like metro areas (look at SoCal!) would make finding the "right" repeater for one's purposes a hunt similar to finding the needle in a haystack.

What I do: Scanners come in handy, especially obsolete ones that don't do trunking and narrowband FM since they are dirt cheap, for monitoring VHF/UHF amateur bands. I always keep the simplex national calling frequencies as well as the rarely used repeaters programmed in. If a traveler comes here, I'll hear them. If a local winds up off the beaten path for whatever reason (and it could be a location-based one when someone is stuck in the woods), I'll hear them too. You call? I help and so do others! Other local amateurs also use scanners in both base and mobile situations to watch over what looks to be a quiet sea because it could erupt at any moment. That is my accomodation to the local VHF/UHF situation.

I do not drive long distances much any more so I have my 2m programmed with local and regional frequencies. Using the scan mode after I get out of the primary .610 area lets me see what is happening (if anything) as I travel within my 2-hour driving radius. If I was going to take a trip into a new area I would start writing other amateurs to get their advice on local repeater/simplex conditions. Remember when maps had lines for roads where they were iffy and the advisory was "Ask for local conditions"? That would appear to be the same case for VHF/UHF repeaters these days.

In conclusion, a list of all repeaters even if it was accurate would be of little use to a traveler without knowing what frequencies were being used in an active fashion and by who. One might as well listen for truckers on the "wrong" CB channel...LOL! Speaking of that, you had better know the proper CB channels if you are going to drive the BLM roads deep in the woods over here since the log trucks call off the mile markers as they move along and you would not want to be stuck literally between a rock and hard spot on a narrow gravel or dirt road when 80,000 pounds of iron and wood come steaming around the corner.

Anyways, thanks to the OP for posting and bringing up an interesting topic!



Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Exactly! Good job on assessing the current state of ham radio.

The only people who believe there is anything important about ham radio are hams. This is not the golden age of ham radio in the 1950s, when it was cutting edge technology, versus a hobby.

Two meter repeaters? In my area, they have either been silent for years or there are certain repeaters that the CB hobby type crowd hangs out on. Their on-the-air behavior sounds exactly like eleven meters. Most obtain their ham license via exam fraud through the good buddy network of certain VECs.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KD7YVV on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
It seems that the BeachNet system in Ocean Shores
is a quiet system. I seem to remember reading an article
and for the life of me, I can't find it, but it was a
way to program all the repeaters in just a few memory
locations. I can't recall, but I think it was just
programming in all the standard repeater pairs, and then
just searching for the proper tone. If someone can
refresh my memory, thank you in advance. :)

When I was in Kirkland, the repeater there has a kids
net every week before the local ARES net.

And there is the answer. Repeaters have fallen into
disuse because of cellphones, tablets with apps, etc.

How many of us hams are fathers, or grandfathers?
Do we even take the time to introduce our young into
ham radio? How many clubs are active in including
young hams? How many are just old men sitting around
talking about the yesteryear of ham radio?

While it's true that technology has changed how ham
radio is viewed in today's society, hasn't it always
been so? How many times have you seen the little
cartoon of the man with bakelite headphones on over
a CW key? Is that the public's perception of ham
radio? Isn't Field Day one way the public can see
ham radio in a new light?

As far as the repeater format, there's really no one
definitive directory. Maybe the answer is having a
repeater owner log into a website once a year to
update the status of their repeater whether anything
has changed or not. The format proposed looks good.
One thing I'd like to know is, how many repeaters
still use auto patch? I've never tried an auto patch
but would like to try one someday.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by WB4M on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Repeater ghost towns. Well, used to be you could be driving down the road, find a repeater and just turn to either up 6 or down 6 and chat. Now they are tone encoded to PREVENT people from talking on them. Repeaters are not the place for much of a QSO either, and you just might get reminded of that if you stay too long. I used to make frequent 3-hr trips to Asheville and I constantly monitored 146.52 simplex, and in 3 years, I had ONE QSO with a motorist going the opposite direction on I-40. Needless to say it didn't last long. I also had ONE chat with a guy who was on his home station and he monitored 146.52 because he lived near the interstate. He also said it was rare to hear anyone on 146.52.
Yes as technology advances, repeaters fade even further into the past; and have become just a CB watering hole.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W6CAW on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I think what happened to repeater activity was, the cellular phone was invented. In San Diego we have very active and not so very active repeaters. Life goes on.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W4KYR on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is an excellent FREE app in the App store on the iPhone called "Repeater Book". It will list all repeaters (including PL) up to 200 miles of your "current" location. And right at the top it will list your grid square as well.

Also, you may filter your list by bands 10m, 6m, 2m, 1.25m, 70cm, 33cm and 23 cm.

In addition, you can filter it further by services. FM, D-Star, IRLP, Echolink, ATV, APCO 25, AllStar and DMR.

You can have it display in miles or KM with a maximum distance of 200 miles.

Things change

I remember when I first became a ham 22 years ago. There was a huge influx of people getting their ham license. Living on the East Coast at the time. I recall nights when every frequency from 146.520 through 146.580 was filled with chatter on simplex.

The repeaters were jammed at times, especially around rush hour. The ham radio clubs were getting new members every month. No matter what license class, it seemed that 2 meters got the lions share of use back then.

Two meters was the starting point for every new ham back then. I think today might be a little different.

New Modes, more opportunities.

Maybe 2 meter FM is getting less usage these days. With the advent of digital modes like PSK31 and the popularity of APRS, and the availability of relatively inexpensive computers. Maybe hams are jumping to other modes more quickly than they did in the past.

Regarding a national database of repeaters in a set format. It is a good idea on paper. As far as programming radios. Kenwood released a free software to program repeaters into the TH-D72.

But there is one huge programming goof they made. So while it is possible to import 300 repeater frequencies into the radio. You have to manually edit each entry with PL tone information or you are not going to hit the repeater.

Baofeng (love them or hate them) is taking the right approach too by offering FREE software to program their radios. I believe I read somewhere that it is possible to clone Baofeng radios as well (without a computer?).

So the question was why are we only programming 20 frequencies into out 300 channel capable radios? I think if that is the case. Could it be because maybe that is all we use on a regular basis?

I could see 3 or main repeaters, plus some public safety channels (receive only - of course), the local NOAA wx channel and a few simplex channels and maybe a few repeaters from a nearby city or two.

I would like to get some app or program that would take the info from (the iPhone app) "Repeater Book" and program it instantly into the TH-D72 and several of my Baofeng radios with one click or two (including the PL tones!). I don't think that will happen.

However it is done. It would have to be some open source program that would have to work with all radios and tied to one central database to keep it uniform.

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K0JEG on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Interesting article. Not saying I agree that local repeaters are dead, but it can be daunting to find active repeaters in a new area. The paper directory is handy, but again, as long as inactive repeaters are listed alongside active it will be up to the user to check what's really out there. The nice thing about the author's idea is that it should be fairly simple to implement a database. Perhaps the author should start investigating Amazon's S3 servers? Again, the hard part is separating the wheat from the chaff. The ARRL farmed it out with their new APP, and that's fine too, but because of that it will never be free either.

The ID-51A (and I guess other "late model" Icom radios) have the D-star repeater database, with Lat/lon and the ability to search for nearby repeaters, but it only works for D-star mode. It could have been done for analog repeaters as well, even if it's just in a "code plug" form from a computer, but they chose not to implement it. This is in something that I would define as a premium product, where one would expect all the bells and whistles.

Local repeaters are still the best way for new hams to get familiar with the community, and especially get used to operating. It's in a club's best interest to get local people on the local repeaters and much of that has to do with the attitude of the club itself. Active clubs tend to have active repeaters.

As for the EMCOM wackers demanding the repeater only be used for SHTF activity, well, fine. Leave it turned off until there's an emergency so the rest of us can use the repeater pair for something useful.

One other point: active repeaters are usually in excellent RF locations, and because of our status often times get to be in places that would otherwise cost hundreds or thousands of dollars a month for access. If we don't use repeaters, our landlords might just think again about renewing our leases. And not only that, but with advanced linking systems we could leverage our sites' locations to get even more use out of them, such as HSMM networks or other local radio systems. An active repeater network would go a long way in showing the value of ham radio when it comes time to implement some of those new systems.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K9MHZ on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Yep, just different today. Repeaters are everywhere, and I don't remember that as the case when I started 37 years ago. Seems like equipment is easier to obtain and maintain, so you don't need a hosting club to keep one running.

Cell phones, many machines in raw numbers, CBers invading, new modes and bands that are more interesting, etc.

There are more hams now than ever, so people underutilizing repeaters should not indicate a dying hobby....far from it.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by WB6DGN on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"Wow, you got the first 20 memories entered.? I got bored and uninterested at 2 channels."

I made it to 6 (and another dozen or two on paper) before I lost interest. Information is so unreliable that its just not worth sitting in front of a computer for an hour or so to find out most of your entries are invalid; AND to listen to the SAME OLD PEOPLE saying the SAME OLD THINGS day after day after day (same reason I quit going to bars over 30 years ago)!

I think that's the MAIN reason repeaters are dead. What's the sense of checking into a repeater when you have nothing NEW to add to the SAME OLD, TIRED CONVERSATION STILL IN PROGRESS for over 10 years!
In the '60s our conversations were alive because we were TECHNICIANS (NOT the MISNAMED license class) discussing our projects and learning from our discussions.
What do hams talk about now on a typical morning commute? 200 comments about the weather (none of which come to pass), 750 medical discussions, many of which turn out to be downright nauseating; 2150 complaints about a nearby driver; all made by the ONLY self-proclaimed PERFECT driver on the road. And on and on!
When I got back into ham radio I listened to that drivel for upwards of a month before it became too much effort to even turn the radio on; much less transmit on it.
And, as for programming the radio? Wonder whatever happened to those notes I made and never used?
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K6AER on July 12, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have been building and maintaining repeaters since 1978. Several things have changed the operational dynamics.

Cell phones is number one. My repeater in Thousand Oaks California from 1980-2000 had two hundred members all for the usage of the auto patch. That is gone, I disconnected my last phone line 7 years ago.

For the most part the users are now new hams from 27 MHz.

Nobody can carry on a technical conversation.

My repeaters here in Denver cover over 225,000 Sq miles and out to over 125 miles. Some days they never get a Ker Chunk. At 14,000 feet you can cover a lot of area. Some days the old guys will decide where to have breakfast but that is about it.

Hams are no longer wanted in first responder situations. We bring little to the communication plate except a form of communication only a bit faster than CW. Emergency services want bandwidth. Live pictures, multiple communication channels, multiuser conferencing, GPS accuracy, Video transmission and the ability to communicate to 30 different people on 30 different channels.

A lot of repeaters have no emergency power and are not very redundant. Hams with their orange vest and HT’s with old batteries are not much better.

Yes the golden age of repeaters is slowly dying.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N2OBM on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
WARNING: If you are not a professional frequency coordinator (by trade), you might find some of the text below offensive. Tough cookie.

Format or syntax...yes a more user friendly, standard format would be nice; printed (ARRL Guide/AUXFOG/ other products) or referenced in text on a website.
Geographical annotation derived from Maidenhead is at least a place to start.

I don't travel with that graphical training aid though.
Maybe a newer, more defined product for the marketplace?


In addition to your documented list ..could some 'nice guy' make FREE downloadable files for the 'basic' repeater channel sets? Files of course would support various radio makes, or just an XL that the user could 'hand jam' into their software...hosted on the ARRL website...maybe?

Now there is a REAL service to offer the greater Amateur Brotherhood! Did I mention FREE? ARRL...did you get that? Member or not?

Of course several geographical based files would have to reflect the different repeater spacings, odd splits, 'splinter' coordinations and digital vs analog plans in the various areas of coordination. Most radios will scan for CTCSS or the Ham could 'perfect' the downloaded file as he or she derives 'other' repeater attributes.

*Others have pointed out, the often corrupt data from repeater coordinators will never reflect 'real world'.*

That is a fact of radio.

My jab>
Coordinators in the amateur radio service enjoy their power and prestige. 'Their' databases are so secretive...(some parameters for good reason...and sometimes not). Absolute transparency would reveal their hoarding/folly/ineptitude/laziness/'good ol boy' relationships/labor of love (you choose; multiple guess).

Any printed list, website reference or downloadable file would benefit from a standardized format.

Good luck (honestly) getting the individual Coordinators, Coordination Entity (47CFR97: Frequency coordinator. An entity, recognized in a local or regional area....) or the fabled NFCC ('National' contradicts 'local or regional'; does Part 97 authorize them to exist?) to agree on your proposed syntax or format.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by NJ1K on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The problem with online databases such as and a whole host of others is that they take submissions from anyone not affiliated with the repeaters. Most databases I have looked at still have many old repeaters listed that I have personally taken down years ago. I have tried to delete these from said databases to no avail. I wasn't even the one who listed them in the first place.

The current listing for my repeater on has so much wrong information (that I did not put there) that I requested it be deleted. We'll see if they fulfill my request.

I think it's just time to make my repeater a closed repeater and not list it in ARRL's repeater directory.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W0DLR on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I owned a 2 meter Micor repeater for 20+ years, took it down about 6 months ago. THey are about as worthless as spoiled milk in this day and time. Throwed it in the shed and next stop will be the dumpster. It's impossible to find an intelligent conversation on 2 meters.
My .02 cents worth for anyone that cares, and most don't.
Please think about this and act on it.  
by AI2IA on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
First, let me say that Dale, N6JSX, has provided one of the best articles on in years. Thank you, Dale!

One of my sons was working in Bldg #7 on that awful day 9/11. I was working in northern New Jersey. We both lived on Staten Island.

All cell phones went down. Land lines were useless.

I could not get home for three days, because they shut down the bridges to Staten Island for security purposes. I had to stay at a colleagues house in Edison, NJ. My son, covered with soot and lucky to be alive, made the last ferry back to Staten Island.

I was able to contact him and to contact my family on Staten Island, find out what was going on, and exchange information on who was safe and how some didn't make it.

For three days I had open two meter communication through repeaters located in northern New Jersey, Staten Island, and even Brooklyn. Without those repeaters, my son, my family, and myself would not have known what was going on, and who was located where, and when we would come together again. - All through two meter repeater communication.

Some of you believe that these repeaters are obsolete - think again! When all else fails in your local area, you are going to bitterly wish you had functioning repeaters and hams with radios to use them! Just when you think you are safe, disaster can fall upon you.

Don't toss away a valuable resource through ignorance.

Dale is absolutely correct. Use it, and improve it.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
We actually came up with an amateur-to-amateur self-help idea to address the all too common CB style operating on two meters.

Three of us established a 2 meter simplex "Help & Assistance" go to frequency, aimed at the flood of CB operators arriving on 2 meters.

It was NOT a place where "I am superior and more experienced," so you must do what I say, because we knew that would turn off the new guys.

We would meet on the air and in person, at a local fast food restaurant. We found many of these guys were decent guys, many with families, and they were eager to shed their bad habits, learned from the CB.

You know what destroyed the group and our efforts?

Two old timer hams from 75 meters who had nobody to fight with during the day time caught wind of our group. They came on the simplex freq and started criticizing the new guys, telling them how stupid their radios and antennas were and how they needed to get bigger radios. The new guys were subjected to continual negative comments and name calling.

We even tried once to QSY to another simplex freq, telling the old 75 meters hams they could have the old simplex frequency. It did no good, and they followed us to the new frequency.

The old timers are known obese alcoholics, who are seen at local hamfests, riding around in those electric battery powered chairs.

That was the end of the group and our efforts.

I suppose one could say, based on this experience, that we are our own worst enemy in ham radio.

Yeah, I suppose we could have stood our ground and fought with the old timers, but what kind of an example would that be?

Like somebody already said, it is impossible today to find an intelligent QSO on two meters, but at least we tried.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by AC7CW on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The scanner crowd is ahead of hams. One can buy a scanner and use to program it. Some scanners will find active freqs for you also. I really think that the ARRL should have stepped up to the plate and taken care of this a long time ago but they seem sort of inept, probably would have made a mess of it anyhow.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by RSHIRE22 on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Why have 2 meters when one works perfectly?
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K4PIH on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
After reading this thread I have to agree that it is one of the best I have seen in a while. I also notice that most of you are saying the same things I'm thinking, that 2 mtrs is not what it used to be and I think the reasons (cell phones) are spot on. What I do see in the thread is the constant references to CB, 11 mtrs, 27 Mhz, etc are about the only ones on them anymore. I also see that some of us think that there are a lot of CBer's that had obtained ham license by fraud or collusion. Is that really the case, or have CBer's found the same fun we used to get out of the repeaters?
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KY9K on July 13, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
To make such a database useful for more advanced purposes, additional data is needed.

- HAAT of antenna (or even AMSL if still using grid square

- Location preferably in USNG format. Much easier to deal with and calculate bearings/ranges/etc.

- Positively ID the TX/RX PLs.

- Break out the served agencies to a list rather than a Y/N block.

- Emergency power Y/N

- Allow the repeater license trustee to categorize the repeater - wide area, travelers welcome, rag chews wanted, EMCOMM only, etc.

With that level of data, we're getting to a point that software can massage that list and produce memory load files centered around a point.

by AI2IA on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The truth is that the FCC has given us the 2 meter band, and what we do with it or don't do with it is up to us.

What is offered in this article is a good, positive suggestion.

Ham radio is what you make it for yourself, and collectively it is to a greater extent what we make for all of us.

The whiners, hams on the sideline, critics, and jokers without call signs contribute nothing to the service. This is why we need ham clubs and organizations to climb out of this muck and get things done in the way of progress. This is a good idea, a move in the right direction, and I hope that it takes root.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W4KYR on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

If we are going to have a reliable national repeater database we also need to verify the following from at least two hams that...

The repeater is active, the PL tones are correct, it is available for general ham use (not restricted to SHTF drills) and it is an truly open repeater. And most importantly note if the repeater shuts down at night!

(If the repeater shuts down at night. That should be noted in the database with a 24 with a slash going through it.)

If the information cannot be verified, then the repeater is excluded from the national database!

In addition it would be most helpful if there was a way of listing the top 10 (or top 5) most popular repeaters in a given area or city.

In some areas there are repeaters which get limited use for one reason or the other. Yet other repeaters are heavily used.

Maybe a asterisk or a star after the repeater listing would indicate that it is a repeater that sees a lot of participation.

This would be great in determining which repeaters to use in advance say if you travel cross country. So instead of programming all 20 or 30 repeaters from each city or area. You just need to program in just a few repeaters.

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

During the 9/11 tragedy, you note how helpful repeaters were in keeping touch with your family. However, you make no mention of what, if any, public service activities you participated in or provided, which involved repeaters?

Did you provide or participate in any public service activities via repeaters?

I have read virtually all the news reports and other various post 9/11 reports, and while I have noted many ham radio call signs who participated in or provided 9/11 support, I cannot find your call sign listed in any of these reports?
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W9OY on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
2M FM is boring. It's been boring for 50 years. No database is going to cure that. It would just be a catalog of boredom and up to date PL freqs.

73 W9OY
Come out of the shadows.  
by AI2IA on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Even though you have no compelling reasons to know my personal activities, "JohnZ.' if you come out of the shadows and declare your call sign, if you have one, then I will be glad to give you some relevant particulars about my experiences with repeater associations locally on two meters.

If you prefer to live in the shadows and leave doubts as to your ham qualifications, then ignore this challenge and remain in the anonymous group of less respected contributors.

Regardless, I fail to see how my account of my families experiences during 9/11 are somehow vulnerable to your need to know about my repeater activities. In any event, I have no respect whatsoever for those who hide.

Do keep in mind that I wholeheartedly support this proactive article and the amateur radio operator, Dale Kubichek, N6JSX, who did such an excellent service in contributing it. As for you, "Johnz," I fail to see your point.

Vy 73,
de Ray Mullin, ai2ia
RE: Come out of the shadows.  
by K4PIH on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As I have said many times, if you don't or won't use your call sign, either due to being scared or more likely not having one, then you should not be able to post on this page. Man up or butt out.
RE: Come out of the shadows.  
by JOHNZ on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Was going to share my personal experience on that fateful day with you.

Nevertheless, 73..

RE: Come out of the shadows.  
by K4PIH on July 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Just ignore Johnz. Looking at your background he has a lot of nerve implicating anything. He attempted to do the same to me.



Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KG7CSS on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The Irony is the very mobile technology cell phones and tablets are the reason for demise for repeater use. Today is easier to skype somebody on a smartphone than 2m repeater.

One last field I took my HT when I went out to do some G-sales. I caught a field-day cq on 146.520. I could not reach him, he kept cutting out on me. I tried to move out of the neighborhood but still no joy,yet my cell phone maintained five bars. I think we need to rethink ham radio, like a android or linux based ht,using and open source non proprietary digital. Lets refit repeater as digital packet repeaters to support new digital packet modes on VHF/ UHF.

The this is not 2001 but 2014, broadband was in its infancy. now we have multi megabit broadband on a smart phone. If 9/11 happened today companies can deploy potable G3 hot spots , some small as a briefcase. In the near future we may have satellite connected smart phones. The problem in a major emergency not everybody has a ham radio but many have a smartphone.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K4PIH on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
It may well be 2014, but the result woud be the same in another 911 type of scenario. The cell networks would be instantly jammed due to huge traffic. Government agencies would still be unable to talk to each other because they have not solved the interagency comms issues. But that's off point. The 2 meter scene has become the new CB scene because the Tech license is the easiest to get and the cheapest to get started in. The cost of a decent HT or mobile rig, minus all the whistles and bells, is on-par with the cost of a new Cobra CB. People have just migrated from local chat on their CB's to local chat on the repeaters because the quality of the FM is better than AM in the 27 Mhz band and the coverage is better through repeaters. I thought that is kind of what we wanted, get the CBr's to become hams through 2 and 10 meters and then encourage them to upgrade. How have we done so far?
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W5GNB on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
One problem as I see it is that in the early days, there was usually only One or at most Two main repeaters in a prime location that EVERYONE used. Now there seems to be a little repeater in everyone's garage.
People tend to sit on one repeater and not associate with each other as a group like it was in the beginning.
Also, the Cell Phone for all its wonderful use today has far surpassed the usefulness of a Ham radio repeater which has a very limited user base in comparison to the general population.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
For all the old men in bright orange vests who still cling to their 2m handi-talkies and 2m repeaters, believing they are still relevant in emergencies, you can remain ignorant or educate yourself by reading the National Emergency Communictions Plan (NCEP), published by Homeland Security. Your choice.

Ham radio is not part of the NCEP. Ham radio repeaters are not dying, they have long ago been relegated to the ash heap of history.

Interagency communications did not stand still, since 9-11. Technology that can be powered for days by a single automobile battery or indefinitely by solar power serves as but one back up to national emergency interagency communications. Continual practice drills show interagency communications functioning efficiently.

You really need to get rid of those senior citizen cell phones guys. Smartphones, I-phones, tablets, etc, and the cell phone companies have not stood still, since 9-11. Networks that were overloaded with calls during 9-11 don't even exist anymore. Guys, get off the 2m repeaters and 75 meters and get caught up with modern technology. You will sound so much more informed, and please, donate your bright orange vests and ham call sign vanity tags to a nearby museum.

Technology continually progesses, but I still work 20 and 40 meter c.w., mainly because it irritates the No Code crowd.

Sighh, and we wonder why our ham club meeting rooms are filled with obese old men. We continually hear the whine of, "where are the kids"? It is really not a difficult question to answer.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W4KYR on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"The problem in a major emergency not everybody has a ham radio but many have a smartphone. "


Smartphones are only as good as the cell towers or wifi connections that they connect to. Hurricane Sandy rendered smartphones into expensive paperweights as the cell towers went down along with the internet and the power.

At one point,people affected by the hurricane were asking a tv reporter questions about the latest information because the communications were out in an area that is otherwise normally considered one of the most technologically up to date areas of the country.

Modern technology is great until the grid goes down including the cell towers.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Hurricane Sandy also rendered 2m handi-talkies into cheap paper weights and blew down ham antennas, as well as the homes attached to the antennas.

First responders executed interagency emergency communications plans and were on the air within hours, following the weakening of Sandy's winds. Cell phone companies followed a hours later, executing their well practiced emergency plans to restore communications. Hams in bright orange vests were not seen anywhere. The glory days of the 1950s are long gone guys. A reading of the post disaster reports makes no mention of ham radio.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N6JSX on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I've been rereading my article many times against the comments made here, I'm amazed at how many went on wild off-message tangents. I continue to ask myself --- how was this article so misunderstood?

This article is NOT about how to get an 'accurate' databases or weed-out paper/suitcase repeaters or secret/private repeaters on our public airways. Accuracy will ALWAYS be a problem for local repeater coordinators under the politics they live under (or create).

The crux of my article is "HOW to get repeater coordination groups to adopt this ‘FORMAT’ or any National FORMAT?" NOT to create a super database or super coordinator. But how to get all USA-wide coordination groups to accept and USE a COMMON-database >>>FORMAT<<<?

With a COMMON-database-FORMAT radio Manufactures could more effectively incorporate programming methods to program their radios easier, quicker, faster for anywhere USA (the biggest radio market). And thus increasing repeater usage - FOR WHAT EVER PURPOSE.

Cell smartphones excel at person-to-person communications (WHEN cell sites are up/active) and have you seen how 'fast' smart-phone batteries die? HAM-simplex (or generator/battery repeaters) are the common denominators to successful E-comms when everything hits the fan.

But E-Comms represent less than 1% of HAMdom activity. We are in this hobby to communicate, to socialize, and for a very few - to grow technology. To have successful E-Comms we need everyday HAMs to be active.

If we make it easier for 99%'ers to use their radios we all WIN in getting more users on the air. Face it the vast majority of HAM time is for socializing, not conducting station tests, atmospheric DX conditions maybe (but how many of us ever listen to 2m/70cm beacons or have a 2m/70cm SSB rig ?!?).
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N4KC on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
OK, I'll join the fray. I have no beef with the article. We do need to re-think how we make available current and accurate repeater info. And I think more of us would throw an HT in the suitcase or make sure we had a rig in the car when we travel if we could easily update with accurate info. If nothing else, I've had great meals and avoided dangerous overnight accommodations because I had the rig on and asked.

Diminishing activity on repeaters? I'm having trouble understanding why smart phones are taking their place. I don't know anybody I want to ring up at 6:30 in the morning while I walk for exercise, but there are a couple of good commuter groups I enjoy listening to and sometimes joining in. Same situation back when I commuted to and from work.

I think there are other factors:

1) As noted, accurate, up-to-date info is hard to come by so most travelers listen to XM/Sirius or the CD player. Travelers add some spice to the repeaters and give us the chance to recommend good restaurants and places to avoid spending the night. And to invite people to club meetings and the like.

2) There are far too many repeaters. Time was, there was a 76, an 88 and a 98 in most towns. All three were busy. Now, the ARRL directory shows almost 40 repeaters within reachable distance from my driveway. We have lots of hams but not enough to keep all of them hopping.

3) The ubiquitous access tone! Why? Because three or four days a year we get enough ducting to allow distant signals to ker-chunk the machine? Or because somebody lobbied hard enough to get a repeater short-spaced in so it can sit there idle most of the time. All while a few hundred guys down the road had to break out the software and cable and "tone up?" Like some of those cute robot IDers and space-odyssey courtesy beeps, we don't have to use the access tone just because we can.

And anyone who does not believe ham radio still has a place in storm-spotting or disaster backup just ain't paying attention. I could offer many examples, but just what the locals did in my town during and for weeks after a devastating tornado shows that our "hobby" can still play a major support role to first responders.

OK, I've "destinated" at the "home QTH," so I'll pull the big switch...


Don N4KC

Where are they hanging out then ?  
by G3SEA on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

The article brings up the old $64,000 question :

Just where are the majority of the 700,000 U.S. Hams hanging out ?

HF ?
Echolink ?
Inactive ?
Internet ?
Lost Interest ?
All of the above ?

However HF still cooks in Contests;)

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KF7VXA on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
So far, for the most part I'm hearing bellyaching about no one using VHF/UHF Repeaters and poor listings.

My question would be why are you not using them.
Yes, times have changed, no longer is most equipment home built, many do still build their own antennas and useful projects. Why not get on your local repeater and talk about some of the antennas you have built with fellow hams. Maybe some of the newer hams just might listen in and learn something, ask questions.

When the HF bands open up, why not contact fellow hams on VHF and let them know, then get back on and talk about the better contacts you have made.

As to listings, I have given the site operators corrected information on our local repeaters; the correct info that is verified when I find an error.

CB'rs on 2 meters, not in my area, but I have no doubt it is a problem in many places.
Activity on our local repeaters is down as many have said, but I can key up the most used and almost always get someone who will answer.
I find I'm not on 2 meters as much as HF as HF offers a challenge, not much challenge on VHF unless you are into high band DXing.
Maybe instead of sending a local friend an e mail or phone call, encourage them to monitor their VHF radios and call them over the air. The more activity, the more who will listen and use these resources and learn to use them correctly.

VHF/UHF will never be what it was, but that does not mean it's dead unless you let it die.
It has been proven time and time again the usefulness of VHF/UHF in times of emergency.

Even if your Local or Federal government is not all that interested in using Amateur radio in emergency's, Ares allows us to communicate things we see that need to be brought to the attention of Emergency Responders. Races may not get activated, but the local Ares coordinator sure can activate Ares.

You will find that in small communities and rural areas, Amateur radio is relied on as an asset if you are willing to work with your local Emergency Coordinator. It's also great where cell service is spotty. Those in urban areas may not ever have much trouble getting cell service in normal times, but live where I do and not have cell service when stuck in a severe snow storm, in many cases I can hit a repeater and get help or call for help for someone else.
I make it a point to monitor during periods of bad weather as do many others in rural areas. We have to help each other. There may be only one Sheriff unit patrolling the entire county or just one on call.

Yes, many listings for repeaters are outdated. My question is how many of you have contacted the person in charge of the repeater list when you find an inaccuracy ? I do. If more did the same, the lists will be much better. We will never have total accuracy, but if each does his or her part to try and help those who list repeaters keep them up to date, it would help the problem.
The idea of highlighting the most used repeaters in each area is a fantastic idea. One that should be suggested to any one, company or organization that lists repeaters.
If more information as to the effectiveness, area of coverage, PL Tones and amount of usage was requested by those compiling lists, more accurate info could be presented.

In the end, it's all of our problem. VHF/UHF is only as good as the people who are in the area of their repeaters. Use them; encourage others to do so also. Hold some tech conversations. Track down and expose those who misuse the repeater and expose them, most are just little people hiding behind their microphones.

Not all new Amateurs are people switching from CB to Ham. I had not touched a CB for 35 years before getting my ticket. Lumping all on VHF/UHF as wanna be's just hurts the who radio community.

Times change, there are so many other ways to communicate other than VHF/UHF these days. This has taken away from their use to a large extent.
This does not mean that you cannot get your fellow hams to use your repeaters more often. They might just remember better days.
I've noticed where I live that far more of the former CB people are using GMRS repeaters, better there than on a VHF/UHF repeater, but still not acceptable.
Too bad that the action of a few has to ruin the experience for others, even on GMRS, but more good activity might just set an example for others.

73's John
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W4KYR on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Your question/Comment:

>>>"HOW to get repeater coordination groups to adopt this ‘FORMAT’ or any National FORMAT?" NOT to create a super database or super coordinator. But how to get all USA-wide coordination groups to accept and USE a COMMON-database >>>FORMAT<<<

With a COMMON-database-FORMAT radio Manufactures could more effectively incorporate programming methods to program their radios easier, quicker, faster for anywhere USA (the biggest radio market). And thus increasing repeater usage - FOR WHAT EVER PURPOSE." <<<"

My Comment/Answer:

>>> Don't wait for anyone to adopt anything. But start your own VERIFIED repeater database today. That is the answer.

Once you start your own VERIFIED repeater database you can start entering the info in a "Common-database Format"

By sticking with an open source Program, it should ensure that the database will be able to be used on any radio that uses the open source program.

I believe by trying to contact all the coordinators and then getting everyone to agree to get on board to provide ACCURATE up to date information in a unified standard format is going to be challenging.

Suppose you get 3/4's of the coordinators to agree but the other 1/4 don't agree?

Lets say we get all the coordinators 'on board'. And they all agree to list/provide their information in a common-database format.

How do we know that the information 'they' provide is actually going to be correct and up to date? And not taken from a 15 to 25 year old list provided from their own records?

I am all for a common database format and for the general idea of it all. It needs to be redone from the ground up and have it verified by two or more hams who have no connection to the repeater group or the coordinators to get the most accurate information possible. <<<

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KF7VXA on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
No doubt, it is a very good idea, but in reality, getting 80% or even 50% on board nationwide, with accurate information will be a tough thing to do.
Write the program and put it out there, ask that all info is current and double checked as well as kept updated.
At the least, when traveling, we would have some idea of what is really working and available.
It would be better than what's out there now, especially if the most used repeaters were identified, but getting the correct info is going to be a major undertaking and a slow one.
As fast as some repeaters change, it could be out of date long before it ever got to 50%.

If the program gets written and gets responses, it would be my first to go to for finding repeaters in new areas, but I'd still have a back up like the ARRL book.
I used the ARRL book on a trip to visit family in the Tacoma area and I found that by loading all repeaters listed in the area, at least one third were active with correct PL codes. The others may have had bad info or out of reach of my HT from my location.

When things are good, I'd only want the one's with good distance and coverage. In an all out emergency, I'd like to know every Joe Bob who has an active repeater as some of the best repeaters are in very remote locations and without good back up power.

I and some others finally convinced our county that they needed back up power to the Sheriff department and Fire Department repeaters and the main VHF repeater that covers our area from a mountain at 8200'.
They put in a 12 KW generator that automatically starts whenever power is down and hooked it to a 120 gallon propane tank (a 1000 gallon tank was too expensive to fill). Just how long do you think that will last ? Not long, and the tank is not serviceable at least 6 to 7 months a year due to snow. They would have to Helo tanks in to keep the generator running.

In the event of something prolonged happening, they might just get a whole new perspective of what Amateur radio can do.

73's John KF7VXA
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KF7VXA on July 15, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
One last comment. In some areas, such as the Seattle-Tacoma area, most all repeaters are UHF, so both VHF/UHF would need to be included. I'm sure there are more areas with coverage provided by mostly UHF repeaters.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W4KYR on July 16, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

So based on the comments so far, these parameters could be incorporated in the database.

1. Does the repeater shut down at night? What time?

2. Does the repeater have alternate means of power?
What type and for how long.
a. Generator
b. Solar
c. Other

3. Has the repeater been verified to up and running, has PL tone been verified, verification from at least two independent hams?

4. What is the activity on the repeater? Popularity?
a. Heavy Use. Is it the "Main Go To" Repeater?
b. Moderate Use?
c. Light Use?
d. Rarely Used?
e. No one has ever heard it on the air.

5. Is the repeater Open or Closed or Private?
a. Open to all licensed amateurs
b. SHTF/Emergency Use Only
c. Closed; Any licensed ham can apply for membership.
d. Private; No one can apply. By invitation only.
e. Private; Never heard on the air. Can't locate owner.

6. Type of Repeater mode FM, D-Star, Digital other, What type of Digital other, other modes etc.

7. Main Vital Statistics of the Repeater
a. Call Sign
b. Grid Square
c. TX Out
d. RX In
e. PL
g. Mode
h. Open/Closed
i. Skywarn/RACES/Skywarn/ARRL Bulletins
j. Part of a Repeater System? Name?
k. Autopatch (What is that? j/k)
l. Does the repeater run ARRL bulletins? Or Newsline?
m. When?
n. Location of Repeater?
p. Power?
q. Grid Square?
r. Does repeater have different input locations?
s. Where and what PL and/or frequency?

Contact all the coordinators by email. If no response. Then try snail mail or look for an alternate contact.

Not much more to add. Good luck and keep us updated with this project by posting in the Repeater Section in the forums.,36.0.html

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KA0SBL on July 18, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
My observed Ham Repeater Truisms for Arizona:

1. Yes, 2 meters is busiest.

2. Activity can be heard daily on multiple repeaters throughout the day.

3. Many of them seem to be monitored. There can be long periods of silence, someone calls and someone is often there to answer.

4. Weather events here are usually mild compared to other regions, but when they do occur ops just check in and report conditions in their area. It's a good place for anyone with a scanner to find out what's up.

5. Plenty of regularly scheduled active nets going on here with many repeaters throughout the state linked up.

6. The azrepeater association seems to be doing a pretty good job organizing things. The database is easily found online and I haven't personally heard of them preventing anyone from experimenting with a backyard repeater.

7. Given points #5 and #6 plus working phone patches and Internet connections, the repeater system in these parts could be thought of as an open-source cell phone grid. There's coverage across most of the state.

8. There's always a joker or an 'opinion' to be heard here and there, but for the most part I hear people being civilized, helpful and sometimes even funny.

9. From what I've heard of the status elsewhere, we're fortunate to have it this way here. I respect all those that pony up their cash, time and effort to keep the systems going and don't require membership to use it.

There's lots of reasons to congregate on this band. There's plenty of gear available so that anyone on any budget can get in. It's easy to build and install low profile antennas to get past the HOA's or put a rig in the car. Propagation is good and FM clarity is intelligible. It's simple enough for a beginner yet SSB, data, directional antennas and simplex DX are there for a greater technical challenge.

Perhaps due to demographics we have sufficient concentration of hams for it to work here. The hobby tends to be older gents, but last time I upgraded my license there was a full house of varying ages. Hamfests can bring out some odd folks, but I don't see much clashing between hobbyists, preppers, 4x4'rs, event coordinators or whatever the personal reasons for doing radio.

All of this is of course just the observations and opinions of KA0SBL. Your mileage may vary.

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by M6GOM on July 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
If you want to see how it should be done, look to the UK. is the central point for repeater information and applications. The site is run by the body in the RSGB that co-ordinates repeaters throughout the entire UK with individuals tasked to each area - voice, APRS, digital voice, ATV.

When someone applies for a repeater NoV they have to input the height above sea level, the height above ground, the power, the antenna gain and co-ordinates and from that a coverage map is generated as below such as for the one I'm involved in. That is checked to ensure that there's no crossover with an adjacent repeater on the same pair. The blue areas are HT coverage, the pink areas mobile/fixed.

Repeater CTCSS tones are allocated by region so all repeaters in that region use the same CTCSS tone. They also have to be indicated by the last letter of the CW Ident so for ours we send GB3YC E as E is the CW code for 88.5Hz, the tone for my region:

You will also see by this next link that repeaters are accessed frequencies so as to minimise chances of interfering with others in the area.

This is how to organise repeaters, not the seemingly completely uncontrolled way its done in the USA.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on July 21, 2014 Mail this to a friend!

Another example of rigid state controlled socialism versus liberty.

I will take liberty.

This is one of the few major differences in thinking, between us and our British cousins and has been, since 1776.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N3NKC on July 24, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A standard format would be nice and make it easier for people from both sides, end users and repeater operators, to work with. Add-ons like making it accessible to program radios with and such are just icing on the cake type of ideas. But still, with current trends, it would be ideal to incorporate such thoughts into the fray. A good amount of people are programming their radios using computers, and I agree it makes it quite an easy task, so thought must be given to this. I also agree with the statement that the coordinators should come together with each other and try to agree on a national standard that everyone can follow. While I know there are different operating techniques for various areas, ie SoCal does High out Low in 20kHz channels, NorCal Low out High In channels, SE USA does all Low out High in 25kHz channels, etc., it would make it easier to have one standard to which the data is collected, viewed, used, modified for those either running the repeaters or heating the finals.

The currently state of activity on repeaters is definitely location based. In my area, we have linked a few machine together which provide a wide-area of coverage. This has increased overall activity and sparked alot of interest in getting on the repeaters as there's always someone there to talk to...whatever the subject is. The core persons of the repeater group have all agreed that we will make a solid effort to ensure we pick up the mic and at least say hello if not engage in a conversation. This leads people to come back knowing someone will be there to answer them and talk to. We've had plenty of demos on our system to non-hams and had alot turn into new hams. It's been great and we're very lucky to have this level of activity. While I remember the heydays years ago where having your rig in scan would stop on every other channel, it's still nice to hear the level we have. We even have folks who check in from other areas via EchoLink just because they know someone will talk to them. That says alot.

What I see anymore is how everyone complains that ham radio "ain't what it used to be." No kidding!!! It really isn't. It's filled with appliance operators, tinkerers, builders, experiementors, OFs,'s filled with PEOPLE...instead of being a bunch of damning nay-sayers just because the new ops didn't trudge to the FCC office in knee deep snow, or take a code test, offer them your experience and show them what CW is, or how to build a simple 555 timer light blinker thingy. They've already expressed they have one thing in common with interest in communication of some form. Instead of downing them, help build them up to learn other things that they may not know. It may spark an interest in them. But if they aren't interested in your aspect, maybe the digi-mode guys will get them, or HSMM folk, or whatever hundred other options the HOBBY has to offer. There's plenty of room for everyone, let them enjoy their thing...let them get their kicks their way and enjoy your own. Then again, with such folks who are the nay-sayers, perhaps its better you've thrown away your radios or won't turn it on. Then at least those who care enough to continue growing the hobby can keep the new comers instead of having you discourage them and scare them off.


John W3RC

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by K1ZJH on July 26, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Sounds it is you that has some serious issues. And hiding behind an ID other than your call sign doesn't give you much credibility.

You sound more bitter than what you accuse the old time hams of being.. I wonder what your problem is and why you continually degenerate and insult old timers, post after post??

RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by NA7E on July 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is a lot of good insight in this thread. The standardized format for repeaters is a very good idea.

>You know what destroyed the group and our efforts?
Two old timer hams from 75 meters

There are ways to deal with these Lids. There are a few everywhere. But whatever the case, you should not let them win. First, you need to go to them in person, quietly (and not on the air) and remind them that you are trying to have positive and constructive effort. Now, they might be put off by this, and if they continue after a couple behind the scenes off-air reminders, you need to disengage them - but don't stop your efforts.

Find different ways to help the newcomer. Perhaps initially contact them on frequency, and have them give you a call, where you can give them a different frequency/repeater to meet.

We have to learn how to deal with frequency interference on air - sometimes by changing frequency, and we also need to learn how to deal with it in real life too.
by G8KHS on July 27, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
CTCSS has decimated repeater usage in the UK. The more repeaters that are put on the air the less they are used. An empire in decline heading towards oblivion.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KC7GF on August 3, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
There is a somewhat standardized database. It' called and is kept up be volunteers in each state. Should be the most up todate if the contributors are on the ball.

Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KC2QYM on August 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I for one am not a repeater chaser and prefer to program into my handie talkie all the two meter repeaters in my area of Northern New Jersey. Of the 15 or so repeaters I can hit from my QTH with a rubber duckie I only use two of the repeaters and rather infrequently. However I am glad that those repeaters are there and available just in case another 9/11 hits us on the head and I believe that it will. That said, a national register avaialble to HAMs on the internet would encourage a centralized repositiory of repeater IDs, frequencies, PL tones etc. and afford us with the information to organize critical emergency communications. As long as the owners of the repeaters are willing to keep their machines operational, albeit with little or silly use... then all the power to them to continue to do so. I agree with a few here..Don't throw these silent resources out.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KC2QYM on August 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I for one am not a repeater chaser and prefer to program into my handie talkie all the two meter repeaters in my area of Northern New Jersey. Of the 15 or so repeaters I can hit from my QTH with a rubber duckie I only use two of the repeaters and rather infrequently. However I am glad that those repeaters are there and available just in case another 9/11 hits us on the head and I believe that it will. That said, a national register avaialble to HAMs on the internet would encourage a centralized repositiory of repeater IDs, frequencies, PL tones etc. and afford us with the information to organize critical emergency communications. As long as the owners of the repeaters are willing to keep their machines operational, albeit with little or silly use... then all the power to them to continue to do so. I agree with a few here..Don't throw these silent resources out.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N9NWO on August 4, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
The format presented in this article has merit. The ARRL could mandate that the various coordinating bodies report in a standardized format.

While every coordinating body is seperate, they do attempt to work with the surrounding organizations in order to limit interference. The purpose of coordination is to keep repeaters from interferring with each other thus seperation of repeaters on the same frequency based on distance (generally 100 miles) before a frequency is reused. It is a balancing act of a political nature.

With the addition digital systems (D-Star, DMR and P25) it gets even more complicated. In time the ARRL may well have to take over repeater coordination though that would be a huge political mess.
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by W5FRR on August 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
"I owned a 2 meter ... repeater ... THey are ... worthless ... Throwed it in the shed and next stop will be the dumpster ... "

Anyone with a 2 meter repeater that wants to throw it away can throw it my way and I'll put it up and maintain it.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by JOHNZ on August 5, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
Ham radio repeaters and the old men who yap on them are irrelevant. Technology has relegated ham radio repeaters to the ash heap of history.

Thank God the ARRL is not allowed to "mandate" anything. Every time the league does something, ham radio is degraded further.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by KD5JKX on August 14, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
A standard database format is a step that needs to happen.
An expiration date, probably annually, also needs to happen.
A reporting method to alert users if the repeater is up or down for repairs is needed.
A reporting method for users to notify the database and repeater owner that a repeater is down/non-existent.

All of those above will help. The repeater coordinator needs to put annual "renewals" of their repeaters and if the repeater owner fails or does not activate and maintain a machine on his repeater pairs, then expire their coordination of the repeater pairs and assign to someone that will put a machine on the air and maintain it.

If you look at the FCC ULS database, you will see that they do note any changes or modifications to a license and if it has expired. After the grace period has occurred, and someone wants that license, then it is re-issued. That is what the repeater coordinators need to do. Perhaps the ARRL will take note and start leading by example and get those needed changes to happen.

Amateur Radio is not dead. Cell service is too easily overwhelmed, and often non-existent in rural America. Digital systems on amateur radio also depend on a service that might get disrupted and/or unavailable in rural America. I've already seen both systems act up and good ol' ham radio still alive and chattering while people prayed to the cell gods and the data gods to restore their service!

We've gotten lax on maintaining and coordinating repeaters. Time to tighten up the ship!
RE: Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by N6JSX on August 17, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
As I note in my article, the ARRL can ONLY apply peer pressure (and thank ghod for that limitation). As the only thing the ARRL is good for is self serving membership generation to secure HQ $alaries, hence their successful VE program but unsupported and severely constricted OO program.

The FCC in-part has caused this problem in their declaration of supporting 'coordinated' repeaters over 'uncoordinated' repeaters. Then failing to specify how repeaters shall be coordinated and adherence of a public-record mutual database format.
Our Own Methods are Stifling Technology  
by AC5WA on August 20, 2014 Mail this to a friend!
I have used the CHIRP freeware to program radios from several different manufacturers. It would be very nice if the frequency files were portable between radio manufacturers or even different models from the same maker.

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