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Author Topic: Is Repeater Support A Problem?  (Read 1473 times)
WA2AFD
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Posts: 7




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« on: December 23, 2003, 07:17:25 PM »

I just have to write about an event that took place on a local repeater in Schenectady,NY that has given me pause to reflect on the state of Amateur Radio today, specifically concerning the use of repeaters.

The “usual” crowd was busily chatting away when a lady announced her call, was recognized and let into the QSO. After one or two rounds she was ignored completely and the topic of conversation changed.  I later mentioned to one of the “hams” involved in that QSO, “How does it feel to have ignored a Director of the radio club that operates this repeater?'

Immediately I was attacked and told to mind my own business. I started to listen carefully to the users of this repeater and came to the conclusion that the majority of users were not club members, and when queried were quite vocal about not supporting the repeater financially. The reason given was that this was “Amateur Radio,” and if they had to support the repeater for electric and phone bills, plus the cost of maintenance, this would be a “paid” service, and would no longer be an Amateur Radio situation, but a commercial one. I was also told by more than one angry person that an open repeater is for everyone's use, and there is no responsibility on the part of the user to support it.

When I asked who was responsible for the financial burdens of operating a repeater I heard silence until one individual tore into me and blamed me as the reason he is not on HF, as the topic of conversation  was similar to what he has heard there, and it is so unpleasant that he just cannot operate there.

My own opinion of why he is not on HF is somewhat different although I did not state this, and that would be that he cannot pass the test, or he simply doesn't want to be on HF to begin with. But that's another story.

Is this a common situation around the country? How do other groups manage their repeater users without being offensive? How do they express their need for support?  

With the new year comes a time of reflection for me, and I wonder about the future of Amateur Radio
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N8UZE
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Posts: 1524




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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2003, 01:58:23 PM »

Our repeater is an open repeater also.  However, we do not have the problem that you mention.  Yes there are a lot who use it without belonging to the organization that runs it, but gentle reminders are issued occasionally that one ought to consider joining to support it.  No one has objected to those reminders.  Some joined and some did not but in either case there was none of the false "commericialization" argument that you mention.

These people who object need to live for a while in those areas where there are no open repeaters, where only repeater members can access the machines.  Perhaps then, they would not take it for granted.
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KA0MR
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Posts: 221




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« Reply #2 on: December 27, 2003, 09:34:45 PM »

The loudest and most often voices heard on any repeater system are the users (read parasites)
the quietest and least often heard are the financial/physical supporters.

To support a repeater doesn't always mean everyone must dig deep in thier pockets. When maintenance is required and you'll know when maintenance is required because the repeater ain't there today.

Come help with tools, refreshments physical labor and goodwill and a show of gratitude to those who have so graciously made the system available for unending your use.


Bob KAØMR
Been there, done that repeater owner/maintainer
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KG4YJR
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2003, 03:48:09 PM »

As Bob KAØMR said, volunteering time can be a great help which is something I plan on doing more of with our club's repeater as the main guy is extremely busy with it. One day I'd like to get one up and running, maybe a 6m repeater as there are not as many as there are 2m systems. Better chance of being coordinated without problems that way. I've also donated items to be raffled off at club meetings like connectors, books, little stuff but a dollar here and a dollar there add up.
I'll also bet that the loudest and most frequent complainers are the freeloaders whenever there is an equipment break down and the repeater system isn't working full coverage or broke down completely.

73
Dave
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AJ3U
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Posts: 35


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« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2004, 10:50:51 AM »

Fortunately, we don't have that problem in this area (as far as I know).

They don't HAVE to pay for it, but they don't have to be rude, either.  If you are having that bad of a problem with a lot of people, especially the fact that they are badmouthing the "management" of the repeater and shutting people out of repeater QSO's, I say close your repeater for a couple of weeks, or even more drastically, take it off the air for a while.  Make them see that the repeater is not for granted and then see if their opinion changes.

I can't help but wonder though, is there something deeper going on here that you aren't telling us or maybe you don't even know about?  Maybe there was a falling out of this "bad apple" group from the club a while back for whatever reason?  Things like that happen and this is usually the result - they continue to use the repeater but constantly voice their opinion why they won't support it...

Asking people to contribute to the maintenance costs of a repeater is not a commercial endeavor.  I think they know that - it's just an excuse they are choosing to hide behind.

Good luck - that's a tough problem to solve...  Don't lose to much sleep over it though.  There are worse things in life to worry about! ;-)

AJ3U


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TECH2003
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2004, 12:23:46 PM »

Yup, we have the same problem here.  We have the group who has the repeater but get mad when people use it.  If the repeater is open then they should not get all upset because we are using it.  Just because they did some work on it dosn't make it only their repeater, they don't own the frequencies.  It is for all of us to use.  Then they complain because we use it!!! So stupid!!!
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2004, 12:42:19 PM »

Tech:

<< Just because they did some work on it dosn't make it only their repeater, they don't own the frequencies. It is for all of us to use. >>

As usual, you run off at the mouth with knowing what you are talking about. The frequencies for the system are assigned to that repeater by a coordinating body and, even though it is an open repeater, you use it at the will and pleasure of the owners of the hardware and the holder of the repeater license. If you cause problems on the repeater the Trustee is legally within his/her rights to forbid you to use the repeater. This is upheld on a regular basis by the FCC. You have NO God-given or any other RIGHT to use the system.

I find it most curious you have started to post you NCI membership number but steadfastly refuse to post your call sign.

Lon
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N3ZKP
Member

Posts: 2008




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« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2004, 12:59:19 PM »

My club has a multi-receive site, multi-frequency (2m,220,440) repeater system that covers a significant portion of Maryland, Southern Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, Delaware and the District of Columbia. Input on any of the three bands results in output on all three. 2m/440 use is the most common but 220 does get sufficient use to justify keeping it online. One use of the 220 side has been access to the system from served agency's operations centers.

The system is totally owned and maintained by the club. Access to the phone patch and some other features is restricted to club members, but otherwise access is open. The only requirement is the users exhibit common courtesy towards one another and refrain from profanity. We consider the system to be a ham community resource. It is used for a nightly NTS traffic net, monthly RACES/ARES drills and operations and other emergency or disaster related operations, as well as the typical rag chewing.

I might point out this is just one of several similar (but less well equipped <g>) systems operating in the greater Baltimore area.

Lon
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KG4YJR
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Posts: 179




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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2004, 12:17:09 AM »

Putting my money where my mouth is, it is time to renew mine and my wife's memberships with our primary local club. Below is my correspondence I'm mailing with my check this coming Monday:

-------------------------------------------------------

To the attention of Chris, KF4AAF NOFARS Treasurer,

Please find the enclosed check for membership funds totaling $45 to be applied as follows:

1. Please renew the memberships two additional years for both myself, Dave Hettrick, KG4YJR and for my wife, Elaine Hettrick, KG4YJQ for a total of $15 ($7.50/Two family members for two years). All of the contact information that you have currently is unchanged.

2. Please apply an additional $10 for any two members that may be having financial difficulties renewing this year. This may need discussion with other members to see who might need the help. If this cannot be arranged, please use the $10 as best needed at the time.

3. Last, please use the remaining $20 for a one time donation to our repeater maintenance fund.

My wife and myself are glad to be continuing our membership and support of NOFARS.

Sincerely,
Dave Hettrick, KG4YJR

-------------------------------------------------------

Not patting myself on the back, just trying to encourage others to do the same.

73
Dave
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N0TONE
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Posts: 173




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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2004, 05:07:21 AM »

It's not repeater SUPPORT that is a problem.  It's the EXISTENCE of the repeater.

Those who spend all their time on repeaters have the radio part easy - just grab it from the belt and talk.  They're not concerned about whether propagation is working in their favor, they're not concerned about whether the antenna's pointed the right way, etc.  This allows too much free time, and they get political, and back-stabbing.

In my view, if your club's primary focus is emergency comms, then you should have a repeater.  And if somebody is using it for ragchews, you can ignore them - they have no necessity to pay for YOUR emergency comms repeater.  Either make it private or don't.

if your club is not primarily an emergency comms, then by no means should you have a repeater, because it will bring out the worst in hams.

AM
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N3ZKP
Member

Posts: 2008




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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2004, 12:48:19 PM »

<< if your club is not primarily an emergency comms, then by no means should you have a repeater, because it will bring out the worst in hams. >>

By your logic, we should all turn off our radios - no matter what the band - so the less-well-behaved will have no one to talk to.

While many of the repeater systems in the metro Baltimore area do have some EMCOMM connection, there are several that exist solely for rag chewing. I hear little to complain about in the conduct of the users on any of the systems. Maybe our hams are better bred and reared that the ones in your area. Then again, there is little of the animosity towards Techs here that your comment indicates you have.

Lon
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KD7EVS
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« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2004, 05:59:55 PM »

It is one thing not to support a repeater. it's another to be rude about it. our club of several hundred does pretty good. There is one repeater on the fringe that 90% of the users are not members of our club. It's not a big deal that they use the repeater (they are always nice and polite). We do occasionally remind them that the repeater system is dependant on membership dues and several do become members. Others don't, so goes life. As long as they are polite and don't abuse the system they are welcome. We have had to seek action in the past year or two against a ham for interference they are gone and our repeaters return to a nice frequency to visit and a vital aspect of our public service.

There are alot of people on repeater systems nation wide that don't realize how much money and work it takes to maintain a wide area system. once reminded most will gladly send in 20 bucks to keep that system up. Others don't and as long as they are not rude they remain welcome.


zeb
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W4CNG
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Posts: 177




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« Reply #12 on: January 25, 2004, 09:28:56 PM »

Not really, down south here in Georgia.  Things here go at a slower pace, other than kerchunking and an a bootlegger or so here and there.  Clubs with big machines, generally require membership before the codes go out, with renewal on a yearly basis.  This is a good social activity.  Private "Belevolent Groups" AKA "Benolevent Dictatorships", also have most of the same rules.  The repeater is open, but you need to pony up $$ for the Goodies.  Goodies back in the 1970's and 1980's included wide area Autopatches (popular long before cellphones), I had telephone access in my car starting in 1971 in Atlanta Ga, because I built the first Autopatch Repeater for The Atlanta Radio Club. Talk about improving membership numbers.  Other features were access to WX Stations, WWV, and "Remote HF Access", and crossband to 220/440.  In the Atlanta Metro Area, we have many very good repeaters, clubs, and support for the repeaters.  Some but not all of the non club repeaters have some success, your mileage will vary.
Good Luck
Steve W4CNG
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NA4IT
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« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2004, 02:16:01 AM »

A decent 2M repeater setup (minus tower & building) is going to cost around $6000 or even greater.

There is kind of an unwritten rule that says if you are going to use it, at least send in your dues. However, NO repeater frequency pair holder can "charge" for it's use.

Good repeaters are usually the ones that are emergency communications units that are supported by grants from some government agency.

Usually, the one who never pays any dues or offers any support will be the one that gripes the loudest when the repeater is down and talk about how sorry it is.

While were on it, does anyone realize that a repeater trustee is supposed to monitor that repeater 24/7? Imagine what he feels like when some nut wants to "kerchunk" the repeater a half a dozen times at 3AM? (By the way..."kerchunking" IS illegal unless you ID.)

And then you have the public serivce group that is providing communcations for some event coming through your area, and they want to use your machine, but when they get there, half the ops are not even hams, and they "bend" the 10 minute ID rule and stretch it out to 20 minutes. And then they get mad when the repeater trustee follows FCC rules and shuts it down or bars them from ever using it again.

Having a repeater can be a royal pain at times. It IS NOT recommended for the faint hearted!

If you talk on a repeater, kick a little into the "pot" or at least write the trustee a letter thanking him for letting you use it! And be legal, and be courteous.

Oh well, used up a dollars worth again!
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N3ZKP
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Posts: 2008




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« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2004, 11:18:08 AM »

James:

<< Good repeaters are usually the ones that are emergency communications units that are supported by grants from some government agency. >>

I am curious how you draw this conclusion. We have several good systems in the Baltimore area (many are wide coverage) and none of them are supported by government grants. With a couple of exceptions they are totally supported by the clubs who hold the license. There are a couple that are run by individuals and except for the coverage area, are as good as the others. One of those systems in the backup for ARES/RACES here.

<<And then you have the public serivce group that is providing communcations for some event coming through your area, and they want to use your machine, but when they get there, half the ops are not even hams, and they "bend" the 10 minute ID rule and stretch it out to 20 minutes. And then they get mad when the repeater trustee follows FCC rules and shuts it down or bars them from ever using it again. >>

Gee, never seen that problem here.

Lon
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