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Old 11-07-2010, 1:51 AM
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Default Who's right it is to label a private club repeater "closed"?!?!?

I have been thinking about starting this forum for a few days now. And my goal is not to offend anyone or to make enemies, simply to get everyone's take on this subject. :-)

When I lived in Syracuse,NY we never had any "closed" repeaters. It wasn't until I moved to West Palm Beach,FL that I came across a "closed" repeater. By closed I mean a repeater off limits to non-members. When I transmitted on it not knowing it was closed I was greeted by a fellow ham who asked me if I was a member. I advised I was not and was basically told it is reserved for members.

Now I respect "closed" repeaters and am sure there are many across the US and beyond. And didn't give the "closed" concept much thought until I talked to a ham on a different repeater last week and told him of the repeater list I had made for Palm Beach County,FL. He asked me what the "closed" meant under a certain UHF repeater. He thought it meant it needed to be tone accessed. I advised him of the real meaning. He had said he had never heard of a "closed" or private (off limits) repeater. And what he said next made me think. He said "No one owns the frequency to a particular repeater or repeaters, what right does anyone have to say only certain people can use it?"

I think there is some truth to that. We don't pay the FCC for ham radio frequencies just our licenses. I know there is a respect issue in reference to paying a club for the use of there repeater but to say it is closed to non-members makes it sound like hams are out for hams.

Now I know that for every closed repeater there has to be hundreds of open ones and believe me I'm not losing sleep over it, but I think it is a great topic for discussion!!!!!
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Old 11-07-2010, 2:14 AM
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My view is that when a repeater is used, each time it transmits, it has a minuscule effect on the repeater life. The frequencies may not be paid for, but the equipment to access those frequencies (the repeater) are paid for by someone, and that someone should have a say in who can and can't use the equipment that they paid for if they so desire. When you take into consideration that a lot of repeaters today are two mobiles linked together with a controller, and not rated for the high duty cycles of commercial repeaters, the life expectancy of the equipment is something a person has to weigh when allowing access.
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Old 11-07-2010, 2:20 AM
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There are many closed repeaters all over the country. While it is true that a person does not own the frequencies, they do own the equipment. So what they say goes.

And if you transmit on either the output or input (like in simplex), then you are causing interference to a known station.

The feller you talked to who had never heard of closed repeaters is either extremely new, or extremely sheltered.

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Old 11-07-2010, 2:29 AM
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Look at it this way. No one person owns the roads, we all do since we pay gasoline tax, so does that mean if you car is on the road, I have the right to drive it?

As the above post, repeaters are private property. As a service to the ham community, to be in the sprite of Amateur Radio, 99% of ham clubs have their repeaters open, so that all may enjoy. Generally, these are basic repeaters. Some clubs that have repeaters with autopatch, voice mail boxes, etc. To get to use these features, you have to help pay for them.

I have a problem in my area. Local hams are too cheap, and there is no club that can put up a repeater, so I took it upon myself and put up a repeater. Then everyone starts to use it, but when I tell the regular users that it cost me over $3000 of my own hard earned money to build it, none of them sent me a check as a gesture of gratitude or to help offset the cost of maintenance.
I am thinking about making it a closed system to local hams, therefore, if they want to use it, they will have to help pay for it. However, out of town hams passing through would be welcome, it would just be the local every day users that would have to help support it.

Last edited by stevelton; 11-07-2010 at 2:32 AM.. Reason: thought of something else to add
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Old 11-07-2010, 2:51 AM
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If you look at this subject from the standpoint of the fcc or the arrl, neither condone the use use of closed repeaters. We have none in my area that I'm aware of,but up north in another area there used to be a trustee who claimed their repeater was for ares/races use only which only met increased resistance from local hams and this issue was eventually solved.
If I came across a closed system, I would ask to talk with the owner or trustee before accepting it's status as such,but then that's just me.
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Old 11-07-2010, 2:52 AM
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As the co-trustee for two repeaters, I look at it like this. The organization who owns the repeaters certainly do not own the frequencies. However, they do own the equipment. And, FCC rules clearly make whatever is transmitted by the repeater the trustee's responsibility. Therefore, I feel that I am within my rights to not allow certain uses of the repeater. If that means barring non-members from using the repeater, then that's OK because I am responsible for the equipment and what goes out over the air from my repeaters. Note that both of my repeaters are open, however we give priority to RACES traffic.

Repeaters are a special breed in amateur radio because they are on fixed frequencies and can't easily move to another frequency. Amateur radio operators are supposed to listen to the frequency before they transmit to make sure they don't key up and interfere with another operator on the frequency. However, repeaters can't easily do that. To avoid potential interference issues that might occur from repeaters keying up on top of other repeaters, the FCC recognizes repeater coordination. For instance, there are no other repeaters on my 2m frequency for over 100 miles. This is so we don't interfere with each other. While I don't own my 2m frequency, I have exclusive use to it within the bounds of my coordination. The FCC, by rule (97.205c), gives preference to coordinated repeaters and puts the responsibility to resolve any interference on the non-coordinated repeater.

As for the comment about repeaters being two mobiles thrown together, my UHF repeater began life as a Motorola commercial repeater in the 450 MHz band that was converted to amateur frequencies and my VHF repeater began life as a Motorola remote base station that was converted to amateur radio repeater use. Both repeaters have robust power supplies and continuous duty transmitters. I know people who have built repeaters out of non-continuous duty equipment and, well, they have a lot more problems with their equipment than I do.

Last edited by W9RXR; 11-07-2010 at 2:54 AM..
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Old 11-07-2010, 3:37 AM
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I appreciate everyones responses thus far. It's given me added knowledge as to some of the reasons why a repeater my be "closed". For one responsibility of what goes on or gets transmitted from a particular repeater. For two the owner of such equipment has every right to control his equipment as he see's fit. I have no problems donating money to aid in a repeater I may use often because I know they are not cheap. And if we didn't have those that are fortunate enough to actually put repeaters up we would have nothing to talk on.
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Old 11-07-2010, 8:19 AM
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"And if we didn't have those that are fortunate enough to actually put repeaters up we would have nothing to talk on."
Ever hear of simplex? (;->) Seriously, with the exception of the occasional itinerant, repeaters are hangouts for the club/user groups with the same old people and the same old chit-chat day after day. You may notice you can hear many of them on the input frequency so why they tie up the repeater I just don't know. OK, they're fine for locating friends and conversing with them since that's where they hang out but otherwise I find them boring and use them AS repeaters to extend range, their intended purpose in the first place.

Sorry if this diverged from the actual answer (already best described by W9RXR) but Scott KC2PBB rather touched a nerve unintentionally. If you poke around you'll find my opinion echoed but we're in the minority among 2M users visiting repeaters only on occasion, focusing on FM simplex and various weak signal modes.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:00 AM
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I have been somewhat surprised by the amount of simplex activity I hear in my area while driving around. In fact, I have heard callsigns on simplex from stations I never knew existed.
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Old 11-07-2010, 11:47 AM
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Rather than drift this thread further off topic, I've started a topic about local simplex use at:

FM simplex activity in your area
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Old 11-07-2010, 1:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb2vxa View Post
"And if we didn't have those that are fortunate enough to actually put repeaters up we would have nothing to talk on."
Ever hear of simplex? (;->) Seriously, with the exception of the occasional itinerant, repeaters are hangouts for the club/user groups with the same old people and the same old chit-chat day after day. You may notice you can hear many of them on the input frequency so why they tie up the repeater I just don't know. OK, they're fine for locating friends and conversing with them since that's where they hang out but otherwise I find them boring and use them AS repeaters to extend range, their intended purpose in the first place.

Sorry if this diverged from the actual answer (already best described by W9RXR) but Scott KC2PBB rather touched a nerve unintentionally. If you poke around you'll find my opinion echoed but we're in the minority among 2M users visiting repeaters only on occasion, focusing on FM simplex and various weak signal modes.
This is exactly the way I feel about the repeaters around here too. Most are like a big party line where guys either talk about their health problems or endlessly opine about their antennas, coax, rice boxes, etc.

That said, I still like to have a whole mess of repeaters in my commercial rice box (since it will hold 512 channels) just in case some need arises to communicate. I have the state divided into 4 groups & generally just let it scan when I go traveling. Only once was I told I was on a private repeater which was about 150 miles away (Almost to Kansas), after I apologized & explained I was just looking for a good place to eat dinner we all made nice.

What amazes me is the amount of squatters that manage to sneak all types of equipment into radio sites without paying for it. I was working for a company that ended up owning a lot of rural sites that had not been kept up for a long time and have found lots of jury-rigged installations of repeaters, wi-fi equipment, etc. One of them even had T1 service installed to a site they were squatting in.
I learned real fast to avoid death the best way to handle it was to pull the stuff out then get out of there fast and wait till they contact the site owner to get their stuff back. Otherwise you could be the reason one row of corn grew taller & bubba would be dismanteling your new pickup to put the engine in his 65 chevy.

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Old 11-07-2010, 5:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kb2vxa View Post
"And if we didn't have those that are fortunate enough to actually put repeaters up we would have nothing to talk on."
Ever hear of simplex? (;->) Seriously, with the exception of the occasional itinerant, repeaters are hangouts for the club/user groups with the same old people and the same old chit-chat day after day. You may notice you can hear many of them on the input frequency so why they tie up the repeater I just don't know. OK, they're fine for locating friends and conversing with them since that's where they hang out but otherwise I find them boring and use them AS repeaters to extend range, their intended purpose in the first place.

Sorry if this diverged from the actual answer (already best described by W9RXR) but Scott KC2PBB rather touched a nerve unintentionally. If you poke around you'll find my opinion echoed but we're in the minority among 2M users visiting repeaters only on occasion, focusing on FM simplex and various weak signal modes.
kb2vxa,

Let me say I apoligize if I hit a nerve. Not my intention. I did not mean to leave out simplex. In fact I find it an exciting challenge to use simplex and everything that goes along with it. I can totally respect those who prefer simplex over repeaters. We have a simplex freq. here in West Palm Beach that gets used just about 24/7.

So let me rephrase my statement: And if we didn't have those that are fortunate enough to actually put repeaters up we have simplex which is just as good."
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Old 11-07-2010, 7:12 PM
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What gets under my skin is the "closed" repeaters that are listed as "open" with the up to last week coordination council and the ARRL directories. Nothing worse than traveling, and just try to say hello to someone and be told to get off and go pay $30 of dues for the repeater before I try to say hello again; with that attitude there's more than one club that I'm amazed they ever get any new members.

My experience has also lead me to many high drama clubs, personally owned with donation repeaters tend to have a lot less drama because every little thing doesn't need to be a huge debate. And for that reason I jump onto any "build a repeater" type thread because I'm looking to offer something locally that might encourage people to talk on the radio and not just listen to dead air.
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:06 AM
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It is also interesting to note that the majority of "club repeaters" remain open and, whether you are a paying member or not, you are free to enjoy the resource and the friendship of the members. So long as the users of the repeater adhere to the rules of the road, the more the merrier. I know of several repeaters that have been "closed" due to abusive language, jamming, and other inappropriate practices after the trustees received love notes from Gettysburg. Frankly, I wouldn't blame them if they just pulled the switch (one in NYC felt compelled to do just that). The few, the uncaring, and the stupid ops ruin it for everyone else. (This does not re-open the other threads railing about that repeater in California!)
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Old 11-08-2010, 9:33 AM
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"Let me say I apologize if I hit a nerve. Not my intention."
To quote myself: "Sorry if this diverged from the actual answer (already best described by W9RXR) but Scott KC2PBB rather touched a nerve unintentionally."
No apology needed, please note the word unintentionally. (;->)

Speaking of club drama, the only one I belonged to not having drama has no repeater. I sorely miss the "Old Barney" ARC having moved away, they have the nicest bunch I have ever met. As an aside several members were instrumental in restoring the USS New Jersey BB62 and the radio room in particular. It was restored to original condition complete with authentic, operational US Navy equipment and a few modern ham rigs. If you hear the callsign NJ2BB on the air that's our girl and you may parse their website here: Battleship New Jersey If you're curious about Old Barney you can check this out too: Old Barney Amateur Radio Club : The Official Website
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Old 11-08-2010, 4:08 PM
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The concept of closed repeaters is supported by the FCC within Part 97 rules, so the legalities are well established. As to the reasons for it, there's a number of reasons for it.

As previously stated above, repeaters can be extremely expensive to maintain. And the more elaborate the system, the more expensive it is. There are multi-site systems, for example, who's operating expenses are literally tens of thousands of dollars per year. Without mandatory membership, there wouldn't be sufficient income to the club to pay the bills.

Many systems are quite complex, requiring a level of training to properly use the system. All members become 'control operators', with all the legal connotations that implies. The only way to operate a system like that is as a closed system.

Another reason for a closed system is because the system may specifically exist to serve the members of a particular organization. Sometimes the repeater exists on the good graces of a groups employer, and site space is made available on the contingency that it only be used by employees and their families.

The best thing to do is either find out how one can become a member, and join, or tune the dial to one of the many open repeaters that don't require membership.

BTW, one clarification can be made on the meaning of "closed" repeaters. In general, "closed" means membership is required, but most any licensed ham can join the supporting group. "Private" on the other hand, means that membership is soley at the discretion of the licensee.
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Old 11-08-2010, 4:19 PM
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Quote:
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If you look at this subject from the standpoint of the fcc or the arrl, neither condone the use use of closed repeaters.
This is patently false.

97.205 (e) states "Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible. "

The ARRL is in full support of the FCC Part 97 regulations.

The FCC has repeatedly come out in favor of repeater system trustees who wish to control who has access their systems, as has the ARRL. Fines and jail have been served out for blatant violators.

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If I came across a closed system, I would ask to talk with the owner or trustee before accepting it's status as such,but then that's just me.
n9zas
The various groups and individuals who operate repeaters collaberate, in the form of coordinating councils, and voluntarily assign fixed working frequencies for repeaters, because repeaters can't be frequency agile. 97.205 (c) supports this sort of fixed frequency operation, and favors systems who are coordinated. The bottom line here is, there's nothing to talk about with a system owner as to the status of his repeater. If he says it's closed, you can't use it. If you chose to operate on the coordinated frequency, you run the risk of violating 97.205 (c) and (e).
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Old 11-08-2010, 7:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zz0468 View Post
This is patently false.

97.205 (e) states "Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible. "

The ARRL is in full support of the FCC Part 97 regulations.

The FCC has repeatedly come out in favor of repeater system trustees who wish to control who has access their systems, as has the ARRL. Fines and jail have been served out for blatant violators.



The various groups and individuals who operate repeaters collaberate, in the form of coordinating councils, and voluntarily assign fixed working frequencies for repeaters, because repeaters can't be frequency agile. 97.205 (c) supports this sort of fixed frequency operation, and favors systems who are coordinated. The bottom line here is, there's nothing to talk about with a system owner as to the status of his repeater. If he says it's closed, you can't use it. If you chose to operate on the coordinated frequency, you run the risk of violating 97.205 (c) and (e).
Ok Z,I'll take your word for it. I was basing my statement on a phone conversation I had with the comission in chicago some time ago. The official I spoke with must have been giving me his personal opinion and not the agency's rule on the subject.
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Old 11-08-2010, 8:09 PM
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Ok Z,I'll take your word for it. I was basing my statement on a phone conversation I had with the comission in chicago some time ago. The official I spoke with must have been giving me his personal opinion and not the agency's rule on the subject.
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Sounds like it was a misinformed opinion. The inherent problem with any other official stance is that it would potentially put licensees in a position where rules force them to relinquish control over a transmitter (the repeater), which is an untenable position for the FCC to take. A licensee must have the ability to chose how his transmitter is operated, and by whom. As written, the rules make that provision.

You have to remember, a repeater is the owner's property, every bit as much as his home station is, and he is just as responsible for the operation. You don't have the right to march into a guys living room and use his home station, if he doesn't want you to. As to the actual frequency, coordination is a voluntary 'self policing' thing, which the FCC encourages. It's done by 'gentlemen's agreement', operative word being 'gentlemen'. Those who chose to ignore the process are probably better regarded as cretins. There's room on the bands for everyone - open repeaters, closed repeaters, simplex, whatever. There is no reason for people to not be allowed to operate their repeater systems in the manner that they choose.
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Old 11-09-2010, 5:04 AM
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Quote:
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There's room on the bands for everyone - open repeaters, closed repeaters, simplex, whatever.
And enlightened repeater coordination bodies have assigned what is referred to as "shared, non-protected pairs" so that individuals can experiment with setting up their own repeater without going through the coordination process. Repeaters on these SNPPs are generally low-profile, "neighborhood" repeaters using tone or other types of controlled access. "Non-protected" means that owners and users of these repeaters must accept interference from other systems on the frequency.
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