How to use Open Autopatch.

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kylehotchkiss

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I was looking through my repeater directory when I noticed that there were both open and closed autopatches available on many different repeaters. I don't actually have a cell phone right now (in college, don't feel like paying for something I rarely use) but autopatch sounds like a lifesaver if I lose a family member on a trip or break down on the side of the road.

So is 'open' autopatch really open to use for these things by anybody, not just paying club members? (I can't pay for every club in the country.) And what is the polite and proper way to use an autopatch? I can't find a universal guide for the etiquette and don't wish to abuse this gift.

Thanks!
 

mancow

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Man, I would think no cell phone in college these days would be like having no legs in the Marines. Do people actually talk in person anymore in college?
 

n9mxq

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Best bet is to ask on the repeater in question. You'll need to know the proper way to access the autopatch. When we had one around here, members could dial the number, and close the patch, for anyone who needed it.

Asking also ensures autopatch is still available.
 

kylehotchkiss

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Man, I would think no cell phone in college these days would be like having no legs in the Marines. Do people actually talk in person anymore in college?
Living in a hall with about 70 other people and being in classes 5 days a week always helps :)

oh and... FACEBOOK!
 

newsphotog

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I was looking through my repeater directory when I noticed that there were both open and closed autopatches available on many different repeaters. I don't actually have a cell phone right now (in college, don't feel like paying for something I rarely use) but autopatch sounds like a lifesaver if I lose a family member on a trip or break down on the side of the road.

So is 'open' autopatch really open to use for these things by anybody, not just paying club members? (I can't pay for every club in the country.) And what is the polite and proper way to use an autopatch? I can't find a universal guide for the etiquette and don't wish to abuse this gift.

Thanks!
Generally to use an open autopatch (but it may vary from controller to controller), say "This is (your callsign) requesting to use the autopatch." If nothing is heard, proceed with entering your command. It's usually the 10-digit phone number followed by an asterisk (*) or the asterisk followed by the 10-digit phone number. If successful, it will dial your number but you probably won't hear the DTMF tones.

So if you were calling 515-283-4811, then you would dial *5152834811 or 5152834811*, depending on the controller's configuration.

Remember that calls are usually limited to 3 to 4 minutes (but will give you a warning before it disconnects the call), let the person on the other end know that it's via amateur radio and it's over the air -- this lets the other person know not to talk when you're talking and not use foul language.

To disconnect, hit the asterisk button at the end of the call, and announce that you are clear of the autopatch.
 

kb2vxa

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Uh oh, one of those swampy repeater directories loaded with inaccuracies. I haven't heard of autopatch being used for years and would be surprised to find one, even one. Toss the useless directory for one thing, get on the repeater and ask your questions of those in the know. Not only will you find out if it's still available, if it is you'll learn how to access it, the DTMF codes and protocol for it's use. Back in the day it varied from machine to machine and was very specific to each so you won't get a useful answer here... sorry.
 

W9BU

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I am treasurer of a local repeater association which owns four repeaters. We maintain an autopatch on one of our repeaters which is connected to a land line. Yes, it's old fashioned. No, it doesn't get used much. Why do we keep it? When the day comes that the cell phone towers are so overloaded that nobody can get a call through (by the way, that day happened one evening back in August do to a mass casualty incident at a public gathering), we believe that we'll still be able to use the autopatch to place a phone call.

For the OP, finding an open autopatch is going to be challenging as you travel. You are much more likely to find someone on a repeater who can make a phone call for you to pass a message to someone. However, if I were you, I'd get a prepaid cell phone, put the minimum amount in the account, and tell yourself you are only going to use it in emergencies. That would get you the connectivity you need while controlling your costs.
 

rfguygg

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Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 5_0_1 like Mac OS X) AppleWebKit/534.46 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.1 Mobile/9A405 Safari/7534.48.3)

Around here POTS (wired) service seems to be less reliable than cellular in recent years. Get a page plus phone for $30/yr and call it good.
 

newsphotog

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There are at least two autopatch systems in my area.

As for traveling, I was talking with a repeater owner (that I've never talked to before) on his repeater in rural Missouri along I-35 and he informed me that his system had autopatch, and educated me on how to use it, and what it can and cannot do. You just have to ask.
 

zz0468

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...Why do we keep it? When the day comes that the cell phone towers are so overloaded that nobody can get a call through (by the way, that day happened one evening back in August do to a mass casualty incident at a public gathering), we believe that we'll still be able to use the autopatch to place a phone call....
That, right there, is the ultimate reason for keeping an autopatch on a system. It doesn't even have to be a disaster or mass casualty incident to clog the cellular networks - all it takes is a lot of people in one place all wanting to use their phones. The area around a concert or sporting event comes to mind.
 

KX4KDH

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You can add the KX4NC repeater in Columbia, NC to the list of repeaters with autopatch. And at 1,250' AGL, it is quite a wide coverage machine.
 
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