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First and foremost, let's get this out of the way. This will come up a little farther down the page, but I want to try to avoid the on-air questions on this as much as possible:
The repeater is located in Downtown Detroit. That is all that you are allowed to know. The owner of the property where the repeater is located wants NO kind of interruption or incidents from "third party idiots who want to cause problems". Therefore, what I just told you is the same response you will get on the air - so do not ask us on the air.
Ok, I would like to pass along a few “words of wisdom” relating to the use of the Spirit of ’76 repeater, or the 146.760 machine. There are a few rules that the owner, Wallace – KE8HR likes for everyone to follow, but there are also some general “common courtesy” guidelines that should be followed, not just on the “’76” machine, but any frequency you may use. Many are “common sense” (but that is hard to find sometimes), some are FCC rules, and others are basic operating guidelines. Wallace very much wants to keep the repeater as “open access”, but he has no qualms turning it into private access if things get out of hand or “privileges” are abused.
So, let’s start with the following stuff –
First and foremost, the “’76” machine is owned by Wallace – KE8HR. He “formed” the “Spirit of ’76 Amateur Radio Klub”. The “club” is basically comprised of those who pay yearly dues to help offset the cost of running the repeater, its maintenance, replacement/repair of parts, upgrades and allows “members” access to certain functions of the repeater others do not have. Those who are “members-in-good-standing” get priority usage of the repeater over those who are not or those who are not “members”.
Wallace wanted me to remind everyone of this.
He also wanted me to say that if you are NOT a member or at least choose NOT to at least contribute to the maintenance of the repeater, you should NOT be using it as your own “personal” place to talk to others. He explained it this way – “Many people don’t realize the expense of maintaining the machine, what favors were called in to help put it where it is and to get it as one of the “premier” machines in the area. Those who are not a member or are not talking to a member shouldn’t be on the machine “all the time”. They should talk for a few minutes then give it a rest for an hour or so, then come back a little later.” “By using the machine all the time deprives those who ARE members or contributors the use of the machine they are paying for.”
If you wish to contribute to the repeater's maintenance ($10.00 minimum requested) or wish to become a member, you can send a check or money order made out to "Spirit of 76 ARK" - $20.00 annually for membership - and mail to the following:
We are also looking at adding a "PayPal" option for payments/donations. This should be complete soon. I will let you know when the account has been set up and ready to use.
The P.O. Box has changed, however, the one listed on the application still bears the old P.O. Box. Please disregard the application and use the new P.O. Box listed here:
Spirit Of ’76 Amateur Radio Klub
P.O. Box 1376
Clarkston, MI. 48346
VHF - 146.760 & UHF - 444.000 MHZ
The above said, let’s continue……
If you wish to utilize the repeater, make sure there is no current traffic on the machine. There have been a few times where a couple of guys have been in a conversation when a third may tune in, hear nothing for a few seconds and then put out a call for another station, basically intruding upon who was there already, without asking to do so. Sometimes, those who are using it wait a few seconds before replying to a statement or question the other ham had posed or they may be trying to solve an issue while the other waits. Either way, THEY have the frequency and you should ask to come in. At the very least, “is the frequency in use” is a good way to check or just put your call out and see if someone responds.
This one goes back to the “HT’s On Life Support” article I wrote, If you ARE NOT within 3 or 4 miles of Downtown Detroit (and that is a stretch as well considering all the high-rise buildings downtown), DO NOT USE AN HT TO TRY TO HAVE A CONVERSATION ON THIS REPEATER!!!!! WHY? Because you sound like shit! Literally! Usually, all we wind up hearing in most instances is static with a very faint and mostly un-readable voice in the background. No, seriously! This machine is on UHF or VHf (there is one on each band) and the propagation rules are different from HF. Just because you are HEARING the flipping machine full scale on your HT, DOES NOT MEAN YOU WILL GET INTO IT JUST AS WELL!!!!! WHY?? Because the machine’s antenna is probably several hundred feet in the air and is probably pushing close to one or two hundred watts (if not more) PEP from the antenna, so, of course you are gonna receive a crisp, clean, full scale signal on your stupid HT. But, if you are farther away from the repeater than say 3 or 4 miles, the signal strength starts to get weaker and noisier. And I don’t care who makes that HT, how much you paid for it, or what the moron you bought it from may have told you about its performance. The fact remains that unless that HT is on life support, you are on the 10th or 20th floor of a high-rise building of some sort or you are within 3 or 4 miles of the repeater, you ain’t gonna get into the repeater like a 50 watt mobile or a 100 watt base will. PERIOD!!!!
Next, ensure that your equipment is in working order. Many operators get on the air and may not be aware of any issues with their equipment, but if someone advises you there is an issue, look into it and try to correct it, and if you know about it, FIX IT! Don't try to explain away WHY you have that hum that overpowers your voice, FIX THE DAMN PROBLEM! We really don't give a rats ass WHY you have that problem, we want you to correct it. I am not going to mention ALL the possibilities, but at least look into the issue. If you have white noise with your signal when there shouldn’t be or your signal is clipping in and out, there is a problem somewhere and needs to be corrected. And as was brought to my attention, just because the set-up has been there for a while, things change. Metal corrodes, insulation deteriorates, etc., and these things may cause an issue you may not be aware of. One of my favorite sayings is this – and it is SO true – “Nothing man made lasts forever”.
Another thing, and this kind of irks MANY operators is this – if there are a few guys on the machine having a conversation, and they are talking about a specific subject, DON’T key up and say something stupid like “I JUST WANTED TO JUMP IN AND SAY HI AND ASK WHERE THIS REPEATER IS”. If you have nothing to add to the specific issue at hand, wait until the topic changes then jump in with that kind of a statement. What happens when you jump in to the issue being discussed like that is some guys lose their train of thought. Most times the topic is something unimportant, but sometimes there is something serious being discussed and you disrupt the line of thinking, things get missed or forgotten and this upsets some of the guys and not to mention, really, it is rude. Some of you may think it is no big deal, but for those of us who get this kind of interruption on a regular basis, it really gets to be a pain in the ass. You wouldn’t want that kind of interruption in your conversations, why do it to someone else’s? Just to say “Hi” and find out where the repeater is? Really!?!?!? Is it THAT important you find out over someone else’s conversation?
Kerchunking the repeater – this is probably one of the most irritating things that happens and does so several times an hour. Mostly by people who are using HT’s. They key and un-key the radio wanting to find out if they can “hit” the repeater. Well, let’s go back a bit. With an HT, just because you can hear it, does NOT mean you can work it – and just because you can “kerchunk” it, does NOT mean you will get into it with a decent signal. And for those who conveniently forgot or don’t care, if you key that radio up, you are supposed to ID. The FCC says NO UN-IDENTIFIED SIGNALS MAY BE TRANSMITTED. So, by “kerchunking” the repeater, and several times at that, you are violating FCC rules by transmitting an un-identified signal. And then there are those who do it while there is a conversation in progress…… yeah, that’s right, you are really fucking funny, buddy! It just amazes the hell out of me how we as licensed amateur radio operators complain about the CBers and the shit they do, then get into amateur radio and do the same shit! AND not to mention the shit that takes place on HF! But that is a different beast altogether. Anyway, DON’T kerchunk the repeater!
Unlike SOME of the local repeaters, this machine has a control operator. Actually there are several. The “responsibility” is split between us (YES, I am one, too!). I take care of the evening and overnight operations of the repeater. But, if one of us tells you to do or NOT do something, heed that advice. While nobody wants to get banned from a repeater or this one specifically, it can and has happened. Wallace really has no problem banning you from the repeater if you cannot or will not heed the rules he has in place.
Per FCC rules (and Wallace), NO music or foul/abusive language is permitted. This will get the repeater shut off in a hurry (and if we find out it is you, you will be banned and an official complaint filed with the FCC). Some words that are part of an “average” conversation are ok, but others are not. If there is a problem, and one of the control ops tell you to stop – heed that advice!
The repeater is NOT a “public grievance board”, or someplace to complain about someone. This is a tricky subject so I will try to explain this one. We all realize this is the United States of America and we all have the right to free speech, however, to get on the air and publicly berate, belittle, accuse or any of the like is NOT permitted on the air. It IS ok to complain about someone DURING A CONVERSATION, but to make it the focus of that conversation is NOT ok. For example, you and I are talking about repeaters and the Hazel Park repeater comes up and you mention that “Bill – K8PU” (NOT A REAL NAME OR CALL IN THIS EXAMPLE) treated you like crap when you were at the last meeting and you want nothing to do with him or the group any more and we then move on from that to a different topic, then that is ok. But to get on the air and relentlessly rant about “Bill – K8PU” without changing the subject for ANY period of time is not permitted on this machine. Did I explain that ok?
While the subjects of politics and religion are NOT specifically banned subjects on the repeater, discuss with kid gloves. Some people are passionate about their political or religious views or associations and will argue them to the death. These subjects are “hot” topics, and serious arguments have erupted on the air at various times requiring the repeater to get shut off and warnings issued to the “offenders”. Be mindful of these subjects and what you say.
While we are on the subject of “watch what you say”, do just that. Remember that those you are talking to ARE NOT the only ones listening. There are other hams, control ops AND scanner listeners who are “eave-dropping” in on the conversation. There are those who say things while “behind the mic” that they may not say to someone’s face. If you wouldn’t say it to someone in person, then it should NOT be said on the air.
AFTER HOURS (after 11pm, or the Traffic net) - Ok, so we now have a good idea of what is expected of our conduct when using the '76 repeater. There are a few more things I want to cover that pertain to after-hours use.
There are, on many occasions, a few of us on the air during the late and over night hours. I am one of those. My job affords me the opportunity to be on the air over night since I work until about 5:30 or so in the morning. Which is why I have the over night "shift" (so to speak) of control op. Those of us refer to this time as the "Graveyard Net". All are welcome to join us. There is NO round table. You may pass to someone, or, as is the case many times, you grab it when you can. It kinda makes for a fast, fun time on the air. Anyway, before you do decide to join in the fun, read and understand the following:
Wallace understands that during "regular" hours there may be those listening or using the repeater that may be "underage", so he expects us to act like proper adults. However, when it is late and most "kids" should be in bed, as long as all of the preceding are followed, we can get a little "loose" in our conversations. Ham radio is all about fun. So "SOME" innuendo, hinting and "walking the line" is acceptable as long as all are in agreement and no-one is being offended. If someone should object, then we need to go back to being our "normal" selves until such time as the objector clears the frequency. But as always, we need to stay within the FCC rules and Wallace's wishes.
THIS IS PRETTY MUCH THE "MEAT AND POTATOS" OF THE RULES FOR THE REPEATER AND WHAT WALLACE WOULD LIKE FOR EVERYONE TO REMEMBER AND FOLLOW. IF ANYTHING SHOULD NEED TO BE UPDATED, I WILL BE SURE TO ADD IT HERE. CHECK BACK OFTEN TO SEE WHAT UPDATES THERE MAY BE.
Dennis - N8BMB
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