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Thread: State EM giving away free repeaters

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    Default State EM giving away free repeaters

    Something of great concern for me is that my State EM has started offering free DMR repeaters to any amateur club that will agree to sponsor them. The understanding is that in the time of an emergency, these repeaters can only be used for emergency communications.

    The State will pay a commercial shop to install the system for the hams(do any of the commercial techs have a ham license to legally test these repeaters on air).

    Right now, I don't know who will pay for or how the Internet connection accomplished. From what I understand, the State will pay for the Internet connection.

    The bottom line is that most of these sites will be going in areas where there is zero technical expertise and the average operator mentality is that of the baoturd set.

    Those of us who take care of the existing DMR network want nothing to do with this bunch and we are questioning the legality of what is taking place.

    I am all for emergency communications...done right, not the way the current mentality thinks it needs to be done. I also think the ARRL needs to take a step back and look at the reasons for the existence of amateur radio.

    Many years ago when I was involved with Emergency Management known then as Civil Defense, they did a screening process designed to eliminate those with a Baoturd mentality. They also ran weather watches on a Public Safety frequency and not on the ham bands or CB channels. My function as a ham was to maintain contact with the ham station at the NWS office on 2 meters.

    Civil Defense supplied the commercial radios and could also ask for them back at any time if they had a nut case as a weather spotter.

    My other job was to help maintain some of those radios. Anyone ever hear of a Comco.


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    If the repeaters are being given to amateur groups who will sponsor them I don't see where there is a problem with commercial technicians installing them as the sponsoring club can oversee the testing.

    The sponsoring club is going to have to coordinate frequencies as EM probably cannot do that.

    If the state EM is paying to link them, it sounds like EM is going to maintain a separate network apart from whatever DMR systems already exist. Otherwise limiting to emergency traffic only would be outside their control.

    As far as the other concerns, I an not sure what you are saying..

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    SCHEART network in South Carolina was designed around the same principle. However - ETV (the state PBS/NPR affiliate) sponsored the system, installed it on their towers, and maintains the repeaters and microwave backhaul. In some sites we have a 3rd party tower and a trustee or club keeping tabs on the repeater, but still call ETV for maintenance issues.

    The system was funded with state and grant funds and is open for all hams to use. In an emergency, the system becomes managed by Emergency Management. The "gotcha" to people who don't want to play by the rules is that then you are interfering with emergency management traffic - and we have sent law enforcement to the door of people's homes that want to interfere with nets because "well I want to talk on here".

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    GA also did something similar with GPTV and D-Star a number of years ago. I am really not sure if it was even ever completed due to turn over and the death of all planning, to much time in the project task line.

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    Moved to amateur radio discussion. It doesn't really belong in the lounge.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Navy_BOFH View Post
    SCHEART network in South Carolina...
    I could not help but imagine this acronym pronunced as "SHART".

    As for the OP, what's the backstory? Seems like a lot of vague arguments made against something that looks rather promising on its face.
    When in danger,
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    Florida DOT and EM has set up an 4 wire analog to IP backbone using DOT sites for participating ham repeaters. It is pretty extensive.

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    Not to beat a dead horse, but I fail to see how this could be a problem. Its a repeater system that is professionally installed and maintained instead of being duct taped and bubble gummed together, and its supported by an official agency, meaning there are real legal remedies for lids/troublemakers. I don't see many downsides other than possible polical bullshit, which is possible with any project.

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    The only legal issues I can see are a) A licensed ham needs to supervise the final on-air testing to be legal, the commercial operators can test the system under the supervision of a licensed ham operator, using the 2nd party operator provisions, but there must be a ham present at the time of final on-air testing. The other issue b) is Who is going to be the licensee for the state-owned system(s)? Whose call sign will they be running? That person or persons is/are legally responsible for proper operation of the stations, if one goes bonkers and interferes with aircraft traffic (worst case scenario) who will they send the pink slip to? That/those trustee(s) is/are the ultimate legally responsible party(ies).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha View Post
    The only legal issues I can see are a) A licensed ham needs to supervise the final on-air testing to be legal, the commercial operators can test the system under the supervision of a licensed ham operator, using the 2nd party operator provisions, but there must be a ham present at the time of final on-air testing. The other issue b) is Who is going to be the licensee for the state-owned system(s)? Whose call sign will they be running? That person or persons is/are legally responsible for proper operation of the stations, if one goes bonkers and interferes with aircraft traffic (worst case scenario) who will they send the pink slip to? That/those trustee(s) is/are the ultimate legally responsible party(ies).
    Our work-around was that (luckily) the VP and manager of the engineering department were hams, and from concept to completion of the project they required staff to get a minimum of Technician class as part of their job duties. Later on we added DHS SHARES HF email - and then everyone got bumped up to General.

    The repeater group was then split off into a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to accept donations, and to designate a primary trustee to then assign the WR4SC club callsign to repeaters, except those which we licensed to other clubs to be the trustee of. The trustees were all clubs or people that would bear responsibility to simply monitor operations and report issues to ETV staff - which was eventually partially mitigated by putting up an online "Report Issues Here" form which went straight to the engineering team.

    Seriously - if anyone wants to see a state sponsored ham system - look at the SC and NC healthcare emergency networks. They're both solid and well-thought-out legally speaking. To give a little context - our system was not chased after during the whole NCPRN debacle with a certain Motorola dealer.

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    All of this provides some interesting input...one club that I know of is a 501(c)3 club. The idea seems to be that the local club is the trustee of a particular repeater.I am also glad to hear that similar systems have been implemented in other states with no problems.
    Since I am a commercial tech and an amateur, I know the territory where some of the repeaters will be installed and the big concern is after they are installed. There are too many guys with the mindset of I am a ham so I am a technical expert.
    No one seems to know how they propose to do the linking CBridge or Brandmeister.
    More later...I have to deal with issues at work

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    Quote Originally Posted by FMTRU140D View Post
    No one seems to know how they propose to do the linking CBridge or Brandmeister.
    As part of our system design, we have our own C-Bridge for the entire state. The unique part is that of all (currently) 32 repeaters, all but 4 are on a statewide microwave backhaul with the C-Bridge and Parrot Server being at the datacenter. That allows us in "emergency mode" to disconnect the C-Bridge from the internet and run the state standalone. Then the PRN talkgroup on Slot 2 becomes "Statewide", with Slot 1 hosting local and Mutual Aid traffic. State EOC will run hourly nets on the Slot 2 TG while Slot 1 can still be used to talk locally or between hospitals/EOCs/etc.

    We also have a VHF and UHF analog system as well which means traffic can be offloaded to those as well, with VHF being reserved for EOC traffic and UHF for healthcare-related traffic. Every hospital has a minimum of a UHF radio installed and most have operators as staff so there isn't usually a need to bring in operators from the outside.

    Then lastly, not ham related, but we restored the statewide low-band repeater system and installed 9 repeaters, IP links over the same microwave backhaul, and CDM1250s at every EOC in the state. So in reality there's a half dozen paths between ham and commercial for AUXCOMM type members to operate in a disaster.

    I am assuming your EMs are looking at the "big picture" as we saw it as well - and after Puerto Rico got slammed last year we hold zero faith in a single network staying running. Even the microwave backhaul we assume can fail at a given point and are planning "back up methods" as we speak.

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