I often hear US hams saying that Part 97 of the US amateur radio service applies to ALL hams. Why is this? Do they not realize that the FCC has no power outside of America? Perhaps its just ignorance (or arrogance?) on the individuals part. I don’t know.
Last evening, some of the CKARC fellows got together on the air to send radiograms. We had 7 turn out for training and out of those, 4 actually did the on air portion. We also had two “onlookers” that couldn’t make it to the training. Overall, the program went fairly well. I really would have liked to see more club members participating but that’s how these things usually go. We did learn a number of things: a) speak slowly and write quickly b) make sure you actually write your radiogram out before putting it on the air c) have a pencil sharpener ready. Our trainer/coordinator did an excellent job.
You can certainly tell who the dedicated hams are and those that are just hams for some unknown reason. Some never turn out for any event, never hear them on the air and they never respond to correspondence. But, as long as they pay their dues, I suppose who really cares. We have 4 repeaters in the area. One is used “frequently” (as in more than once per day), another is used infrequently (meaning there are two fellows who use it for a half hour every day) and the remaining two are very rarely used. But having said that, last weekend I visited the Toronto area and scanned all the repeaters a lot and heard nobody. Sad.
Our club is considering a DMR (Digital Mobile Radio) for our area. I did some research on the number of current users in Ontario and here are the results:
- Total Radios Registered: 213
- Total Unique Callsigns: 168
Many hams have registered multiple radios. But, I have 2 radios registered and I don’t even own one! So, I’m probably not the only one. I am going to say that (optimistically) 20% of those registered also don’t own a radio. That brings us to about 134 active hams using DMR.
There are 14 DMR repeaters in Ontario (one of these is on the DCI Network – don’t know if this matters) so that’s about 9.5 hams per repeater. Let’s not even factor in that some areas (Toronto, Barrie, etc) no doubt have more hams per repeater than other. A typical repeater setup includes a DMR repeater, an antenna, duplexers, coax, assorted other hardware. You can imagine a repeater costs about $3.000 (conservatively) not to mention the repeater site costs plus internet access which can add up to about (avg) $50/month or $600/yr. Add to the fact that Motorola wants $265 for 3 years for software.
So where does that leave us? Well, that works out to an initial outlay of about $300 per ham and an additional $90 per year per ham! Obviously, the more hams that share a repeater the less it will cost. In our case, there is a very limited user base (hams) that would actually use the system. For us having 4 active hams the cost is $750 each initially (and the individuals radio(s) on top of that – $180-$1000) then $175/yr to keep it all going. Is it worth it? Well, my cellphone bill is about $65/month or $780 per year which is about 4.5x as much as the repeater. Since I probably would use the repeater a lot I suppose I could justify it. But, for the occasional user, it wouldn’t be a good value in my opinion.
Well I finally figured out how to make my IRC chat widget to open in a new tab. Good heavens it was SOOO easy too. Doh! Anyway, if you want to chat on IRC (and who wouldn’t?) you can now open it in a new tab/window and have a web based client. Very handy. If you’re a CKARC member, I’ll be on the #ckarc IRC channel during the Wednesday night net. Just sayin’
BTW, this is a full IRC client. All the usual things work: /nick, /join, /msg nickserv/chanserv, etc. Enjoy!