What’s the ARRL Repeater Directory issue all about?

And to follow that up, many have asked why the data in the current League publications is wrong or out of date. The front page of this site has a side-bar which lists documents you can review on your own. Let’s just agree that it’s a complicated issue that we had hoped to resolve. So far, it’s not worked out that way.

The ARRL began the process of having individual coordinations updated by submitting data to their website. The data was supposed to then be forwarded on to the frequency coordination body representing a specific region of the U.S. To the best of our knowledge, WAR Inc. never received a request to verify a manual data submission.

Each year, the ARRL issues a contract to enable them to publish the data WAR Inc. submits (electronically). This contract lapsed, and due to language WAR Inc. could not agree to without modification, no contract has been in place for the past few years. However, the ARRL continues to publish stale information without consent.

The larger issue concerning the inability to submit coordination data electronically resulted in even greater frustration. When the League decided to try the manual approach, WAR Inc. felt it was outside its capabilities to enter and verify all of the coordinations in our state. For several years we submitted our data (as did other coordination councils) electronically without incident. In fact, WAR Inc. tried on numerous occasions during the past decade to help the League to modify their ingest procedures which would have made the entire submission process much more efficient.

In 2015 the ARRL decided to hire an outside contractor to try and deal with the data submission issue. Again, WAR Inc. tried to help by offering constructive criticism during the process. To the best of our knowledge, the project must have had a finite deadline and all correspondence was cut short.

The result was an incomplete data format which WAR Inc. decided not to support, and separately has unresolved issues with the ARRL’s breach of the expired term limited agreement as well as the new agreement’s unlimited use terminology. Due to changes in the ARRL’s policies and terms of their new agreement(s), we have learned that there are several additional coordination councils which have also terminated their relationship with ARRL Inc.

A decision was made by the WAR Inc. BoD to discontinue efforts to assist the League as it was taking too much time away from our core responsibilities. No resolution is in sight, so your best source of current coordination data, as it always has been, is our web site.

Just who is running the joint?

As of September 5th, 2015 Dave Shank KA9WXN resigned his role as Chairman of WAR, Inc. And, as of September 23rd, 2015 Pete Johnson AB9PJ resigned his role as Vice Chairman. Both Dave and Pete have cited their increased participation with work and family duties.

Dave is responsible for the physical plant of a large public television system and has taken on enormous projects this year.

Pete is in the telecommunications industry and is experiencing a heavy work load do to personnel issues at his place of work.

Amateur Radio is a hobby, and volunteering to serve the community cannot take precedence over work and family. We wish both Dave and Pete the best in their future endeavours. Both men have expressed an interest in contributing where they are able. The remaining Board of Directors are Greg Braun N9CHA and Jim Sheetz K9OQO. Greg has stepped up to handle administrative tasks, revamp our web site, review current policy documents and audit the band plan. Dave Karr KA9FUR is the Frequency Coordinator. Gary Bargholz N9UUR is the Newsletter Editor. Travis Augustine W9HDG is helping to improve communication to our Wisconsin ham community by developing a new content management system.

What is the status of my coordination request?

By far this is the most pressing issue at hand. The direct answer is to review the list of Pending & In Progress coordination requests on the front page of the web. Specifically, each coordination request is being handled in the order they have been received. There is a back-log and it’s due mostly to time availability and administrative issues.

Unless you’ve had to coordinate a repeater yourself, it may be hard to understand what takes so long. It’s a multiple step process. Here are the steps required after you have submitted your coordination request.

  1. Your signed application form is administered by the Frequency Coordinator. The specific data is entered into a sophisticated coordination software program called CTK (Coordinators Tool Kit). This software was developed and maintained by Dave Karr KA9FUR, the Wisconsin Frequency Coordinator.
  2. If you have requested a specific frequency, it is checked against the data base for not only Wisconsin, but our adjoining states as well, depending on where in the State you are asking to be coordinated. This might be Minnesota, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana or Michigan. More than one State may need to be checked.
  3. Your data regarding the coordination parameters, band, site location, antenna location, transmitter details are entered and subjected to a modeling program. No longer does WAR Inc. use a simple “protractor” approach to coordination. The bands are much too crowded for that simple method to be used. Not only is a frequency or pair of frequencies checked, but also the “first adjacent” frequencies are reviewed. To minimize interference to your station, and to minimize interference to others, a diagnostic approach is completed.
  4. Selection of frequency is now completed and your request is submitted to our neighboring frequency coordination councils. They are given the parameters of the coordination and are requested to reply to our request within 30 days. If there are no issues with the adjoining States, we will issue you an authorization for construction. This means you should complete your project and have it on the air within 6 months.
  5. The construction phase is your responsibility. Once you have your system on the air, your responsibility is to notify WAR Inc. that you’ve completed the construction and it’s ready for use. This may be a repeater, but also may be an Aux Link, a Control Link or perhaps a Remote Base. If you don’t let WAR Inc. know that you are completed with construction, your coordination will be terminated after 6 months.
  6. If for any reason you need more than 6 months to complete construction, you must contact WAR Inc. and explain your situation. In most cases you will be granted additional time for completion.

Frequency Coordination is accomplished before the construction and installation phase. You may already have all of the hardware under test, but not on the air. Remember, coordination first, on the air last.

Why do my email messages go unanswered?

Partly because we understand your frustration and we’re trying to do the work without spending time on correspondence. That’s a crappy answer, but it’s the truth. Right now (November 2015), trying to handle each request is taking too much time away from the audit process.

To combat the mounting requests for “where is my coordination?” correspondence, we’ve decided to post as much data as possible on the web site. We’re working on a much more responsive site in 2015 as well. Please exercise patience and review the site often.

Continue to contact WAR Inc. It does not hurt to remind us of your wait time. We’ll try and respond to your queries as soon as possible. Please be factual and refrain from too much “combative” language.

I’m really pissed off, what in the —- is taking so long?

We’ve received several emails, phone calls and letters illustrating your frustration. If you’ve submitted a new coordination request, you need to check the web site from time to time. We will update our progress regularly. Many of you have exercised professional courtesy and patience. Others… well not so much. The goal of the web site is to communicate more often with Wisconsin hams looking for updates.

If you take a moment and read some of the additional “news” items, you will see that WAR Inc. has been challenged with many different issues in 2015. The ARRL no longer was allowing electronic submissions of coordination data, they also decided to publish Wisconsin data without a contract in place. While the League has been trying to develop a new method for data submission, our efforts to help them have gone largely ignored, wasting time and energy.

Our web server got hacked this summer and it took a couple of months to regain access and control. Our hosting company did a fantastic job of dealing with the issues and we believe the site is stable once again.

Our Chairman and Vice-Chairman had to resign this year due to personal and professional reasons.

A major upgrade to our coordination software, CTK was developed. This took an enormous amount of time by our Frequency Coordinator Dave Karr KA9FUR as he’s the author of the program. Any updates he accomplished affected not only WAR Inc., but several other coordination councils around the U.S. Dave has a “real” job as well which demands a lot of time and resources. Remember, we’re all volunteers and have a finite amount of time to devote to WAR Inc.

Our Secretary Greg Braun N9CHA suffered a personal loss this year. His father, Chuck WD9GWG became a silent key in April 2015. As you can understand, it took several weeks of his time to deal with family matters, not to mention the deep grief of his fathers loss adding to his personal stress. This stress prompted additional chronic health issues to become serious which demanded time for stabilization and recovery.

As hard as he tried, our former Assistant Frequency Coordinator, Travis Augustine W9HDG encountered several issues trying to maintain the WAR Inc. database. He was able to complete the annual coordination updates while attending college, looking after his family and finally landing a very demanding job.. Unfortunately, some of the issues included current coordination data to become suspect, prompting an audit. Former Chairman Dave Schank KA9WXN decided the best course of action was to halt all coordination requests and allow time for our Frequency Coordinator to review the situation. This has taken several months and will continue to provide a challenge through the end of the year (at least).

You have every right to be frustrated since you know nothing about the challenges the volunteers who make up WAR Inc. have suffered this year. If you’re interested in becoming a WAR Inc. contributor, perhaps you’d like to run for an officer position? Please email our Secretary Greg Braun N9CHA and let him know of your willingness to help.