Thank you, and what’s next!

We just had some important things happen, and I want to thank you for it!

On Saturday, March 18th, over 50 members showed up at Ham Radio Outlet to participate in our annual Membership meeting. That group unanimously voted to approve our policy changes and the proposed bylaw changes.

Not only did they approve them, they engaged with me and the board in the process, asking questions, giving advice, and providing valuable feedback, resulting in a few tweaks and improvements. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was that this was a “two-way” street, and the feedback that was provided was invaluable.

We also held the vote for this year’s officers. I’d like to congratulate Greg Braun (N9CHA) who was re-elected as Secretary, Dean Hoover (KB7QDI) who was elected to the position of Vice-Chairman, and Chris Keezer (KC9NVV) who was elected as Treasurer.

In addition I want to pass along a very special thank you to Jim Sheetz (K9OQO), who stepped down as treasurer this year, a position he held for 25 years. I’d like to thank Jim for his service and wish him all the best. He is a great example of service to the hobby.

In other election news, I’m still here! I did have every intention of trying to help WAR get the momentum it needed, and then hand it off to someone  new. After all, I wasn’t nominated last year (I volunteered after there were no nominees), so there really was no “mandate” from the members that I
should serve, and I was well aware of that. However, this time around was different. I was asked by a few members if I would be willing to run again, and was actually nominated and “seconded” by members in the audience, and unanimously voted in. One of the comments from the audience was
that “You should see this through!” I appreciate the vote of confidence, and I will do just that!

Now, with that out of the way, what’s next? Well, we have to have one more vote on the bylaws in order for them to go into effect. So, we’ll be holding another meeting, this time in Wausau. We’re hoping to have the time and date for you soon, but we are shooting for August.

There will be two important votes: One is to pass the bylaws, and place them into effect. If that vote is approved, we will then be asking the members to extend the terms of Chris Keezer, Greg Braun, and myself to end in 2019, basically changing our terms to fall in line with the new 2 year terms provided in the bylaws. That way we only need to elect four more board members in 2018, rather than seven, all with different terms (we’re moving to staggered terms). This vote would essentially get us synchronized and allow us to quickly get to a full board of seven members.

Also, if the bylaws pass, we’d like to get some of our statewide advisors appointed at that meeting. This would be a perfect opportunity for you to participate. We need members from around the state to help us take care of our members everywhere, as well as provide valuable feedback about what
things we should be addressing so that we’re an organization that serves everyone, not just certain pockets of the state.

So, now you’re up to date. I feel the future of the organization and coordination in Wisconsin is very bright. I am thrilled with the level of engagement from our members, and look forward to working with you and our partners in surrounding states to provide a resource that serves us all well into the future.

As always, I’d love to hear from you. I promise that even if I don’t have an immediate answer to your questions or comments, you’ll at least get a reply and know that I’m listening.

Chris Tarr, W9JOL
Wisconsin Association of Repeaters

What constitutes a “coordinated system”?

This has been at the top of our minds recently as we’ve been dealing with some coordination issues. I thought it might be a good time to go over what a coordinated system is, and why, even though it seems like a lot of  “bureaucracy” there are good reasons for handling coordination the way we do. I’ll also mention something in the new bylaws that will help holders of coordination in the future. First, let’s talk about a coordinated system.
A coordinated system is one that:

  • Has received a coordination recommendation from the coordinator.
  • Has built the system according to the parameters of the coordination recommendation, and has notified the coordinator as such.
  • Has NOT made any changes to height, power, mode, frequency, access tones, location, etc.
  • Has responded to periodic updates, even if there are no changes.
  • Has notified WAR of any changes to the Holder of Coordination, and has kept WAR updated of any changes of contact information.
  • That has consistently remained in operation, as defined in our by-laws.

Now, that’s not an all-inclusive list, but at the minimum ALL of those conditions must be met in order to be considered a coordinated system. Note that some of those are on-going requirements. Coordination is not a “build and forget” thing. You must “actively” remain coordinated.

What causes a system to be de-coordinated? Here are some things:

  • Failure to respond to periodic updates.
  • ANY change to a technical parameter such as mode, modulation scheme, access tone, power, height, location, etc.
  • Changes in Holder of Coordination without notifying WAR.
  • A “paper” repeater, or a coordinated system that has not been built, or that has been off the air for an extended amount of time without notification as defined in our by-laws.

So, let’s say that you’ve been “on-the-air” for years. Chances are that if you haven’t replied to a periodic update, you’ve been de-coordinated. That means that the frequency that you had been coordinated on can be re-used somewhere else, even if you’ve been there for years.

Why is that? It’s simple, really. If we don’t know you’re there (via periodic updates) then we don’t know that the frequency is being used any more. “Why not assume that it is?” you may ask. Well, if we did that, we’d have a bigger spectrum crunch than what we’re dealing with now! Remember that
coordination not only affects systems in Wisconsin, but also neighboring states. Imagine if we all just “assumed” that systems were on without verification, when in reality, 20% of them were not? That’s a lot of dead spectrum, and when the FCC and other interests “spin the dial” looking for spectrum for the “next big wireless thing”, and hear a whole lot of nothing, what do you think could happen? We  want to actively use as much spectrum as possible as efficiently as possible. Since there are systems all over the state, and only a couple of us, periodic updates are the only way for us to do that.

That leads me to a proposed by-law change. One of the changes we’re proposing is to give us the ability to appoint “regional” directors in each “selective access” (tone) area of the state. These would be people familiar with the area. While it does NOT eliminate the need for periodic updates, they could certainly help us with the verification process, and possibly “nudge” along people who need to provide updates.

Finally, a note about modulation schemes (analog, digital, etc.). It is NOT acceptable to simply change the repeater type and continue to be coordinated. Different modes have different characteristics, and often different bandwidths. In order to efficiently “pack” the spectrum, we have
agreements with neighboring states on how we handle these types of systems. We want to work with you on the planning and implementation to make sure you’re protected and that you’re protecting other systems. Also, remember that ANY change to ANY technical parameter requires a new
coordination request. They’re simple (and free) to make, so please do that in order to continue to protect everyone.

Remember, when you get de-coordinated, you are no longer protected, and you’re responsible for protecting others. Yes, coordination is not mandatory – and if you’re in the middle of nowhere, it’s possible that you can throw something up and not ever worry about it. However, the FCC will fall on
the side of the coordinated system every time, so while you may consider it a hassle to “go through all the bureaucracy”, there is a very good reason to do so – even if you may not fully understand why. I believe we’re as transparent as can be, and will always explain why coordination decisions are made the way they’re made.

Remember, we’re just a bunch of volunteers. We’re not the repeater police. Nobody gets paid, and nobody personally benefits from serving. There are no “power trips” or “favorites”. We have rules – rules that the membership has voted on – that we follow. We rarely, if ever, make exceptions. We
apply the same rules whether you’re a new owner, or one that’s been around forever. It may not seem fair at the time, but if we don’t apply the rules evenly in all cases, then there’s no point in having them!

Please keep in mind, you do have recourse if you believe we operated in error. So, if there comes a time that you feel that we haven’t followed the Association’s rules, let us know. You’ll see that you have options up to and including being able to hold a membership vote. You can hold us accountable.

Finally, be sure to make your voice heard. Participate in the annual membership meeting on March 18th. It’s your chance to make a difference.

-Chris, W9JOL
WAR Chairman