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Benefits of the Cambridge Tower Repeater – Repeater.org

Benefits of the Cambridge Tower Repeater

Community Service

The Cambridge Tower repeater on 442.000  is dedicated to serving and supporting the community through volunteering and communications. Our services partly include:

  • Providing communications for local bike and other events benefiting local non- profits such as the Capital 10K
  • Demonstrating amateur radio at public events.
  • Preparing ourselves and the community for disasters large and small such as hurricanes, nuclear attacks, power outages (we have a battery backed up system) and other natural and manmade disasters.

Amateur radio, or “ham radio” as it’s often abbreviated, has been around since the earliest days of experimentation with radio communications. It was only as the number of amateur stations increased and interference started to be a problem that radio started to be regulated. In the U.S., this began under the Radio Act of 1912. Amateur radio stopped entirely during World War I, but was re-established after the war. It was codified internationally in 1927 and 1928, with standard amateur radio bands and call sign prefixes being established.

In the U.S., amateur radio is regulated by Part 97 of the FCC’s regulations. The beginning of these regulations outlines the purpose of the Amateur Radio Service:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communication and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur’s unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

You frequently hear about amateur radio operators helping maintain emergency communications during major disasters, such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and even in the wake of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Often, this is done by having amateur stations relay messages into and out of the affected area, passing them from station to station to get them where they need to go (much as Internet routers pass packets of data along to their destination). Scientist and inventor Hiram Percy Maxim recognized the value of this technique in 1914, and to help coordinate these activities, he founded the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the primary interest group for ham radio in the United States. Today, interest groups such as the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) maintain this capability, and the annual ARRL “Field Day” promotes being able to operate independent of mains power, as would be the case in emergency situations.

Amateur radio experimenters have helped develop new communications modes that were later widely used in commercial contexts. Hams, for instance, pioneered single-sideband (SSB) voice communications in 1933, a technique now in wide use elsewhere. Hams also pioneered many modes of digital communication that are reflected in modern communications systems such as cellular phones and Wi-Fi. This process of innovation is still going on today.

There are about 600,000 amateur radio operators in the U.S. today, and 2,000,000 worldwide. Anyone can join, though; in the U.S., visit Get on the Air on the ARRL Web site to find out how.

Sources: Amateur radio and History of amateur radio on Wikipedia, What is Ham Radio on the ARRL Web site.

Amateur Service During Government Disaster Drills

  • During emergencies, amateur radio operators may transmit messages to other amateur stations, subject to the privileges authorized for the class of license the amateur station control operator holds. For these transmissions, no special FCC permissions are required. Some amateur radio operators coordinate their communications through groups referred to as “networks” or “nets.”
  • Messages may be transmitted on behalf of unlicensed individuals, at the discretion of the amateur station licensee. These messages are referred to as third party communications. The FCCs rules permit an amateur station to transmit messages for a third party to any other amateur station within the jurisdiction of the United States. Amateur stations in the United States may transmit third party communications to amateur stations outside the United States under certain circumstances.

Amateur Radio Service Support to Public Safety Communications

In times of emergency when normal public safety communications are not available, there are alternative systems that may be used for this purpose. Current FCC rules state that amateur stations and operators are allowed to assist and support public safety communications in times of emergency. This article addresses the voluntary services provided by amateur operators, amateur service organizations and the relationships between amateur service organizations and public safety jurisdictions. Information about amateur services is also briefly described in the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau’s Amateur Radio Services web page.2

Amateur radio (also known as ‘ham radio’) services are regulated under Part 97 of the FCC rules.3 Amateur radio operators are licensed users who operate radio communications as a hobby or a voluntary service running within amateur radio frequencies allocated by the FCC4. To acquire an amateur radio license, individuals are required to pass a licensing exam that proves the individual possesses the operational and technical qualifications required to properly perform the duties of an amateur service licensee [47 CFR 97.503]. Currently, individuals may qualify for three classes of operator license: Technician, General and Amateur Extra.

When normal communications systems are not available, amateur stations may make transmissions necessary to provide essential communication needs in connection with the immediate safety of human life and immediate protection of property [47 CFR 97.403]. This provision of emergency communications is regulated by Part 97, Subpart E of the FCC’s rules. One advantage for amateur radio operators in public emergency communications is the wide range of available frequencies [47CFR 97.407].5

One service within the amateur radio services that uses amateur stations during periods of emergencies is known as the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service, or RACES.6 To transmit in RACES, an amateur station must be certified and registered by a civil defense organization or an FCC-licensed RACES station. RACES is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and acts as a communications group of the government. Registered members of RACES are authorized to respond when a civil defense organization requests amateur radio assistance. Typically these activities occur during periods of local, regional or national civil emergencies such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods or wildfires. RACES stations may only communicate with specified stations [47CFR 97.407(c), (d)].

It is important to recognize that the amateur radio stations participating in RACES are certified by their local civil defense organizations for this specific purpose. The operators are a valuable resource that provides emergency communication capabilities to their community. Civil defense organizations establish their own training and certification standards. Some localities — for example, Arlington County, Virginia7 – have more stringent training and certification standards than others. The key component of the RACES program is the direct and recognized affiliation between the amateur radio operators and local authorities since RACES may provide a critical alternative communications link for local officials. For example, RACES operators serve the county by passing critical emergency information from county officials with the County Emergency Response Team (CERT) to RACES operators at other locations.

Although RACES stations operate in conjunction with a federal, state, tribal or local jurisdiction, there are other options for amateur radio operators in emergency communications to include the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES). Together with the National Traffic System (NTS), these services are broad programs of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) which is a national association of radio amateur operators. ARES members are licensed amateur radio operators who volunteer to provide emergency communications services to public safety and public service organizations. Most individual ARES units are organized within a city, county or state and usually operate autonomously. The ARRL describes the ARES programs as follows: 8

“The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) consists of licensed amateurs who have voluntarily registered their qualifications and equipment for communications duty in the public service when disaster strikes. Every licensed amateur, regardless of membership in ARRL or any other local or national organization, is eligible for membership in ARES. The only qualification, other than possession of an Amateur Radio license, is a sincere desire to serve. Because ARES is an amateur service, only amateurs are eligible for membership. The possession of emergency-powered equipment is desirable, but is not a requirement for membership.”

Frequently, individuals interested in providing emergency communications are registered in both ARES and RACES. Dual registration allows continuity of operations if normal amateur operations might otherwise be prohibited.

RACES and ARES are collaborative services although they exist as separate volunteer entities. The ARRL encourages dual enrollment and cooperative efforts between both groups whenever possible. Both organizations remain a vital resource for the public safety community in times of crisis.

The purpose of this 442.000 repeater shall be:

  • 1. To promote interest in Amateur Radio, electronics technology, and communications practice.
  • 2. To assist fellow Amateurs in development of the radio art, and to provide educational opportunities to both Amateurs and non-Amateurs interested in radio communications.
  • 3.To bring before its members such topics and equipment as would improve their knowledge of the state of the art.
  • 4. To provide public communications services, to lend our full support and cooperation to restoring channels of communications in time of disaster, and to offer training in emergency preparedness skills.
  • 5.To provide better communication through all phases of Amateur operation including, but not limited to, radio repeaters.
  • 6. To support, among all Amateurs, lawful and responsible conduct, as embodied in the ARRL Code of Ethics.
  • 7. No substantial part of the activities of this repeater installation shall attempt to influence legislation, and no activities shall involve intervention or participation in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.