Butano Training, 3rd party traffic, mini-net?

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    Casey, KA5WAX

    Hi folks,

    This evening ( Aug 9 ) I am giving what I think you folks call ‘a practical’ down in Butano Canyon to a subset of our CERT crew. It will be strangely similar to the one hosted at the HMB Police Station this past spring, but less erudite.

    The goal is to get greater facility with the tangle of FRS, GRMS, & BaoFang radios we’re finding available to folks. We would like to get to a point where we have greater operational capabilities should something happen and all the licensed operators are outcanyon at the time.

    As part of this we may get to using the uphill Auxiliary station & 146 repeater.

    From reading Part 97.115 I think I can be the control operator for third parties and guide them through a ‘hello world’ repeater exercise. Effectively a mini-net, I don’t expect it to run more than 10 min.

    If the collective you, or even the singular you, have any concerns let me know.

    It’s quite possible we don’t even get to this part of the gameshow.

    One thing I’ve been wondering is if I should simply use the existing SC4 net script to bracket the period. I am leaning toward this as a formalization of this exercise.

    David, KM6DOV

    Section 97.115© states, “…that no station may transmit third party communications while being automatically controlled except a station transmitting an RTTY or data emission.” It would not be compliant, therefore, for a repeater to be automatically controlled while transmitting CW or phone emission third party communications. You may pass the traffic over the repeater for your exercise, but any unlicensed individuals could not speak into the repeater, even if you were holding the mic for them. You may act as a control operator for simplex, though.


    Unlicensed folks can operate a station as long as there’s a licensed control operator present, which would be expected if you’re holding the mic for them. Both parties need to be at the originating station. It doesn’t sound to me like that’s the plan.

    The way it usually works is non-hams who have GMRS/FRS radios pass traffic on those radios to a ham who can funnel the traffic up the comm chain as needed. Peggy and Pat have a lot of experience with this. You might want to chat with them about it.

    Casey, KA5WAX

    David, gotcha. looks like someone would have to be manning the controls at / for the repeater for there to be a ‘license-pass-through’ as it were. the discussion wobbles all over the place where I’ve looked on the net. entertaining. I’ll take your advice as best-local-practice and that’s what I’ll show.

    Janeen, yes have talked to them in the past, and that’s what KatherineP and I have explained down in the canyon ( at our regular meetings ).

    it’s the ‘when there are no hams and no exit’ scenario I’m trying to cover. There are, hmm 2 in the canyon?

    keep `em coming!


    If there are no hams and no exit, then the rules don’t matter. You can show them how to use the repeater, but you h ave to be present in each case. Good luck and thanks for working on it!

    David, KM6DOV

    For imminent threats to life or property, you can use anything at your disposal to get your emergency traffic through, including contacting police/fire directly on their own frequencies. But you’re not allowed to drill for this contingency. This hasn’t stopped police from attempting to prosecute people who called in bona fide life threatening emergencies on their own radios, though.

    Casey, KA5WAX

    As another data point when I’ve been extending Peter’s original programming for the Butano BF radios I’ve been disabling VHF transmission capability on a case-by-case basis.


    The GMRS radios are used by neighborhoods, or groups/clusters within neighborhoods, to check on the welfare of their assigned neighbors and to report information or requests for help to the Ham operators. The Ham operators then get that information to the appropriate parties.

    The programming we did on the Baofengs for Butano were for the GMRS frequencies being used in the neighborhood and for “receive only”, the appropriate emergency frequencies, such as Cal Fire and LHFire. This does not prevent, of course, users from selecting ham frequencies on the radio. For GMRS users in South Skyline, we have made it clear that they are NOT to use these frequencies unless there is an emergency and they cannot reach the appropriate Ham operators in the area.

    This is the same process used in CERT teams. The FRS or GMRS radios are used for communications within the team and for passing on information to the Ham operators or team leaders.

    Make sense? Pat


    “Control operator” is an amateur operator designated by the licensee of a station to be responsible for the transmissions from that station to assure compliance with the FCC Rules. The location at which the control operator function is performed is the “control point.” (Part 97.3 (a)(13 & 14)) Having control at the repeater or auxiliary does not control the transmission from the handy-talkie. You must have a licensed amateur at the transmitter (handy-talkie in this case.)

    I’m not comfortable teaching unlicensed folks to use the amateur repeaters, or with programming them into their radios “just in case.” The reasons are several: If they want facility with a tool they need to use it regularly (which they will not, without a license.) The effort to build, test and maintain our infrastructure is not insubstantial and the modest commitment to get a license is, literally, the very least expected for its use. In a true emergency those who have not prepared and practiced will be more likely to be a hindrance rather than a help.

    As far as using public safety frequencies in an emergency: Bad people have used fire and police frequencies to lure first-responders into ambush traps. If they don’t know who you are they won’t talk with you.

    The correct way is as Pat described. The “tree” structure reduces the load on limited resources, as well as on your net control’s ears! It’s a great idea to practice with FRS radios, but FRS places limits on power, doesn’t permit a removable antenna and FRS radios cannot operate on repeater input frequencies. Get a license for GMRS if you wish to use (GMRS) repeaters, use more power or detachable antennas (I believe it’s currently $70 to license everyone in your immediate family for 10 years.) Get a ham license if you want to use ham frequencies.

    Casey, KA5WAX

    All good, publicly made points. Nicely done all!

    ( Did you see where I’ve started disabling VHF transmissions? )

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