Using Crossband Repeaters

Cross-band repeating in this context is the use of an unattended personal radio to act as a relay between a ham operator and the Colorado Connection.  This is a feature on many dual band radios.  The ham would talk into their radio via UHF and their signal would then get relayed into the Colorado Connection on VHF.  Similarly, a signal from the Colorado Connection on VHF would get relayed by the personal radio over UHF to the ham operator.

While the theory of cross-band repeating is good, it is easy for something to go awry and in doing so, affect the entire repeater system.  Since such repeaters look just like a regular ham operator to the Colorado Connection, there is little we can do to isolate and address a problem other than to disable the repeater (if we can) that is being affected or just live with the interference.  Also, it is our callsign that is getting repeated, so if the repeating station isn’t also identifying, we’re the target for any queries.  Recent examples include bad squelch, a misconfigured timeout, unexpected local interference and just a bad radio.  Interference has lasted from hours to (in one particularly bad case) months.

As such, much like many other repeater systems, we strongly discourage cross-band repeating into our system.  We also acknowledge that a major value of this system is reaching places in this state that no other radio service (cell or ham) can reach.  While our coverage is good, it isn’t everywhere, so there are situations where cross-band repeating is useful to temporarily extend range for a particular situation or event.  Rather than just an official ban on such repeaters, the guidelines below are our way to allow them when needed while ensuring the least likelihood of problems and the ability to isolate the issue if something goes wrong.

Cross-band repeating is possible if done the following way:

  • Secure permission from a board member (any will do, if you do not know one, just use the contact page and one will get back to you) showing the following
  • Include the expected location and duration of the intended use.
  • Ensure the cross-band repeater itself is FCC-legal:
    • Your crossband unit must provide Call station ID (either automatic or manual)
    • Have the ability to shut down the radio remotely if something goes wrong
  • Use of some kind of tone on the link radio input to reduce interference
  • Ensure the station is being monitored for the duration of the intended use.