Repeaters, Repeaters, Repeaters — What’s The Point?

I know the virtues of repeaters, and the vast leaps of technology they have spawned. But whats the point of operating them if no one uses them? And what’s the point of searching for repeater info on the web if it’s all inaccurate?

With my rubber duck antenna on my Yaesu FT-60R there are several repeaters I can hit from my home in the Treasure Valley in south-west Idaho, but only a small handful have any traffic.

a picture of a repeater at duskI have spent an entire day listening to one repeater, every hour using the repeater to let anyone else know my callsign and that I’m monitoring. Nothing. No traffic all day, other than the repeater identifying itself.

The next day, I’ll switch to another repeater. The same story — no traffic at all.

Why go through the effort and expense of operating a repeater if no one uses it — not even the station’s owner? What am I not understanding?

The same thing via EchoLink — I connect to dozens upon dozens of repeaters around the world — little or no traffic.

How much money is spent every year operating these repeaters? I know that the money is all coming from donations and the repeaters’ owners, but couldn’t that money go towards advancing some other aspect of amateur radio, like the ARRL and its defense fund that they use to lobby congress and the FcC to keep our frequencies?

I recognize that there may be things about these not-used repeaters that I’m not thinking of, like emergency purposes. Please give me an explanation, because it really does baffle me.

And don’t get me wrong. I’m extremely grateful for repeaters and for those that own and operate them. I’m not ranting, I’m just a bit curious as to why several repeaters are up and running, but not being used.

And another curiosity, what is the point of having online databases of repeater info? It’s hit or miss regarding accuracy about the info found on these online services. I have yet to find info about many of my local repeaters, like where they are located, if they are part of a linked system, how much coverage they have, etc. I have found some info by asking other hams, but even they don’t always know.

Again, I think that these online databases are a great idea, and they have their place, but I wonder how the inaccuracy of these databases affects new hams.

I think that as it is with many aspects of ham radio, patience is the key with my curiosity and mild frustrations related to repeaters — which isn’t a problem, I have four kids and have been force to develop patience over the years.


About Kyle (W7KBX)

I became a licensed ham in May of 2013 with a class of General. I have since upgraded to Extra. If you are really bored and want to learn more about me, please click here
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