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UK radio amateurs: how does licensing for portable repeaters work? Is it the same as for fixed repeaters?

I'm curious because some foundation license holders I know want to make a low power portable repeater using back to back HTs and I think they almost certainly aren't allowed but I can't find anything obvious in the license terms about it.

@m0puh I always thought you had to have a License Variation to set up any kind of repeater - although Ofcoms guidelines don't give any other details like the level of license required.

My thoughts are these homebrew setups are rarely compliant with any CEPT rules for such equipment (amateur or PMR) and unlikely to work well anyway because of desensetisation of the RX by the TX...

@vfrmedia You can definitely only get a repeater NoV with a full license: ukrepeater.net/eligibility.htm

The most definitive thing I've found so far is in ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf

Which says:

> Stations capable of Remote Control Operation for general unsupervised use by other Radio Amateurs (e.g. repeater stations, certain beacon stations etc.) aresubject to successful frequency co-ordination and are not covered by the licensing regime in this document.

@vfrmedia So I think you're probably right. I still wonder about portable repeaters though, I can't see how you'd go about getting an NoV for anything except a fixed site.

@m0puh I have a Business Radio Suppliers Light license (which I use so I can legally test pager transmitters and other equipment at home that get deployed at work) - this permits me to deploy a 10W VHF or UHF repeater at my house (or even hire out the things) but I have to use proper business grade PMR equipment (which is of course not cheap) and take great care not to cause TVI or any other interference..

@m0puh as for amateur use I wouldn't have thought getting an NoV for portable repeater would be totally impossible; but it would have to be something like the two back to back "taxi radios" with a diplexer and PSU built into a rack unit you can buy from PMR suppliers.

Which is a a bit more £££ than two Baofengs and an audio cable 😉

@vfrmedia Right, that makes sense. I wonder how you get one though. Business Radio sounds simpler!

@m0puh there are more restrictions on Business Radio use - homebrew kit is verboten, a Suppliers license only permits testing or short term hire to endusers - and although Baofengs are /just about/ compliant with CEPT requirements if one with a keypad is handed to a non tech end user it must have the VFO locked out (which can be done via Chirp).

RAYNET have both amateur and Business Radio licences to make working alongside ST Johns and NHS Ambulance trusts (using legacy VHF schemes) easier..

@vfrmedia ahh right, I wondered how RAYNET worked!

Thanks for the info, I’m glad I asked 👍🏼

@m0puh I suspect they don't have a bog standard PMR licence either but something that allows them to communicate with ST Johns and NHS, although overall ITU radio regulations permit this kind of operation in emergency situations anyway.

A Business Radio license does allow encryption (with the usual caveat HMG can ask for decrypted messages after due process) which makes sense if they are going to be transmitting patient data of any kind..

@vfrmedia presumably a big organisation like RAYNET has a lot of sway with Ofcom and can get what they need.

True! I'm pretty sure nobody minds illegal radio use in emergencies.

@m0puh to be fair Ofcom are quite pragmatic and responsive (compared to the old DTI) - if you want to do something "unusual" (that isn't listed on their website) you can just ask them and they will tell you if its OK and/or how to do it within a few days.

AFAIK There is some UN/iTU resolution a govt/Communications Ministry can invoke permitting amateurs to operate on other frequencies in emergency - but I think RAYNET got the Business Radio license in order to use encryption..

@vfrmedia
@m0puh
Hi, sadly Raynet has no more or less sway than any other radio users and the licence when last redrafted made things very complicated.... The old restriction on running a repeater was removed because it conflicted with people remote controlling their stations. Instead we got the 'general unsupervised use' statement instead. RAYNET activities are not 'general' so that's how/why we issue permits.

@vfrmedia
@m0puh
Since I forget how long toots can be :-)
The only services I remember in the ITU radio regulations that can transmit anywhere in emergencies are maritime and maybe aeronautical. Amateur Radio can't unless local regulations allow it (UK=no). RAYNET got a PMR licence for interoperability with the other services on the same frequencies not encryption. Encryption in the UK amateur bands is only allowed by User Service request in emergencies.

@m0puh so, cross band repeat? 70cm in 2m out?

Ask 10 amateurs, get 15 answers on this... Some say even full licences aren't allowed to do this. Others (me) think it's fine...

I've certainly done it from a handheld through the car radio so I can listen to the morning net when wandering around the house.

@M0YNG yep, cross-band was the suggestion. It feels like only yesterday I was poring over the license terms for my exam but there’s nothing particular clear in there on this!

@m0puh @M0YNG

it is not 100% clear at all if a cross band repeater is even legal here (in spite of this functionality being built into some newer mobile radios)

however some documents mention "general *unsupervised access*" requiring an NoV - a set in a car that was nearby to the operator would not (IMO) be unsupervised.

Consider that until deployment of Airwave, many Police vehicles had exactly this arrangement to allow VHF mainscheme comms to be relayed to an officers personal UHF set..

@m0puh @M0YNG AFAIK this is still not allowed without a talk through permit, which used to be managed by Raynet on behalf of RSGB/Ofcom. Which almost certainly will only be issued for Raynet type temporary usage. And it's not as simple as putting two Baofangs (sic) back to back, although some mobile rigs have the feature built in.

@m0puh @M0YNG As a full licence holder I believe it is legal to do what Chris describes within the boundary of your property (I'm sure this is covered in the licence or used to be). Probably falls under the remote control section.

@g0fcu
@m0puh @M0YNG
The property boundary restriction was the old BR68 licence conditions. The way licence clause 10(6) is written says Foundation and Intermediate licensees can use 500mW links to control their remote radios (car? :-)) while in theory full licensees can run full power. The catch is that in either case it is only for the sole use of the individual licensee.

@g0dub @g0fcu @M0YNG @vfrmedia thanks for all the info. This turned into an interesting thread!

@g0fcu @M0YNG I’m unsure of the circumstances they’d want to use it, but it would be temporary, and more remote than a car in the drive.

I was paraphrasing from an email where a full license holder suggested a setup (it wasn’t just “stick these together” 😄) but tbh it wasn’t far off.

It’s a shame there’s no clear and obvious bit of license I can point at but I think I’ll pass on that it’s almost certainly not allowed!

@m0puh @M0YNG I've just had a look at the licence. Clause 10(3) quite specifically precludes unattended operation.

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