The Repeater Story and The Survey

By | March 14, 2020

For those who were unable to attend the February membership meeting, we were briefed on both the status of our 147.00 repeater and where things are progressing in Puget Sound for repeaters in general.  Much of what came to light was a surprise for many of us.

First, here’s the present status of our WWDXC 147.00 repeater.  The equipment we actually own is presently located at a City of Seattle tower near Maple Leaf Reservoir in NE Seattle.  It is, in fact, turned off.  If you are copying a repeater on 147.00 with our W7DX callsign, that’s a different machine; it’s owned by the West Seattle ARC and is located at a City of Seattle tower near the SW Myrtle Street Reservoir.  They have temporarily borrowed our 147.00 frequency pair at the request of the City’s emergency services group to enhance communications in the West Seattle area.  We don’t own or control that repeater.  Its coverage seems ideal for those in West Seattle.

Second, the now silent WWDXC-owned repeater is technologically out of date.  The coordinating body for all repeaters is the Western Washington Amateur Repeater Association, who sent a spokesman to our February club meeting to brief us on what coordination means, and where repeater technology is headed.  Legacy 25kHz wideband FM machines like ours are destined, in the not too distant future, to be totally replaced by 12.5kHz narrowband infrastructure to meet the FCC mandates that the commercial services were ordered to do in 2013.  No new wideband amateur repeaters will be permitted, and the band plan for all of Western WA will be remapped to narrowband channelization.  Within the decade, it’s envisioned that narrowband will be replaced by ultranarrowband (6.25kHz).  Digital communications, even digital voice, will be the standard.  Those ‘standards’ haven’t been unified, as we have already seen the arrival of Icom’s D*Star, Yaesu’s SystemFusion, and the emergence of Digital Mobile Radio (DMR)’s narrowband and ultranarrowband protocols.

The Board believes we’re now at a point where we can’t simply stand still.  The Status Quo is unacceptable and possibly irresponsible.  Our own repeater is off the air.  Our coordinated pair (147.00) is not providing service to the majority of WWDXC’s widely dispersed members.  What do we do?  Where do we go?  If we do nothing, other non-WWDXC hams will make the decisions for us.

This initial poll was made available to all the Club members via the email reflector and we received 67 responses. Let’s talk about that for a moment. Is 67 enough?

Regarding surveys, academia says that:

·         The best a Public survey can expect is a 15% response rate.  At 15%, validation of data is achieved 50% of the votes already in hand (50% of 15, or only as high as 7.5%).  An example of a Public survey is an congressional or general election with two candidates.  You see this happen when the news channels see 15% of the votes cast in an election and even before the polls are closed, they declare that Candidate X has won 50% of those votes tabulated…even if there are more to come.

·         The best a Private survey can expect is a 40% response rate.  At 40%, validation depends on the number of answers, but the recognized rule of thumb is that validation is achieved as soon as one of the answers reaches a percentage exceeding any other 2 combined.  Examples of Private surveys are those limited to a company’s employees, or an organization’s members.  Yes, that’s us.

With 67 responses received, that’s more than half of the club members on our email reflector, e.g., we got great participation!  The validations are fairly plain to see.

So here are the results, and the Board will take these into consideration and make some decisions soon. If you have more input that you’d like to share, please talk to a Board member asap.

That’s significant. Almost 90% of those who responded told us that coverage is a major factor no matter what we do.