The APRS digipeater MB7VX has been offline for quite a while now. I’m not going to bring it back any time soon and I have applied for a second NoV to release the frequency and callsign.
Over time, a number of people have contributed to the running of this station. It has been a really fun project and I am sad that it is coming to an end. Thanks go to all the people that have contributed to the construction, installation, configuration, testing and software development that was required to get this station going.
The primary reason for this shutdown is that I do not have the time to deal with all the arguments. The Radio Society of Great Britain (RSGB) has not made it easy to run this station. The Amateur Radio Observer Service (AROS) have also caused unnecessary problems.
For those that may be unaware, RSGB assist licensed radio amateurs in applying for NoVs. This means getting the relevant paperwork from Ofcom to run the station 24⁄7 without me being there. It is also required to allow other amateurs to use the repeater.
The first complaints came from an AROS member who also happened to operate an APRS “IGate” in Aberdeen. To enhance the fun you might have with APRS, it is possible to copy the packets you see to an Internet service. You can then see position reports and messaging at the aprs.fi website, to give one example.
The path that a packet took is interesting. Maybe you were repeated before you get to an Internet-connected station or maybe you’ve got a direct communication with one. As far as I can tell, the AROS member was upset because MB7VX was showing as being the first station to report some mobile stations’ packets and not his.
Here followed a ridiculous debate in which RSGB/AROS were arguing with Ofcom, the regulator, that my license was actually more restrictive than it was. Ofcom (who were the nice people in all this, and I am thankful to those who were dealing with this case) cleared this up and while I didn’t feel that RSGB/AROS had accepted Ofcom’s answer they did somewhat let the matter go.
In a sensible world, this should have been the other way round. RSGB/AROS are meant to be making it easier for radio amateurs to experiment and learn, not harder! At the time, I wrote this blog post which goes in to more detail on the issue.
Later, this AROS member would also jump into conversations we were having and start “educating” us on what we can and can’t do with packet radio. There was talk of moving to another frequency and just having our APRS activity their instead. In the end the usage dropped off and the digipeater mostly sat silent.
At the last renewal of the NoV I was told that the output power would need to be reduced below the point that it would be a useful station. It would still receive packets but the repeated packets wouldn’t be heard. It was RSGB’s view that the goal of APRS was to get your packets to the Internet whereas our group were really more interested in RF to RF communication.
RSGB told me that they were looking to prevent interference that could occur with nearby voice gateways. The fact is that in the whole time the station was operating, I never once received a complaint about interference. I’m also not aware of any voice gateways around the Aberdeen area that even interference would affect. If there were some, I would use them.
So anyway, for now at least, MB7VX is shutdown and I will soon no longer hold the NoV for it.
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