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Getting The Nodes Back on the Air

Hello everyone!

I just wanted to give you an update on the IRLP/Echolink/WIN System nodes.  We have ordered a new Raspberry Pi version of the node for the 443.3 MHz (node 8440) repeater.  Once this repeater is up and running, another one will be ordered for the 146.7 MHz (node 3867) repeater.  The heat has really taken their toll on these nodes since they are computers being stored in a building that is continuously over 100 degrees.  The new node configuration will allow them to be stored in an air conditioned environment.  This will be great news for keeping the nodes online.

We have another issue that we are trying to decide how to do. We constantly get requests to leave the nodes on the Insomniac Net that starts at 1:00 AM.  The problem with that is that we don’t have any control operators that are online at that time.  We would love to leave it on during this time but without a control operator, there is no way to ensure proper operation and that someone can answer the IRLP reflector cops when they come complaining to us about our system pulsing, improper operation, etc.  We have a couple scenarios that we can use.

We can solicit control operators that would be willing to keep a watchful eye (ear) on the repeaters during the over night hours, or we can make the system only usable to those that request a code.  Each person would be assigned a special code that only they have so that when we look at the log later, we can see who was using it at that time so we can educate them on whatever issues that caused us to be blocked from the reflector.  That user would connect to the reflector using their codes. When they are done using the node, they disconnect and it is offline until someone else uses it.  That user would assume the responsibility of being the control operator while under their use.  It is something we will be discussing in the coming days as both options could work quite well.

If you have any opinions on this, or other suggestions, by all means, let us know and we can use them.  Our repeaters are offline for one of two reasons.  Either the heat or cold is just too much for the computers to be exposed or we do not have a control operator that can monitor it.  You may wonder why we need a control operator, or baby sitter.  We’ve often thought the same thing except that occasionally, at least once a month, our nodes are blocked from one or more of the reflectors.  This is not a big deal as all nodes get blocked from time to time.  Intermod, weak users causing static, courtesy tones, improper ham radio etiquette are among the reasons that a node may get blocked. Even the creator of IRLP, Dave Cameron, VE7LTD, has been blocked many times.  It is  not personal and so we do not take it personal when it happens.

When  it is blocked, however, we receive an email stating the reason that it was blocked and a statement telling us that we have to answer it, to get unblocked.  For example, we tell them that we had a user that was so weak that they could not get into the node and so all is heard is occasional static.  We tell them that we told the user (assuming we know who it was) to either use a better radio/antenna or not get on the reflector.  That is usually sufficient to appease them and unblock us. Where the baby sitter comes is when we answer them, we are always met with a response that they called node 8440 many times to respond and no one answered.  They tell us that if we are going to connect to a reflector, we need a control operator that can monitor for proper behavior.

Rarely do we have issues that require such a strong hand that we block someone.  Most of the time, it is just someone with a weak signal that cannot be heard and as such, we cannot identify who it is.  If you have any ideas other than what we are proposing, let us know either on Facebook or respond directly to this blog.

Paul, K5GLH

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