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And I thought the Florida repeater situation was bad.

So here we are in Indiana, on the cusp of having a seamless DMR repeater network that would let you talk on 70cm throughout the state and around the world.

And now there’s a spat because one group of repeater trustees are championing the Brandmeister DMR system and another group is championing the older cBridge-dependent system.  And then there’s Crossroads, but who cares; I don’t.  I was perfectly happy with the Hoosier DMR setup.  Not that I get on much, but that’s another story; I don’t really like to talk.

Anyway, each group apparently has their reasons, each group is stubborn, and each group is now locking the other group out — even from Facebook discussion groups.  At least so far as I can tell; I’ve got likes and follows on both sides of the equation and all I know is that one side snorted that the other side locked them out, and now the other side is saying the same thing about the first side, and in point of fact, the Brandmeister Indiana Statewide group has been locked out of the cBridge — so from the DMR point of view, the state is now fragmented.

The section manager was just on Facebook asking if the Brandmeister group might consider adding TG 31189, which would have the effect of knitting things back together again on the statewide side.  31189 is apparently the Crossroads statewide TG, and it’s not being blocked by the cBridge.  The Brandmeister folks are against it for a couple of different reasons — one, why ask a thousand DMR users to reprogram their radios when 3118 would be perfectly fine if the Brandmeister repeaters weren’t being blocked from the cBridge, and two, “we hate Crossroads” (essentially what one of the trustees responded to the section manager).

The section manager is at least trying to deal with the situation where there is no longer a common DMR talkgroup for the ARES statewide net.  I appreciate that he’s trying to be proactive and at least provide a workaround for the current stalemate.  But I think (and I said this earlier today in a comment to a post that has (the post I mean) apparently been taken down) that the section manager has a role to play here that only someone who represents the entire Hoosier ham community can do.  He needs to call the warring sides to the table and they need to hammer out a working agreement that benefits all hams in the state.  And I admit that this isn’t a League problem, and it’s not technically his job, but what other ham radio organization has a statewide team and leader within the Hoosier ham community?  Who else will people listen to?  (And if people hate the League, as some people do for no particular reason that they can articulate, then fine, piss off and go play in your corners, and let the adults sort this out.)

Anyway…I have only about $300 invested in DMR handhelds (one VHF, one UHF), so I’m not terribly affected at this point.  I can always sell the handhelds or repurpose them for analog.  I’m not a big repeater guy anyway.

I’ll also acknowledge that a repeater owner can do pretty much anything he damn well pleases with his repeater — leave it open, lock it down to members only, or just shut it off and sow the wind (and probably get his repeater pair repo’ed by the Repeater Council, eventually).  But with great power also comes great responsibility.  If nobody is using the repeaters, what the hell good are they?  And in this case, if I could talk to someone in Fort Wayne the other day on a DMR handheld and I can’t today, where is my value in caring whether the DMR system continues to build or falls by the wayside?

While I’m not sanguine about the chances of the DMR network staying up in a real, balls-to-the-wall emergency — particularly given that a lot of DMR repeaters seem to get their Internet bandwidth via cellular wifi modems, and certainly not via hardened copper or fiber optic lines — the fact is that a DMR statewide talkgroup was a boon to the ARES organization, which prior to the rollout was pretty much stuck with an HF net on 80 meters.  DMR had the promise of bringing a lot more people onto the net, and was doing so, until this little dustup happened a week or so ago.  And that’s why I think the section manager has a dog in this fight — a pretty important dog, too, if we are all the public servants we claim to be when we sling slogans like “When all else fails, amateur radio works.”  The radios might work, but the humans behind them may not all be on the same page.

To top it all off, damn few people are using the repeaters anymore, analog, digital, name your favorite flavor.  Do you want people to use the repeaters?  Because this isn’t how you encourage them to do that.