The Utah VHF Society

"So, you want to put up a repeater?"
"I have a lot of time to kill and a big wad of cash burning a hole in my wallet..."

Ok.  Somehow you've gotten to the point of deciding that you want to put up a repeater.  At the moment of this realization, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. Am I crazy?
  2. Was I dropped on my head when I was really young?
How a coordination happens:

Here are the steps typically required to obtain repeater coordination:

  1. A potential repeater trustee decides that there is a need for a repeater in a particular location to fill a yet-unfilled requirement for service and/or coverage.
  2. Read this document, the  Policies of the Frequency Coordinator, the  Frequency Coordination FAQ, and the  Frequency Coordination Form.  Preliminarily fill out the Frequency Coordination form and make note of any questions that this might bring up.
  3. Contact the frequency coordinator informally via telephone or email and explain your needs.  Remember that the Frequency Coordinator is charged with coordinating frequencies so that they will do the most good - and it is possible that your idea, while it might be sound, may be asking too much of limited resources.
  4. This first contact with the frequency coordinator may reveal that your original idea was or was not practical and you may need to revise your plans.
  5. If you are able to derive a plan that will fit within available resources, you may then submit the completed Frequency Coordination Form and sign and mail it to the frequency coordinator.  While email submissions are permitted for minor updates and informal notifications, a paper trail (with real paper!) is an invaluable resource should some (unforeseen!) issue arise in the future.
  6. Remember:  While you may make suggestions of frequencies that you might operate on, it is the frequency coordinator that makes the final determination.  The frequency coordinator has an extensive database and relies on this information and experience to determine a suitable frequency/location combination.  It is entirely possible that nothing is available for your needs (as is the likely case of 2 meters along the Wasatch Front.)

After answering these questions to your satisfaction (or simply ignoring them and thereby proving that there may be something to them...) there are several other questions that you need to ask.

Before going further, let me state a few simple facts: In short, if there is a group or individual that can put up a repeater/system that will genuinely benefit the ham community (i.e. provide or improve a service or further the state-of-the art) he/she is often prevented from doing so by a number of mediocre or poor repeaters tying up frequencies.

Now don't go away assuming that the answer to a frequency coordination request will automatically be no.  Think carefully about what it is that you are trying to accomplish.  Quite frankly, if you want to put up a 2 meter repeater at your house with an autopatch on it for your personal use, you should really ask yourself if this is a good use of (already tight) resources!

If your intents are really altruistic (i.e. you genuinely wish to help the amateur community by providing a genuinely valuable service, cover an area that isn't already covered well, demonstrate a new aspect of the communications technology, or something else that dovetails nicely into the basis and purpose of amateur radio) then there are numerous groups and individuals that already have their repeaters on the air.  You may be able to offer your help or expertise to improve that system.  It may be possible that you have identified a repeater that, well, "needs help."  In this case, befriending the owner/operator of that system may prove productive

Assuming that you can justify (to yourself and the ham community at large) the need for yet another repeater, it needs to be coordinated.  First, read the Frequency Coordination FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.  Then, read it again.  Then make sure you read the frequency coordination policies page.  It is on this latter page that the bulk of this document is based.

The frequency coordinator is your friend!

Putting up even a "low-budget" repeater is time-consuming and can still be fairly expensive, so before you start spending much time or money on a repeater or the equipment, please contact the repeater coordinator to determine if what you propose is practical!  One of the worst things that can happen - and it happens too frequently - is that someone buys the gear for a repeater somewhere and, having spent the time and money, finds out that it's not going to work out - perhaps because there's no frequency available, the location that was planned for the repeater (say, the house) is just not very good - or, perhaps too good for "local" coverage, or because of some other technical issue that a first-time repeater owner may not have been able to foresee!

PLEASE work with the frequency coordinator to learn the "ins and outs" before you spend the money and time!  If your proposed repeater turns out to be practical, there's a good chance that the coordinator can offer advice that would improve the repeater's performance and even save you money on the equipment when you do buy it!

In the process of supplying coordination information there may be some aspects/parameters with which you may not be familiar or need help in determining:  Again, the coordinator is there to help you!

Supplying Coordination Information:

    In order to make an informed decision, both you and the coordinator must have complete and accurate information.  Here is an overview on a point-by-point basis:

    If you request a frequency, you had better have done your due diligence to make sure that this frequency and the proposed location of the repeater are compatible with other systems.  Again, the frequency coordinator is under no obligation to coordinate to you the specific frequency that you request.         Frequency sharing is encouraged by the Frequency Coordinator.  However, frequency sharing will be done only where it makes technical sense and there is agreement (in writing!) from all parties involved.  It should also be remembered that the earlier coordination on the frequency has seniority and will be given first consideration should problems arise. This three-month period is intended to prevent people from getting a coordinated frequency and then sitting on it, doing nothing. Consider it to be an incentive to action and getting the repeater on the air.     This simply means that, in spite of every precaution and all research done, just because the frequency coordinator may approve the coordination, it does not mean that everything is guaranteed to be perfect.  Occasionally, there is a hitherto unknown interference issue with another system.  It is on this point that thorough research on the part of the person asking for the coordination and the experience of the coordinator can make the difference between a system that will work, and one that will not.     This should be self-explanatory.  It does no one a service to try to keep the details of a repeater system secret.  If you request that the frequency coordinator do so, certain details of the proposed system (such as link frequencies, subaudible tone frequencies, system topologies, etc.) may be kept confidential, provided that it is appropriate to do so.  (This may be particularly true in some circumstances, especially where certain negotiations - such as site agreements - may be jeopardized by their being made public prior to their finalization.)     All frequency coordinations are based on the information supplied at the time of the coordination.  If, say, a certain frequency is coordinated for a foothill location (one that sees a valley, but is not on top of a mountain) then that particular frequency may not be suitable for use on a mountaintop, owing to possible interference issues.  In situations where there is geographical frequency re-use, the use of directional antennas or a site with limited coverage may be dictated (according to arrangement with the frequency coordinator and the other parties with which the frequency is being shared) to minimize interference.  While these factors may reduce coverage area, it may be necessary if you wish to have any coverage at all.     Again, most of these are self-explanatory, but if you have questions on any of these points, please contact the frequency coordinator for help.  Since the coordination is based on the use of that frequency in that location with that equipment, changing that (whatever that is...) will affect its operation (and possibly the operations of other systems.)  Additionally, keeping the Frequency Coordinator apprised of changes allows the coordinator to be an effective clearinghouse for information, and to spot potential problems before they happen.     If your repeater system goes off the air for any reason, it is your responsibility to establish a paper trail to explain what happened, and when (or if) the system will go back on the air.  This is another procedure to help keep "paper" repeaters from tying up frequencies.  Extended outages of repeaters here in the west are, unfortunately, somewhat common owing to the inaccessibility of some sites during the winter months.  The frequency coordinator will consider these extenuating circumstances as appropriate.
While every attempt has been made to make this page as informative and clear as possible, it is likely that something was overlooked.  In matters of policy, the ultimate authority is a document called The Policies of the Frequency Coordinator and its interpretation by the frequency coordinator, not this document.

You may obtain a copy of the Frequency Coordination form by following this link.

Some of your questions may be answered on the  Frequency Coordination FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page.

Questions, updates, or comments pertaining to this web page may be directed to:

Go to the  Frequency Coordination Policies page or the Utah VHF Society home page.

This page was last updated on 20121221