System Usage Guidelines  

Imagine these scenarios:


You are on the highway and you witness an auto collision with major injuries.  Cell phone coverage in the immediate area is spotty, at best.  You turn on your FM mobile to the SEWFARS VHF repeater and it is in use. Sixty seconds pass.  The same person is talking about the same subject in the same transmission. Thirty minutes pass.  The same two people are still conversing, but on a different subject. Ninety minutes pass.  The same two people are still conversing, but on another subject. Want to know what happened with the collision?  A bystander was able to get help by driving a quarter mile further from the accident scene and calling 9-1-1.


You are demonstrating the many facets of Amateur Radio to a group of guests at your home.  You tune in on the SEWFARS VHF repeater and two people are discussing the facets of a demographic of the population. Some of this conversation gets a little "off-color" and in some instances becomes rather poignant and slanted.  You turn off the radio and a guest mumbles, “what is so great about that?  I can listen to that junk on the car radio.  What a bunch of idiots.”


A question to ask:  can these situations happen?  The answer is, “yes, it can.”  Believe it or not, the above situations have happened at some point in time on the SEWFARS repeaters.


SEWFARS has experienced its share of bumps in the road with respect to questionable and inappropriate activities on their repeaters.  In the past, the SEWFARS officers had done their very best to enforce the rules and to provide a pleasurable environment to the users of the resources owned by SEWFARS.  This was met with disrespect, and in some cases outright abuse of not only the repeater systems owned by SEWFARS, but of the people who work hard to keep those systems operating.


SEWFARS does not have problems with its users the majority of the time.  While most of the incidents encountered have been docile by nature, there have been several instances where common sense was not used.  On the other hand, the guidance that SEWFARS has provided over the years has been sporadic and rather subjective.  It is difficult for users to follow the expectations if they are not known.


Bill Joy, Founder of Sun Microsystems, said at one time:

“we have to encourage the future we want rather than try(ing) to prevent the future we fear.”


It was with this in mind that SEWFARS developed its guidelines documentation in 2004.  The main document used for specifying these guidelines is the SEWFARS Code of Conduct.  A copy is available here.


People may be asking, “is this legal?”  “Can we tell people to stay off our repeaters?”  “Can we tell people how to act when using our repeaters?”  The answer to all of these questions is YES.  Regulation 97.205 states that repeater owners can limit the availability of their repeaters. There are several entries in the FCC enforcement log that support this premise.  Repeater owners do not own the airwaves, but they own the equipment used on those airwaves.  Coordination with the Wisconsin Association of Repeaters (WAR) further enhances interference mitigation.  If a user (it does not matter if they are a member or a guest) does something that is objectionable to the owners of the repeater and the owners ask or tell them to stop, they have to stop or additional action can be levied on the user.


SEWFARS repeater systems have the reputation of being one of the best to rely on and being there when they are needed.  However, people who want to come to an undisciplined environment are usually undisciplined themselves.  SEWFARS does not want to project that image nor do they want to promote it.


Enjoy the use of the repeater systems, but please be respectful and mindful of others in doing so.  If you have any questions, please contact us.