Saturday, July 30, 2005

 

Amateur Radio Autopatch Future, Work Update, and Plans

I've been assisting in getting our autopatch working again at my radio club's repeater site. The design is good, but 15 years old. I'm thinking about putting a team of people together to redesign the autopatch based around a PIC microcontroller.

I'm very interested in hearing from anyone that has worked on autopatch hardware, software, or protocol/feature set design.

The autopatch is used by a regular crowd of people. The system is set up to where you must register, and receive a personal identification number. The control is distributed.

Going forward, terrestrial cellular service will continue to be the first line of communication for many people, myself included. However, reading recent articles about packet radio and the need for strides forward in that arena got me to thinking about the resource of the autopatch. Having a radio link into the telephone service isn't a bad thing, especially when cellular networks don't operate terribly well under heavy loads. The way that most cellular networks are designed, failures during emergencies remain common enough to be predictable.

Now, if the cellular service was indeed bulletproof, would it still make sense to keep an autopatch up and running? My instinct is yes, that it would be good, if only to provide an area of interest and training for people that want to learn more about the phone system, and the challenges of interfacing several systems together. I would love to hear other peoples' thoughts on autopatch technology and the future of autopatch systems.

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