[aprssig] Missing Digipeater

wa7skg wa7skg at wa7skg.com
Fri Feb 7 17:08:25 EST 2020

As is often the case, a bit of miscommunication has occurred. The 
third(fourth/fifth)-party information I was given was not necessarily 
accurate. I was contacted by the actual sysop of the digi. He was quite 
helpful. Turns out at the time of the last logged beacon, the radio for 
the digi gave up the ghost. A new radio has been procured and is 
scheduled for installation tomorrow. From my location (a fixed base 
station, not mobile) I actually hear very few stations directly. Almost 
every station I heard, as far as I can tell, came through that digi. 
Where I used to see over a dozen stations on my map, since the digi went 
down, I only see two or three.

However, further testing indicates I may have a problem with my system 
as, although my beacons are being reported on APRS.fi, I do not seem to 
be able to send messages to other users, nor am I able to connect to 
local BBS or Winlink nodes on other frequencies.

I can actually see the digipeater site out my window and am running 50 
watts into a Ringo Ranger antenna on the roof, so I shouldn't have a 
problem hitting or hearing it when everything is working properly.

I'm still trying to learn how to decipher the various logs I find, so 
I'm not sure what I am hearing or what is hearing me.

Thanks for all the various comments on and off list.

Michael WA7SKG

spam8mybrain wrote on 2/7/20 8:46 AM:
> Ok, let's look at some of your assumptions.
> 1. Digipeater != I-gate. Just because a station is a digipeater does not 
> mean it has Internet connectivity. In fact, the characteristics of a 
> good digipeater site (high on a mountain) tends to make it difficult to 
> get an Internet connection, so most I-gates are home stations, and very 
> few I-gates are also digipeaters. So the digipeater could be operating 
> fine, but no I-gates are operating within range to forward its packets 
> to the APRS-IS backbone.
> 2. Your station may or may not be able to communicate directly with the 
> W7SRA digipeater. Check your logs from when you were last hearing the 
> digipeater's beacons, and look at the digipeat path. Was there another 
> (fill-in) digipeater between you and the W7SRA digi? If so, is _that_ 
> digipeater still operating? Note that said fill-in digi may not do path 
> tracing, so you'll have to check if any aliases were used up, even if 
> the fill-in digi's callsign wasn't inserted into the path.
> Basically, if you were depending on a fill-in digi, and it's gone out of 
> service, it's not the wide-area digipeater's fault that you can't hear 
> it without the fill-in.
> 3. What _is_ the range and coverage of your station? Check the locations 
> of all stations you can hear directly (without digipeating) to see what 
> your coverage is? Did some building project near you recently add an 
> obstruction to your line-of-sight to the digi you were directly using 
> (without intermediate relays)?
> For example, my QTH is on the North side of a granite hill (not at the 
> top), such that I can walk up my back yard and look _down_ at my 
> 25-foot-high antennas. So I cannot see any stations to the South 
> directly, only via digipeater.
> 4. As has been said many times before, aprs.fi is _NOT_ a propagation 
> analysis tool. The APRS-IS backbone deliberately drops duplicate 
> packets, so only the first I-gate to insert a particular packet into the 
> network will have its packet path counted.
> 5. Please be nice to your fellow ham radio operators. Remember, these 
> digipeaters and I-gates are not a government-funded public service. Just 
> like voice repeaters, they are privately owned by individuals or clubs, 
> who are prohibited by law from being financially compensated for running 
> these stations (and tower rentals are _expensive_!), and have no 
> obligation to run them other than their charitable instincts towards the 
> general amateur radio community (or at least to their dues-paying club 
> membership).
> Many people who were gifting to the community in this way (or in other 
> related areas like open-source free software) have given up doing so 
> because of obnoxious users who were either abusing the resource or were 
> demanding a level of customer support one would only get from a business 
> if you were paying for a high-level support contract (and these people 
> are doing it in their spare time after their day-jobs at their own expense).
> So please be nice to the people who are allowing you to use their stations.
> Andrew, KA2DDO
> author of YAAC (one of those open-source free software packages)
> -------- Original message --------
> From: wa7skg <wa7skg at wa7skg.com>
> Date: 2/7/20 10:41 (GMT-05:00)
> To: aprssig at lists.tapr.org
> Subject: [aprssig] Missing Digipeater
> We have a prominent digipeater in our area (W7SRA) that has excellent
> coverage and most of the stations I hear are relayed through it.
> According to my logs and looking at aprs.fi, it was last active on 1/26
> at 2218L. The aprs.fi log does show one beacon on 2/6 at 0122L, but no
> other activity as best as I can tell.
> Since it went down, I now receive almost no information from anyone but
> one station a mile from me I hear direct and an occasional transient mobile.
> I believe my equipment is working properly and I believe the aprs.fi
> website is also functioning and reporting properly. I have tried
> contacting the sysop who basically said as far as he is concerned the
> digipeater is functioning properly and he will entertain no further
> communication on the subject. I received that info indirectly, as no one
> will tell me who the actual sysop is so I may contact him directly.
> I guess my question is, am I interpreting the information on aprs.fi
> correctly? Other than aprs.fi and my own base station (my mobile station
> is not operational at this time), are there any other ways to determine
> if a digipeater is functioning? If it is functioning properly, why does
> it not show up on aprs.fi?
> BTW, I am still very new to APRS and trying to figure all this out.
> Thanks for any comments or suggestions.
> Michael WA7SKG

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