WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REPEATER AND
AN AUXILIARY STATION
By Gary Hendrickson W3DTN
What is the difference between a repeater station and a an auxiliary station ? What is a “Remote Base”? This is a good question, which unfortunately has a very complicated answer - I hope the information presented here will help.
The simple, basic difference between a "repeater" and an "auxiliary"station is that a repeater, at the very basic level, is an open station which the FCC Rules say is available for ANY other amateur licensee to use (ignoring any usage limits or access codes imposed by the sponsor). Repeater transmitting frequencies are limited to appropriate segments of the 29 Mhz and higher frequency bands (97.205(b)).
"Auxiliary" station operation is an inherently CLOSED operation. There are several forms of auxiliary operation, which encompass a number of activities, such as:
1. Remote control of a station - i.e., sending some form of signals,
such as touch-tone, to another station to change its operating
parameters, turn it off or on, change frequencies, power, rotate
antennas, etc. Note that this is considered to be a form in "primary"
control of the station, or control of those parameters for which the
licensee and/or any other control operators are responsible. This does
not include "secondary" control functions, such as those used by
"users" of a repeater, i.e., to access an auto-patch, etc.
2. Voice links between two or more stations within a SYSTEM of
stations, such as;
a. Point-to-point links from a repeater's remote receiver(s) back to
the main repeater transmitter (here, the repeater transmitter and its
associated remote receivers, link transmitters, and any associated
remote control operations, constitute the "system");
b. Point-to-point links between different repeaters, in an effort to
"link" the repeaters together, either on a full-time, or a part-time
basis such as a linked repeater "system";
c. Combination remote-control and voice point-to-point links intended
to control and carry the voice signals to a remote-controlled station
(the latter is the equivalent of replacing the microphone wire between
the mike and the transmitter with a radio link from the mike to a
remotely located transmitter);
d. Point-to-point link from the receiver of a remotely located
station back to the control point (the equivalent of replacing the wire
between the receiver and its loudspeaker with a radio link from the
receiver to a remotely located loudspeaker).
"Auxiliary" station operation is limited to appropriate segments of the 222 Mhz and higher frequency bands (97..201(b)).
Note that the combination of items "2-c" and "2-d", above, form the basics of a remotely-controlled Amateur Radio station - a "Remote Base". Again, all of the combinations of stations shown in "2-a" thru "2-d" form a closed "system" of stations.
Now comes the complications.
Where a repeater is concerned, "users" don't need to send any sort of primary control signals in order to use the repeater, and anyone can be a user. These users transmit and receive on the repeater's input and output freqeuncies, which can be in appropriate segments of the 29 Mhz
and higher frequency bands. The "control operator(s)" for a radio remotely-controlled repeater must effect any type of primary "control" of the repeater by a form of "auxiliary" operation above 222 Mhz, as described in "1", above.
Where a "remote base" (RB) is concerned, since all "users" are conducting a form of "auxiliary" operation to remotely turn the Remote Base on and off, etc., the licensees of these auxiliary stations ARE control operators for the remote station, and they must conduct all operations on authorized "auxiliary" frequencies above 222 Mhz. All of these "control" stations for the remote base are a part of the "system".
One way of looking at a “remote base” is to first look at your own home station. If you allow any other Amateur to walk into your house and operate your station while you aren't around, then HE IS the control operator for your station. Now, with the Remote Base, he is still using your station only he is now doing it by remote control. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS AN "OPEN" REMOTE BASE - ALL users must be authorized by the licensee as designated control operators (just as only authorized licensees may be control operators for the station in your home) and they may only conduct the operation of the remotely-controlled station via a form of auxiliary operation.
Now if you look at the FCC Rules regarding the frequencies available for the different types of station operation, you will conclude that there is no such thing as a legal "remote base" using any portion of the 2 Meter band. These "things" that go from 2 Meters to 10 meters can only be called "repeaters", and they are only legal if BOTH ends are within authorized repeater segments of both bands. Likewise, there is no such thing as a legal 2 Meter to 75 Meter "remote base" - since the auxiliary operation MUST be above 222 Mhz.
There is no FCC Rule which prohibits a remotely-controlled station (a "remote base") from operating on any frequency within the 2 Meter band (including repeater input and/or output frequencies, SSB at the bottom end of the band, etc.) so long as the control and voice links are above 222 Mhz. And there is no Rule which prohibits setting up a repeater from some 2 Meter simplex frequency to 52.525 Mhz, so long as the frequency used on 2 Meters is within the authorized repeater sub-bands - but it is a "repeater", not a remote base!
By the way, ALL repeaters are confined to the authorized segments of the bands, including balloon-born repeaters, temporary or portable repeaters, etc. I've read of repeaters on high-altitude balloons which used frequencies which were not within the authorized portions of the 2 Meter band - these are illegal.
Well, I hope this information is helpful. If I can help further with understanding of this complicated subject, please let me know.
Published by permission of Gary Hendrickson W3DTN 12/1/95
INFO: Gary Hendrickson is an FCC employee, who was originally responsible for processing the applications for amateur radio repeater stations when the FCC first started licensing such station in the early 1980s (when the WR calls were originally issued).