Most of the phone patch facilities in the Pittsburgh area areQuote:> [Moderator's Note: I have always wondered how amateur radio clubs with
> phone patches prevent non-members from using the patch. Do you add
> some sort of additional security digits in the dialing that only
> members of the club would know about? PAT]
closed to club members. There is an access and a dump code that
connects/disconnects the phone line from the repeater system. Many
parts of the country have "open" autopatches. Dialing an * gets you
dial tone and # disconnects you after you have completed your call.
Most open patches restrict toll and long distance calls and as a
matter of routine there is a control operator monitoring while the
call is in progress.
Some systems tape the audio of all calls to satisfy FCC requirements
that you log third party traffic. (Persons who talk over the air but
are not licensed amateurs.) Amateur radio phone patches (manual or
automatic) are not permitted to carry business calls and there has
been much (sometimes heated) debate in the ham community as to what
calls are legal. Most repeater owners consider calling to order a
pizza a business call and prohibit them. Clubs are very careful to
inform users that they are not offering or selling phone service and
the the money collected is used to support the operation of the entire
repeater system of which the phone patch is just another feature.
Many of the repeater controllers are now microprocessor based and
offer bells and whistles like auto-dialing. The user enters the
access code followed by a two or three digit code that calls a
preprogrammed number. Some have various police and emergency numbers
on speed dial so you only have to know the three digit code for your
area to get help. There has been a lot of talk about allowing 911 to
bring up the patch and dial either 0 for operator or 911 but so far no
one has implemented it. There are the usual problems of "who should
the 911 code call" and worries about it being abused. It wouldn't
take very many occurrences of someone mashing the PTT button and
pressing 911 then going away before the repeater owner would be
receiving a call from the local telco and emergency agencies involved.
Sad that it might happen but a fact of life.
A friend of mine who has fallen in love with the 6502 processor
and hex code built his own repeater controller. Among the other neat
features he programmed into it he gives each user of the system
her/his own access code to the autopatch and a common single digit
dump code. Each time someone makes a call the controller logs the
user number, date, time, duration, and number called on a printer.
This is probably more that you wanted to know about autopatches. :-)