Autopatch: All you need to know

An Autopatch, one of the integral features of amateur radio, is used to facilitate the users in making free phone calls through a transceiver, which in turn is connected to a repeater. Using an Autopatch might sound overwhelming for new HAM radio users. Here is a detailed guide to become familiar with autopatch.

How does an Autopatch work?

Typically designed for short-term communication, an autopatch is meant to be used in emergency scenarios. An autopatch simply connects the ‘over-the-air’ world with a HAM repeater. Some repeaters also come with autopatches built into them.

While some repeaters have an open-autopatch that allows anyone to use it, others have a closed-autopatch that may require an access code in the form of touch-tones. If you don’t have your own repeater, then you have to join a radio club or a group that manages repeaters. An autopatch also needs to be connected with a DTMF control system.

To use autopatch, make sure that the repeater you are using is available and not currently in use. Enter the access code if required, the repeater initiates the call, and you can talk as you normally would when using HAM radio. Just remember to keep it urgent and concise.

What is the purpose of autopatch?

In case of an emergency like an accident, a natural disaster, a global, a war, or whenever you lose access to your regular telecommunication services, autopatch comes to your rescue.

Radio amateurs used autopatch to provide emergency telephone connectivity to people in the Vietnam War and the 9/11 Attacks.

Autopatch also comes in handy in situations like a road accident, when you lose your connectivity. You can then use autopatch on your radio to dial 911.

How to use autopatch (and How Not to)?

Although there is no standard procedure for accessing a HAM autopatch, there are strict guidelines that outline the autopatch operations. Any commercial use of autopatch is restricted, so if you are planning to make a business call or ordering a pizza via autopatch, then you might want to reconsider.

Any activity done via autopatch that causes unnecessary ‘frequency congestion’ is considered an abuse of the feature.

You are also required to hold a HAM Radio License in order to practice autopatch.

Final Verdict

For radio amateurs, and in situations of a crisis, the autopatch feature is a godsend. It is hard to evaluate how many lives have been saved by this feature.

If you are a radio enthusiast, or if you want to get your family prepared for the worst situation, then you must check out autopatch on your radio.

It might take some time for you to get the hang of it, but once you do, you will be well off to survive in adverse conditions. Simply access autopatch whenever you find yourself stuck and in need of help. However, make a mental note to never abuse the access. That’s it. You are now good to go and explore the autopatch.