How GB7BK came about

    berkshire uhf dmr
amateur repeater

In late 2013 the first DMR repeater in the south of the U.K. became operational, which was GB7NS at Caterham in Surrey. This could be worked from parts of Reading and the surrounding area. Some amateurs obtained DMR radios and the usage of DMR increased considerably throughout 2014. The number of DMR repeaters increased dramatically especially in the Kent, Essex and London area. TVRG considered the possibility of putting on air a DMR repeater but decided to wait and see how the system evolved. At a meeting in January 2015 it was decided to put an application to OFCOM for a DMR repeater (GB7RU) located at a new site in Tilehurst, west Reading. This was to be co-sited with a new analogue 70cm repeater, GB3RU.

In April we received the go ahead for GB3RU but learnt that GB7RU had be rejected because of the frequency requested. We then suggested other frequencies but these had to all be in the same DVU frequency band. Eventually we were told that the Primary User (MOD) would not permit any frequencies to be used in the allocation used for U.K. DMR repeaters. This meant we had to look for a new site. By far the most difficult part of putting any repeater on air is to find a suitable site at an affordable price. We also had to consider that the proposed site should be sufficiently far away from MOD sites otherwise the frequency would be rejected again. This ruled out all of the town of Reading and its suburbs. Any site to the East of Reading would overlap too much with GB7WL and GB7NS. We therefore considered the existing GB3RD site on the Berkshire Downs. This wasn’t ideal as it wouldn’t cover Reading that well and we wouldn’t be able to have a high antenna because the GB3RD antenna is mounted on a pole not a mast. There could be also problems with internet access from such a remote site.

However, we decided to go-ahead and put in the application to OFCOM. We changed the callsign from GB7RU (Reading UHF) to GB7BK (Berkshire) as this was more sensible for the site which is 11 miles away from Reading.

Approval was received the repeater became operational in September 2015. Coverage was OK and more or less in line with predicted coverage map – (insert link). We obtained internet access using a 3G wireless router but this has been erratic at times. We are currently working on ways to improve this and will update the website when we have more news.