Pieces of eight… or why the Tring Parrot (MB7FM) is no longer sick

When I got the 70MHz PMR set installed again just before Christmas, I remembered the MB7FM 'simplex' repeater on 70.4375MHz. The way it works is that you transmit a message, which it stores and then forwards when you stop transmitting. It will store a maximum of 120 seconds of audio. I tried to access the repeater, colloquially known as the parrot, as it repeats what you say. No luck! I assumed at the time that this was because my aerial had degraded and my signals weren't reaching Tring! Actually, it would appear that the parrot was, er, sick and off-air.

Yesterday I was tuning around 70MHz and noticed a signal on 70.4375MHz. I was delighted to find that it was the parrot and that I could hear it. I had a couple of QSOs through it, one with Andy, 2E0VPX in Leighton Buzzard and with David, G8JGO/P near Peterborough.

Interestingly, I could hear fragments of both stations directly, though it would have been impossible to make a QSO without the parrot.

Apparently the parrot was restored to service early in the New Year. If you're in the South East of the UK and have 70MHz FM, give it a go - hopefully you will make some interesting contacts through it that you wouldn't ordinarily be able to make on simplex.
Tim Kirby, G4VXE, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Oxfordshire, England. Contact him at [email protected].

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