Repeater Etiquette And Insights
Harris County Texas ARES, written by David Underwood, WB5HJV
and Linda Kangas, W5LDK in collaboration with
Wayne Wright, KA5QDG and Lance Rumfield, WD5X
Technical repeater insights
- Wait a second or two between keying up the repeater and starting to speak. It takes a few milliseconds for the repeater to decode the tone and make sure the tone is correct and then it keys the repeater. The beginning of your transmission will be cut off if you “quick key” the mic.
- Don’t kerchunk the repeater and assume you are hitting the repeater full quieting. Ask for a signal report.
- Know your local repeaters. Have them pre-programmed into your radio.
- Use the power required to have a good quality signal, not a marginal quality signal.
- Make sure you have the transmitter time out set. This is the maximum amount of time you can talk on the repeater without re-keying the mic. This is essential to prevent stuck mic issues.
- Make sure the APRS is turned off in your radio.
- Your radio should be set for wide band FM not narrow band FM.
- If you have a Yaesu radio, make sure the Yaesu X-WIRES is turned off. WIRES, Wide-coverage Internet Repeater Enhancement System, is an internet communication system and will cut off a transmission for a second or two.
- Be care when using any type of crossbanding. Do not try to crossband from one repeater to another using the same frequency pair. This usually results in both machines kerchunking each other until one of them times out.
- Repeaters listen on one frequency and transmit on another based on the plus or minus offset. What you are hearing when you are listening to a repeater is what is coming out of the repeater and not what is coming out of the station hitting the repeater.
- It is important to know how to listen on the repeater input frequency (Reverse). An example would be when the transmitting station does not have the proper tone set for the repeater. As an example, if you are listening on the 147.000Mhz repeater, tone of 103.5, you are:
- talking on the input frequency of 147.600MHz and
- listening on the output frequency of 147.000Mhz (Note the 600 kHz positive offset)
- To listen to the input of the repeater, you need to listen simplex on 147.600MHz. You’ll then be listening in to the same signal the repeater is hearing. Many transceivers have a ‘Rev’ button so you can dynamically switch between the two.
- Ignore malicious interference. If you hear malicious interference, it is helpful “go reverse” to listen on the repeater input frequency to help identify where the offender is located. If you can hear the offender on Reverse, they are close to your location. If others around the repeater do the same, it will localize the offender to an area.
- Please send an email to the repeater trustee, or your EC if you have information to assist our RDF (Radio Direction Finder) team.
- When the repeater’s output seems ‘noisy’, listening to the repeater output during the ‘hang time’ in an attempt to distinguish whether the repeater is noisy to you or if the other station is noisy into the repeater. Again, use Rev to see if the noise is reduced indicating that the other station is farther away from the repeater past your location.
- Be polite. No profanity. Keep your discussions family appropriate and uncontroversial.
- Listen before you transmit.
- Allow for breaks in your conversation so others may join in on the repeater usage. This especially important to allow stations with Emergency or Priority traffic access to the repeater or simplex conversation.
- Say your callsign to join a conversation on a repeater. Do not say break, that is used for priority communications.
- Acknowledge the incoming operator and allow them to pass their traffic.
- Take a general rag chew discussion to a less used, more local repeater or to simplex if possible.
- Clear the repeater for an emergency request by saying “break, break”.
- Be respectful of scheduled Nets and clear the repeater when requested.
- Maintain an awareness of repeater frequency and tone changes. When was the last time you updated your radio’s preprogrammed frequencies?
- Give true and accurate signal reports. The recommended descriptions for the VHF/UHF bands signal reports are:
- Full quieting – little or no background noise, this is the strongest signal report
- Scratchy – some scratch or noise yet the transmission can be understood
- Flutter – the signal varies between strong and weak levels
- Unreadable – a signal can be detected yet not understood
- A 5 by 9 signal report is an HF reference
- Respond to a request for a radio check.
- Speak clearly and loudly and speak across your microphone, not into it, to minimize spitting or popping sounds. Speaking too loudly can overdrive your microphone so be aware of your speech level and take cues from responders.
That concludes tonight’s training. Are there any questions, comments or suggested additions to this material?
Thanks, this is (callsign) clear to net control.