Basic Repeater Use Guidelines

The K9WRA system is owned and maintained by the Woodford Repeater Association.  The system is open to all Amateur Radio operators providing they practice  good repeater etiquette. 

The Repeaters are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and the users of our repeaters MUST comply with ALL FCC mandated rules and regulations. Repeaters are part of amateur radio, and ham radio is a hobby and should be FUN, however, common sense requires that some basic guidelines be followed.

 

Remember, repeaters are not a direct line. They are a “party line” over which your words are heard from Rockford IL area , and from Princeton IL  to Lincoln IL on the K9WRA Linked repeater system.  Other hams, governmental and local agencies, as well as TV and radio stations monitor our frequencies. Your comments are a reflection of you as a person and of ham radio in general.

 

IN ADDITION to the FCC Regulations, there are basic operating procedures that help to optimize the use of the repeaters and to promote a positive experience for all users.

 

While not all-inclusive, the following procedures establish a baseline for all repeater users to follow. If you follow these few guidelines, you will be acting as a responsible member of the amateur community, and you will have a pleasant digital and analog experience!!

 

Program your radio correctly:To use the repeaters sponsored by the Woodford Repeater Association, please program in a 103.5 PL tone for the VHF repeater and please program in it as CTCSS as that way  no one will hear the digital hash if the repeater is being used on Digital mode. For the UHF repeater please program Digital Coded Squelch (DCS) code 464.   Also please turn on the “Busy Lockout” feature in your radio. This will prevent you from doubling with someone else.

 

Leave Pauses:

System Fusion Digital and repeater linking is a different animal than normal analog. DO NOT Quick key!! It is a good practice to count to 2 or 3  between transmissions. This give others a chance to join in or announce there presence and let the linking drop before keying up again.  On our  repeater system we have no courtesy tone so you must wait for the repeater to completely drop and pause 2-3 seconds to unkey all the links , otherwise  it will time out the repeaters.  Please pause  between keyups 

 

Listen Before You Talk:

When preparing to use the repeater, be sure to listen before you press the PTT. Please remember to key your microphone and pause for a second or two to insure that ALL the links come up and your transmission is not cut off at the beginning. When you turn on your rig, check your volume setting to be sure you can hear any activity on the repeater. It is also good practice to ask if the repeater is in use, there may be a net in progress or someone may be waiting for another party to respond or return to the air shortly. Simply ask, “Is the repeater in use? This is <your callsign>”.

 

If you hear 2 people having a conversation and you do not have anything to specifically add about the subject. Please wait until they are  wrapping up or they move to a topic  that you can jump in about.  There are many many listeners of our system the do not jump in every time they hear someone on the radio.  

 

With the proliferation of dual band/dual display radios, be sure you are set up to transmit on the desired band and/or frequency.

Station Identification:

All stations should identify themselves using their FCC assigned callsign upon:

Initially transmitting on the repeater (strongly suggested);

Every ten minutes thereafter (not required if  the repeater is in digital output modes your radio identifies you but it is still a good habit);

When they end their conversation or “sign off” (required).

 

In addition, when operating in a net or “roundtable” your callsign should be announced more frequently if needed to facilitate efficient communication.

 

Any transmission on the repeater which is not either indicating you are listening, or calling another station or stations before communication is established is considered “Broadcasting” and is not allowed on Amateur Radio and on the repeater.

 

When initially coming on a repeater, (which is not previously in use verified by LISTENING for a reasonable time or, if you’re not sure ask, “Is the repeater in use?” PRIOR to transmitting), it is only necessary to announce your call. If you would like to solicit a conversation, you can announce your presence on the repeater by stating, “<your callsign> listening” 1 time. It is not needed or necessary to ounce your call several times in a short period of time. If you respond to some one announcing your call and hear nothing back , do not take offense to that  as maybe the station was a mobile station and he/she is now out of range or maybe he got  busy or  got a APRS message  or other type of ham message and is communicating in a different way and is now not available for a call. 

Testing:

To test repeater access, DON’T just kerchunk the repeater without identifying!  Instead, use the term “testing”. Example: "<your callsign> testing".

 

If you want a signal report from another amateur, state that in plain English. Example: “This is <your callsign>, can someone give me a signal report?”

Do not use the repeater frequency to check antenna SWR or to do other equipment checks. Move to simplex if possible and use a dummy load.

 

Demonstrations:

From time to time, an amateur may want to demonstrate the capabilities of amateur radio to another non-amateur. The typical way to do this is to ask for a "demo" such as, "<Your Call sign> for a demonstration." Anyone who is listening to the repeater can answer them back. If you answer such a call, give the calling party your name, callsign, and location, not a lengthy conversation. Someone doing a demo may ask for stations in a particular area to show the range of amateur radio communications, such as, if the calling station is in Torrington, CT, they may ask for any stations in theHartford area, which is more interesting than demonstrating that they can talk to someone in the same town as they are in.

 

Making a Call:

If you are trying to contact a specific station, you should announce, … "<Callsign of station being called> - this is - <your callsign>". Your callsign is stated AFTER the station you want to call.  If you do not get an answer after a couple calls, announce “<your callsign> - clear”. This lets everyone else listening know that you have released the repeater for others to use.

 

If the repeater is already in use, please wait for a pause between transmissions to announce your call. If you want to contact another station not in the current conversation, ask if you can make a call in plain English. Simply announce Call Please or state, “<your callsign> for a call”.

 

Make your call when the parties using the repeater turn the repeater over to you. If you contact the party you are seeking, turn the repeater back to the person who turned it over to you, thank them for letting you in, and move to another frequency to hold your conversation no matter how short you think it might take.

 

If you do not get a response from the party you are seeking, turn the repeater back to the person who turned it over to you, and thank them for letting you in.

 

When a new station enters the roundtable, those stations using the repeater, and the next station in rotation should acknowledge the new station AND turn it over to them, or let them know what their place is in the rotation. Also indicate who they should turn it over to in order to keep the rotation intact. Remember to give your name as a matter of introduction so everyone becomes familiar with you!

 

When in a roundtable discussion make it a practice to turn the repeater over to the next party in the conversation. Don’t assume everyone will remember when it is their turn. Not turning it over can cause confusion and instigates double-keying which does not play well in the digital world or repeater linking world.

 

When you hear some one making a call to  a specific station it is not polite to  jump in and put your callsign out.  Please be kind and let the calling station attempt to  make contact to his/her specific station before putting your call out on the air saying you are listening.

 

Emergency Net situations:

When the repeater is running a Emergency Net  of  any type of net,  all traffic will go through a net controller and all normal amateur use will be suspended until the end of the net.  During this time the Internet linking may be off to insure we do not get any accidental key up’s  Emergency  traffic will always take priority on our system. 

Interjecting a Comment:

If listening to a conversation and you want to make a “comment” you should come into the conversation between transmissions by first identifying with your call sign and then state your intention. Example: “<your callsign> with a comment”. If you are not able to join in the conversation due to time or other constraints, make your comment when the participants turn it over to you, sign out, and turn the repeater back to the individual who turned it over to you or to the next person in the rotation, depending upon circumstance. Remember to thank the participants for letting you in, and remember to clear with your callsign.

Being a courteous ‘guest’:

Whenever you use a repeater that belongs to a group to which you are not a member, or belongs to an individual and you do not support the repeater (especially when you are traveling in an area not frequented), it is always common courtesy to thank the group for allowing you to use the system, similar to what you would do if you borrowed someone’s cell phone to make a call. Simply state, “This is <your callsign> clear – Thank you for the use of the repeater” when signing off. It is likely that no one will say “your welcome”, but rest assured that someone heard you, and accepted your gratitude.

 

If you frequently use a repeater, it is courteous to join the organization that is responsible for maintaining the system, or in the case of a system under single party ownership, asking the owner if he accepts donations towards the upkeep of the system. Repeaters are expensive to maintain, and keeping them on the air and running efficiently takes a lot of time and capital. Even if a repeater is considered “open”, that does not make it a public utility- your support is important.

 

A guest is considered to be someone who uses a system on an infrequent basis. The term guest has its limits however…. If your mother in law asked you if she could stay at your house for a while, and proceeded to stay for several months, at what point would the term ‘guest’ no longer apply? The same rationale applies to the use of a repeater!

 

Admit to Your Mistakes!

Accidents are bound to happen – you may inadvertently transmit into an ongoing conversation because you forgot one of the points above. The best way to handle this is to apologize for your error! Be a responsible adult- you will gain more respect through your regret, in spite of your mistake!

 

When the Repeater is in Digital mode.

Our repeaters are a Yaesu system fusion.  What does that mean?  It means the repeater is capable of either doing fusion digital or analog at any given time.  If you hear digital hash on your radio and want to get into a conversation wait for a break in the hash and throw out your call sign.  This will switch the repeater over to analog and everyone digital  radio.  If for some reason some one doesn’t come back to you that probably means they are doing data transfer and you will have to wait until they are doing doing data transfer’s before you can use the repeater.  The good rule of thumb would be if you d do not hear anything for  15-30 seconds. 

Proper and legal operating etiquette is 95% common sense. 

 

The FCC requires the Control Operators to monitor the repeaters to insure compliance with the rules. We would not like to hear illegal or sloppy operating habits on our repeaters, because such problems could cause FCC actions against us. We should all be mindful of our operating procedures- Newer users of the repeater will copy our poor practices, purely out of the ignorance of proper procedures, and likely will add their own errant ways into the mix. Let’s avoid this downward spiral!

 

The K9WRA  Trustee and Control Operators have the right and the duty to shut the repeater down should a warning of an FCC rule violation go unheeded. Remember that they have the responsibility of preserving the trustee’s license and any activity on the repeater results in the de-facto involvement of the trustee. As the trustee of the K9wra repeater system we want to make everyone’s time is very enjoyable on the air.  Like it says above  Proper and legal operating etiquette is 95% common sense.

1. Pause between transmissions 2-3 sec’s

2. Be mindful that you are representing our club in a vary large geographical area since our repeaters are linked.

3. No foul or negative language allowed on the repeater.

 

 

 

 

If anyone  has any questions  or complaints on activity that  has been heard on the air, please contact  Bradley Haney at wcra@mtco.com  or by cell phone at 309-922-4074

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