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100% Infidel
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To all of you HAMS out there- how about posting a quick and easy guide to hitting a repeater in an emergency for noobs like myself- I have the radios and am in the process of studying for my exam, but in an emergency those of us, including myself, need to know how to make the best use of our radios.


Thanks!
 

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Get the ARRL Repeator Directory. Then look up the repeators in your area. Set your radios to their lowest power, and see which repeator you can bring up.

Also check to see if your county has a radio plan for emergincies. It is now required under the Nimms program.

In a real emergency, if the repeators are down, you may be able to make contact on the output frenquency of the repeator.

Please try this only after you get your ticket.
 

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l'Italia s'è desta
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What TJ said.

Trying it before you get your ticket could mean that you will never be allowed to get a ticket. With more amateur repeaters being counted on by Homeland Security for emergency communication, unlicensed "bumping" is being taken a lot more seriously these days..
 

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In emergencys the repeaters go down to, sometimes. The output freq. may be used or a predetermined simplex freq. and of coarse there is 146.520. It depends on the area co-ordinator or emergency manager of the area. Listen to a repeater in your county or district for info. ARES, Emegency Management and Red Cross have classes and study material to help prepare you for an emergency Here's some links that may be helpful. http://www.kyham.net/library.html ... North Carolina ARES http://www.ncarrl.org/ares/

Good Luck es 73
KF4HAY
 

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Having the correct repeater input frequency doesn't get you to first base.

MOST repeaters in this country (but not all) require a low frequency audio tone or "code" to actually key the repeater. The repeater will not work or recognize your transmission without this code programmed into your radio. There are two "code" systems in use now... CTCSS and DCS. CTCSS is the older and more common system. But DCS is starting to be used more. Older radios may not have a DCS setting and therefore will not work with a DCS coded Repeater.

So you have to program your radio for the appropriate mode and know the actual code numbers for the repeater in question. Got that? The radio must know the mode of operation (CTCSS or DCS AND the code number such as 103.5

Where do you find these modes and codes? Buy the ARRL repeater directory or you may find a list of repeaters with their specs on a local website.

Also, you need to understand that you radio has the offset programmed into it. What is an offset? Its the difference in Kilohertz between the input frequency of the repeater and the transmit frequency of the repeater. For example, in the US the frequency shift in the 144.000 MHz band will be 600 Khz. But there's more. In some parts of the band the frequency will shift up or be positive and in others with will shift down and be negative.

OK...so in addition to programming the tone modes and codes above you also have to program the radio for frequency shift and for negative or postive shift. Now MOST but not all radios have these shifts pre-programmed into their proper offsets for the frequencies in question. BUT, not all repeaters use the standard shift. Most do, but not all. How do you find out what the repeater in question uses? Again, the ARRL Repeater directory or the internet.

Finally, you also have to know that not all repeaters are open repeaters for use by the general public and also not all repeaters are intended for voice(phone) operations. Some are dedicated to digital communications.

So if this sounds like a lot legwork and programming you are right. As each of the settings must be programmed into the radio for each repeater frequency or it simply will not work. Get the offset wrong, the shift wrong, the mode wrong, or the code wrong and you will be talking to dead air.

That's MOST of what you need to know...but there are still more things that can prevent you from talking to someone else on the other end of a repeater.
 

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The ARRL used to publish and mail to new hams a great little pocket guide for getting started in ham radio. It covered repeater etiquette and other important subjects. I'll look and see if it's still available.
 

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In addition to the above information you should also be aware that various regions in the country have different Band plans. What is a band plan? It sets up a frequency range within a given frequency band for certain purposes. For example within the 144.00 MHZ band you might have 144.00-144.350 set aside for digital communications, 144.350-144.500 for Simplex (phone) communications, 144.500-144.550 for packet radio etc. And while you won't break the law by using Simplex in the portion of the band set aside for digital communications it also means the likelihood of someone listening for an emergency voice call is smaller as few people will be monitoring that part of the band for phone communications. So it would also be helpful to know the band plan for your region. How do you find the band plan? Internet. ARRL, QRZ.com etc.
 

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One piece of advice to add to this thread is you should find yourself an "elmer." An Elmer is a ham who helps you through your days as a novice ham. Generally you can find them in any radio club. They won't need a sign that says "elmer" either. You'll find them or they will find you, typically. An elmer can be the difference in frying your first radio or making your radio work wonders.
 

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Having the correct repeater input frequency doesn't get you to first base.

MOST repeaters in this country (but not all) require a low frequency audio tone or "code" to actually key the repeater. The repeater will not work or recognize your transmission without this code programmed into your radio. There are two "code" systems in use now... CTCSS and DCS. CTCSS is the older and more common system. But DCS is starting to be used more. Older radios may not have a DCS setting and therefore will not work with a DCS coded Repeater.

So you have to program your radio for the appropriate mode and know the actual code numbers for the repeater in question.

Big Bird, that's a very good explanation of repeater shifts and CTCSS/DCS code frequencies. But do you really think that most repeaters require codes? I live in the Knoxville area of east Tennessee and very few of the repeaters around here require codes. Granted, there are more UHF repeaters coming online all the time, so I'm not able to speak to those, but most of the repeaters that are well-known and well-used around here do not require any code. Are we just that different than everyone else? Maybe we just don't have the sheer volume of traffic that some areas have. :dunno:


Rick
K4AMT
 

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Big Bird, that's a very good explanation of repeater shifts and CTCSS/DCS code frequencies. But do you really think that most repeaters require codes? I live in the Knoxville area of east Tennessee and very few of the repeaters around here require codes. Granted, there are more UHF repeaters coming online all the time, so I'm not able to speak to those, but most of the repeaters that are well-known and well-used around here do not require any code. Are we just that different than everyone else? Maybe we just don't have the sheer volume of traffic that some areas have. :dunno:
It used to be the rule that Metro Areas = Tone, Rural Areas = No Tone. This shift has changed quite a bit. I live in a VERY rural area and only about 15% of the repeaters don't require CTCSS. I haven't run across any requiring DCS. When I travel around North America, about the only time a tone isn't required is on a very old repeater that is fortunate to have no interference.
 

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Big Bird, that's a very good explanation of repeater shifts and CTCSS/DCS code frequencies. But do you really think that most repeaters require codes? I live in the Knoxville area of east Tennessee and very few of the repeaters around here require codes. Granted, there are more UHF repeaters coming online all the time, so I'm not able to speak to those, but most of the repeaters that are well-known and well-used around here do not require any code. Are we just that different than everyone else? Maybe we just don't have the sheer volume of traffic that some areas have. :dunno:


Rick
K4AMT
It depends. I was looking in the ARRL Repeater directory tonight and it seems like 95% of the repeaters in California require a DCS or CTCSS code. Go to Colorado and only about half the repeaters require codes. But if I were to guess--just looking at the Repeater directory and "eyeballing" it I'd say fully 60% of the repeaters in the directory require a tone. Not a definitive number--just my rough estimate based on looking at the guide for 10 minutes.
The trend also seems to be, as pointed out above, that rural repeaters trend not to use a tone while repeaters around major population densities tend to use tones.
 

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I guess we're just lucky here. There's one that every now and then, for whatever reason, has a tone put on it. It's always a hassle to put it in and then take it back out when the tone goes away. I guess that's another reason I'm glad I no longer live in Kalifornia.

:cool:

Rick
 

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Some Repeaters require tone and code squelch, It all depends on who's set it up. Some even require a DTMF burst on keyup.

You can leave the tone turned on in your radio all the time, if the tone access in the repeater is on, it'll work, and if someone turns off tone access, you still get in just fine.

I personally can't stand non toned repeaters, any sort of interference trips them off. Ever hear a squelch burst from a police radio catching stray RF? That's because they run PL.
 

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You can leave the tone turned on in your radio all the time, if the tone access in the repeater is on, it'll work, and if someone turns off tone access, you still get in just fine.

I wasn't aware of that. That's good to know. Thanks for the info!

(But as I think about it, it does make sense. I had just never thought about it before.)


Rick
 

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I wasn't aware of that. That's good to know. Thanks for the info!

(But as I think about it, it does make sense. I had just never thought about it before.)


Rick
That's only true if the tone PL code is the same on all the repeaters and generally they are not. If the code is different it won't key the repeater.
 

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That's only true if the tone PL code is the same on all the repeaters and generally they are not. If the code is different it won't key the repeater.
Sometimes you get lucky. If the coordination entity in your area also coordinates the PL tones that repeater operators must use, you can easily take advantage of that little trick. I have lived in areas where repeaters "standardize" on a PL tone. For example, local public service repeaters use a PL of 179.9, so all the repeaters on the ham bands use 136.5. The most common tones I see are 100 and 88.5, though 136.5, 127.3, and 123 are also quite popular. I have never see a repeater use DCS (Digitally Coded Squelch) though many popular ham radios support it nowadays. All my HT's do and I have never used it for anything other than messing around on Simplex without a repeater.

I leave tone turned off unless I am turning to a frequency in which a repeater requires it. Of course, near my home, all the repeaters are programmed into the radio's memory so I never worry about it.
 

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That's only true if the tone PL code is the same on all the repeaters and generally they are not. If the code is different it won't key the repeater.
Your radio only has one tone for all the memories?

Mine takes a separate tone for every memory entry.
 

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Having the correct repeater input frequency doesn't get you to first base.

MOST repeaters in this country (but not all) require a low frequency audio tone or "code" to actually key the repeater. The repeater will not work or recognize your transmission without this code programmed into your radio. There are two "code" systems in use now... CTCSS and DCS. CTCSS is the older and more common system. But DCS is starting to be used more. Older radios may not have a DCS setting and therefore will not work with a DCS coded Repeater.

So you have to program your radio for the appropriate mode and know the actual code numbers for the repeater in question. Got that? The radio must know the mode of operation (CTCSS or DCS AND the code number such as 103.5

Where do you find these modes and codes? Buy the ARRL repeater directory or you may find a list of repeaters with their specs on a local website.

Also, you need to understand that you radio has the offset programmed into it. What is an offset? Its the difference in Kilohertz between the input frequency of the repeater and the transmit frequency of the repeater. For example, in the US the frequency shift in the 144.000 MHz band will be 600 Khz. But there's more. In some parts of the band the frequency will shift up or be positive and in others with will shift down and be negative.

OK...so in addition to programming the tone modes and codes above you also have to program the radio for frequency shift and for negative or postive shift. Now MOST but not all radios have these shifts pre-programmed into their proper offsets for the frequencies in question. BUT, not all repeaters use the standard shift. Most do, but not all. How do you find out what the repeater in question uses? Again, the ARRL Repeater directory or the internet.

Finally, you also have to know that not all repeaters are open repeaters for use by the general public and also not all repeaters are intended for voice(phone) operations. Some are dedicated to digital communications.

So if this sounds like a lot legwork and programming you are right. As each of the settings must be programmed into the radio for each repeater frequency or it simply will not work. Get the offset wrong, the shift wrong, the mode wrong, or the code wrong and you will be talking to dead air.

That's MOST of what you need to know...but there are still more things that can prevent you from talking to someone else on the other end of a repeater.


This is an excellent review of Repeaters! W0zbm
 
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