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Criminal

Repeater Primer?

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Criminal, I'm not positive what you mean by "access them," but if you just mean "how do I use a repeater from my own radio," it's pretty straightforward.

 

Conventional repeaters receive on one frequency and transmit on another. When you see a listing of repeaters, the frequency they're showing is the repeater's transmit frequency (your receive freq). If you tune a modern transceiver to that frequency, it will know what the transmit frequency is (at least for 2m, 1.25m and 70cm...other bands aren't used much for repeaters) and automatically shift to the transmit frequency when you key up.

 

Older transceivers need to be told how it works, which is this: let's say you see a listing for a repeater that says it's on 147.300+. Since the standard shift for 2m is 600 kHz, this means you need to transmit on 147.900 and listen on 147.300. When people talk about "listening on the reverse" to see if they're close enough to talk simplex, that means they're listening on 147.900, in this case. EDIT: The "+" means a positive offset, which is why we added 600 kHz. Another listing would say something like 145.310-, which means you'd need to transmit on 144.710 MHz, since it's a negative offset. The positive and negative offsets are mostly standardized for groups of frequencies, so those modern transceivers already know which way to go.

 

If a repeater uses a CTCSS tone (commonly referred to as PL tone, or just PL), then your radio has to be told to include that tone when you transmit. Otherwise, the repeater won't retransmit your signal. So let's say our repeater listing is now 147.300+ 77.0, that means that your transceiver needs to transmit a 77 Hz tone. These tones are pretty much standard (always the possibility for somebody to employ something wierd, but it very rarely happens), so all the possible tone frequencies are pre-programmed into the transceiver; all you have to do is select the appropriate one.

 

Some repeaters retransmit that CTCSS tone, so you can set your transceiver to listen for it, too, and reject any signals without that tone. It's often called "Encode/Decode," since the radio will transmit the tone, and not allow the squelch to break if it doesn't receive the tone.

 

DCS is a similar concept, except it transmits a particular burst tone to "turn on" the repeat function, but the repeater doesn't require any tone throughout the transmission.

 

Most repeaters have what's called a "courtesy tone." The protocol is to wait until the courtesy tone has sounded at the end of someone else's transmission before you key up yourself. This is to give other stations the opportunity to break in. Conversely, if you're trying to break into a repeater conversation, either to participate or to ask to give someone else a call (or even to report an emergency), you should transmit in between the input carrier drop and the courtesy tone.

 

Another purpose of the courtesy tone is to indicate that the repeater's time-out timer has been reset. Most repeaters are programmed to limit transmissions to three minutes. If someone exceeds the time-out time, the repeater will automatically stop repeating until it stops receiving an input signal for a long enough period to let the timer reset (usually around 1/2 second, but it varies in both directions).

 

I believe that covers the basics, and I hope that's what you're looking for. Otherwise, I've wasted a whole lot of time icon_biggrin.gif. If there's anything else you're wondering about, just ask!

 

-----

~ Boyd

N5CTI

 

"Never ask a man where he's from. If he's from Texas, he'll tell ya soon enough. If he ain't, don't embarrass him."

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Pick up a REPEATER GUIDE from the ARRL. It has a lot of operating information in it. I highly recommend it.

 

ARRL REPEATER GUIDE

 

If you travel a lot, you might also consider this:

 

ARRL Travel Plus.

 

Hope this helps.

 

Mike. Desert_Warrior (aka KD9KC).

El Paso, Texas.

 

Citizens of this land may own guns. Not to threaten their neighbors, but to ensure themselves of liberty and freedom.

 

They are not assault weapons anymore... they are HOMELAND DEFENSE WEAPONS!

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El Oso, thanks for the detailed response. I have most of the basics but the information is useful, so no, you didn’t waste your time. icon_smile.gif I guess I just don’t get it. I know a repeater will extend the range of my handheld, but how far. More importantly, why?

1. Who will I talk to?

2. Do I have to know somebody and their call sign, then figure out what repeater is between them and me, and attempt contact though that repeater?

3. Do I just troll for someone to talk to? Are you allowed to troll through a repeater?

4. Can I make telephone calls if I don’t have cell reception? (Probably only in emergencies right?)

5. If I’m way up on a mountaintop, and I’m wondering if it was worth it to carry the HT all the way up there, can I try to hit a repeater just for the sake of finding out if I can? Do I just say my call letters and “monitoring” and wait to see if someone responds?

6. Is there a way to tell if I’m hitting the repeater without actually making contact or hearing someone else?

7. Will doing any of this get some other Hams pissed off?

 

I have most of the tech details figured out, like offset and CTCSS. I was just wondering if there was a website that explained the why along with the how, and put it all together in an easy to read package. I was hiking in a remote mountainous area here in Washington, and we had the pleasure of the company of a local S&R volunteer. He had a heavily modded VX-5R and said he could hit certain repeaters, but that they were Fire Dept or police repeaters. Next month brings the big four-oh for me and I might be getting the 7R.

 

DW, Thanks as well. Will this book answer any of these questions? Can I buy it locally or do I need to order it?

 

W7CLC

 

http://fp1.centurytel.net/Criminal_Page/

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Let's see if we can answer these in order:

 

How far? Depends on the location of the repeater. A repeater on a mountain top will have a considerable range as compared to one in the city on top of a two story brick house.

 

Generally you can depend on a 15 to 20 mile radius as reliable, however as stated above, there are repeaters that I have talked on 50 miles or more out. There are also systems such as EARS (Ohio, Indiana, etc) that link many repeaters in many states.

 

Now to the numbered ones. As you read, remember, God gave you two ears and one mouth. Hams should realize that ratio and listen a lot before talking.

 

1. Whomever you want to. Some people put there callsign out like "N9SSG listening" and wait for someone to introduce themselves. Or, you can wait till you hear someone and introduce yourself.

 

2. See above

 

3. Yes, see 1.

 

4. Yes, however there are guidelines listed in the FCC rules and the repeater owner may have further guidlines. To get access to the patch you generally need to be a member of the repeaters sponsoring club and there are less and less patches out there since cells became so cheap.

 

5. It is legal to use "N9SSG testing". However repeated use is frowned upon as is "kerchunking" and not saying anything.

 

6. Generally when you unkey you will hear a tone or, at the very least, you will hear/see a signal on your HT for a few seconds.

 

7. You can follow all the rules and will still tick off a ham somewhere. Follow the rules, treat others as you want to be treated and the rest is their problem.

 

Hope this answers your questions and doesn't put others to sleep. icon_biggrin.gif

 

Baloo - N9SSG

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I'll chime in a little here:

 

The main reason you'd use a repeater is to extend your range. how far it will extend it depends on the location and power of the repeater, your signal strength into the repeater, etc. As an example, my little 5w HT doesn't have much coverage by itself (maybe a couple of miles given the hilly terrain around portland where I live. Using the South Saddle repeater, which is in the coast range west of portland I can get coverage just about anywhere I want. According to the website of the repeater owner, it can reach from the coast in the west, to cascade locks in the east. And from Cottage Grove in the south to Chehalis Wash. in the north.

 

However, just because you're in the coverage area doesn't mean that you can 'bring up' a repeater. From my apartment I can hear the repeater with a little interference, but my signal isn't strong enough on 5 watts for it to hear me. Now, from my brothers house less than a mile away, I can hear if perfectly and bring it up with a half watt. It all depends on what's in between you and the repeater.

 

----

Never let Common Sense Get in the Way of Determination.

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In addition to the great replies you’ve gotten, there is one other tidbit:

 

Some repeaters are “open” for use by all licensed hams. Others are “closed” and intended for use only by members of the club and their guests. Naturally it would be wise to try to find out if a repeater is “open” or not before using it. Or at least be one of the first questions you ask when you find someone to talk to.

 

Also some repeaters, particularly linked repeaters need a bit of time to “come up”. As such, you may want to press the transmit button before you take a breath to talk. If you start speaking too quickly, the first bit of your message may be cut-off.

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GeckoGeek brings up a very good point. There are several folks I converse with regularly on the air, and sometimes it sounds like they even start talking before they key their mic. In virtually all situations, it makes sense to key your mic, wait a beat, then begin talking.

 

Regarding the ARRL's Repeater Directory, you can order it directly from the ARRL's web site, or you can buy it at just about any store which sells Amateur Radio equipment, although those kind of stores are relatively few and far between these days. At any rate, the directory will give you a good bit of information about each repeater, including whether or not autopatch is available, if it's available to the general public or just for members, or if the entire repeater is just for members (in my experience, a rarity these days).

 

I would emphasize two points, Criminal: as Baloo said, listen. If you don't know another Ham who can tell you which repeaters are most active, scan through the dial until you hear someone talking. Once you find a fairly active repeater, just listen to it for a while, maybe even a few days. If activity drops off on that repeater, you can go search for another one. Just be sure to keep track (either mentally or by writing it down) which repeater is which, who's doing what, etc. See what everyone else is doing, because that's what they're going to expect you to do, to some degree.

 

Also, experiment. Don't be afraid to just jump in and give it a try. As long as your courteous, and accept advice, and apologize when you misstep, no one's going to think lesser of you, unless it particularly bothers you for folks to think you're new, when you really are new.

 

Bottom line: C'mon in, the water's fine!

 

-----

~ Boyd

N5CTI

 

"Never ask a man where he's from. If he's from Texas, he'll tell ya soon enough. If he ain't, don't embarrass him."

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quote:
Originally posted by Criminal:

1. Who will I talk to?

2. Do I have to know somebody and their call sign, then figure out what repeater is between them and me, and attempt contact though that repeater?


 

Most of your questions have been pretty thoroughly answered, but I'll add a bit to the 'who'?

 

Around me, many repeaters are like Internet chatrooms. the same crowd meets there at certain times and rag-chew.

 

When I was commuting from a client site a while back, I'd hit the same repeater on the way home every day and talk to the same folks, who were also commuting, about telescopes, radio controlled planes, and whatever else people were chatting about that day. Passed the drive time nicely.

 

Also around here, certain groups meet at prosrcibed times on certain repeaters and conduct emergency communication drills, practice traffic-passing, etc.

 

I also hear people use less busy repeaters as just a way to have long-range communications. There's one father son (or is it daughter) pair of hams that I often hear talking about meeting up at certain times, stopping at the store, running errands, etc.

 

Even in my fairly dense suburban area, we have repeaters that can cover a 30 mile RADIUS, and that's pretty neat for a walkie-talkie.

 

K2APK

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Criminal, here's a block diagram of a system in my area. It's a bit more complex than a basic repeater since it has voting receivers, but it's not that overly complex.

 

The repeater receives on 147.795 and simultaneously re-transmits on 147.195. This means you set your HT, mobile, or base to receive on 147.195, and transmit on 147.795. The main transmitter is on Mt. Vaca (~2700 ft.) which gives it a very large coverage area, hence the need for voting receivers.

 

Imagine you commute to work 50 miles from home and would like to be able to keep in contact with those at home using just an HT. This system will allow that assuming you're within earshot of one of the voting receivers. This is but one of the reasons for using repeater systems.

 

Block diagram:

http://www.n6icw.org/blockdia.htm

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Probably answered before, but here is my $.02....

 

quote:
Originally posted by Criminal:

1. Who will I talk to?


You can talk to anyone monitoring, but for most of us set up a schedule when we are in the outback, so someone is listening when we call. With my VX-5R outputting 300mW on Mount San Gorgonio I was able to hit a repeater and talk to my wife, at home, 45 miles away. It sounded much better then a cell phone call. This is a good way to periodically check in and let someone know you are all right--especially comforting to those of us who hike the hills with a bunch of other people's children.

 

quote:
2. Do I have to know somebody and their call sign, then figure out what repeater is between them and me, and attempt contact though that repeater?

That works. You can also find a repeater and just put out a general call. Around here just about every repeater has folks listening to it (or, at least, with it programmed in a scanner. In addition, there are control operators who monitor the repeaters continuously.

 

quote:
3. Do I just troll for someone to talk to? Are you allowed to troll through a repeater?

If by "troll" you mean just put out a call and see who answers, that is a fairly common activity for hams. "This is W6DPS, monitoring". I usually get a response pretty quickly.

 

quote:
4.Can I make telephone calls if I don’t have cell reception? (Probably only in emergencies right?)

There are two situation here. To make routine phone calls through an autopatch equiped repeater you need to be a member of the club or organization who owns/operates the repeater. Dues pay the phone bill and upkeep. For emergencies some repeaters have a set-up on their autopatch to call 911 if needed, and anyone who knows the access code can use it. Usually if you need emergency assistance, calling for the control op is the best bet.

 

quote:
5. If I’m way up on a mountaintop, and I’m wondering if it was worth it to carry the HT all the way up there, can I try to hit a repeater just for the sake of finding out if I can? Do I just say my call letters and “monitoring” and wait to see if someone responds?

Almost all repeaters keep their tranmitter open for a couple of seconds after they stop receiving a signal, and many have a courtesy tone when they stop transmitting. You can key the repeater and listen for either a tone or the "squelch tail" when you release. Of course, it is a regulatory violation to do so without giving your ID. (probably the most frequently violated reg int he book.) "Kerchunking" lets you know you are keying the repeater. The proper way to do it is to key your transmitter, say "This is W6DPS, testing" and listen for the repeater when you release.

 

quote:
6. Is there a way to tell if I’m hitting the repeater without actually making contact or hearing someone else?

See answer 5. ALso, some repeaters will ID, in morse code, every 10 minutes to remind you they are up and running.

 

quote:
7. Will doing any of this get some other Hams pissed off?

Kerchunking without and ID is both a violation and considered rude. Otherwise, have at it.

 

quote:
DW, Thanks as well. Will this book answer any of these questions? Can I buy it locally or do I need to order it?

 

The repeater directory answers these questions and many more. It has operating info, bandplans, and lists of every coordinated repeater in a location your license is valid. They do put a hurculean effort into keeping it updated, and only rarely is the list wrong if you have the current directory. About $9, published annually. An easy way to get one is order online from the league or a good dealer.

 

The best ways to get this stuff down are listen to the repeaters in your area to get a feel for the "personality" of the users, and check out local ham clubs, even if it is only as an occasional visitor. You can find out about local repeaters, and meet a few of the hams you may be talking to on the air.

 

I know, mostly a re-hash, but I like things said MY WAY!

 

Dave_W6DPS

 

My two cents worth, refunds available on request. (US funds only)

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Thanks to all for the information! I don’t want to step on somebody’s toes. I have recently become very fond of hiking to alpine lakes here in WA, and doing other hikes deep into the Natl Forests etc. A cell phone is just dead weight.

 

Just wanted to chime in and let you all know I appreciate it!

 

W7CLC

 

http://fp1.centurytel.net/Criminal_Page/

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Criminal- The VX-7R is a very nice choice. I have one and love it (well I used to love it). Word of caution if you decide to modify it via hardware be very carefull programming it via software. I did this and now my VX-7 is a paper weight. I worked great after the mod but after using the software programmer it has taken a dump.

 

Paw%20Print.jpgvipersig.jpg

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quote:
Originally posted by SearchRescueDog:

Criminal- The VX-7R is a very nice choice. I have one and love it (well I used to love it). Word of caution if you decide to modify it via hardware be very carefull programming it via software. I did this and now my VX-7 is a paper weight. I worked great after the mod but after using the software programmer it has taken a dump.

 

http://www.rezdog.com/images/Paw%20Print.jpg http://www.danasoft.com/vipersig.jpg


 

Did you do a couple of hard resets after doing the hardware mod? When the software mod caused the radio to go dead, did you try several hard resets to see if it would come back to life?

 

I read somewhere (probably in the Yahoo! Groups VX-7R forum) that when using Jim's VX-7 Commander program, you should select to turn on the software mods, even if the hardware mod was done.

 

I have one with HW mod and one with SW mod, and both work with the Commander program , as well as with ADMS-1G. The Yaesu/RT Systems program does not offer a selection for SW mods, but works OK otherwise.

 

I Roger your vector, Victor...... Over.

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I looked at the list of repeaters in Nebraska. I recognize that when the freq is listed as a +, you set your receive frequency at the offset higher and vice versa for a - sign. I also understand the "o" means open to use as opposed to closed to only certain users. I have a used HT (yeasu FT 51A) and have started to review the manual. The thing I would like to do is to program the memories to set memory #1 to a local repeater, and I don't know how to do that with the PL tones as I can't seem to find the specific tone that a given repeater uses, and (peraps I misread this) my radio can turn this on and off, but the manual seems to imply that there is more than 1 tone. How do you program the tone?

 

Also, do the Yeasu chargers have a light that tells you when its charging or does the radio? The thing is on the charger, but nothing happens.

Edited by bigredmed

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Not much to add here, the subject has been covered nicely.

A couple of examples of my use:

Once, I was camping in the western Sierra mountains with my Troop and used the Condor System of linked 222Mhz repeaters to talk with my wife and friends 300 hundred miles away. I was using a 5 watt handheld.

 

Another time, I was in the Del Coronado hotel and talked with my son in LA Harbor, using the Catalina Repeater. I used a 5 watt handheld on 2M band. We were 100 miles apart.

 

I have also made satellite repeater contacts several states away, using a 144/440 Mhz Handheld.

 

Lots of fun.

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