Repeater Etiquette by David Pifer N9YNF
One of the first things we are told about learning to use amateur radio
is to get a radio and listen to others on the air. However this assumes
that the people we are listening to have good operating habits. Bad habits
are the hardest to correct, so if you did learn your operating habits over
the air you might be in for surprise. Or maybe you knew this stuff all
along. We are all guilty of one thing or another when we really look at
this. The most common mode of communications in our area is the 2 Meter
Repeater. Lets look at some recommended techniques.
When using phone mode speak in plain English.
Use the correct official phonetic alphabet when identifying. The cute stuff
is nice to help remember a call but not for id purposes.
Listen to see if the frequency is in use before you call. If in doubt,
ask "is the frequency in use your call".
Don't call CQ, just "your call Listening".
Use "Break" only in emergencies.
To interrupt give your call sign between the other stations transmissions.
Acknowledge a station interrupting and turn it over to them as soon as
possible. It just might be an emergency.
Have you ever heard the squelch tail? Don't be trigger happy. Let up on
the PTT switch to let someone else in. PTT vs. RTL (Release to listen)
Brevity, be short and concise with your conversations. If you want to catch
up on someone or something go to simplex if possible.
If several hams are talking pass it off by saying the person's name or call
to pass it off to.
If you wonder if you can hit the repeater, don't ker-chunk it. Give "your
Run on the lowest necessary power to operate, but don't try to call in
on a very low power HT when everyone tells you it is unreadable. Increase
your power. Ask for a signal report before you go too much further with
your conversation. Remember that the goal is quality communications.
Speak clearly, don't key and un-key your rig the instant you start and
stop speaking. It takes a few seconds for the system to come up and down.
Ignore jammers, but take lots of notes, the reason they jam is for the
Basic repeater traffic priorities:
Follow FCC identification rules. You have to do it every 10 minutes but
not necessary to start a conversation with a local station.
Remember that nothing is private on the air. If you have something private
to talk about use the telephone (on both ends).
Don't think out loud, your mind may be in idle but the repeater could be
used during that time.
No need for "no contact" or "nothing heard" or "clear"
after making a failed call. All the other stations heard you not make your
Use extreme caution and it is even better not to repeat what you hear on
police frequencies over the repeater. There are laws concerning the public
dissemination of information from scanners. Informing the Skywarn net that
"they are reporting trees down" in a specific area might be okay.
Emergency and Priority Traffic.
System test or maintenance.
Public Service (Skywarn etc....)
Fixed stations should ensure that mobiles and portable stations have priority
(especially if you can go to simplex).
No business on the radio. Ordering a pizza is up to the local auto-patch
Can not be used to place a call to avoid long distance rates or phone tariffs.
When you call a non-ham be sure they know the rules about language, business
Auto-patches can be terminated immediately if they violate rules of the
Station identification must be observed.
Keep the patch brief as possible.
If you are in doubt about the legality of your patch, don't do it.
Can not be initiated by a non ham including amateur automated systems.
An amateur must be present.
Auto-patch and 911
Know exactly where you are before you call.
When you call use the following example "I am a amateur radio operator,
my call is your call, I am calling from my car and would
like to report a __________ at __________. Over."
Know what an emergency is - any live threatening situation. A flat tire or boil over is not an emergency. Even though the person
with these conditions will need assistance.
Don't use police signal / 10 codes. They are coded messages which are against
amateur regulations and each police department may not use the same codes.
Use plain English "auto accident with injuries".
Remember that probably every other car around you has a cell phone and
probably has already beat you to the draw.... Remote areas or late hours
are a definite time to make the call, downtown Terre Haute during rush
hour..... probably not.
What is an Emergency - Immediate danger to human life or property.
Downed power lines or other severe road hazards
Accidents while hiking, camping, skiing or boating.
A person suddenly taken ill.
Other traumatic situations.
The Net Control is called that because that is what they are supposed be
Call when called upon unless you are declaring an emergency. If you are
late then wait for the call for late check-ins.
Do you know what suffix means? It is the part of your call after your numeric,
i.e. My call is N9YNF my suffix is YNF. So when the net control calls for
check-ins suffix beginning Alpha through Oscar I don't respond. When Papa
through Zulu is called, then I respond.
This was presented as the program for a WVARA
club meeting by N9YNF. Portions were taken from various ARRL publications and personal
close encounters. Feel free to copy and distribute as long as due credit
for the work is given accordingly. Comments? Contact me at
Before you go out of town for a vacation don't announce it on the air,
especially over the nets. A dishonest person listening to the frequency
could really cash in. Especially since many people can access the call
sign databases on the internet.
Our repeater is sensitive to over deviation on microphone audio on weak
signals, back off the microphone and speak normally and soft. Yelling into
it will not help.
If in doubt about the legality of any issue, use common sense and don't
do it until you know what the correct legal answer is. It will be better
to ask permission than forgiveness.
If someone tells you they have rough copy on you, use short tests to find
the perfect hot spot or to adjust your power setting. DO NOT move 3 inches
to the left and try the long QSO again. The idea is quality radio, not quantity,
especially in emergencies.