Basic Repeater Etiquette
Newcomers to the hobby and old-timers alike who have never used
repeaters before may take some time to read over the information contained
below and visit some of the linked sites for information on repeater operating
guidelines. We hope that this information will be constructive to help everyone
enjoy repeater operation. The first section is general repeater etiquette that is
applicable to most any repeater. The second section is specific policies for the
K3ZMC repeater system.
Starting a QSO via a directed call
There are two main ways by which a QSO can begin, one is via a directed call and one is via monitoring. A directed call is where one amateur calls
another amateur individually, such as "N3XYZ from K3ABC". In such a case, K3ABC is
looking for one particular individual, N3XYZ. It generally is not an invitation for
anyone other than N3XYZ to return the call. If N3XYZ doesn't answer the call, K3ABC
may just clear off by saying "K3ABC clear", or may clear and listen for other calls by
saying "K3ABC clear and listening". The "and listening" or "and monitoring" implies they are
interested in hanging around to QSO with anyone else who might be listening at that time.
"monitoring" don't mean you are listening to somebody else's
conversation, they mean you
are listening for other people who may want to call you to start a
new QSO. Likewise, just
saying your call by itself with nothing following it is meaningless.
If you were to say "N3XYZ",
people listening wouldn't know if that means you were monitoring for calls, whether you were testing, or whether they missed the call sign of a party you were calling. Be concise, but be complete.
Starting a QSO via a monitoring call
If the repeater is not in use, simply stating your call sign
followed by "listening" or
"monitoring" implies that you are listening to the repeater and are
interested in having a
QSO with anyone else. Calling CQ on a repeater is generally not
common, a simple "N3XYZ
listening" will suffice. There is no need to repeat the "listening"
message over and over
again as you might do when calling CQ on HF. Once every few minutes
should be more than
sufficient, and if someone hasn't answered after a few tries, it
probably means there is nobody
around. If someone is listening and wants to QSO, they will answer
back. Avoid things like
"is anybody out there" or "is there anybody around on frequency"; it
sounds like a bad sci-fi movie.
Joining a QSO in progress
If there is a conversation taking place which you would like to
join, simply state your call
sign when one user un-keys. This is the reason for having a courtesy
tone: to allow other users
to break into the conversation. One of the stations in QSO, usually
the station that was about to
begin his transmission, will invite you to join, either before
making his own transmission or
afterwards. Don't interrupt a QSO unless you have something to add
to the topic at hand.
Interrupting a conversion is no more polite on a repeater than it is
Interrupting a QSO to make a call
If you need to make a directed call to another amateur but there is
already another QSO going on,
break into the conversation during the courtesy tone interval by
saying "Call please, N3XYZ". One
of the stations will allow you to make your call. If the station you
are calling returns your call,
you should quickly pass traffic to them and relinquish the frequency
to the stations who were already
in QSO; don't get into a full QSO in the middle of someone else's
conversation. If you need to speak
with the party you call for a significant length of time (say, more
than 15 seconds), ask them to
either wait until the current QSO has cleared, or ask them to move
to another repeater or simplex
channel to continue the conversation.
Roundtables and "Turning it Over"
When more than two amateurs are in a QSO, it is often referred to as
a "roundtable" discussion.
Such a QSO's usually go in order from amateur A to amateur B to
amateur C ... and eventually back
to amateur A again to complete the roundtable. To keep everyone on
the same page, when any one amateur
is done making a transmission, they "turn it over" to the next
station in sequence (or out of sequence,
if so desired). Without turning it over to a particular station when
there are multiple stations in the
QSO, nobody knows who is supposed to go next, and there ends up
either being dead silence or several
stations talking at once. At the end of a transmission, turn it over
to the next station by naming them
or giving their call sign, such as "...and that's that. Go ahead
Joe." or "....and that's that. Go ahead XYZ."
If it's been close to 10 minutes, it's a good time to identify at
the same time as well, such as "...and
that's that. N3XYZ, go ahead Joe."
IDing and Who's Who?
By FCC regulations, you must always identify at 10 minute intervals
and at the end of a transmission.
If you are making a test transmission or calling another party, this
is a one-way transmission. Since
it has no "length" as there is no QSO taking place, you should
identify each time you make a call or a
test transmission. When identifying yourself and another party (or
parties), or when making a directed
call, your call sign goes LAST. "N3XYZ, K3ABC" means that K3ABC is
calling N3XYZ, not the other way around. There is no need to identify each time you make a transmission, only once every 10
minutes. You do not need to identify the station with whom you are
speaking, only your own call sign, but it is generally polite to
remember the call of the other station. Avoid phonetics on FM unless
there is a reason for using them, such as the other station misunderstanding your call sign. When phonetics are needed, stick to
the standard phonetic alphabet.
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 "N3XYZ for a
demonstration." Anyone who is listening to the repeater can answer
them back. Usually telling the calling party your name, call sign, and location is what they are looking for, 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 the Pocono’s they may ask for
any stations in south Jersey or Harrisburg areas, which is more interesting than demonstrating that they can talk to someone in the
same town as they are in.
If you are unsure how well you are making it into the
repeater, DO NOT kerchunk the repeater. Any time you key up the
repeater, you should identify, even if you are just testing to see
if you are making the machine. "N3XYZ test" is sufficient. Do not
use the repeater as a "target" for tuning or aiming antennas,
checking your transmitter power, etc. Use a dummy load where
appropriate, or test on a simplex frequency. If you need someone to
verify that you are making the repeater OK, ask for a signal report
such as "N3XYZ, can someone give me a signal report?" "Radio check"
is a term most often used on CB, "signal report" is what most
amateurs ask for.
Aside from some of the techno-syncracies inherent in
amateur vernacular, use plain conversational English. The kind of
English that would be suitable for prime-time television, not R
rated movies. Avoid starting or encouraging conflicts on the air. If
a topic of conversation starts to draw strong debate, change the
subject. Avoid "radio-ese" lingo whenever possible. CB has its own
language style and so does amateur radio, but the two are not the
same. Amateurs have "names", not "personals". Although many new hams
have graduated from the CB ranks, let's try to keep CB lingo off the
amateur bands. When visiting a new repeater, take some time to
monitor before jumping in to get a feel for the type of traffic and
operating mannerisms of that particular system. Some repeaters are
very free-wheeling in that there are people jumping in and out of
conversations constantly. Others primarily have directed calls on
them and discourage rag chewing. Others are member-exclusive
repeaters. Listen before you talk, when in Rome do as the Romans do.
If there is a QSO going on, break into a conversation
with the word "Break" or "Break for priority traffic." DO NOT USE
THE WORD BREAK TO JOIN IN A QSO UNLESS THERE IS AN EMERGENCY! All
stations should give immediate priority any station with emergency
If there is malicious interference, such as kerchunking,
touch-tones, rude comments, etc. DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE IT! Continue the
QSO in a normal fashion. If the interference gets to the level where
it is impossible to carry on the QSO, simply end the QSO as
you normally would.
Use the minimum power necessary to complete a QSO.
However, the minimum power necessary doesn't just mean you are
barely tickling the repeater receiver squelch. If someone says that
you are noisy, increase power or relocate or take whatever measures
you can to improve your signal. Continuing to make transmissions
after being told your signal is noisy is inconsiderate to those
listening. The amateur radio manufacturers continue to come up with
newer, smaller handheld radios, many with power levels well under a
watt. Many new amateurs start out with a handheld radio as their
"first rig". Although convenient, they aren't the most
effective radios in terms of performance. Without a good external
antenna, operating a handheld radio indoors or inside a car is going
to result in a lot of bad signal reports.
The following hyperlinks provide general information on good
repeater operating practices.
We thank those groups/individuals for providing this information.
The Tri County Radio Association
W2LI (Click on Operating Practices )
Raleigh Amateur Radio
Society, very nicely done.