By coming here and reading this already shows that you care how you operate and want to do the right thing. You probably have little to be concerned about however, you are encouraged to see how good operating practice works on the system. What we (good operators) need to be aware of is that there area only a few "bad apples" and they just do not take the time to learn proper operating procedures. Perhaps we can show a good example. On this page there are several points, suggestions and SRG simple rules on this page. Also, when you read these rules, "say" means keying your radio to say something.S.R.G. Operational Guidelines:
Most any discussions are encouraged on the system. Leave out the serious politics and religion subjects. Current topics on the air include the art of radio, technical or other interesting subjects, or coordinating work projects. Other uses could be to contact your friends or relatives. In a REAL emergency the system is available for emergency traffic. That's what amateur radio is about. Please contact SRG either by email or on the air for arrangements for emergency traffic, since the repeater can possibly be reconfigured to accommodate such traffic.
Users are asked NOT to give out any access codes (tone sub-audible or DTMF). Pro-active arraingments have been made for emergency traffic users. Code access helps keeps the System protected against interference; accidental or intentional. Some of the newer type radios have a bunch of bells and whistles, including decoding schemes. Trying to figure out on one's own can be frustrating or misleading, since the system uses it's own signaling for system operations, plus their are usually a couple of remote system receivers out there on carrier squelch. Therefore, just because you find a tone and bring up the system does not necessarily mean you have the correct tone in your radio. If you hear of folks trying this, please ask them to write or email for the PROPER access information. In most cases the system will work much better when they do this. There is technical information available. In the future, when the Seattle link is rebuilt refrain from bringing it up to non-members. While it's good intentions, doing this bypasses the motive to support the system properly. Just recommend them to send in for the information. The address is on the first page.
The system is one (147.20) repeater incorporating several voting receivers and transmitters around the area gives wide area coverage all on 20. There is a slight delay for signals to get across the state, so you need to leave a little space before you start transmitting in case another station wants to say something from the far end. Also, when you do key-up wait a 1/4 second before talking to avoid your first word from being cut off at the far end. As technology and funds permit this delay can be reduced. Having said this there is a second repeater added to the system on 145.450 MHz. There's nothing to turn on or off it's part of the 20 system.
SRG does not support " CB " type of operation. Personal problems or other superfluous "CB" type lingo should be diverted to simplex or another repeater that tolerates that type of traffic. For example, words like "personal" "on the side" "got a copy?" "breaker" "10-4" are not appreciated and should be left out. Plain English works well and is encouraged on the repeater. SRG understands if you were (improperly) exposed to this type of language and wish to change that.
Another tip: Rather than using the system like a "telephone" and turning off the radio when you are done, you are encouraged to monitor and make contact with others on the system to get acquainted. You might make some friends along the way !
In the event an operator is impatient, forgetful or rude may not leave room in between users transmission. A slang used for this operation is "tailgating"; like you would on the road; as so to speak. Or the new user may be used to HF type operation where 2 stations may not leave much room for a break. Some repeaters have a beeper; also known as a "courtesy" or "roger beeper" tone or any other form of an electronic "leash". The original intent was to remind folks to leave a little room for a break. People "adapt" to things like this and start ignoring a beeper. They come to think it's just part of the squelch tail and nothing meaning of it. This adaptation takes away the whole point of the beeper.
SRG finds a beeper (or any other sound) redundant, unnecessary, distracting and sometimes annoying. Therefore, SRG does not use any of the such. The (old school) indicator that the other station is done is the squelch burst you will hear at the end of a user's transmission. A second or two pause is encouraged. For responsible folks this is not a problem. Having said this; some type of audible indicator could be used in the future for system status (a link on, station on emergency power, etc.) where temporary attention is needed.
If you are the sensitive type of person, please don't get all worried about this. Even the (experienced) Owner forgets sometimes; we are just human.
The 3 minute time-out resets on the (user) input signal absence. The repeater's long tail, avoids the carrier being dropped out for each transmission, and thus avoids another squelch "burst" in your speaker. Therefore, you don't have to let it drop, just a short pause between transmissions is fine. There are several stations that share this frequency with you, so you should ID (FCC required) when you bring up the repeater. You should ID at the beginning of a contact, every 10 minutes, and at the end. However, to ID on every transmission can be unnecessary, redundant and annoying.
You should communicate your intentions and efforts. Just to key and say your call does not tell other users who are listening much. Are you just being legal and bringing up the repeater with your callsign? Or are you wanting to talk to someone? Or just testing? People listening may not know just from a callsign what your intentions are.
Example ID's are: If you're just testing, say:"(Your Call) testing". To see if anyone's out there say: "(Your Call) monitoring", or (Your Call) listening". The term "CQ" is normally used on HF whereas, you say it several times to catch another station tuning around for a contact. To use a single "CQ" on a repeater is unusual however, is completely satisfactory for SRG; just don't say it over and over. Even the Owner says it once and a while; mainly as a humor attempt to get his buddy to respond with a snappy comment.
To call your friend say: "(the other station's call) then (your call)". When they answer, have fun on the repeater. When you are finished with your contact say "(your call), clear". That way everyone knows you are done. If you only say your callsign listeners don't know if you are just IDing or really done (confusion source). However, SRG understand if you in the habit of "clearing" this way; so that's okay.
If you call for a station and they do not respond, it's obvious to anyone else on the frequency to that fact. A bad habit you might have (improperly) taught is to say (your call) "clear". Although you may be trying to be courteous, it's unnecessary and redundant in this case; that was CB type operation in the 1960's requirement. Just make your call, if no answer; that's all there's to it! (Try later) With a little practice it will come easy.
Your radio needs to be compatible with the system by running deviation at 5 KHz (maximum) and avoiding excessive mic gain with voice average around 4 KHz. DTMF should be 3 KHz. CTCSS should be less than (the stock level of) 750 Hz preferably, 300 Hz. Eastside CTCSS works down to 200 Hz. The newer style radios typically, have way too much microphone sensitivity. This is what you DO NOT need in a noisy, mobile environment. Usually a 5-10K resistor installed in series with the mic element takes care of the problem. The A.R.R.L. publications have lots of good operational ideas. Books are available at your amateur radio (mail order) store. Or ask a control operator for help. If you have over-modulated, loud, offensive audio you may be ignored or even called to correct the condition.
It's suggested to make your conversation interesting and meaningful. That doesn't mean you can't have fun and razzing your friends in that environment. This is fine because all parties concerned are having fun in a "rowdy" contact/roundtable with snotty comments sometimes. When you monitor the repeater you'll observe this.
Make the radio contact your first priority (safety barring). A mistake "busy" people sometimes make is "multi-tasking" ; doing other duties, playing on the computer or internet, email, eating, talking and visiting with other people in person with you, etc. It's not fair to the others and sometimes considered rude. That will take you away from the radio contact, cause things to be lost, forgotten, long pauses between transmissions and causing frustration with the others in your contact. If you need to take care of another "task" just tell folks you have to go, sign off and handle it.
If you do not have great people skills, "thick skin" or otherwise a little nervous about joining a "rowdy" conversation, most of us on here will "turn it down" to your level of friendliness. Therefore, it's not necessary to wait until the conversation is done to get on the air. Just say your callsign between transmissions. For "newbies" use common sense to start with and go from there. If the subject(s) are interesting "rag-chews" and "round tables" are fine. These terms mean longer type of conversations between a few or several stations. Don't feel rushed to get off, if the others are enjoying interesting discussions.
Kind and sensitive folks should feel comfortable on the repeater. Having this said it my be easy to get a wrong impression if a couple folks on the repeater are having fun, "razzing" each other in appropriate taste with quick, snappy comments in a "humor" round table discussion. However, if you, yourself or family is directly badgered, intimidated or otherwise personally attacked on this repeater, at any time please contact SRG for action to be taken about the "bad guy". The owner feels appropriate to mention this for your protection and understanding that he cares.
The object for the rules is to encourage good operational practices for the experienced operators and set an example for others,who are learning. Don't be afraid - just be aware. We are all human and make mistakes. With your cooperation we can all have fun on the repeater !