Please note: Viewing with a "smartphone" may be challenging; it's best to view with a desk top computer with a larger screen.

Guidelines (suggestions)

This section talks about suggestions to be a better operator. No one is going to come down like a bolt of lighting to put you down. However, many of these suggestions will make sense after use. We know old habits are hard to break. Some of the items covered here are in the "Q & A" format.

Some tips for you to consider:

  • If you are an "old timer" (like the Author) you may be used to government / military / aircraft radios where it is necessary to hold your microphone real close to your mouth. Amateur radios are not designed for close contact with your mouth. Try to unlearn this and keep the mic 1-2" away. Also, to avoid the "pitter-patter" and breath noise a simple cure is talking across the mic instead straight into it. When in doubt ask a qualified operator (or CO) for a signal report.

  • The remark "radio check" generally means you are only checking your radio (and identifying as you should) but do not need a response from anybody. If you want a response (signal report, for example) make your intentions clear and ask for just that. Most folks listening want to help.

  • "QSL"; The appropriate term is "roger" or some other plain language. "Q" signals are for CW/morse code operation and not for voice mode especially, on FM repeaters. Your signal is normally good and clear therefore, using "Q" signals and phonetics is usually unnecessary, redundant and annoying. Sometimes a "Q" signal will be said in joking only such as "I'm QSYing to the dinner table. Actually, the intent of a remark like this is making fun (joking) of the mis-use of "Q" signals.

    I am monitoring the repeater but nothing is being heard (I want something to happen).

    The next two answers are geared toward the very young operators who may be impatient. The repeater is not like a broadcast station which transmits a signal (with voice, music, etc.) all the time. During periods of no activity your radio will be silent with your carrier squelch. This is a normal condition for operating on the amateur FM bands. (lower HF bands with SSB/CW has that constant noise in the background during no activity).

  • If you want to start up a conversation with another station; say your callsign and something meaningful. For example, key up and say" KC7xxx monitoring" (or listening). That way others know you want to chat. Just saying your callsign is more of an indication you are only bringing up the repeater (legally) and don't want to chat with anyone (you are just checking your radio that it's working). You should be clear and say what you want.

    Tip: "monitoring" is not a "CQ". It's not like HF (calling CQ over and over). On a repeater that would be annoying to others listening but don't have time for a casual chat. However, a single " CQ " (with your call sign) is okay if you have to do that. Either way you are letting folks listening you are available to chat. If you really want to talk to somebody you could say "is anyone around today?" or something like that.

  • If you are really trying to start a conversation something be patient. Or do something else; play on the internet, eat lunch, drive your car, etc. while monitoring the repeater.

  • If there's an emergency your first effort should be to call 911. Otherwise, if you are in the woods, for example, and out of phone range, then yes, get on the repeater with your call sign and ask for emergency help.

  • When you want to access the repeater and key-up you also need to say your call sign, all in one step. Just keying up is inappropriate and technically illegal. Doing this is a bad habit called, "kerchunking" and should be avoided.

  • U.S. amateur standard is to say the station you are calling first followed by your call sign. To attempt to call someone in the reverse order or other deviations can add confusion to a listener.

  • When you do make a call and no one answers, it is not needed to "clear". That's an old CB-radio habit (that was required in the old days). Everyone listening (that does not want to chat) knows you did not make contact. So why be redundant and "clear" ?

    Here's an example:
    "KC7xxx, WA7xxx". That's it! If there's no response that calling transmission is the last time you need to say anything (until the next time you make a call). Simple, eh?

  • Another thing you could do, if no one answers your call, you could say that you are monitoring (like described above).

  • Sometimes a "newbie" to breaks into a conversation then getting nervous or intimidated and have nothing to say. We understand that. If you can, encourage the new person to chat, like asking what's your day like, or what kind of radio and antenna do you have?. etc. Perhaps that's why many folks like "nets" whereas, one "checks-in" then can just listen to the rest of the traffic. SRG promotes individual opinions, comments and fun conversation.

  • If you suspect your transmission is being cut off or not completely heard here's a suggestion:
    As soon as you hear that familiar squelch burst (last person just unkeyed) say some "preamble" (such as "here is") then your call sign. This is especially true when the repeater is idle and you are the first station to bring it up. That way if the delay cuts off your first part (of "here is") the rest will get the other's attention (not to key up over you) and most likely your call sign will get through, which is the intent. To illustrate this you can view the timing chart for the repeater.

    I tried to get into the repeater but nothing seems to be happening.
    There could be several things that cause this. Verifying your radio settings for proper offset and transmit signaling (tone encode) would be a good place to start. Another test is verify you can access another group's repeater to confirm your antenna is working. "Kurchunking" is not appreciated. To bring up the repeater (even if just testing) key and say your call sign (FCC requirement). The repeater is generally reliable however, if you witness something not working you are welcome to contact SRG either on the air (somehow) or via email. For example, the Omak (input) receiver being at an off-grid site, needed new a new generator. Due to low membership funding was not possible until the fall of 2018 to repair that unit. If you can monitor the repeater the current repeater status is discussed occasionally. For long term issues annoucements are made on the web site under "news".

    I had an unpleasant experience on the repeater.
    In the event you witnessed a hostile event, personal attack or otherwise mis-conduct please contact SRG as soon as possible. Send as much information in the email as you can for example, who was involved, times dates, etc. It will investigated to determine if this was intentional or an accident and take the appropriate action. In the event you monitored and interpreted a conversation as offensive please contact SRG as soon as possible. To record the event would be very helpful, too. SRG wishes this to be a fun, nice place to be.

    "Kerchunking" - What does it mean?
    The ham slang "kerchunking" is the practice of briefly keying a microphone (hitting the push-to-talk/PTT button) to see if a repeater responds. The thinking process its often a quick and convenient way of verifying that you can hit a repeater. This act is illegal.

    For one, it is technically illegal under part 97 FCC rules. All transmissions must be identified (with rare exceptions). Secondly, not to key a mic without identifying yourself is that it is both annoying and disruptive. Its bad etiquette and almost always discouraged in published guidelines by repeater owners. If you really want to test your connection to a repeater, take the extra second to speak your call sign into the mic. Or say your call sign follow by saying “testing”. Doing this normally does not mean you wish to start up a conversation but just being courteous. However, if you wish some body to help you with that, asking for a "signal report" would be great. The term "radio check" is not appropriate in most situations and if you say that you may get (fun) razzed by the others on the repeater.

    Thirdly, if we have a jammer (bad guy) on the repeater it's sometimes placed in "condition 4" thus, restricting access for a while. If you don't ID you may be denied access because you cannot be distinguished from the bad guy. However, if you do ID the repeater may be able to allow access to you (a good guy). The Group thanks you in advance for participating in this matter.

    On a related note, if you want to test transmit power or SWR or antenna, consider using a simplex frequency to avoid tying up a repeater. Because of the redundancy on the repeater testing an antenna could be mis-leading. Simplex with another amateur operator is the better way to do that.

    During a conversation I'm getting a audio / signal "cut out".
    First thing you need to be sure it's not your receiver / reception at your end. By saying "you're cutting out" may be confusing to the fact the other person's signal is fine and it's at your end you are hearing something weird. One way to confirm this is try another radio, even better, with another line and antenna. Then you can troubleshoot the problem to fix it. If that's not possible call for a control operator or a qualified person to help out.

    Rules for operations (you need to read this).

    FAQ Recommended reading.

    Access information Request page.

    A note from the owner and President:

    I hope you enjoy the repeater. It's taken many years to get it to where it's now.
    Regards, Karl Shoemaker, AK2O

    [SRG home Direction]