COURTESY IS THE KEY
The key to success on the air is described by one word: Courtesy. There's no other way to explain how hundreds of thousands of ladies and gentlemen can share the same radio frequencies Worldwide with a Minimum of interference and conflict. An attentive courteous operator is welcome anywhere. If you keep courtesy at the front of your mind you'll rarely have difficulty on the air. Before making your first transmission in the world of FM and repeater communications you should be aware of basic operation techniques. These vary slightly with local customs, but here are some general suggested procedures.
If a repeater is active, but the conversation in progress sounds as though it's about to end, be patient and wait until it's over before calling another station. If the conservation sounds like it's going to continue for a while, transmit your call sign between transmissions. After one of the other hams acknowledges you, politely ask to make a quick call. Usually the other stations will yield to you. Make you call short. If your friend responds to your call, ask him to move to a simplex frequency or another repeater, or to stand by until the present conversation is over. Thank the other users for letting you interrupt them to place your call.
Likewise, if you're in the midst of a conversation and another ham transmits his call sign between transmissions, the next station in the queue to transmit should acknowledge that station and permit the newcomer to make a call or join the conversation. It's discourteous not to acknowledge him and it's impolite to acknowledge him but not let him speak. You never know; the calling station may need to use the repeater immediately. The other operator may have an emergency on his hands. so let him make a transmission promptly.
Some hams can't keep their thumbs off the push-to-talk (PTT) switch. It's been suggested that this button be renamed Release To Listen (RTL)! A brief pause before you begin each transmission allows other stations to participate in the conversation. Don't key your microphone as soon as someone else releases his. If your exchanges are too quick. you'll block other stations from getting in.
The "courtesy beeps" on some repeaters compel users to leave spaces between transmissions. The beep sounds a second or two after each transmission to permit new stations to transmit their call signs in the intervening time period. The conversation may continue only after the beep sounds. If a station is too quick and begins a long transmission before the beep, the repeater may respond to the violation by temporarily shutting down!
Keep each transmission as short as possible. Short transmissions permit more people to use the repeater. All repeaters promote this practice by having timers that "time-out," temporarily shutting down the repeater whenever the length of a transmission exceeds the preset time limit. Learn the length of the repeater's timer and stay well within its limits. The length may vary with each repeater; some are as short as 15 seconds and others are as long as three minutes. Some repeaters automatically vary their timer length depending on the amount of traffic on frequency; the heavier the traffic, the shorter the timer.
If two hams try to talk on a repeater at once, the resulting noise is known as a "double." If you're in a roundtable conversation. it's easy to lose track of which station is next in line to talk. There's one simple solution to eradicate this problem: Always pass off to another ham by name or call sign. Saying. "What do you think, Jennifer?" or "Go ahead, 'YUA" eliminates confusion and avoids doubling. Try to hand off to whoever is next in the queue, although picking out anyone in the roundtable is better than just tossing the repeater up for grabs and inviting chaos.
The key to skillful, courteous FM repeater operation is to be brisk and to the point, and to leave plenty of room for others. Keep it moving. Don't drone; dart in and out. Don't hem and haw or be reluctant to "yield the floor." Your turn will come again in a moment. Turn it over, pause for others, get things rolling. Snappy, clearheaded exchanges sound sharp and are more enjoyable for your QSO partners.
Speak clearly and don't key or unkey your microphone as you start or finish talking. Give your rig and the repeater a moment to come on. This ensures that listeners won't miss any part of your transmission. Repeated transmissions take up unnecessary air time.
If the repeater has a courtesy tone, wait until you hear it before transmitting. This allows time for other stations to break in if necessary, and allow the system to reset. If you don't hear a courtesy tone, wait 2-3 seconds after the previous user has finished before making a transmission.
If you hear a jammer, ignore him. Resist the temptation to "set the jammer straight." Don't acknowledge his present in any way. Anything you might say about it probably doesn't belong on the band and may contribute to the problem. If repeater jamming becomes a persistent problem, get in touch with your ARRL Section Official Observer Coordinator (OOC) to ask for advice. You can find out who your OOC is by reading the Section News column in QST, or by contacting your Section Manager (SM). You'll find your SM's address and telephone number in any recent QST or you can call ARRL Headquarters.
Don't use radio jargon. Talk as you would over the telephone. Listen and learn from the examples of experienced users. Don't say things like "QSL," "Roger that," "10-4," "What's your QTH?" and "The handle here is...". Such terminology is often a misused habit carried over from HF, Citizens Band or public safety services, and on Amateur Radio repeaters it confuses more than it communicates. There are probably hundreds of other hams listening to the machine and non hams monitoring with scanners. You may not hear them, but they hear you. Ensure that they get the best impression of your operating skill and of the Amateur Radio service.
Don't break an ongoing conversation unless you have emergency or priority traffic or something valuable to add.
Don't use the repeater to shoot the breeze endlessly with a local station. Make your contact and move to a simplex frequency. The system is designed for mobile and long-distance QSO’s, not for local rag chewing.
Don't drag out a conversation longer than necessary. Allow others to use and enjoy the system. Limit your rag chews to a reasonable length, especially during commuting hours.
5 Repeater traffic priorities:
1) Emergency and priority.
2) System test or maintenance transmissions by control operators or system owners.
3) Public service.
4) Fixed (base) stations should ensure that mobile and portable stations have priority, especially at 6-8 AM and 4-6 PM. The weekday commute hours are the only time many hams can get on the air.
5) Fixed (base) station communications.
Follow the FCC's requirement to identify your station once every 10 minutes and at the end of a QSO. But don't "over identify" by sending your call sign after every transmission.
Ask somebody for a signal report if you're using a hand-held transceiver with a "rubber ducky" antenna. Little rigs can't always capture the repeater's receiver adequately. The excessive noise of partial quieting made by weak signals may make your transmissions un-copiable and is irritating to those who monitor for extended periods.
There are always other operators and people with scanners listening. Don't say anything that should be "private," and do your best to sound friendly, Professional and courteous.
Support your local repeater.
How often do you stop to think of what goes into the machine you conveniently use any time, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?
It takes time, money, knowledge and energy to operate a reliable repeater system. Nobody should feel compelled to join any group, and you can use thousands of repeaters across the US without joining any clubs. If you frequent a system, however, or just want to contribute to the cost of its upkeep so it can be counted on in an emergency, support your local repeater.
Make it a habit to run your transceiver on a low-power setting. There's usually no need to pump out heavy watts on VHF or UHF FM if you're within a reasonable range of a repeater or other station operating simplex. High power can also interfere with distant repeaters on the same frequency.
Preserve your privileges
Because you worked to earn your Amateur license, you'll want to preserve the privileges you've earned. The best way to do so is to take care to operate in a professional manner and show others that you respect the high standards of the Amateur Radio Service. As a ham, you've become a member of one of the proudest and most exciting services in the world. It's a hobby you can enjoy for the rest of your life, and share with your family and friends. When you use the information you've learned here to operate on FM and repeaters, you'll meet many hams who may become close friends. The best thing you can do offer your friends is treat them as you'd like them to treat you with courtesy, consideration and respect. And in this case, that means to do your best to be a top-notch radio operator as a service to your community and to help preserve the proud tradition of Amateur Radio.
Two Meter band plan: