Operating using voice repeaters requires good practice to be observed, and ETCC members are sometimes asked to indicate what is that practice. We also often hear one operator complaining about some aspect of another's operating.
Firstly remember that repeaters are licenced on an INDIVIDUAL's radio amateur licence (the KEEPER) even though they may be part of a larger umbrella organisation such as the UKFM Group (Western) or the Central Scotland FM Group for example. This means that this named person has the legal responsibility for ensuring the station adheres to the licence conditions and is operating correctly.
The KEEPER may have to switch off the repeater in certain circumstances.
It is also worth remembering that repeaters are licenced for ALL radio amateurs to use (provided that they operate within the terms and conditions of their licences) whether or not they have contributed in any way to the upkeep of the repeater or are members of the group. There are NO CLOSED REPEATERS and anyone finding they are prevented from taking part should lodge a complaint to their ETCC regional member.
Here are some key points which should help new and experienced amateurs alike to get the best experience from using repeaters:
  1. The web site lists the parameters for all UK repeaters - check the details first, and get an idea of the coverage footprint.
  2. Check use of CTCSS tones - many repeaters need application of the correct sub-audible tone for operation.
  3. If you are inexperienced it is worth listening for a while before actually transmitting. This helps to give you an idea of who is around and what to expect.
  4. Repeaters are designed to assist mobile and portable operation, though fixed stations can use them, priority should always be to the mobile and handportable user.
  5. Leaving a break after a transmission is important as it allows the talkthrough timer on the repeater to reset, and also gives a convenient gap for new stations to call in.
  6. The recognised calling protocol is "This is (your callsign) listening through (repeater callsign)"
  7. If you find you can hear the other station on the input channel then consider QSY to a simplex channel, especially if the repeater may be busy.
  8. Your callsign should be given with sufficient frequency to identify you, though it would not normally be given on every over especially if these are short and snappy!
  9. If the repeater is busy remember that many repeater sites have other repeaters on different bands that might be worth checking out.
  10. Sadly, repeaters have always atttacted anti-social and illegal use. If this happens then the best rule is to ignore it. Leave the Keeper or those enpowered to deal with the problem the ability to record and track down the mis-use.
Repeaters are provided by a dedicated group of radio amateur enthusiasts - if you are a regular user on your local repeater then why not make a donation, or join the group behind the repeater.
Note that this operating guide is based on the use of analogue voice repeaters. Different proedures apply for television and digital modes.

Click here to view RadCom article published in the January 2013 edition in the "Getting started In...." series.

(above) Why Repeaters?
(below) Repeater Block Diagram
Repeater Block Diag
Filters Cabinet
(above) filtering (right - a typical repeater cabinet)
(below) D-Star rack (acknowledgements Essex RG)
D-Star rack - all about UK amateur radio repeaters
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