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Repeater Terminology

Common terms and phrases you should know when operating on a repeater
(Not all inclusive)

autopatch - a device that interfaces a repeater to the telephone system to permit repeater users to make telephone calls. Often just called a patch or phone patch. This is for personal telephone calls from a mobile when no land line is avaliable. Not to be used instead of a regular telephone. This ties up the repeater and others can hear your convestations! Many repeater systems are set up with a 911 number for emergencies! Check with your repeater owner or club.

break - the word used to interrupt a conversation on a repeater ONLY to indicate that there is an emergency. It is best to say....break, break, break so you can be assured of being heard. Many new operators use this as a carry over from the CB band...do not use this unless there is an emergency! If you want to "break in" to a conversation, just say your call sign or a part of it between transmissions...simple as that!

carrier - operated relay (COR) -a device that causes the repeater to transmit in response to a received signal. When the repeater detects your carrier on it's input frequency, (your transmit frequency), it activates it's transmitter. If the repeater receiver does not detect your carrier, then it will remain in it's present state.

channel - the pair of frequencies (input and output) used by a repeater. The word "channel" is rarely used in ham radio with the exception of the 60 meter band.

closed repeater - a repeater whose access is limited to a select group (see open repeater).

control operator - the Amateur Radio operator who is designated to control the operation of the repeater, as required by FCC regulations. You are also the control operator of your station.

courtesy beep - an audible indication, beep or beeps from the repeater's transmitter, that a repeater user may go ahead and transmit. Very handy under noisy conditions..when you hear the beep...you know the other operator is waiting for your reply. This is not to be confused with the "Roger Beep" which is not used on Ham radio! We use the word "over" when we are waiting for the other station's reply.

coverage - the geographic area within which the repeater provides communications. Note that many repeater coverage maps you will see on the internet are not the actual coverage area due to terrain. Most repeater maps are drawn with a circle to indicate the included coverage area for that repeater.

crossband - transmitting on one band and receiving on another.

CTCSS - abbreviation for continuous tone-controlled squelch system, a series of subaudible tones that some repeaters use to restrict access. Also called "PL" tones. Many repeaters require these tones to be programmed into your radio when accessing them. (see closed repeater) They are automatically transmitted from your radio when you key your microphone if you have programmed them. If you can not access a local repeater, then chances are that it is using CTCSS or "tones" or you are out of range. Check with the repeater owner/operator for the proper tones.

deviation - The change in the carrier frequency of a FM transmitter produced by the modulating signal.

digipeater - a packet radio (digital) repeater.

DTMF - abbreviation for dual-tone multifrequency, the series of tones generated from a keypad on a ham radio transceiver (or a regular telephone). These tones are sometimes used to access various functions of certain repeater systems.

duplex or full duplex - a mode of communication in which a user transmits on one frequency and receives on another frequency simultaneously (see half duplex). Just like during a telephone conversation.

duplexer - a device that allows the repeater transmitter and receiver to use the same antenna simultaneously.

frequency coordinator - an individual or group responsible for assigning frequencies to new repeaters without causing interference to existing repeaters.

full quieting - a received FM signal that contains no noise other than background noise picked up by the microphone. A "dead" FM carrier with no audio and no noise on the signal due to it's strength is considered to be a full quieting signal. When using a repeater, if the other station has no noise on his signal when talking to you and your getting a good signal strength on the repeater, his transmission is said to have a "full quieting" signal.

half duplex - A half-duplex system provides for communication in both directions, but only one direction at a time (not simultaneously).

hand-held - a small, lightweight portable transceiver small enough to be carried easily; also called HT (for Handie-Talkie, a Motorola trademark), or walkie talkie.

hang time - the short period following a transmission that allows others who want to access the repeater a chance to do so; a courtesy beep sounds when the repeater is ready to accept another transmission.

ID - ***Station identification*** - Your station call sign when transmitted over the air.
Reference FCC Part 97 97.119 Station identification:
(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every ten minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, (See Kerchunking), or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station. (See note below for additional info)

input frequency - the frequency of the repeater's receiver (and your transceiver's transmit frequency when using a repeater).

intermodulation distortion (IMD) - the unwanted mixing of two strong RF signals that causes a signal to be transmitted on an unintended frequency.

key up - to turn on or activate a repeater by transmitting on its input frequency. ie, keying your mic.

Kerchunking - a term used in ham radio that refers to the act of transmitting a momentary signal to check, hit or activate a repeater without identifying. In many countries, including the U.S., such an act violates amateur radio regulations. See "ID"

machine - a repeater system.

magnetic mount or mag-mount - an antenna with a magnetic base that permits quick installation and removal from a motor vehicle or other metal surface.

Mic gain - used to adjust the amount of audio going to the transceiver from the microphone output.

modulation - Your voice or other "information" on your signal.

NiCd - a nickel-cadmium battery that may be recharged many times; often used to power portable transceivers. Pronounced NYE-cad.

open repeater - a ham radio repeater whose access is not limited and only to be used by licensed ham radio operators.

output frequency - (as pertaining to repeaters) - the frequency of the repeater's transmitter.

over - a word used to indicate the end of a voice transmission and the station talking is turning the frequency back "over" to another station. (Note that since many repeaters use courtesy beeps, this may not be needed but is good practice)

Repeater Directory- a publication that lists repeaters in the US, Canada and other areas.
Can be found from the ARRL or on the internet from many sources. Just do a "repeater directory" search.

S Meter - a relative signal strength meter used on most ham radio transceivers. Gives only "relative" signal strength readings and used only for comparisons from one level to another....stronger or weaker. You can not give him an S meter reading for other than the repeater's signal. Remember, you are listening to the other station using the repeater equipment, not direct like simplex. S meter readings are always relative and never very accurate but can be used for a comparison for on the air testing, etc. Example, "You had noise on your signal with the other antenna, now you are crystal clear with no noise." OR...you were full quiting with the old antenna, now you are very noisy with the new one.

separation, offset or split - the difference (in kHz) between a repeater's transmitter and receiver frequencies. Repeaters that use unusual separations, offsets or splits, such as 1 MHz on 2 m, are sometimes said to have oddball splits. (Sometimes referred to as "shift")

simplex - a mode of communication in which users transmit and receive on the same frequency. (Never have a simplex conversation with another station on a repeater input OR output frequency) This may create interference with the repeater or it's users. See the band plan and use only approved simplex frequencies.

time-out - to cause the repeater or a repeater function to turn off because you have transmitted for too long. Many repeaters are set for 3 minutes. Some transceivers use the same function.

timer - a device that measures the length of each transmission and causes the repeater or a repeater function to turn off after a transmission has exceeded a certain length. Some transceivers use this function.

tone pad - an array of 12 or 16 numbered keys that generate the standard telephone dual-tone multifrequency (DTMF) dialing signals. Resembles a standard telephone keypad.
(see autopatch

Added notes and repeater information of interest:

***ID*** You will hear from time to time someone ID his station by using,
"This is (insert call sign here) FOR ID".....
This is improper...When you say your call sign on the air...you just ID'ed! There is no need or reason whatsoever to us "FOR ID" after you say your call sign! The same applies for using the wording "over over" on any ham band...1 time is enough.

Basic Repeater Operation for the Tech class ham. How it all works!


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