Repeater Rules & Policy
W4CQ repeaters are open for all to use, provided you follow the rules in using them.
Per ARRL guidelines: “A repeater is not a public utility – you don’t have a “right” to use it. When you are using a repeater you are, in effect, a visitor in the owner’s station. So, you should conduct yourself accordingly. If you use that station in a manner that the owner finds objectionable, that person has every right to revoke your privilege of using it!”
Improper Repeater Usage
The Charlotte Amateur Radio Club (CARC) follows a three strikes rule related to improper repeater use as determined by the Club License Trustee:
Strike 1: Confirmed violators are given a verbal warning
Strike 2: If behavior continues, violators are given a written warning
Strike 3: If behavior still continues, violators are removed from repeater use
The Club License Trustee can authorize the Club Secretary to send a Certified Return Receipt letter to operators that are removed from repeater use. This letter serves as an official record for CARC.
Club Call Usage
Usage of the club callsign for events, Field Day, etc. is at the discretion of the Club License Trustee.
Starting a QSO via a directed call
There are two main ways by which a QSO can begin, one is via a directed call and one is via monitoring. A directed call is where one amateur calls another amateur individually, such as “N3XYZ from K3ABC”. In such a case, K3ABC is looking for one particular individual, N3XYZ. It generally is not an invitation for anyone other than N3XYZ to return the call. If N3XYZ doesn’t answer the call, K3ABC may just clear off by saying “K3ABC clear”, or may clear and listen to other calls by saying “K3ABC clear and listening”. The “and listening” or “and monitoring” implies they are interested in hanging around to QSO with anyone else who might be listening at that time. “Listening” and “monitoring” doesn’t mean you are listening to somebody else’s conversation, they mean you are listening for other people who may want to call you to start a new QSO. Likewise, just saying your call by itself with nothing following it is meaningless. If you were to say “N3XYZ”, people listening wouldn’t know if that means you were monitoring for calls, whether you were testing, or whether they missed the call sign of a party you were calling. Be concise, but be complete.”
Starting a QSO via a monitoring call
If the repeater is not in use, simply stating your call sign followed by “listening” or “monitoring” implies that you are listening to the repeater and are interested in having a QSO with anyone else. Calling CQ on a repeater is generally not common, a simple “N3XYZ listening” will suffice. There is no need to repeat the “listening” message over and over again as you might do when calling CQ on HF. Once every few minutes should be more than sufficient, and if someone hasn’t answered after a few tries, it probably means there is nobody around. If someone is listening and wants to QSO, they will answer back. Avoid things like “is anybody out there” or “is there anybody around on frequency”; it sounds like a bad sci-fi movie.
Joining a QSO in progress
If there is a conversation taking place which you would like to join, simply state your call sign when one user un-keys. This is the reason for having a courtesy tone: to allow other users to break into the conversation. One of the stations in QSO, usually the station that was about to begin his transmission, will invite you to join, either before making his own transmission or afterward. Don’t interrupt a QSO unless you have something to add to the topic at hand. Interrupting a conversion is no more polite on a repeater than it is in person.
Interrupting a QSO to make a call
If you need to make a directed call to another amateur but there is already another QSO going on, break into the conversation during the courtesy tone interval by saying “Call please, N3XYZ”. One of the stations will allow you to make your call. If the station you are calling returns your call, you should quickly pass traffic to them and relinquish the frequency to the stations who were already in QSO; don’t get into a full QSO in the middle of someone else’s conversation. If you need to speak with the party you call for a significant length of time (say, more than 15 seconds), ask them to either wait until the current QSO has cleared, or ask them to move to another repeater or simplex channel to continue the conversation.
Roundtables and “Turning it Over”
When more than two amateurs are in a QSO, it is often referred to as a “roundtable” discussion. Such a QSO’s usually go in order from amateur A to amateur B to amateur C … and eventually back to amateur A again to complete the roundtable. To keep everyone on the same page, when an amateur is done making a transmission, they “turn it over” to the next station in sequence (or out of sequence, if so desired). Without turning it over to a particular station when there are multiple stations in the QSO, nobody knows who is supposed to go next, and it causes either dead silence or several stations talking at once. At the end of a transmission, turn it over to the next station by naming them or giving their call sign, such as “…and that’s that. Go ahead Joe.” or “….and that’s that. Go ahead XYZ.” If it’s been close to 10 minutes, it’s a good time to identify at the same time as well, such as “…and that’s that. N3XYZ, go ahead Joe.”
Identifying and Who’s Who?
By FCC regulations, you must always identify at 10-minute intervals and at the end of a transmission. If you are making a test transmission or calling another party, this is a one-way transmission. Since it has no “length” as there is no QSO taking place, you should identify each time you make a call or a test transmission. When identifying yourself and another party (or parties), or when making a directed call, your call sign goes LAST. “N3XYZ, K3ABC” means that K3ABC is calling N3XYZ, not the other way around. There is no need to identify each time you make a transmission, only once every 10 minutes. You do not need to identify the station with whom you are speaking, only your own call sign, but it is generally polite to remember the call of the other station. Avoid phonetics on FM unless there is a reason for using them, such as the other station misunderstanding your call sign. When phonetics are needed, stick to the standard phonetic alphabet.
From time to time, an amateur may want to demonstrate the capabilities of amateur radio to another non amateur. The typical way to do this is to ask for a “demo” such as “N3XYZ for a demonstration.” Anyone who is listening to the repeater can answer them back. Usually telling the calling party your name, call sign, and location is what they are looking for, not a lengthy conversation. Someone doing a demo may ask for stations in a particular area to show the range of amateur radio communications, such as if the calling station is in the Poconos they may ask for any stations in south Jersey or Harrisburg areas, which is more interesting than demonstrating that they can talk to someone in the same town as they are in.
If you are unsure how well you are making it into the repeater, DO NOT ‘kerchunk’ the repeater. Any time you key up the repeater, you should identify, even if you are just testing to see if you are making the machine. “N3XYZ test” is sufficient. Do not use the repeater as a “target” for tuning or aiming antennas, checking your transmitter power, etc. Use a dummy load where appropriate, or test on a simplex frequency. If you need someone to verify that you are making the repeater OK, ask for a signal report such as “N3XYZ, can someone give me a signal report?” “Radio check” is a term most often used on CB, “signal report” is what most amateurs ask for.
Aside from some of the techno-syncracies inherent in amateur vernacular, use plain conversational English. The kind of English that would be suitable for prime-time television, not R rated movies. Avoid starting or encouraging conflicts on the air. If a topic of conversation starts to draw strong debate, change the subject. Avoid “radio-ese” lingo whenever possible. CB has its own language style and so does amateur radio, but the two are not the same. Amateurs have “names”, not “personals”. Although many new hams have graduated from the CB ranks, let’s try to keep CB lingo off the amateur bands. When visiting a new repeater, take some time to monitor before jumping in to get a feel for the type of traffic and operating mannerisms of that particular system. Some repeaters are very free-wheeling in that there are people jumping in and out of conversations constantly. Others primarily have directed calls on them and discourage rag chewing. Others are member-exclusive repeaters. Listen before you talk, when in Rome do as the Romans do.
If there is a QSO going on, break into a conversation with the word “Break” or “Break for priority traffic.” DO NOT USE THE WORD BREAK TO JOIN IN A QSO UNLESS THERE IS AN EMERGENCY! All stations should give immediate priority any station with emergency traffic.
If there is malicious interference, such as kerchunking, touch-tones, rude comments, etc. DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE IT! Continue the QSO in a normal fashion. If the interference gets to the level where it is impossible to carry on the QSO, simply end the QSO as you normally would.
Use the minimum power necessary to complete a QSO. However, the minimum power necessary doesn’t just mean you are barely tickling the repeater receiver squelch. If someone says that you are noisy, increase power or relocate or take whatever measures you can to improve your signal. Continuing to make transmissions after being told your signal is noisy is inconsiderate to those listening. The amateur radio manufacturers continue to come up with newer, smaller handheld radios, many with power levels well under a watt. Many new amateurs start out with a handheld radio as their “first rig”. Although convenient, they aren’t the most effective radios in terms of performance. Without a good external antenna, operating a handheld radio indoors or inside a car is going to result in a lot of bad signal reports.
Repeater Use Policy
We understand that everyone slips once in a very great while, no matter how hard they try. But, we expect all users of the repeaters to do their very best to follow these few simple and obvious rules of repeater conduct.
1. Always identify according to the regulations.
Proper operating procedure is a distinct characteristic of Amateur Radio. It’s important that you convey to the public and to new hams the image that Amateur Radio operators really know what they are doing. A friendly style is great but takes pains to operate professionally. Don’t become sloppy. Amateur Radio regulations are largely self-enforced and we all need to work together towards these goals.
2. Avoid lengthy conversations.
Please limit conversations to 15 or 20 minutes. Then take a good long break or move to another frequency. Other hams probably want to use the repeater but might not be interested in the subject your group is discussing. None of us should monopolize the repeater, even unintentionally. It’s not enough to pause now and then and invite others to join in. They may just not be interested in the topic. Be polite, and don’t be a “repeater hog.”
3. Wait 3 or 4 seconds after the squelch tail before keying up.
Some folks are in such a hurry that they key the repeater without waiting for the transmitter to completely drop, plus 3 or 4 seconds. This behavior doesn’t allow the transmitter to cool down during a lengthy QSO, and can shorten the life of the finals on the repeater.
Waiting 3 or 4 seconds can also allow others to jump in, or for an emergency call to be made.
4. Do not engage in political soap boxing.
Soapboxing, which goes hand-in-hand with overly long conversations, is when people carry on a conversation on the repeater that is a thinly disguised broadcast. The subject is generally to “put down” an institution, group, or an individual for as wide as possible an audience. This is very objectionable to other repeater users and listeners. Using the club’s repeaters as a platform for soapboxing is unacceptable. Conversations on the repeaters should be friendly ones. Do not make them negative commentaries on institutions, groups, or people. Avoid discussions on inappropriate subjects including politics, sex, and religion!
Are we talking about censorship? No, not exactly. A person may have the right to stand on the street and say things about someone. They don’t have the same right when they are a guest in that person’s house. When using the repeaters, you are an operator of our station. No one has any right to use the club’s repeaters in ways that the club feels are objectionable.
5. Do not routinely circumvent the time-out timer.
The repeater’s time-out timer serves two purposes. The first purpose is to satisfy regulation, requiring us to limit repeater transmissions to a maximum of three minutes under automatic control.
6. Always yield the frequency to a breaking station. This applies to calling or breaking stations you never know if they have an emergency or not…no more “station recognized”. Always yield the frequency to an ARES/SKYWARN net, whether it is a practice net or not.
7. Selling other items OTHER than ham related equipment.
Obviously selling any ham equipment is allowed as long as it’s not done on a regular basis as a business. Although having run swap nets for years, some of the regulars were in the business of buying and selling. It was overlooked. But lately, people in general conversations are advertising their vehicles, toys, other non-ham related equipment and discussing prices. This is absolutely unacceptable on the repeater and will not be tolerated.
8. Our repeaters are “G-Rated & Family friendly” 24 hours a day.
You never know who may be listening. Even late at night, there are generally people listening to the repeater, including non-hams. This is important to understand for several reasons. Our repeaters serve many purposes. One of the most important is the exposure it gives the hobby to the community. Any scanner can be used to listen to our repeaters. That’s good – It’s actually the most visible aspect of our club. It’s one of our most effective forms of publicity. We want non-hams to know that Amateur Radio is an interesting hobby and a good group of people to get to know – something clean and educational – something they would want their kids to get involved in. Children may or may not listen late at night, but their parents do. We want any ham that listens to us to think of us as good operators, not idiots.
Any time we talk on the repeater, we are ambassadors for CARC and amateur radio. Have you ever noticed how you like to listen to some repeaters, but sometimes you find a repeater that makes you roll your eyes and twist the knob? We can lose good people because of what they hear on our repeaters.
Our rule is simple: absolutely no obscene, indecent or profane language at any time. Avoid discussions on inappropriate subjects including politics, sex, and religion. Avoid making intentional inflammatory statements. Make sure you Identify your station per FCC rules.
What gives CARC the right to tell someone how to operate?
All repeaters have rules. These rules often go beyond Part 97. And, users who refuse to comply with the repeater’s rules can be told to stop using the repeaters. This is entirely at the judgment of the repeater trustees. The FCC supports a trustee’s right to control the use of their repeaters.