These are guidelines. Suggested methods and ideas that will help to minimize problems and maximize everyone's enjoyment of our repeaters. The only LAW that applies and MUST be followed is Part 97.
As in all Amateur Operations, your are responsible for your own actions - no one else's.
The Amateur's Code
The Radio Amateur is...
Considerate ...never knowingly operates in such a way as to infringe upon the pleasure of others.
Loyal ...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through whom Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
Progressive ...with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.
Friendly ... slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
Balanced ...radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.
Patriotic ...station and skill always ready for service to country and community
Paul M. Segal, W9EEA 1928
One of the most exciting things we as Amateur Radio Operators get to do on a regular basis is converse with other fellow "hams" on repeaters; repeaters have done to amateur radio what the chat room did to the internet. And for any ham, a repeater can be a very fascinating and painless way to get information and make a whole host of contacts without touching your VFO knob!
But with that capability comes a lot of responsibility, to always treat other operators with respect and present our hobby (some might call it a "way of life") in a positive light to ANYONE that might be listening in, whether it's another ham, someone with a scanner, or even those really nice guys that give us Call Signs!
It's in this spirit that we've assembled here a list of commonly-accepted "repeater etiquette" rules to help take some of the headache out of operating on any repeater you might stumble across. Keep in mind, this list is certainly not all-inclusive, nor is it absolute, but follow these few simple rules and you'll be well on your way to being the operator YOU want to be!
- Be sure you listen to a repeater before "keying it up" to make sure it's not already in use.
- Per FCC Rules & Regs, you must ALWAYS allow a distressed station to have priority access to a repeater and it is your DUTY to assist that station in any and every way you can.
- Don't intentionally "kerchunk" a repeater; if you're pressing that PTT switch, you're lawfully required to toss out your call sign with it. And if you're having problems operating the repeater, you can probably get help from another station simply by calling on the designated "call" frequency for your band.
- Always remember to use clear and concise English, free of any jargon, slang, "CB-Talk," profanity, slurs and/or epithets or any other form of offensive/off-color speech when you're communicating in ANY mode.
- Just like any other conversation, remember to use your best judgement and be respectful when involving yourself in an in-progress QSO.
- Remember to ID your station every 10 minutes during your QSO, and at the end of your communication. Though not required in the rules, it is considered a courtesy to ID when you start a QSO on a repeater as well.
- Let the repeater "drop" completely before keying it up again: Not only is this the proper way to carry on a QSO, it gives others a chance to "break" in to the conversation, and that "breaking" station may be in distress. Most repeaters have a 'time out' timer. If you keep the machine keyed longer than a certain amount of time, it'll shut down for awhile. You may find yourself talking to dead air!
- Keep all conversation, whether on a repeater or off, free and clear of any controversial and/or profane speech. Remember, ANYONE could be listening at ANY time, and one person's inflammatory, derogatory or profane statements can put an entirely different light to our hobby. Let's prove our excellence in all we do!
- Keep in mind that some conversations are best held in private. It's tacky to complain about someone or something in public, and perhaps even more so on the airwaves. Let's keep that kind of discussion where it belongs: behind closed doors or on the telephone.
- Repeaters and their associated radio systems are very costly to purchase and maintain and these costs are always absorbed by someone. As such, always be respectful of another person's equipment: don't access or attempt to access "restricted" repeater functions (such as an Autopatch, EchoLink/IRLP or other systems) without prior permission from the machine's owner. The "Golden Rule" applies here perhaps more than anywhere.
- Remember that use of a repeater is a PRIVILEGE, not a right.
So there you have it! A few rules, that, if followed, will make using a repeater easy and enjoyable for everyone!
Repeater "Rules of the Road"
Taken from the Montgomery Amateur Radio Club website.
- If you have questions about the use of the repeaters, please ask. FCC Part 97 rules apply AT ALL TIMES.
- Listen for at least 10 seconds before transmitting to be sure the repeater is not already in use or ask "Is the repeater in use?".
- In accordance with FCC requirements, the repeater has a timer set for slightly less than three minutes. Resetting of the timer is indicated by a courtesy tone. WAIT for the tone before transmitting.
- If you wish to join a conversation in progress, wait until the end of a transmission and give your call sign promptly. There is a short delay between the end of a transmission and the courtesy tone. Stations already in conversation wait for the courtesy tone before transmitting.
- If you need access to the repeater for an emergency transmission, say "EMERGENCY" and give your call sign when you break into an ongoing conversation.
- Do not use "break" or "break break" since they have special meaning for most operators and usage varies around the U.S. Use "EMERGENCY" or your call sign.
- Always allow a breaking station to transmit immediately. Allow a station an opportunity to report emergencies or ask for directions or other assistance. This is particularly important during commuting periods and periods of bad weather when the need for emergency assistance calls are most likely.
- Avoid business talk (FCC Part 97 rules). When in doubt, DON'T.
- Remember Amateur frequencies are not private lines - what you say on the repeater can and will be heard by many people (including the FCC). Always assume you have an audience.
- Do not say things that may offend others who may be listening. Be circumspect in discussing private personal family affairs on the repeater. Do not "advertise" your house will be unoccupied during vacations, etc.
- The repeater gives its own ID. You must also identify your station by giving your call sign every 10 minutes during a conversation and at the end of your participation. You do not have to identify the other stations nor do you have to identify yourself with every transmission.
- Monitor the repeater. Members or visitors may call for assistance. Visitors may just want a friendly conversation on the way through the Washington area.
- If you hear what you believe to be deliberate interference, do not attempt to communicate with the interfering station. Switch to the repeater input frequency and, if you can hear the signal, record the following information for use in locating the source:
- signal strength
- your location
- date and time
- your antenna and receiver
- and characteristics of the RF, audio or voice that might help in identification
Report the information to a member of the Board of Directors or the Club Officers.
- Do not discuss interference incidents on the air.
- While the repeater pairs are exclusive in this area, there may be times when other repeaters may be heard. Propagation conditions are occasionally such that we will hear output signals from other repeaters. The input signals from stations in other repeater service areas will sometimes bring up our repeater. Our use of the minimum power necessary to access our repeater will help minimize interference with our neighbors. Be tolerant of the annoyances resulting from these unusual conditions.