By coming here and reading this already shows that you care how you operate and want to do the right thing. You probably have little to be concerned about however, you are encouraged to see how good operating practice works on the system. What we (good operators) need to be aware of is that there area only a few "bad apples" and they just do not take the time to learn proper operatings proceedures. Perhaps we can show a good example.S.R.G. Operational Guidelines:
Any discussions are encouraged on the system. Current topics on the air include the art of radio, technical or other interesting subjects, or coordinating work projects. Other uses could be to contact your friends or relatives. In a REAL emergency the system is available for emergency traffic. That's what amateur radio is about. Please contact SRG either by email or on the air for arrangements on long term emergency traffic, since the repeater can possibly be reconfigured to accommodate such traffic.
Users are asked NOT to give out any access codes (tone sub-audible or DTMF). Code access helps keeps the System protected against interference; accidental or intentional. Some of the newer type radios have a bunch of bells and whistles, including decoding schemes. Trying to figure out on one's own can be frustrating or misleading, since the system uses it's own signaling for system operations, plus their are usually a couple of remote system receivers out there on carrier squelch. Therefore, just because you find a tone and bring up the system does not necessarily mean you have the correct tone in your radio. If you hear of folks trying this, please ask them to write or email for the PROPER access information. In most cases the system will work much better when they do this. There is technical information available. In the future, when the Seattle link is rebuilt refrain from bringing it up to non-members. While it's good intentions, doing this bypasses the motive to support the system properly. Just recommend them to send in for the information. The address is on the first page.
The system is one (147.20) repeater incorporating several voting receivers and transmitters around the area gives wide area coverage all on 20. There is a slight delay for signals to get across the state, so you need to leave a little space before you start transmitting in case another station wants to say something from the far end. Also, when you do key-up wait a 1/4 second before talking to avoid your first word from being cut off at the far end. As technology and funds permit this delay can be reduced. Having said this there is a second repeater added to the system on 145.450 MHz. There's nothing to turn on or off it's part of the 20 system.
The System does not use a beeper, "courtesy" tone or any other form of an electronic "leash" which was intended to remind folks to leave a little room for a break. For responsible folks this is not a problem. A second or two pause is fine. Beepers could be used in the future for system status, however, presently is redundant, distracting and unnecessary.
The 3 minute time-out resets on the (user) input signal absence. The repeater's long tail, avoids the carrier being dropped out for each transmission, and thus avoids another squelch "burst" in your speaker. Therefore, you don't have to let it drop, just a short pause between transmissions is fine. There are several stations that share this frequency with you, so you should ID (FCC required) when you bring up the repeater. You should ID at the beginning of a contact, every 10 minutes, and at the end. It's redundant, annoying and unnecessary to ID for every transmission.
You should communicate your intentions and efforts. Just to key and say your call does not tell other users who are listening much. Are you just (being legal) and bringing up the repeater? Or are you wanting to talk to someone? Or just testing? They don't know just from a callsign. Example ID's are: If you're just testing, say:"(Your Call) testing". To see if anyone's out there say: "(Your Call) monitoring", or (Your Call) listening". Or to call your friend say: "(the other station's call) (your call)" When you are finished with your contact: "(your call) clear". If you call for a station and they do not respond, it's obvious to anyone else on the frequency. Although you may be trying to be courteous, it's unnecessary and redundant; in this case, to "clear" off. Just make your call, if no answer; that's all there's to it! (Try later) With a little practice it will come easy.
Your radio needs to be compatible with the system by running deviation at 5 KHz (maximum) and avoiding excessive mic gain with voice average around 4 KHz. DTMF should be 3 KHz. CTCSS should be less than 750 Hz preferably 300 Hz. Eastside CTCSS works down to 200 Hz. The newer style radios typically have way too much microphone sensitivity. This is what you DO NOT need in a noisy, mobile environment. Usually a 5-10K resistor installed in series with the mic element takes care of the problem. The A.R.R.L. publications have lots of good operational ideas. Books are available at your amateur radio (mail order) store. Or ask a control operator for help. If you have over modulated, loud, offensive audio you may be called to correct the condition.
Make your "QSO" (contact/conversation) interesting and meaningful. That doesn't mean you can't have fun and razzing your friends in that environment. This is fine because all parties concerned are having fun in a "rowdy" contact/roundtable. These folks engaged in such conversation expect to be razzed and snotty comments made. It's just part of the fun between these folks. When you monitor the repeater you'll observe this. If you do not have great people skills or otherwise a little nervous about joining a "rowdy" conversation, most of us on here will "turn it down" to your level of friendliness. Therefore, it's not necessary to wait until the conversation is done to get on the air. Just say your callsign between transmissions. For "newbies" use common sense to start with and go from there. If the subject(s) are interesting "rag-chews" and "round tables" are fine. Don't feel rushed to get off, if the others are enjoying interesting discussions. There's a small group here with a good sense of humor.
Make the radio contact your first priority (safety barring). A mistake "busy" people sometimes make is "multi-tasking" ; doing other duties, playing on the computer or internet, email, eating, talking and visiting with other people in person with you, etc. It's not fair to the others and sometimes considered rude. That will take you away from the radio contact, cause things to be lost, forgotten, long pauses between transmissions and causing frustration with the others in your contact. If you need to take care of another "task" just tell folks you have to go, sign off and handle it.
SRG does not support " CB " type of operation. Personal problems or other superfluous "CB" type lingo should be diverted to simplex or another repeater that tolerates that type of traffic. For example words like "personal" "on the side" "got a copy?" "break" "breaker" "10-4" are not appreciated and should be left out. Plain English works well and is encouraged on the repeater. Another tip: Rather than using the system like a "telephone" and turning off the radio when you are done, you are encouraged to monitor and make contact with others on the system to get acquainted. You might make some friends along the way !
Kind and sensitive folks should feel comfortable on the repeater. Having this said it my be easy to get a wrong impression if a couple folks on the repeater are having fun, "razzing" each other in appropriate taste with quick, snappy comments in a "humor" round table discussion. However, if you, yourself or family is directly badgered, intimidated or otherwise personally attacked on this repeater, at any time please contact SRG for action to be taken about the "bad guy". This has not happened in 30 years, however the owner feels appropriate to mention this for your protection and understanding that he cares.
The object for the rules is to encourage good operational practices for the experienced operators and set an example for others, who are learning. Don't be afraid - just be aware. We are all human and make mistakes. With your cooperation we can all have fun on the repeater !