Frequently Asked Questions-for SRG

This is a dynamic list. It changes, based on general knowledge (or lack of) out there. This is to help you. It is rather long however it's highly recommended to take the time to read and understand. It will improve your enjoyment on the repeater. CO's (Control Operator) are here to help if you need it, too. Questions (from you) are in blue, while the answers are in black.

For "home" (start over) click here.

Please note: Viewing with a "smart phone" may be challenging; it's best to view with a desk top computer with a larger screen.

When you email for the access information be sure to mention you have read this FAQ. That will make the process quicker.

Is this an open repeater?
Yes, in one word. It's for Public Service / emergencies and secondary use for hobbies and fun talk.

The repeater is controlled (for quality). What this means is pro active management such as this FAQ and other guidelines to make it a nice place to operate for you and the other users. Another is asking folks to register (free) so its known you have the correct access information. Things will go smoother that way. When you register please indicate if any information is sensitive, which will be protected (ie. phone number). It's SRG's mission to get folks on the repeater correctly (instead of half-hazard information (on-line, etc.) from imperfect sources).

Is the access info found on line?
No, mainly because most info on line can be misleading and not current. Also, because of some electronic terrorists (ET) the current info is not published and not discussed over the air. However, you are welcome to request the access info for free to join the Group. When you do, please remember to include your call sign. Someone will get you fixed up with the info in a timely manor.

Is S.R.G. a club?
Yes, however, is very informal because of no SRG nets or meetings. There's no "stuffy robots", strict folks or politics here. It's laid-back. Based out of Spokane, Washington, SRG is just an informal group that wishes to keep the hobby alive with a nice operation. In the past there were occasional annual barbecue-meetings to keep the mission of SRG focused. Covid has put a crunch on this. However, SRG is open to all suggestions.

Is this a bunch of repeaters linked together?
Short answer; NO. Most folks that are "webmasters" that post web site pages, are used to saying "link" meaning, something to turn on or off. In some cases they are not aware how SRG works. Without contacting SRG and only posting guess-work this can lead to confusion down the road.

You may be used to conventional repeaters, such as the Evergreen Inter-Tie, DMR, WIRES-X, Win System, AllStar, different nodes with different Clubs, owners, etc. SRG is different. It's ONE repeater on 147.20 MHz. This is the main access frequency. Having said this; yes, a second access frequency of 145.450 MHz has been added to help out with the 147.20 coverage. The coverage map illustrates this; showing the .20 and .45 access points (147.20 and 145.45).

What's a link?
The work "link" is an operational term (for most) and not a technical term. Other repeaters may have a "link" that you turn on to connect to other repeaters/Clubs, etc, such as the Evergreen Inter-Tie. For SRG there is nothing to "connect" or turn on or off. Everything is one repeater and automatic.

Where is the repeater located?
Many locations. You may be used to knowing where a conventional repeater is located (site) so you can determine where you can get into it. SRG is different. Try to un-learn what you've experienced on other repeaters. Try to think of this as one repeater, with lots of coverage. It's understandable that you, the user, experiences a "repeater" being on the 147.20 pair. The repeater is based out of Spokane, with about twenty "towers" (sites) around Eastern Washington State to pick up your signal. These are referred to as "access points". The repeater is easy to figure out and operate. What's going on in the background is complicated however, and not needed to understand to get on the air. However, if you wish to get involved with SRG and its maintenance there is training available.

FCC requires you know what frequency you are on. Therefore, coverage areas are based on the nearest town/city (not counties or mountain sites). This also makes it meaningful for newcomers and travelers who probably know a town but not a site.

What does the repeater cover?
This coverage map should show you the coverage for SRG. The colors indicate the coverage area while the numbers are the frequencies.

[20 coverage]













Any coverage on the West side?
Not now. There used to be. Past partner on the West side lost interest in his repeater therefore, sold it. However, it could return if someone on the West side could find a 2-meter pair for SRG for conductivity. Also, in this case there would be a "link" to turn on and off.

How do I get into the repeater?
You request the (free) access information. You need this to program your radio for the proper parameters. It will show the coverage areas and what to program into your radio. Without that the repeater won't work properly for you. The information is not discussed over the air or on public forums (social media, etc) however, it can be emailed (or regular mail) to you for your use only. If you know of someone else needing it please have them contact SRG like you are doing.

I have an old radio without tone. Can anything be done?
Yes, you can also install a tone generator (encoder) in your radio. Communications Specialist is an excellent source. You will need to have some tools and know-how for the installation.

I found the access info on my own, or in the repeater directory.
Repeater directories and other on-line publications can be outdated or giving out the wrong information in some cases, such as with SRG. Bringing up the repeater does not mean you have the correct tone, or will get through. There are things happening in the background designed for interference suppression and to "hunt and peck" around with your tone selector only complicates the situation. It is best to request the access information.

I have a new radio with all kinds of features, bells and whistles
Avoid getting "wrapped around the axle" with all the tone settings. The basic setup should be carrier squelch on your receive and tone on your transmit. No digital or other signaling is needed or desired. Also, be aware some of these Japanese and Chinese radio's user manuals sometime say confusing terms in this subject area.

Is that called "PL" ?
"PL" is a Motorola trademark meaning Private Line, which was developed before amateur repeaters, and is a misunderstanding. PL is a slang for CTCSS; continuous tone coded squelch system.

Does tone (or PL) mean a "closed" repeater ?
Absolutely not..! This is an OPEN repeater. Tones are to control interference and to select the various access points on the repeater. Hopefully, this FAQ clears up any misunderstandings from on-line repeater listings or other hearsay. It's important for SRG to squash misinformation.

I saw a directory or on-line listing showing it "closed".
It appears some frequency coordination bodies consider a repeater "closed" if the access information is not published. That is not the case with SRG; the repeater is open and the information is available via a secure medium (keeps the ET's away). The directories normally call them "repeaters". SRG is different and it's "access points" provide coverage where you are. Also, beware some on-line directories may not be current. One in particular called "RepeaterBook" has an open policy that anyone can make changes. Even though they are trying to do a good job, information can be wrong and add to the confusion for the new guys. The on-line listing have good intentions, that may work for conventional repeaters however, can not properly explain the repeater, nor have the manpower for that. You can use it as a general guide to see that a frequency is in use in that area, but that's about it. It's best to get all your information from this web site; right here.

As part of the Patriot Act, addressing U.S.A. security, amateur radio can be a part of it by providing emergency traffic. For a proper operation radio interference (RFI) needs to be eliminated. Some interference comes from bad people, we call "ET" (for electronic terrorist), by getting a hold of the sensitive access information and jamming our repeaters in the area. Therefore, when you apply for the access info please keep it to your self. (no listing on the internet, such as social media, general repeater database listings, etc.) We thank you in advance for helping out in this matter.

I found x.xx MHz frequency I happen to be hunting around for on various bands and hear some of the same traffic as the 20 frequency. Some of these are in the repeater directory.
As a reminder, we have three VHF bands and three UHF bands for amateur use. (6, 2, 1.25, meters; 70, 33 and 23 centi-meter bands, respectively). These bands have "sub-bands" for auxiliary and linking usage. Other sub-bands are for (user) repeater in and outputs. The repeater's connection points use many frequencies on VHF and UHF. These are for support of the 147.20 repeater. Unfortunately, some on-line frequency listings list links, thus causing additional confusion and frustration. It's an ongoing challenge to correct these listings.

Is the repeater available for emergency traffic? (For the real thing).
Absolutely yes. That's what the amateur radio service is about. For true emergencies contact SRG as soon as possible. Nets of any kind are normally not done on the repeater, with the exception during a REAL emergency, nets may occur to pass emergency traffic. Having said that; EOCs occasionally wish to use the repeater for a practice, perhaps once or twice a year. In some cases the repeater can be "adjusted" to accommodate most situations. If you are an EOC reading this please ask all your people to go to SRG web site, read this FAQ, then request the current access information for themselves. SRG provides reasonable accommodations for challenged folks, who don't have internet access. They can (US) mail the request, too. Operation will go more smoothly this way (instead of handing-off second-hand information from imperfect sources).

I learned we should not "tie up" the repeater for local stuff and go to simplex.
Perhaps you have been ridiculed on other repeaters by tying up the frequency for conversations lasting more than a few minutes or read about that in ARRL or other publications? Or perhaps you have been told it's for emergency traffic or drills only?

For SRG that is not the case. SRG promotes coverage in Eastern Washington. One way to accomplish this is to use the repeater. That way everyone can hear what's going on. Who knows, maybe someone out of town might be interested in listening, or even want to join in.

Having said this, there are cases where moving to a local repeater or simplex is appropriate:

  • You and your "buddy" are doing quick, chit-chat back and forth in the same area for more than a few minutes.

  • You are coordinating directions with another amateur and only a few blocks away,

  • You want to get into a "drama" thing, or want a low-key conversation.

  • You and your "buddy" are ranting about something, or want to go on and on about a subject that may be annoying to others listening to the repeater.

  • You and your "buddy" are talking about something boring which could cause others to turn their radio off.

    I broke in a current conversation. Being a "newbie" I'm now getting nervous or intimidated and have nothing to say.

    We understand that and not to worry. Perhaps that's why many folks like "nets" whereas, one "checks-in" then can just listen to the rest of the traffic. If you are in this frame of mind, no problem and you are welcome to stay or sign off from the group at any time. Hopefully, you'll be back when you are more comfortable.

    I don't hear a courtesy tone (roger-beep)
    Asking this indicates you come from the "newer school". That's okay. When a station is done transmitting and unkeys, there is the familiar squelch burst heard by others on the repeater. A beeper for every transmission is redundant, unnecessary and even distracting from real important indicators that might be noticed on the repeater. Rather than having an "electronic leash" SRG relies on your responsibility of leaving a second or two "gap" between transmissions in case someone needs to get in. In the future "beepers" (actually "eepers") might be used to show status of unusual conditions, such as a link up, or emergency power, etc. where real attention may be needed.

    After I unkey, I get a long tail (some folks from down south call it a "hang time"). Do I need to let it drop out each time?
    No. The long tail saves the repeater from being up and down during a normal contact/conversation to avoid the (second) annoying squelch burst in your receiver. The other reason is the repeater has a delay when it first comes up. This is another reason you need say the person you are calling, followed by your call sign. If you forget about this delay at least your call sign should be heard.

    The repeater was in use, so I couldn't use it. And I was afraid to "break-in".
    If you having something relevant to the conversation it's not an interruption. Or perhaps you need to make a quick call to another station. The other stations should be able to respond to your break-in and help you. As a reminder, when you are in contact with another station (perhaps a family member) you are subject to monitoring and possibly a breaking station wishing to get in as well. The only way to have a private, uninterrupted contact is with a cell phone, but that's not amateur radio.

    TIP: Because of the repeater (connection) delays, short words like "break" or "comment" or "contact" usually don't get through. Therefore, it's best to say your call sign first and then anything else you wish to say in one transmission.

    I can't get a word in edgewise.
    It's true some groups get going in fun, snappy, quick, razzing comments back and forth to each other and you want to join in. You may be used to HF communications, with (simplex) transceivers that respond to quick transmissions. Not so in this case and can be a problematic area. When you are trying to in get a conversation keep in mind there are delays from when you press your PTT to the point others hear your signal.

    This is also misunderstood; that you do not need to talk fast. But you need to start transmitting (PTT) right away, only during trying to get in. Listen for the squelch burst and give your call sign. The squelch burst occurs when the other station unkeys. To help you understand what's happening in the repeater this timing chart may help you.

    In some areas I receive interference, almost like another repeater on the same frequency.
    Near Ritzville, Davenport, South of Manastash pass are "overlap" areas. This may be that you are hearing more than one of the 147.20 transmitters. To reduce this issue is very expensive however, if enough demand (and support) to clear these areas up, it is possible. The FM "capture affect" is relied on for these areas. This means the stronger (and closer) repeater transmitter will override the other transmitter that's further away from you. Also, try switching to the .45 pair; which was installed to help with this issue.

    Keep in mind the repeater was designed for a station in "normal" areas, being on highways, home or other lower level areas. Just like a "cell phone service" subscriber unit (you, the user) won't work well when you are up high in some areas. This is because you will be receiving more than one 20 transmitter. You can still use the repeater, at any rate.

    Which frequency do I use for my area?
    Refer to the chart below for the list of frequencies, which is only two; 147.20 and 145.45. The SRG repeater happens to cover a wide area, on the same (primary) frequency of 147.20 in Eastern Washington. The secondary frequency is to avoid the overlap areas. True, there are many transparent connection points and technical things happening when you press your mic button, but that is all automatic support in the background for the repeater's several transmitters and receivers (just put it in "drive" and go). The only change you make in your radio is the frequency and transmit tone for your area. Tones are designated to the nearby city/town, (not tower sites) covering your area. The coverage map will show these designations and will clarify this.

    Gee, now I can call my spouse/SO anytime and it's free.
    This is not private telephone or cell phone. We all share the same frequency and privileges. We share this repeater like a "party line", therefore, expect others are listening (we hope so, in case you need help) and even might want to join in, or at least make a call during your contact. This is normal and encouraged. Just keep in mind everything you or your spouse talks about can be heard most anywhere in the State and is public information. Therefore, everyone will know what's for dinner at your place and be showing up on your doorstep. (just kidding; about the doorstep!)

    Tip: Keep the personal problems or goody kissy-talk for in-person or your cell phone. We know you love your spouse; why else would you be married?

    Are there dues?
    Support is not required although very much needed. By supporting SRG financially it will a give a better chance for keeping the repeater running in the future years. Sites and equipment are expensive. When membership funding is low there is no money to fix something, which could last months or even years (as in the case of the Omak receiver).

    SRG is interested in accepting donations from folks that are not concerned about "how many contacts I can make for my money", rather just want to see the repeater stay on the air. If you cannot support this repeater you are still welcome for occasional use and of course, any emergency or health and welfare traffic.

    I have a budget. How much should I send in?
    Amateur radio is a hobby, not a competitive business however, both have operating expenses to make it possible. With a quality repeater it takes more sites to do a good job of wide coverage therefore, costs more to operate. Annual membership of $50 will help with those costs. That is less than 14 cents a day for 24/7 availability for usage.

    If you stop and think what internet access, telephone (or cellular) service, movies or other treats; membership is a bargain. If it's a priority to help this repeater that shouldn't be a problem. If you have a true financial hardship lessor amounts will still help out and give you basic repeater access in Spokane on 147.20. Other repeater "clubs" around the area have several hundred "members" to support the their repeater. SRG is a small Club therefore, the repeater owner has supplemented the expenses out of his pocket to keep the repeater going since 1976. Any Donation money goes to the maintenance/site rent of the repeater. Where to send funds are on the "contact page" on this site.

    I just bought a new little portable radio. How far does it work?
    This is a tough question to answer in a short paragraph. Portable (two-way) radios are a wonderful compromise of handiness and misunderstanding. Several members use them, including the repeater owner. You need to know of the limitations otherwise, they can be very handy, hence, the slang name came about as "handi-talki". A portable radio typically transmits 1, one-hundredth the power that a repeater transmits, so very roughly, if you are hearing the repeater very strong you probably can get into it.







    Try to picture that the repeater is like the Sun. You can see it everywhere on one half of this planet, and many, miles out in space. Then use a flashlight to shine a light to someone standing on the Moon. Not going to work very well. This is an extreme example, but to emphasize the power difference between your portable radio and the repeater . Know the general coverage of the repeater you are working. It might surprise you or might disappoint you. This is not like a cell phone. Cell companies install dozens of "tower" stations around your area so at least one will pick up your weak signal. They have lots of money to spend. Hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most Clubs have a few hundred to play with. Private repeaters have less. Most repeaters have ONE site and you need to be close to that one site. SRG has several "receiving" antennas around Spokane so you can get away with the HT. However, there still are "dead-spots". The rest of the state has one "receiving" antenna (for each coverage area) therefore, you would be best to use a mobile running at least an ERP of +44 dbm with a good, outside antenna. (for math challenged folks that's more than 25 watts at 50 ohms). There's nothing wrong with experimenting, just keep in mind it is annoying for others to listen to a "scratchy" (noisy) signal from you lasting more than a few minutes. Also, be aware some of these cheap Chinese radios have low mic audio; that combined with a weak carrier can be tough to understand you. But give it a try and if in doubt ask for a signal report from a CO (control operator) or qualified amateur listening on the repeater.

    Does a 100 watt mobile get out 100 times (in miles) more than one watt?
    No. Power figure expressed in "watts" can be a another misunderstanding. "Watts" is normally a marketing thing to impress people. Most folks think of that light bulb they buy at the hardware store. We won't get into the (boring) math, but keep in mind a hundred-to-one power ratio is a lot less than you would think. Power figures are a result of "ohm's law", described in the A.R.R.L. radio amateurs Handbook. Logarithmic figures are more practical. It's not needed to read about more of this however, if you are welcome to check it out, later, on a separate document here.

    I had an unpleasant experience on the repeater.
    In the event you witnessed a hostile event, personal attack or otherwise inappropriate action on the repeater please contact SRG as soon as possible. Do not acknowledge or say anything over the air about this, especially to a "jammer" person. Send as much information in the email as you can for example, who was involved, times dates, etc. It will investigated to determine if this was intentional or an accident and take the appropriate action. To record the event would be very helpful, too. SRG wishes this to be a fun, nice place to be.

    This sounds all new and intimidating.
    Please feel at home. It's understood we all have to start somewhere and maybe make an "oops" once and in a while. You are not going to get your head bit off if you make any ignorant mistakes. We are not robots; just humans. If you monitor the frequency for a week or so, that might help you understand how things work on here. Most likely this FAQ answered all your questions you may have had. There are not really any "stupid" questions. You are really "smart" to ask a question, so you will learn. Others listening on the frequency might learn, too.

    I noticed the "SRG Home" image on several areas on the site, here.
    Internet search "engines" have "spiders" that go out on the web and look at many (html) documents on many sites. Key words such as what you are searching for end up in the search engines "database" so the next time you search they come up with a brief description about the site "hit". Some of those "hits" are not complete paths to the proper site therefore, if you go there you sometimes will see only that specific document which might be confusing relevant to the site you are looking for. The SRG images are clickable and will get you back to the "main" home page as a starting point. For example, the image at the bottom of this page (html) "document" returns you to home.

    Okay, so, what in the world is "html" ?
    Hyper Text Markup Language. Your PC accesses web sites with an (IP) address (in your browser's address window). Those sites send back a file, in the form of text. To make the this site look better, and to control the way it displays on your PC, the "Hyper" has instructions given to your browser, in turn, your screen to accomplish this.

    Can I copy and "save" this HTML file?
    Sure. You know as well as others there is nothing to prevent anyone from "downloading" anything one sees on the Internet. But it was nice for you to ask. You can copy any documents on the SRG site. If you find any typos however, it sure would be nice if you let the Author know so it can be corrected. On the tech "copyright" info, it can be copied in complete form with the Author given credit. However, documents (including this one) are subject to corrections and updates therefore, it's best to visit this site instead of saving them on your PC or in hardcopy format.

    I had a little trouble reading this FAQ. For example, is this question's font okay? If you don't like the font, please report that. Or perhaps, is this font better or bad? If the font type, size or whatever was not very compatible with your screen and/or browser you should contact SRG for adjustments can be made on the web site. Also, all upper case or bold type in a message or document is bad, since it losses any emphasis one needs to make. We care.

    As mentioned above; when you email for the access information be sure to mention you have read this FAQ. That will make the process quicker.

    Rules for operations (you need to read this).

    Guidelines Optional good ideas and suggestions.

    Access information request page.

    A note from the owner and President:

    I hope you enjoy the repeater. It's taken many years to get it to where it's now.
    '73, Karl Shoemaker, AK2O

    [SRG home Direction]