FAQ

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 very long. Read as much as you want......it's recommend to take the time to read and understand. It will improve your enjoyment in amateur radio.

For "home" (start over) click here.




Is this an open repeater?
Yes, in one word.

This is a controlled, open repeater. This means the owner is pro-active managing to keep it clean and nice to listen. One method to accomplish this is asking folks to register (free) and follow the simple guide lines. Sensitive information is protected, such as your phone number and repeater codes.

Is S.R.G. a club?
Technically yes. Based out of Spokane, Washington, S.R.G. is just an informal group of hams that wish to keep the hobby alive with a nice operation. An annual meeting is the only current activity to keep the mission of SRG focused. Otherwise, informal "get together's" are discussed and planned on the air for others to join in. SRG is open to all suggestions.

Where is the repeater located? What area does it cover?
Try to un-learn what you've experienced on other repeaters. Try to think of this is one repeater, with lots of coverage. The repeater is based out of Spokane, with "towers" at several sites around Eastern Washington State to provide coverage. This is similar to a cellular phone provider. Like a provider, the repeater has coverage areas. On the SRG index (or here) click on the "Coverage Map" to see that. The repeater is easy to figure out and operate. What's going on in the background is complicated, however, not needed to understand to get on the air.

 

[20 coverage]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How do I get into the repeater?
The repeater is accessed with codes, most which are sub-audible (CTCSS) tones. You need to request the current access information. The address is at the bottom of this document, or you can go to the "contact page" on this site.

I have an old radio without tone. Can anything be done?
Yes, a couple of things. Without tone you can have limited access in the Spokane area only with a base station. There is a repeater input receiver (or two) on carrier squelch for this purpose. Tone is required to access the rest of the repeater's coverage areas. which can be done by installing an encoder. Communications Specialist is an excellent source. You will need to have some tools and know-how for the installation.

Is that called "PL" ?
"PL" is a Motorola trademark meaning Private Line, which was developed before amateur repeaters, and is a mis-understanding. 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 in Eastern Washington. Sometimes, the facts get twisted around to suit someone's point of view. SRG hopes to clear up any mis-communications with this FAQ.

I found the PL tone on my own, or in the repeater directory.
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 CTCSS tone selector only complicates the situation. It is best to request the access information. Repeater directories have good intentions, that may work for some repeaters however, can not begin to explain this repeater, nor have the manpower to keep up with the ever changing conditions. You can use it as a general guide to see that a frequency is in use in that area, but that's about it.

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 repeater. 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, 35 and 23 centi-meter bands, respectively). These bands have "sub-bands" for axillary 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, nothing more. Unfortunately, some of our frequency coordinators continue to leave such link frequencies in the repeater directory, thus causing additional confusion and frustration. If they would realize the name "repeater directory" is self-explanatory, not to be confused with "linking directory", would make life nicer for repeater owners and users. It's an ongoing struggle to convince them of this simple fact. Lodging a complaint to the A.R.R.L. about our coordinator may help and is your choice.

Is 147.20 available for emergency traffic?
Absolutely yes. That's what the amateur radio Service is about. For true emergencies contact SRG as soon as possible. In many cases the repeater can be "adjusted" to accommodate most situations.

I am monitoring the repeater but nothing is being heard. (I want something to happen)
The repeater is not like a broadcast station which transmits a signal (with voice, music, etc.) all the time. During periods of no activity your radio will be silent with your carrier squelch. This is a normal condition for operating on the FM bands. (lower HF bands with SSB/CW has that constant noise in the background during no activity).

If you wish to start some activity, just key up, say your call sign, along with something meaningful such as "monitoring" or "listening" TIP: If you just say your call sign some folks don't know your intentions. So make them clear and say what you want. Obviously, if you need emergency help just say that as well. Plain, clear English works real well.

Is this like the Inter-Tie ?
The 147.20 repeater is not connected with the Evergreen Intertie in any way. The E.G.I.T. a separate network of repeaters (and multiple Clubs/groups) used by many amateurs.

What can I talk about on the air ?
If you are wondering about this you might re-visit the ARRL and FCC sites under amateur rules. The obvious undesirables (no-no's) are:

  • Politics (serious discussions; does not include joking or razzing them)

  • Religion (serious discussions; same as above)

  • Profanity (occasional "this dam computer thingy" etc. is acceptable but not recommended)

  • Playing music is absolutely not allowed; even "patching" other services over the repeater, such as NOAA, Public Safety, short wave, etc.

  • Causing interference

    As with most U.S. governmental rules and people's interpretation of them; laws and regulations are left "open" for some people to use them in the "gray area".

    Another very minor issue is a "newbie" mistake to break in a conversation then getting nervous or intimidated and have nothing to say. We understand that. Perhaps that's why many folks like "nets" whereas, one "checks-in" then can just listen to the rest of the traffic. SRG promotes individual opinions, comments and fun conversation. The above "undesirables" listed can be "touched" on in a humorous way, such as "I wish God would make it snow today". This is understood as fun talk with a religious reference without preaching doctrine or other possible offensive contend to other people with different beliefs. Every person has a right to believe (or not) however, this subject and related activities should be avoided on the air, to any detail. amateur radio is a neutral medium/forum where-is all races, religion, military rank and civilian seniority is on neutral ground. amateur radio operators are people, no more, no less.

    I learned we should not "tie up" the repeater for local stuff and go to simplex.
    You might 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? For SRG that is not true. There is not enough traffic on 20 to be concerned with, like some other repeaters. SRG promotes all amateurs to hear what's going on in Eastern Washington. One way to accomplish this is to use the repeater. That way everyone can hear what's going on. So stay on the repeater. Who knows? Someone out of town might be interested in listening, or even want to join in. If there becomes a time when it gets too busy SRG will address a change in this answer. In the meantime, we could use some activity, so you are welcome to stay on 20. Some typical conversations can go on for an hour or more. Having said this, if you happen to be coordinating directions with another amateur and only a few blocks away, then, in this case simplex would be better.

    I don't get a courtesy tone (roger-beep)
    Asking this indicates you come from the "newer school". That's okay. When a station is done transmitting and un-keys, 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 to have an "electronic leash" S.R.G. relies on your responsibility of leaving a second or two "gap" between transmissions in case someone needs to get in. In the future "beepers" 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 un-key, I get a long tail. 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 the repeater has a delay when it first comes up. To avoid this delay the output carrier is designed to stay up during contacts. Just give a second or two pause between transmission and you should be fine. In the event that you did transmit continuously for over 3 minutes the repeater would time out and the output carrier would drop and stay off, until you stopped transmitting. In that case the repeater would reset, telling the others the repeater did reset by the output carrier coming back up.

    Gee, now I can call my spouse 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?

    The repeater was in use, so I couldn't use it. And I was afraid to "break-in".
    That's ridiculous. It is an unnecessary burden on you to wait until a discussion is done, since it could be a long time. This is not an interruption, especially if you have something constructive to add, or need to make a quick call to another station. The other stations should be able to respond to your break-in and help you. At the same rate, remember 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. Just drop your call sign between transmissions. The only way to have a private, uninterrupted contact is with a cell phone, but that's not amateur radio.

    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. This is currently a problematic area of the repeater. There are delays from when you press your PTT to the point others hear your signal. This is also misunderstood; you do not need to talk fast. But you need to start transmitting (PTT) right away. Listen for the squelch break and give your callsign. Remember a simple single word, such as "break", "comment" or "contact" may not be heard. Tip: Rather than using the word "contact" (this is not a 75-meter SSB net) it's better just to give your callsign.

    Another tip:
    If you suspect your transmission is being cut off or not completely heard here's a suggestion: As soon as you hear that familiar squelch burst (last person just unkeyed) say some "preamble" (such as "here is") then your callsign. This is especially true when the repeater is idle and you are the first station to bring it up. That way if the delay cuts off your first part (of "here is") that will get the other's attention (not to key up over you) and most likely your callsign will get through, which is the intent.

    For more information on human issues and behavior click here here.

    Which "repeater" do I use for my area?
    Try to un-learn what you know about a conventional repeater, or system of separate repeaters and groups/clubs. There is no "link" to turn on or off in Eastern Washington, and there is only ONE repeater, thus being 147.20 MHz. The SRG repeater happens to cover a wide area, on the same frequency in Eastern Washington. 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 access codes for your area. Codes are assigned to the nearby town, covering your area. Just request the info at the "contact page" on this site. If you are interested in helping out with the technical part you are welcome. You will need to communicate your intentions.

    There are plans to add a second "repeater" and this FAQ will have an updated answer.

    It's hard to change tones/areas while driving along the hyway.
    Here's a tip. Beforehand, program your radio with several positions on the same 147.80/20 frequency, but with different transmit tones. That way you just move your dial to the next "area". You are really just changing "area" access on 147.20 (with Tx offset, of course)

    In some areas I receive interference, almost like another repeater on the same frequency.
    Near Ritzville, Chelan Davenport, South of Manastash pass and upper SR97 are "overlap" areas. This means you are hearing more than one of the 147.20 transmitters. To reduce the "mixing" of the two signals is very expensive however, if enough demand (and support) to clear these areas up, it is possible.

    Are there dues?
    Support is not required however, very much needed. It will give a better chance for keeping the repeater running in the future years. Sites and equipment are expensive. 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 "true" emergency 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 coverage therefore, costs more to operate. The normal annual support is $50. Some folks spend that much every month on something.

    If you stop and think what internet access, telephone (or cellular) service, movies or other treats run you realize this 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. 147.20 is a "small" repeater, (in the 'red') 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 147.20. 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 one 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 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. 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 a portable. However, there still are "dead-spots". The rest of the state has one "receiving" antenna, therefore you would be best to use a mobile running at least a +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.

    Does a 100 watt mobile get out 100 times (in miles) more than one watt?
    No. Power figure expressed in "watts" can be a major misunderstanding. 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. What's THAT?.

    This sounds all new and intimidating.
    Please feel at home. The Owner understands we all have to start somewhere and has made an "oops" once and in a while. If you monitor the frequency for a week or so, that might help you understand how things work on here. You can go over the SRG guide lines as well, right here. If you are in another town (Wenatchee, for example) you are welcome to use it like a "local" repeater. That way folks in other towns might have a chance hear what's going on or even join in. SRG believes that's what repeaters are for. 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 documents on many sites (html documents) "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. An example, is the image at the bottom of this page (html) "document".


    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 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 anything on the SRG page. If you find any typos, however, it sure would be nice if you let the owner know so he can correct it. On the tech "copywright" info, it can be copied in complete form with the Author given credit.


    I have another question not listed here, or something on here is not working right. Can I contact SRG?
    By all means. Go to the Contacts page.





    A note from the owner:

    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]