- Written by: AG5CC
Using a Repeater System
- Please understand that a repeater is like a party line telephone system. To be successful, ham radio operators must cooperate and be courteous with each other. Don't hog the repeater. Be considerate of others who may wish to use it.
- Monitor the repeater for a few seconds when you first turn your radio on before transmitting to be sure it is not in use.
- Key up for a half second before you start talking so all the repeater equipment has time to engage. If you start talking immediately when you key, the first syllable may be lost while the repeater is engaging. This is especially important if linking is active because the link radios are tone protected and take longer to become active.
- Don't hold each key down for extended periods when sending DTMF commands. If the signal is weak or fluttering, long key presses will seem like multiple key presses to the repeater. Dial like you would on your home phone.
- Ham radio operators have names and call signs, not handles or personals. Use plain English. Don't use phonetics unless necessary for clarity. Only join a net, when net control invites check in or if you have important time sensitive information. When you call a station and receive no response, it is not necessary to advise "no contact". The failed response speaks for itself.
- Breaking into an on-going conversation should be done with your call sign only. Stations engaged in a conversation on the repeater, should pause between transmissions. That polite pause will allow breaking stations the room to say their call sign.
- Watch your manners and language on the repeater. Remember there is a large audience with scanners listening.
- Repeaters are installed and maintained at considerable expense. If you regularly use a repeater, you should financially support the individual or club owner in their efforts to keep the repeater working properly.
- Don't be afraid of doing something embarrassing on the air. We have all goofed up one time or another. Use of the repeater is intended to be fun, enjoyable and facilitate your becoming one of the good ham radio operators.
- Please feel free to join any net on the repeater. Listen closely to net control directions regarding station check-ins. We want you to join in so we can get to know you better and you can get to know us better. Everyone is welcome and invited to participate in any repeater activity regardless of club affiliation.
- As for acceptable language on the repeater, don't use words that would be embarrassing in church or in front of your mother, wife or anyone you respect. Using such language is disrespectful and is not proper conduct on the repeater. Even though you hear some people use inappropriate language, don't follow suit and perhaps your good conduct will beneficially influence someone else's bad conduct. Because of the large and basically unknown audience, we want to hold to a high standard of conduct that will reflect beneficially on our repeater, our club and Ham Radio in general. Also, don't forget there are young ears out there and we want to set a good example.
- With all the new hams coming on the repeater, be sure to take time to say "HI" and make them feel welcome by inviting them to a club meeting. Help them any way you can and make them feel like you would want to be treated if you were the new ham!
- Speak slowly and distinctly on the repeater. When ten minutes has elapsed, say your call sign to identify. You don't have to say, "for ID", it is understood.
- Know where your microphone is at all times. Do NOT lay your microphone in the seat or put it in a position it can become unintentionally keyed. You would be surprised how embarrassing your conversation in automobiles or residences can be if your two-meter rig is unknowingly keyed and everyone listening to the repeater can hear your unguarded comments or conversations.
- Use plain English, just like you are talking on the phone. Speak in a normal tone of voice and normal voice volume. Talk across your microphone, not directly into it, this will eliminate the breath sounds we all make. Ham radio Q signals are intended for CW work, not voice so use plain English. We are knowledgeable, licensed, courteous, professional and respectful ham radio operators.
- If you are in doubt about some action or conduct, you probably should not do it until you ask, preferably off the repeater.
Emergency Use of the Repeater
- If an emergency net is in progress, refrain from using the repeater for non-emergency communications. Ask the net control station for permission if you desire to use the repeater for communications not related to the emergency in progress.
- If an emergency net or weather net is activated, check in and provide information as requested by the net control station.
- Maintain a courteous, professional image. You may be working with or being observed by several different agencies. Extend every possible courtesy to served agencies, such as law enforcement, fire, medical, governmental, etc. make sure they know who you are and your communications capabilities.
- Make sure to monitor your radio at all times and advise net control if you must be away for a moment.
- Follow and obey net control instructions. Never abandon your assignment without advising net control.
- Written by: AG5CC
The LIVE report to the left uses terms such as SFI, SN, N, K, A. What do they mean? Here is a quick check sheet of what they mean to amateur radio propagation.
SFI index: Solar Flux Index: the higher the number, the better HF propagation show be on bands between 10 meter and 20 meter (ie: 10m,12m,15m,17m,20m). High SFI values has almost no influence on 30m,40m,80m and 160m bands.
It has a scale between 30 and 300, and can be interpreted as follow:
- Less than 70: propagation potentially bad.
- 80-90: propagation potentially are somewhat low
- 90-100: propagation tend to be average
- 100-150: propagation will tend to be good
- Greater than 150: propagation will tend to be ideal
SN: Sunspot Numbers: the higher the number, the better the ionization of our atmosphere which will help create great HF propagation conditions. The range of SN can be between 0 and up to 250
SN numbers can be interpreted as follow:
- Less than 50: propagation conditions potentially very bad
- 50-75: propagation conditions attenuated 75-100: propagation conditions might be good
- 100-150: propagation conditions should be ideal
- Greater than150: propagation conditions possibly exceptional
The A Index: You should use this as a reference for general conditions on the bands. Lower A index means better conditions for propagation. This score goes between 0 and 400, but typically never above 100.
This value should be interpreted as follows:
- Between 1 and 5: Best conditions on 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
- Between 6 and 9: Average conditions on 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
- From 10 and above: Very Bad conditions on 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
The Ap-index value can be interpreted as follow:
- Between 1 and 5: Best conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
- Between 6 and 9: Average conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
- From 10 and above: Bad conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
The K-Index Falling numbers mean improving conditions and better propagation particularly in northern latitudes and areas where aurora activity can occur. The scale is between 0 and 9. You never want to see value above 8, this indicates our planet going thru a solar storm of great intensity.
This value can be interpreted as follow:
- From 0 to 1: Best conditions for 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
- From 2 to 3: Good conditions for 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
- From 4 to 5: average conditions for 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
- From 5 to 9: Very bad conditions for 10,12,15,17,20 meter bands.
The Kp-index value can be interpreted as follow:
- Between 0 and 1: Best conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
- Between 2 and 4: Good conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
- Between 5 and 9: Bad conditions expected on 30,40,80,160 meter bands.
X-Ray: NOAA reported value from A0.0 to X9.9. Intensity of hard x-rays hitting the earth’s ionosphere. Impacts primarily the D-layer (HF absorption). The letter indicates the order of magnitude of the X-rays (A, B, C, M and X), where A is the lowest. The number further defines the level of radiation. Updated eight times daily.
304A: NOAA reported value from 0 to unknown. Relative strength of total solar radiation at a wavelength of 304 angstroms (or 30.4 nm), emitted primarily by ionized helium in the sun’s photosphere. Two measurements are available for this parameter, one measured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, using the EVE instrument, and the other, using data from the SOHO satellite, using its SEM instrument. Responsible for about half of all the ionization of the F layer in the ionosphere. 304A does loosely correlate to SFI.
Ptn Flx: NOAA reported value from 0 to unknown. Density of charged protons in the solar wind. The higher the numbers, the more the impact the ionosphere. Primarily impacts the E-Layer of the ionosphere.
Elc Flx: NOAA reported value from 0 to unknown. Density of charged electrons in the solar wind. The higher the numbers (>1000), the more the impact the ionosphere. Primarily impacts the E-Layer of the ionosphere.
N: NOAA reported value from 0 to 5. When <2.0, high confidence in Aurora measurement. When >2, low confidence.
- Written by: AG5CC
Deciphering a Propagation Report
Richard VE2XIP had an informative blog on a variety of Amateur Radio subjects. That blog is unavailable at the moment. Among the areas he covered was a very good primer on HF Propagation. I know this subject can be a difficult one to grasp, especially for beginners—even the more experienced have challenges in this area.
“The very first thing I noticed when I got interested in propagation was a vast number of websites displaying charts and grids related to HF propagation conditions, but I didn’t really understand them at first. There are more types of measurements about the Sun’s activities than most care to understand, but there are a few ones that are very important to learn if you want to be able to understand a propagation reports.”
Have a look at the pdf document. It’s available at URL: https://k5brc.club/images/barc/barcfiles/Understanding-HF-propagation-reports.pdf