Please bring me up to date on 2mtr repeaters

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by K3OHU, Nov 28, 2009.

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  1. K3OHU

    K3OHU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I've been inactive for a long time. My last ARRL repeater directory is the 93/94 edition to give you an idea :eek:

    Anyway, a friend of my got his ticket, and an HT, and I wanted to try talking to him with my HT. I dug out my old Icom 02AT and it seems that a lot has changed. A brought up a repeater list on the web for the Los Angeles area, and I saw only a fraction of the number of repeaters that existed back in the mid 90's. Also, it seems that every open repeater requires a PL tone. That was a rarity back then. I also hardly heard anyone using the repeaters, they used to be very busy in the old days. What has happened?

    My friend and I were unable to make contact via the repeater that is located between us, but I guess that's another problem to look into. I know I was putting out some RF, because my computer speakers started humming when I hit the xmit button :D
  2. K9KJM

    K9KJM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Because of the now closer spacing of repeaters, Subaudible tone access is a requirement in most areas. (Just because a repeater now requires tone access does not mean it is a "closed" repeater)

    And repeater use in general has dropped way off from what it used to be.

    There used to be 50 users on a repeater having a good time all day and night long. Now there are 50 different repeaters with no one on any of them!

    Also, Dont forget to give simplex FM a try! I really enjoy seeing how far we can talk without the "crutch" of using a repeater.

    146.52 FM simplex is always monitored around here.
  3. K4EEZ

    K4EEZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    opps something went wrong... see next post.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  4. K4EEZ

    K4EEZ Ham Member QRZ Page

  5. N8WCT

    N8WCT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Back in the early '90s, when the code requirement was lifted for a technician, there was a huge onslaught of licenses issued, and the majority of those hams jumped on 2 meters.

    VHF business was booming...repeaters were busy, and new ones were going up all the time. You could call out on .52 with an HT, a get a pile up.

    Like K9KJM mentioned, it was around this time that PL started to take off, for the reason he stated.

    Packet was also the rage, and very busy as well. Clubs were flourishing, field days were busy, and foxhunts were popular.

    While some hams "grumbled" about the "no-code techs", it was a huge time for Amateur Radio, and most agreed such.

    Today, I hear dead repeaters. Packet is all but dead, and I havent even heard of a foxhunt anywhere in the state. I can call CQ with 50 watts on .52, and it is common to get no response.

    What happened since then is open to debate, but my observations were the widespread use of the internet, and simply said, the "novelty" wore off.

    Anybody else have theories/observations?


  6. K3OHU

    K3OHU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I found one of the old repeaters I used to use. It still doesn't require a PL tone, and I was able to hit it. Not sure what the problem is with the open repeaters that require a tone. Maybe my tones are a little off frequency.

    Is there less activity on the HF bands these days too?

    As bad as us old timers thought it was when the code requirement was dropped, it's worse now. You can get a tech license these days with no previous knowledge of electronics. You take a one day course, memorize everything, and take the test at the end of the day.
  7. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    Often on big contest weekends I can't find any room to call CQ or ragchew in the evening on 160, 80 or 40M ! Sometimes I have to go to 30M and hope it's still open to somewhere.:eek:
    Yes there is plenty of activity on HF !;)
    Thats where all the guys who were on VHF/UHF FM went !
    I finally got a good , programable UHF FM rig. Now there is no one to talk to there.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2009
  8. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    All repeaters in the L.A. area require CTCSS (PL). Sometimes the L.A. Sheriff's Dept. repeater on 145.300 is accessible without the tone, as it's used for emergencies and they don't want to leave anyone out -- and that repeater's been on the air a very long time, so almost everybody in the L.A. area has it programmed.

    I've lived in L.A. since 1988 and many of the repeaters that were on then are still on, now, including the Sheriff's Dept. repeaters on Mt. Disappointment. There are also, of course, many which have "changed hands," been relocated, acquired and taken down, etc, etc.

    If you're in North Hollywood, I could work you on 146.52 simplex, probably.

    There is still LOTS of activity on HF. A bunch of us who are active here on formed a little "net" on Thanksgiving Day on 14.250 (20 meters) and there were so many check-ins it was difficult to manage. When it got dark, the net "QSY'd" to 40 meters and kept on going.
  9. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    It's complex. But today, Saturday, I understand there is a big CW contest going on, so the phone bands are fairly empty. That's odd to me, since the majority of hams today don't know CW, so why would they not be on the air on HF? But that is how it seems to be.

    The "repeater craze" ran from the mid 1970s through the late 1990s. There are a number of reasons, likely, that it has nearly died. One of them is certainly what I am doing right this moment -- writing on the internet.

    Another is cell phones. In the early 1990s a lot of people got ham licenses so they could have their own 'spouse to spouse' cell phone. But when real cell phones became cheap and easy, these 'hams' put the radios away and got a family plan cell phone.

    And a third reason is the recruitment process into ham radio. All those who had wanted a ham ticket for years, but 'couldn't' pass a code test, were suddenly unleashed on the ham world in 1991. They had seen the pictures of the major S-Line rig, the big tower, the amplifier, the multi-element beam, and they were frantic to join the crowd. So they got the code free Tech ticket and guess what? No big radios, no DX, no overseas phone patches, no big towers, no amplifiers.

    Most of them had come from CB and here they were, on just another type of CB. Same folks on all the time, same short distance. Less profanity, but it was otherwise like CB. The dream had failed. No big rigs. No SSB. No DX.

    So they quit. The dream was not fulfilled. The promise did not materialize.

    If only they could have waited, huh? Now they would have the big rig, the tower, the 'leenyar' and would be working all over the world. And no code test, and not much of a written test.

    Patience could be a virtue. Wonder what the future holds, if one waits long enough for it to fall into their hands.

  10. KC0W

    KC0W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    There was never a code requirement for the standard "Technician" license. Where CW testing came into play regarding a Technician license was with the "Technician Plus" ticket. It was a 7 WPM endorsement test which then gave you the foot in the door for limited CW HF privileges.

    I'm one of the few around who went up the ladder holding every available license except Novice...............A short history of KCØW:


    Technician Plus..........7 WPM CW

    General....................13 WPM CW


    Extra.......................20 WPM CW

    Went from Technician - Extra in roughly 8 months.............I was hooked on CW the first time I ever heard a Dit & Dah!!!

    Tom KCØW
  11. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    ALL Technician licenses were required to pass a 5 wpm (not 7) code test from the time the license came into being, in 1951, until 1991. After 1991 there were two types of Technician licenses, one the Tech Plus, which was a person who had passed the code test, and the other a straight Technician, a person who had NOT passed the code test.

    The FCC combined the two databases in maybe 2000, when the lowered the code testing requirement for all code licenses, so that it was no longer possible to look a person up on the ULS or QRZ and determine if they had passed a code test or not.

    Until early 1991 (was in April??) ALL amateur licenses required a code test, 5 wpm for Novice and Technician, 13 wpm for General, Advanced and Conditional, and 20 WPM for Extra Class.

  12. KC0W

    KC0W Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Ya, I was debating with myself if it was 5 or 7 WPM. It's been a long time since I took the test..............What's 2 WPM between friends? :)

    Tom KCØW
  13. K3OHU

    K3OHU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Yeah, I got started before "incentive" licensing which the ARRL promoted and caused an uproar.
    A novice (5 wpm) had phone privileges on 2 meters and cw on 15, 40, and 80 sub bands (75 watts max. and xtal controlled).
    The tech (5wpm) written exam was the same as the general, and could use 6 meters and up. Some guys had the tech and novice ticket at the same time, but had to get the novice ticket (good for one year only) first, because it was only available if didn't have and never had a higher class license.
    General was 13 wpm, and unless you lived more than 150 miles away, you had to take the test at an FCC office, otherwise, you could get a "conditional" license which was the same as the general, but the test was given by a volunteer examiner.
    And the extra (20 wpm) but no additional benefits.
  14. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    Actually, prior to 1959 the Technician Class licensee had no 2-meter privileges at all even though the Novice Class had 145 MHz to 147 MHz. In 1959 the Technician Class got the same 145 MHz to 147 MHz privileges as the Novice Class. In the early 1970s the Technician Class got the additional 1 MHz at the high end (then had 145 MHz to 148 MHz). It was not until the late 1970s that the Technician Class got the whole 2-meter band.

    Also, as the result of incentive licensing all but Amateur Extra Class and Advanced Class lost the 50.0 MHz to 50.1 MHz CW only segment of the 6-meter band. That segment was restored later to all classes except for the Novice Class.

    The earliest Novice Class privileges were 11 meters and 80 meters CW, and the 145 MHz to 147 MHz segment on 2-meters for both phone and CW. It was not long before the 11 meter segment was removed and 50 kHz on 40 meters and 150 kHz on 15 meters were added to the Novice Class privileges.

    Glen, K9STH
  15. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    I could even tolerate two and a half WPM, ha!

    Back "in the day" one could hold both a Novice and a Technician at the same time. The Novice was good for only one year and non-renewable, so a lot of hams got the Technician, which was good for five years and renewable, just to hang onto the call sign. I did.

    Since the Novice and Tech usually had the same call sign, except an "N" was inserted before the number to designate Novice, the Technician license would be a call sign that was like a General. For example, my Novice call was KN4JSG and my Tech call was K4JSG. I took the Tech test only three or four months after getting my Novice call.

    The Tech was, as Glen noted, limited to VHF but had no two meter privileges. With both licenses, one could operate on two meters with the Novice license and six meters with the Tech license. Quite a few of us did that.

    My first VHF operation was under my Tech call, using a Gonset Communicator loaned to me by Civil Defense. Yep, I did "Emcom" long, long before there WAS an EMCOM. I actually worked from home with that Gonset, during a flod in which hams helped maintain communications in various neighborhoods.

    I could not keep the Gonset, and I did not get on six meters again until a couple of years later when I was a General.

    Good thing, too. Far too many Novices of that era got on AM voice on two meters, and never again touched a Morse key. The result was, at the end of the year long license term, they had totally forgotten Morse, and could not pass a 13 wpm General exam. Many of them continued with the Tech license, but were mostly not active at all. A lot of them just dropped out, as the Novice could never be held twice (according to the rules then!)

    Without access to VHF, I was stuck on CW, and advanced easily to the 13 wpm mark needed for General.

  16. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    Similar story here. I had a borrowed Gonset (for 2m) from "CD," but it wasn't mine and I couldn't keep it.

    My first 1000 QSOs or so on ham radio were all on 40CW, starting with about ten the day my Novice ticket came in the mail.

    I was fearful of the dreaded 13 wpm General exam, until after that 1000 or so QSOs, which only took a few months to occur. After that, 13 sounded slow and I was very ready.

    Little Print Shop knew my callsign before I did.:)
  17. WM5Q

    WM5Q Ham Member QRZ Page

    I got my Codeless Tech in '93, when repeaters and packet were king. By the time I graduated high school in '99, I was completely inactive. I hadn't upgraded; I stayed in that dead-end license class. It wasn't until late '02 that I rediscovered radio and decided to work towards my General.

    I had started to learn Morse, just a few characters, when I got my Tech. I never followed through, and that's probably what did me in back then. It would have been so much easier to learn.

    What happened? The local radio club was thriving, a few hundred membership, active repeaters, and the repeater craze was going full-tilt. Packet was a very cool neat thing that I couldn't figure out what to do with. With the Tech you could do high-tech stuff, and the impression I had at the time was that the whole HF thing was going the way of the dinosaur (but I was young and stupid too). Repeaters had their drive-time cliques, and good luck getting in (or feeling like you could get in).

    By the late '90s, consumer technology had far eclipsed the high-tech stuff. Cell phone hams went away because there were cell phones, and with them went autopatches. The IT hams went to the Internet. The novelty wore off, the same old crowd got boring, and with subsequent relaxation of the Morse requirements the guys who were interested in HF went to HF. Not that there's anything wrong with any of those; it's just my opinion that those underlying interests inflated the FM usage during the Repeater Era, and they became largely dormant on FM once there were better avenues for those interests.

    That's my guess, from what I see and from what I remember. I'm probably a little biased because I'm not a repeater guy.
  18. AE5TE

    AE5TE Ham Member QRZ Page

    They had some kind of a pipeline back in the day, didn't they? These days you can look for your call online before the ticket comes but the mail from ARRL still beats the actual license.

    Got that when I got my Extra this spring. Within a few days there was an envolope making some kind of claim I couldn't fully enjoy my privileges without buying a membership. I never opened the envelope so I'm not exactly sure what it is I'm missing.

    Re the changes on 2M I am sort of in the boat with the OP, having come back from a bit of a hiatus myself (but only 9 years in my case). In my area there are just as many repeaters as before (actually a lot more) but they are almost all CTCSS and also each individual one does seem to be somewhat less active. Usually on any one of them I hear the same three or four guys, respectively, on weekday drive times and it's actually quite boring. More of them are linked and I guess that's a nice feature but the most use of that feature I hear is between a couple guys actually conducting the BUSINESS of their commercial 2-way company. Makes me want to just turn the 2M rig off and stay on HF.
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