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Rookie General is Confused

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KE5TCG, Mar 2, 2008.

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  1. KE5TCG

    KE5TCG QRZ Member

    Preface: I just took elements 2 & 3 a week ago, and got the call sign Thursday. Will do element 4 on the next exam date.

    Bought an Icom V8 and a 1/4 lambda handy-talkie whip, plus a (temporary) magnetic mount dual band for the vehicle rooftop. I also have a Yaesu FT100D, but no HF antenna, yet.

    Started to try to make contacts on 3 of the local 2-meter repeaters, but have only been able to make one contact in the past three days. It seems like it is either radio silence, except today when I can't get a word in edgewise. What happened to the element 2 test question about pausing between the comments?

    I did make one contact, and when it is a negative contact I can hear either the courtesy tone or the squelch tail, so whatever I am doing wrong is probably something to do with the words I am speaking, yes, in English, or everyone is watching Three's Company or Gilligan's Island reruns.

    Any tips?
  2. KE5TCG

    KE5TCG QRZ Member


    No response? :confused:

    See, that is what is happening with my attempts to make contact on the repeaters. :(
  3. AD5MB

    AD5MB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Do you have the PLL tones configured?
  4. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    In my opinion, repeaters are the worst possible way to be introduced to amateur radio.

    Of course, there may be reasons why you're not doing so well yet. One could be that people just aren't hearing you well. Keying up a repeater and getting a courtesy beep in reply are not indications of actually "making it into" a repeater, at all. You have to be much stronger than that to be intelligible. Most repeaters will "key up" and create the beep reply with a very weak and noisy signal that nobody could understand if it were voice modulated.

    But besides that, unless you're in a densely populated area with literally thousands of hams using dozens of repeaters all the time, there often just isn't much out there. Even here in Los Angeles, which was once a leading hotbed of VHF-UHF FM-repeater activity in 1978, things are very quiet on the repeaters nowadays. Just nobody cares, and they've moved on to different things like HF mobiling and home station HF DX'ing, or maybe weak signal VHF-SSB/CW work.

    In 1980, I could announce my callsign on a repeater and have ten stations reply. Now in 2008, I can announce my callsign fifty times and have nobody reply at all.

    The heyday of VHF-FM repeaters is well past. I think it peaked in about 1980 or so and has been downhill ever since. However, there's still a lot to do with amateur radio! Today, guys are making moonbounce contacts running 100W using WSJT, which 28 years ago was completely impossible. And today, thousands of hams are running HF mobile stations and chatting away on 40 meters when 28 years ago that wasn't so common because the rigs were bigger, heavier and much more expensive than they are now.

    Times change.

  5. N8UZE

    N8UZE Ham Member QRZ Page

    People forget, get over eager to answer or just plain get careless. I've had to "remind" people now and then.
  6. KE5TCG

    KE5TCG QRZ Member

    The one contact I did make said the signal was good. I confirmed the CTCSS and freq offset + or - according to a repeater list.

    Just for fun I turned down the transmit power to 0.5 watts and still raised the repeater. Seeing how that is 10 dB below the IC-V8 normal power (5 watts) I extrapolate the signal was good. And one of the repeaters is about 2 miles away. At 5 w VHF, under reasonable conditions, the RCL should be good. I listened to the repeaters for a while too. Nothing. I'm probably just picking the wrong times.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2008
  7. KE5TCG

    KE5TCG QRZ Member

    Dude, seriously.
  8. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page

    First of all you allowed less than 15 minutes between asking your question and then making your comment about no one answering you. Patience is a virtue!

    Frankly, it is often several hours before someone reads your question who is in a position to reply. Remember that this is Saturday evening and many people are not using their computer. Also, this is the weekend of the ARRL DX contest and a number of the regulars here on are working the contest. I took a break and that is why I am on the computer right now.

    There are a number of reasons why you are having trouble making contacts. The first of these is that you are using an handheld radio. It is quite possible that you are very weak into the repeaters. Yes, you may activate the repeater. However, your signal may be so weak that no one can copy you. This definitely may be the reason that you are unable to "break" into an existing QSO.

    Now when you try to make a contact just how are you "announcing" yourself? You need to say, as a minimum, "KE5TCG listening". I usually say something like "anyone around tonight (today, this morning, etc.) K9STH". That has worked very well for me in the over 40 years that I have lived up here in the Dallas area and that should work fine down in the Houston area.

    What time of day are you trying to make contacts? The best times are the "going to work" and "coming home from work" times during the weekdays. The rest of the time there often is just no one listening (at least someone who is in a position to answer you).

    As for the test question about "pausing between comments": There is NOTHING in the FCC regulations that require this. Now it is a courtesy to wait a few seconds to allow someone to "break" into the conversation. But, it is only a COURTESY and some amateur radio operators just forget to leave a few seconds between transmissions. Of course there are a few who definitely do not want another station in the conversation. However, those persons are a definite minority.

    I would put my "money" on the fact that you just do not have a strong signal.

    Glen, K9STH
  9. WJ5O

    WJ5O Ham Member QRZ Page

    Welcome to Amateur radio.....
    The 146.880 repeater used to be one of the most used in the Houston area.... Sometimes I could "bring it up" from Corpus Christi with only a "homebrew" 3 element Yagi pointed at Houston.... About 220 road miles but I think about 150 or so direct line of sight.
    The FT-100D is a fine rig...... and HF operation is a whole different world...... VHF & UHF repeater operation will get old in a hurry.
  10. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    AD5MB asked you a civil question. Not having the proper CTCSS tone (PL is Motorola's registered trademark for CTCSS) activated IS one of the primary reasons that newcomers to repeater operation are not able to make contacts.

    You need to calm down a little.

    Glen, K9STH
    One of the moderators
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