SERA Wants All Repeaters Toned!

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by N4FV, Aug 28, 2004.

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  1. N4FV

    N4FV Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is my response to the recent SERA policy that was passed to require CTCSS tone on all repeaters by July 1, 2006. The ARRL has posted a short story at this website.

    The issue of requiring CTCSS on all 2-meter repeaters is a very controversial one. SERA is claiming they want to do it to reduce interference complaints. This is not a valid reason as a CTCSS decoder will only let the signal it is receiving with the correct tone key the repeater transmitter and rebroadcast that signal. IT DOES NOT ELIMINATE ON FREQUENCY INTEFERENCE from intermod, spurious signals, or other users not transmitting the proper CTCSS tone. Any signal that is not CTCSS encoded with the proper tone on the repeater receiver input frequency is going to require a stronger signal with the proper tone encoded on it in order to capture the receiver and open the tone squelch. Does this sound like a good reason to require it? The only advantage to SERA in requiring all 2 meter repeaters have CTCSS decoders on their receivers is they will be able to coordinate repeaters much closer together under the pretense that users of repeater systems A and B will not be keying each other’s repeaters.

    Station X might be 75 miles away from repeater A and talking on repeater B which is 25 miles away from station X. Station X’s signal at repeater A might be strong enough to keep low power station Y from capturing the receiver on repeater A and prevent use of repeater A to low power station Y. Station Y makes a call, the repeater does not key up, and station Y thinks the repeater is experiencing problems and QSY’s to another frequency. Or another scenario where station Y is in QSO and suddenly his signals are gone from repeater A and the only time anyone can hear him is when station X is not transmitting. Someone is going to say station X should hear repeater A and realize he is causing problems. That’s not true if station X has his tone squelch turned on so he doesn’t have to listen to repeater A when monitoring repeater B.

    As a 2 meter repeater owner and trustee, the only reason I am currently running CTCSS is to eliminate the key ups of my repeater that are caused by the various commercial services, TV stations, and paging transmitters that are not very clean on the mountain where my radios are located. It gets pretty annoying to have the repeater key up constantly on noise spikes or bursts when you are trying to monitor it many hours each day. Does this eliminate the interference? No! It just masks the problem.

    Gary Pearce KN4AQ in his column Squelch Tails even goes so far as to explain the same things to the repeater users but then passes it off as an acceptable evil and says he has no sympathy for you if you can’t program your new radio, won’t retire your old radio, or “too cheap” to replace your old radio. Gary, I have no sympathy for SERA Repeater Journal for loss in revenue from memberships and sales from all the hams that are cheap or can’t program their radio easily.

    What really galls me is the fact that SERA passed a new policy with absolutely no input from either owners or trustees and then said if you don’t comply, we will tell Riley Hollingsworth if he enquires as to your status that “the owner chose to operate their repeater outside the conditions of coordination by not using tone access. SERA would interpret that as a no.” We all know what this means as Mr. Hollingsworth has made many amateurs remove their repeaters from the air that were not in compliance with the local coordinating body.

    There are many other reasons supporting the decision not to require mandatory tone access such as travelers or use during a emergency. Whether you support or oppose the mandatory tone requirement, please go to and vote. If you would like to email your SERA state director or other SERA officials to voice your opinion, you can visit to obtain their contact information.

    Bobby Gass N4FV
  2. WD8OQX

    WD8OQX Ham Member QRZ Page

    Am I missing something here? Who is "Sera" to be dictating ANY rules, anyway?

    (I know what SERA is - just repeater coordinators)

    [​IMG]  [​IMG]
  3. KZ1X

    KZ1X Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm missing something.

    Commercial repeaters have used CTCSS since the 1970s, and now have largely abandoned that technology for DPL, and trunking.

    All our club's repeaters have been tone-access since they went on the air, over a decade ago.

    FM is supposed to be nice, easy-copy, interference free. "PL" helps make that so, in today's crowded RF environments.

    My mobiles and HTs use PL decode, as well,and I never get a whit of intermod or the other sorts of complaints I hear people grousing about. Just a nice, clear voice come out of my speaker, when someone is talking.

    How is this a bad thing?
  4. KC0NPF

    KC0NPF Guest

    I just posted something similar on eham, Why not make a standard when repeaters announce their own tone? Our unit is a 'smart' machine that has a voice IDer on the half hour that announces the 100hz tone. Why not impliment that?

    my 2/10 of a cent worth,

  5. KE4PJW

    KE4PJW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Why would you not want to run "tone"? I know at one time it was a technology that was used to exclude some from using "the repeater", but that no longer is the case.

    I always get a giggle out of the "un-toned" 2 meter repeaters around here that "Kerchunk" everytime there is a flash of lightning in the sky. I couldn't stand to be the control op having to listen to that mess.

    Using tone to help mitigate incidental interference from distant stations accessing a repeater on the same pair makes good sense to me.

    I can't think of a single reason not to use "tone".

    *Tone being DCS or CTCSS
  6. W3WN

    W3WN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I find it interesting that N4FV states that this new SERA policy was passed 'with absolutely no input from either owners or trustees and then said if you don’t comply, we will tell Riley Hollingsworth if he enquires as to your status that “the owner chose to operate their repeater outside the conditions of coordination by not using tone access. SERA would interpret that as a no.”'

    If true (and it's not that I doubt him, but I have no personal knowledge one way or the other) I have a strong hunch that a decent lawyer, should it ever get so far, would have a Field Day with this one! Not that I want to see a lawyer enriched, but... doesn't the membership of SERA (presumably the repeater owners in the coverage area) have any say? Can't they bring this up at the next meeting, and reopen the discussion if sufficient number are upset?

    If this is NOT the case... well, if I were a member of the organization, I'd try to get the bylaws changed or run for office myself -- and that's half the problem, few want to do the neccesary work involved, so those who do so sometimes forget that just because they want to make a change doesn't mean everyone does, or that it's in the best interests of the majority.

    And what happens when SERA, or another organization doing something similar, claims a repeaters is operating outside of coordination due to a change made after (and especially long after) the initial coordination was granted? I do believe that a certain concept known as "grandfathering" may come into place... again, a decent lawyer can make a good case for it. Especially when the repeater owner shows his original coordination paperwork with no mention of CTCSS encoding being mandated.

    And it could be worse. Did you know that the Western PA Repeater Council has removed about half of the "standard" 2 meter simplex channels from the "standard" bandplan (see any ARRL Repeater Directory of recent years), and reassigned those as repeater inputs and outputs? Yep -- it's even posted on their web site. Be interesting, to say the least, the first time there's a conflict between someone following the "standard" band plan and someone following the WPRC one. (And if the WPRC ever told anyone about the band plan change, outside of posting it to their web site, I've never come across them, and that includes quite a few repeater owners who are or were WPRC members too!)

    But I digress.

    I wish SERA the best of luck in implementing this. They're going to need it!

  7. N4ZOU

    N4ZOU Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have not been on a local repeater in my area in years. The reason is PL tones on the repeater. This prevents groups using the repeater with different PL tones between them. If you're running several different emergency groups or even just one then you force them off the PL toned repeater at that instant you turn on the PL tone. No emergency group wants to hear chit-chat on the repeater they monitor 24/7. Emergency group 1 would use a PL tone to prevent hearing this chit-chat stuff until the Emergency group using a PL tone for that group causes all members transceivers to open up and receive the Emergency net call. Yes, a repeater can pass a PL tone through the audio circuits. Also anyone that wants to activate the Emergency group (or different groups) simply plugs in the proper PL tone for that group and activates them. As it is now with full PL tone access required with most repeaters this kills this type of operation. This makes 2-meter repeaters worthless for on call amateur radio Emergency operation services. You know, that service that went away when you toned your repeater. We have a local group that simply went to Cell phones when the last local repeater went to tone access. Now when any Emergency group member calls one number all the Cell phones in the group rings. The local 911 services also has the ability to call the group in an Emergency which would have required an Emergency group member to call 911 or have a licensed radio amateur on duty at the 911 service station 24/7. I have never missed leaving 2 meters and never plan on using that band in the future. Also get ready to see most of your club members leave and no one use the repeater right after you tone it out.
  8. KR4BD

    KR4BD Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have a very low profile 222 mHz repeater and my understanding is that SERA wants tones on 222 repeaters as well.  I have NEVER had a problem with interference even when the band opens.  Around Central Kentucky, there are only a handful of repeaters on 222 and most of them are not high profile.  

    I pose this question:

    If EVERYTHING is toned, how do visitors driving through an area deal with this?  I know that trying to program tones on many rigs while driving is a risky business.  Not only will programming tones be dangerous, but it will also greatly reduce the ability of mobile stations to use repeaters while traveling outside their local areas.  What if there is an emergency and a station is "toned out"?.  I think that tones should ONLY BE CONSIDERED, not REQUIRED, in cases of stubborn and constant interference.  

    But then, I have to ask the question, if there is so much interference, who is responsible for the coordinating?  

    Sounds like a case of closing the barn door after the cows have left the building! [​IMG]   [​IMG]

    Tom, KR4BD
  9. AF4TZ

    AF4TZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    Running tone squelch or dcs doesn't completely eliminate interference between repeaters, especially during band openings. If a distant station captures your receiver and overrides a local signal, it just won't come up at all since it's not hearing the local station tone. Then they'll think the repeater's broken. I have some repeaters running PL and I don't oppose it, if it's needed. I just don't believe it should be mandated by voluntary frequency coordinators. If it's to be mandated, let it come from the FCC and be Nationwide. I think SERA has stepped out of bounds with this one. [​IMG]
  10. WL7LZ

    WL7LZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    <span style='color:blue'><span style='font-size:12pt;line-height:100%'><span style='font-family:OCR A EXTENDED'>146.970 in Colorado Springs, Colorado does this.
    Its a wide coverage machine in the mountains west of Colorado Springs and its footprint extends to the Wyoming border NORTH, Just about to Kansas EAST, New Mexico Border SOUTH, .... west I am uncertain.

    As far as interference goes... WHY NOT ADD A DECODE as well. 97 sends its tone out as well. I put TSQ on to keep local pagers from interferring in my mobile rig.


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