Interstate Repeater Society
Why do we need rules at all for repeater conduct or etiquette?
We tend to assume that everyone knows the generally accepted rules. But, that could
be careless of us and unfair to those who want or need to have a clearer definition
of our expectations and requirements. It can also create discord when repeater users
offend others by unknowingly breaking some unwritten rule. Activities that may be an
irritation or even a flagrant violation to one person might not be an issue at all to
another. It's probably best for us to be clear about the rules we really think are important.
We understand that everyone slips once in a very great while, no matter how hard they
try. But, we expect all users of the Interstate Repeater Society repeaters to do their
very best to follow these few simple and obvious rules of repeater conduct.
1. Always identify according to the regulations.
Correct operating procedure is a distinct characteristic of Amateur Radio. It’s important
that you convey to the public and to new hams the image that Amateur Radio operators really
know what they are doing. A friendly style is great, but takes pains to operate professionally.
Don’t become sloppy. Amateur Radio regulations are largely self-enforced and we all need to work
together towards these goals.
2. Avoid lengthy conversations
Please limit conversations to 15 or 20 minutes. Then take a good long break or move to another
frequency. Other hams probably want to use the repeater but might not be interested in the subject
your group is discussing. None of us should monopolize the repeater, even unintentionally.
It’s not enough to pause now and then and invite others to join in. They may just not be interested
in the topic. Be polite, and don’t be a "repeater hog."
3. Do not engage in political soap boxing.
Soap boxing, which goes hand-in-hand with overly long conversations, is when people carry
on a conversation on the repeater that is a thinly disguised broadcast. The subject is generally
to "put down" an institution, group, or an individual for as wide as possible an
audience. This is very objectionable to other repeater users and listeners. Using the club’s
repeaters as a platform for soap boxing is unacceptable.
Conversations on the repeaters should be friendly ones. Do not make them negative commentaries
on institutions, groups, or people. Avoid discussions on inappropriate subjects including politics,
sex and religion!
Don’t use the repeaters to "put people down." Amateur Radio is not a broadcast
medium – 97.113(5)(b).
Are we talking about censorship? No, not exactly. A person
may have the right to stand on the street and say bad things about someone.
They don’t have the same right when they are a guest in that person’s house.
When using the IRS repeaters, you are a guest operator of our station. No one
has any right to use the club’s repeaters in ways that the club feels are objectionable.
4. Do not routinely circumvent the
The repeater’s time-out timer serves two purposes. The first purpose is to satisfy
regulation 97.213(b) requiring us to limit repeater transmissions to a maximum of
three minutes under automatic control. Two minutes for drive time during the morning
and evening commute.
Like many repeater owners, we also use the time-out timer as a way to encourage users
to limit the length of individual transmissions. This gives everyone a chance to speak.
Under normal conditions, it is rude to get around the time-out timer by momentarily
dropping carrier to reset the timer or saying "Stand by, let me reset and
continuing. Always remember there may be an emergency, someone may need
the repeater. Please listen for the beep, wait a few seconds then continue!
We have actually heard repeater conversations in which the average individual
transmission was six to seven minutes. Even with only two stations talking, that
would require each station to identify both at the beginning and the end of every
transmission just to meet the 10-minute rule!
Resetting the time-out timer should only be done as absolutely required and infrequently.
Learn to speak concisely and limit the length of your individual transmissions.
5. CB Lingo, “Q” codes and excessive phonetics.
Amateur Radio operators find the sound of CB lingo worse than fingernails on a
blackboard. The main thing to remember is to just talk in a normallymanner.
Talk just like you would to someone in person. There's nothing different about talking
over the radio. Using slang jargon just labels a person as an ex-CBer.
Using any of the “Q” codes such as QSY, QRT, QSL, QTH. is just about as bad but
is generally overlooked. Please don’t use phonetics for every letter you need to say.
For example: “The handle here is Hollingsworth, Hotel, Oscar, Lima, Lima, India,
November, George, Sierra, Whiskey, Oscar, Romeo, Tango, Hotel, QSL?, (or) the home QTH
is in Manchester, Mike, Alpha, November, Charlie, Hotel, Echo (etc) ……QSL?.”
You are talking on an FM repeater not a station in Europe on 75 Meter sideband. Just talk normal.
6. Always yield the frequency to a breaking station.
This applies to calling or breaking stations you never know if they have an emergency
or not...no more "station recognized".
Always yield the frequency to an ARES/SKYWARN net, whether it is a practice net or not.
7. Selling other items OTHER than ham related equipment.
Obviously selling any ham equipment is allowed as long as its not done on a regular
basis as a business. Although having run swap nets for years, some of the regulars
were in the business of buying and selling. It was overlooked. But lately people in
general conversations are advertising their vehicles, toys, other non ham related
equipment and discussing prices. This is absolutely unacceptable on the repeater
and will not be tolerated.
8. Our repeaters are "G-Rated" 24 hours a day.
You never know who may be listening. Even late at night, there are generally people
listening to the repeater, including non-hams. This is important to understand for
Our repeaters serve many purposes. One of the most important is the exposure it gives
the hobby to the community. Any scanner can be used to listen to our repeaters.
That’s good – It’s actually the most visible aspect of our club. It’s one of our most
effective forms of publicity.
We want non-hams to know that Amateur Radio is an interesting hobby and a good
group of people to get to know - something clean and educational - something they
would want their kids to get involved in. Kids may or may not listen late at night,
but their parents do.
Think about CB. The government tolerates the language on CB partly because they
only use a few kilohertz of spectrum. It’s not a huge waste. Amateur Radio, on the
other hand, uses a lot of valuable spectrum. There needs to be a noticeable difference
between Amateur Radio and CB. Don’t let our activities on the air become a weapon in
the hands of people who want to discredit us. Let’s all do our part to give Amateur Radio
a positive image.
We want any ham that listens to us to think of us as good operators, not idiots.
Any time we talk on the repeater, we are ambassadors for the hobby. Have you ever
noticed how you like to listen to some repeaters, but sometimes you find a repeater
that makes you roll your eyes and twist the knob? We lose good people because of what
they hear on our repeaters.
Our rule is simple:
absolutely no obscene, indecent or profane language at any time.
What gives IRS the right to tell someone how to operate?
All repeaters have rules. These rules often go beyond Part 97. And, users who refuse
to comply with the repeater’s rules can be told to stop using the repeaters. This is
entirely at the judgment of the repeater trustees.
Rule 97.205(e) says, "…Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible."
There are no qualifications – ifs, ands, or buts – to this rule. This isn’t just the
right to close a repeater. In fact, the ARRL says, "…a repeater does not have to
be listed as being "closed" in The ARRL Repeater Directory in order to
have a limited access." (Source: The ARRL’s FCC Rule Book)
The terms "open"and "closed" don’t appear in the regulations at all! Listing a repeater as
"open" means you don’t have to be a member in order to use it. But, you still
must follow the rules of the repeater.
The FCC supports a trustee’s right to control the use of their repeaters. The letter
reproduced below is an example. On Dec. 13, 2001, FCC Special Counsel for Amateur Radio
Enforcement Riley Hollingsworth wrote to a Mr. Banks because he had not stopped using a
repeater when asked. (Reading between the lines it seems that Mr. Banks must have argued that the
repeater was "open".) Mr. Hollingsworth explained that a repeater doesn’t need
to be "closed" for a trustee to require compliance among the users. Banks had to
comply or expect FCC enforcement action. Please take time read this letter.
December 13, 2001
Mr. John Doe
250 Main Street
RE: Amateur Radio License KK1##: Warning Notice
Dear Mr. Doe:
On November 14, 2001
the Anytown Repeater Association Trustee requested that you refrain from
using their AF1## repeater system. The request was made as a result of
your failing to follow Commission rules and operational rules set forth by
the licensee/control operators of the repeater. Information indicates that
you have not adhered to the request.
requires that repeaters be under the supervision of a control operator and
holds such control operators and licensees responsible for the proper
operation of the repeater system. Control operators may take whatever
steps are appropriate to ensure compliance with the repeater rules,
including converting the repeater to a closed repeater or taking it off
the air entirely. We do not require them to convert the repeater to a
closed repeater in order to ensure compliance among the users.
Please be advised that
we expect you to abide by the request to stay off the AF1## system and
your failure to do so after receipt of this letter will jeopardize your
Amateur license. If you use the repeater again we will initiate
enforcement action against your license, which may include revocation,
forfeiture or a modification proceeding to restrict the frequencies on
which you may operate KK1##.
Section 308(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. Section 308(b), gives
the Commission the authority to obtain information from licensees about
the operation of their stations. Pursuant to that section, you are
requested to respond to this letter within 20 days stating what action you
have taken to comply with the November 14, 2001 request by the AF1##
Webmaster Note: The name,
callsigns, and location was changed to protect the privacy of those involved,
the remainder of the letter is accurate as written by Mr. Hollingsworth.
Here is our policy:
the Interstate Repeater Society repeaters are open for all to use, provided you follow
the club’s rules in using them.
Nothing could be fairer.
The ARRL says it clearest of all.
A repeater is not a public utility - you don’t have a "right" to use it!
When you are using someone else’s repeater you are, in effect, a visitor in the owner’s station.
So, you should conduct yourself accordingly. If you use that station in a manner that the owner
finds objectionable, that person has every right to revoke your privilege of using it!"
(Source: The ARRL’s FCC Rule Book)
To use our repeaters you must follow our rules. There are repeaters with more lenient rules
than ours are and some which are much more restrictive. Beyond the FCC minimum requirements,
it's up to each repeater owner to set their own operating rules. A repeater user needs to try to
fit in. If the rules for IRS's repeaters are uncomfortable for you and do not suit your personal
needs or style we encourage you to try other repeaters or even try talking on simplex.
We wish for everyone willing to abide by these simple rules to freely use our repeaters.
We welcome you and hope you have many enjoyable conversations on the repeaters of the
Interstate Repeater Society. 73!
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