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Author Topic: IDing and talking to people, new to VHF  (Read 5163 times)
KE1JR
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Posts: 17




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« on: September 30, 2012, 06:24:22 AM »

I'm new to VHF, I put a radio in the car with a 1/4 wave on the roof a few weeks ago but have been unable to talk to anyone yet.

Programmed in two of the most active repeaters, I transmit and say my call sign or my call sign and listening but no one ever responds. A while later I'll hear people talking to each other, should I say something else to get people to respond to my call? Maybe they don't want to talk to me because I'm a stranger?

I did manage to talk to someone on 146.52 from home once, it was an airplane, which was exciting and a little pile up formed. I could hear some of the other ground stations but when I call CQ on 52 no one has ever responded, is this normal?

Last question, am I required to say the other stations call letters? When at home I use a pen and paper to take notes then log the QSO later but when driving I can't remember the other stations calls, they say the letters too fast or I'm worried I'll jumble up the letters, maybe my short term memory isn't very good. In any case is acceptable to just ask for their name, use their name when addressing them and then say my own call letters once every 10 minutes and when signing off? I believe that's all that's required by FCC but when I listen to the repeaters most everyone says the calls of the other stations.

Thanks for any feed back
Dave
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KA4POL
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Posts: 1967




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« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2012, 07:12:30 AM »

Your experience is not extraordinary at all.

Just call CQ via whatever repeater you are using. This will tell people you are looking for contact. You might ask for a report declaring you are testing your rig. Nasty way, but works. Some people seem to be shy of strangers and only talk to those they know from past contacts. But one has to start somehow.
.52 is the simplex frequency, keep on trying. You got a 1/4 wave antenna which does not really give much performance.
You got to identify yourself. Mentioning the other station is not mandatory. It helps, however, if there are others, so you identify the one whose turn it is.
Of course it is acceptable to ask for the handle. And if you didn't get the call sign or name just ask to say again. I think almost every ham knows there are always possible problems in understanding. First thing is you are driving a car safely. Then there is the radio.

Don't give up, all those on the band didn't.
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K0ECW
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Posts: 24




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« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2012, 11:27:46 AM »

Definately ask for a signal report on the repeaters.

Make sure that those repeaters don't require a tone. Make sure you have the right tone. It wouldn't be the first time that the repeater book conflicts with reality.

If you have another VHF radio use it to monitor and make sure your transmissions are actually going through the repeater.

Don't worry if you can't remember the other guy's call, as long as you remember your own (hi hi) you'll be fine.

It is very normal, if depressing, to get no response on 146.52. Keep trying. A lot of people monitor 146.52 while traveling but wait for someone else to talk first. Try IDing every 10 miles or so and see what happens.

Part 97.119 Station Identification only requires that you identify YOUR station every 10 minutes while conversing and at the end of the conversation.
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KE1JR
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Posts: 17




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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2012, 11:42:27 AM »

I had .52 on most of today, silent for hours then I heard someone calling CQ SODA CQ SODA, I thought he was thirsty, but turns out he was saying CQ SOTA and was on small mountain about 40 miles away.

I worked him and I heard him pick up a few other people, some of which I could also hear so there is activity out there. Feeling better about this already.

I'll try asking for a signal report tomorrow on the repeater while driving to work and see what happen.

Thanks

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KA4POL
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Posts: 1967




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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2012, 11:52:46 AM »

You see, you are already gaining experience. May be you should drive up that hill to have better chances for finding other stations.
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WN2C
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Posts: 443




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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2012, 12:24:30 PM »

Find out if there are any nets on your local repeaters and check into them. You will start to be known and sure to make some new friends on the air.

73 and good luck
de wn2c Rick
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KQ6EA
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Posts: 609


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« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2012, 02:07:02 PM »

Guess I'm old fashioned, but calling CQ on a repeater is/was considered very bad 'Radio Etiquette'.

As somebody else said, just key-up the repeater and ask for a radio check.

Jim
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AG6WT
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Posts: 443




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« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2012, 02:46:05 PM »

Dave,

Do those repeaters give you a courtesy tone after you unkey the mic? If you don't get one but you hear one when others are talking, you either have the wrong tone programmed or tones turned off.

If you are getting into the repeater, id yourself and ask for an audio report. Around here, at least, that will bring out at least one person who is just monitoring when all is quiet.

Good luck,
Ray KJ6AMF
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KC9NVP
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Posts: 67




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« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2012, 03:58:19 PM »

I agree with Ray, check your radio manual on programming in the PL tone, and maybe the sub audible tone as well.  Where I am at in northern IL, the repeater I use has the same input/output freq as two other repeaters 90 miles away in opposite directions so having the sub audible tone turned on helps to cut down on transmissions from these two setting off the radio.

I hate to say it but when I had my first radio, I programmed in the repeater input/output freq but forgot to set the tones and like you wonder why I was not making any contact except on simplex.

Check the radio manual and see if you have additional programming to do.

Good Luck,

73, David
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AA4PB
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Posts: 12788




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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2012, 04:23:10 PM »

Guess I'm old fashioned, but calling CQ on a repeater is/was considered very bad 'Radio Etiquette'.

As somebody else said, just key-up the repeater and ask for a radio check.

Jim

I guess I'm older fashioned than you because back when repeaters were first being used we called CQ all the time. The issue is to do a very short CQ, a 1X1, (CQ this is AA4PB). Why would a simple CQ to clearly indicate that you want a QSO with someone be "bad manners" while "AA4PB listening" (listening for what?) or asking for a "radio test" when you really want a QSO is not?

Bob
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N5TWB
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Posts: 31




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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2012, 05:42:29 PM »

You've been a ham for 15 years so I know you're aware of clubs in your area, some of whom probably support the repeaters you are monitoring. I'd suggest joining one of those clubs to form some in-person connections that would then support interaction through the repeater. You would be a great resource for a club with your experience in IT and kit building. Those clubs probably are involved in some community service events with their repeaters and that could add to your in-person relationships for future radio contacts.
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KE4VVF
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Posts: 61




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« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2012, 10:57:06 PM »

Your story is similar to others.  It is difficult to get contacts on repeaters if you are "unknown" to the community.
 
My solution to the same problem was to check into all the local 2 meter nets, stick around and rag chew during the informal portion; then I joined the largest Amateur Radio club in my area.   Rag chewing shows your character to the community and generally assures them that you are not a mass murdering, Satan worshiping, axe wielding, drug crazed arsonist and mixing with the local folks face to face at meetings allays any fears that you may have multiple heads with horns.
It also helps immensely if you volunteer to work a shift at the Ham Fest and/or become an alternate Net Control Operator, but that can wait until they actually talk to you.

In regard to 146.520, unless you have a 10' to 12' Yagi or you live on a mountain, contacts on that freq are always rather spotty. I have excellent antennas and only hear activity there every few weeks.
I do recommend that you scan all the 2 meter Simplex frequencies and not just the call freq because ~90% of 2 meter FM Simplex occurs there. 147.505, 147.555 and 146.550 are the most popular in my area, I'm sure it's different where you live.       
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KE1JR
Member

Posts: 17




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« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2012, 08:15:55 AM »

Found the website of the closest club, about 25 miles away, and they have a net each night and a monthly meeting. I listened last night, I'll try checking in. They check in so fast there is hardly a space to get in, worried I'll double key someone. They also have a monthly meeting, thinking about going and introducing myself. My PL is set correctly, I do hear the beep and carrier from the repeater when I've tried giving my call.

I became a ham 15 years ago when I was 14 then mostly lost interest when I started college and got an internet connection but have renewed my interest in radio recently. I've had a couple of false starts, I get really into it then lose interest after 6 months and a few dozen contacts. I have a case of mic fright and mostly stick to keyboard digital modes on HF but chatting with macros gets boring after a while, thinking about trying cw but not sure my skills are good enough. Would like to use voice more but I feel self conscious about speaking at home, don't want my voice traveling through the walls and getting complaints to keep quiet which is why I've stayed with keyboard mode which I can do in the evening without disturbing anyone.

Trying to find a mode I enjoy, giving VHF a try because it's something I can do while commuting, the antenna is small, and I'm alone in the car so no one will give me grief for making noise. I thought about putting a 10 meter in the car but decided to try VHF first because of the smaller antenna, if you had to pick would you rather a 10 meter or a 2 meter in the car for making casual contacts? Solar cycle seems good right now, a lot of activity when I get home from work and on the weekends but it fades fast as the sun goes down.

Thanks for the tips and encouragement, I'll be more persistent putting my call out there and giving VHF a try.
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AG6WT
Member

Posts: 443




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« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2012, 08:17:47 AM »

Dave,

Do those repeaters give you a courtesy tone after you unkey the mic? If you don't get one but you hear one when others are talking, you either have the wrong tone programmed or tones turned off.

If you are getting into the repeater, id yourself and ask for an audio report. Around here, at least, that will bring out at least one person who is just monitoring when all is quiet.

Good luck,
Ray KJ6AMF

I forgot to mention you should also check your repeater shift. Modern rigs have an automatic shift feature so that it will transmit on the correct input frequency but usually you have to enable it. If it's disabled or if the repeaters use a non-standard shift, you'll never get into the repeater even with the right PL tone but you will hear other people talking on the output frequency.
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AG6WT
Member

Posts: 443




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« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2012, 08:22:46 AM »

Dave,

Unless it's a private, exclusive club, net control should call for guests and visitor sometime during the net so you can try to check in then.

Another thing to try is 5-10 minutes before the net, call out for a radio/audio check. You'll have the most people monitoring then and at least one friendly soul should get back to you.

Ray
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