HT Orientation

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					        Two-Way Radio Basics 101

               I Got My License, Now What?!

- How the pieces fit together.
- How to communicate effectively.
- How to program your radio.

                                   Presented by the
                          Saratoga Amateur Radio Association

HT OrientationRev_4C 2/24/2011                                 1
Don Steinbach – AE6PM
           Presentation Topics
•   Why amateur radio
•   Radio equipment choices
•   Repeaters
•   Communication tips
•   Nets
•   Problems & solutions
•   HT overview
•   Programming the HT

          Why Amateur Radio?
• More capability than FRS, GMRS, MURS or CB
  –   Many more frequencies and operating modes available.
  –   Better antennas are possible.
  –   Higher power is possible.
  –   High-quality equipment.
  –   Disciplined/professional operators (usually).
  –   Repeaters in place to provide improved coverage.

       Radio Equipment Choices
• Fixed or mobile units
   –   Intended for home or car installation
   –   High power output – to 50 watts or more
   –   Efficient antenna (can be)
   –   Not suited for carrying around
• Handheld transceiver (HT)
   – Designed to be carried around
   – Low power output – to 5 watts
   – Relatively inefficient antenna
• Many models and choices
   – All compatible with each other


• Most of our VHF (2-meter) & UHF (70 cm) communication is
  via repeaters.
• Repeaters are owned and maintained by clubs or
• Repeaters are licensed, have their own call letters, comply
  with FCC regulations, and are the responsibility of a
  designated trustee.

             Repeater Basics
• A Repeater is a special type of transceiver.
• “Repeats” signals to extend the range of
  handheld and mobile units.
   – Receives on one frequency while
     simultaneously re-transmitting on another.
• Usually located in favorable locations with
  efficient antennas.
• Transmits at many (10-100) times the power of a
  handheld radio.
• Coverage depends upon the local “radio
  horizon,” perhaps 10 to 60 miles operating radius.

FM Repeater (Line of Sight)

             Repeater Surprises
• The repeater might spontaneously identify (it has its own
  call letters).
   – Some use voice, some use Morse code.
   – Some announce the time on the hour.
• Most repeaters have a timeout timer.
   – Turns off the transmitter after three minutes (typical)
      continuous transmission – an FCC requirement.
        • Longwinded talkers
        • Stuck microphone switches
        • Microphones dropped down between the car seats
   – The courtesy tone (beep) indicates that the timer has
      reset and the transmitter is back in service.

              Repeater Etiquette
• Listen on the frequency before transmitting.
   – Avoid interfering with a communication already taking
• To make it known that you are available for a contact, say
  “(your call), monitoring”.
   – e.g., AE6PM …. monitoring.
• Identify yourself when experimenting with the repeater.
   – Unidentified transmissions are illegal (and annoying).
• During a casual contact, pause occasionally to give
  someone else a chance to join in.
• To join a conversation, simply say your call letters during a


How to sound like a professional.

           Communication Tips
• Speak in plain language and use common terminology.
   – Don’t use “10 codes” or “Q Signals” during
   – “Q Signals” are ok in normal communication.
   – Avoid “10 codes” and TV show lingo.
• Speak in a normal tone of voice.
   – Shouting only distorts the sound of your voice, it does
     nothing to increase the range.
   – If consistently overmodulating, back away from the
• Only one person speaks at a time.

             Communication Tips
• Use predetermined tactical call signs (emergency comm
    – Amateur radio operators must identify with their FCC
      assigned call sign at the end of a transmission or series of
      transmissions and at least once every 10 minutes during a
    – No need to say “for ID.” Why else would you identify
• If someone seems to be in charge (a net control station, for
  example) listen to them and do what they say.

              Communication Tips
• Use common procedural words:
   – THIS IS - Identifies who is calling.
       • Say the other persons call sign first, and then your call
   – OVER - Means “I have finished speaking and it’s now your
   – GO AHEAD - Means “I’m ready to copy.”
   – COPY or ROGER - Means “I received and understand your
   – OUT or CLEAR - Means “I am finished and expect no
• Always end with your callsign.
            Communication Tips
• Do not speak immediately upon pressing the push-to-talk
  switch, because the first syllable will probably get
   – Hesitate for a fraction of a second before speaking.
   – System may need a fraction of a second to wake up.
• When transmitting a formal (i.e., written) message, say five
  words at a time and ask for an acknowledgement after each
  five-word group.

           Communication Tips
• Test your radio before separating from your group or
• Never say “we” when you mean “I”or “me.” Some hams do
  this, for whatever reason.
   – Gives an incorrect impression of the number of people
      involved in an incident.
   – Potential waste of rescue resources.
• Use universally accepted (ITU) phonetics whenever
   – When in doubt, use whatever phonetics come to mind.

International Telecommunication
 Union (ITU) Standard Phonetics
 A - Alpha     J - Juliet     S - Sierra
 B - Bravo     K - Kilo       T - Tango
 C - Charlie   L - Lima       U - Uniform
 D - Delta     M - Mike       V - Victor
 E - Echo      N - November   W - Whiskey
 F - Foxtrot   O - Oscar      X - Xray
 G - Golf      P - Papa       Y - Yankee
 H - Hotel     Q - Quebec     Z - Zulu
 I - India     R - Romeo


• Organizing a group of communicators.
• Maintaining order in the face of chaos.

• Nets are a way of organizing a group of radio
   – One station acts as Net Control.
   – Other stations report or respond in turn as requested by
     Net Control.
• Nets are usually scheduled to occur on certain dates at
  certain times.
• Nets may occur spontaneously just because several people
  have converged on a frequency.
• Net Control could be anyone – even you!

                   Net Etiquette
• The Net Control station maintains control of the
  communication situation at all times, until the net is closed
  and the frequency is returned to normal use.
• The Net Control station assumes that all who have
  “checked into” the net are available.
   – Do not check someone into the net in their absence
     unless you have them in sight and they are ready to
     respond with their radios.

                     Net Etiquette
• Respond only to Net Control.
   – Get permission before contacting anyone else on the same
• Answer promptly.
   – Monitor the radio continuously.
   – Answer immediately if you are called.
• Don’t leave the net without notifying Net Control, or else until
  the net is closed.


      “Stuff” happens.

       •Weak signals
       •Repeater failure

• All radio communication is susceptible to interference from
  various sources, natural or man made.
    – Interference may be accidental or intentional.
    – You can be the recipient or the interferor.
• It’s probably possible to avoid an interferor by changing
• Try moving to a slightly different location.
• Try “body shielding”.

• Wait for the interferor to “go away.”
   – Listening to the conversation may give a clue as to how
     long the contact will last.
• Contact the interferor and ask to use the frequency for a
   – Most likely they are using CTCSS or DCS and therefore
     can’t hear your audio.
• Using CTCSS or DCS does not eliminate interference
  between units on the same frequency.
   – It simply masks it and creates the illusion of non-

                  Weak Signal
• Move to a slightly different location (a few feet).
• Raise the antenna (and you).
• Make sure the antenna is vertical (assuming repeater and
  other antennas are vertical).
• Turn around – your body may be in the signal path.
• Replace the “rubber ducky” antenna with something better.
• Move to a completely different location.

• Shorthand for “De-sensitize”.
• Your radio, in the presence of a strong signal on a nearby
  frequency, may seem to go deaf.
• Even though you don’t hear the other signal, it overloads
  some of the circuitry in your radio, such that it can’t
  properly process the desired signal.
• The solution is to move away (physically) from the other
  signal source.

               Repeater Failure
• If the repeater fails, then communication can only be in
  simplex mode directly from HT-to-HT.
    – Change from duplex (repeater) to simplex (no repeater)
        • Level 1: Leave HT on 146.655, 114.8 Hz PL, NO
        • Level 2: Change frequency to 146.505 MHz, no PL
          tone, no offset.
        • Level 3: Change frequency to 146.595 MHz, no PL
          tone, no offset.

           HT OVERVIEW

What are all the knobs and buttons are for?
         How do you program it?

    HT User Interface

• DIFFERENT MAKES and models of radios
  vary, so…
• BECOME FAMILIAR with the controls on
  YOUR radio!

HT User Interface

   Power On-Off Switch

• Combined with the volume
  control on some models

• Separate push-button on
  some models

HT User Interface
       Volume Control

 • Adjust the volume control
   until you can hear the
   other users.

HT User Interface
     Squelch Control

 • Either a concentric ring
    – under the Volume control
 • Or a separate knob of its
    – “Open” until you hear
      hissing noise
    – “Close” just until noise
      just disappears

   HT User Interface
    Frequency or Channel Selector

• Select desired receiver frequency
   – “Up-Down” arrows
   – Or a rotating “knob”
   – Or keypad

           HT User Interface

Push-To-Talk (PTT) Switch

•   Push or press to talk
•   Release to listen (normal

              HT User Interface

           Speaker & Microphone

Unlike most FRS radios, the speaker and
  microphone on the HT are two separate units.
• Both face forward
• Speaker is behind the large grill
• Microphone is behind small hole
   – It doesn’t work if it’s covered up by your

               HT User Interface

• Keep it vertical, never horizontal
• Usually flexible (to avoid injury)
• Can be removed and replaced
  with better performing units

                       It’s NOT a handle!!

           HT User Interface
•   The HT comes with a rechargeable
    battery pack
     – Keep it charged
•   Use individual batteries (e.g., AA)
    in a special holder as a backup

    ALWAYS carry spare batteries!

      HT Accessories (Optional)
• Batteries
   – Spare rechargeable battery pack
   – AA battery holder
• Speaker/microphone
   – Clips on to lapel or collar
• Power sources
   – Car charger
   – Cigarette lighter adapter
• Antennas
   – Replacement for “rubber ducky”


• Many buttons, many functions, many
  menu items.
• Intimidating User’s Manual.

           Programming the HT
•   The three basic steps:
    1. Enter the receive frequency
    2. Check the offset
    3. Enter the PL tone

    Only step 1 is required to just listen.

         Programming the HT
• The complete procedure:
  – Unlock the keypad
     • Enter the receive frequency
     • Check the frequency offset
         – For repeater operation (duplex) only
             » Most HTs take care of this automatically
     • Enter the PL tone
     • Check the transmit power level (optional)
         – Lower power for longer battery life
     • Disable the YAESU WIRES function (Yaesu users
     • Store the settings into memory (optional)
  – Lock the keypad

         That’s as complicated as it gets!                40
                  Cheat Sheets
• Programming instructions for your HT that you can stick in
  your pocket or Go-Kit.
• “We” all use them.
   – Not a reflection on your ability.
   – Enhances your capability to react in a stress situation.
• Make your own or use one that’s available.
   – Readily shared among users.
      • There are several available for this class.
   – Some are commercially available (Nifty Mini-Manuals).

        Tone Squelch (PL Tone)
• CTCSS – Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System
   – The transmitter superimposes (encodes) a low-
     frequency (subaudible) tone along with the voice or
   – The receiver squelches the audio of any signal that does
     not include the tone (decode).
• When in doubt …..
   – Transmit the encoded tone.
       • Any receiver or repeater that expects the tone will hear
         you, as will any receiver or repeater not expecting the tone.
   – Receive without expecting the tone.
       • You will hear anyone that is transmitting on the frequency
         whether or not they have encoded the tone on their signal.

                      WIRES ™
• The Yaesu WIRES (Wide-coverage Internet Repeater
  Enhancement System) proprietary internet connection
  feature operates by transmitting a short (~ 0.1 second)
  DTMF (Dual Tone Multi Frequency) tone burst each time the
  Push-to-Talk button is pressed.
   – Our repeaters are set up to mute DTMF tones. Each
     time the WIRES DTMF tone is transmitted, the repeater
     mutes for several seconds and the first few words of the
     user’s transmission are lost.
• Ref:

• Bottom Line … turn it off or disable it. Or, wait a couple of
  seconds before you speak after pressing PTT.

• CTCSS – Continuous Tone Coded Squelch System
  Superimposes a very low frequency audio tone on the
  transmitted signal. This audio tone is frequently referred to
  as the PL Tone or the PL. There are 39 CTCSS tone
• DCS – Digital Code Squelch
  Superimposes a stream of digital data on the transmitted
  signal. There are 104 DCS codes.

CTCSS and DCS are two different methods of accomplishing
  the same thing. They make it possible for the receiver to
  remain muted until the “right” audio tone (for CTCSS) or
  digital data (for DCS) is present on the received signal.
      Think of it like a password to get into the system.
• DTMF – Dual Tone Multi-Frequency
  A system that uses eight different audio tones to create 16
  tone-pairs representing the characters 0 thru 9, A thru D , *
  and #. Used for touchtone telephone dialing and other
  control functions.
• PL – Private Line
  PL is a Motorola trademark. CTCSS is a generic name for
  the same (or similar) implementation.
• PTT – Push to talk or Press to talk.
  The name of a switch on the HT that that changes the mode
  from receive to transmit.
• VFO – Variable Frequency Oscillator
  The circuitry that controls the frequency on which the radio
  receives and transmits (e.g., 146.655 MHz).
• Duplex – An operating mode where a station receives and
  transmits simultaneously.
• Simplex – An operating mode where only one station
  transmits at a time.
• Doubling – A term used to describe the abnormal situation
  where two or more stations are transmitting at the same
  time. Usually, none are heard clearly.

             Frequencies to Try
• K6SA Repeater (SARA)
   146.655 MHz, - offset, PL 114.8 Hz
   – Net Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.
• W6UU Repeater (SCCARA)
   146.985 MHz, - offset, PL 114.8 Hz
   – Net Monday night at 7:30 p.m.
• N6NFI Repeater (Palo Alto)
   145.230 MHz, - offset, PL 100.0 Hz
   – Talk-net every weekday morning
• AA6BT Repeater (SVECS)
   146.115 MHz, + offset, PL100.0 Hz
   – Net Tuesday night at 8:00 p.m.

                 Things To Do
• Check into the SARA 2-meter net Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.
   – 146.655 MHz, minus offset, PL of 114.8 Hz
   – 443.150 MHz, positive offset, PL of 100.00 Hz
• Attend a SARA club meeting
   – Here, in this room
   – First Wednesday of the month (except July and August)
   – 7:30 p.m.

• (Saratoga Amateur Radio Association)
   – Great “Resources” page
• (Silicon Valley Emergency Communications
   – Major source of emergency communication information
   – Santa Clara County emergency frequencies
   – Instructions for disabling YAESU WIRES
   – Assorted cheat sheets

           References & Credits
• ARRL ARES Field Resources Manual
• Saratoga CERT Radio Communications Plan
• Virginia RACES, Inc.
   – Slides 4, 5, 21 and 29 were originally from “Portable
     Radio Fundamentals Part 1 of 2” and “2-Way Radio
     Fundamentals Part II”.
       • Most were modified in some way.

         Programming Exercise
• Saratoga Command (K6SA Repeater)
   – 146.655 MHz, minus offset, PL 114.8 Hz
• Saratoga Command Alternate (K6SA Repeater dead)
   – 146.655 MHz, no offset (simplex), no PL
• Saratoga Tactical Alternate (Simplex)
   – 146.505 MHz, no offset, no PL
• Saratoga Tactical Alternate 2 (Simplex)
   – 146.595 MHz, no offset, no PL


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