Amateur Radio — Basic Practices

Here is some basic information for new hams to help them get started.

Being a new ham can be a little intimidating at first as there are many established protocols for conducting conversations on the air. However, with a few attempts and contacts it all begins to make sense and is truly very easy. One thing that is important while on the air is to let others know when you are finished saying what you intended to say by either saying “over” at the end of your transmissions or “back to you”. This lets others who may be listening know that you have finished what you were saying and didn’t cut-out or accidentally unkey the microphone.  Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to say something very long all at once you might want to consider adding some breaks in your transmission to allow others who might have priority traffic or emergency traffic to let you know. This can be done by stating part of what you were saying followed by saying “break” pausing for about 10sec and continuing what you were saying.

How to call a station directly.

Say the call sign of the station you are calling three time and then your call sign.


KF7EFI KF7EFI KF7EFI (wait about 1 sec) CALLSIGN over


How to do a general call to any station listening:

Say the letters CQ three times and then “calling any station” along with your call sign.

The letters CQ come from the telegraph industry and originally the French word sécurité which means “pay attention” or “safety information”.


CQ CQ CQ calling any station this is KF7EFI over


How to correctly monitor a frequency:

Simply state your callsign and say monitoring after it.


KF7EFI (wait 1 sec) monitoring over.


How to enter into a conversation:

Simply state your callsign between the transmissions of the conversation.


Someone talking (end of their transmission) …   “KF7EFI over”


How to sign off:

Either state your callsign followed by “out” or say “73’s” (another telegraph saying/code) and your callsign.


KF7EFI out


73’s KF7EFI

*Note: You do not need to say over or back to you after signing off as you are not expecting a reply.

*Don’t forget to id with your FCC callsign at least every 10min which can simply be done by including it at the end of a transmission “bla bla bla KF7EFI over” *


Understanding a repeater:

A repeater is a machine that takes signals in on one frequency and retransmits them on another. This is useful because they will take the low powered signal from a mobile or handheld unit and retransmit it at much higher powers allowing you to reach stations miles and miles away. They also increase range because they are normally located in geographic locations that provide the best coverage such as the tops of mountains or all buildings. Keep in mind that repeaters are open to everyone. Please don’t hog the repeater with long conversations, especially if the station you are communicating with can be reached using simplex (direct contact from your station to the other without the use of a repeater).

First you will need to find a list of repeaters in your area and what frequencies they use. This can be done by simply googling the “amateur radio repeaters in YOUR CITY AND STATE HERE”. Once you have the frequencies you can set up your radio to use it. Setting up the radio differs from radio to radio so you will have to consult your manual for that information, but here is some information that will allow you to make sense of the information provided to you in the manual. When you see a repeater listed it might show up something like this:

CALLSIGN 147.100+ PL 100.0

This means that the output frequency of the repeater is 147.100mhz (the one you should listen to with your radio) and the input frequency is above that. The standard for a plus repeater is .600mhz higher input frequency so the input into the repeater would be 147.700mhz and this is the one you should transmit on. If it was 147.100- then the frequency to transmit on is 146.500mhz.

The PL 100.0 means in order to access the repeater your radio must broadcast a tone of 100 for the repeater to pickup your signal. If you don’t then your transmission will be ignored by the repeater. This PL tone is simply a tone to enter the repeater and you don’t need to set your radio to listen for this tone to receive signals.

Here is a helpful PDF file put out by the ARRL. It contains a condensed version of many of the more important regulations regarding amateur radio as set by the fcc:

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Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009 at 22:08 • Ham RadioRSS 2.0 feed • leave a response or trackback

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