If you are a newcomer, welcome to amateur radio. I hope you meet many hams on the air, and find that we all share many interests besides talking on the radio. To get started with using a repeater, first read the instructions that arrived with your handi-talkie or mobile unit. I know it’s tempting to just turn on the radio — but please check the following to make sure that other hams will respond to your call.
Check your CTCSS (or PL) setting. Some repeaters need a low-pitched tone sent by your transceiver to operate correctly. Listen first. Make a list of the ham operators you hear on the repeaters. Note their names, non-ham hobbies and interests, and feel free to break in on the conversation when they pause to identify. That’s much easier than just announcing your callsign and hoping someone, somewhere listens at the same time.
After some experience operating via repeaters, please try simplex operations — or single-frequency non-repeater radio. With a roof-top antenna, and five watts from a handi-talkie, you can talk to other VHF-FM hams on two meters up to five miles away most of the time.
Switch your radio to 146.520 MHz in the two meter FM band. Ask, “Is this frequency in use?” If no answer, then say “This is <your callsign> listening. Any simplex stations on the air tonight?”
Or, “CQ CQ CQ — This is <your callsign>”, then pause for an answer for about 30 seconds, then repeat.
Please remember, 146.520 MHz must remain a calling frequency. When you succeed in receiving an answer to your call, please change to one of the other simplex channels listed in our directory. That will free the frequency for other hams’ conversations.
The 52.525 MHz FM channel can surprise you with answers from hundreds of miles away. I once snagged W6VFA from Sacramento from my apartment in Phoenix — with an indoor loop antenna and only TEN watts! Please move off of 52.525 MHz, though, when you get someone on 52.525 MHz.
Finally, for close-in work, 446 MHz simplex works great for camping trips, talking to ham friends across the local mall (Unless you are in a mall run by Wescor? if so the use of radios is prohibited according to mall code of conduct), or within buildings. You will need only a short antenna and low power (300mW) for excellent short-range work.
73 DE KB7AQD Robert Homuth Ten-Ten #44932 FISTS #3478