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Repeater Guide - Guidelines for All BARN Systems

The Bay Area Repeater Net maintains open repeater systems for all licensed GMRS users, and BARN members alike. Most of our repeater systems have an average range of 100 miles. Here's a brief list of the available repeater systems we operate:

  • BARN-R1: San Francisco / Monterey Bay Area (G-Link Enabled)
  • BARN-R2: King City (pending)
  • BARN-R3: Bakersfield (pending)
  • BARN-R4: Tehachapi (pending)
  • BARN-R5: Barstow (pending)
  • BARN-R6: East Bay (pending)
  • BARN-R7: Central Valley (pending)
  • BARN-R8: Sacramento (pending)
  • BARN-R9: Redding/Chico (pending)

Although all of our repeater systems are open and free to use, we do request that you review the system guidelines below, and all FCC Rules found within Part 95, Subpart A & D.


What is a repeater?

A repeater is an automatically controlled transmitter and receiver that simply transmits what the receiver hears. By placing repeaters at sites with high elevation and antennas atop large towers, workable coverage is greatly increased.

What is a courtesy tone?

A courtesy tone is a short tone or series of tones that sound over the transmitter of a repeater when someone unkeys a radio. So, when you let up off the mic, you hear a tone. This tone serves three purposes: 1) to let the other people on frequency know you are finished talking; 2) to let the repeater timer reset (more on this later); and 3) to give a one second pause for anyone who might need to break into a conversation for emergency purposes. More advanced repeater systems will provide information by courtesy tone. Some repeaters will give a tone that does up or down in pitch according to how well your signal is to the repeater. For instance, a low tone may mean that the repeater is hearing you S1, while a high tone may mean S9. (S=signal / number=meter strength).

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What is a repeater (or dropout) timer?

Timers are used on repeaters in the event that someone may accidentally keep their radio keyed for an extended period of time. Usually this happens if a microphone gets caught in between the seats in a car or someone sits atop a microphone. After a certain amount of time that is determined by the owner(s) of the repeater, the repeater will turn itself off until the signal disappears. This helps the repeater from overheating. Most repeaters have a timer of three to five minutes. So, if you talk for more than three minutes at a time, the repeater may not be there when you unkey! The repeater timer resets when you hear a courtesy tone. Then, you have another three to five minutes of time to chat! (This timer is also good for keeping long-winded people in line and give someone else a chance to talk!!!)

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Repeater Operations:

Repeater courtesy is very important. Since many of us enjoy the use of repeaters daily, and many of us have to share a repeater, courtesy is a must. Probably the most courteous thing to do on a repeater is to wait until a conversation that is currently on a repeater is over before making a call. Unless you have an emergency, don't interrupt the conversation. If you are in simplex range, try not to tie up the repeater; use simplex. But, by all means, if you have an emergency, don't hesitate to break in. The General Mobile Radio Service and the Amateur Radio Service is designed for emergency and family communications. Anytime life or property is in danger, don't be afraid to break in!!

Another very courteous thing to do is to wait until the "roger tone" sounds before talking. People who quick-key may not leave enough room for someone to break in. Also, the repeater time-out timer (TOT) cannot reset and may cut off your message. This timer is 3 mins.

All BARN GMRS repeater systems use unit numbers. For example, the R1 system callsign is "WPUI299". The user of this callsign uses the unit number "299". These are the last 3 digits of the callsign. -- Some callsigns have 3 digits while the older ones have 4 digits. Pre-assigned unit numbers begining with "21xx", "88xx", and "89xx" are users under the third-party rule, where they may use a GMRS radio only if accompanied and issued by a licensed GMRS individual. -- Regardless of how you announce yourself, always be sure to clear the system with your full callsign as a courtesy to others and the system owner.

Bay Area Repeater Net currently has six system trustees: WPUI299, WQPB602, WPYN438, WQMG760, WQVI400, and WQUX714. During priority traffic, an emergency, or during a system control, if either of these users instructs you or the system with directions or announces a system status, please follow what they say and give them priority during these times. When they are done with their instructions, they will clear the system by either announcing their callsign or by saying:

"This is (callsign) with Bay Area Repeater Net: System traffic may return to normal. (callsign) clear."


Below are some DOs and DON'Ts based on an article in the June 1992 issue of QST. While a few of these may not be covered in the FCC Part 95 rules, they are mandatory to follow on all BARN repeater systems.

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DOs:

  • Speak clearly. Give your radio a second to come on after you key your mic as well as a second to turn off. You may cut yourself off by not waiting for your radio to respond. This is also critical when using our G-Link repeaters as it may take a second or two to key up.

  • If you hear a jammer, IGNORE HIM! (report him to a trustee off the air). Comments toward jammers simply add fuel to the fire. Just try to bear with it and keep on talking as if you couldn't even hear the jammer. Our trustees will handle the issue promptly.

  • Please follow and respect all BARN trustees. They are appointed administrators of BARN to control and maintain all BARN repeaters. If they ask you to do something or to stop using the system, please abide by their requests. Failure to listen to or follow the trustees directions will result in loss of membership, use of the repeater network, or trespass charge (worse case).

  • Be sure to identify every fifteen minutes with your callsign! This is not a courtesy, but an FCC rule. It is a courtesy, however, to not overidentify. Don't ID every time you key the mic. - 95.119(a)(2)

  • Always be friendly and courteous! Always remember that there are other licensed users (and non-licensed users) listening!

  • When in a group discussion, it is courteous to list the callsigns currently in the conversation before you ID. The person to talk next is always listed first.

    For example, you are finishing your transmission and it is WPAA333's turn to talk, and KAD2222 just talked before you did. So, you would say, "WPAA333 and KAD2222, this is KAG2222." For larger groups, "WPAA333 and the group" will work. By listing the people in the conversation, others will be reminded not to forget the other people waiting to add something to the conversation. This also keeps the person happy who's been waiting for several minutes to talk because he knows he's not forgotten.

  • DO support the repeater you use. Repeaters are not cheap! -- An average system's cost can start at $3,000 just for the equipment, and another $200+ for the site.

  • DO say "clear" after you are done calling someone that was not on frequency or when you are finished with a conversation. This informs others waiting to use the repeater that you're done. - 95.119(a)(1)
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DON'Ts

  • Don't use radio jargon. Q signals and the like are seldom used on UHF. Simply talk as if you were using the telephone. The best way to realize this is to listen to experienced licensed users. - 95.183(a)(4)

  • Don't quick-key! Please wait for the courtesy beep to sound, and then wait another 2-3 seconds before talking. This allows for announcements, emergency traffic, or the Control Operator to use the system. -- It is normal to hear the carrier squelch after the courtesy beep. Once you hear the courtesy beep and wait for 2-3 seconds, you may start talking.

  • NEVER announce "break break..." unless you have a life-threatening emergency that the entire network needs to hear. We take ALL emergency calls seriously, especially when linked through our G-Link network. Reporting false emergency traffic is a serious crime and can be charged as a felony by the FCC and/or the local 911 dispatch center. - 95.183(a)(10)

  • Never use the term "mayday" on any BARN system. This term is used for ship-to-shore radio traffic only. - 95.183(a)(10)

  • Don't use the repeater to talk to a near-by station. Use simplex when possible. If you do make contact with a distant station, be sure to leave room for people who also need the use of the repeater.

  • Don't use excessive mic gain. Distorted audio is very annoying.

  • Don't use harsh or foul language while on the repeater. Respect those who are on the system and take personal matters elsewhere. This will not be tolerated. - 95.183(a)(7)

  • Per FCC Part 95.119(d), it clearly states that "The station identification must be transmitted in 1) Voice in the English language; or 2) International Morse code telegraphy." With this rule in place, I would require that all communications on all BARN repeater systems be transmitted only in the English language, so there is no confusion or hidden messages between stations.
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For more information about BARN, the repeater system, or BARN membership, contact us via our Contact Information page.

Rev 1.9 January, 2016
Original article written by: EARS Wide Area Repeater Network
http://www.w9ear.org/

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