is a fairly complex network. This page attempts
to lay out a few tips that can enhance your
enjoyment as a user of our system.
network is composed of multiple repeaters, linked together.
It doesn't matter which of our repeaters you use to
access the network. They all basically work as a single unit.
There is generally
no need to be on the "same" repeater as the person you
are talking with. They are all equivalent.
In fact, many first-time users aren't even aware
multiple repeaters, and are surprised to find out the person
they are talking with is quite a distance away, on a
completely different repeater, possibly on a different
frequency band. You should
use the repeater that you get into the best, which
is usually the one you hear the best. As you move
around the coverage area, this will change. At most places,
there is more than one repeater which will work.
network primarily uses repeaters on the 2-meter, and 70-centimeter
bands. Neither band is "better" than the other
in all circumstances. If you only have a radio for one band, then
of course, you will only be able to access those repeaters. If you have
both bands available, you will find enhanced coverage by using
repeaters on both bands. We also have two repeaters on the 1.25-meter
band, 224.040 MHz and 224.820 MHz. The former is not usually linked
into the network, but has fairly broad coverage in its own right.
The 224.820 repeater, on Holy Cross Mountain near South Bend, is
normally linked in, covering a large portion of Pacific County
for those who prefer this band.
those fortunate enough to operate multi-band equipment, it is generally
recommended, when transmitting, that the side of the radio not
being used have the volume turned all the way down. Many of these radio sets
will receive a second repeater while the operator is simultaneously
talking on the one. In this case, if both repeaters are part of the
Repeater System, this can cause a circular path for the audio,
which results in very loud feedback. If the volume of the received audio
is adjusted with great care, it is possible to hear your own
transmissions while talking, much like a telephone conversation, however,
there is a half-second audio delay built into the repeater architecture,
which may make monitoring yourself sound like an echo chamber.
you receive a report that your signal is marginal, or hard to copy,
repeater. You could also try increasing your power or moving to a different
location. Most of our users operate at "full power" all the time, as a
rule. The hilly topography of our region will generally limit your range so that
the extra power won't contribute to interference with others. As for moving, it
can take as little as a quarter-wavelength change in position to make a profound
difference in performance. At 2-meters, a quarter-wavelength is 18-inches, and
at 440 MHz, only 6-inches, so even small movements can be significant.
It is certainly possible to drive out of
range of a repeater, but that usually means
you are driving
into the coverage footprint of another.
placement of our repeaters was planned to provide as nearly
complete coverage as possible, with substantial overlap, to best serve our users.
This will require switching from one repeater to the next while
traveling around the area. For example, following Highway 101, north
from the Cannon Beach junction with Oregon Highway 26, south of Seaside, OR,
the attentive user would tune to the
Megler 147.18 repeater.
This would work well through Astoria, across the Megler Bridge,
into Washington, and via either Highway 101, or
WA SR401, to WA SR4 to
Johnson's Landing (the 101/SR4 junction northwest of Naselle).
Continuing north, the user would switch to the
North Cove 145.310
repeater, which provides an excellent signal along this stretch
of highway from across Willapa Bay. Somewhere between the Bay Center turn off, and
South Bend, the radio would again be switched to the
South Bend 147.340
repeater. This would cover the journey northward to the Pacific/Grays
Harbor County line. The change there would be to the
repeater, which would work fine through the Aberdeen/Hoquiam area
and northward. Once north of these cities, the next change would be to
the Neilton 444.700 repeater, which would work well north
to the Grays Harbor county limits.
while moving around within our area, if you notice the repeater you are tuned to
is beginning to sound scratchy or marginal, or the person you are in QSO with
says you are becoming rough, step up or down though the
for one that comes in better. Chances are, that one
will pick you up better as well.
You did put the whole list of our repeaters into
sequential slots in your radio's memory bank, right?!
is possible to be "too close" to a repeater.
Most of our repeaters are located on mountains. Many of the highways
skirt the bases of these mountains, putting the bulk of the
mountain itself in the
path of your signal. The repeater antennas have gain,
which is to say they
tend to focus the signal strength at the horizon. That
can have the effect of aiming most of the sensitivity
over your head. If you
are on a highway under the toe of a mountain, it is possible
not to be able to work a repeater less than a quarter-mile away,
due to these two factors. Sometimes a repeater farther away,
but in a favorable direction can offer better
example of this would be Highway 8,
near the McCleary turnoff,
on the way north from Elma to Olympia, where the
Olympia 444.950 repeater is
barely two miles away, as the crow flies, and nearly a half-mile
vertically above you, making it very marginal. The Minot
444.050 and Cosmopolis
145.390 repeaters both cover this area better from a distance.
are also several
remote receivers to
augment coverage in certain problem areas. A couple of them require
changing your CTCSS (PL) tone to use. If you will be in an area
where these are useful, learning how to access them can extend
your coverage into otherwise marginal areas.
example would be the Ocean Shores area, where the
North Cove 145.310 repeater is heard
well, but can be
marginal to get back into. Shifting your PL tone to 114.8 Hz
(from the 118.8 Hz normally used) selects the
remote receiver on Naselle Ridge
at 2000-feet elevation, instead of the repeater
receiver at 500-feet. Although not always better, in many areas,
particularly near the southern tip of the Ocean
Shores peninsula, this can be advantageous.
course, if the 70-cm band is available, the Ocean Shores area is well
served by the Ocean Shores 444.200 repeater
located to cover the North and South Beaches. This illustrates
that having both 2-meters and 70-cm is a distinct advantage, but not
though our network was engineered for a typical Amateur mobile
installation (50-watts VHF or 30-watts UHF with
a 3-dB gain antenna), it's
certainly possible to use our repeaters with just a hand-held
inside a vehicle, but don't expect complete coverage or
rave signal reports. At best,
you may find reasonable coverage in the more populated areas.
if you are
using VHF (2-meters or the 222 MHz band), it's best to hold your
radio against the car window. This places the antenna as close to
"outside the vehicle" as possible. A vertically polarized
signal at 2-meters cannot pass
through a hole that is much smaller
than 18-inches wide by 3-feet high.
Most vehicle windows are not that large, so the radio signal has
a hard time leaking out of the cab. Holding the radio against the
window can help this situation a lot. The best plan, of course,
is to install an outside antenna on your vehicle, either permanently
or magnet-mount, for best performance from your radio.
special case situation for hand-held operation is in Cathlamet, in
Wahkiakum County. The Grays River 147.020
repeater covers this area well for mobile operation, but is a bit
marginal for a hand-held radio. To address this issue, a
remote receiver is installed
nearby to relay a weak signal into the system. Shifting your
PL tone to 110.9 Hz (instead of the usual 118.8 Hz) selects
this receiver, allowing hand-held use of the repeater.
is very important in a system like this one. There are a number of
unavoidable delays built in. When you squeeze the Push-To-Talk
switch on your radio, other Hams, elsewhere in the system,
won't hear you for a bit over a second. It goes
something like this...
you key up, the
repeater you are using
while the CTCSS decoder decides whether your signal has
sub-audible access (PL) tone. This process typically takes
300 milliseconds (a third of a second).
Then, once the local repeater is satisfied that your
signal is properly encoded, it turns on its transmitter,
and keys the link to send your voice to
the system linking hub. There, another 300 mS pass
while that CTCSS decoder evaluates the incoming link signal
for the correct PL tone. Once that
decoder is satisfied, the hub transmitter
comes on. The link receivers at all the other repeaters
then check the CTCSS tone on the incoming link signal,
taking yet another 300 mS to confirm the correct tone
before turning on the remaining repeater
transmitters in the network.
In addition, there is a 200 mS audio time delay built
into the link hub controller. At each step along the way,
when a transmitter is keyed, it can take as much as 100 mS
for it to come to full power and stabilize on frequency.
So, when you squeeze the trigger,
wait at least a full second,
to a-second-and-a-half, before
speaking, or your first few words
will be cut off.
tones are used on most repeater systems, and ours is no exception.
The tone basically indicates that the time-out timer has been reset, and
you can talk for up to three minutes before the controller will cut you off.
In addition to this, different tones can be used to indicate that
the system is in a particular
state. When using our system, wait for the courtesy
tone before transmitting
so that if someone else wants to get in, they can.
normal operation, the courtesy tone is a distinctive three-note tone.
If you hear a "tic-toc" courtesy tone, it indicates that the
power has been lost on KO Peak, not terribly interesting to most users,
but of interest to the Control Operators. The system goes into "Night
Mode" between 10:30 PM and 7:30 AM, with the
voice announcements silenced
and the courtesy tone becomes a Morse code
letter "K", dah-di-dah.
have a few night owls who
leave the radio turned on (but down) all night, in case someone needs help. The
Night Mode is in deference to these folks. You might be glad they
have these habits, sometime when you are broken down in the
middle of nowhere, and the cell phone doesn't work.
may notice the controller announces the "outdoor temperature
on KO" from time to time. It will normally be 7 or 8 degrees
cooler than at sea level. If it is substantially warmer than
sea level, then listen for signals from farther away than normal.
The temperature being announced is at 3000-feet elevation, and
if it is
warmer than sea level, that indicates a temperature inversion, which
users of the
System should be familiar with our
These are guidelines for acceptable use of our
repeater network, that all users are expected to abide by.
you have questions not answered by poking around our website, please
Control Operator. We want you to
understand the system, and use
it. That is the best way to become familiar with its strengths and
limitations, the better to enjoy the system, and
be prepared for an emergency situation,
should one arise.