v Radio etiquette:
Different repeaters have different protocols and “flavors”. It usually pays off to listen and learn about how a repeater is used from a variety of users at different times so you are more knowledgeable. Quick keying Timing out the repeater is also “nicknamed” the “Purple Crystal Award” Most repeaters, but not all, have a courtesy tone that generally speaking, lets you know when it is complete with repeating a signal from another station. On some repeaters it is considered a courtesy to pause for a few seconds after you hear the courtesy tone which can be a beep, tone, automated computer voice, or a myriad of other sounds like a “dah-di-dah” (Dah-di-dah is Morse Code for the letter K and is used by many Morse Code (CW) operators to let the other station know it is their turn to transmit). (You may not hear the courtesy tone if you have your Tone Squelch TSQL function enabled on your radio.) This pause after the courtesy tone enables another station to join in the conversation, make a call to another station, or call with an emergency. If 2 or more stations constantly reply back to the other without pausing it may possibly exclude a breaking station from joining in, and it is possible that they may have an emergency. It may also not allow them to give you some good information on your conversation topic and they may become frustrated by being excluded. This is called quick keying. Most repeaters have a specific time that it will allow you to transmit at one time. Most repeaters that I know of this time is 3 minutes. If you are longer than that time, the repeater stops transmitting, waits for you to stop transmitting, recycles, then starts back up. This is to help prevent someone from tying up the repeater through accidentally sitting on the microphone PTT and continuously transmitting. Don't worry about doing this once in awhile...we all have done it. Just don't make it a habit. The pause you leave after hearing the courtesy tone will enable the repeater to reset it's timer so it does not time out and stop transmitting. Hang time Handing it off to a breaking station On some, but not all repeaters, it is considered a discourteous act to go on and ramble for a couple of minutes after you have just heard a station throw his callsign in. I feel that it should be a constant practice to IMMEDIATELY turn it over to the breaking station. *My opinion* This doesn’t mean be in fear for your life if you don’t hand it off to them within 4 seconds or else!!! Just try and give it to them as soon as proper. I like to join in a conversation (after listening to first know a little about the conversation) by “throwing in” my callsign like this, “W8RIT, go ahead (put in the callsign or name of the station who would’ve gotten his say)” This way I let others on the repeater know that I would like to join in the conversation, but I don't need the repeater immediately. At the same time it also enables that person to keep on track with his comments. Some operators like to talk in a roundtable where everyone gets their turn in a set order, some operators like to talk with other operators in a “free-for-all” where everyone is in a random order. That is entirely up to your preference. Some repeaters have a “flavor” where you say your piece when you join the conversation, don’t worry about the courtesy tone, and if you snooze, you lose.
As a general rule of thumb, I do not interrupt a conversation that is ongoing via a repeater. It is shared by many users in many cases. However, I will ask one of the stations if I may make a call to another station that may be listening to the repeater. If it's not very urgent, I specifically ask if they would mind if I call another station, while letting the station who were to normally have replied with his comments to whoever he was chatting with, do so. Other people, ask if they can make a call and do so. Neither is wrong or right, just a matter of preference. If the conversation is "wrapping up", I wait until they are done. I try not to be rude. Some hams do have a different viewpoint than myself when listening to a conversation that they may have something to contribute. They feel that it is rude to join in a conversation that they might have some input since I am talking with another ham. I would prefer that they do join in to us with the conversation. It's always nice to have more info or a different perspective.
I generally do not join in a conversation where 2 hams may be coordinating something, like directions to a location. They may need to communicate between themselves quicker and I may be intruding and delaying that.
There are occasions I may back out of a conversation. For instance, I was talking about astro-photography with a ham for which I was inquiring more about it from his expertise. Another ham joined the conversation who also had plenty of experience. I did not feel that he was barging in, but I backed out to listen. I learned more from their conversation than if I had stayed and asked my beginners questions. They had a great deal in common and I would have hampered their chat. I do not always do this, sometimes I still want to learn more, but I do give this some consideration when this situation comes up.
"Kerchunking" is a bad habit. A ham will transmit without saying anything to see if he can hear a repeater start transmitting by his keying up. It is against the law to transmit without saying your callsign for 10 minutes. It is just as easy to say your callsign and a statement that you are testing to see if you can bring the repeater up.
Take into consideration WHAT you say BEFORE you say it. Remember that you will meet a wide variety of people on the air, and many more will be listening forming their impression of you and your actions. Keep in mind that facial expression and body gestures are a form of communications amongst people and will be missing from a contact on the radio. I myself have said something innocent enough to a good friend on the radio ('ole KC8RPL), only to tell by his reply back that what I said had offended him. I didn't realize that what I had said, although it was not meant with any harm had been interpreted with some malice by him. I had some apologizing and explaining to do to him. (He told me on the phone a day later, he thought about it and realized I had meant it in a different way. We are still good friends to this day...Thank God! Long Live the "Bob & Dave Show")
In the early days of radio, a couple of subjects were taboo amongst hams: religion and politics. My opinion is to be observant and considerate of others on these topics. (Remember there may be other people listening who do not share your views.) I shy away many times from some rather heated debates others have. I do not feel it to be a problem to compliment another foreign ham on some political ideal their country has or a religious belief they have. Particularly if you ask them some interesting questions about their religion and/or beliefs respectfully. This will be up to you to decide on this gray area and what you will act as.
Remember that we are supposed to be ambassadors of our country, and community to others. I remember hearing a bunch of American hams on HF radio act rather belligerently toward another ham. This was during the Gulf War after what many Americans perceived as an unpopular political act by France to America. There was a ham operating HF radio from a French possession island in the Caribbean, and American hams were hurling insults and other vulgarities against him..."Go home Frenchie !!", and like sayings. They weren't listening, but he kept trying to tell him that he was an American who was just vacationing on the French island. I felt ashamed for us Americans, I could just think of another foreign ham if he were to happen to hear it, thinking to himself, "Stupid Americans". I do not feel that was proper behavior towards another ham, foreign or not. We are supposed to be a brotherhood, more camaraderie needs to be shown. We can bridge gaps and put aside other differences in a friendship across the world.
I also am a strong believer in the Unofficial Amateur's Code:
The Amateur's Code
The Radio Amateur is:
CONSIDERATE...never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.
LOYAL...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.
PROGRESSIVE...with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.
FRIENDLY...slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.
BALANCED...radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.
PATRIOTIC...station and skill always ready for service to country and community.
--The original Amateur's Code was written by Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928.
For more info on radio etiquette, please read appropriate sections in John Devoldere's (ON4UN) Ethics and Operating Procedures pdf, which I have HERE.Ask if the frequency is in use before transmitting