System Usage & Guidance

Repeater permissions and access is managed by each system owner through the MyGMRS.com repeater platform. Once you have your GMRS Callsign, register for access at MyGMRS.com, then make your request to each repeater on the network you wish to use. It will appear that the ability to request access is disabled until you are successfully logged-in to MyGMRS.com

Things to remember about the Repeaters:
– Access to a repeater is a privilege.
– When talking through a repeater, keep in mind that you are using the system operators’ equipment. Treat it like it was your own equipment. Don’t abuse it.
– Discussion of politics, race, hate, etc. are prohibited as this is a FAMILY FRIENDLY system for NW Alabama.

Each repeater owner-operator has the right to approve or deny access to a their repeater for any reason they so choose. It is a fact that any GMRS frequency is available to all GMRS license holders. However, usage of a repeater system is at the discretion of the owner.

In the event of an emergency, priority must be given to the emergency traffic, and any licensed stations available are advised to assist in that communications effort.

Users must adhere to all FCC GMRS Rules.

Kindly note: “Bubble-pack” GMRS/FRS radios found at Walmart, sporting goods stores, etc. will NOT WORK on repeaters.


GENERAL REPEATER ETIQUETTE

Don’t be afraid to get on the air (of course, you must have an FCC GMRS license first); nothing you could do can cause problems. Always feel free to ask for help and guidance.

The repeater system is not a Citizen’s Band (CB) radio and ‘10’ codes are discouraged.

Avoid using CB ‘handles’ in place of your name or call sign.

Mistakes will occur, whether it’s mispronunciation or inadvertently transmitting into an ongoing conversation.

Licensed GMRS radio users are required to announce their call sign at least once every 15 minutes during a series of transmissions over 15 minutes or following a single or series of transmissions. With practice, this will become second nature. The repeater identifications (repeater IDs) can be used as a “timer”, to identify yourself, after you hear it transmit.

Multiple family members using the same GMRS radio license will each still need to state your GMRS license callsign at minimum. No need to include ‘This is WABC123′ at the end of each key-up/radio transmission within a long conversation. Simply identify at the start, and work the ‘WABC123’ into the end of the transmission, every 15 minutes at minimum.

Even when frequencies and tone are available to users, it is common courtesy to request permission from radio owners to use their repeaters. You can view a map of GMRS repeaters, create an account and request access to a variety of repeaters on www.mygmrs.com . Having an account allows you to view repeater details and keep records of your requests.

Phonetics can be used for clarification of your callsign, name or other syllables that may sound similar. You may also want to have a ITU Phonetic Alphabet handy in case someone has trouble receiving other radio traffic that may need clarification.

If you are part of a lengthy discussion, be sure to leave pauses or short breaks for others to interrupt with a request.

When you’re finished with your conversation, give your call sign one last time followed by the word “clear.” That informs others that they may begin their conversations.

While coverage is good in most repeater areas, there will be locations where it simply won’t work well. This is based on things like your radio’s power level, the type of antenna you’re using, the kind of coax between your radio and antenna, terrain around you and between you and the repeater, as well as trees and other foliage. For example, be able to open the repeater (hearing the repeater beeps) but a weak signal may not be able to hold the repeater receiver open for clear communications. In these situations, your transmission may be scratchy or intermittent. In most cases, moving to a different location ‐‐ a few feet or a few blocks away and you may solve the poor reception problem.

Operating Condition Recommendations:

-Mobile / Base Radio and/or Vehicle-Mounted/Outdoor Antenna is Highly Recommended.

– Handhelds will not be completely reliable due to foliage, varying elevation in the valley, and multi-path reflection impacting the UHF frequency. Handheld radio ‘rubber-duck’ antennas are not efficient in performance, but do work ‘okay’ most of the time. Your Mileage May Vary.

GETTING ON AIR

The first thing that a user will need is a GMRS radio license. This is a two‐part process that you complete on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) website via their Universal Licensing System (ULS). In order to get a GMRS license, you need to complete an application to receive a free FCC Registration Number (FRN). This is a unique identifier used in tracking all transactions with the FCC. Once you obtain your FRN, you can then complete the application to obtain your GMRS license. You can learn more about getting your GMRS license, including a step by step guide by visiting: https://mygmrs.com/help/get‐gmrs‐license

The second and most important item you need is a repeater-capable GMRS radio. All GMRS radios are capable of ‘simplex’ mode or talking from radio‐to‐radio. In fact, GMRS radios share the same 22 channels as Family Radio Service (FRS) radios allowing users to communicate with each other if they are on the same channel/frequency and tone. However, you will need a repeater-capable GMRS radio in order utilize the GMRS repeaters.

Once you obtain your radio, it will need to be configured to the proper radio frequency and tone. Once you’re approved for access to use a given repeater on the MyGMRS.com platform, the detailed repeater access information will be given to you by the repeater owner.


Example Operations:

The South Colbert Repeater operates on 462.600 MHz, with a + 5 MHz offset. This means that when you are using the access tones provided by the owner(s), and have the +5MHz offset set up, your repeater-capable GMRS radio will transmit (Tx) out on the frequency 467.600 MHz. The repeater is always listening to 467.600 MHz; it will receive your transmission and simultaneously rebroadcast back out on 462.600 MHZ for others to hear.

The repeater output frequency 462.600 MHZ is also the same exact frequency shared with Channel 17 in the FRS/GMRS channels. That means that an FRS radio set to Channel 17 with no tone will likely hear the radio traffic being broadcasted by the repeater (some may not because of proprietary tones used by the many manufacturers). However, someone using an FRS radio will not be able to talk to other GMRS radio users operating on “Ch. 17R” though because the repeater channels use two different frequencies and access tones.

TESTING YOUR RADIO

When your new GMRS repeater capable radio is programmed, find a good area outside, turn the radio on, set it to the GMRS Repeater frequency and listen. You may not hear anyone talking right away. You will only hear something if someone is talking or when the repeater transmits its call sign every 15 minutes. There however may be other people listening/monitoring.

If you don’t hear anyone talking on the GMRS Repeater channel:

1) Press your radio’s PTT button, pause for 1 to 2 seconds and say: “This is [your GMRS Call Sign] testing.”

2) Pause a second and then release the PTT button

3) If you hear a short carrier (aka ‘tail’) after releasing the PTT button, this indicates that your radio opened up the repeater. (Pressing the PTT button and releasing the button to open the repeater is referred to as a ‘kerchunk.’ The practice of ‘kerchunking’ a radio repeater is extremely discouraged; so please don’t just kerchunk without identifying yourself using your GMRS call sign.)

4) After identifying on-air, wait about 15 seconds. This will allow anyone who may steps 1 and 2 again.

5) If you again still do not hear any responses, leave your radio on and simply wait. The repeater will make a radio broadcast every 15 minutes in order to identify itself. You should at least hear this message broadcasted allowing you to confirm your radio is programmed to receive radio transmissions.

6) If you don’t hear the broadcast, you may need to move to a different area to verify your radio is properly programmed.

If someone replies back, you can simply use plain conversation to talk. There are no special radio codes or terms you are required to use, other than providing your FCC assigned GMRS call sign every 15 minutes during the conversation or at the end of a brief transmission when you are done talking. It is requested to keep CB lingo at rest. If you hear certain lingo and jargon on CB Channel 38 sideband, or Channel 19… please don’t use that on the repeaters. It is also good practice to use the ITU phonetic alphabet when saying your radio call sign or introducing yourself to another radio user.

When you have tested your radio and confirmed that it can connect and open up the repeater, please feel free to use it for testing or casual purposes. Remember the repeater is always ‘on’ and listening. Start by turning your radio on and listening to the repeater channel.

If there is no conversation currently taking place and you would like to solicit a conversation with anyone monitoring, you can announce your presence on the repeater by stating:

“This is [GMRS Call Sign] listening.”

Using this method will alert anyone else monitoring the repeater that you are on‐air and available to talk. Those monitoring will have the option at this point to reply back to begin a conversation or not. Sometimes that receiving station wasn’t ready to copy down your GMRS call sign or may not have heard it completely.

An appropriate reply could be along the lines of:

“Station calling, this is [name & your GMRS call sign]. I did not copy your call sign. Please come back.”

At this point, the two radio stations can simply engage in normal casual conversation. It’s good practice to respond back with your name and call sign. Conversation topics can include asking what type of radio they are using, what general location they may be located in, the type of radio they are using (handheld, mobile, brand, etc.), signal clarity or any other family-friendly topic you may think of.

Calling a Station

If you know another radio user is monitoring and/or you are trying to contact a specific radio station, you should announce;

“[GMRS Call Sign of station being called] this is [your GMRS call sign]”

If you do not get a reply after a couple of calls, announce:

“[Your GMRS call sign] clear”

This alerts anyone else using or who wants to use the repeater that you are releasing it for others to use. Should someone answer you, follow up by including your first name, call sign and if necessary, you can provide it phonetically.

“This is Jay, ABCD123 [pause]; Juliet Alpha Yankee, call sign Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta 1 2 3”

Joining an Active Discussion

If you do hear radio traffic, please wait for a pause between transmissions before announcing your call sign. It is suggested to listen to the radio traffic and determine whether there is an active radio net taking place or whether it is just a simple round table discussion. If radio traffic appears to be a directed radio net, at some point Net Control will either pause, identify him/herself and ask if there is anyone else wanting to join the net. Depending on the Net Control and the purpose for the net, they may provide instructions on when and how to join such as providing your name, call sign and repeating your call sign using the phonetic alphabet. In the event that the ongoing radio traffic is just a general discussion and you want to contact another station not in the current conversation for a quick message, you can ask to make a call.

Simply wait for a pause in the communication and announce:

“[Your GMRS call sign] with a [comment / question / inquiry / etc.].”

You can make the call when the parties using the repeater turn the repeater over to you. If you contact the party you are seeking and share your message, turn the repeater back to the person who turned it over to you, thanking them for letting you in. If you do not get a response from the party you are seeking, turn the repeater back over to the person who turned it over to you and thank them for the opportunity.