Getting Started – Ham Radio Operating Dos and Don’ts

This is part of our Getting Started section for beginners to the hobby. It’s been suggested that Essex Ham produces a guide to help with addressing some of the more common Dos and Don’ts. Help us to collate a list by adding your suggestions below…

 

Using a Repeater

Settings: It’s important to set your radio up correctly (input and output frequencies, and also the correct CTCSS tone.

Timeouts: Typically a repeater has a “timeout”. If you exceed the timeout, you’ll be cut off and people won’t be able to hear you. Find out how long your local repeater’s timeout is, and try not to exceed it.  The GB3DA repeater (Danbury, Essex) has a timeout of 2 minutes

Calling: You don’t call “CQ” on a repeater. Typically, you say “This is {callsign} listening through {repeater name}”, for example… “This is M7QQQ listening through GB3DA for any contacts”

If no-one responds after a few calls, take a break for a few minutes, in case others want to put out a call on the repeater.

Hints – Joining a Net: If you’re on a net, expect to have to wait your turn. Also, be respectful of others and keep your turn short if the net is busy. Repeatedly taking a “k” (resetting the timeout to get another few minutes) can be annoying for others waiting patiently for their go. Butting in out of sequence, or ‘breaking’ in when it’s not your turn can be seen on some nets as rude and disruptive.
The key is to listen before joining, to get a feel for a net’s etiquette and style.

For more on using repeaters, see our Using Amateur Radio Repeaters Guide, or see the following video from our Foundation Online Training Course:

 

2m / 70cm Simplex Contact (using the Calling Frequency)

The 2m FM voice calling frequency is 145.500MHz and the 70cm FM voice calling frequency is 433.500MHz. Here’s how to use them:

  • Adjust your radio’s squelch, to be able to hear weak signals (just on the edge between silence and the white noise ‘hiss’
  • Tune to the calling frequency, and listen to make sure it’s not in use
  • Call CQ, making sure you give your callsign clearly and concisely
  • Leave a decent length pause for people to respond, before calling CQ again
  • If no-one responds after a few calls, take a break for a few minutes, in case others want to put out a call.
  • When you’ve made contact with someone, move away from the calling frequency, so that others can use it.
  • Ask the person to wait, and look for a free frequency.
  • Tune to a frequency (checking the band plan if necessary) and listen. If you hear nothing, put out a call: “This is {callsign}. Is the frequency in use?” to make sure there is no-one else using it
  • Once you have found a free frequency, return to the calling frequency and ask the person who’s waiting to go the new frequency
  • This involves finding a free frequency and checking it’s not in use

For more, and examples, see our video and sample script – On-Air QSO example– also, see below for a sample video, taken from our free online training course:

 

SSB calling? The frequencies are 144.300MHz and 432.200MHz. These are labelled in the band plan as “SSB Centre of Activity”

 

Calling CQ on HF

  • First, find a frequency – Check the band plan to make sure you’re calling in the right part of the band
  • Listen to make sure the frequency isn’t in use. If you hear nothing, put out a call: “This is {callsign}. Is the frequency in use?” to make sure there is no-one else using it
  • Call CQ, making sure you give your callsign clearly and concisely.
  • On HF, you’ll need to call CQ several times continuously to allow people to find you, tune in to your signal and catch your callsign. You’ll often need to give your callsign using the phonetic alphabet.
  • Leave a decent pause to allow for people to respond, before calling CQ again
  • When you’ve made contact, you can stay on that frequency, unless it’s in the band plan as a “calling frequency”

 

Band Plans

Please use the band plans and make sure you only transmit where you should be transmitting. The band plans are there to divide up each band fairly, and so people know where to operate voice, Morse, data without conflicting.

It’s worth printing out a copy of the appropriate band plan from here: RSGB Band Plan

 

Member Tips:

  • Do label your antenna cables  (Submitted by Mitchell 2E0EMO via Twitter)
  • Make sure not to put the pl259 thread on the wrong way (Submitted by Mitchell 2E0EMO via Twitter)

 

Other Handy Pages:

 

Suggestions?

Any more suggestions? Please add them as a comment below, and we’ll update the main article

6 Comments

  1. Peter Gardner M7BGR 23 November 2020 Reply
    • Pete M0PSXAuthor 24 November 2020 Reply
  2. Greg Kendall 2 March 2021 Reply
    • Pete M0PSXAuthor 30 November 2021 Reply
  3. Richard Tomlinson G4TGJ 29 November 2021 Reply
    • Pete M0PSXAuthor 30 November 2021 Reply

Leave a Reply to Peter Gardner M7BGR Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.