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So, I key up on a repeater to see if it works, or to see what cool courtesy tone they are using. I don't do anything else. Is it illegal or bad ham radio etiquette to just key up for a second, key down, and not do anything else?

Where: USA, CO, VHF/UHF REPEATERS

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3 Answers 3

Bad etiquette and illegal. Bad etiquette because anyone else scanning the repeater will hear your useless silence, and illegal by §97.119:

§97.119 Station identification.

(a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not authorized to the station.

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As per the etiquette part of the question, the general consensus is to not simply key up for a second.

If you don’t want to engage in conversation, but simply want to see if you can access a certain repeater, simply say your call and 'testing'.

If you want a signal report from another amateur, state that in plain English. Example: 'This is [your callsign], can someone give me a signal report?'

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I find "heeeey, just testing!" at least as annoying, if not more so than kerchunking. Why were you testing? Did you want to see if you could hit the repeater? Did you want to hit the repeater because you had something to say? Then just say it! Don't have anything to say? Then why do you need a repeater? Try testing with a dummy load, or on an unused frequency. –  Phil Frost Jun 2 at 1:13
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@PhilFrost Announcing "test" is annoying, yes, but also the legal way to do this. Happens all the time on our local repeaters someone keys up, announces callsign & just says "testing" then disappears. Because of the terrain in my area we have many repeaters some can reach several hundred kilometers south, but only maybe 50 km east/west due to terrain features and elevation. People frequently test just to hear the courtesy tone on a repeater to know if they can hit it from they are and don't want to waste time with a verbose explanation of their test particularly if it is likely to fail. –  BenSwayne Jun 2 at 15:38
    
@BenSwayne is it too much to ask that people not be jerks, and make no useless transmissions on repeaters of any kind, legal or not? If we are looking for the most legal way to tie up a shared resource with things of no interest to anyone, we are probably on the wrong track... –  Phil Frost Jun 2 at 16:46
    
I have a friend that collects courtesy tones –  Skyler 440 Jun 10 at 1:27
    
@PhilFrost Well I'd have to disagree. I wouldn't kerchunk a repeater, but if I'm in a new town for a couple of days, I might look up the list of local repeaters and try to establish which ones I can access from various locations. At that point, I don't have anything to say really, but I transmit with my call sign to see if I can hit the repeater. A dummy load or unused frequency is no help in that circumstance. Seems perfectly reasonable to me. –  N4MOX Jun 15 at 1:56

Yes, because you have transmitted but not identified. Whether there is a repeater listening to your transmission is irrelevant.

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OK. thanks. Its not like they can track a 1 second signal anyway, but yeah, I usually key, let the Morse code go, then say my callsign, so I am not talking over the morse. –  Skyler 440 Jun 1 at 22:23
    
"Its not like they can track a 1 second signal anyway" Reducing the probability of getting caught does not make the behavior less illegal. –  Michael Kjörling Jun 2 at 9:31

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