I'm just starting to use 2m and 70cm bands, which normally use repeaters to extend range beyond a mile or two (limited mostly by line of sight, as I understand it).

When I'm at home, however, I'm not at all sure I have line of sight to any of the nearby repeaters (I live in a small, fairly steep ravine that causes issue with cell phone signal on some networks) -- assuming I get my radio programmed correctly (right frequency, offset, tone, etc.), how can I be sure my signal is actually getting to the repeater?

Even if I can hear activity on the repeater, it's highly likely they're running much more power than the 1/4/8 watts my hand-held puts out, so I might well be able to hear the repeater when the repeater can't hear me. How can I be sure I'm getting out?


The simple answer is to transmit on the repeater's input frequency, saying something like " < your callsign > testing" and listen for the repeater's courtesy beep (assuming there is one) on its output. If you've heard the beep, then you've hit the repeater.

Even without a "beep", the repeater's "presence" will be audible - its carrier will remain for a brief (several hundred milliseconds at least) after you release your mic, thereby keeping your radio's squelch open for a moment. This is easy to hear. Compare to what you hear if you "ID" on a simplex channel.

You need a few things right: Repeater Output Frequency, Repeater Input Frequency (or offset from the output frequency) and CTCSS (or PL) tone.

Added based on the comments: Whenever one keys up a repeater, one should wait a half-second or so to speak after pressing the PTT button - this allows the repeater to "come up". It's common to hear transmissions cut off at the start because the operator neglected to do this. The adage is "Press first, then talk"

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  • $\begingroup$ Yep, that's pretty simple. I had thought of that, but wasn't aware that repeaters had a "roger" tone. The radio does, if I turn it on. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Mar 20 '19 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ Yep, I know the sound of static, worked CB in the 1970s when I'd just gotten my driver's license. This also sounds like a good way to be sure I've got the offset correct, $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Mar 20 '19 at 16:20
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    $\begingroup$ I would add to pause for a brief moment before you identify (press the button, take a short breath, identify + "…testing". This allows the repeater to come up before you start saying your call sign. Also, on a friendly repeater, someone may chime in with a signal report in response to "testing" only — but when checking access I'd recommend specifically asking for audio quality feedback to see how you are reading. (With some repeaters it's possible to open squelch but be unintelligible.) $\endgroup$ – natevw - AF7TB Mar 20 '19 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ I've edited your answer to include the text of your comment. When you find more advice to give, please remember to incorporate it in the answer (when feasible), not just comments. $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Mar 20 '19 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ @natevw-AF7TB Thanks, I'll try to keep that in mind. Repeater delay is like vox, only listening to carrier. $\endgroup$ – Zeiss Ikon Mar 20 '19 at 17:29

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