If the power grid and cell phones when down while I was a few hundred miles from home what would be the best way to get a message to my family if my home and I both had access to a radio and small antennas?
I'm going to make a few assumptions, here. You may want to consider them restrictions on when this answer is valid.
First, I'm going to assume that "...
Some ways, roughly in order of increasing difficulty but also automatability:
Most repeaters have a "courtesy beep" they transmit when their squelch detects the end of an incoming transmission, followed by a period of silence. A direct transmission from a different, normal, transmitter will not have the courtesy beep and silence unless it was deliberately ...
Logging is not required by the FCC, but there are several reasons to do it anyway:
Keeping a personal record, like a diary, of your activity on the air. You can include other things like weather, equipment conditions, etc.
You need a log to submit for most contests.
You need a log if you want to exchange QSLs with the other operator, to confirm date, time, ...
[Assuming US Rules] Since the FCC relaxed the rules regarding logging -- that is -- you do not have to maintain a log -- you can choose to develop and use your own practice.
I am part of a CW traffic net and I once asked the group how many log the nightly fifteen minute net QSOs. Answer, only one other person besides myself. One other out of about 12 ...
Some repeaters filter the CTCSS tone. If that's the case, then if you detect one, then it isn't going through the repeater. Some repeaters use a different tone on the output than on the input...also a way to tell.
It is highly unlikely that the station transmitting on the output of the repeater will have exactly the same signal strength as the repeater transmitter. Simply monitor the signal strength of the transmission and if it is not typical for the repeater output, the station is likely transmitting on the output.
It is possible that the antenna designed for 2.4-GHz will work well enough on 2.3-GHz because the difference in wavelength is only about 4%. But, to make it work better, increase every dimension of every antenna component by a factor of 2.4/2.3. That is, increase not only the lengths of the conductors, but also any spaces between conductors and, ideally, the ...
Appleton WI http://www.apleinc.com/WB9KMW/SSTV_2M.html
Columbus OH http://www.qsl.net/n/n8tut//sstv/
Kokomo IN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UGVMJu_1MpI
Sacramento CA http://www.n6na.org/nets/sstv-net
And, a 2005 list, some of which are sure to be active still http://www.hffax.de/html/net.htm