General Operational Procedures
Here is a description of the General Operational Procedures and explanation of the different CW beep tones heard during various time on the repeater.
Courtesy Tones "The Beeps"
The repeater will issue a "Beep" 1.5 seconds after each user unkeys their transmitter, this allows for a "pause" in the conversation so another user can access the system. If you wish to enter a conversation or use the repeater, it is appropriate for you to simply transmit your callsign only "before the beep", and then unkey. You should listen for other users callsigns "before the beep" and turn the repeater over to them as soon as possible.
The "Weather Guys" change the repeater Courtesy Tone or "Beep" to warn all users of impending severe or changing weather conditions. Please consult them for the current criteria that warrants setting a particular CW beep.
Some of the courtesy beeps also set a Voice Message that is triggered by a "Post Activity timer". Post Activity means waiting an amount of time after all RX activity subsides. In other words a few seconds after conversation ends on the repeater. After waiting, a voice message is issued by the controller. The messages are mostly related to weather warnings, however club announcements can be programmed as well (Meeting this Wed, Swapfest this Sat, etc.)
Courtesy Letter "E" "Everything is OK" This is the normal single beep
Courtesy Letter "I" Voice Msg> Expect change in Weather
Courtesy Letter "S" Thunderstorm Voice Msg> Weather Alert Severe Thunderstorm Watch
Courtesy Letter "S" Tornado Voice Msg> Weather Alert Tornado Watch
Courtesy Msg Letter "N" a controlled "Net" is in operation, listen for direction from the Net Control Station.
During Severe Weather, the repeater can issue a Weather Warning Tone (1050 Hz for 10 Seconds) and state in voice "Severe Weather Warning". The command to issue this warning is made by the Weather Control Operators in response to a Severe Weather Warning issued by the National Weather Service. Usually this means a Tornado has been sighted in our coverage area, and you should be aware and take appropriate action.
There is a Voice Messaging system programmed into the Main Site controller. It can announce Club meetings, special events and anything else (within the limited vocabulary of the controller) on a timed schedule. The setup and operation of the messaging system is complex and experimental.
Sounds of the Controller
THE UNKEY SEQUENCE:
When a person using the repeater releases their transmitter push-to-talk (PTT) button, there is a short (or long) noise burst, know officially as the squelch tail. Exactly 1.0 seconds later, there is a courtesy beep tone (or Morse code character). Precisely 3.5 seconds latter, the repeater carrier drops. Thus, the carrier delay time (or hang time) is a total of 4.5 seconds. The courtesy beep is a time mark to separate breakers from the person next in line to transmit. Interrupt with your call sign before the beep, unless it is your normal turn to transmit, in which case, wait for the beep.
THE TIME-OUT TIMER:
The timer is exactly 3 minutes, per FCC Regulations. The timer is reset at the end of the squelch tail noise burst. When a person makes an uninterrupted transmission which is longer than 3 minutes, the repeater will cease re-transmitting the input signal, and the repeater carrier will drop, after stating "Repeater Timed Out" (during which the input signal audio is muted). When the person finally does unkey, the repeater carrier will return sending "You Timed Out, Repeater On Line" and than issues a normal courtesy beep tone. The timer may be reset during the time out by a Control Op. If the on-the-air reset is successful, the controller will simply come back online.
THE INITIAL ID:
The initial identifier is "DE MRC WI9MRC/R MKE WX" and it is sent POLITELY after someone keys up and unkeys, when the repeater has not been in use for at least 10 minutes. The "MRC" stands for "The Milwaukee Repeater Club", the "MKE" stands for "Milwaukee", and "WX" intends to say that for public service reasons, we have weather nets concurrent with ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) weather nets. The initial ID is sent at 10 words per minute (wpm).
THE NORMAL ID:
The normal identifier string is "WI9MRC/R". It is sent approximately every 10 minutes while the repeater is being used. The speed of the normal ID is 20 words per minute, which is as fast as the FCC allows. The ID will be POLITE if it can be. That means it will try to identify when there is no input on our frequency. Beginning at 9 minutes and 30 seconds since the last CW ID, the controller looks for a closing squelch, indicating that a user unkeyed. If it senses that unkey, the ID will appear immediately. However, if there is someone continuously accessing the repeater during the last 30 seconds of the 10 minute ID timer interval, then the ID will be IMPOLITE, and identify while that person is talking.
THE COURTESY BEEP:
Morse code "E": (dit) = Everything is normal (this is the standard 146.91- courtesy Beep).
Morse code "I": (Di Dit) = Inclement (severe is forecasted or possible. Severe weather is forecasted or possible within our coverage area. Storm spotters may be needed. The basic message is to take your transceiver and spare batteries with you. Should severe weather develop you can stay informed about the storm, but more importantly you can report severe weather events you can actually observe. Occasionally check the courtesy beep for any changes. Repeater conversations should go on as normal.
Morse code "S": (DI DI Dit) = Standby situation. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Weather Watch affecting our coverage area. All operators able to be Spotters, Liaisons, Net Controls, or Non-Response operators should prepare for a SKYWARN weather net and inform the Organizing Net Control of your availability and location. This beep will also indicate a temporary lull in severe weather when more is expected. Repeater conversations should be near normal, but expected increasing weather traffic as storms move into our area.
Morse code "N"; (Dah Dit) = Net for severe weather in progress. When the courtesy beep is at a "N", a directed NET is in progress and all communications on the 146.91- repeater is at the direction of the Net Control Station. The weather situation may be quite serious in some locations and only severe weather traffic is being accepted. Spotters should clear their schedules, scan the skies and monitor the 146.91- and/or ARES repeaters. Follow the Net Control station;s instructions and listen for important updates. All significant severe weather events (Tornadoes, Funnels, Wall Clouds, Hail, Damage, Flooding, High Winds) are requested and appropriate from any county in southeastern Wisconsin within range of the repeater.
Click here for the severe weather reporting procedure.
WHERE'S THE BEEP:
Occasionally, the courtesy beep will not be heard on the air when it should be heard. ID's and other on-air CW messages may also be missing from time to time. The usual reason is that a control operator is accessing the repeater controller via the phone line. During that action, all CW messages are rerouted to the phone line to give the control operator information needed to control the repeater.
LAW PATCH SOUNDS:
When a persons presses buttons on their touch-tone pad, the controller will mute the transmitted audio after a short recognition delay. This muting of tones may not happen if the telephone control line is active or if the touch-tone decoder has been disabled by a control operator because of problems. When a code has been pressed to access the law patch, a rising two step page tone will be heard to alert control-ops and others of the PATCH UP. (During page tones, repeater input audio will be muted.) The patch timer is 4 minutes and can be reset on the air only by control ops. When the patch is dumped, the controller will send three "D's" in descending tone sequence to indicate PATCH DOWN.