N.S.R.A. Member Information
(The Handbook)
REVISED AS OF 3/19/05

Introduction

This section contains information that describes the features of the repeater and some rules you should follow. In general, the rules are based on FCC regulations, courtesy, and plain old common sense.

If you are already an old hand at FM operation, please forgive us for restating what is probably old hat to you, but whether an old hand, or a newcomer, we ask that you take some time to read these pages. We can help you get maximum enjoyment from your membership and your hobby if you pay attention to a few details you may or may not know!

Association Facilities

The Association currently operates four (4) voice repeaters and an APRS system.

Output Input Location
145.470 144.870 Old Danvers State Hospital in Danvers MA
146.880 146.280 North Shore Medical Center in Salem MA
224.380 222.780 Hunt Center in Danvers MA
442.800 447.800 Old Danvers State Hospital in Danvers MA
144.390 APRS Digipeater at Hunt Hospital in Danvers MA
APRS I-Gate at Beverly Airport in Beverly MA

All repeaters are supported by emergency power, and are intended for local coverage, serving an area of a 15 mile radius centered in Danvers.

The purpose of the repeaters is to support effective mobile communication, such as commuter QSOs, traffic reports, weather conditions, and casual conversation. Occasionally, during periods of emergency, and/or on request, the repeaters are used in public service as ARES facilities.

Ask for Help!

Probably the most important thing we can tell you is that if you have problems in operation or procedure on the repeaters, ask for help. The group has some very sharp technical people who are eager and willing to help you. No question is "dumb" if you don't know the answer. Dumb is not willing to admit you don't know and not be willing to ask. You will find that many members are most willing to help you, even right on the air.

Listening

First, we suggest that you listen for a while before you jump in. This isn't because you are not welcome, but because VHF-FM operation, procedures, and terms are quite different from operation on other modes. You will note that FM'ers keep their transmissions short, worry about "timing out", talk about being "off frequency", and having too much or not enough "deviation". You will also hear synthesized voices, dial tones, Touch Tones, phone patches and other activities that may be new to you.

Transmitting

Because FM operation is narrow-band, and a large number of repeaters are crowded into a small amount of spectrum, frequency control is important. The repeater's receiver is narrow enough in bandwidth that being off frequency by 5 kHz can make you unintelligible when you are re-transmitted. This is especially true when you are operating with low power, or far away from the repeater.

To eliminate adjacent channel interference, the repeaters are set for a maximum deviation level of +/-5 kHz. Your rig is equipped with a deviation control which should be adjusted similarly. This is most important because there are nearby repeater inputs just a few kHz above and below our repeater inputs. If you are off frequency, or over-deviate while working a repeater, it’s likely that you could interfere with the operation of other machines.

Just as much of a problem is too little deviation. Even with a strong signal, the weak audio of an under-deviated signal can make a transmission very hard to copy. If you get on-the-air reports of such problems, ask for help. There are many experienced people on the N.S.R.A. Repeaters who can help you.

The 2-Meter repeater band in this area is assigned as follow:
145.110 to 145.490 Space 20 kHz apart Input is -600 kHz
146.610 to 147.000 Space 15 kHz apart Input is -600 kHz
147.000 to 147.390 Space 15 kHz apart Input is +600 kHz

Operating Procedures

Time Out

Note that the repeaters have a timer that will shut down the transmitter should a transmission last more than 2 minutes. The method of resetting the timer is to wait for the "beep" at the end of each transmission, known as a courtesy tone. This allows breaking stations to join, and resets the timer. If you don't observe this procedure, you may wind up talking to yourself.

Making a Contact

To initiate a QSO on a repeater, all you need to do is announce "NS1RA listening" or something similar. That is all, no CQ or lengthy transmission. If no one comes back, repeat one more time after five minutes have passed. If you get no reply, it's probably because no one is listening, or maybe because they don't feel like talking.  Please do not continuously identify as "listening", rather wait for another station to announce "listening".  Remember that it takes two to have a conversation, and some people are listening without identifying. 

To join an existing QSO, wait until one of the stations turns it over to someone else. During the period between the end of the transmission and the "beep", key your mic and give your call sign. That's all...nothing else. You will be acknowledged in turn, and invited to join. If you are not recognized, your signal may have been weak, or covered by another breaker, simply try again.  Please note that the use of other words can sometime sound rude, and should be avoided.

If you do not wish to join the QSO or talk to someone that is in QSO, but wish to attempt contact with another amateur, a simple "Call Please" followed by your call sign will suffice. When you made your contact, make arrangement with your party to QSY (change frequencies) so the others can go on with their QSO.  Remember that you are interrupting a conversation in progress...clear the frequency as quickly as possible so the other stations can resume their conversation.

Breaking

Unlike CB radio operation, in this area the use of the word "BREAK" is reserved for special situations. If a QSO is in progress, and an IMPORTANT message has to get to another station, use the word "BREAK", followed by your call sign, between transmissions. Breaking stations have priority, so you will immediately be acknowledged and invited to go ahead. At this time, say thanks, and state your purpose for breaking. Note that the word "BREAK" should ONLY BE USED ONCE.

The double break, or "BREAK, BREAK", followed by your call sign, is reserved for EMERGENCY use only, and requires all stations to stand by for EMERGENCY TRAFFIC pertaining to an accident or similar situation requiring immediate action. This would include Autopatches to police, fire, or other emergency agencies. Avoid using a double break unless the situation is urgent.

If there is personal injury, AND if there is an IMMEDIATE THREAT to life and property, you may use the NSRA equivalent of "Mayday", which is a triple break. "BREAK, BREAK, BREAK" (followed by your call sign) is of the utmost urgency, and a call for which ALL stations WILL STAND BY to assist. Use of this call is restricted to actual emergency situations where life is at stake.

In all breaking cases, be SURE to include your call sign. When acknowledged, pass your traffic as quickly as possible and move on, or feel free to include yourself in the activities on frequency. Don't forget though, you are joining an existing QSO.

Whenever a station breaks, or special traffic is being passed on the frequency, all stations not sending or receiving traffic MUST STAND BY and wait for ALL traffic to be completed, even if there is a delay in the activity. 

Control

As required by the FCC, the Trustees of the NSRA have appointed several control operators who monitor the repeater most of the time. Their job is to insure that the repeaters and its' users operate within FCC regulation and within the rules and regulations of the Association.

It is conceivable that on some occasion you may have your operation terminated by a control operator. If this should happen, please understand that for some reason, the control operator has determined that something about your operation may have been contrary to FCC regulation or Association rules. Please be aware that the control operator is the sole authority in determining proper operation. If you question any such judgment, please bring your question to an Association officer. Please do not challenge the control operator over the air.

How You Can Help with Repeater Interference!

Your repeaters cover about 1200 square miles of reception area, a very large area to be policed by only a few hard-working and dedicated members. However, by drawing on information provided by a concerned membership, we can reduce the reception area to about 4 square miles per member. All members and listeners of NSRA repeaters are encouraged to assist in locating malicious, accidental, or industrial radio interference. It is easy, fun, and very helpful.

When interference is apparent, here is what to do, using the radio you are listening on:

  1. Tune to the INPUT frequency of the repeater, according to the following table:
    For 146.88, tune to 146.28 (- 600 kHz)
    For 145.47, tune to 144.87 (- 600 kHz)
    For 224.38, tune to 222.78 (- 1.200 MHz)
    For 442.80, tune to 447.80 (+ 5 MHz)
  2. Listen and note the signal strength of the interference (if you DON'T hear the interference, it can be important to note this fact).
  3. Report your location and signal strength to other members on the repeater or on an other repeater if the interference is an unlicensed person.
  4. If the signal is very strong, take the antenna off and repeat steps 1 & 2, then restore the antenna and repeat step 3.

You should practice this procedure and help others to understand and follow the procedure. Together we can continue to keep our repeaters pleasant to listen to.  To contact a member of the technical committee, use the form located online in the Members-Only section. 

ARRL Membership

The North Shore Radio Association is a Special Service Club by the American Radio Relay League, Inc., in Newington, Connecticut.

Please tell our Membership Committee you ARRL Membership number. NSRA must maintain better than 50% of its membership as members of ARRL in order to receive League Benefits.

Rev. 3/1/08 NS1RA