DMR repeater usage tips

Many of us are new to DMR, and it takes some getting used to. Here are a few tips that may help you during your DMR QSO’s.

When announcing your presence:

Because many DMR users are either scanning or using receive groups, you should always say what talkgroup you are on. Otherwise even though they heard you, they will not know how to call you back. If you are announcing on a very wide area, give your city and state. Examples:

  • “This is WB2JVB listening Southern New England”
  • “This is WB2JVB, Wilton, Connecticut listening on North America”

When calling a station, also indicate what talkgroup you are on:

  • “N1PLH, N1PLH this is WB2JVB on Statewide”
  • “N1ZD, N1ZD this is WB2JVB on Norwalk Local”

The beep you here is NOT A COURTESY TONE!

When the party you are talking with unkeys the microphone, you will normally hear a beep. This is NOT a courtesy tone, indicating you are good to go! It is the channel free indicator. In commercial services this is useful, as it is normally a dispatcher and a mobile talking, and they can call right back with no waiting. On ham radio we MUST LEAVE A GAP so others can break in. Since it takes a few seconds for a breaking party to key up and get a good tone, it is critical that you leave gaps. Count “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand”. That give you a rough idea how long to wait.

Move off a busy talkgroup if it is just two people talking

As DMR grows, the talkgroups will get more traffic. If you are just yakking with another local ham, consider moving to either “local” or one of the “tac” channels if using the CT ARES repeaters. Of course “local” only works if you are on the same repeater. It is important to remember that even on Southern New England, you are keying up repeaters in potentially 4 states!

Do not rag-chew like you are on the HF bands

There have been a few guys, who are more used to HF,  that are getting close to repeater time outs! Remember that VHF/UHF stuff is a more quick back and forth style of QSO. We have to do this to let others break in. This applies to analog repeaters as well.

Please ID as you would on analog

Even though the displays of many radios will show the calling station, assuming you have programmed it in, there is no exception to the ID rules. Please ID at least once when making the initial contact and of course every 10 minutes as always. This helps others listening, who might be driving and can’t look at the radio, to know who is talking. And always ID at the end of the QSO. It is no different than HF or analog. Same rules!

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