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Newbie wanting to connect to a repeater, needing a little help to get started.


marcus44875
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Hi everyone,

I am a newly licenced GMRS user and I would like to connect to the closest repeater to me which is Mansfield 650 in OH.  The myGMRS map shows that the frequency is 462.650 which I can select on my radio and the Tone in and Tone out are both 032 DPL which I do not understand.  Are these PL tones?  How do I set them? 

Please can someone point me in the right direction.

Many thanks

Marcus WRMV230

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Hi Marcus,

Before I get into more details, since you did not mention which radio you have, the first thing to realize is that not all radios support GMRS repeater use or might do so only after performing extra steps.  Your owner's manual will help you determine that.  If you don't have a paper copy of the manual, try looking for it online on the web site you bought the radio from or the manufacturer's web site.  You can also try online manual archives such as manualslib.com.

If you've determined your radio can support GMRS operation, continue reading...

In case it might help, here is some fundamental information about repeaters.  Repeaters use two frequencies.  The frequency that the repeater transmits on is the output frequency.  Since that is the repeater's output freq, that is also the freq you'll monitor to hear what comes out of the repeater.  A repeater also uses an input frequency.  This is the frequency that the repeater monitors to hear your transmissions and rebroadcasts them basically simultaneously on the output freq.  This is known as duplex operation and is fundamental to how duplex repeaters work.

When you see a repeater frequency listed in mygmrs, that is the output frequency that the repeater transmits on and that you monitor.  But what about the input frequency you need to use to transmit to the repeater?  That is accomplished via an offset.  Normally for amateur radio, a + or - 5 MHz offset is used for UHF operation.  GMRS is also UHF, but it uses only a +5 MHz offset for repeater use.  The +5 MHz offset means that for whatever output GMRS frequency is being used, the input frequency is 5 MHz higher.  In your original posting, you mentioned 462.650 MHz.  You can tell this is a GMRS output frequency because it is in the 462 MHz range.  (Note that there are also 462.xxx simplex, non-repeater frequencies in FRS and GMRS.  The 462.xxx freqs only represent a repeater output when we are discussing GMRS repeaters.)  So, for a repeater output freq of 462.650, the input freq you'll need to access that particular repeater is 467.650 (notice the 467 instead of the 462) because we are offsetting by +5 MHz.

So how is the +5 MHz offset accomplished?  It depends on your radio.  There may be dedicated memories which take care of the offset.  Otherwise, you may need to take additional programming steps.  If so, consult the manual.  For my Wouxun KG-905G handheld radio, which has preprogrammed repeater memories, such memories show a "+" sign in the display to represent the +5 MHz offset.  If your radio is capable of GMRS repeater operation and it is preprogrammed with the eight possible GMRS channels in memory, select the appropriate memory for use with the repeater you are trying to access.  It's possible that your radio might display a repeater's freq info with a alphanumeric label such as "RPT-19."  If you're not sure which GMRS output frequency that represents, consult your owner's manual.  There is also a possibility that your radio has a menu selectable option that can display a memory's content as a frequency instead of the alphanumeric tag.

Let's say you've determined that your radio is 1) GMRS capable, 2) has a memory assigned for the particular GMRS repeater you are interested in, and 3) you have selected that particular memory.  What's next?  Access tones, aka PL tones.

Repeaters typically require analog (CTCSS) or digital (DCS) access tones. This is done for two reasons.  First, since there are only eight GMRS pairs (input and output freq combinations), that means several repeaters you might be able to access locally may use the same repeater freq pairs.  In that case, so that you access the repeater you're interested in, you may need to transmit the appropriate transmit tone to "open" that particular repeater.  As such, if a repeater requires you to send a particular transmit access tone, that is the most important tone.  But if a repeater database such as mygmrs also lists a receive tone, what about that tone?  That tone only influences what you hear or if you hear anything at all.  So what will you hear, if anything?

Let's take the case of a repeater that does support your use of a receive tone because it transmits an embedded CTCSS tone of say 156.7 (for example).  There are three possibilities:

1) if you set your receive tone to none, you will receive/hear the transmission from the repeater in all cases.  By setting your radio's receive tone to none, you are instructing your radios receiver to send the message to the radio's speaker regardless of whether or not the received transmission has a tone embedded in it from the repeater.

2) if you set your radio's receive tone to say 156.7, you will hear a repeater's transmission only if the same 156.7 tone is embedded in the transmission from the repeater.  By setting a receive tone, you are instructing the radio to send a message to its speaker only for transmissions that are received which have an embedded tone that matches the receive tone you specified.

3) if you set your radio's receive tone to say 156.7, if a repeater's transmission has a different embedded tone or no tone, you will not hear the transmission on your radio.

As you can, in the case of GMRS repeater operation, your use of a transmit tone only matters when a repeater requires you to open it via a transmit tone so you can transmit to it.  If you use a receive tone, that has nothing to do with opening a repeater to transmit to it.  Your use of a receive tone determines only if you'll hear a message or not.  So even if a repeater requires an access tone to open it for your transmission and you use the correct transmit access tone, if you utilize an incorrect receive tone, you will not hear any transmission from the repeater. 

Another thing to be aware of is that some repeater's require split tones.  That is, different tones for transmit and receive. This can be either two different CTCSS tones, two different DCS tones, or a CTCSS tone and a DCS tone.  If you're having trouble talking to and hearing from a repeater, split tone operation and whether your radio is capable of that might be the explanation.

Earlier I mentioned there are two reasons repeaters typically use access tones.  The first reason discussed earlier above was due to necessity.  Since there are only eight repeater pair channels, access tones provide a way to distinguish between repeaters which share these eight channels.  A second benefit of using access tones, especially transmit tones, is to try to lock out trolls/jammers.  Of course, since they might discover the access tones, repeater owners occasionally change which transmit tone you'll need to access the repeater again.  As such, if you were able to open a repeater previously but now can't, this is the first explanation to consider.  If so, you'll need to find out what the new access tone is and update your radio.  Do not share such info publicly in forums - otherwise you will let the trolls/jammers know about the new tone. 

Another thing to be aware of is how various radios are programmed differently.  The most flexible radios allow for total programming via their keypads as well as via PC software and programming cables.  The least flexible radios require most if not all of their programming to be done using PC software and a programming cable.  Other radios fall somewhere in the middle.  For example, to program frequencies in free memory slots in my KG-905G, I must program those freqs via a PC/cable.  But once those freqs have been programmed in the memories, I can change the characteristics (e.g. high/low power, receive tone, transmit tone) of the freqs via the radio's keypad.  I cannot stress enough how nice/important it is to be able to change such parameters in the field untethered to a PC and cable.  Though it's not in the scope of my answer to the original question to go into purchase decisions, for anyone considering buying GMRS radios, do your homework regarding must-have/desirable features.  Otherwise, in an attempt to "save money," you might find yourself buying multiple radios instead of the right one from the get go. 

Especially if all this is new to you, I know I've provided a lot of info.  If needed, it might help to digest it in bite size pieces, a paragraph at a time.  Hope that helps.  Happy radioing. 

 

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I drove to the general location of the repeater and there was no acknowledgement from the repeater - I believe its called a Kerchunk?  So unless the PL tones have changed it's offline at the moment/permanently.  I took your advice and have requested access through this site and I'll see what happens.

Thank you for not ignoring the questions of a newbie.  I'm grateful.

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2 hours ago, marcus44875 said:

Hi everyone,

I am a newly licenced GMRS user and I would like to connect to the closest repeater to me which is Mansfield 650 in OH.  The myGMRS map shows that the frequency is 462.650 which I can select on my radio and the Tone in and Tone out are both 032 DPL which I do not understand.  Are these PL tones?  How do I set them? 

Please can someone point me in the right direction.

Many thanks

Marcus WRMV230

Hi Marcus,

It would help to know what radio you're working with (I may have missed it if it was discussed in another thread).

That said, DPL is also known as DCS (while PL is equivalent to CTCSS), so look for where to find the DCS menu item for your radio; midland groups both codes under one menu item, and all but the newest models (and the older mxt400's, with programming) set the same code for both transmit and receive.  The latest model Midlands, and most radios above the off shelf "bubble pack" type (such as Btech and Wouxun) support different transmit and receive codes.

One other thing to check(if you haven't already) is the channel you're on; midlands generally come out of the box with repeater channels disabled, which means enabling them in the menu.  on other models, they may be labeled 19R or Rept19.  These channels will have the required transmit offset (+5mHz) for repeater usage.

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Wow!  Thank you for all your advice.  This is all the things that I need right now.  I've watched so many videos on youtube about GMRS and grasp the concept of repeaters and what they are for.  Now I understand what they do.  I have a Midland MXT275 in my vehicle and a Baofeng UV5R (which I know I cannot use as it is not type approved).  I am awaiting delivery of a UV9G which I am hoping is type approved.  I have Chirp installed and have successfully programmed by UV5R with it.  I feel like I'm getting there, it's just learning how the pieces I've got down fit together.  I'm going to re-read your reply a few times more and see if I can get my midland programmed for this local repeater.   Thanks again I really appreciate your help.

Update - Ok, I've just attempted to set up my Midland in the following way:

I set the Repeater channels to ON
I set the channel to 19rp which corresponds to the RX freq of 462.650
I set the PL to DCS and chose the code which corresponds to code given on the MyGMRS map according to the chart in the Midland manual.

I gave my callsign and asked anyone who may have heard me to respond but I heard silence.

Maybe I am too far away from the repeater? 

Does it sound like I've set things correctly?   Even if I am not close enough to the repeater at home it would be nice to be able to confirm that I know how to set my radio up and I can try it while at work which is closer.

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Consider driving out very near the repeater once you feel you have your radio configured correctly. I mean less than a mile. Once you have confirmed you have communication through the repeater at close proximity, travel back to your home to see what range in your direction you can get. Most, but not all, repeaters continue to transmit a few seconds after you stop talking. If the repeater in question does this, you will hear the repeater transmitter for a brief period after each time you key up.

Some things to consider are that the repeater in question may no longer be in service. If that is the case, nothing you do is going to make any difference. If you are hearing traffic from the repeater, clearly that is a good sign. Traffic on the repeater will vary depending upon how high-profile it is, and how strong the GMRS user base is in your area.

I live in an area with quite a number of repeaters that I am authorized to use. Oddly enough, the three repeaters closest to me (10 miles +/- ) I cannot communicate through because their antennas are not high enough (they are not “High-Profile”). Yet, I can get into 4 repeaters that range in distance from 22-50 miles away (these are “High-Profile”). One of the close repeaters has a usable range of under 2 miles. When you are questioning your settings, it is always good to get close to the repeater so you can rule out poor repeater coverage as the reason you hear nothing.

Assuming you have repeater channels active on your radio and you have selected the correct tone/code for transmit and receive, you should be good to go, so long as you are in range and the repeater is operational.

Hope this helps.


Michael
WRHS965
KE8PLM

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10 hours ago, marcus44875 said:

Wow!  Thank you for all your advice.  This is all the things that I need right now.  I've watched so many videos on youtube about GMRS and grasp the concept of repeaters and what they are for.  Now I understand what they do.  I have a Midland MXT275 in my vehicle and a Baofeng UV5R (which I know I cannot use as it is not type approved).  I am awaiting delivery of a UV9G which I am hoping is type approved.  I have Chirp installed and have successfully programmed by UV5R with it.  I feel like I'm getting there, it's just learning how the pieces I've got down fit together.  I'm going to re-read your reply a few times more and see if I can get my midland programmed for this local repeater.   Thanks again I really appreciate your help.

Update - Ok, I've just attempted to set up my Midland in the following way:

I set the Repeater channels to ON
I set the channel to 19rp which corresponds to the RX freq of 462.650
I set the PL to DCS and chose the code which corresponds to code given on the MyGMRS map according to the chart in the Midland manual.

I gave my callsign and asked anyone who may have heard me to respond but I heard silence.

Maybe I am too far away from the repeater? 

Does it sound like I've set things correctly?   Even if I am not close enough to the repeater at home it would be nice to be able to confirm that I know how to set my radio up and I can try it while at work which is closer.

That sounds like you have everything in line settings wise; how is your antenna setup? The small antenna that comes with isn't the best, but it should be okay for a few miles. Given it's size, having a little bit of metal around it (which acts as part of the antenna, or the ground plane) is semi important for a good signal.

As @mbrun mentions, what the repeater has on its end (both in terms of antenna and height) is often a big unknown. I'm fortunate to have a couple high level ones in the foothills around the valley I'm in. Aside from that, it's a distinct possibility that activity is minimal (in which case you may at least hear a quick transmit back after you unkey), and just no one listening at the time to come back to you, or it may be an out of date listing for a machine that isn't currently active; there are some of those out there, where it may be down for one reason or another, but they owner didn't bother updating/removing it from the list.

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Hi Marcus,

I agree with the followup posts I've read.  A list of possibilities...

  * Though a repeater is listed in the mygmrs database, there is the chance that the repeater has been removed from service permanently.  Or it might be down temporarily due to upgrades or repairs.

  * Another possibility is that the access tones have changed but the repeater owner/admin did not update the mygmrs database.

  * To potentially get an answer to the above two possibilities, when you click the "Mansfield 650" link in the mygmrs Repeaters section, click the "Request Access" link.  See if you get a reply, which might include updated access tone info.  Also, the replier might provide info regarding the repeater's status.  If you don't get a reply, especially after waiting a couple of weeks, this might [but not necessarily] indicate that the repeater no longer exists.

  * As I mentioned in my original reply, using an incorrect or outdated receive tone will prevent hearing transmissions from a repeater.  Hypothetically, let's say the transmit tone you programmed is correct but the receive tone is incorrect (e.g., it was changed versus what is listed in mygmrs).  For radios which have a display, it might provide you an S-meter indication that a signal is being received though the incorrect receive tone prevents you from hearing the transmission.  So when you try to hit the repeater, watch the display as you unkey.

  * Next, you can try turning off the receive tone temporarily.  In this case, note that a response from someone might not involve using the repeater.  If they are close enough to you, they might communicate to you simplex using the same freq as the repeater's output freq.  If you get a reply from someone, ask them if they are using a repeater to do so.  If they say yes, ask them what repeater they are using.  If they don't know the answer to that question, they might be kidding / messing with you.

  * Next, because "height is might" when it comes to line of sight radio communication, if you live in a multi-story residence, try accessing the repeater from say an upper story balcony.  Some more tips regarding this.  When I tried accessing a repeater 7 miles away from my upper floor balcony, I had no luck initially.  But when I moved several inches from my original position, I was able to make contact.  I have a large tree with plenty of leaves and an office building facing my balcony.  Since these represent a challenge to a good signal path, trying different transmit positions at height might reveal a more capable communication path.

  * Next, as one commenter mentioned, a better antenna might help.  For example, when I used a dual-commercial-band rollup antenna in place of the HT's OEM antenna, the signal reports I received indicated better performance.

  * Finally, as one commenter suggested, consider driving closer to the repeater.  Looking at the coverage info for the Mansfield 650 repeater on mygmrs, it states a range of 10 miles.  This suggests a modest repeater system rather than a wide-area repeater whose antenna might be 100 or 100s of feet high.  As such, a drive closer to the repeater could shed light on what is going on.

* As far as your programming, I agree with the others that it sounds like you did that correctly.  Of course, this doesn't matter if the repeater is no longer in service, or its access tones have changed, etc.

Good luck.

 

 

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Also just because a repeater is there and on does not mean someone is sitting waiting to answer. Many of these repeaters are put in for the owners use to talk to there family or close friends. They are not a "chat" channel most of the time. I can say for sure you could call on one of mine all week and my wife would not answer it while I'm out of town for work. Even if I was home I doubt I'd reply either. Its a tool for my family.

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Quote: Also just because a repeater is there and on does not mean someone is sitting waiting to answer. Many of these repeaters are put in for the owners use to talk to there family or close friends. They are not a "chat" channel most of the time. I can say for sure you could call on one of mine all week and my wife would not answer it while I'm out of town for work. Even if I was home I doubt I'd reply either. Its a tool for my family.

That makes sense.  I'm going to take a drive and see if I can connect to the repeater.  At least I should be able to figure out if I can connect to it.  🙂

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2 hours ago, marcus44875 said:

I drove to the general location of the repeater and there was no acknowledgement from the repeater - I believe its called a Kerchunk?  So unless the PL tones have changed it's offline at the moment/permanently.  I took your advice and have requested access through this site and I'll see what happens.

Thank you for not ignoring the questions of a newbie.  I'm grateful.

Here is a thought....  Take out your PL code on your radio for this repeater and sit by the repeater to see if any action....  You see I have a family/friends/neighbors repeater but did not list it on any repeater sites...  It is not always online...  It been offline for a month as we have not needed any access to it.  Just get your own repeater and make antenna high as it is "line of sight" is the best not the wattage output.

Have fun, I use a $700 VRX-7000 got a free antenna and set it for two levels 10 and 25 watts and works great and not burning it out at 50 watts it is capable to do.  In short letting it have a longer duty cycle at lower wattage.  

MacJack

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On 8/27/2021 at 9:37 AM, bobthetj03 said:

I have the 275 in my jeep, and recently acquired the UV9G. Sounds like you have the 275 configured correctly. The UV9G is fairly simple to setup for repeaters, but if you have any questions about it, let me know. How old is your MXT-275? 

Which UV9G did you get? The Wouxon KG-UV9G, or the Baofeng UV9G? Unfortunately, with the introduction of that model by Baofeng, there is now more confusion in the GMRS HT world!

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On 8/21/2021 at 5:54 PM, marcus44875 said:

Hi everyone,

I am a newly licenced GMRS user and I would like to connect to the closest repeater to me which is Mansfield 650 in OH.  The myGMRS map shows that the frequency is 462.650 which I can select on my radio and the Tone in and Tone out are both 032 DPL which I do not understand.  Are these PL tones?  How do I set them? 

Please can someone point me in the right direction.

Many thanks

Marcus WRMV230

Hi Marcus, there are two different types of "codes" that are used to enter a repeater and other uses. One referred to as "PL" (private-line), or (ctcss) continuous tone coded squelch system. These are analog sub-audible tones. You have a choice of about 38 of them. Then you have have the same concept except they are "DPL", digital coded sub-audible. They both do the same job....you just need to know the code required to use the repeater. The program instructions should allow you to enter the required one! 

I hope this explanation helped you in some way.

Regards,

David

WRHT835

 

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