First of all, Repeater-Builder is always looking for articles on
various topics - everything from increasing the effectiveness of
repeater and base station antenna systems to newer repeater technology
(like P25 digital) to IRLP to repeater jammer hunting, to... there is
a list of topics at this article
ideas page, or if you have an idea on something else that you
feel should be on repeater-builder (or added to the ideas page), please
let us know by sending an email to one of the web masters
(see the "Contacting Us" page
here) and run your idea past us. We can tell you if anybody else
is already working on it, or give you a few ideas.
Since all of the work on Repeater-Builder is done by volunteers, here
are a few basic guidelines that will make their life much easier (and
while it looks a bit lengthy, please read it all the way to the end):
- The article has to be repeater oriented (note that I didn't say
amateur radio repeater oriented). This web site has info on
community repeaters, GMRS (General mobile Radio Service), Civil Air
Patrol (CAP) and Military Affilliate Radio System (MARS) repeaters
as well. Even the folks that maintain public safety systems (i.e.
police / fire / ambulance / etc. service) have thanked us for some
- It is written with the understanding that this is the World
Wide web and not every reader is either in the USA, or are
familiar with USA Land Mobile (commercial 2-way), GMRS, CAP or MARS
radio or amateur radio rules. If something in the article relates
to rules, explain it, even if you think that 96% of the readers will
already know it. If you want, put the explanation in a paragraph
at the start of the article and title it something like "Assumptions
and background information" - just word that part so it's
informative, not condescending...
- Band edges can cause confusion:
The narrower amateur bands in other countries forces different interchannel
spacing and different repeater offsets, which can cause problems in
- The USA 2m amateur band is 144 to 148 MHz, but in many other parts
of the world it's 144 to 146 MHz.
- Most Civil Air Patrol and MARS
repeaters straddle the amateur band, with most having an input on one
side of the ham band (i.e. 143.something) and an output on the other
side (i.e. 148.something or 149.something), but a few have both the
input and the output in the 148‑150 range.
- The USA UHF
amateur band is 420‑450 MHz, elsewhere it's 420‑430 MHz
or 420‑440 MHz.
- In the USA the commercial and public safety UHF band starts at 450 MHz
and can extend as high as 512 MHz, in other countries it's very different.
- If your article is, for example, about moving a USA UHF radio from
472 MHz to 447 MHz, you'll have to change the repeater offset from 3 MHz
to 5 MHz. So you'll have to mention in passing that: (a) the 470 MHz
range in the USA is commercial two-way and public safety, (b) the
standard repeater offset in that range is 3 MHz and (c) at USA amateur
440‑450 MHz frequencies it's 5 MHz.
- ID requirements differ, vor example in England the repeater has to
ID every 15 minutes around the clock whether the repeater has been used
or not, and UHF repeaters live in the 433‑434 MHz area with a 1.6
- At the opposite extreme, a GMRS repeater (460 range) in the USA
doesn't have to ID at all! This bit of trivia has caught a couple of
amateur radio repeater controller manufacturers, as their products
were never designed to not have to ID.
- In Europe subaudible tone squelch is not as common as it is in the
USA, and 1750 Hz tone burst is still used in some areas. Very few
repeater controllers support tone burst, Arcom is one that does.
- Autopatches are almost illegal in Australia - a station running
in officially unattended mode (including repeaters, regardless of
whether the owner is actually present or not) is not allowed to be
connected to a public telecommunications network, not even indirectly.
- Sometimes the radio environment differences can be extreme - in
Australia and New Zealand there is a radio service called PRS that has
40 channels of simplex and repeaters at 476 and 477 MHz, and the repeaters
use a 750 kHz separation... that's right, a UHF repeater with less than
1 MHz split, which requires a completely different thinking about duplexer
design and antenna system engineering. See
In all of the above examples, to the locals, that's what they are used
to... it's the way it is, that's the way it's always been, and will be
for quite a while. As you write the article (regardless if you are in
the USA or not), just make sure that someone not familiar with your
local rules can understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.
- Consider equipment availability... in the USA you find GE, Motorola,
Kenwood, Johnson, Yaesu/Vertex and Icom to be the big names. In England
you will find Pye and other brands are common. In Australia and New Zealand
you find Tait. Here in the USA you don't find ANY of the PYE radios and
I've seen exactly one set of Tait. Then there are the differences in
marketing - in Europe the Motorola MT1000 is called an HT600E... the
hardware is exactly the same except for the label. An article on the
radio needs to mention that. Consider that someone outside the USA may
have seen a Motorola or GE radio only on an American TV show or in an
- Consider what your audience already knows about the subject. Assume
nothing other than what he or she would learn by being a repeater user.
Those that know more won't be offended by a review of the basics in the
first few paragraphs, or they will skip ahead.
- If you are writing a product line description article (like Systems
Saber or GM300) that is based on another series (i.e. Saber or Maxtrac)
please include a reference to the other article... i.e. build on that
- What terms will you have to define? The standard New York Times writer's
guide (originally written in the 1930s) specified that the writers would
spell out every abbreviation the first time it was used, followed by the
abbreviation in parentheses, and only then could the writer use that
abbreviation later in the article. Many of today's newspapers, like the
Wall Street Journal have a similar policy. We do the same with any uncommon
abbreviations like digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
- What background information will you have to include? An article on
controlling RF power level with a DAC will need a short paragraph
overview of just what a DAC is. If there is a good overview article at
another web site, then provide a link to it. An article describing
modifications to a tube-type RF power amplifier might need a paragraph
on why neutralization is necessary. Also, as mentioned above, if local
regulations influence the circumstances under which the work described
in your article was done, mention them somewhere in the article.
- Another consideration is why your audience is reading the document...
often referred to as the purpose of the document. Is the document supposed
to inform, discuss, or convince? The majority of the articles at this web
site are informing... If we had articles on spacing adjacent 2m channels
at 15 kHz versus 20 kHz we might have some rather strident articles in the
"convince" category... and if you would like to write one, take this as an
invitation to do so. Just keep it calm and technical and let your facts do
- Assess how your audience will read your article. Will they read it
straight through just once like a fiction story or will they read it
slowly like a textbook? W ill they return to reread specific sections?
If it's going to be something that they will come back to regularly,
you might want to put a table of contents in it with the list comprised
of section jumps (look at the Mitrek Interfacing article as an example of
- Then there are the verboten topics: politics, religion and sex. The
almost-verboten topics local coordination problems (and how you or your
friend got screwed), regulatory body (i.e. the USA FCC) issues and rules
and how your interpretation of them is right and everybody else's
interpretation is wrong. Those are the big ones, not much else is on
- Lastly, note that you, the author, retain all rights to your article.
The repeater-builder web site is full of copyright notices only because
a while back there was a gentleman selling CD copies of the entire GE
section on eBay, making a serious profit off of Kevin's work, and it
took involving the legal system to get it stopped. On the advice of
counsel the web site is copyrighted on every page, but the author's
copyright supercedes the web site copyright - which is designed only to
cover any material that is not copyrighted by someone else.
What we would like to see:
- A conversational, down-to-earth style which avoids pontificating.
- Stories that cover the basic W's of writing: who, what, when, where,
why. Not every article needs the "who", or the "when", but there are
those that do... (especially the historical articles)
- Any interesting details that make the story come alive. Like
why you jumpered the DC power switch on the link radio.
- This is last for a reason... please make an effort in correct
spelling, punctuation and rules of grammar... have somebody (or two)
locally review your writeup before you send it to us... we can fix
some (it's what editors are for...), but do remember that repeater-builder
is run 100% by volunteers. And none of our volunteers are English
The actual submission:
- To help the staff keep track of the files, please format the first
few lines of the main article file like this:
The two lines above the "- - -" is for use by the repeater-builder staff
during article editing - nothing above the line will be published. We're
just making sure that we can contact you from the info in the article file
just in case it gets separated from the email that it was attached to.
- (file name) by (author's name, callsign, email address)
- The author's contact phone number (and hours that you can be
called - and don't forget to include your time zone... as an example,
not all W1s are in the Eastern Time Zone, and not all W6s hams
are in California)
- - - - (the three dashes are just a separator between the header
and the body of the article)
- (article starts here)
- Write your article in a word processor with the spell check turned
on. Yes, that would seem obvious, but you'd be surprised...
- Don't indent with spaces on the first line of each paragraph. Limit
your formatting (if any) to font size, boldface, underline,
italics, tables and numbered or bulleted lists (like this numbered
list, and the bulleted lists above). Don't use Word Perfect's double-underline
feature as there is no web page equivalent. The web defaults to font size 3,
and can be changed to anything from 1 to 6, sometimes specified in relative
sizes from a baseline of 3. For example, ‑1 is size 2, normal is size 3,
+1 is size 4, +2 is size 5, and +3 is size 6.
This is a size 2 sample, this is in italics and this
part is in bold.
This is a size 3 (normal) sample, this is in italics and this
part is in bold.
This is a size 4 (+1) sample, this is in italics and this
part is in bold.
This is a size 5 (+2) sample, this is in italics and this
part is in bold.
This is a size 6 (+3) sample, this is in italics and this
part is in bold.
And there is nothing preventing you from using bold or even bold
- When your article appears on the web page your photos will usually go
between paragraphs, and where a picture is supposed to appear in your text
just drop two lines, insert the phrase "((photo N goes here))" or "((schematic
N goes here))" - where N is the number - then drop two lines and start the
next paragraph. As the editor creates the web page he or she will find the
"((" markers and replace them with the HTML coding that will display the
appropriate photo or schematic file. The "((" and "))" just makes it easier
for him or her to find the photo insert locations.
- Speaking of pictures, please shoot lots (and lots) of digital pictures
- they really help especially on modification articles. There's no film
expense on digital pictures and shooting extras costs nothing but a little
more time. Please shoot them at the highest resolution (i.e. the biggest
file size) that your digital camera can do, and let us resize them.
Watch for simple things that can ruin a picture (i.e. glare), use an
off-angle light source so the glare bounces somewhere else, and if needed
use two lighting sources to cancel the shadows. Don't use flourescent
lighting (even the twisty compact fluorescents) - it makes the pictures
come out with a weird green tint - use incandescent or sunlight. If the
intent of a certain picture (in, for example, a modifcation article) is
pointing out a certain component on a densely stuffed circuit board,
please include a pointer of some kind - a pencil, a pen, anything (even a
1/4" by 1/2" triangle cut from masking tape).
- Please preview your photos - the little screen on the back of the
camera hides a lot of problems - and being out of focus being the biggest
- Pictures need to be in PNG, JPG or GIF format for the web and we can
convert TIFs / TIFFs from your scanner if necessary. 99% of the
digital cameras out there generate JPG files, and no conversion is necessary.
PNGs and JPGs are preferred since they have a much wider color spectrum than
GIFs which are limited to 256 colors (or 255 colors plus transparent).
- If you are going to include schematics, please scan them at a size of at
least 300 dots per inch and let us resize them. If the schematic is
all black and white, please use the monochrome mode on your scanner software
(i.e. if you aren't using color, there is no sense in including the binary
color info in the scan file, as it unnecessarily makes the file at least
three times larger). If it is a color schematic then scan it in color and
save as GIF format if you can, or JPG if that's all the scanner software can
do (GIF is usually smaller than JPG for the same material, and the 256 color
limit of the GIF format doesn't affect schematics).
- If you are showing a dimension change in your article (like rewinding a
front end helical from 150 MHz to 220 Mhz, or cutting an antenna from 866
MHz to 902 MHz), please put a ruler or tape measure in the picture. As a
courtesy to the other 90% of the planet that thinks in metric, please use a
double scaled ruler or tape measure if you have one.
- Then save the file with a file name that has no spaces or punctuation
(like exclamation points or dollar signs) in the name, in all lower case,
and please use dashes instead of underlines, for example,
opposed to "MaxTrac 800MHz To 900MHz!.TXT".
- Then create a single zip file containing your entire article plus any
picture files, schematic scan files or other files. Even if the Word file
has the photos inside it, please include them separately (the Word file
will have them resized, and we need them raw). Think of the zip file as
being the envelope for an entire article package.
- Then send the article zip file attached to a covering email that
mentions who you are, what the article is and how the editor should
contact you. No, that last part is not obvious... we have had several
submissions from folks that normally use a home dialup connection, and
they have used a thumb drive or a floppy to take their zip file to work
and used the work email address, or a public library computer (that has
a high speed connection) or used a friend's DSL or cable modem to send
us the article zip file. In those cases the email account that sent the
zip file is not the author's preferred contact address, so please make
sure that the body of the email (that the zip file is attached to)
contains your preferred contact address. As I said before, we're just
making sure that we have a good way to contact you either from the
email or from the header inside the article itself.
- Once the article is in the editor's hands, he'll convert it to HTML
and upload the page to the repeater-builder server, under a "hidden" page
name (i.e. it's on the web server but since it's not connected to any
index page the public can't see it). The editor will send you an email
with a private link to that hidden web page. You will be able to click on
the private link and see your article's web page, knowing that the only
two folks that can see it are you and the editor. At this point you and
the editor can email each other back and forth and "fine tune" the article,
making the changes that are necessary to get your point(s) across. The
editors that convert your submission are not English majors, and you need
to proofread your work. Once you are happy, the page becomes public.
Another option that has been used to get a large quantity of
information to the repeater builder staff is to burn a CD and recycle
an old AOL CD mailer. We have over 1.8 GB (yes, gigabytes) of GE
radio documentation on line for free download and almost all of it
showed up on CDs in ex-AOL mailers.
That's about it...
/s/ The repeater-builder staff...
other anonymous editors,
...and all the current contributors...
This page first posted 14-Oct-2004.
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Text and hand-coded HTML © Copyright 2004 and date of last update
by Mike Morris WA6ILQ.
This web page, this web site, the information presented in and on its pages and
in these modifications and conversions is © Copyrighted 1995 and (date of
last update) by Kevin Custer W3KKC and multiple originating authors. All Rights
Reserved, including that of paper and web publication elsewhere.