Frequently Asked Questions v5, Last Updated May 2015
Here you will hopefully find answers to questions we are often asked about GB3BS.
If you can't find an answer to your query then feel free to contact us and we will do our best to help.
Q1. I can't access the Repeater. / How do I access the GB3BS Repeater?
A. You must transmit to the repeater on 438.450MHz and receive on 430.850MHz. Make sure any repeater offset is properly programmed into you equipment. Many people fail to operate on the correct frequency and/or have the offset configured correctly. You will need a CTCSS Tone of 118.8Hz. If you are using CTCSS then it is best to configure your rig to continually send the CTCSS tone while you are transmitting. It is important to ensure that the deviation of the CTCSS tone is no lower than 350Hz.
When attempting to access the repeater from cold you must send a CTCSS Tone and provide around 3 seconds of unbroken audio. Failing to do this will cause the logic to refuse access.
Q2. I am getting reports that my signal into the repeater is good but my Audio is low and people are having trouble hearing me.
A. This is more than likely to be down to how you have set up your equipment. GB3BS operates a 25KHz channel spec system, in that the maximum deviation is 5KHz. Most new equipment these days has the option to switch between a 12.5KHz system and 25KHz. If you configure your equipment to operate through GB3BS and you are switched to use 12.5KHz spec then your audio will appear low when you transmit and can also cause you to hear the repeater with some distortion. Check the equipment manual to see how to check or change it, and remember to store the setting as part of the memory.
Q3. Stations report that sometimes my audio sounds intermittent or the odd word does not get through the repeater.
A. Ruling out any faulty mic cable or hardware, check that your CTCSS tone is within correct limits and levels (see Q1). If your CTCSS tone is low in deviation or off frequency then the CTCSS decoder at the repeater will turn off and this will cause the through audio to be muted until the decoder can lock on to your CTCSS tone again.
Check that no other station is transmitting at the same time as you, whether by accident or deliberately.
Q4. I am getting or hearing what I think or have been told is an over-deviation tone from the repeater, what is causing this.
A. GB3BS does not have any kind of over-deviation tone or notification. The repeater will auto limit your deviation. However, this tone maybe being confused with what is called a Cover Tone. If the repeater receives any kind of DTMF digit, whether this is by accidentally pressing a digit on a DTMF/Mic or is part of an access code that is programmed into a rig and is sent either at the beginning or the end of a transmission then this will be detected by the repeater and simply blocked from being repeated on the output of the repeater. When this happens the DTMF tone being detected will be substituted by a tone, the Cover Tone.
If you are getting repeated reports of this then it will be worth checking your equipment settings to make sure you are not sending any DTMF digits automatically.
Q5. Is there something I can do to stop me hearing all the periodic beacons?
A. Yes. If your equipment has CTCSS then it is likely that you can program it to filter out any beacons both voice & CW. This is sometimes called CTCSS Decode Function in equipment handbooks. The repeater will only send its CTCSS tone while the repeater is in use or is sending a system announcement. If your CTCSS Decode Function is enabled then you will only hear the repeater when it is in use.
Q6. What system announcements does the repeater make and why.
A. There are several system announcements that can be transmitted by the repeater. These are kept to a minimum so as not to become distracting or annoying to users. The main announcement is heard when the Repeater Controller itself is forced to auto re-boot itself or it has been manually commanded to do so. This voice announcement will be in the form of "RC210 Repeater Controller Version x.xx, Time not Set, Date not set, Ready". Once this has completed then the repeater should be ready for use. Please refrain from attempting access while the system is re-booting.
Periodic system announcements are transmitted. The first is at 7min past each hour where two temperature values are sent. The first value is the temperature of the equipment room on site and the second value is the outside temperature.
The other announcement of importance will inform the group and users that the sites incoming mains supply has failed and that the on-site generator is running. The announcement will be "Warning Power Fail Alert Active". If the repeater is not in use a further announcement will be sent every 20min saying "Power Failure". When the repeater is in use and there is a power fail still active then the two "pips" will be switched to a lower tone frequency. Once the incoming mains supply has been restored and the generator shuts down then the repeater will make an announcement saying "Power Failure Alert Clear" and the two "pips" will return to normal.
Q7. Is it true that GB3BS is connected to the Skype VOIP service? THIS SERVICE IS CURRENTLY SUSPENDED.
A. Yes it is connected to a Skype client so that you can monitor the repeater via the Skype service. If you have Skype installed on your PC or Mobile device you will need to do a search for "Bristol Repeater" and request to join the service along with providing your CALLSIGN. Once approved you will be able to connect and monitor GB3BS from anywhere in the world. Please note: This service allows you to receive only, you cannot transmit. Also, please remember to terminate your Skype session when you are finished as this will allow other users to connect.
Q8. I suspect there is an unlicensed station using the repeater and is talking to me or other stations that may not be aware of this, what should I do?
A. Sadly this does happen. If you become suspicious of a stations validity then it would probably be best that you terminate any conversation, or inform other stations that may be talking to him/her of your suspicions. Any information you have about the offending station can be passed to us where it can be circulated and further reported.
Q9. I am hearing some bad language and swearing from stations using the repeater, can you do anything about it.
A. Unfortunately there are times when legitimate stations forget they are using radio and the odd expletive gets out. However, if this is sustained and deliberate, be it from a licensed station or from someone who just wants to cause this sort of trouble then all we ask you to do is make a note of any callsigns heard and more importantly the date and time it occurred and pass this on to us. We can then look at our logs and where necessary pass the information onto Ofcom. Please do not say or do anything that will encourage the offending station to continue. Please just ignore them.
Q10. How do I contact the GB3BS Repeater Group as I want to ask a question, need advice, have a complaint or just want to pass on a signal report etc?
A. You can fill in our On-Line form located on our main web site www.gb3bs.com and select the Contact Us tab. Alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email Mark – G4SDR (Repeater Keeper) directly at email@example.com or Mat – G7FBD at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q11. I accessed the repeater and noticed that the “pips” don’t sound normal or sound lower in tone. Why is this?
A. This is probably indicating that the incoming mains supply has failed at the repeater site and that the standby generator is running. See Question 6.
Q12. Sometimes I don’t always hear a “pip” right after someone stops transmitting, why is this?
A. Sometimes this is an indication that the repeaters squelch is still open. This could be caused by heightened background noise at the site or rain static. It is also possible that the repeater logic is busy doing other things at that very time. It is normally not a fault with the repeater.
Q13. I think the repeater is broken, it’s not hearing me, I can’t access it or I cannot hear anything back from the repeater, what should I do?
A. There maybe several reasons why you are having problems. Please check your equipment settings, are you transmitting and receiving on the right frequencies. Check any Tx shift or that you are using the correct CTCSS tone you may have programmed. See question 1. Are you in the coverage area of the repeater? Can you hear other repeaters or stations?
If you still cannot access or hear the repeater try and listen for one of the CW or Voice beacons which are transmitted every 15min. If you cannot hear any of the regular beacons and you are sure that your equipment is working correctly then please feel free to report a problem about the repeater via our Contact Us page and we will investigate.
Q14. How do I join the Repeater Group? How do I check my membership status? When does my membership lapse? I want to notify the group of my change of Address and or Callsign.
A. If you wish to join the GB3BS Repeater Group or simply check to see if you’re a member and when it will lapse please visit our main web site www.gb3bs.com.
To renew or join you can pay on-line via PayPal. You don not need a PayPal account to do this and any Debit or Credit card can be used. Alternatively you can print out a copy of the membership joining form and post it to us as per instructions on the web site.
If you wish to change your Address, Contact Details or your Callsign then please use the Contact Us page to inform us.