Club logo.  A red circle containing a green map of the state of Virginia, the ARRL logo, and the text "Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Richmond, Virginia U.S.A."

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society
W4RAT ยท Richmond, Virginia

An ARRL Affiliated Club Serving Central Virginia Since 1972

RATS Repeater System Rules

RATS and our Technical Committee work hard to provide a quality repeater system for our members and the agencies who rely on our infrastructure.  In the spirit of open access, RATS welcomes all properly licensed amateurs wishing to use our systems, provided a few basic guidelines are followed:

  • All users must operate in a manner compliant with FCC Part 97 at all times.

  • Share the resource.  Leave an adequate space (a few seconds) between each transmission to allow enough time for another station to break in.  Someone may have an emergency or may want to join the conversation.  Take breaks in longer conversations and invite other stations to join or use the repeater.

  • Identify your transmissions.  "Kerchunking" (pushing the PTT button simply to activate the repeater without intent to speak) is not permitted on our repeaters.  In addition to being a nuisance to other users of the system, we consider these to be unidentified transmissions, and thus prohibited under Part 97.  If you want to test your ability to reach the repeater, simply announce your call sign and "testing."

  • RATS has a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with some organizations for priority access to the repeater during emergencies or for special events.  While nets are in progress, all transmissions shall be at the direction of that agency's net control operator.

  • Any user needing emergency assistance or needing to relay emergency traffic during an active conversation, announce "BREAK" or "EMERGENCY" and all other users will yield to the emergency traffic.  Please do not use the word "BREAK" to interrupt a conversation on any repeater, anytime, anywhere, unless you have an emergency.  If you wish to join a conversation, simply announce your call sign in between transmissions.  [More Info]

  • Please turn off any unnecessary beeps, boops, and other sound effects such as the "roger beep" function commonly found on many lower-cost radios.

  • All transmissions must be in English.  (The FCC doesn't require English for anything other than station identification, but since our control operators are responsible for what goes out over the air through our repeater, we need to know that it's legal.  English is currently the language which is most compatible with our aging fleet of control operators.)

  • WIRES-X users:
    • If you have connected the repeater to a Wires-X room or node, please disconnect when you are finished.  This will restore the repeater's normal connection to the Virginia Room.
    • The RATS Wires-X system is not intended for extended monitoring of remote Wires-X rooms/nodes.  If you wish to lurk on a high traffic national or global Wires-X room for more than a few minutes, please consider the use of a personal hotspot device.
    • Your radio must transmit a valid call sign corresponding to the current operator.  Unidentified or improperly identified radios will be blocked.
  • DMR users:
    • When activating a dynamic talk group, kerchunk the repeater to establish the link, then wait before making your call.
    • Use the "Clear Timeslot" function on timeslot 2 to drop on-demand talk groups when you're finished using them.
    • Radios must transmit a valid DMR radio ID.  Blank or invalid radio IDs may be blocked from accessing the system.
    • Reminder:  Unlike some digital modes, your DMR radio ID by itself does not satisfy identification requirements of Part 97.  You must identify your transmissions by voice as you would on any analog system.

We highly recommend giving this repeater etiquette guide a read.

Additional operating guidelines and etiquette apply to the use of the DMR system.

RATS has always been pretty open-minded about the use of the repeaters.  We prefer users shy away from controversial topics -- politics in particular.  (We can recommend a couple of popular HF frequencies if you'd like to stir a pot.)  Otherwise, keep the language appropriate, be mindful of others, and share the airspace.

If you or your organization wish to use the repeater for a net, special event, or other activity please contact the Board and/or trustee.  This helps us avoid scheduling maintenance on top of your event, and also allows us to keep you up to date on any system performance issues that might impact your activities.

Like your amateur license, use of the RATS repeater systems is a privilege, not a right.  The RATS Board, trustee, and control operators may prohibit any station from using the repeaters or other club systems at any time.  Illegal, inappropriate, abusive, or discourteous behavior will not be tolerated.

2003 Board Resolution

Resolution:  Whereas, the Federal Communications Commission considers the standards for decency of language in amateur radio to be identical to that of commercial broadcasts;  Whereas, the limits set by the FCC are wide, in that they permit language that may be considered to be offensive by others;  Whereas, in order to constitute a violation of decency standards, such language must meet all tenants of a three-prong test in which: (1) An average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by applicable law; and (3) the material taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value;  Whereas, the parameters of the FCC’s Safe Harbor Provisions allow even greater latitude in language between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.;  Whereas, the future of amateur radio lies solely within the ability of current licensees to recruit youth and develop their interest in the radio hobby;  Whereas, while certain language may not violate the FCC rules, it may still stand in opposition to “good amateur practice” and the “Amateur’s Code”;  Whereas, amateur radio operators must project a good image in order to protect radio spectrum, appeal to future potential operators, and encourage confidence from public officials and government agencies as a viable mode of emergency communications;  Whereas, amateur radio should remain a wholesome activity for the entire family; Be it resolved, that without enumerating specific words, the board of directors declares that any and all words, which are not deemed traditionallyh appropriate in the prescnce of women and children, are hereby declared prohibited from being uttered or otherwise transmitted via any radio equipment or system belonging to the club.  Be it further resolved, that any intent to convey such inferences or meanings without a specific utterance or transmission, that would otherwise be inappropriate for all audiences or fail any of the three-prongs of the federal test for indecent or obscene language, are also prohibited from being transmitted via any radio equipment belonging to the club.  Passed by the board of directors of the Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, this 18th day of April, 2003.  Signed, Guy K. Carlsen, President Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society

The list of repeater operating guidelines above was initially published in 2018.  It has been modified a few times to account for new technologies, new problems, and new ways of doing things.  But RATS has a long history of holding itself and its members to a high standard when it comes to professionalism on the air.  Back in April 2003, the RATS Board of Directors passed a resolution establishing that certain types of language and content were not welcome on the club's systems.  Click on the image at the left to view that resolution.  From the Summer 2003 RATS Solid Copy newsletter, emphasis added:

During the April meeting Parke Slater, N4KFT, and Dave Kiefer, N4DWK, gave a presentation about VHF and UHF communications, particularly when it comes to repeater usage.

Etiquette and repeater protocols were described.  Also things not to do were presented in the form of “How to be a Lid.”  This was an informative and entertaining challenge for each of us to always be on our best behavior when we’re on the repeater and show whomever may be listening that, though we’re amateurs, there’s nothing amateurish about us.

Toward this end, the board of directors passed a resolution in April regarding conduct on the club’s repeaters and any other equipment owned by the club. This resolution was presented to the membership during April’s meeting and is reproduced [here].

We have no records indicating this April 2003 Board Resolution has ever been repealed by the Board of Directors, so it's still in effect today and serves as a foundation for the modern operating guidelines provided on this page.

Richmond Amateur Telecommunications Society, Inc. (RATS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. PO Box 70613, Henrico VA, 23255
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