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What is a Ham Radio Repeater?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Images By: Phudui, Global Panorama
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2016
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A ham radio repeater is a device that links a weak FM radio signal to a stronger VHF signal and transmits it hundreds of miles. By linking several of these ham radio repeater stations together, a ham radio operator can literally talk to someone anywhere around the world with a weak, hand-held radio transmitter.

Ham radio operators or amateur radio operators are able to send messages and communicate with fellow amateur radio operators worldwide with only minimally powered radio equipment. Many ham radio operators belong to local clubs, which fund a ham radio repeater and link it with other clubs in order to broaden the signal strength of its members' radio equipment.

Morse code uses internationally recognized message encoding, and due in part to ham radio repeater stations, communications are able to exist between people of different countries and different languages around the world. In the United States, ham radio operators used to be required to pass a proficiency test demonstrating ability to understand and transmit Morse code before being licensed. This requirement was dropped by the U.S. in 2007.

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The ham radio repeater enables amateur radio operators to communicate with the international space station. Many of the astronauts are also ham radio operators and welcome the communication. Ham radio has spread the message of dangerous weather, disasters, world events and even war news to people all around the globe. There have even been communications from soldiers feared dead that have eased the worries of families in many nations.

When communicating on a ham radio frequency, it is important to remember that it is not a C.B. radio. Language such as 10-4 or breaker-breaker are not allowed. It is imperative that the communication used is understood worldwide. Use words such as "Emergency, emergency, emergency" to report an emergency event. This type of language is recognized worldwide.

Most ham radio repeater towers are located high upon a hilltop. This allows the tower to broadcast and receive with a minimal interference. The ham radio repeater receives and transmits signals at the same time, making a broadcast continuous without interruption. Radio waves travel at approximately the speed of light, allowing almost instant reporting of an action worldwide.

When first signing on the air, listen to verify that the ham radio repeater is not being used by someone else. When satisfied that the repeater is not in use, state the call sign of the transmitter being used and the call sign of the operator that the message is intended to reach. If no contact is made, repeat the message. Once contact has been established, complete the communication. Always clear the air when the communication is completed.

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