Our repeaters operate primarily for club members, nets and emergency communications. Licensed operators, particularly those in mobile operation, may use our facilities as long as they observe the protocols of our repeaters (below), general regulations of the FCC, and give precedence to emergency operations, nets, club members and mobiles.
The W4FAR repeaters serve Wilkesboro and the surrounding towns in Wilkes County.
Located on the top of Bucks Knob at an elevation of 2300 feet with generator backup power, the W4FAR repeater has been known to communicate all the way to Charlotte to the south, Greensboro to the east, Galax, VA to the north and Boone to the west. Weather alerts for Wilkes County from the National Weather Service are transmitted as required.
Located on the top of Bucks Knob at an elevation of 2306 feet, the W4FAR DMR repeater is one of the newest in the NC PRN network. The Wilkesboro DMR repeater carries all the standard NC PRN talkgroups and the local talkgroup is also linked in for the Tuesday Night High Country UHF Digital Net.
Talkgroups Available on Time Slot 1
Talkgroups Available on Time Slot 2
This net meets for the purpose of net operation and the general enjoyment of ham radio. The net also meets on the W4FAR repeater for training in case of a communications emergency. In case of failure of the W4FAR repeater the net will meet on the 146.820 (PL 94.8) WB4PZA repeater located in Wilkesboro.
At that time, all the High Country DMR repeaters (Boone - Rich Mountain, Boone - Sugar Mountain, West Jefferson, Spruce Pine and Lenoir) and the Wilkesboro repeater will have their local talkgroups linked together for this net. Be sure to join them!
The net starts with an announcement by the Net Control Station (NCS) of the commencement of the NET and its purpose.
A general call for Emergency or Priority traffic should be made so as not to delay this material. Stations will be requested to forward this traffic as necessary.
If stations have other Emergency traffic that should arise during the net, they can break into the net at any time by calling "BREAK", followed by their call sign.
Any official bulletins or announcements of interest to the area will be read. A request for any stations having additional bulletins/announcements shall be made.
The NCS will take general check-ins and initial information from stations. The NCS will call for check-ins by the first letter of the suffix of your call sign.
To check in, wait for a pause, key your mic, call the NCS, release your mic key to see if anyone is doubling with you, if not then continue to check-in.
After all check-ins are taken by groups, the NCS will call for any other checkins. Then the NCS will start the comment period, calling on each person in the order of their check-in.
After everyone has had the chance to comment, the NCS will call for late check-ins and allow them to make their comments.
When everyone is done with their comments, the NCS will close the net and return the repeater to regular amateur use.
Repeaters are primarily intended to facilitate mobile communications. The order of priority on our repeater systems are, in decreasing order, as follows:
Emergency traffic has priority over anything else. Directed Nets and Members have priority on the system at all other times, and as such, non-members should avoid tying up the system for extended lengths of time.
Legal requirements are those of identification and operation on frequencies within the amateur radio bands. The FCC tells us that you MUST identify at 10-minute intervals during a conversation and in your last transmission. During periods of heavy activity it is easy to forget when you last identified.
The easiest way to insure that you comply with FCC identification requirements is to identify with your FCC issued call sign as you complete an exchange. This serves as two functions: 1) Tells everyone you consider the exchange to be complete without having to use extra words (saves time) and 2) Fulfills all FCC identification requirements.
Customary protocols will normally be used on our repeater. They may include such practices as identifying with the FCC call sign of both stations on each transmission, giving the FCC call sign of the next person to talk or many other variations.
Please listen to the repeater to get a feel for this. Customary protocols will easily stand out.
If there is a QSO going on, break into a conversation with the word "Break" or "Break for priority traffic." DO NOT USE THE WORD BREAK TO JOIN IN A QSO UNLESS THERE IS AN EMERGENCY! All stations should give immediate priority to any station with emergency traffic.
If there is malicious interference, such as kerchunking, touch-tones, rude comments, etc. DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE IT! Continue the QSO in a normal fashion. If the interference gets to the level where it is impossible to carry on the QSO, simply end the QSO as you normally would and contact a control operator or club officer off-air.
We may also use our repeater to help the National Weather Service in an operation called SKYWARN. When severe weather threatens the area, you can listen to our repeater, and follow instructions from the net-control station. Details on the SKYWARN program are available on our SKYWARN page and at their web site.
This is the Amateur Radio Emergency Service. During any kind of emergency, ARES operators will be using repeaters for local coordination and traffic-passing. Visit the Wilkes County ARES web page for more details.
During these operations, our repeater will probably be closed to regular conversations. But unless a major disaster has hit the area, there will be other repeaters available for regular activity. Ask the net control station for the status of the repeater.
Hams across the country regularly help charitable organizations with communications during fund-raising events like bike-a-thons. Repeaters and simplex are both used for public service events. Their activity isn't too compatible with other hams rag-chewing on the same channel, so during the event our repeater will again be "closed." If you need to make a call, contact the net control station and most likely you can use the repeater for a minute with no problem.
When you are using the repeater please leave a couple of seconds between exchanges to allow other stations to join in or make a quick call. Our repeater has a "Courtesy Tone" (a short series of beeps) that will help in determining how long to pause. The courtesy tone serves two purposes. Most repeaters have a time out function that will shut down the transmitter if the repeater is held on for a preset length of time (normally three or four minutes). This ensures that if someone's transmitter is stuck on for any reason, it won't hold the repeater's transmitter on indefinitely. (Don't laugh, many microphones get lodged in the fold of car seats and keep a repeater busy until it times out). If you wait until you hear this beep (normally a couple of seconds), before you respond, you can be sure that you are pausing a suitable length of time. After you hear the beep, the repeater's transmitter will stay on for a few more seconds before turning off. This is referred to as the "tail". The length of the tail will vary from repeater to repeater but the average is about 2 or 3 seconds. You can also wait for the tail to drop before keying up again, (this leaves plenty of time for someone else to jump in) but at the minimum make sure that you hear the courtesy tone before going ahead. If you don't at least wait for the beep, the time-out timer may not reset. If you time-out the repeater, your conversation after the time-out will not be heard. The repeater time-out function does not care if you are still talking or not!
The control operators have been entrusted with maintaining decorum on the system and ensuring operation within Part 97 regulations. If a control operator interrupts a QSO and identifies himself as "control", please allow them to pass whatever messages they need to or perform any control functions. The control operators have the final say in what is/is not appropriate on the repeater. If a control operator makes a comment or suggestion, take it as constructive criticism and then follow their advice or directive. If you disagree with what a control operator says or does, contact a FARC Officer off the air and explain your concerns.
A control operator may shut off the repeater either due to a violation of the FARC repeater policies, violations of FCC regulations, or flagrant disregard for "good amateur practice". A shutdown should be taken as a hint that something was wrong, either with the conversation or with the operating practices. Shutdowns are often done in lieu of direct personal intervention by a control operator as it avoids the situation from becoming a personal confrontation.
We ask that DMR users respect the intended use of each talk group and utilize the systems so that the minimum amount of resources are used on each transmission.
NEVER, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, USE THE ECHOTEST TALKGROUP FOR CONVERSATIONS! DOING SO WILL GET YOUR CALLSIGN BLOCKED UNTIL YOU ACKNOWLEDGE VIA EMAIL YOU WILL NOT DO IT AGAIN.
A talkgroup (TG) on the PRN system is like a channel on an analog radio. If you have your radio on one talkgroup, you will not hear a user on another talkgroup, even if they are on the same repeater.
Digital Mobile Radio repeaters have 2 time slots (TS) available and, on the PRN system, the entire network is linked full time on time slot 2, Talkgroup ID 2. This talkgroup is available on every repeater on the system. The only time this talkgroup may not be linked up is if a repeater is needed for a special event, such as a parade or race. Once the event is over, the repeater will be linked back to the network.
Time slot 1 utilizes several on-demand talkgroups, depending on which repeater you are on. On demand means that by default the link is not active. If you want to make it active, you change your radio to that talkgroup and key up until you get the talk permit tone and then release your PTT. This will activate the link. It is important to understand that if anyone is currently chatting on that talkgroup you only will begin to hear audio once the next person starts to speak. This is why you do not want to immediately throw out your call. If the talkgroup is currently active, once the user who was talking when you activated the link stops speaking, the c-Bridge will begin to pipe the audio in to your repeater. If there is no local activity on the talkgroup within 5 minutes, the link timer will expire and the talkgroup will go quiet again.
If you are attempting to make contact with a user outside the PRN system on one of the On-Demand talkgroups, consider using the “Clear Timeslot” option once you have finished your conversation to clear the link before the timer expires. By keying up on the “Clear Timeslot” talkgroup you are clearing all of the On-Demand links on the repeater you are using immediately instead of waiting on the timer to expire.
Each repeater also has a local talkgroup that is utilized for local communications. These talkgroups are not linked, and do not go out over the network, so you will not be tying up all of the repeaters if you use these.
There also are two Point-to-Point or Point-to-Multipoint talkgroups named PRN Chat 1 and PRN Chat 2 that may be used instead of tying up the PRN talkgroup. These talkgroups are On-Demand on every repeater, and will unlink after 5 minutes of inactivity on the repeater. You may also clear them immediately by using the Clear Time Slot talkgroup.