Dead bands - everyone listening and no talking?

Status
Not open for further replies.

nanZor

Active Member
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,807
I wonder if some of the vhf / uhf bands that seem dead could be helped by adopting an operational change to help stir up interest, or bring those out of the listening-only woodwork?

I was reviewing some emergency procedures to save your handheld batteries, by having the group agree that if a search is needed, then the time to call and listen would be at the top of the hour to 5 minutes past. Then switch off and repeat hourly.

But this isn't about emergencies. Unless you live in your shack and monitor 24 hours a day, I was just wondering if that same thing could be initiated for those trying to stir up activity who don't actually live on their radio!

When monitoring with a receiver myself on national simplex frequencies, I have heard numerous instances of up to about 8 people just missing each other by minutes, and only later heard them say nobody was on. Maybe timing could improve things!

An example (although the freq may vary locally) is to just pop out your call at the top of the hour, and if nothing heard, then maybe just a few more times each minute until :05 after, and continue on with your life.

You could even do this with a local repeater that seems to go unused. I've heard many guys just barely miss each other by minutes, yet they say the repeater is dead because they immediately qsy'ed. Sad.

Does this seem like a reasonable idea? Instead of randomly calling on say 146.520 or a local repeater on a whim, do so at the top of the hour at the very least? Seems like agreeing to the top-of-the-hour call being the best (but not only) time to call would increase the odds for those that don't live radio 24/7.
 

TheSpaceMan

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Messages
320
Location
Westchester County, New York
I wonder if some of the vhf / uhf bands that seem dead could be helped by adopting an operational change to help stir up interest, or bring those out of the listening-only woodwork?

I was reviewing some emergency procedures to save your handheld batteries, by having the group agree that if a search is needed, then the time to call and listen would be at the top of the hour to 5 minutes past. Then switch off and repeat hourly.

But this isn't about emergencies. Unless you live in your shack and monitor 24 hours a day, I was just wondering if that same thing could be initiated for those trying to stir up activity who don't actually live on their radio!

When monitoring with a receiver myself on national simplex frequencies, I have heard numerous instances of up to about 8 people just missing each other by minutes, and only later heard them say nobody was on. Maybe timing could improve things!

An example (although the freq may vary locally) is to just pop out your call at the top of the hour, and if nothing heard, then maybe just a few more times each minute until :05 after, and continue on with your life.

You could even do this with a local repeater that seems to go unused. I've heard many guys just barely miss each other by minutes, yet they say the repeater is dead because they immediately qsy'ed. Sad.

Does this seem like a reasonable idea? Instead of randomly calling on say 146.520 or a local repeater on a whim, do so at the top of the hour at the very least? Seems like agreeing to the top-of-the-hour call being the best (but not only) time to call would increase the odds for those that don't live radio 24/7.
Good points! Many Hams keep their VHF/UHF radios on scan, but they just do not respond to callers. There is a very simple way to verify this fact! (Try it!) All one has to do is to go on to a repeater and say "Breaker breaker, any good buddies on here have a copy on me?" I have tried this on many occasions, and I almost always get a fast response!! (Most of the time the responses are quite angry however.) This just proves that there are lots of Hams monitoring those frequencies.
 

nanZor

Active Member
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,807
Heh, that is almost as effective as calling CQ on channelized systems. :)

Although this would work on SSB / CW calling frequencies.

I think the major point would be for those that don't monitor 24/7, one would stand a better chance of drawing out some activity if they knew that at the very least, for a 5-minute period at the top of the hour the chances of being heard would be greater.

That way those that don't have the capability of monitoring 24/7, or are doing other things with their gear can take a quick break - do a check - and go back to other activities with it. Wash, rinse, repeat hourly.

If established stations are sick of each other doing this every hour since they have talked to each other for 30 years, then perhaps one of the party could do it on another frequency or maybe at the bottom of the hour.

If there is a large amount of established stations with nothing to say, perhaps just exchange signal reports and go about your business. Establishing a reliable time for newcomers to the group that they could rely on might be a bit less discouraging on a so-called dead band. It doesn't have to be newcomers either - this could be very helpful for those that like to build / change gear or antennas often.

Just tossing out ideas for an informal "sked" time, to increase the chances that everyone will be on frequency for at least 5 minutes and not wander away immediately assuming nobody is out there. Instead of waiting for activity to come to us, maybe putting in just a little bit of work and using the KISS principle of calling at the top of the hour and listening for a few minutes at least might be helpful.

Ironically I should take a dose of my own medicine, take a break from RR and the keyboard, and call at the top of the hour on 220 or maybe 2m ssb...
 
Last edited by a moderator:

elk2370bruce

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
2,052
Location
East Brunswick, NJ
Good points! Many Hams keep their VHF/UHF radios on scan, but they just do not respond to callers. There is a very simple way to verify this fact! (Try it!) All one has to do is to go on to a repeater and say "Breaker breaker, any good buddies on here have a copy on me?" I have tried this on many occasions, and I almost always get a fast response!! (Most of the time the responses are quite angry however.) This just proves that there are lots of Hams monitoring those frequencies.
It may work for you but most people monitoring are not going to respond to a Break-Good Buddy. It is actual;ly a good way to have your call ignored forever. Why go out of the way to piss ioff people you want to talk to.
 

TheSpaceMan

Member
Joined
Jan 18, 2011
Messages
320
Location
Westchester County, New York
It may work for you but most people monitoring are not going to respond to a Break-Good Buddy. It is actual;ly a good way to have your call ignored forever. Why go out of the way to piss ioff people you want to talk to.
Just did it on occasion to see if people were out there. They generally laughed after I explained what I was doing! However, I would definitely not make a habit of it.
 

jim9251

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 8, 2009
Messages
79
Location
Montrose, Colorado
There's two 2 meter repeaters here. No one is ever on them except for a weekly net. I can call and call and nothing. Then hear someone kerchunking the machine. I called CQ CQ CQ once and got yelled at.

During tourist season 146.52 is pretty active and I can always find someone to talk to.
 

AgentCOPP1

Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2011
Messages
295
I feel guilty of this :( I'll have my radio turned on but I'm not always in the mood for chit chat. I'll drop in occasionally though and see who's around (when I'm in the mood of course).
 

robertmac

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
2,160
Have noticed people give out a call on a repeater or simplex but before anyone can reply they are on another frequency. If you are going to put your call out, wait at least a few minutes or repeat. As some have mentioned, when scanning, one may not get the entire call or what was said. I also hear people saying they have been listening for an hour or 2 and never heard anyone on. Well, that was over supper time. Just before that the driving home gang was on for an hour and a half. Everything revolves around timing.
 

n9mxq

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Dec 15, 2005
Messages
1,617
Location
Belvidere IL
Warning! Personal Opinion Contained in This Post!

I monitor the local repeater all the time.. But will only go on when I hear an out of area or unfamiliar call. I'll then welcome them to the repeater and help if needed.

Mostly because I have nothing to talk to locals about. It's all covered at club meetings or over the internet. And then there's those who are just idiots that blather about the same crap every time they're on the radio...Granted, they're mostly on the repeater in the next county over, but I still avoid them.
 

nanZor

Active Member
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,807
If you are going to put your call out, wait at least a few minutes or repeat.
You hit the nail on the head! Timing is everything.

I dunno guys - we all complain about the lack of activity on certain bands / simplex, etc, so what can we do other than complain about it and yearn for yesteryear?

Can we adopt a change or modification of procedure that would heighten the chances for participation?

If there is nothing to say from the regulars, then perhaps adopt an emergency scenario. And this doesn't always mean FM simplex or repeaters. How fast could we establish a point-to-point (to point et al) link, using say the lowest common denominator of people with handheld or mobile rigs and nothing but a pen and paper. Cross-band, cross-mode etc?

Could we pass emergency message traffic with no official net-control, and no major training other than a standard agreed-upon set of checks? How fast could this be, and how accurate would it be if you read it back on the return trip to you? Or is everyone just piling into the vehicle and heading out of dodge with the radio off, meanwhile the local repeater and it's backbone links have failed.

By doing *something* hourly, at least we'd get a handle on the weak links in the network topology and prepare for backups, alternate routes etc, that sort of thing. Is there something KISS we can adopt for areas without formal amateur-safety group training or networks - how to do something for ourselves prior to getting into contact with other safety groups who may not even be remotely close to the scene? Can we bring order out of chaos - at least initially? Now THERE is something to talk about.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

rapidcharger

Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2012
Messages
2,319
Location
The land of broken calculators.
I think it's worth a try. Of course promoting such a practice and having anyone adhere to such a practice is probably going to be like herding cats.

I think the bigger problem is patience and selfishness and shyness..

First the patience bit...
If you go to the lake and cast a fishing line and a fish does not bite within a minute, are you going to leave and go to another lake or go home and do something else? Of course not. People need to understand that there aren't "operators standing by" to provide company or entertainment the minute you announce your are on frequency. Maybe once upon a time, in some large cities it was like that but it ain't like that anymore. People need to tune in, announce and park it there. It takes some waiting, just like fishing. You really notice how little patience people have when you look at the station log for an echolink node or repeater. Most people connect for 30 seconds or less!

Second the selfishness part...
A number of us, myself included, monitor a particular frequency or scan several frequencies pretty much all day or at least most of the day. I even know of one person who leaves the radio 24/7 on their night table. (ok, that's a little over the top). We have gone through the trouble to establish reliable RF links, crossband repeaters, and digital networks so that we can remain connected practically anywhere, even if one of us is on another continent. So forgive me for getting extremely annoyed at the selfishness of thecommuter-only ham.
The commuter-only ham is not the new ham just starting out with limited funds who probably lives in an apartment where they're not supposed to put up antennas and therefore has started out with a mobile radio in their car.
The commuter-only ham is the ham who has been in the hobby for years who only gets on the local bands (or any bands) during drive time while they're stuck in traffic on their way to work. They have the financial means to buy radios for home and many of them do have radios at home, especially elaborate HF gear, but they have an expectation that "operators are standing by" to entertain them and keep them company while they're on the way to and from work and the second they get home in the evening it's "Oh thanks for keeping me company, I've just pulled up in my driveway now so catch ya tomorrow"
Uh yeah. Go inside, kiss your YL hello, take off your tie, eat dinner and get back on the air. I didn't make the investment in my station so that I can keep you company while you've got nothing better to do with your time. Don't be selfish. Pay it forward. Get on your radio at home and get on the air at some other time other than while you can literally not legally do anything else why you are driving other than listen to some mouthbreather on the AM dial.


And last but not least, Shyness.
At some point we need to squash the perception that ham radio is only for the discussion of HF, radios, building antennas and computers. When a new ham tunes in and that's all they hear and they don't feel like there's any way to break the ice other than talk about the weather, then you can begin to see how it's stressful for some people to get on the air or maybe they just aren't interested in the subjects they are hearing. I would suggest mixing up the topics of discussion, not being afraid to burn out the PA on someone's repeater and have some meaningful conversation with people. Activity begets more activity. It's been proven time and time again.
 

robertmac

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 6, 2005
Messages
2,160
And the thing that makes me avoid jumping in or answering a general call is the fear of sounding like a dump operator [lid]. I am amazed by the knowledge of most people that I listen to. Granted, there are the ones like me that that have an IQ lower than the temperature in Alaska in the winter. And knowing that there are a lot of people sandbagging and just waiting for me to make a stupid remark does keep me from jumping in. I guess that is where shyness comes in. Or not wanting to make a fool out of me when I know there are so many people listening.
 

NWI_Scanner_Guy

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 23, 2008
Messages
2,137
Location
Hammond, IN
Well said!!

When I first got my license, I was the shy guy. Took me a while to realize that most of the local hams were friendly and welcoming folks. They were patient with me as I fumbled my way thru things. Now I jump in at the drop of a hat and talk away. Probably talk too much sometimes. LOL.

:)

I think it's worth a try. Of course promoting such a practice and having anyone adhere to such a practice is probably going to be like herding cats.

I think the bigger problem is patience and selfishness and shyness..

First the patience bit...
If you go to the lake and cast a fishing line and a fish does not bite within a minute, are you going to leave and go to another lake or go home and do something else? Of course not. People need to understand that there aren't "operators standing by" to provide company or entertainment the minute you announce your are on frequency. Maybe once upon a time, in some large cities it was like that but it ain't like that anymore. People need to tune in, announce and park it there. It takes some waiting, just like fishing. You really notice how little patience people have when you look at the station log for an echolink node or repeater. Most people connect for 30 seconds or less!

Second the selfishness part...
A number of us, myself included, monitor a particular frequency or scan several frequencies pretty much all day or at least most of the day. I even know of one person who leaves the radio 24/7 on their night table. (ok, that's a little over the top). We have gone through the trouble to establish reliable RF links, crossband repeaters, and digital networks so that we can remain connected practically anywhere, even if one of us is on another continent. So forgive me for getting extremely annoyed at the selfishness of thecommuter-only ham.
The commuter-only ham is not the new ham just starting out with limited funds who probably lives in an apartment where they're not supposed to put up antennas and therefore has started out with a mobile radio in their car.
The commuter-only ham is the ham who has been in the hobby for years who only gets on the local bands (or any bands) during drive time while they're stuck in traffic on their way to work. They have the financial means to buy radios for home and many of them do have radios at home, especially elaborate HF gear, but they have an expectation that "operators are standing by" to entertain them and keep them company while they're on the way to and from work and the second they get home in the evening it's "Oh thanks for keeping me company, I've just pulled up in my driveway now so catch ya tomorrow"
Uh yeah. Go inside, kiss your YL hello, take off your tie, eat dinner and get back on the air. I didn't make the investment in my station so that I can keep you company while you've got nothing better to do with your time. Don't be selfish. Pay it forward. Get on your radio at home and get on the air at some other time other than while you can literally not legally do anything else why you are driving other than listen to some mouthbreather on the AM dial.


And last but not least, Shyness.
At some point we need to squash the perception that ham radio is only for the discussion of HF, radios, building antennas and computers. When a new ham tunes in and that's all they hear and they don't feel like there's any way to break the ice other than talk about the weather, then you can begin to see how it's stressful for some people to get on the air or maybe they just aren't interested in the subjects they are hearing. I would suggest mixing up the topics of discussion, not being afraid to burn out the PA on someone's repeater and have some meaningful conversation with people. Activity begets more activity. It's been proven time and time again.
 

SCPD

QRT
Joined
Feb 24, 2001
Messages
65,126
Location
Virginia
when

There's two 2 meter repeaters here. No one is ever on them except for a weekly net. I can call and call and nothing. Then hear someone kerchunking the machine. I called CQ CQ CQ once and got yelled at.

During tourist season 146.52 is pretty active and I can always find someone to talk to.

I did this in Myrtle beach.dead for days I monitored,then I jumped on and asked for a signal report,slowly started talking to the guy casually,then by the time I hit 5 miles into my trip I had 15 or so people on,yes they monitor and only come on for nets.Well that whole week they were on looking for me,it was fun .
 

902

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 7, 2003
Messages
2,391
Location
Downsouthsomewhere
Before we all moved away and/or got married (or died), we used to get on the air and discuss TV shows as they were happening. Make side comments like MST3K would. But then the "crew" were all friends before they became hams. Ham radio was our party line to stay in contact with each other. There was always someone doing something worthy of getting razzed. Just about the only thing you could count on was that a traditional ham QSO was *NOT* occurring. And, yes, that activity was like a snowball rolling down a hill. We picked up people much like new people would chime into a conversation on Facebook these days. Most of the time we greeted them, unless they were knuckleheads, and then we made fun of them. If they laughed along, they joined the crew because they were just as stupid as we were. If they didn't, well, there was always QSY.

Way back, we never called CQ on FM, although I've heard people do that on Echolink. We just used to say our call, sometimes with "mobile" to say we were in the car, then just say, "listening." On 52.525 I might toss in my gridsquare, too.

What you described, Hertzian, is a lot like the "ham radio wilderness protocol."
 

Darth_vader

Member
Joined
Apr 5, 2013
Messages
325
"Granted, there are the ones that have an IQ lower than the temperature in Alaska in the winter. And knowing that there are a lot of people sandbagging and just waiting for me to make a stupid remark does keep me from jumping in."

You've just described approximately 85% of the present-day Vancouver/Portland area repeater crowd.
 

nanZor

Active Member
Joined
May 28, 2009
Messages
2,807
I forgot about the ham radio wilderness protocol. Of course everyone in the group has to agree on it beforehand.

This is a simplified version of that - if you are only going to call infrequently, do it within say a 5 minute window from :00 to :05.

All I'm saying is that we might have to put some work into it before anyone responds and a regular group can be formed. And this doesn't always mean repeaters. UHF SSB anyone?
 

902

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Nov 7, 2003
Messages
2,391
Location
Downsouthsomewhere
I forgot about the ham radio wilderness protocol. Of course everyone in the group has to agree on it beforehand.

This is a simplified version of that - if you are only going to call infrequently, do it within say a 5 minute window from :00 to :05.

All I'm saying is that we might have to put some work into it before anyone responds and a regular group can be formed. And this doesn't always mean repeaters. UHF SSB anyone?
Hmmm... 432... Got to get my yagi up. I also need to get some LMR-600 connectors for the 2 meter and 6 meter beams. I actually have two 13 element Cushcraft 2 meter beams for stacking, but the baluns need to be replaced. I haven't been in a hurry because I mostly use the antennas for monitoring (even though they're cross-polarized); most of public safety out this way is on 800 now and VHF is just about dead.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top