Call signs are a way of identifying your station. On some types of radio it is a legal requirement that the user has a registered call sign with the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) or alike. On most of the radio you will be using you do not require a registered Call sign. When choosing a call sign (if one is not allocated) you should avoid using your first name. A call sign should also give some information about were or what you are doing for example if you were a First aid team the call sign of (First aid) would be ok, or if you are manning the start line of a race (Start) could be used. If you are on a hike, you can use your troop name. Like (1st black stump). If you have a number of radios in your group you could give each member a number or letter, giving you cal sings like (1st Black stump 1) or (1st Black stump A) you can also change the A to the Phonetic Alphabet (as listed below) and use Alpha instead of A giving you (1st Black Stump Alpha). Using it in this way allows other members of the grope to no that you are from 1st Black Stump scouts and you are one of up to 28 people with a radio, while still protecting your name from people who may be listening. You also could use your patrol name giving you some thing like (1st Black Stump Scorpions). In some situations a status massage may be a good idea, hear are some of the common one’s
Portable: Using a hand Held radio
Mobile: In a Car
Maritime: On a stationery Boat
Maritime Mobile: On a moving Boat
Maritime Portable: On a Boat with a hand held radio
Mobile stationary: Stuck in traffic in the car
Remote base: At a short-term radio base (Like a camp site)
Air born: In a plane/helicopter
Using this give others a idea were you are and what you are doing if you were walking around the camp site with a radio you could use some thing like (1st Black Stump Alpha Portable)
The trick is not to make it to hard for others to understand or so long you cannot remember it. It just needs to be quick and easy way if identifying your self while protecting your identity.
Whist on the radio you need to make shore you conduit your self in a proper way. The first thing a lot of people do when they get on a radio is act like a fool thinking no one knows who they are and can not find them, this is wrong lots of people have the ability to track and search for people that misuses the radio (like the police, military and Ham operators), in extreme cases the federal government or the police may come knocking at the door. Many so called importuned Foxhunt have hapend over the years; this is when a number of angary radio operators start looking for the signal and tracks it to Someone’s house, this results in a mob of angary people out side the door. The best thing to do is stick to the guidelines so the mob dose not visit you, believe it or not it is offence to falsely alarm or offend another radio user under the Australian Radio Telecommunications Act 1992
Imagine you are at school in class every one is quiet and it is your turn to stand up and talk to the class, What do you think will happen if you start yelling, swearing or using colourful language? That’s right you will be at the principals office faster than your feet can touch the ground. The main reason for this is it is just not socially ok to do this. The only difference with radio is there is no teacher. But if it gets to out of hand the radio police (the ACMA) step in. it is also not on to abuse bully or threaten Someone else over the radio this can very quickly lead to a visit from the police. If you ever hear such behaviour do not try and stop them just ignore them and they will hopefully stop if they have no one to talk to if it gets very bad record the conversation and things like time date and channel/Frequency as well as your location and signal strength of the offending person and pass it on to ACMA or Police.
Topics of decision
You are allowed to talk about what ever you like on the radio with a few exceptions. Things that should never be spoken over the radio are
1. Financial information (Bank details, Pin Numbers so on)
2. Your address or Address of others. (Unless in an emergency)
3. Religious augments.
4. Political augments.
5. Medical or private information of yours or others (Unless in an emergency)
If your conversation starts to drift towards one of theses topics change the subject or stop talking to the person.
Pause Between Over’s
A radio frequency is a public resource and is owned by the federal government, no one can claim that a channel is owned by them, so understanding that it is important you take turns and share this resource. When having a talk with Someone or a group of people each person must take turn to speak and make shore the other person is finished before you speak.
When havening a conversation on the radio there are a few common terms you need to understand and use they make it easer for every one.
Send: Go ahead
Standby/Wait: Pause for a few seconds
Wait Out: I will Call you again- a Pause for longer than a few seconds, you can also use “Wait out unless urgent”, when means wait until I call you unless there is something urgent, this is used a fare bit with emergencies.
Out to you: This the end of my transmission to you and a call to another station follows immediately
Nothing Heard: Indication that no signals have been heard form a particular station
Radio Check: Request a report on reception of the transmission at your location
Over/Back: Over is used to tell every one you have finished what you are going to say and they are welcome to all so use “Back” or “Back to you” they also means the same thing
Stop: full stop on message
Say again: repeat last message (do not ever use Repeat, this is a hangover form military radio, for military repeat means fire another volley of shells)
Clear/Going Clear/Out: This means that you are fished and are stoping talking unless Someone else wants to talk with you (do not use “over and out” as this is bad procedure)
Closing down: This means that you are turning off your radio and or packing up. this indicates will be unable to be contacted by radio very often used at the end of an event or day. Some time you can say something like “Closing down until 9:00” this means that your radio will be off until 9:00 at which time you will be turning it back on.
Lessening: You are on the air and available to talk
All stations: Everyone lessening attention
Breaker: This term mainly is said between Overs by a person who wants or needs to interrupt or join the Conversation. Leaving a Pause between Overs allows time for others to put in ‘beaker’. If you hear a Breaker, you are required to acknowledge the Breaker and ask what is needed. The breaker may require urgent assistance and you could be blocking them
CQ: Calling all stations
Side / On the Side / Standing By: Means you are about to stop Sending or Transmitting but will still be listening so you can rejoin, or someone else can call you
Romeo: A common Acknowledgement or Confirmation meaning Yes, Agree or Understood (do not use Roger or Roger Roger as this is bad procedure from CB operators)
When you first turn on a radio it is good practises to lessen for 30 seconds before talking just in case Someone else is using the channel
Calling a random station:
To call a random station you uses the term CQ. And your call sign for the example we will says we are 1st Black stump Alpha. To call you would say
“CQ CQ this is 1st Black stump Alpha OVER”
And then listen for 10 to 15 seconds before trying again. If Someone hears you and wants to talk you will hear them reply back to you
Calling all stations
This call is used when you have a group of stations that you whish to send a massage to such as tea is ready on so on
“All stations all stations, this is 1st black stump Alpha Tea is ready OVER”
And then listen the other station may wish to talk back to you
Calling another Station
This is procedure is used to call another station you no is on air, we are 1st Black stump Alpha the station being called is 2nd North Seal Bravo
“2nd North seal Bravo from 1st Black stump alpha OVER”
If 2nd north seal Bravo is listening they will reply to you
From time to time someone may wish to contact you so always keep an ear on your radio just in case it should sound some thing like this
“1st Black stump alpha from 2nd north seal Bravo OVER”
We would then reply
“2nd North seal Bravo from 1st black stump alpha go a head OVER”
Then standby for there reply
Holding a Conversation
Having a conversation on the air is a very easy procedures you can talk back and forth or as part of a group for hours on end if your battery last that long. The important thing to remember is that only one person can talk at a time and every time you finish what you have to say put Over at the end. Like below
“Hi my name is XXXX I am a scout from 1st Black Stump were are you from? OVER”
The other station would then respond with the answer followed by Over
Talking speed and rhythm
When talking on the radio it is best to not talk to fast or in such a way as out of rhythm if this is not correct the others station may not be able to understand you the best speed to talk as if you are writing what you are saying down on paper as you are saying it. It is a good idea to practice this from time to time as people tend to speed up when they are existed or something so going wrong, talking to fast may result in something important being missed.
Completing a Conversation
Once you are finished thank the other person for the talk and then say your call sign and Clear”
“Thanks. 1st Black stump Alpha Clear Over”
If you are then going to turn your radio off you would instead say “Thanks 1st Black stump Alpha Clear and closing down Over” Or if you are whishing to announce you are still going to be around Thanks 1st Black stump Alpha Clear and Listening Over”
Announcing you are on air
Some times it is a good idea to announce you are around being when you turn on the radio or maybe every hour. The preferred way to do this is to use the term listening which means that you are available for a contact. A listening call would look like
“1st Black Stump Alpha listening OVER”
Braking in to a conversation
Some times you may wish to brake into a conversion that is going on to do this we use the Breaker or Brake command. It is important to lessen for a brake in conversation and then say Brake or Breaker. Then hold off until Someone comes back with some thing like “Go ahead breaker” then you say your call sign and start your talk. If you hear a brake or breaker the polite thing to do is to stop talking and let them have there say by saying “go ahead breaker” or you can finish what you are saying and the call them in with the above Statement.
Depending on what situation you find yourself in you may encounter a Radio Network or (Net) for short, a radio net classified as more than 2 stations wishing to communicate with each over. A number of protocols are used to control the conversation this is also sometime called Radio Traffic,
Net Control Station (NCS)
Net Control Stations (NCS) are a very special station used to control some types of Nets. The Stations normally requires a dedicated person manning it at all times to make shore things operate correctly. If the NCS is operating correctly messages should flow throw the Net like a well oiled machine if the NCS is not operating correctly the Net can be a mess and be dangerous in some situations. The job of a NCS operator can be a thankless job but very important, it can also become very stressful and it not to be undertaken lightly it is not something to just have a go at, in some cases the NCS operator is directly responsible for peoples safety.
Uncontrolled Nets (Ratites rules)
Uncontrolled nets are the simplest nets that occur they spring up all the time and are sometime very short in duration. The basics of the net is first come first serve so if you are fast on the microphone or have more transmit power you will get in first and get your message across. This nets work well if you just have something quick to say and there are not a large number of station involved, Uncontrolled nets are often used as working nets or tactical nets, I.E to get a truck to move up or coordinate on the ground Tactical moments, The draw back of an uncontrolled net is they can often descend into chaos when every one wants to talk at once like in an emergency or a difference of opinion is voiced, the best example of a Uncontrolled net is a CB radio channel
Round Robin Nets
Round Robin Nets are a bit more complicated than an uncontrolled Net in Round robin nets each person takes turns to talk while everyone else lessens and holds their comets and questions until it is their turn it is unlikely that that people will talk over each over in Round Robin net, but they become very slow to pass messages when there is a lot of stations involved. In some cases a “Control Station” or NCS will run the Net they may start the net by calling for check in’s, in which stations wishing to participate announce their call signs which are then logged by the NCS and are then called in turn by the NCS to have their say, This type of net is mainly redistricted to people just having a chat they are unsuitable for reactive (Fast response) type situations, good ensamples of a Round Robin net is a Amateur radio clubs weekly radio Net
Calling nets are a net that works by every one meeting on a designated channel called the “Call Channel” and they then try to make contact with the station they wish to talk to. Once they make contact the two stations move a allocated channel or frequency chosen by ever the person in charge of the net called the “Control station” / NCS or chosen by the two stations that are going to talk. The two stations then change channel to the new channel leavening the call channel free for the next person. It is very important this happens as if the stations do not move it stops the whole net stops operating. Once the stations on the other channels have fished their talk they return to the Call channel and lessen for a call or call for another station when the channel is free. This type of net is good for keeping confusion down between stations and give a dedicated line to the stations for critical instructions, the disadvantage is that other stations cannot hear others this makes it hard to get a full picture of the situation or offer assistance, another problem is that if there is lot of users the number of available channels or frequency’s can run out very quickly, a good example of a Calling net is air traffic control at airports or Amateur HF Radio as well as VHF marine radio
Controlled Nets always have a “Control Station” or NCS that works like a traffic control, the Net can be on one Channel or frequency or a number of linked radio systems. In an controlled net all Traffic is between the Station calling and the NCS, The NCS will recorded the message and then make shore that the Message gets throw to the correct Station or Stations, The NCS also can act as central control and issue instructions and pretty much run the event over the radio, in practise to work with this type of net you call up the NCS as a normal call and then tell them the message, if the NCS is busy you may have to wait until the channel is free and then call, the uses of priority codes such as Red, Blue, Yalow and so on are some time used to indicate the importance of the message, the NCS will always take the high priority messages first. Some people can become frustrated with Controlled nets and upset with the procedure (this can some time come down to the person running the NCS), not understanding that the amount of work the NCS is doing. In a Controlled net a station can request the NCS to allow them to talk direct to another station; the NCS will allow it if possible. If you get permission to Talk direct be as short as possible as this blocks up the Net for every one else. Controlled nets are very good for fast changing situations and can handle large numbers of users. Controlled nets do have a few drawback I.E people do not have instant communications and errors can happen when repeating a message Some examples of Controlled nets are Emergency services and Large Event
Emergency: Message that involves grave or immanent danger to life Safety requires a response this second
Immediate: Message that involves life safety requires a response within one hour of receipt of message.
Priority: Message that requires a timely operational response within 4-6 hours of receipt, in order to address the specified emergency.
Routine or no Code: Message that reflects routine data transfer for administrative, logistical or operational means, which requires no response or a response within 12-18 hours.
Colour codes: in some nets colour codes are used for Priority codes the colours meanings are decided by the Net Control Station before the event
In some cases Logs of the radio traffic may be required this can range from recording the times of transmissions all the way to writhing every word down you hear on the radio. Most of the time in scouts we will not need to do logs but in the event that a major incident happens for your own peace of mind keep a log, why I hear you say well if the unthinkable happens and you end up having to engage legal advise, your logs may get you off, if your defence relies on your word it would be harder to prove your innocence, so what do you put in a log.
1. Time and date
2. Who the message was from and going to
3. The contents of the message exactly as spoken or herd by you
Sometimes a recorder can be used as well so that way it frees you up a bit, but even in this case write down critical information, so what can be log as a log?
1. Voice recordings
2. Hand written/ typed notes
4. White boards/peg boards
5. Computer files
Very often it is a good idea to confirm messages you receive over the radio particularly if it is of importance I.e (safety instructions, directions and so on), if there is any doubt about what you have received request the message be resent, another good way of Confirming to read back the message to the sender and get them to confirm it is correct.
On some radios each channel is given a specific function these functions need to be obeyed at all times to maintain the radio system for every one. Below are listed some of the types of Channels
Conversations/ Calling & working/ Ship to ship and ship to shore/ Ship to ship Channels: Are set aside for general chat between radio uses they have no specific prepose other that talking on
Highway Channels: Are set aside for station travailing on highways they quite often contain information about road conditions or locations of hazards on the Highway as seen by other high way users, you may use the channels if you are on the highway, this is quite often were you will find interstate trucks
Emergency / Distress Channels: Are set aside for emergency traffic only theses channels are to be used only if you require urgent help, using them for non emergency transmissions can result in a large fine
Calling Channels: Are set aside as locations for people to gather to make contacts, the procedure is that once you have made contact with a station you move to a Conversation channel or repeater channel to continue the conversion freeing it up so someone else can make contact, once you finish the conversation you may return to the calling channels to find someone else, sometimes used as part of calling nets
Activity Channels: Are set aside for groups conducting special activity’s channels like this include ones marked as 4WD Drivers / Commercial Operations / Professional Fishing / Rescue organizations / Club events, unless you are involved in that activity you are not to use throws channels
Convoy Channels: are used by groups travelling as a convoy to a destination, the users often give directions to the members of the convoy to keep it together, it is important you do not interfere with them
Repeater Output Channels: These channels are normally used as the output of a repeater system; it is very common to hear a lot of stations on theses as the stations are trying to get long range communications. In areas were a repeater is present on the channel you are required to use your radios repeater functions or DUP button on the channel, in areas were there is not a Repeater you can use the channel like a Conversations channel
Repeater Input Channels: These channels are normally used as the Input of a repeater system, it is very common to hear a lot of stations on theses as the stations are trying to get long range communications. In areas were a repeater is present on the channel you are required to turn your radio to the Repeater output channel and use your radios repeater functions or DUP button on the channel, in areas where there is not a Repeater you can use the channel like a Conversations channel
Digital Channels: These Channels are set aside for digital signals such as selcall, telemetry and digital voice. Unless you are using theses do not use the digital channels
Broadcasts Channels: These channels are used in some areas to advice of road conditions, flooding, storms, fire, and community news, these channels can normally be used as a Conversations channel except when there is a Broadcast going on, it is best practises to keep clear of them
In an Emergency radio can and has been used to save lives and propriety. If you ever hear a emergency called while you are talking stop immediately and lessen, you are not to talk unless you do not hear Someone else assist the station, emergency calls can come on almost any channel and have right of way emergency are indicated by words like “fire” “Help” Mayday” “Pan Pan”, “urgent” and “emergency”
Calling for Help
If you are the one in trouble turn to the emergency channel and put a call out. Give as much detail as you can include Location, what is wrong how many people there are affected, latitude and longitude or grid reference if available even if it appears no one is coming back you people may hear you but cannot get a signal back so you so repeat the message 3 times minimum before trying another channel
If you hear a call for help
If you are listening to the radio and hear an emergency call you are obligated to respond if no one else answers if another station answers do not talk until the emergency is over. If you answer the station take down as much information as you can do not give medical advice under any circumstances unless instructed to by a doctor or paramedic. As soon as you can get the information to the Emergency services on 000,112 or other means and in NSW request police. keep contact with the station even if the station calling emergency seems to have not heard you pass the information on. If a better-equipped station come on air you are to hand the station on to them and follow their instructions to the letter. Stations like theses include
Fire and Rescue NSW's
NSW SES (State Emergency Service)
RFS (Rural Fire service)
VRA (Volunteer rescue association)
Civil aviation (Air Craft safety)
RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force)
RAA (Royal Australian Army)
RAN (Royal Australian Navy)
NSW Government Station
Australian Government Station
Emergency Monitor Information
Emergency Monitors cannot offer first aid or medical advice over the radio under any circumstances. If absolutely necessary, they will contact the Ambulance Service or a Doctor and relay any advice they may have. There may be times when an Emergency Monitor is not available, or cannot hear you. Atmospheric conditions can do very strange things to radio signals, and a local Monitor may not be able to hear your call above the level of interference being received at his/her location. If no one answers your call on the emergency channel, try other channels, especially other local repeaters. Emergency Monitors are volunteers often using their own radio equipment to listen for people needing help. It is impossible for any volunteer group to guarantee 100% coverage 24/7. All Information Regarding Emergency Calls Are Treated Confidential. Phone Numbers And Names And Motor Registration And Other Misc Information Are Kept Confidential.
Australian Communications Media Authority(ACMA)
For misuse of the emergency channels such as using for non-emergency purposes, the operator can be prosecuted under the Australian Telecommunications Act 1992. Maximum penalty is 2 years imprisonment, or a fine of up to $165,000. Alternatively the Police or the ACMA can issue an infringement notice for an amount of $220 for minor offences. For interference to an emergency call in progress then section 193 of the Radio communications Act 1992 provides for a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment or $550,000. This offence can only be dealt with via court.
All radios equipment that transmits in Australia requires a licence as detailed in the Radio communications Act 1992. There are a number of licences that the ACMA uses and you need to be aware of them
A class Licence is issued to a type of Equipment that the Frequency’s and Functions are fixed from production , there for making the equipment ok to use for any one. CB’s Mobile phones small FM transmitters, garage door openers, wifi units and so on fall in this category. Class licensed equipment looks to have no license or is termed license free as the user douse not have to apply to the ACMA for authority to transmit as the company that made the equipment has already done the work
Apparatus Licence are issued for equipment that can operate on a range of frequency’s. With apparatus licences a person or company is authorised to operate the equipment on assigned Frequency’s and within any restriction’s the ACMA may impose. A holder of a Apparatus Licence must be in control of the radio at all times. People who have Apparatus licences are Amateur radio, commercial companies, ocean going ships and all aircraft
Apparatus Type approved Licence
A Apparatus Type approved Licence is sort of a mix of a Apparatus and Class, in this case the equipment is built in such a way so the user can not operate the equipment outside the rules, but the user still is Required to register with the ACMA and hold a Licence, examples of this is Flying doctor, VHF marine and HF services such as VKS737
These licenses are issued for the use of broadcasting for profit, many used for TV, AM/FM radio and DAB+ Radio (Digital radio)
These licenses are issued to company like Telstra and like to provide public access communications services such as mobile phones
Fixed link Licence
These are issued for fixed microwave links between towers and building mainly used by Telstra and a like but my be used for companies between sites and buildings
Unlicensed oppression of transmitting equipment
As the title suggests this is a very bad thing if you are found to be or have been transmitting signals without the correct Licence you can be fined have your equipment confiscated and face criminal proceedings, Like wise owning equipment capable of transmitting without the correct Licence attracts the same penalty
Modified equipment is a gray area if you modify any radio to transmit on a frequency that you do not hold a license for it is an offence, also modifying Class license equipment to transmit on Frequency you have a licenses for is also out. In the case of Amateur radio a license holder can build and modify radios to their frequencies but they are the only ones who can do such things in Australia
Things you cannot do to class licensed equipment (CB’s, FM transmitters, garage door openers and so on)
1. Amplifiers you cannot amplify the signals of Class equipment in any way so Amplifies are out
2. Repeaters, you cannot build a fixed repeater system except for WIFI
3. Modify radios for secret messages
4. Connect to the public phone system unless in the case of factory made cordless phones