BeachNet Repeater System

BeachNet Operating Tips

Pacific, Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Thurston & Wahkiakum Counties, Washington

145.170 |  145.310 |  145.390 |  147.020 |  147.180 |  147.340 |  224.040 |  224.820 |  440.675 |  441.675 |  442.675 |  444.050 |  444.200 |  444.300 |  444.400 |  444.500 |  444.700 |  444.800 |  444.925 |  444.950


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The BeachNet Repeater System is a fairly complex network. This page attempts to lay out a few tips that can enhance your understanding, and enjoyment as a user of our system.

The BeachNet network is composed of (at last count) 20 repeaters, at least 16 of which are normally linked together. It generally doesn't matter which of our repeaters you use to access the network. They normally all work as a single unit. There are a few exceptions to this rule, with the North Cove 444.400, KO Peak 224.040, South Bend 224.820 and Megler 444.925 repeaters normally not linked to the network, but operating stand-alone. Unless you are using one of these "Stand alone" repeaters, there is generally no need to be on the "same" repeater as the person you are talking with. They are all equivalent. Even if multiple users move to the same repeater, the entire system continues to operate, and repeat their conversation, regardless.

In fact, many first-time users aren't even aware there are multiple repeaters, and are surprised to find out the person they are talking with is quite a distance away, on a completely different repeater, possibly on a different frequency band. You should use the repeater that you get into the best, which is usually the one you hear the best. As you move around the coverage area, this will change. At most places, there is more than one repeater which will work.

Our network primarily uses repeaters on the 2-meter, and 70-centimeter bands. Neither band is "better" than the other in all circumstances. If you only have a radio for one band, then of course, you will only be able to access those repeaters. If you have both bands available, you will find enhanced coverage by using repeaters on both bands.

We also have two repeaters on the 1.25-meter band. The 224.040 MHz at the 3,000-ft KO Peak site is not usually linked into the system, but has fairly broad coverage in its own right. The latter, 224.820 MHz at the 1,300-ft South Bend site is often linked into the network, but may also be operating as part of a larger 6- and 10-meter repeater network out of Oregon.

For those fortunate enough to operate multi-receiver equipment, it is generally recommended, when transmitting, that the side of the radio not being used have the volume turned all the way down. Many of these radio sets will receive a second repeater while the operator is simultaneously talking on the one. In this case, if both repeaters are part of the BeachNet Repeater System, this can cause a circular path for the audio, which results in an echo, or very loud feedback.

If you receive a report that your signal is marginal, or hard to copy, try another BeachNet repeater. You could also try increasing your power or moving to a different location. Most of our users operate at "full power" all the time, as a rule. The hilly topography of our region will generally limit your range so that the extra power won't contribute to interference with others. As for moving, it can take as little as a quarter-wavelength change in position to make a profound difference in performance. At 2-meters, a quarter-wavelength is 18-inches, and at 440 MHz, only 6-inches, so even small movements can be significant. It is certainly possible to drive out of range of a repeater, but that usually means you are driving into the coverage footprint of another.

The placement of our repeaters was planned to provide as nearly complete coverage as possible, with substantial overlap, to best serve our users. This will require switching from one repeater to the next while traveling around the area. For example, starting south of Seaside, Oregon, and following Highway 101, north from the Cannon Beach junction with Oregon Highway 26, the attentive user would tune to the Megler 147.18 repeater. This would work well through Astoria, across the Megler Bridge, into Washington, and via either Highway 101, or WA SR401, to WA SR4 to Johnson's Landing (the 101/SR4 junction northwest of Naselle). Continuing north, the user would switch to the North Cove 145.310 repeater, which provides an excellent signal along this stretch of highway from across Willapa Bay. Switching the transmit CTCSS (PL) tone from 118.8 Hz to 114.8 Hz in this area may greatly improve the operation for some operators, by using the remote receiver for this repeater on 2000-foot high Radar Ridge, just outside of Naselle. Somewhere between the Palix River crossing/Bay Center turn off, and South Bend, the radio would again be switched to the South Bend 147.340 repeater. This would cover the journey northward to the Pacific/Grays Harbor County line. The change there would be to the Cosmopolis 145.390 repeater, which would work fine through the Aberdeen/Hoquiam area and northward. Once north of these cities, the next change would be to the Neilton 444.700 repeater, which would work well north to the Grays Harbor county limits. Studying the Coverage Map page can certainly be useful in setting up the memory channels in your radio, or planing a trip through our area.

Similarly, while moving around within our area, if you notice the repeater you are tuned to is beginning to sound scratchy or marginal, or the person you are in QSO with says you are becoming rough, step up or down though the BeachNet repeaters for one that comes in better. Chances are, that one will pick you up better as well. You did put the whole list of our repeaters into sequential slots in your radio's memory bank, right?!

It is possible to be "too close" to a repeater. Most of our repeaters are located on mountains. Many of the highways skirt the bases of these mountains, putting the bulk of the mountain itself in the path of your signal. The repeater antennas have gain, which is to say they tend to focus the signal strength at the horizon. That can have the effect of aiming most of the sensitivity over your head. If you are on a highway under the toe of a mountain, it is possible not to be able to work a repeater less than a quarter-mile away, due to these two factors. Often a repeater farther away, but in a favorable direction can offer better coverage.

An example of this would be Highway 8, near the McCleary turnoff, on the way north from Elma to Olympia, where the Olympia 444.950 repeater is barely two miles away, as the crow flies, and nearly a half-mile vertically above you, making it very marginal. The Minot 444.050 and Cosmopolis 145.390 repeaters both cover this area better from a distance.

There are also several remote receivers to augment coverage in certain problem areas. At least one of them requires changing your CTCSS (PL) tone to use. If you will be in an area where these are useful, learning how to access them can extend your coverage into otherwise marginal areas.

In the example discussed above, for the Naselle area, the North Cove 145.310 repeater is heard well, but can be marginal to get back into. Shifting your PL tone to 114.8 Hz (from the 118.8 Hz normally used) selects the remote receiver on Naselle Ridge at 2000-feet elevation, instead of the repeater receiver at 500-feet, several miles away and around a corner. Although not always better, in many areas this can be advantageous.

Even though our network was engineered for a typical Amateur mobile installation (50-watts VHF or 30-watts UHF with a 3-dB gain antenna at 1.5-meters above the ground), it's certainly possible to use our repeaters with just a hand-held radio, even inside a vehicle, but don't expect complete coverage or rave signal reports. At best, you may find reasonable coverage in the more populated areas, particularly if you can "see" the repeater site. Especially if you are using VHF (2-meters or the 222 MHz band), it's best to hold your radio against the car window, such that the antenna is against the glass. This places the antenna as close to "outside the vehicle" as possible without opening the window, which introduces a lot of wind noise. A vertically polarized signal at 2-meters cannot pass through a hole that is much smaller than 18-inches wide by 3-feet high. Most vehicle windows are not that large, so the radio signal has a hard time leaking out of the "metal box" of the cab. Holding the radio against the window can help this situation a lot. The best plan, of course, is to install an outside antenna on your vehicle, either permanently or using a magnet-mount, preferably in the middle of the roof, for best performance from your radio.

Timing is very important in a system like this one. There are a number of unavoidable delays built in. When you squeeze the Push-To-Talk switch on your radio, other Hams, elsewhere in the system, won't hear you for a bit over a second. It goes something like this...

When you key up, the repeater you are using waits while the CTCSS decoder decides whether your signal has the correct sub-audible access (PL) tone. This process typically takes 250 to 300 milliseconds (a quarter to a third of a second). Then, once the local repeater is satisfied that your signal is properly encoded, it turns on its transmitter, and keys the link to send your voice to the system linking hub. There, another 250-300 mS pass while that CTCSS decoder evaluates the incoming link signal for the correct PL tone. Once that decoder is satisfied, the hub transmitter comes on. The link receivers at all the other repeaters then check the CTCSS tone on the incoming link signal, taking yet another 200-300 mS to confirm the correct tone before turning on the remaining repeater transmitters in the network. In addition, there is a 200 mS audio time delay built into the link hub controller. At each step along the way, when a transmitter is keyed, it can take as much as 100 mS for it to come to full power and stabilize on frequency. So, when you squeeze the trigger, wait at least a full second, to a-second-and-a-half, before speaking, or your first few words will be cut off.

Courtesy tones are used on most repeater systems, and ours is no exception. The tone basically indicates that the time-out timer has been reset, and you can talk for up to three minutes before the controller will cut you off. In addition to this, different tones can be used to indicate that the system is in a particular state. When using our system, wait for the courtesy tone before transmitting so that if someone else wants to get in, they can.

During normal operation, the courtesy tone is a distinctive three-note tone. If you hear a "tic-toc" courtesy tone, it indicates that the power has been interrupted to the central controller on KO Peak, not terribly interesting to most users, but of interest to the Control Operators. This indicates the system clock needs to be reset for any of our automatic features to work properly. Our linking is changed to include other repeaters during various nets during the course of a typical week. Without the system clock set properly, none of that will work.

The system goes into "Night Mode" between 10:30 PM and 7:30 AM, with the voice announcements silenced and the courtesy tone becomes a Morse code letter "K", dah-di-dah.

We have a few night owls who leave the radio turned on (but down) all night, in case someone needs help. The Night Mode is in deference to these folks. You might be glad they have these habits, sometime when you are broken down in the middle of nowhere, and the cell phone doesn't work.

You may notice the controller announces the "outdoor temperature on KO" from time to time. It will normally be 7 or 8 degrees cooler than at sea level. If it is substantially warmer than sea level, then listen for signals from farther away than normal. The temperature being announced is at 3000-feet elevation, and if it is warmer than sea level, that indicates a temperature inversion, which promotes tropospheric ducting. This atmospheric phenomenon can cause VHF/UHF signals to become trapped in a layer close to the ground and travel great distances, usually supporting two-way communication. It is not uncommon to be able to work stations from 200-miles or more up or down the coast on simplex, or work into distant repeaters.

All users of the BeachNet System should be familiar with our Operating Policies. These are guidelines for acceptable use of our repeater network, that all users are expected to abide by.

If you have questions not answered by poking around our website, please ask a Control Operator. We want you to understand the system, and use it. That is the best way to become familiar with its strengths and limitations, the better to enjoy the system, and be prepared for an emergency situation, should one arise.

de NM7R


145.170 |  145.310 |  145.390 |  147.020 |  147.180 |  147.340 |  224.040 |  224.820 |  440.675 |  441.675 |  442.675 |  444.050 |  444.200 |  444.300 |  444.400 |  444.500 |  444.700 |  444.800 |  444.925 |  444.950

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This Page Last Updated: 07/30/19.