BAPA Meeting (5/12) Attachment

What is simplex and when do we use it:

Direct person-to-person.  TX and RX on same freq.

We can talk 100’s of miles – but only line-of-sight.


How and when to use repeaters:

·        Freq offset (usually 600 kHz may be + or -). In repeater lists you may simply see a + or – attached to the primary frequency.  Assume 600 kHz offset unless specified.

·        Tone squelch (CTCSS - Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System), also sometimes known as a “sub-audible tone”, PL (private line) tone, or even just “tone”

·        There are obviously far fewer repeater channels than simplex channels – so we don’t want to crowd them with our idle chit-chat.

·        Get repeater data here:

·        Store them in memory – don’t wait for emergencies.



·        No swearing - but insults and taunts are encouraged : )

·        No commercial use

·        Identify yourself at least once every 10 minutes by call sign

·        No broadcasting.  These radios are intended for person-to-person communication.  No radio shows.



How to get a license:

·        On-line practice tests: (you only need to pass the “Tech” level)

·        Find the next test in your area:

·        Ham Crams: I tend to see these listed by Jeff Greenbaum and others on his mailing list and the SFBAPG list.


Where to buy:


·        Ham Radio Outlet (HRO): (Oakland, Sunnyvale, and Danville) their prices are competitive (you can usually get a VX-170 equivalent for about $125


·        Amateur Electronic Supply ( in Las Vegas






Always program your radio to cut-out if stuck on transmit for 60 seconds or more.  We end up leaning on our buttons.  If there’s been radio traffic and you haven’t heard a peep from anyone in a long time – YOUR PTT button is stuck.  If it was someone else’s you’d know it.


Don’t use a VOX – they suck. 


Do use a helmet speaker and mic and PTT.  I prefer a finger PTT so I can respond instantly without having to reach for anything.  Some prefer a helmet mounted PTT switch to minimize wires.


You can make or buy a helmet speaker/mic/PTT setup.  I prefer to make my own.  Whether you make or buy, they will all fail eventually.


Even if you use a helmet setup, it’s important to keep the radio out of the wind (at least for the two common Yaesu models).  I have no idea why, but wind noise causes the mic gain to go extremely low.  The result is that the person on the other end doesn’t hear wind noise (when you’re using the helmet setup),  but they can just barely hear you.


If you don’t use a helmet setup (talking directly into the radio) it is very difficult to block out wind noise.  Some people have learned how to cup the radio just right to do it – but it always seems like more trouble than it’s worth to me.  It also takes much longer to respond if you have to grab your radio and position it very carefully.


2M-HT refers to our wavelength (2 meters) and the HT stands for “handy talky” but I prefer “handheld transceiver”


Most handhelds have a zillion features.  You don’t have to use them all. I do 99% of my talking on 147.405 simplex.


Use the “keyboard lock” feature.  This helps keep you from pressing all the buttons when the radio is in a pocket.  But none of them seem really complete.  Some radios have multiple keyboard lock modes.


I sometimes use repeaters for a radio check when setting up new helmets.


Don’t worry too much about transmitting on illegal frequencies.  Without modification, your radio won’t transmit on anything but legal ham frequencies.


Dual band radios are common – but I don’t see any need for them for our purposes.


They are 2m and 70 cm (144 Mhz and 440 Mhz).  Tri-band radios also use 220 Mhz.


USHPA frequencies:  151.625 MHz, 151.955 MHz, 151.505 MHz, 158.4 MHz, and 151.925 MHz.  Our radios won’t transmit on these frequencies without modification.  I believe it’s illegal to modify them to TX on USHPA freqs, but usually easy to do.


Call-sign lookup:  (by name or call-sign)




Make a simple cheat-sheetand stuff it in your gear (you’re welcome to use mine).  You won’t remember how to do anything but the most basic things when you need to. 


Make sure your cheat-sheet includes the directions to do a factory reset.  You may need it if you hit buttons and get the radio in a weird state.


Keep a list of your favorite frequencies and repeater settings.  You may need it if you have to do a factory reset.


Most everyone uses ham in the mountains.  Very few use them at the coast.  NO ONE ever uses a radio at the coast if they crash, get stuck, or injured.  Therefore, carrying a ham radio at the coast will give you a 100% guarantee you never land on the cliff, get injured, etc.


Different people have different habits and tolerances.  In general, people don’t want to hear a whole bunch of chattering when trying to thermal.  It’s more accepted at the coast, but try and be respectful.  If you’re going to give someone a site-intro and will be on the radio continuously – pick your own channel.


Two of the most common radios for HG and PG are the Yaesu VX-170 and VX-150.  The 150 is a bit smaller with a noticeably smaller display.  It’s also slightly less expensive.  But the 170 is waterproof.


These were replaced with the FT-250R (currently $135 w/free shipping) and the FT-270R (currently $140 w/free shipping)




Local Repeaters


(Local HG and PG pilots use 147.405)


+/- refers to the "transmit offset".


The offset is 600 khz


The bracketed number is the CTCSS tone required


For a complete list of repeaters:




145.230 (-) N6NFI/R (Palo Alto foothills) Stanford [100 Hz]


145.170 (-) K6GL/R (Sunnyvale) south Peninsula [94.8 Hz]


145.190 (-) WA2IBM/R (Santa Teresa hills) San Jose area [151.4 Hz]


145.270 (-) W6ASH/R (El Camino Hospital) south S.F. Peninsula [100 Hz]


145.310 (-) K6GRC/R (local mountain) south Bay area [127.3 Hz] *LINKED* 1285.65


145.390 (-) W6DYL/R (east San Jose hills) San Jose area [94.8 Hz]


145.450 (-) K6FB/R (Castle Rock Ridge) San Jose area [100 Hz] *LINKED* 442.575


146.115 (+) AA6BT/R (east San Jose hills) San Jose area [100 Hz] A.R.E.S.


146.205 (+) KC6LLI/R (San Jose area) San Jose area [103.5 Hz]


146.640 (-) WR6ABD (Loma Prieta) S.F./Monterey Bay areas [162.2 Hz] LPRC


146.655 (-) K6SA/R (Saratoga) Saratoga area [114.8 Hz]


146.760 (-) WB6OQS/R (Sierra Azul) S.F./Monterey Bay areas [151.4 Hz] *LINKED* 224.26 & 444.600


146.985 (-) W6UU/R (east San Jose hills) San Jose area [114.8 Hz]


147.120 (+) WR6AOK (San Lorenzo Valley) Santa Cruz Mtns. [94.8 Hz]


147.165 (+) KB6FEC/R (east San Jose hills) San Jose area [100 Hz] (subject to change)


147.300 (+) N6MPX/R (San Mateo) S.F. Bay area [100 Hz] *LINKED* 441.950


147.315 (+) WW6HP/R (Palo Alto hills) S.F. Bay area [151.4 Hz] *LINKED* 442.000


147.360 (+) W6TI/R (Black Mountain) S.F. Bay area [110.9 Hz]


147.390 (+) W6PIY/R (Good Sam.) San Jose area [151.4 Hz] [TX 151.4 Hz] *LINKED* 52.580 & 223.960


147.675 (-) W6TED/R ( -- ) -- area [162.2 Hz] off the air


147.825 (-) W6GGF/R (south county) Morgan Hill-Gilroy area [100 Hz]


147.855 (-) WA6TEM/R (east San Jose hills) San Jose area [100 Hz] ("Charlie.")




VX-170 Cheat Sheet




Select Memory or Frequency mode: 


  • Tap the "MR" button to go into "memory recall" mode
  • Tap the "VFO" button to go into frequency mode (VFO A or VFO B)




(Note: if you're in "memory tune" mode the VFO button won't work. First tap the "MR" button to go back into "Memory Recall" mode. “Memory tune" mode allows you to move "memory data" into VFO)




Storing stuff in memory:


  • Setup the channel in VFO mode (including tones, offsets, power...)
  • Press and hold the F key for 1 second
  • Tap F key a second time to store in next available memory slot
  • OR… you can select a different memory slot using the outer knob, then tap the F key to store).




To recall a memory:


  • Get into memory mode ("MR" button on lower left)
  • Select the memory with the outer knob




  • Type in the desired memory slot and then tap the F key




Setting Squelch level:


  • Tap the F key
  • Tap the "Moni" button (below the PTT)
  • Select the squelch level with the outer knob
  • Accept the setting by tapping the PTT button




Keyboard lock:


  • Tap the F key then tap the "6" key to toggle keyboard lock on and off




Note: the radio can be configured so the lock does or doesn’t affect various controls.




Setting power level:


  • Tap the F key, then tap the "3" key.
  • Turn the knob to select "Low", "Mid", or "High" power (0.5, 2, or 5 watts)
  • Tap the F key again to accept




Setting TX/RX offsets (repeater shifts):


This radio has “automatic repeater shifts” (in other words it knows what the repeater sub-bands are and uses the correct shift for a given frequency).  But you can override as follows):


    • Tap the F key then the “4” key


  • Turn the knob to set shift to +, -, or Off
  • Tap the PTT  button to save this setting

    Setting subaudible tones:

    • Tap the F key then the “1” key
    • Turn the knob to select Off, Tone, Tone-squelch, etc. (use Tone)
    • Tap the PTT  button to save this setting


    • Tap the F key then the “2” key
    • Turn the knob to select the desired subaudible tone
    • Tap the F key a second time to save the setting



    • Flashing "save" indicates battery saver mode
    • The "A" or "B" on top of the display indicates whether you're in VFO-A mode or VFO-B mode.  It looks like they're identical, but just lets you have 2 channels at the ready and lets you do wacky split mode repeater stuff.
    • If you have problems not covered by this cheat-sheet you may want to do a full factory reset:

    -          Press and hold in the MONI switch (just below the PTT switch) while turning the radio on.

    -          Rotate the DIAL knob to select “F4 ALLRST”

    -          Press the [F] key momentarily to complete the reset procedure.

    Note: it’s not a bad idea to include a list of your favorite frequencies and repeater settings in case you have to do a factory reset.