What information do I actually ''program'' into my radio, and why?
So, you have your first radio. Congratulations! But now, how to get on the air?
Most likely you'll be starting with repeaters. Here are 4 the basic things you need to program into your radio in order to get on a repeater:
- The frequency the repeater actually transmits on (Example: 146.96 MHz). This is also called the repeater's output frequency.
- The offset from that frequency, that your radio adds or subtracts to the repeater's output frequency, that your radio will transmit on, so that the repeater will "hear" it (Ex: 0.600 MHz for 2M and 5 MHz for 440)
- The sub-audible tone that the repeater needs to accept on your signal (Ex: 103.5 Hz). This is often referred to as a PL tone (technically a Motorola trademark), though your radio's manual probably calls it "CTCSS" (the generic name).
- The output power setting you want your radio to use (usually Low Power is best). This setting is not, strictly speaking, a repeater requirement. You need enough power to be heard clearly, but you should keep it as low as practical.
These steps can be performed manually using your radio's keypad but many operators choose to use software to load many repeaters at once. The Chirp software is a free program that can help.