The WIN System Guidelines

 Listed below are several pieces of information. 

 1.  Our Official Guidelines, or Rules.

 2.  Our Extended Rules.

 3.  Second-Level Guidelines

 4.  User Tips for FM Operating

 5.  Some WIN System Tips on Malicious Interference



1  WIN System Official Guidelines


Here are our WIN System Guidelines, or Rules.  There are basically three rules here on the WIN System:

  #1.  Please follow the Golden Rule meaning that you should treat others as you would like to be treated.

  #2.  Please do not talk about politics or religion on the WIN System.  Our experience has been that whenever these subjects, or any other controversial subject, is brought up on the air, it always polarizes whoever is listening.  By polarizing I mean that whatever the controversy is, there will always be those on your side, and those on the opposing side or sides.  That leads to differences of opinion or position on the matter, and that leads to polarizing, or folks taking sides on the issue(s).  And that always leads to someone being unhappy, and leaving.  There have been many, many repeater systems destroyed because folks left over talking about something controversial on the repeater.  So, the best way to avoid fragmenting the System is to simply not bring it up on the air in the first place.  Save those topics of conversation for when you are in person, face to face, and not on the air.

  #3.  Please don’t talk negatively about others, or other systems, on the WIN System.

 That’s it, for the rules anyway.

You might ask…    Why do we need rules at all for repeater conduct or etiquette?

 Answer:  We tend to assume that everyone knows the generally accepted rules.  But, that could be careless of us and unfair to those who want or need to have a clearer definition of our expectations and requirements.  It can also create discord when repeater users offend others by unknowingly breaking some unwritten rule.  Activities that may be an irritation, or even a flagrant violation, to one person might not be an issue at all to another.  It’s probably best for us to be clear about the rules we really think are important.

    We understand that everyone slips once in a while, no matter how hard they try.  But, we expect all user’s of the WIN System to do their very best to follow these few simple and obvious rules of repeater conduct.

    Correct operating procedure is a distinct characteristic of Amateur Radio.  It’s important that you convey to the public, and to new hams, the image that Amateur Radio Operators are courteous, patient, and really know what they’re doing.  A friendly style is great, but we also need to operate professionally.



2  WIN System Extended Rules

    Now, we will list some extended rules.  Amateur Radio regulations are largely self-enforced and we all need to work together towards these goals listed below:

  1.  Always identify according to the regulations.

    You must identify your station according to the FCC rules 1) at the end of each communication, and 2) at least every ten minutes during a communication.  We also request that before sending any DTMF commands, you must also identify your station, by announcing your call sign.

  2.  Avoid lengthy conversations

    Please limit conversations to 15 or 20 minutes.  Then take a good long break, or move to another frequency.  Other hams probably want to use the WIN System but might not be interested in the subject your group is discussing.   None of us should monopolize the WIN System, even unintentionally.

    It’s not enough to pause now and then and invite others to join in.  Others just may not be interested in the topic.  Be polite, and don’t be a “repeater hog.”

    In addition, great time and expense was put into adding the IRLP and Allstar functions on the WIN System.  In order for stations from across the world to check in from time to time, the System must be free.  If you are monopolizing the WIN System, these folks can’t get in.  Since these calls are unpredictable and random, you never know when they are coming in, so plenty of free time needs to be reserved to allow this function to work.  Since these calls can be from friends, acquaintances, members on vacation, and future friends, these calls are to be given a priority.  Think of them as company, and extend a strong welcome to them.

  3.  Do not engage in political soap boxing.

    Soap boxing, which goes hand-in-hand with overly long conversations, is when people carry on a conversation on the WIN System that is a thinly disguised ‘Broadcast.’  The subject is generally to “put down” an institution, group, or an individual for as wide as possible an audience.  Of course it can be to gain support for a cause, person, or group as well.  Both can be very objectionable to other WIN System users and listeners.  Using the WIN System as a platform for soap boxing is unacceptable.

    Conversations on the WIN System should be friendly ones.  Do not make them negative commentaries on institutions, groups, or people.  Avoid discussions on inappropriate subjects including politics, sex and religion!  Don’t use the repeaters to “put people down.”  Amateur Radio is not a broadcast medium – 97.113(5)(b).

    Are we talking about censorship?  No, not exactly.  A person may have the right to stand on the street and say bad things about someone.  They don’t have that same right when they are a guest in that person’s house.  When using the WIN System, you are a guest operator of its radio stations.  No one has any right to use the repeaters in ways that the WIN System management feels are objectionable.

  4.  CB Lingo and excessive phonetics.

    Amateur Radio operators find the sound of CB lingo worse than fingernails on a blackboard.  The main thing to remember is to just talk normally.  Talk just like you would to someone in person, face to face.  There’s nothing different about talking over the radio.  Using slang jargon just labels a person as an ex-CBer, or a CBer wannabe.  The use of "10-4", "Good Buddy", "the first personal is" and the like, have no place here.

    Also, please don’t use phonetics for every letter you need to say.  For example: “The name here is Hollingsworth, Hotel, Oscar, Lima, Lima, India, November, Golf, Sierra, Whiskey, Oscar, Romeo, Tango, Hotel, QSL?, the home QTH is in Manchester, Mike, Alpha, November…….”

    You are talking on an FM repeater, not a noisey station in Europe on 20 Meters.  Just talk normal.

  5.  Yield the frequency to a breaking station

    When attempting to break into a conversation on the repeater, please follow this procedure.  If you have an Emergency, interrupt the conversation by saying "BREAK - BREAK".  The talking stations should immediately recognize this as an Emergency, and turn the WIN System over to you.  If you just desire to join the conversation or make a comment, interrupt by simply giving your call sign, or say “comment” or “information.”

     Regardless, if you’re in a conversation, when a calling or breaking station interrupts, yield quickly since you never know if they have an emergency or not.

  6.  Our repeaters are “G-Rated” 24 hours a day.

    You never know who may be listening.  Even late at night, there are generally people listening to the WIN System, including non-hams.  This is important to understand for several reasons.

    a.    Our repeaters serve many purposes.  One of the most important is the exposure it gives the hobby to the community.  Any scanner can be used to listen to our repeaters.  That’s good – It’s actually the most visible aspect of our hobby.  It’s one of our most effective forms of publicity.

    b.    We want non-hams to know that Amateur Radio is an interesting hobby and a good group of people to get to know - something clean and educational - something they would want their kids to get involved in.  Kids may or may not listen late at night, but their parents do.

    c.    Think about CB.  The government tolerates the language on CB partly because they only use a few kilohertz of spectrum.  It’s not a huge waste.  Amateur Radio, on the other hand, uses a lot of valuable spectrum.  There needs to be a noticeable difference between Amateur Radio and CB.  Don’t let our activities on the air become a weapon in the hands of people who want to discredit us.  Let’s all do our part to give Amateur Radio a positive image.

    d.    We want any ham that listens to us to think of us as good operators, not idiots.  Any time we talk on the WIN System, we are ambassadors for the hobby.  Have you ever noticed how you like to listen to some repeaters, but sometimes you find a repeater that makes you roll your eyes and twist the knob?  We can keep or lose good people because of what they hear on our repeaters.

    Our rule is simple: absolutely no obscene, indecent or profane language at any time.

  7.  Do not cause intentional interference, to the repeater, or conversations on the repeater.

    What gives the WIN System the right to tell someone how to operate?

    All repeaters have rules.  These rules often go beyond Part 97.  And, users who refuse to comply with the repeater’s rules can be told to stop using the repeaters.  This is entirely at the judgment of the repeater trustees.

    Rule 97.205(e) says, “…Limiting the use of a repeater to only certain user stations is permissible.”  There are no qualifications – ifs, ands, or buts – to this rule.  This isn’t just the right to close a repeater.  Please operate in a professional manner and obey the rules.

  8.  Selling items OTHER than ham related equipment

    Obviously selling any ham equipment is allowed as long as it’s not done on a regular basis as a business.  But conversations advertising, or selling vehicles, toys, other non ham related equipment and discussing prices is absolutely unacceptable on the WIN System and will not be tolerated.



3  WIN System Second-Level Guidelines

Here are some second-level Guidelines that will help you in operating on the WIN System.

 1.  Remember the PAUSE  PAUSE  PAUSE procedure.  When first tuning in the WIN System, remember you may be dropping into a conversation in progress, so wait a reasonable time, like 30 seconds or so, before transmitting to avoid interrupting a conversation.
      Resist the temptation to break into a conversation unless invited or it is obviously open.
 It is rude to interrupt an in-person face-to-face conversation, and it is also rude to do on the radio too

  2.  Calling CQ may be a great way to solicit a contact on HF, but not on the WIN System.  Unlike the noisy conditions of HF, and the tuning required to hear other stations, we are channelized here on FM.  That means we are ALL listening to the same channel, and we will be able to hear your call, without the necessity of a CQ.  

    As an alternative, we recommend simply putting your call sign out there, with a statement that you’re looking for a contact.  Another very good way of getting a response is to ask for a WIN System demonstration.  We will usually then come back and identify our selves, with our name and location.

  3.  All Topics of conversation within the realm of "Good Amateur Practice" are encouraged.   Remember that you have an international audience here, thus your conversation will be heard worldwide.  If you are discussing IRLP operating procedures or practices, remember that node access and policies vary considerably based upon local requirements.  Do not ever say control codes over the air, even connect and disconnect codes.

  4.  When disconnecting from our 9100 Reflector, it is not necessary to announce that fact to everyone connected before you hit buttons.  In fact, a disconnect announcement can be disruptive if you are sneaking in between transmissions of a conversation you are otherwise not a part of.  Just bleep in your code and be gone.  You may announce your disconnection afterward if you care to, or our disconnect wav file that plays will do it for you.  If you are fortunate enough to have a full duplex control connection, it is actually completely silent if you disconnect on top of another transmission.



4  User Tips for FM Operating

  1.  Be sure the frequency (or "channel") is not busy before you transmit.  How would you like it if someone interrupted your conversation?  Please don’t interrupt an on-going conversation.

• User Tip: when you turn to a repeater or a simplex frequency, listen for at least thirty (30) seconds before transmitting. 

  2.  Be sure to learn the usage, protocol and/or policies of repeaters you are using.  Just because a repeater is "there" does not mean that you are welcome to switch to it and use it for long, extended rag-chews.  Some repeaters welcome newcomers, some do not.  A sensible person does not want to spend time where they are not welcome.  Even though your license allows you to operate on any frequency within the bounds of your license class, a wise amateur avoids "closed or private" repeaters, and repeaters that are operated by small, unfriendly groups.

• User Tip: listen to a repeater for a while before you make a decision to use it. You might even ask someone on the repeater if you are welcome to use it for occasional conversations. 

  3.  Using Q-signals too often is bad form.  Although Q-signals have a very valuable place in Amateur Radio, they are not universally accepted on FM voice channels.  Using them during EVERY TRANSMISSION is really annoying.

• User Tip: use Q-signals sparingly.  Once in a while.  Not very often.

  4.  Using the phrase "clear and monitoring" is not really necessary.  Neither term is required by the FCC or anybody else.  If you call another amateur, using their call sign and yours, and that person does not answer, it is not necessary to advise "clear and monitoring."  You have already identified your station and any other identification is superfluous.

• User Tip: Under normal circumstances, when you are finished with a contact but will continue listening, it is sufficient to merely say your call sign.  If you are shutting down operation and will not be there to answer any subsequent calls, then “clear’ is the appropriate sign-off. 

• User Tip #2: If you attempt to contact someone and there is no answer, you can notify others that you are finished by saying, "K6xxx clear," or "no contact, this is K6xxx clear the WIN System repeater."  This allows someone who may have been standing by to go ahead and make his or her call. 

  5.  Using the term "for ID" is not necessary.  There should be no reason to transmit your call sign other than to identify your station.  Identification is required every 10 minutes during a conversation, and at the end of a conversation or series of communications.  Conversations need not come to a halt while you identify.  "Stand by, everyone, while I say my call sign."  Simply say your call sign once within 10 minutes.

• User Tip: while talking, say your call sign once every ten minutes. Don't say "This is K6xxx for ID, or worse, for identification." Also, don't say "This is K6xxx for license preservation purposes."  Identify properly, but do not over-identify.

  6.  Long ago, FCC rules required mobile hams to not only say their call sign, but to say where they were operating, giving both the city and the call sign area.  You may hear some hams saying, "...mobile 6" or "...mobile 3" after their call sign.  This means that they are operating "mobile, in call sign area 6" or "mobile, in call sign area 3."  This is no longer required but it is sometimes good to know.  When leaving their home state, some hams will keep track of what call sign area they are in, and say, "...mobile 7," or "...mobile 1," or whatever.

• User Tip: it's not necessary, but it's not wrong. 

  7.  Certain types of jargon are easily recognizable as being "CB" terms.  "What is your first personal?" when you mean "what is your name?"  "I'm on the side," when you mean you are "listening" or "monitoring."  Although there is nothing "wrong" with CB, these terms are neither generally used nor appreciated on Amateur Radio frequencies.

• User Tip: avoid CB-style jargon and terms.  Generally speaking, plain English is better.  For example: "my name is Shorty, what is yours?" 

  8.  Different repeater groups handle emergency communications in different ways.  A general guideline is this: if you are on an unfamiliar repeater and you have emergency traffic, say so!  Example: "Can someone help me contact the Highway Patrol?" or "I need help contacting the Fire Department.  Asking "is anybody monitoring?" may sound like an attempt to start a casual conversation.  On many repeaters, you could be ignored.  However, if you state that you have emergency traffic, people on many repeaters will drop what they are doing to help you.  Note: if you are monitoring a repeater and someone asks for emergency assistance and you cannot help, BE SILENT!  There are few things stupider than someone breaking in to say that they would help except that they forgot the codes, or that they left their radio with the DTMF pad at home, or that their home phone is busy so they can't make the call for you.

• User Tips:

If you have emergency traffic, say so immediately.

If you can help, please do.

If you cannot help, do not transmit.

  9.  In this day of scanners, scanning mobile radios, scanning portable radios, dual-, triple- and quadruple band radios, and multiple radios in the car or shack, you could miss making contact with someone because your radio is scanning several channels or bands.  If you know that the person you are calling is sitting next to the radio waiting for you, you can make your call very simple: say their call, then your own.  However, if your friend has a scanning radio, or listens to several radios, it is very possible that they could miss your call.  You should call twice: say the other station's call twice, then your own call sign once.  Pause for a half-minute or so and try again.  It might also be a good idea to try again in 4 or 5 minutes, in case the called person's scanner was stopping on a long, drawn-out conversation.  And if you know that the called station is listening to more than one frequency, you can call and say "on The WIN System" to give them a hint as to which microphone to pick up or which band to select.

User Tip: call twice.

  10.  You may hear people using the term "73" meaning "best wishes."  There is no "s" in the salutation "73."  Other hams may use the term "88" meaning "love and kisses" typically used between husbands and wives.  These shortcuts were developed years ago as a way to communicate common thoughts quickly.  You may hear others saying "73s" and "88s" (wrong!)  You might even hear someone saying [cringe!] "threes and eights and all those good numbers!"  Yecch!

•User Tips: Proper usage would be similar to this:

Voice: "OK, Dan, seven-three and I will talk to you later. (pause) K6JSI."

Voice: "73 for now, K6JSI clear."

CW: "W2EOS de K6JSI CUL OM 73 SK."

CW: "N6xxx de K6xxx 73 88 SK."

  11.  There is no specific requirement for keeping logs of the use of your amateur radio station, except for International Third-party Traffic.  However, a good way to keep track of your communications is to use a Log Book, available at some amateur radio dealers.

• User Tip: One method is this: make an entry in the "date" column for each day you operate your station.  Each time you contact a "new" station, make entries for call sign, name, frequency, mode and any other information you think necessary or interesting. You probably have no need to make log entries for people you talk to every day, with the possible exception of logging emergency traffic that you may handle for others.

  12.  Sometimes while talking to another station, it is necessary to ask the other person to "stand by."  This may be caused by (a) a driving situation needing immediate attention to avert a crash, (b) a spouse or child walking into the "shack" with a message, (c) placing your order at a drive-up window, etc.  The proper response, when requested to "stand by," is silence.  Generally it will only take a moment and the other station will be back.  If you really feel it necessary to say something, then say, "[call sign] standing by."  If you respond to "stand by" with a long, drawn-out acknowledgement, it serves no purpose and the person asking you to "stand by" is probably not listening anyway. 

  13.  One of the most important things for new hams to learn is to "K-H-T."  That is "key, hesitate, talk."  You must consciously learn to push the microphone button, pause slightly, and then begin speaking.  If you push the button and speak simultaneously, the first word or the first part of a word may be cut off.  This does not facilitate effective communications.  Hopefully, if you learn to do it correctly from the first day, it will become subconscious and you will do it automatically.  If this is the case, you will earn the respect and admiration of your peers.  If not, you will be forever labeled as a sub-standard operator. 

  14.  Try to keep your language polite.  Profanity and discussions of bodily functions should be off limits - not because of government rules, but because it's the right thing to do.  Generally, other hams and their family members do not want to hear conversations that are not of the "G-rated" variety.

  15.  Keep in mind that when you are operating in a noisy environment, you do not have to be able to hear yourself talking.  There will be those instances where you are helping with emergency communications for a disaster, or communications support for a parade, or you are at an airport or other noisy place.  If you shout into the microphone loud enough to hear yourself, you are distorting the signal so badly that the person on the other end may not be able to hear or understand you.  Instead, practice speaking into the microphone in a normal tone.  It can be very difficult to operate under these conditions (loud background noise), but it is a skill that you would do well to learn. 



5  Some WIN System tips on Malicious Interference.

    The following ideas represent the WIN System methods regarding “Jammers” or Malicious Interference on the repeater.     Any amateur using the repeater is to abide by the scope of this policy, or risk becoming part of the problem, and therefore asked to refrain from using the repeater.

    In this hobby, each of us will deal with a certain problem sooner or later: Malicious Interference.  The perpetrator is often referred to as a “Jammer” or “QRMer” or much worse.  They have the potential to totally disrupt our communications.  The irony here is that, to a large degree, we empower them to do this.  If you don’t quite understand how this is possible, please read on.

    Let’s start by looking into a Jammer’s mindset.  Why do they cause Jamming?  I imagine that the reasons vary greatly.  Most likely it is a convenient way to vent frustrations that build up due to severe personal inadequacies.  Maybe it is a control issue.  Maybe it is a vindictive thing aimed at a certain person or group of people.  It could be some other pent up frustration or anger not really directed toward anyone or anything in particular.  These are probably the top reasons for all Jamming, although to understand the exact motivation is not critical to effectively deal with the problem.

    What does the Jammer want?  What do they need?  What do they expect?  I believe that these are the key questions that we need to consider.  The Jammer wants to know that they are being heard.  They need to know that they are being disruptive and effective.  They expect us to get angry and to show it.  Let’s look at these facts one at a time.  When a carrier appears on a frequency with bad noise or no audio, our first instinct, being the helpful sorts that we are, is to let them know they have a problem.  It could be a legitimate station, or it could be a Jammer testing out his setup.  Keep this concept in mind and make a determination before you comment.

    Sometimes this is a tricky call to make, and a wrong decision could cause problems either way.  On the one hand, if the station is legitimate with a problem, they need to know it.  On the other hand, if the station is malicious, they don’t need to be told that they are causing problems.  If it is a legitimate station with problems, they won’t be trying to cover anyone up.  They shouldn’t “double” with someone over and over.  The carrier will appear at the “right” times, however, it will have bad or no audio.

    If it is a Jammer, the carrier will appear at the “wrong” times.  It will be obvious that their timing is calculated to be disruptive.  The first well meaning, unknowing ham that says something like, “You have a good signal, but no audio,” provides valuable information for the Jammer.  The Jammer now knows that he has at least one person’s attention and that he can be heard.  So, what to do?  During a Net, the answer is easy.  Always let the Net Control Station make the call.  It’s part of their job.  During a round table discussion, the determination could be harder to make.  In a one to one conversation, it may be a little easier.  No matter what the situation, listen and think before you speak!  If you accidentally acknowledge a jammer at this stage of the game, all is not lost.  Your plan, however, has been compromised and your defenses have been weakened.

    Time will soon tell what you are truly dealing with.  Once the determination has been made that you are dealing with malicious interference, it is critical not to acknowledge any more of their transmissions.  What now?  Act.  Nothing less than your best Academy Award winning performance is called for here!  Even if the Jamming is so bad you didn’t hear the other station, act like you did!  Make something up if you have to.  One should develop a knack for this and be prepared to use it.  This will be very frustrating to a Jammer, and often causes the interference to cease quickly.  If the Jammer feels like they are not being very disruptive or effective, despite their best efforts, the excitement for them quickly fades.

    Remember, any comments about them, no matter how small or innocent, will reinforce their bad behavior.  Ignoring the Jammer will maintain our control, and have positive psychological effects for us.  Keeping control makes it easier to keep cool.  Keeping cool at all times, no matter what happens, is critical.  With the last two points in mind, this third point should never come into play.  The Jammer expects us to react to them in some big way.  The Jammer hopes to get a large response out of a large number of people.  Threats, promises, curses, remarks about their parents, etceteras are never justified.  They only add fuel to the fire.  If this Pandora’s Box is opened, it is hard to close it.  If you feel you must respond, TURN OFF YOUR RADIO!  This has proven to be a very efficient and effective method of dealing with a Jammer.  The more skills we develop to ignore the perpetrator, the quicker this technique works.  And it does work!  Every amateur on the frequency has to understand and play the game if this is to be effective.  Spread the word about this approach.  Operate with the mindset that any unidentifiable signal is possibly Jamming.  Think before you respond!

    Of course, these suggestions are only a first line of defense.  A good offensive plan should also be in place in case the Jamming continues in spite of our best efforts.  Direction finding, documentation, and old-fashioned detective work will help to remove the cloak of anonymity and build a case against the Jammer.  A pre-determined meeting place should be established so that any discussion on the subject will be held on another frequency or band, or ideally, on the telephone.  Never discuss the Jamming on the afflicted frequency.  Such offensive planning is very important, but it is outside the scope of this article.  Remember, the point here is to stop Jamming in its early stages and altogether prevent the need to go on the offensive.