Tone Out Denies No One

Tone Board Option for Old Rigs

Tone Board Option for Old Rigs

It’s called Tone Encoded Squelch. Requiring it to get in the repeater has a downside. However, did you know you could keep the input open and still have a tone on the repeater output? If you don’t care, you probably won’t even know its there.


An open repeater not requiring a PL Tone (correctly known as CTCSS) is accessible by ham within range, even those using an old transceiver not capable tone encoded transmit.   The same repeater may implement a PL tone on the output. But, what will happen to people using those older rigs?


No One Gets Left Out


Individuals without a tone board or PL / CTCSS capable transceiver will still be able to use the repeater. If there is no tone requirement to get into the repeater, no individual will be denied access. The presence of PL on the output (when the repeater transmits) creates the “option” for users to utilize PL as a way to squelch out interference.


With a tone present on the repeater output, your radio will simply receive the transmission from the repeater as usual, and you will “probably” be blissfully unaware of the presence of the PL tone. There are instances where certain radios make it possible to hear a faint tone, but that is the exception, not the rule and it certainly does not impede any communication.

*I have an old Kenwood TR-7400A without a tone board, and I don’t hear the tone when listening to repeaters using PL on the output.   However, with that being said, I admittedly have poor hearing.


The Kenwood TR-7400A comes without a tone board, but an optional one was available.


Output Tone Ousts Interference


If you are a station with a transceiver capable of CTCSS squelch, then you will be able to use it and isolate the repeater you want to use from other transmissions that are not using the same tone, such as distant repeaters that become audible during periods of a band opening. Your radio squelch will only open for the desired repeater having the matching PL tone.  It is also a way to prevent your transceiver squelch from opening from other sources of noise (aka QRM.).



So it is really a feature that can be used, and perhaps should be utilized on every repeater with no real downside. Yes there are people that claim they are aware of the tone in the transmission, even though it is sub-audible by definition. In that event, the complaining party need only enable tone encoded squelch and thus eliminate what the individual perceives to be a completely intolerable slight whisper of a sound (so they can find something else trivial to complain about.)


In conclusion, don’t confuse “tone-in” with “tone-out.” Tone-in makes the repeater “exclusive,” while tone out keeps it “all-inclusive.” Tone-out provides an optional feature that repeater users may choose to utilize, ignore, or be blissfully unaware of.


-W0DBW  Derek Winterstien


related terms:  CTCSS/DCS/5Tone/2Tone/DTMF SET CTCSS / PL Tone