• Amongst  radio operators we never  use  expressions like ‘mister’, ‘miss’ or ‘misses’.  Radio operators always  address one another with their first name.
  • In spoken as well as written language (including e-mails)  we always  greet  one another using the expression ‘ 73’. Do not use  incerely  and similar expressions.
  • ‘73’ means best  regards. Hence, do not say or write 73s  (seventy threes), best  73 or many  73s  etc. Just  ‘   73’ is correct.
  • If you used to be a CB operator, erase the CB language from your memory,  and learn the 11 meter  radio idioms which will help you integrate into the 11 meter  and ham  radio community.
  • On the air, use  the Q-code (see also Radio codes) correctly.
  • Use the Q-code sparsely during phone contacts.
  • Use the international spelling  alphabet correctly.  Avoid fantasies.
  • English is the number one international 11 meter  and ham  language on the air.
  • Eleven  meter  radio is an ideal tool to learn and practice new languages.


  • Becoming a good radio amateur starts by listening a lot.
  • Be careful,  not all you hear  on the bands are good examples. Old-timers  also commit errors
  • If you are active on the bands, be a good example on the air.


  • Never start  a transmission by calling your correspondent with his first name or nickname.
  • Identify yourself using your complete callsign,  not just the suffix! Identify frequently.


  • Never use  faul language, stay polite, courteous and gentle,  under  all circumstances.


A QSO is a contact by radio between two or more radio operators.

  • How do you start  a QSO?
  • By making a general call (calling CQ).
  • Or by answering someone’s CQ.
  • Which call comes first?
  • Correct  is: ‘12DK345 from 67DK890  ’( you are 67DK890,  and 12DK345  is the person you address).
  • First give the call of the person you address, followed by your own call.
  • How often should  you identify?
  • When you first come  on the air, and when you leave  th air, and in between every  5 (in some countries 10) minutes.
  • Good  operatings says you should  identify at each QSO.
  • A ‘pause’ or a ‘blank’
  • When your correspondent switches the transmission over to you, it is a good habit to wait a second before  starting  your transmission, in order to check  whether someone may want to join you, or use  the frequency.
  • Long versus short transmissions
  • Make short transmissions, this makes it much  easier for your correspondent if he wants  to comment on something you said.


  • In principle: about  the technique of radio communications
  • … in the broad  sense of the term.
  • Some subjects which are a no no  in amateur radio conversations on the air are:
  • Religion.
  • Politics.
  • Business (you can  talk about  your profession, but you cannot advertise for your business).
  • Derogatory remarks directed at any group (ethnic,  religious,  racial, sexual etc.).
  • ‘Bathroom humor’: if you wouldn’t tell the joke to your ten year  old child, don’t tell it on the radio.
  • Any subject that has  no relation whatsoever with the eleven meter  radio hobby


  • If you need to tune  your transmitter ® on a dummy load ® if need to do it on the antenna, only on a clear frequency!
  • Always start  by listening for a while.
  • Then  ask if the frequency is in use:  ‘is this frequency in use?’.
  • If you have  already listened for a while on an apparently clear frequency, why do you in addition have  to ask if the frequency is in use?
  • Because one station,  part of a QSO,  who is located in the skip zone  vs. your location, could be transmitting on the frequency. This means that you cannot hear  him (and he won’t hear  you) because he is too far for propagation via ground  wave and too close  for propagation via ionospheric reflection.  On the higher HF bands this usually means stations located a few hundred kilometres from you.
  • If you ask if the frequency is in use, his correspondent may hear  you and confirm. If you start  transmitting without asking,  chances are you will be causing QRM to at least  one of the stations onfrequency.
  • If it is in use, someone will probably  answer ‘yes’ or also ‘yes, thank  you for asking’.
  • If nobody  replies,  ask a second time if the frequency is in use.
  • If still no answer: call CQ…
  • ‘CQ from 12DK345,  12DK345  calling CQ, one two international radio three  four five calling
  • CQ and listening             ’. You can  also end by saying  ‘… calling CQ and standing by’.
  • Speak clearly and distinctly and pronounce all words correctly.
  • Give your call 2 to maximum  4 times during a CQ.
  • Use the international spelling  alphabet (for spelling  out your callsign) at least  once  during your CQ.
  • It’s better  to use  several consecutive short CQs rather  than  one long CQ.
  • Never end your CQ with ‘QRZ’. QRZ has  only 1 meaning: ‘who did call me?’…  Quite outof the question here.
  • Never end your CQ with ‘over’, you are not yet in contact with anyone, so there  is nobody yet you can  turn it ‘ over’  to.
  • –   If you call CQ and want to listen on another (than  your transmit)  frequency, always  end your CQ by indicating where  you will listen, e.g. ‘     …and listening 5 to 10 up’ or ‘…and listening on 27730 , etc.
  • If you specify a separate listening frequency, always  check  first if it is not yet in use!
  • If you want to contact long distance stations, call ‘CQ DX’.
  • What is DX?
  • On HF: stations outside your own continent, or of a country with very limited amateur radio activity (e.g. Mount Athos, Order of Malta etc. in Europe).
  • During a CQ you can  insist that you only want to work DX stations, as follows: ‘CQ DX, outside Europe, this is…
  • Always be obliging; maybe the local station  calling you after your CQ DX is a newcomer, and maybe you are a new country for him. Why not just give him a quick QSO?


  • Let us assume that you want to call 67DK890  with whom you have  a sked  (schedule, rendez-vous).
  • Here’s how you do this: ‘67DK890, 67DK890  this is 12DK345  calling on sked  and listening for you
  • If, despite your directive call someone else  calls you, remain  polite. Give him a quick report and say ‘               sorry, I have  a sked  with 67DK890…’.
  • 67DK890  answers your CQ: ‘12DK345 from 67DK890,  six seven international radio eight nine zero  is calling you and listening  ‘ or ‘12DK345 from
  • 67DK890,  six seven international radio eight nine zero  over
  • ’. Someone who answers your CQ can  obviously end his transmission with ‘over’ as he wants  to turn it over to you, who called CQ.
  • If you call a station  that has  called CQ (or QRZ), call that station  by giving his call not more than  once.  In most cases it’s better  not to give it at all; the operator knows his own call. In a contest you never  give the callsign of the station  you are calling.
  • ‘12DK345 from 67DK890  (be careful,  keep  the right sequence!), thanks for the call, I am receiving  you very well, readability  5 and strength 8 (usually  the indication on the S-meter on your receiver). My QTH is Asunción  and my name is Jorge (not my personal name, there  are no such  things as personal or impersonal names). How do you copy me?  12DK345  from 67DK890.  Over
  • -Using the word ‘over’ at the end of your over is recommended but not really a must.  A QSO consists of a number of transmissions or overs.  ‘  over’ stands for ‘   over to you
  • –   If signals are not very strong  and if the readability  is not perfect, you can  spell out your name etc. Example: ‘      My name is Jorge, spelled juliett, oscar, romeo, golf, echo…’ Do NOT say ‘ …juliett juliett, oscar oscar, romeo  romeo, golf golf, echo  echo
  • ’. This is not the way you spell the name Jorge.


  • In most rubber  stamp QSOs data  regarding equipment and antennas will be exchanged, sometimes complemented with weather data  (can  influence  propagation).
  • It is the station  that called CQ which takes the leading  role in the contact. In principle it is this station  which determines the subjects of the conversation. It is possible that he just wants  to exchange a report.  As a calling station,  do not impose anything.
  • What starts as a short rubber  stamp-like contact can  evolve into serious and lengthy technical conversations and even  into real friendships. 11 Meter and Amateur  Radio can  be a real bridge builder between communities, cultures and civilizations!
  • If you wish to QSL (exchange cards), mention  it: ‘Please QSL. I will send my card  to you and would appreciate your card  as well  ’. A QSL is a postcard sized  report confirming a QSO you made.
  • QSL cards may be mailed direct to the other  station.  Some stations only QSL via a QSL manager who handles the mail for him/her.  Details  of those can  be found on various  websites.
  • To wrap up a QSO: ‘…12DK345, this is 67DK890  signing with you and listening for any other  calls                                               ’, or if you intend  to go off the air ‘…and closing down the station
  • You may add the word ‘out’ at the end of your last transmission, indicating you are closing down, but it is seldom done. Do NOT say ‘  over and out’, because ‘ over’ means you switch over to your correspondent, and in this case there  is no longer a correspondent!
  • Typical SSB  QSO for the  beginner:
  • Is this frequency in use? This is 12DK345
  • Is this frequency in use? This is 12DK345
  • CQ CQ CQ from 12DK345  one two international radio three  four five calling CQ and listening
  • 12DK345  from 67DK890  six seven international radio eight nine zero  calling and standing by
  • 67DK890  from 12DK345,  good evening, thanks for your call, you are 59. My name is Roberto, I
  • spell Romeo
  • Oscar Bravo Echo  Romeo Tango  Oscar and my QTH is Montevideo. How copy?  67DK890  from
  • 12DK345.  Over.
  • 12DK345  from 67DK890,  good evening Roberto, I copy you very well, 57, readability  5 and strength 7. My ame  is Jorge, Juliette  Oscar Romeo Golf Echo,  and my QTH is near  Asunción. Back to you Roberto. 12DK345
  • from 67DK890.  Over.
  • 67DK890  from 12DK345,  thanks for the report Jorge. My working conditions are a 100 Watt transceiver with a dipole 10 meter  high. I would like to exchange QSL cards with you, and will send you my card  directly. Many thanks for this contact, 73 and see you soon  again,  I hope.
  • 67DK890  from 12DK345.
  • 12DK345  from 67DK890,  all copied  100%,  on this side I am using 10 Watt with an inverted-V antenna ith the apex  at 8 meters. I will also send you my QSL card  direct, Roberto. 73 and hope to meet  you again  soon.  12DK345
  • from 67DK890  clear with you.
  • 73 Jorge and see you soon  from 12DK345  now clear (…and  listening for any stations calling)


Contest: is the name for a radio communication competition between radio amateurs.

What  is contesting? It is the competitive side of ham  radio.

Why contesting?

  • -During a contest a radio amateur can  measure the competitive performance of his station  and antennas, as well as his performance as an operator.
  • -‘The proof of the pudding  is in the eating’. How to become a good contester? Through  lots of practice and participation in contests. Are there many contests?  There  are many  contests from different Clubs and Organisations during the year. The contest calendar: available on all 11 meter  radio sites.

What  do you  do in a contest?

  • -Make as many  QSO’s as you can.
  • -Work as many  multipliers as you can.
  • -In a given time frame (e.g. 4, 8, 12, 24, 36 or 48 hours).

What  makes a contest QSO? The exchange of calls, and most often a report and a so-called contest exchange (often a serial or progressive number).

Contest operating is all about  speed, efficiency and  accuracy. One is expected to say only and exactly hat’s strictly required. No time for formalities.


  • If you are new to contesting, it is advisable to first visit a contester during a contest. You can  also make  your first steps in contesting by participating e.g. in a field day with your local radio club.
  • For your first contest, start  by listening to see how the routine  contesters go about  it. Identify the right procedures to make  fast contacts. Be aware that not all that you will hear are good examples. A few examples of common errors  are discussed further on.
  • An example of a fully efficient contest CQ is: ‘12DK345 one two international radio three four five contest                                                                                ’
  • Always give your call twice, once  phonetically, unless you’re in a big pileup, in which case you give your call just once  and forget about  spelling  it out every  time.
  • Why is the word contest the last word in your contest CQ? Because by doing so, someone who happens to tune  across your frequency at the end of the CQ, knows there  is someone calling CQ contest on that frequency. Even  the word CQ is left out as it is ballast  and contains no added information.
  • The caller (67DK890)  should  call you by merely  giving his call once:  ‘six seven international radio eight nine zero
  • If you don’t reply to him, he will after 1 second, probably  call again  (1 time his call).
  • If you copy him, reply as follows: ‘67DK890 59001’ or even  faster  ‘67DK890 591’( if the rules permit the short number format). Do not add anything  else, it would only be ballast.
  • If you copied  only a partial call (e.g. 67DK8..):
  • Go back to him as follows: ‘67DK8 59001’.
  • Do not send ‘QRZ 67DK8’ or anything  like that.
  • Being a good operator, 67IDK890  will return to you with ‘67DK890 six seven international radio eight nine zero,  you are 59012
  • Never say ‘67DK890 please copy 59001’, nor ‘67DK890 copy 59001’ which is equally bad. The ‘  please copy’ or ‘copy’ contains no additional  information.


  • Being an experienced contester, 67DK890  will come  back as follows: ‘59012’.
  • If he had not copied  your report he would have  said ‘report again’ or ‘please again’.
  • Last step  of the contest QSO: ‘thanks 12DK345  contest’.  Three  parts  in this exchange: thanks = end of QSO,  12DK345  = identification,  contest = new CQ contest.
  • Never end your QSO with ‘QSL QRZ’. Why?
  • ‘QSL QRZ’ does not tell anything  about  your identity (call). And you want all passers-by that stumble across your frequency at the end of your QSO,  to know who you are and that you are calling CQ-contest.
  • Therefore, always  end with ‘thanks 12DK345  contest’ (or ‘QSL 12DK345  contest’)  or if you are very much  in a hurry ‘ 12DK345  contest’ (this may however lead to confusion and sounds less  friendly).
  • ‘QSL’ means: I confirm
  • Don’t say ‘QRZ’ because QRZ means ‘who called me’, unless there  were more stations calling you in the first place  when you picked out 67DK890.
  • It all boils down to being  fast, efficient, accurate and correct.
  • Most contest operators use  a contest logging program on PC.
  • Search and pounce QSO’s: looking around the band  for multipliers and stations not yet worked,  and call them.  How do you do that?
  • Make sure  you are exactly zero  beat  with the station  you want to work (watch the RIT!).
  • Just  give your call once.  Don’t call as follows: ‘13DK989 from 12DK345’; 13DK989  certainly knows his call, and knows you are calling him because you call on his frequency!
  • If he does not return to you within 1 second, call again  (1 time) etc.

Example of a contest QSO on phone:

  • one two delta kilo three  four five contest (CQ contest by 12DK345)
  • six seven delta kilo eight nine zero  (67DK890  answers)
  • 67DK890  five nine zero  zero  one (12DK345  gives a report to 67DK890)
  • five nine zero  zero  three  (67DK890  gives his report to 12DK345)
  • thanks 12DK345  contest (12DK345  finishes  the contact, identifies  and calls CQ contest)
  • During some of the larger international contests (CQWW, WPX, ARRL DX, CQ-160m contest –all of these in phone as well as in CW-), contest operators not always  fully live by the IARU Band Plan.  This happens almost  exclusively  on 160m and 40m, because of the restricted space on those bands.
  • It is nice however to see that during these contests many  thousand of hams intensively occupy  our bands, which is very positive  in view of our required band  occupation (use  them or lose them).
  • The temporary nuisances caused by this exceptional situation,  should  best  be approached with a positive  attitude.


  • ‘QRZ’ means ‘who called me?’.
  • The most classical use  of ‘QRZ’is after a CQ, when you were unable to copy the call(s) of the station(s) that called you.
  • ‘QRZ’ does not mean ‘who’s there?’.
  • If you want to know the call of a station  which has  not identified for some time, don’t say ‘ QRZ’ but ask ‘your call please ’ or ‘ please identify
  • ‘QRZ’ does not mean ‘is there  anyone on this frequency?’.
  • If you want to check  if a frequency is in use  just say ‘is this frequency in use?’.
  • ‘QRZ’ does not mean ‘please call me’.
  • We more and more frequently  hear  CQ calls ending  with ‘QRZ’. This makes no sense. How can  someone already have  been calling if you just finished  a CQ?
  • Even  more funny is to say ‘QRZ is this frequency in use?’ or ‘QRZ the frequency?’.
  • ‘QRZ’ in a pileup:
  • Incorrect: CQ 12DK345 …67DK890  you’re 59QSL QRZ 12DK345
  • Incorrect: CQ 12DK345…67DK890  you’re 59QSL QRZ
  • Correct: CQ12DK345…67DK890  you’re 59 QSL 12DK345


  • Have you properly adjusted your transmitter?
  • Is the microphone gain not set  too high?
  • Is the speech processing level not too high?  The background noise  level should  be at
  • least  25 dB down from your voice peak  level. This means that when you don’t speak, the output level of the transmitter must be at least  approximately 300 times lower than  the peak  power when you speak.
  • Ask a local radio operator to check  your transmission for splatter.
  • It is best  to check  the quality of the transmitted signal by using an oscilloscope which continuously monitors  the transmitted waveform.
  • Transmitting a ‘clean’ signal is a question of ethics.
  • If you  splatter, you  are  causing interference to other users of our  bands.