Starting a QSO
A directed call is where one
amateur calls another amateur individually, such as "N6XYZ from K6ABC". In such a
case, K6ABC is looking for one particular individual, N6XYZ. It generally is not an
invitation for anyone other than N6XYZ to return the call. If N6XYZ doesn't answer the
call, K6ABC may just clear off by saying "K6ABC clear", or may clear and listen for
other calls by saying "K6ABC clear and listening". The "and listening" or "and
monitoring" implies they are interested in hanging around to QSO with anyone else who
might be listening at that time. If the repeater is not in use, simply stating your
callsign followed by "listening" or "monitoring" implies that you are listening to the
repeater and are interested in having a QSO with anyone else. Calling CQ on a repeater is
generally not common, a simple "N3XYZ listening" will suffice. There is no need to
repeat the "listening" message over and over again as you might do when calling CQ on
HF. Once every several minutes should be more than sufficient, and if someone hasn't
answered after a few tries, it probably means there is nobody around. If someone is
listening and wants to QSO, they will answer back. Avoid things like "is anybody out
there" or "is there anybody around on frequency"; it sounds like a bad sci-fi movie or worse 11 METERS!
Joining a QSO in progress. If there is a conversation taking place which you would like
to join, simply state your callsign during the "hang time" after one user ends his/her transmission. This is the reason for having a
courtesy tone between transmissions: to allow other users to break into the conversation. One of the stations in
QSO, usually the station that was about to begin his transmission, will invite you to join,
either before making his own transmission.
You should not interrupt a QSO unless you have an emergency, need to make a call to another station or you have something to add to the topic at hand. Interrupting a conversion is no more polite on a
repeater than it is in person. If interrupting a QSO to make a call, break into the conversation during
the courtesy tone interval by saying "Call please, N6XYZ". One of the stations will allow
you to make your call. If the station you are calling returns your call, you should quickly move off frequency or pass traffic to them and relinquish the frequency back to the stations who were already in
QSO; don't get into a full QSO in the middle of someone else's conversation.
Roundtables and "Turning it Over". When more than two amateurs are in a QSO, it is
often referred to as a "roundtable" discussion. Such a QSO usually goes in order from
amateur A to amateur B to amateur C and eventually back to amateur A again to
complete the roundtable. To keep everyone on the same page, when any one amateur is
done making a transmission, they "turn it over" to the next station in sequence (or out of
sequence, if so desired). Without turning it over to a particular station when there are
multiple stations in the QSO, nobody knows who is supposed to go next, and there ends
up either being dead silence or several stations talking at once. At the end of a
transmission, turn it over to the next station by naming them or giving their callsign, such
as "...and that's that. Go ahead Joe." or "....and that's that. Go ahead XYZ." If it's been
close to 10 minutes, it's a good time to identify at the same time as well, such as "...and
that's that. N3XYZ, go ahead Joe."
ID's and Who's Who? By FCC regulations, you must always identify at 10 minute
intervals and at the end of a transmission. If you are making a test transmission or calling
another party, this is a one-way transmission. Since it has no "length" as there is no QSO
taking place, you should identify each time you make a call or a test transmission.
identifying yourself and another party (or parties), or when making a directed call, your
callsign goes LAST. "N6XYZ, K6ABC" means that K6ABC is calling N6XYZ, not the
other way around. There is no need to identify each time you make a transmission, only
once every 10 minutes. You do not need to identify the station with whom you are
speaking, only your own callsign, but it is generally polite to remember the call of the
other station. Avoid phonetics on FM unless there is a reason for using them, such as the
other station misunderstanding your callsign.
Demonstrations. From time to time, an amateur may want to demonstrate the
capabilities of amateur radio to another non-amateur. The typical way to do this is to ask
for a "demo" such as "N3XYZ for a demonstration." Anyone who is listening to the
repeater can answer them back. Usually telling the calling party your name, callsign, and
location is what they are looking for, not a lengthy conversation.
Signal Reports. If you are unsure how well you are making it into the repeater, DO NOT just key the microphone or "kerchunk" the repeater. Any time you key up the repeater, you should identify, even if you
are just testing to see if you are making the machine. "N6XYZ test" is sufficient. If you
need someone to verify that you are making the repeater OK, ask for a signal report such
as "N6XYZ, can someone give me a signal report?" "Radio check" is a term most often
used on CB, and a "signal report" is what most amateurs ask for.
Language. Aside from some of the techno-syncracies inherent in amateur vernacular, use
plain conversational English. The kind of English that would be suitable for prime-time
topic of conversation starts to draw strong debate, change the subject.
lingo whenever possible. CB has its own language style and so does amateur radio, but
the two are not the same. Amateurs have "names", not "personals". Although many new
hams have graduated from the CB ranks, let's try to keep CB lingo off the amateur bands.
When visiting a new repeater, take some time to monitor before jumping in to get a feel
for the type of traffic and operating mannerisms of that particular system. Listen before you talk is the "golden rule" of good operators everywhere.
Malicious Interference. If there is malicious interference, such as kerchunking, touchtones,
rude comments, etc. DO NOT ACKNOWLEDGE IT! Continue the QSO in a
normal fashion. If the interference gets to the level where it is impossible to carry on the
QSO, simply end the QSO as you normally would.
Power. Use the minimum power necessary to complete a QSO. However, the minimum
power necessary doesn't just mean you are barely tickling the repeater receiver squelch. If
someone says that you are noisy, increase power or relocate to improve your signal. Continuing to make transmissions after being told your
signal is noisy is inconsiderate to those listening. The amateur radio manufacturers
continue to come up with newer, smaller handheld radios, many with power levels well
under a watt. Many new amateurs start out with a handheld radio as their "first rig".
Although convenient, they aren't the most effective radios in terms of performance.
Without a good external antenna, operating a handheld radio indoors or inside a car is
going to result in a lot of bad signal reports.