Some 'on-air' procedural questions

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Some 'on-air' procedural questions

Postby NW7US » Tue May 12, 2009 1:36 am

Ok - I'm not exactly a 'beginner' but my knowledge of CW procedure appears to be different than that of the following quote (taken from the Wikipedia 'Q Signal' page):

Some of the common usages vary somewhat from their formal, official sense. QRL? is often sent to ask "Is this frequency in use (or busy)," though sending the Morse letter "C" (dah di dah dit) for "Clear?" is the traditional method used for doing this.

Is the above quoted procedure accurate? I always thought it would go as follows:

I send, "?" or "QRL?", and the answer, if the frequency is in use, is 'C'.

Which is more accurate and more accepted?

Thanks; I am planning on updating my CW page with the more accurate procedure.
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Postby W5ALT » Tue May 12, 2009 3:31 am

Tomas, I've never heard anyone send C? to ask if a frequency is busy. And if they did, I'm sure I wouldn't have had any idea what they meant!

I've always heard and done it just as you say: send QRL? and wait. If someone sends anything, then obviously it's busy. Sending C is the most common way to reply to a QRL?, though I've heard people reply with TNX or even a couple of dits. If no reply, repeat once or twice more before assuming the frequency is open.

73,
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Postby NW7US » Tue May 12, 2009 3:42 am

That is what I thought. I am going to fix the Wiki page, too.

... later ... Well, I have made the changes to the Wiki page. Added a bit about QRS, too.
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Postby N6EV » Tue May 12, 2009 7:52 am

I have to agree with the above. Never heard 'C' used to ask if the frequency was clear. Either QRL? or just ?.

I know it's a bit outside your original question, but one observation of poor operating practice that I am seeing more and more is the guys tuning up on a frequency, THEN asking if it's clear with a QRL? Obviously this practice is backwards and very poor.

So for those new to the hobby or CW.. as has been mentioned.. before you transmit.. L-I-S-T-E-N. Then if you don't hear anyone on frequency.. L-I-S-T-E-N some more! Then and only then send a quick QRL? or just ?. Here too.. one isn't enough. I QRL? twice typcially. or start with just a ?, the follow up a short time later if nothing heard with a full QRL?. Then after more listening.. give my call and tune or start a CQ. Sometimes just giving my call with a K afterward is enough to spark a QSO, especially if it's on one of the established frequencies we monitor.

One other tip I'd like to pass along is I send the QRL?'s with my filtering wide to hear all possible responses... then narrow down only after I've started CQing or have a response.

Good hams Listen more than they transmit! It's a shared resource.. we all need to be considerate to one another in how we use that resource.

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Postby KD4ICT » Sat May 23, 2009 1:23 am

I always thought the "C" was short for Si (spanish)[/i]

Dave KD4ICT
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Postby G0KZZ » Mon May 25, 2009 12:30 am

KD4ICT wrote:I always thought the "C" was short for Si (spanish)[/i]

Dave KD4ICT


I think you are correct there Dave. I read somewhere that "C" sent by itself means "Yes" (or maybe confirm?). I'll have to see if I can dig out the publication I read it in.

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Postby OE1AGB » Mon May 25, 2009 8:59 am

International Code Of Signals (INTERCO):
Signals for use where appropriate in all forms of transmission
C = confirm, affirmative, YES or "the significance of the previous group should be read in the affirmative"

INTERCO was established by the International Radiotelegraph Conference in Washington 1927 and since 1959 it is in the competence of IMO (International Maritime Organization)

Need more information?

vy 73,

Arnold OE1AGB
SKCC #301


I think you are correct there Dave. I read somewhere that "C" sent by itself means "Yes" (or maybe confirm?). I'll have to see if I can dig out the publication I read it in.

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Postby jerry-k5psh » Wed Jun 03, 2009 4:52 am

going out on a limb here--bear with me--if anyone knows for sure this is wrong help me out--

accepted practice today:
QRL? OR A SIMPLE ? is the correct way to ask if a freq is busy--

C (_._.) is accepted as meaning yes or confirm--

BUT!!!

during the day of king spark, with all it's attendant noise and raucus signal;
C(.. .) the LANDLINE MORSE character for the letter C was used as a quick way to ask about the freq--it was quick and probably saved eardrums in a crowded harbor situation--

i have used the .. . (landline)character C in past years while inquiring about a freq used by boatanchor friends--i have ceased doing so because few understand it's meaning--

again, not sure of my source, but i believe i saw this referenced in a CQ mag article from the late '70s--not many spark veterans left--any RR telegraphers on here that can help out??
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Re: Some 'on-air' procedural questions

Postby G0KZZ » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:43 pm

NW7US wrote:Ok - I'm not exactly a 'beginner' but my knowledge of CW procedure appears to be different than that of the following quote (taken from the Wikipedia 'Q Signal' page):

Some of the common usages vary somewhat from their formal, official sense. QRL? is often sent to ask "Is this frequency in use (or busy)," though sending the Morse letter "C" (dah di dah dit) for "Clear?" is the traditional method used for doing this.

Is the above quoted procedure accurate? I always thought it would go as follows:

I send, "?" or "QRL?", and the answer, if the frequency is in use, is 'C'.

Which is more accurate and more accepted?

Thanks; I am planning on updating my CW page with the more accurate procedure.


"C" is mentioned on a list here: http://www.kent-engineers.com/abbreviations.htm


Regards, Mark.
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To QRM or not QRM, hmmmm

Postby n1gke » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:09 am

Whatever happened to "Listen to the radio" ?
Whatever happened to"Listen to the frequency you intend to use.?

Why not use QRM ? instead because that is pretty much what everyone is doing by using QRL ?

It was an accepted practice in traffic circles to respond with "C" to the query "?"

Who started this QRL? business anyway. It should be replaced with the true "Q" signal, QRM ?

Way back when it was simply a couple of dits for the QRL? and a single dit for C or yes.

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Re: To QRM or not QRM, hmmmm

Postby G0KZZ » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:17 am

"Whatever happened to "Listen to the radio" ?
Whatever happened to"Listen to the frequency you intend to use.?"


Operators still do listen, but how long do you think someone should listen for? I have listened to frequencies for five minutes in some cases, then called QRL? and had someone reply with YES or IN USE or QRL.

"Why not use QRM ? instead because that is pretty much what everyone is doing by using QRL ?"

You could use QRM? but because every operator around the world seems to understand the meaning of QRL? as IS THIS FREQUECY IN USE? and because it has become standard practice, it would mean re-educated hundreds of thousands of CW operators.

Who started this QRL? business anyway. It should be replaced with the true "Q" signal, QRM ?

In the 1912 International Radiotelegraph Convention Regulations QRL was given to mean SHALL I SEND 20 ..._. FOR ADJUSTMENT? Obviously, when spark transmitters were phased out this Q code became obsolete or irrelevent, so it then became IS THIS FREQUENCY IN USE.

From as early as 1915 QST published (so I am lead to believe), suggested variants to the accepted Q code meanings of the day.

All that said, QRM? is still a valid code that you could use, but as mentioned above QRL? is the more generally accepted practice these days.

Way back when it was simply a couple of dits for the QRL? and a single dit for C or yes.

To quote from one source, "The original Q codes were created, circa 1909, by the British government as a "list of abbreviations... prepared for the use of British ships and coast stations licensed by the Postmaster-General". The Q codes facilitated communication between maritime radio operators speaking different languages, so they were soon adopted internationally."

International Morse Code was standardised at the International Telegraphy congress in Paris (1865), and later made the norm by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) as International Morse code. So by 1909 when the Q codes were created the characters in Morse would be the same as are used today.


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QRL?

Postby KF7ATL » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:27 am

Don't misunderstand when I ask this question. I'm not being a smart %**, I really want to know the answer.

What is the proper way to tune up with a manual antenna tuner? How do I sent "QRL?" before tuning up if I know that my SWR will be high?

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Re: QRL?

Postby W5ALT » Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:52 am

KF7ATL wrote:What is the proper way to tune up with a manual antenna tuner? How do I sent "QRL?" before tuning up if I know that my SWR will be high?


Hi Garth,

Well, the first thing to do it turn your power way down to the minimum needed to see what your reflected power might be and tune to a frequency where you can't hear any stations. Then with most antenna tuners you can peak the noise in your receiver and get in the right ball park of tuner settings so a prolonged adjustment isn't needed. Once you have the RX noise peaked, then TX on low power and tweak the settings, which should be fairly quick. You don't need a full scale power reading to see when your reflected power is minimum. Finally, increase the power and give a final quick tweak and you're done.

This has assumed a couple of things:

1) You don't have a tube type transmitter that needs to have the dip-peak current adjustments. If that's the case, then do the first step into a dummy load, so there should be no real QRMing.

2) This is the first time you are adjusting your tuner, rig, antenna combination, because once you find the tuner settings, you should write them down! The next time you can preset your tuner to the settings you wrote down and do a fast final tweak. If you find you can't just do a little tweak, then you need to check your system, because something changed in your antenna or feedline.

73,
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RE: Tuning up

Postby KF7ATL » Sat Jan 02, 2010 6:36 pm

Walt,

Thanks for the response. It was helpful. After I find the initial settings I will write them down to save time and avoid QRM.

Garth, KF7ATL

PS: I think I worked your station once, possibly during WES.
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Re: RE: Tuning up

Postby W5ALT » Sun Jan 03, 2010 7:17 am

KF7ATL wrote:PS: I think I worked your station once, possibly during WES.

Well, thanks for the QSO and I'll certainly look forward to more, Garth.

73,
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Re: QRL?

Postby NA7CS » Mon Jan 04, 2010 6:55 pm

KF7ATL wrote:What is the proper way to tune up with a manual antenna tuner? How do I sent "QRL?" before tuning up if I know that my SWR will be high?
Garth


Garth,

I use my antenna analyzer to adjust my antenna tuner for best SWR. From there, it is a couple seconds to tweek my boat anchor and I am on the air.

Even though I write down my settings, I (almost) always double check my SWR with the analyzer prior to transmitting. You never know when something has changed with the antenna/transmission line.
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O.T.? Continental (wired telegraph) and Int'l (radio) Morse

Postby aa9kh » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:16 pm

First, an on-topic response to Garth's question:
Use your receiver before your transmitter. With your manually-operated antenna tuner in-line and located near the generator (transmitter) end of your antenna system's feedline, use it, essentially, as an outboard pre-amplifier for your receiver. Listen to the background noise level or any weak signals you can hear. Tune the weak station for best received signal strength, utilizing your receiver's bar-graph, analogue "S" meter, or even your ears. Even if you are using a grossly improper antenna for the frequency you are interested in transmitting on, this technique will get you close enough to a proper match to allow you to transmit for a VERY short time (hopefully) without damaging your transmitter. Be sure to use the LOWEST RF power setting possible before setting your antenna tuner to its' final values, assuming it is manually operated. Also, an antenna tuner near the transmitter end of your antenna sytem's feedline will NOT change the performance of your antenna system at all. It is only a "feel good" device that will keep your transmitter from turning into a melted chunk of (formerly) semiconductor devices. Such a device's sole purpose is to allow the transmitter to operate into a load that matches, as closely as possible, it's designed output impedance.


Now for the silightly off-topic that seemed to follow other respondents:

Railroad telegraphers were, arguably, the first "users" of S.F.B. Morse's codes. I am not even certain I am giving credit to the correct chap, hee. I digress ...

As a teenager, I was privileged to know a gent named Harold West of Westype Printing formerly located near Chicago, IL. Mr. West had been a landline (wired) telegraph operator for the Chicago Tribune back when. I had only recently, at that time, become interested in SWL, ham radio, electronics, etc. On 40M CW out of the blue I heard a signal that confused me. Not TOO unusual (hee) but I chose to ask Mr. West about it and it is a technique that I still use. I heard what my (then) young ears interpreted as <I E>. Huh? Harold informed me, with a grin and laugh, that I must have been listening to a couple of OT's (Old Timer's). What I had copied was not the International Morse letters I and E with a dot spaced length of time between them but rather the old Continental Code letter <C> which is defined as the same code elements I had copied. This was a RR ops way of being certain that the line he was about to transmit on was Clear of any traffic. Indeed, the ops probably interpreted that signal they sent, in their mind, as <Clear?> without the formality of an interrogative signal (question mark). After 30+ years using Morse's International Code I sumtimes use a few shortcutz 2, hi.

To continue (sorry), if the line was in use when an op copied the <C> signal, the correct response was (Internationally-speaking, hee) <I I> which I believe corresponds to the Continental Code's letter <Y> possibly meaning a response in the affirmative and that the station questioning the availability of the line should stand by (QRX, <AS> sent as a pro-sign and one International Morse character, etc.)

The most important facet of communications is the same now as then: as long as both "ends of the circuit" know and understand what the meaning of any "shorthand", abbreviation, pro-sign and the like is, then everything is all right.

BTW, I generally follow my <I E> pro-sign with the more widely in use (these days) <QRL?> Also, one disturbing thing I have noticed of late. Whatever signal you use to check a frequency before sending CQ, <TEST>, etc., please ... Please ... take a second or two to listen for a response to your question. Yes, I know ... we live in a hurry-up world where all picoseconds of time are precious but spending a second to eliminate, or at least reduce, QRM is worth it, ne c'est pas?

CU in the ether.

73,
J
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Postby k8jd » Sat Oct 23, 2010 4:46 am

The best reason to send "??" or "QRL?" on a seemingly unoccupied frequency is the fact that on the higher bands You may not hear a staation that is in your state or region although the guy on the other end may be thousands of miles away and would hear your signal clobbering your neighbor in the next county when you started tuning or sending a "CQ" !
Maybe this does not app[ly where you hear everyone, like on 160 or 80M.
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QRL?

Postby k8jd » Wed Feb 23, 2011 11:54 pm

Getting back to the QRL? issue, the use of QRL has come around rather recently in my radio operating career.
When I was a new operator we just sent "??" on a freq to see if anyone was standing by there.
When I had a novice license we had a few Xtal frequencies to use and if they were busy we just had to sit and "read the mail" until the station there went QRT.
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