Be sure the frequency (or "channel") is "clear" before you
transmit. Think how you would like it if someone interrupted your
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 F.M. voice
channels. Using them during EVERY TRANSMISSION is really annoying.
Using the phrase "clear and monitoring" is not really necessary.
Neither term is required by the F.C.C. or anybody else. If you call another
amateur, using his/her callsign and yours, and that person does not answer, it
is not necessary to advise "clear." You have already identified
your station and any other identification is superfluous.
Recommendation: use "clear" only to mean that you are
shutting down operation and will not be there to answer any subsequent
calls. Under normal circumstances, when you are finished with a
contact but will continue listening, it is sufficient (and just
right!) to merely say your call sign.
Contrasting Recommendation: If you attempt to contact someone and there
is no answer, you can notify others that you are finished by saying,
"KF6xxx clear," or "no contact, this is KF6xxx clear
W6ABC repeater." This allows someone who may have been standing
by to go ahead and make his or her call.
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 s/he
is 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" repeaters and repeaters that are operated by small,
Using the term "for I.D." 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.
Recommendation: while talking, say your call sign once every ten
minutes. Don't say "For I.D., this is KF6xxx." Don't say
"For license preservation purposes, this is KF6xxx" more
than once or twice per year. Identify properly, but do not
Contrasting Recommendation: if you hear someone say "for
I.D.," they may be trying to gently remind you that 10 minutes
have passed and you should identify your station. Take the hint and
say your call sign the next time it is your turn to talk.
Long ago, F.C.C. 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.
Certain types of jargon are easily recognizable as being "CB" terms.
"What is your 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
Different repeaters 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
Touch-Tone (tm) pad at home, or that their home phone is busy so they can't make
the call for you.
If you have emergency traffic, say so immediately.
If you can help, please do.
If you cannot help, do not transmit.
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 his/her call, then your own. However, if your friend has a scanning radio or
listens to several radios, it is possible that he/she could miss your call. You
should call twice: say the other station's call twice, then your own. 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 [such-and-such]
repeater" to give them a hint as to which microphone to pick up or which
band to select.
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 will hear others saying
"73s" and "88s" (wrong!) You might even hear someone saying
[cringe!] "threes and eights and all those good numbers!" Yecch!
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.
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.
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
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 not listening anyway.
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.
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
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.