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Good reading for us old timers in Ham Radio too!
by N4UJW, Hamuniverse.com

Getting on the HF bands for the first time is one of the most exciting times for anyone that holds an Amateur Radio Operator license, especially for the ham operators who are brand new to HF or will soon be getting on HF with the new "HF" privileges using voice on 10 meters and CW privileges on 80, 40, 15, and 10 meters.
This article is especially written and tailored for the new operators using their newly earned privileges authorized by the FCC on February 23, 2007 on 10 meter voice
and newly upgrading General class hams.

Exciting Times Ahead and What to Expect!

For me, earning the privilege of HF operating was......well beyond words to describe!
But here are two or three that will help you!

Normal and DX Operating on HF is very different from the 2 meter, 6 meter, 440 and bands higher.
You won't be using repeaters on HF like on 2 meters and the other bands you are accustomed to if you are a Technician class ham. General class hams have this privilege on the upper end of 10 meters! You will strictly be in direct contact with the station on the other end, much like simplex on 2 meters. Your contact may be on the other side of the town you live in or on the other side of the world or in between using HF frequencies.

Depending on the time of day, propagation, the band you have selected, the mode you're using, and many other variables, your contacts may be "loud and clear" or almost down in the noise.
You will have to accept major interference from Mother Nature's lightning crashes, solar storms, power line and other man made device noise and sometimes just too many stations on or near your frequency.

The HF ham bands can be very CROWDED especially during contests and DX'ing!
Let's face it, worldwide, there are several million Amateur Radio Operators using the same bands and modes and most probably, the same frequencies although they may not hear all of the other stations on the frequency. This is just the nature of propagation, antennas, differences in power levels and other variables.

HF ham radio operating can be a challenging adventure at times when all of those variables are working against you so don't expect crystal clear FM quality as if your operating on a repeater on the 2 meter ham band all of the time.  It's kind of like going fishing, sometimes you have a great catch with strong signals, and other times, not a nibble!
Don't give up, you will make contacts!

Helpful Suggestions and widely used procedures for the "Newbie" on HF

If you're new to Ham radio, you need to know that ham bands have "Official Observers"
listening on all bands!
They are ham radio operators just like you and I.
You could be communicating with one and never know it.
Their responsibility is to observe infractions of the Part 97 rules and regulations and to inform you of these infractions and if you continue, report them to the proper authority, the FCC.
Don't give them a chance to complete their responsibilities!
They really don't want to.....but they will and do all the time!

Probably the most important thing you need to remember when transmitting is:
Transmit your call sign CLEARLY!
FCC Rules and Regulations Part 97
Sec. 97.119  Station identification.

    (a) Each amateur station, except a space station or telecommand
station, must transmit its assigned call sign on its transmitting
channel at the end of each communication, and at least every 10 minutes
during a communication, for the purpose of clearly making the source of
the transmissions from the station known to those receiving the
transmissions. No station may transmit unidentified communications or
signals, or transmit as the station call sign, any call sign not
authorized to the station. (SOURCE PART 97)


Hey...wait a minute...I thought ham radio was about "talking"!
It is....but you will be surprised at how much you can learn about operating and ham radio by just listening around the ham bands! You always listen first to make certain the frequency is not busy before you transmit.
If you're bored with that video game, the internet or whatever,
get on any active ham band and tune around until you hear an interesting conversation. Listen to the conversation and try to pick out ham terms, topics or phrases you don't know the meaning of......then, if your privileges, (and your station equipment), allow you to transmit on that band and frequency....wait for a pause between their transmissions and throw in your callsign.....most operators will acknowledge you and welcome you into the conversation....ask them to help you understand what they were talking about or point you in the right direction to learn more. Don't be bashful, tell them you are new to HF and would certainly appreciate their help!
Most will welcome you!

2. Be Patient
Making a contact to get any station to call you on HF usually requires that you use the term "CQ" repeated at least 3 times in a row along with your call sign on the end and waiting for a reply...if none...repeat it over again....then try the third time and hope for an answer to your call.
If still none, don't get discouraged!

If you have called CQ a multitude of times and still get no answer, try to figure out why....is it our old friend/enemy propagation, your equipment, your antenna type or setup? Do you have power out to the antenna? How do you know? Do you show output on the power meter. How is the SWR?

Check your complete station setup including all controls, functions, cables, etc....is your antenna still up! Contact a local ham on the phone or via email and set up a time and frequency to check out your station on the air.
If your trying to make a contact, any contact, on 10 meters or any other hf band for that matter and can't, then chances are that propagation is against you.

3. Using phonetics on HF

One of the major causes for voice communication errors is the misunderstanding of the spoken word on HF especially when operating under noisy conditions. Using the SSB mode under the assumption that it is a high fidelity mode like FM will surely disappoint you.There are many "accents" to the human voice and being in the sideband mode causes some words at times to be very unclear if the sending station is having technical problems with his microphone or audio circuits in his transceiver or you are operating under high noise levels.

If the other station's audio is extremely distorted, tell him so. He may have his mic gain cranked wide open, compressor full blast or a combination of both causing the background noise in his shack to be as loud as his voice! 
Or his mic may be causing the problem and he may not know it.
Again, let him know that you think he has a problem with his audio.

Ask him to talk "across" his mic with it held close to his mouth rather than directly into it. You will be surprised at how much clearer his voice may sound, and yours, to others using this technique.

Most stock microphones that come with transceivers are designed for "close talking" and not held a foot away! Always try to use the "close talking" and "across" when using voice modes.

Even under the best of conditions, SSB communications can sometimes be hard to understand and if you have a hearing problem, even more so,

.....Enter Phonetics!
Definition: Phonetics - The study of speech sounds.

The Phonetic Alphabet is used to spell out letters in place of just saying the letter itself. By using a word for each letter there is less chance that the person listening will confuse letters. For instance, some letters that can easily be confused are "D" and "B". Using the phonetic alphabet, "Delta" and "Bravo" can be easily understood. The phonetic alphabet is used primarily in two-way radio communications. The effects of noise, weak signals, distorted audio, and radio operator accent are reduced through use of the phonetic alphabet. This system of pronouncing letters is used around the world by maritime units, aircraft, amateur radio operators and the military. This alphabet is recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization, Federal Aviation Administration, International Telecommunication Union and NATO as the standard for aircraft communications and radio communications.

Many words with certain letters in them or the beginning of them sound much alike when spoken in the presence of noise, and there is plenty of it on HF.
Some examples:
thunder - sounds like under, lightning - sounds like heightening, many -  sounds like any, rig - sounds like re, Yaesu - may sound like hayzou, seven like heaven or eleven, eight like hate or ate and on and on.
Using phonetics can help tremendously in the understanding of the more difficult sounding words, numbers, etc.
It would be hard not to understand my call sign, N4UJW, using phonetics like.....
November 4 Uniform Juliet Whiskey!

Here is the Phonetic alphabet and numbers as used in Ham Radio

Letter Pronunciation Letter Pronunciation Number Pronunciation
A Alpha (AL fah) N November (no VEM ber) 0 ZEE row
B Bravo (BRAH VOH) O Oscar (OSS cah) 1 WUN
C Charlie (CHAR lee) P Papa (pah PAH) 2 TOO
D Delta (DELL tah) Q Quebec (keh BECK) 3 TREE
E Echo (ECK oh) R Romeo (ROW me oh) 4 FOW er
F Foxtrot (FOKS trot) S Sierra (see AIR rah) 5 FIFE
G Golf (GOLF) T Tango (TANG go) 6 SIX
H Hotel (hoh TELL) U Uniform (YOU nee form) 7 SEVEN
I India (IN dee ah) V Victor (VIK tah) 8 AIT
J Juliet (JEW lee ETT) W Whiskey (WISS key) 9 NINE er
K Kilo (KEY loh) X X Ray (ECKS RAY)
L Lima (LEE mah) Y Yankee (YANG key)
M Mike (MIKE) Z Zulu (ZOO loo)

Note: The syllables printed in capital letters are to be stressed as in the letter "A" , Alpha (AL fah)

Call signs are routinely spelled using phonetics so there is no misunderstanding.
For instance, the call sign X9XX would be pronounced,
X RAY    NINE er    X RAY   X RAY

Memorize the table above....you will use it often.
If you have difficulty memorizing, then just use a very similar phonetic in it's place....
but please try to memorize the standard phonetics above!
They are used by most hams worldwide. Please refrain from making up your own,
this gets very confusing with thousands of different phonetics on the air.

4. The RST Reporting System
(Learn how to give a signal report)

5.Prosigns, Q Signals and CW Abbreviations

6. Good Operating Practices and Procedures on Ham Radio
An Article by Tim, AJ4D

7. FCC Rules Part 97 Know them. This is required by all hams in the U.S.

Common Sense Rules for All of Us Worldwide!
The "Amateur's Code" has worked for almost 100 years and works well when used by every ham!

The Radio Amateur is:

CONSIDERATE...never knowingly operates in such a way as to lessen the pleasure of others.

LOYAL...offers loyalty, encouragement and support to other amateurs, local clubs, and the American Radio Relay League, through which Amateur Radio in the United States is represented nationally and internationally.

PROGRESSIVE...with knowledge abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above reproach.

FRIENDLY...slow and patient operating when requested; friendly advice and counsel to the beginner; kindly assistance, cooperation and consideration for the interests of others. These are the hallmarks of the amateur spirit.

BALANCED...radio is an avocation, never interfering with duties owed to family, job, school or community.

PATRIOTIC...station and skill always ready for service to country and community.

The original Amateur's Code above was written by
Paul M. Segal, W9EEA, in 1928 and has had minor word changes since then,
but the meaning remains the same.


Used courtesy of DX-Code.org

It is no secret that the on-the-air behavior of hams, especially in pileups, has gotten worse in the last few years. Unpleasant, uncivil, impolite behavior of our fellow hams reduces the enjoyment of our hobby.

It does not have to be that way nor should it be. Impolite behavior is counter-productive and simply inconsistent with the aim of our hobby, to have fun.

Just as we work to improve our technical skills, we should all aspire to hold ourselves to the highest ethical operating standards.

This DX Code of Conduct is a reminder of the high ideals of which we are all capable.

We invite you, your national society, your DX Club, and your friends to join in.

Use, and publicize this effort.
Please feel free to copy and distribute with or without the explanations!

DX Code of Conduct
(With simple explanations for a better understanding by some)

1. I will listen, and listen, and then listen some more.
Try to refrain from transmitting when you hear another station. Your voice may be among thousands heard at the same time by the DX station. Wait for a pause when you believe the frequency is clear and then try.

2. I will only call if I can copy the DX station properly.
Did you copy his call as, XE5JU or was is XE5KU? If you did not hear him clearly, then saying the wrong call sign may not get you the contact without taking up lots of time from others who did copy his call correctly! Listen!

3. I will not trust the cluster and will be sure of the DX station's call sign before calling.
Many DX clusters have wrong or outdated information.... depend only on what you hear from the DX station on the air!

4. I will not interfere with the DX station nor anyone calling him and will never tune up on the DX frequency or in the QSX slot.
This could be considered as intentional and malicious interference. If you must tuneup on the air, find a quite frequency nearby....remember, listen, listen, listen before you transmit! Make sure you ID!
QSX: Commonly used on the DX Packet Clusters to indicate where the DX station was listening or contacted during a split operation.

5. I will wait for the DX station to end a contact before I call him.
Again, listen, listen and wait for him to receive more calls. He will let everyone know he is "ready" for contacts. Most DX stations simply say....."QRZ" when they are ready.

6. I will always send my full call sign.
Does this need an explanation? The DX operator may call for stations by their prefix or suffix, but make sure you identify legally with your full call when it comes time.

7. I will call and then listen for a reasonable interval. I will not call continuously.
The DX operator may be very busy recording log entries and attempting to pull out single calls from hundreds of stations calling  him, so give him plenty of time to respond to your call sent only once. Of course you can keep trying, but give others a chance also. Use good common sense!

8. I will not transmit when the DX operator calls another call sign, not mine.
You may be interfering with the transmissions which is illegal! Don't take that chance! Don't intentionally "double" with any station.

9. I will not transmit when the DX operator queries a call sign not like mine.
He, the DX station, was unsure of the exact call he heard but only part of it. So if your call or part of it is not like what he is looking for, don't transmit!

10. I will not transmit when the DX station calls other geographic areas other than mine.
The DX station is looking only for other countries, not yours. Don't add to the confusion by transmitting! If he wants your country contacts he will say so!

11. When the DX operator calls me, I will not repeat my call sign unless I think he has copied it incorrectly.
This is a time saving measure for both him, you and the other stations that want to contact him.

12. I will be thankful if and when I do make a contact.
You should be not only thankful, but proud of your DX techniques and your station performance when making contacts outside your countries boundries!

13. I will respect my fellow hams and conduct myself so as to earn their respect.
Follow all of the above in the DX Code of Conduct, use good common courtesy and you will have made the experience much better for all concerned.

What You Can Do to Improve DXEtiquette
Click here to find out!

Learn More about SSB - Single Side Band - What it is and how it works!


When you follow these helpful suggestions, procedures and tips above, your enjoyment and the enjoyment of other Amateur radio operators worldwide will certainly be enhanced and you will be known as a good operator and not a "LID".

Enjoy your ham bands and WELCOME TO HF!


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