GOOD OPERATING AND DX
PROCEDURES FOR HAM RADIO OPERATORS NEW
TO HF! 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
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
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.
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
Suggestions and widely used procedures for the "Newbie" on
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
Probably the most important thing you need to
remember when transmitting is: ID! Transmit your call sign
Rules and Regulations Part 97 Sec. 97.119
(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)
DON'T GIVE YOUR CALL SIGN AND THEN SAY, "FOR
ID"!!!! YOUR CALL SIGN IS
YOUR ID! OTHER HAMS KNOW THIS AND YOU DO NOT NEED TO DEFINE
WHAT YOUR CALL SIGN WAS FOR!
1. LISTEN, LISTEN,
LISTEN! 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
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
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
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
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
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
Alpha (AL fah)
November (no VEM ber)
Bravo (BRAH VOH)
Oscar (OSS cah)
Charlie (CHAR lee)
Papa (pah PAH)
Delta (DELL tah)
Quebec (keh BECK)
Echo (ECK oh)
Romeo (ROW me oh)
Foxtrot (FOKS trot)
Sierra (see AIR rah)
Tango (TANG go)
Hotel (hoh TELL)
Uniform (YOU nee form)
India (IN dee ah)
Victor (VIK tah)
Juliet (JEW lee ETT)
Whiskey (WISS key)
Kilo (KEY loh)
X Ray (ECKS RAY)
Lima (LEE mah)
Yankee (YANG key)
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, ECKS
RAY NINE er EXKS 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
AMATEUR'S CODE (Creed)" 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.
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.
abreast of science, a well-built and efficient station and operation above
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.
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
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.
Code of Conduct is a reminder of the high ideals of which we are all
We invite you, your national society, your DX Club,
and your friends to join in.
Use, and publicize this
Please feel free to
copy and distribute with or without the explanations!
DX Code of
Conduct (With simple
explanations for a better understanding by
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
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!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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".
your ham bands and WELCOME TO HF!
Scan Police, Fire, Rescue,
Ham Radio, Aircraft, Ships, and much more!
Advertisement! The MFJ-259B gives you a complete picture of your
antenna's performance anywhere between 1.8~170MHz, even outside
the HAM bands! Get More Info From MCM