While roaming around the
upper part of the 40 meter Ham Band in the LSB MODE, I recently overheard
a conversation between a roundtable group. I listened for a few moments
and then heard one of the Hams who was most likely new to Ham Radio, ask
one of the others in the group to give him a signal report.
report he got back from the other station was, "You're 59". Silence
was heard for a few moments and then the "new" ham said, "I did not want
you to guess my age....how do you hear me?
The reply was again, "You're
59". "What do you mean?" The new Ham said.
Then another station
in the roundtable began a very lengthy dissertation to try to explain the
RST reporting method to him that no one could have
understood! He started talking about power levels, dB's, S
meters, propagation, antenna theory, brand names, receiver sensitivity and
on and on for a good five minutes! When the new ham started to ask
questions, another station spoke up and totally confused the situation
even more! Then another station started with his 'two cents" worth. After
a couple more questions with no clear answers......The new ham finally
said "I still don't understand how well you are hearing me.....I hear the
phone ringing....got to go!", and he signed off. He sounded very disgusted
to me when he left the air abruptly!
In my opinion, in answering
his question...."How do you hear me?"....it would have been much better in
this case to just say "loud and clear" since the new ham had obviously not
studied the RST system of signal reporting and none of the roundtable
station operators could explain RST to him in simple terms....they just
seemed to want to dazzle him with as much "info" as possible! It seemed to
me that they were trying to help in their own way, but did not want to
admit their lack of a "good" explaination. They could have suggested that
he study the RST reporting system on the internet or wherever he could
find the information.
To help the "New" hams and lots of you old
timers who know nothing about giving or receiving signal reports using the
RST method...read on!
THE RST REPORTING SYSTEM IN A
RST Reports: An RST report is a report
from a receiving station on the quality and strength of the transmitted
signal. Using shorthand in the form of numbers to represent the tone
of a CW signal or voice transmission of a transmitting station's signal at
the receiving station's location (QTH).
Here is what it
R Readability - Understanding what is said and how
well. On a scale of 1 to 5, the readability of your signal with a "5"
being perfect with no difficulty. In other words the ability of the other
operator to understand what you are saying. A "1" is unreadable....a "5"
is perfectly readable.
S Strength - On a scale of 1 to 9, indicates
how strong your stations signal is. A "1" is a very faint signal. A
"9" is an extremely strong signal.
Tone - Used for
morse code signal reports. Indicates on a scale of 1 to 9 the quality of
the tone of the morse code "dits and dahs". From a "60 cycle harsh
tone" a (1).... To a "very pure tone", a (9).
Example #1 A CW
REPORT: If you got a report of "599" on CW, it means the
The five means your signal is very easy to understand with
absolutely no difficulty. The first nine means your signal registers a
very strong reading on your S meter, usually 3/4 scale or more. The
second nine means your CW tone has a nice pure clear tone or
Example #2 A VOICE REPORT: If you get a 5 5 (sometimes said 5 by
5)....Your signal is perfectly readable with a fairly good signal
In some cases people may tell you: your signal is five
nine plus twenty dB... In this case the twenty db part indicates that your
signal is so strong that it goes off the standard 1 through 9 signal
strength S meter dial by twenty decibels as indicated on the meter
readout. (See note below)This would mean that you are putting out a REALLY
The RST System of Signal Reporting was
established roughly in 1934 as a quick method of reporting
Readability,Signal Strength and the Tone of CW. For voice contacts
only the "R" and "S" are used. The "S" component is usually not the same
as your S-Meter reading as most S-Meters aren't calibrated to
track the RST System. The RST is also reported on QSL Cards and must be
filled in correctly. For example a "569" report for a voice
contact is NOT valid. Note
that many DX operations and contest stations merely report "599" as a
convenience to avoid having to log each of the real reports. This is a
questionable practice but is used most of the time in
Would you give a 599 for a station you could
barely hear? Would you appreciate it if this was your report from someone
that could barely hear you? Be honest with your reports!
The RST report system
works well, can be used for troubleshooting problems with your station and
has been used by Hams worldwide for many years and also is used by the
military with slight modifications in their reporting of
There is a great deal of "averaging all factors"
when giving a signal report to another station.
There is a lot of
difference between a voice report of 59 and one of 52.....but the most
important thing to me would be readability! I have heard hundreds of
stations perfectly clear on voice and CW that were not moving the S Meter!
(Yes...it does work!) So their report might have been an R5, S1 or
2........to my ears!.....
Study this information below to help you
with giving out accurate reports.
to copy any or all of this information if it would be helpful to
R = READABILITY
1 -- Unreadable
2 -- Barely
readable, occasional words distinguishable
3 -- Readable with
4 -- Readable with practically no
5 -- Perfectly readable
S = SIGNAL
Faint signals, barely perceptible
2 -- Very weak signals
3 -- Weak
4 -- Fair signals
5 -- Fairly good signals
6 -- Good
7 -- Moderately strong signals
8 -- Strong signals
Extremely strong signals
T = TONE
1 -- Sixty cycle a.c. or less,
very rough and broad
2 -- Very rough a.c. , very harsh and broad
-- Rough a.c. tone, rectified but not filtered
4 -- Rough note, some
trace of filtering
5 -- Filtered rectified a.c. but strongly
6 -- Filtered tone, definite trace of ripple
7 -- Near pure tone, trace of ripple modulation
8 -- Near
perfect tone, slight trace of modulation
9 -- Perfect tone, no trace of
ripple or modulation of any kind
Hope this helps some of
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