Operating techniques


Recommendations for CW operating

Q codes and abbreviations
A document describing the Q codes has been written by our member Urs HB9ABO. HB9ABO on Q codes. Further, here is a list of Q codes that any radio amateur can edit to suit his or her needs and place in their shack:  Q codes (German)    Q codes (English)
The lists with abbreviations sorted alphabetically A-Z  are mostly used when listening to a radio contact, whereas abbreviations sorted by topic are mostly used when conducting a normal QSO.

Calling DX and contest stations in simplex operation        
Always send your callsign just once and never twice in a row!
Recommendation: Listen especially carefully between the individual characters, if possible with full break-in!
Listen and listen again, otherwise chaos reigns.
Send directly with your key, if possible do not use automated CW transmission aid.
DX stations heard in split operation
Do not send a single dot or dash on the DX station's frequency – nothing at all! 
Don't play the role of a policeman on the air. No reprimands!
Stay calm, avoid becoming overly emotional. Listen, observe and wait for the right moment (activity, frequency, propagation).

Wie verhalten wir uns bei DX Stationen?

wie verhalten wir uns während einem Contest? Emblem)           

Don't send any instructions/criticism to DX stations and portable stations
Keep in mind that you can't be aware of their situation and conditions on site. Every operator often has a variety of tasks to complete.
<QSY 80m?>, <pse EU>, <pse QRS> are unnecessary and mostly egoistic requests.
Never ask DX or portable stations to QRS! You should be able to copy your own call at any speed, and other information is seldom exchanged. Don't make any public criticism of others!
CW speed:
Adjust your speed to match that of the other station.
Don't transmit any faster than you can copy.
It's preferable to be somewhat slower but more fluid.
Ham bands
Keep a copy of the IARU bandplan in plain sight and follow it!  2014 IARU bandplan
Standard frequencies:
CW QRP frequencies are generally at the lower end of the band + 60 kHz (e.g. 14.060 MHz).
One SOTA frequency is located at 7.032 MHz.
There are frequencies from operations and networks in other countries and many other sked frequencies.
Many organizations set up frequency recommendations that we generally observe. Even so, these frequencies are not "holy" and nobody has an absolute claim to them. We should be flexible enough and move up or down a few kHz depending on the situation.
Signal reports
Attempt to give accurate signal reports. This is especially important when making QSOs with QRP stations. Avoid RST 599 if you can barely hear the other station.
In major contests there is generally a different practice, and a report of 599 is virtually always given.
Tuning your transmitter
Tune your transmitter into a dummy load.
If you need to tune the antenna on the frequency, use QRP! Reduce the output power and make sure that the QRG being used is actually free! Keep the tune-up procedure as short as possible.
When using an automatic antenna tuner, you try to store the settings that are found for various frequencies.
QSO tip
If you want to make a QSO interesting, try to end a handover with a suitable question.
Calling CQ
Avoid calling a long series such as CQ CQ CQ...  Instead call CQ in a form suited to the situation. Make sure to listen frequently between CQ calls. Propagation conditions, band usage and the current situation on the band all help determine whether shorter or longer CQ calls make sense.
Anonymous question marks on the frequency - ? -
Recently there have been a lot of "?" heard on the ham bands, but unfortunately without the operator giving his callsign. Such people seem not to have time to listen on the frequency. With a "?" they want to incite some sort of activity without revealing their own identity. Sometimes it even becomes a game going back and forth. Asking for additional information with a "?" can be reasonable, but never in connection with somewhat aggressiveness! -  It's always better to say right away who you are!
Personal beacon stations
In this day and age where it is possible to use Reverse Beacon Network (RBN) stations to see how well your own signal is getting out, person beacon station transmissions are no longer sensible or needed!
Why should someone want to create extra QRM on the ham bands in this way? In case some radio amateurs nonetheless would like to experiment with a beacon station, they should absolutely follow the IARU bandplan. In addition, the best choice for them to use is a high-frequency band that offers a sufficiently large frequency segment (not 30m or 40m). Unsupervised transmissions are considered remotely operated radio stations and in Switzerland require permission from BAKOM.
Our tip – make plenty of space for your Morse Code key!
At the last Ham Radio convention in Friedrichshafen people could drop by the SDXF/HST booth and try out their keying skills on various Morse Code keys. To allow operators to check the quality of their sending, there was a computer with a HST Morse Code decoder. The following photos show what we observed.
It almost seems as if the Morse Code key has become secondary; they give other items on their desk higher priority, for example a PC is more important that the key. The placement of the arm is quite uncomfortable!
The forearm sits relaxed on the table.  It is also not blocked by the edge of the table, the arm is still floating in the air. That's how it should be!
Make sure there is plenty of space on the table for your key and all of your upper arm. As a telegraph operator, you should give the key the importance on your table that it deserves.
(Observations at Ham Radio 2015, Claudio HB9FIR / Hugo HB9AFH)
Tip - stabilizing a Morse Code key (a tip from Claudio HB9FIR)
Have you ever looked over the shoulder of an experienced CW specialist?
His key is firmly affixed to the table!  In this case, the base plate is fixed down at each corner with four small balls of putty. Where can you find such putty that won't dry out?  In a hardware store like Jumbo you can find one such putty in the glue department. It is labeled as "Coltogum Knetdichtmasse" in a 600 g container. (Price CHF 14.95). Certainly, this is much more than you need! Perhaps you can share some with another colleague?  I believe that it would pay off to try it out – particularly if the key is lightweight, if you often switch out the key on your table, or you have heavy hand movements when sending. This putty remains elastic, and you can easily remove it from any tabletop and Morse Code key. Now that I've spent time investigating this matter, I have realized that in my collection of keys there is only one that really remains stable on my tabletop through its own weight alone.

Of course, there are other methods of affixing a key. Originally they were screwed down to a wooden tabletop. You can also affix a key using non-slip plastic material or strong magnets and metal plates, etc. We are not examining these types of mountings in this discussion.

Morse Code key affixed to a table with putty on all four corners.

Have fun on the bands!


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