Operating Procedures 

 Standard 'Q' codes used on amateur radio. 

What are 'Q' codes.

 

These are Globally recognized sets of standard codes that were originally developed from telegraphy codes in use long before amateur radio existed.  Over the years different sets of Q codes were developed for marine, aeronautical and amateur radio communications. 

Use of these internationally agreed standard sets of abbreviation codes not only greatly speed up communications by reducing the number of characters sent but also allow operators around the World from different regions or countries that do not have a common shared language to communicate easily with each other avoiding the ambiguity of interpreting between different languages.

 

International Amateur Radio 'Q' codes.

The amateur radio 'Q' codes are normally used when operating CW (Morse) or using text based narrow bandwidth digital modes.  There are a small subset of these Q codes used during phone mode (voice) communications that You will often hear on the amateur radio bands.  Each Q code can be used as either a Question, Answer or Statement. 

Code : As a Question : As an Answer or Statement
QLE : What is your expected signal? : The expected signal is low...
QNI : May I join the net? : You may check in...
QRA : What is the name (or call sign) of your station? : The name (or call sign) of my station is ...
QRG : Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ...)? : Your exact frequency (or that of ... ) is ... kHz (or MHz).
QRH : Does my frequency vary? : Your frequency varies.
QRI : How is the tone of my transmission? : The tone of your transmission is (1. Good; 2. Variable; 3. Bad)
QRJ : How many voice contacts do you want to make? : I want to make ... voice contacts.
QRK : What is the readability of my signals (or those of ...)? : The readability of your signals (or those of ...) is ... (1 to 5).
QRL : Are you busy? : I am busy. (or I am busy with ... )  
QRM : Do you have interference? [from other stations) : I have interference. ( Man made interference/noise )
QRN : Are you troubled by static? : I am troubled by static. ( Natural interference / noise )
QRO : Shall I increase power? : Increase power.
QRP : Shall I decrease power? : Decrease power.
QRQ : Shall I send faster? : Send faster (... wpm)
QRS : Shall I send more slowly? : Send more slowly (... wpm)
QRT : Shall I cease operation? / turn off the radio : I am ceasing operation. / turning off the radio
QRU : Have you anything for me? : I have nothing for you.
QRV : Are you ready? : I am ready.
QRW : Shall I inform ... that you are calling him on ... kHz (or MHz) ? : Please inform ... that I am calling him on ... kHz (or MHz).
QRX : Shall I standby / When will you call me again? : Please standby / I will call you again at ... (hours) on ... kHz (or MHz)
QRZ : Who is calling me? : You are being called by ... on ... kHz (or MHz) 

    NOTE: QRZ is often misused by inexperienced operators instead of a proper CQ call.
QSA : What is the strength of my signals ? : The strength of your signals is ... (1 to 5).
QSB : Are my signals fading? : Your signals are fading.
QSD : Is my keying defective? : Your keying is defective.
QSG : Shall I send ... telegrams (messages) at a time? : Send ... telegrams (messages) at a time.
QSK : Can you hear me between your signals? : I can hear you between my signals.
QSL :  Can you acknowledge receipt? : I am acknowledging receipt.
QSM : Shall I repeat the last telegram (message) which I sent you, or some previous telegram (message)? : Repeat the last telegram (message) which you sent me (or telegram(s) (message(s)) numbers(s) ...).
QSN : Did you hear me (or ... (call sign)) on .. kHz (or MHz)? : I did hear you (or ... (call sign)) on ... kHz (or MHz).
QSO : Can you communicate with ... direct or by relay? : I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ...).
QSP : Will you relay a message to ...? : I will relay a message to ... .
QSR : Do you want me to repeat my call? : Please repeat your call; I did not hear you.
QSS : What working frequency will you use? : I will use the working frequency ... kHz (or MHz).
QST : Here is a broadcast message to all amateurs.
QSU : Shall I send or reply on this frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz))? : Send or reply on this frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QSW : Will you send on this frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz))? : I am going to send on this frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QSX : Will you listen to ... (call sign(s) on ... kHz (or MHz))? : I am listening to ... (call sign(s) on ... kHz (or MHz))
QSY : Shall I change to transmission on another frequency? : Change to transmission on another frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QSZ : Shall I send each word or group more than once? : Send each word or group twice (or ... times).
QTA : Shall I cancel telegram (message) No. ... as if it had not been sent? : Cancel telegram (message) No. ... as if it had not been sent.
QTC : How many telegrams (messages) have you to send? : I have ... telegrams (messages) for you (or for ...).
QTH : What is your position in latitude and longitude (or according to any other indication)? : My position is ... latitude...longitude 

   NOTE: QTH is often used without lat/long or other coordinates, eg; at work QTH or home QTH  
QTR : What is the correct time? : The correct time is ... hours
QTU : At what times are you operating? : I am operating from ... to ... hours.
QTX : Will you keep your station open for further communication with me until further notice (or until ... hours)? : I will keep my station open for further communication with you until further notice (or until ... hours).
QUA : Have you news of ... (call sign)? : Here is news of ... (call sign).
QUC : What is the number (or other indication) of the last message you received from me (or from ... (call sign))? : The number (or other indication) of the last message I received from you (or from ... (call sign)) is ...
QUD : Have you received the urgency signal sent by ... (call sign of mobile station)? : I have received the urgency signal sent by ... (call sign of mobile station) at ... hours.
QUE : Can you speak in ... (language), – with interpreter if necessary; if so, on what frequencies? : I can speak in ... (language) on ... kHz (or MHz).
QUF : Have you received the distress signal sent by ... (call sign of mobile station)? : I have received the distress signal sent by ... (call sign of mobile station) at ... hours.

 Signal reporting on amateur radio

How to give a Proper signal report on Amateur Radio Bands.

Signal reports are normally reported as using R S T This refers to ‘R’eadabilty ‘S’trength and ‘T’one When operating in Phone Mode (Voice) it is normal practice to report only the Readability and signal Strength. 'T'one is only reported when operating in CW mode.

When operating Phone Mode (Voice) Readability is reported using the following ‘scale’

1 = Unreadable
2 = Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable.
3 = Readable with considerable difficulty.
4 = Readable with practically no difficulty.
5 = Perfectly readable.

So a perfectly readable voice reception would be reported as a ’5′. If the received voice is not perfect, possibly rather quiet or has a little noise along with it but is still readable and all words are still understandable you may give a reading of ’4′.
When you are having trouble making out what the transmitting station is saying but still hearing enough to just make out what they are saying with a fair bit of difficulty you would report a ’3′ etc..

 

Signal strength is read from the S-Meter (signal meter)  on the radio. 

Looking at the LEFT S-Meter shown below: You are receiving a station and you can make out all that they are saying but the audio is not ‘Perfectly readable’ due to the audio being quiet or having some noise along with it you could report that their signal was '4 2' as in Four and Two or Four By Two.
if the needle on the S-meter moved up to the ’3′as they were speaking You could give the report as 'Four and three' or 'Four Three on peaks'.  This gives the other station an accurate report and may allow them to make adjustments to their station to improve their readability or signal strength.

Looking at the RIGHT S-Meter shown below: You are receiving a station ‘Perfectly’ with good clear audio you would report that as '5 5' or ‘five and five’  

If you were receiving them with rough scratchy audio or distorted audio and could not understand every word but the S-Meter needle is well above the S9 level, for example at the +40 mark, you would give them the report as ' Audio Three, Signal  Nine plus forty dB'. 

This could also be an indication that the signal is so strong it is being distorted in Your receiver. The reception clarity may be improved by reducing Your receive RF gain control or using an attenuator to reduce the signal strength to a level where there is less distortion.  

Of course if the audio was ‘Perfectly’ good and clear and the S-Meter needle was at the mark between the +20 and +40 you would report the signal strength as 'Five, Nine plus 30dB'. 

s-meters_example.png

Image above:  Plug-In Signal Meters on one of my virtual HF transceivers on the Hamsphere 4 global HF communications simulation system.

I used this image here as it is easier to see then my attempt at photographing meters on my HF radio equipment.


​​The ‘T’ of ‘RST’ is for reporting the received signal Tone and is only relevant when reporting on received CW (Morse) and some narrow bandwidth digital modes.
This is done according to the following scale with a range from 1 to 9 something like this:

1 = Fifty cycle/Sixty cycle a.c (or less), very rough and broad. 
2 = Very rough a.c. very harsh and broad.
3 = Rough a.c. tone, rectified but not filtered.
4 = Rough note, some trace of filtering.
5 = Filtered rectified a.c. but strongly ripple-modulated.
6 = Filtered tone, definite trace of ripple modulation.
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.

So when using Phone mode (voice) for direct contact you only report the R and S as described above and you do not use the ‘T’one part of the report.

 

Using network assisted and indirect communications modes.

When using network assisted communications modes DMR, D-STAR, YSF, Echolink, Peanut for HAMs, DroidSTAR, DudeSTAR, DVswitch, IRN, IRLP, personal hotspots etc.. or when working through a repeater (internet linked or not)  You would report ONLY the readability and should not give any signal strength report. You are not receiving the signal directly from the other station so can not report that stations signal strength. Also if the equipment or device You are using does not have a signal strength meter or some wildly inaccurate type of bar graph display (mostly hand-held equipment) You should not just 'guess' and give a false Signal report.

​Accurate signal reporting is an important part of radio communications operating procedure and It is very easy when you get used to it.   

It is far better to simply give and Audio quality report without a false signal report.

It is sadly quite common to hear inexperienced operators giving 'five and nine' signal reports when they are operating via a repeater, gateway, personal hotspot or using other network assisted methods and internet connected applications that do not receive a direct signal or have a signal meter.