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Calling CQ
by John Shannon, K3WWP

(From his web site here)

The very best way to be successful in getting answers to your CQ's is to keep them short and repeat them often with short pauses to listen for answers.

It turns me off (and makes me tune away) when I hear an endless string of CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ......... without any identification of who is calling the CQ.

Likewise when I hear a callsign followed by 'K' and then nothing but silence for maybe up to 30 seconds. That person may have been calling CQ, but I'm not going to wait forever to find out if they are going to call again. I'm outta there.

Those two instances are BAD practices in calling CQ. Don't learn them or use them.

Let's look at a very GOOD method of calling CQ now, and one that is almost guaranteed to get you rather quick answers to your CQ's.

But first, this important message: Be sure you are not interfering with someone else when you call CQ!

How? Tune around the band until you find a clear frequency, then make sure it is clear. Listen for every trace of a signal as far down into your noise level as you can. There may be a very weak QRP station on fequency. Send QRL? which means roughly "Is this frequency busy?" Wait a couple seconds. If no one responds with "Yes", "C", "QRL" or something else to indicate the frequency is in use, then ask QRL? again. If there is still no answer, call CQ as described below. If someone does respond to your QRL?, then just move to another frequency. Don't send anything else - you've already interfered with your QRL?. Don't make it worse.

Once you get the clear frequency, proceed as follows:

Make sure you are not going to be sending faster than you are able to copy. Set your keyer speed, get your mind set, whatever it takes - then:

Call a 3X2 CQ, tune for answers for 5 seconds - if no answers, repeat.

That is, using my call as a demo:


(tune up and down 1-2 kHz for an answer for 5 seconds - if no answer then)


Keep repeating the sequence till you get an answer or quit.

If someone does answer, but they are too fast to copy, send QRS pse. That means 'send more slowly please'. Hopefully they will oblige and slow down. Perhaps they don't know what QRS means. If that is the case, try asking in plain English. If they still don't slow down, explain they are sending too fast for you to copy, say thanks and 73. Be polite even though you want to go to their shack and give them a swift kick for not cooperating.

If someone else comes on top of you while you're calling CQ, they probably don't hear you, and about all you can do is move to another frequency.

Finally some tips on answering a CQ.

Always zero beat the station you are answering. That gives you the best chance of being heard. Answer at the same speed as the CQ unless you know the ham calling CQ and you know for sure he can copy at a higher speed.

Keep your answer short as in this example of K3WWP answering N3AQC:


We use AR instead of K because we haven't established contact yet so we are not inviting N3AQC to transmit, but merely ending our call to him hoping he will answer us. More about that in another tutorial on procedure signals.

N3AQC knows his call so there is no need to send it more than once. DE means you are now going to send your call. Send your call twice so N3AQC can be sure he gets it right. If he doesn't copy your call, he can ask for a repeat.