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In Q Signals, what is QSS?

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by W6ANF, Apr 28, 2009.

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  1. W6ANF

    W6ANF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Does anyone know the REAL meaning of QSS? I see a lot of websites that list it as referring to what frequency to use. However, I have hundreds of QSL cards from the 1920's ( that would say otherwise.

    Almost every card has QSS listed as part of the signal report. It was typically described as nil, slight, some, bad, etc. One QSL had a box to describe the "Character" and it was described as "some QSS."

    So, what do you think? I thought maybe it refered to "static" or maybe had something to do with the quality of a spark gap signal as they were licensed to use them back then.

    Anyone know? :confused: I've attached a couple of sample cards here...

    Rick W6ANF
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2009
  2. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

  3. KB9BVN

    KB9BVN Ham Member QRZ Page

  4. W6ANF

    W6ANF Ham Member QRZ Page


    For those of you who can't look that up, it's from the May, 1920, QST and says

  5. K4KB

    K4KB Ham Member QRZ Page

    Looking on the web, I found the following for QSS:

    "QSS as a question: What working frequency will you use?

    QSS as a statement: I will use the working frequency of ______kHz. (Usually only the last three digits are necessary.)"

    Apparently is a Q-signal that has not been used since before the 30's or 40's.


    Jorge, K4KB
  6. KA0SOG

    KA0SOG Ham Member QRZ Page

    My mind is more and more QSS every day!
  7. K4LSX

    K4LSX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

  8. K8JD

    K8JD Ham Member QRZ Page

    why does ARRL want to replace QSB with QSS ??????????????????????
  9. K8ERV

    K8ERV Ham Member QRZ Page

    WoW, I'm gonna start memorizing those right now! (It may take a while).

    TOM K8ERV Montrose Colo
  10. K4LSX

    K4LSX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    since when is the ARRL the "authority" on Q signals?

    methinks they might have been defined before the ARRL was a "twinkle" in anyone's eye...(Hiram Percy???)

    I don't think so.....:D
  11. K4LSX

    K4LSX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page


    yep, Q signals in 1909

    ARRL (by Hiram Percy) in 1914

  12. W6ANF

    W6ANF Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm not aware that they do. I was trying to figure out the meaning of QSS back in the 1920's, as it was used on my 1920's QSL cards. At that time, it was defined as fading. Since that time, fading has been changed to QSB.

    Read the quote again, it was from the March 1920 QST.

    I don't really care who came up with the idea, I just wanted to decipher my old cards!

    Rick W6ANF
  13. WA9CWX

    WA9CWX Ham Member QRZ Page

    I suspect it meant "Your signal sounds like ****" in actual use.
  14. KB3X

    KB3X XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    No one has counterpoise length on their QSL cards anymore!
  15. AL7N

    AL7N Ham Member QRZ Page


    The "Q" signal "QSS" was in common use when I worked as a commercial Coast station CW operator 1976-1984...It referred to what frequency was going to be used when moving off the 500 Kc (600 Meter) calling and distress frequency.

    In the case of my station (WKR in Nome, Alaska) The ship would say "UP QSS 480", whereupon I would move my transmitting frequency to my assigned
    working frequency 472 kc and tune my receiver to 480 kc for the ship.

    Note that on the 600 meter band, you always went "UP" when you changed to the working frequencies which were mostly LOWER than 500 Kc.

    Going "UP" referred of course to going to a longer wavelength. 472/480 kc would be 635 meters/625 meters.
    The Russians sometimes would move "down" to 512 kc or 585.9 meters
  16. AB6ND

    AB6ND Ham Member QRZ Page

    We used it in ship to shore commercial work up until the end of cw at sea around 1998.

    For HF work each ship usually had a couple of crystal controlled freqs. in each of the HF bands and in the initial call to a coast station we would send QSS 326 showing we would shift to 8326 khz to send traffic.

    If in the 4, 6, or 8 the first number eg. 8 was dropped and in the 12, 16, 22 mhz band the first two numbers were dropped. eg. 536 for 12536khz.

    Happy days!
  17. K4LSX

    K4LSX Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    How many moah, Mr. Operator?

    if you peruse the ACP-131 you will observe that there are many, many Q signals that hams have no use for at all, yet all are/were valid in "their day".

    in the USN we used many "Z" signals as well - many not having a clone in Q sigs...

    used "QSP" many times in Navy, don't think I ever used it in ham radio...

    it was truly fun...

    back to the wireless...have a great day! :)
  18. WA1ZPD

    WA1ZPD Guest

    The 1912 conventions listed QSB as "tone or spark" quality. With that in mind, it would leave QSS as fading for that time. (QSS was not listed for that time period, so it's an assumption on my part) (but a pretty good assumption, if I do say so)
  19. WA9CWX

    WA9CWX Ham Member QRZ Page

    QSS testing was done to test for selective fading in the 1920's according to CLinton Desoto in '200 Meters and Down' and many QSL's well into the 30's used QSS in the report (re; 'Hello World' by Danny Gregory). The early tests helped to document the effects of the ionospher, which was poorly umderstood in the 1920's
  20. W2IVA

    W2IVA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Some years ago I asked my dad W2PF formerly 2PF now SK what QSS meant on his old QSL cards. He mentioned it had to do with spherics. The amount of atmospheric crackle noise on the band. This refers not to QRN but to the noises heard on cw bands such as 160 meters.

    If it referred to fading, it would be slow fading of the signal. 73, W2IVA
    Hopes this helps.
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