How time changes things - Checking if frequency is in use on CW

Discussion in 'On-Air Operations - Q&A' started by KG5NII, Jul 2, 2017.

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  1. KG5NII

    KG5NII Ham Member QRZ Page

    Indeed. And the exact reasons explained to me was the simple fact that "QRL?" has the potential to cause unnecessary interference whereas simply sending IE is short enough to minimize potential interference. And on the same token, one wouldn't send QRL in reply for the simple reason of missing too much of the relevant transmission, so a simply reply of "C" would suffice to get point across. SENDER: dit-dit dit , RESPONDENT: dah-dit-dah-dit results in a very short fast, quick and efficient exchange that minimizes interference. One ham who responded to this thread stated that people should simply send QRL? and if that resulted in enough interference that caused someone to miss information , I could always ask the person to repeat the info. You've got to be kidding me right? DUH! I can only venture to guess what planet an answer like that comes from.

    I seem to remember the CPN, if not by name, then by what they did. If it was a CW net dedicated to developing faster cw sending / receiving skill and I am positive I was a part of that quite frequently if those guys were doing it in the early 70's. But there was more than one of those as I remember, with similar nets going on in the "5" callsign area as well. One checked into these nets or groups for the sole express purpose of getting useful and helpful critiques on your sending and things to do to improve. And masters they were. They would have a weekly high speed net with guys sending >4o or 50 wpm with ease. This was before people had computers and decoders, these old timers really knew their CW and were a joy to listen to. They were not afraid to QRS to chat with us Novices after the net either. I would regularly hear them down in the novice bands very much QRS encouraging and helping novices develop their skill. After all it was quite a big jump from 5 WPM to 13 WPM needed to get to get the general class. I seem to remember the novice class starting out as 1 year non renewable, then two years non renewable and then two years renewable once, but that was a long time ago and I could be wrong. Still, these guys and gals would regularly make the rounds in the novice bands and try to encourage and help us novices get their skills up. The 5 WPM -> 13 WPM gap was a huge hurdle for many and I believe these old timers understood that.

    Where are all the > 25 wpm ops hanging out these days? Everyone I meet on CW been doing it for 50 + years, yet seem to have trouble at speeds > 25 wpm. OK. these people are getting up in the years and I totally get that. I'm not so fast at many things now days either! Not that I mind slowing down, but it's hard to develop your skill when hardly anyone is sending at 30 or 35 wpm anymore. Every now and then I run across someone who is awesome and puts me in my place and gives me a really good workout, however, that us more a rare exception than the rule.

    KA0REN, N3AB and WN1MB like this.
  2. W5WN

    W5WN Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm waiting for part 2, how you got into trouble with the FCC on 40 meter CW!
    AG5DB and AD5HR like this.
  3. KW6LA

    KW6LA Ham Member QRZ Page

    Done my share of CW and I start with a ? , then QRL twice. If no answer bang away ..
  4. N7KO

    N7KO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    If I may chime in, I am new to CW, still have most of my pin feathers. I am being taught to listen for a bit and if nothing is heard then send QRL? listen for a bit and send QRL? and listen a bit, and nothing heard go ahead send one CQ and one call sign, then listen for a bit if nothing is heard send a full round of CQ and call. I am sending at around 8 WPM so when I send a QRL? It does take up some time, I can see the gentleman's argument If busy you get back an abbreviated yes which is a C daw did daw dit so why not send the abbreviated QRL IE dit dit dit . Now some times when I send out a QRL? I receive back the letter I dit dit . I take it to mean go ahead the freq is yours, or is it a abbreviated C it is in use. Hope you all can instruct me on this. Thank you N7KO 73,
  5. KA0HCP

    KA0HCP XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Spend a minute or so listening. If you don't hear anything, Send your CQ. If the frequency is in use, the other parties will let you know. Send a RR or SRI, and shift freqs.

    If you are just terribly worried you might possibly interrupt a QSO, then...Again listen for a minute or so, then send "QRL?". If no objections, send your CQ.

    If the band isn't crowded, sending QRL becomes more band clutter and delays your operating. shrug. Bill.

    -What does "dit dit" in reply to "QRL?" mean? Who knows? It doesn't mean anything. The traditional response "C" is a play on words. for "Si", Yes in Spanish and Italian and Portuguese, the Latin languages; and goes back to the beginning of radio, and its' international development.

    p.s. Expecting someone to give your permission to use the frequency is silly, and no different than calling "Breaker 19" and waiting for someone to say "Go ahead Breaker!". LOL.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  6. KG5NII

    KG5NII Ham Member QRZ Page

    The whole idea is to minimize potential interference as much as possible. I think it is pretty clear that if someone sends a QRL? any_ kind of response , such as dit dit or C, or anything for that matter, we can be sure the frequency is in use. It would be completely inappropriate to respond in such a way as to indicate the frequency was _NOT_ in use. Retarded even. And yes, listening on frequency first is always good advice, however, depending on the band, signals can be S9 one moment and completely in the noise the next. I regularly have a schedule with a friend of mine on 30M who lives in San Diego. Our speeds are nowhere near the speeds you'd hear during a contest, but we average about 40 WPM on a good day, or about 30 - 35 WPM otherwise. We both QSK which is in my opinion is the way it should be done, but to each OP their own. Now, if someone comes in on frequency at say 13 WPM or even at half speed of 20 WPM, important information can be lost during that QRL?. Especially when receiving it at 40 WPM. I will usually respond with C, or even R. Normally that's not a big deal, however, that's not the point.

    The idea of using dit,dit - dit instead of QRL? assumes that sending less information is more effective than sending more to achieve the same result, which is finding out if a frequency is currently in use. It follows that avoiding disruption as much as possible makes sense. Indeed, once upon a time, using this method was suggested in the ARRL handbook. I suppose bands are less crowded and there are less CW OPS now than back then, but to me, the QRL? method in use today is somewhat more of a nuisance, and an annoyance. Of course using any of these methods is far preferable to just not checking at all and calling CQ. At 40 WPM, receiving a dit,dit - dit and a sending subsequent C in response is not disruptive at all, especially if QSK, regardless of the speed of anyone involved.

    The absolute worse is this: QRL? QRL? de <some callsign> K

    I actually hear this more than I care to. Another issue: CW Ops sometimes forget their RIT is on, resulting to them causing unintentional interference by transmitting on one frequency and listening on another. After all if I am receiving a station at S9, odds are the same station can at least hear me, sending 2 QRL? 's and the subsequent long CQ renders the QSO I'm engaged in as uncopyable. Just the 2 QRL? 's alone when receiving at 40 WPM, or even slower 25 - 30 is very disruptive and could be completely minimized if CW Ops used common sense, and I make no apologies for the belief that just because QRL / QRL ? is in the list of Q Signals, that doesn't mean it's use is necessarily appropriate.

    But I wholeheartedly agree that liberal amounts of listening and good common sense is solid advice.
    WF7BSR, KA0REN, WN1MB and 1 other person like this.
  7. KG5NII

    KG5NII Ham Member QRZ Page

    First, any response what_so_ever to a QRL? is considered to be an affirmative. No response means the frequency might not be in use. Second, responding in anyway other than to indicate the frequency is in use is inappropriate and bad operating procedure. Third, in my opinion, from listening around a lot, the really short CQ's with sending the callsign only once is ineffective in most situations. Perhaps it may be in some, but that is more the exception than the rule. However, at 8 WPM, this may not be an issue, but I suggest always sending your call sign at least twice in a CQ. Give the other end the chance to get it, and then confirm its right. Once just isn't enough in my opinion. Next, don't be afraid to make mistakes. It's not as if the station op on the other side can wring your neck. Listening a lot and using common sense is the right thing to do in all situations. Last, not all CW Ops are good Ops. But most I hear seem to be. That is unless you are listening on a DX pileup. Then, all the bad, rude operating habits of many rear their ugly heads and make themselves known to all.

    The speed you send is not important, but what is important is that you do send the right way. That means good character spacing as well as proper word spacing. Too many hams I hear that are using BUGS need to throw them away. No clue one about proper spacing. Copying their code ranges from very painful to stressful. I am no longer going to be nice to these hams. I am going to be honest and tell them they need to practice off the air to get their spacing right. If I don't tell them, nobody else likely will and they won't know their code is almost impossible to decipher without much pain and stress.

    Want to get your character and word spacing perfect? Hook up a CW decoder such as fldigi and monitor what you send using it. After a while you can adjust your spacing accordingly and sound as if you were sending code using a keyboard. Trust me this works. You know you got it right when what you send looks as good as if you had typed it with a keyboard. It's not hard and all those who QSO you will thank you for sending easy armchair copy code.
    WF7BSR, KA0REN, WD4IGX and 1 other person like this.
  8. K6LPM

    K6LPM Ham Member QRZ Page

    . . _ _ . .
  9. N7KO

    N7KO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Thank you for the information you shared. This was the come back I was hoping for, I will work on my spacing, I am currently using a free program called CWcom, I am sure you know it. I modified a computer mouse and wired it to one of my straight keys, by doing this I can practice sending code using my key and this program. I am thinking the program Fldigi is probbly a similar program except on steroids. I will take your advice after asking if freq is in use and I here any type of reply I will move on, after all we have plenty of room. 73,
  10. N7KO

    N7KO XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    Yes I get your point about asking for permission and expecting, waiting for some one to tell you it is all yours. Thank you for answering my question on the dit dit .
    KA0HCP likes this.

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