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Phonetic Alphabet - quit saying "Kilowatt"

Discussion in 'Ham Radio Discussions' started by KE0GTU, May 10, 2017.

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  1. W3WN

    W3WN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I like it, but can you say it out loud, three times fast? :cool:
    N5AL likes this.
  2. K9STH

    K9STH Ham Member QRZ Page


    I have been using "kilowatt" for the letter "K" in my call for going on 58-years and have not had one instance where that was mistaken for "KW".

    The ICAO phonetic alphabet, sometimes called the "NATO" phonetic alphabet, was designed for use on aircraft frequencies, by very well trained operators, where interference, noise, etc., is not usually a problem. Unfortunately, with persons with whom English is not their primary language, with various accents found within English speaking populations, and so forth, the ICAO phonetic alphabet often fails. Because of this, the alternate geographical names phonetic alphabet is often used when working DX or contests such as the following:

    A = America
    B = Boston
    C = Canada
    D = Denmark
    E = England or Ecuador
    F = France
    G = Germany
    H = Honolulu or Honduras
    I = Indiana or Italy
    J = Japan
    K = Kansas or kilowatt
    L = London
    M = Mexico
    N = Norway
    O = Oregon or Ocean
    P = Panama
    Q = Queen
    R = Radio
    S = Spain or Sugar
    T = Texas or Tennessee
    U = United
    V = Virginia
    W = Washington
    X = X-Ray
    Y = Yokohama
    Z = Zanzibar

    In pileups, when I use the ICAO Kilo Nine Sierra Tango Hotel phonetics like 9 times out of 10 I have to repeat my call, often several times, before the "other" station gets my call correct. However, if I use Kilowatt Nine Spain Texas Honolulu the "other" station gets my call correct, the first time, in well over 95% of the cases.

    Many times in the past, I have told this "tale": There is a YL operator who lives like 5-blocks from me who's call ends in the letter "I". One day, she was working a DX station and the other operator just could not get her call correct. He kept missing the last letter. She tried the ICAO "India", then item, then a number of other words starting with the letter "I" and, still, the other operator could not get her call correct. Finally, she blurted out "IDIOT" and her call was finally copied correctly! It was just a case of finding the correct phonetic for the letter!

    There are a number of phonetic alphabets in use within this country of which the APCO phonetic alphabet, which is used by public safety organizations, is the most common. Then, for many decades, the ARRL had its own phonetic alphabet. In fact, over the years, there were at least 3-different phonetic alphabets suggested by the ARRL. However, basically, no one, even ARRL headquarters staff members, ever used those phonetic alphabets. Only rank newcomers, who were relying on the ARRL Handbooks as their only reference, actually used the ARRL phonetic alphabet. It has only been relatively recently that the ARRL has started to recommend the ICAO phonetic alphabet.

    Glen, K9STH
    K3XR and W5TTP like this.
  3. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Interestingly, the phonetic "kilowatt" is typically pronounced more like "kiliwatt". I bet if you enunciated it clearly, it would be somewhat problematic. For example, special event station W1K probably does OK with "Whiskey 1 Kiliwatt," but it wouldn't go quite so well with "Whiskey 1 Keelo WATT."
  4. WB7OXP

    WB7OXP Ham Member Volunteer DX Helper QRZ Page

    part of the confusion and arguments seem to relate to 2 VERY DIFFERENT uses of phonetics. in the air traffic, military, law enforcement, emergency medical, rescue and traffic handling environments, alternate phonetics would be verboten and problematic. plus in general, the "users" are more homogeneous, or at least have agreements.

    in the chatter and contest worlds of ham radio the "catchy" phonetics make lots of sense. the purpose is VERY different, and the implications of a inaccuracy are different.

    side note, my whyfe and i communicate in phonetics and code: h2h (headed to house), h2o (headed to office), and the most critical abc (all beasts contained. which assures that all dogs are contained lest one go houdini when the gates get opened). there are some very creative phonetics for abc such as aardvarks bite children, etc.
    AE9AM and AB3TQ like this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Why run QRP when a kilowatt will do?
  6. WA2FHJ

    WA2FHJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    What is so great about JULIET getting thru the noise ? Lots of DX stations use JAPAN , I think more successfully.
  7. KN7S

    KN7S Swapmeet Moderator Emeritus Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    My nemesis here is "Sierra". Many DX stations don't get it. But if If say Sugar, Seattle or Switzerland, they get it every time.
  8. N2EY

    N2EY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    You mean like this:

    N1YR, WZ7U, WU8Y and 3 others like this.
  9. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    S as in schlepp.
    KD8ZMN likes this.
  10. KD8ZMN

    KD8ZMN Ham Member QRZ Page

    When working DX I found that geographical names are preferred by non English speakers, such as "France" for F, "Spain" for S etc.. That drives me nuts, as it makes me think that is their location.

    I've been guilty of using "Kilowatt" myself. It did drive a station to think my call was "KW".

    Finally, the end of my call is "Zulu", yet many come back with "Zed". And no, they were not Canadians, this was from fellow Northeast Ohioans!

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