Signal strength calls?

Discussion in 'Becoming an Amateur Radio Operator/Upgrading Privi' started by KF7HIS, Mar 2, 2010.

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  1. KF7HIS

    KF7HIS Ham Member QRZ Page

    So I been playing around a bit with HF. Made my first contact to North Carolina from Washington state just yesterday on 40M and there is one thing I haven't been able to quite get down and thats signal strength.

    I use my Yaesu FT-857D and when I made the contact my S-meter was reading S-8. Between transmission and normal background static it still read S-8.

    So my question is when I hear people saying your signal is 5 by 9, or 5 over 9.. 59, etc. What are they talking about? Do I need a more advanced meter to tell me this information? I am needing a bit of guidance here..


  2. KJ4KDM

    KJ4KDM Guest

    The first number is your Intelligibility to the receiving station and the second would be the measurement of your RF signal.
  3. K0CMH

    K0CMH Ham Member QRZ Page

    The signal report system is actually completely independent of the S meter reading on a radio. It is somewhat subjective.

    Many years ago, radio operators adopted a system to report readability, signal strenght, and for CW, tone.

    Here is a link to the parameters:

    Readability = how easy or hard it is to make out what is being said (or sent).

    Signal Strength is dependent on the conditions at the receiving station. This gets complex. In your case, an S8 noise level which still has a good readability could be reported as a high vaule, such as 7 or 8. That would indicate that the person's signal is strong, so strong that it overcomes a high noise level. However, if the readability is not so good, a lower signal strength vaule may be more appropriate. This indicates to the sender that, at your location and with your conditions, his signal is not doing a good job of overcoming your noiselevel.

    The Tone report is applicable to CW and digital modes, but mostly to CW. One does not hear hardly any CW tones that are less than 9, due to the modern equipment. In the old days, many CW tones had AC hum getting into the transmitter, roung and grity sounds, chirps (the tone rises or drops in frequency),ect.

    As you read the parameters for the different values, you can see that in some cases there is very little difference betweensome of them.

    And then there are many operators who always report a 59 or a 599, no matter what. One way to identify this situation is when an operator sends you a 59 and then asks for repeats. If they have such a great signal at their end, then why do they need you to repeat things?

    Hope this helps and good luck.

    A somewhat sad situation is that many Hams do not consider a 44 signal as good. However, 4 means easily readable and a fair signal. Well, if you have no problems making out what the person is saying, then that is good.
  4. KJ4KDM

    KJ4KDM Guest

    5/9 seems to be the industry standard.:D
  5. KF5EWR

    KF5EWR Ham Member QRZ Page

    I'm so glad you asked that. lol
    I was sitting there last night listening to report after report after report, and thinking to myself. "What in the world are they talking about? Must be some meter my old 830s doesn't have." :confused:

    Glad to finally know the answer.
  6. K0RGR

    K0RGR Ham Member QRZ Page

    Usually, everybody gives 59 reports during contests.

    "59" means 'Readbility 5' and 'Strength 9'. That means 'You are 100% readable' and 'You are extremely strong'.

    Rare DX is usually '59'. Rarer DX is usually '59++'.
  7. W0VYE

    W0VYE Ham Member QRZ Page

    I try to give honest reports. I know....I know... I cuss the TV new anchors, and once I tried to pick a fight with a windmill. What can I say? I do tend to use my S-meter as a basis for the S number, but if noise levels are high I usually "mark up" the other station. I've very seldom sent anythink other than an R5. ~73
  8. WA4OTD

    WA4OTD Ham Member QRZ Page

    If I understand what is being said, 599 is all I give. If I have to ask for repeat then I give 559. I used to think about it and give 589, 579, 339, etc but it is like counting bars on your cell phone, you are either talking or lost connection....
  9. KI6J

    KI6J Ham Member QRZ Page

  10. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    A three-digit report is only for CW contacts. If you're using phone, AM, FM or SSB, give only two digits.

    R - Readability; how well I can hear you.
    S - Strength; how strong your signal is. I may or may not use my S-meter.
    T - Tone; how clean/pure the tone of your keyed carrier is (only CW).
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