Why is CW question mark two things?

Discussion in 'Straight Keys - CW Enthusiasts' started by KE0EYJ, Aug 18, 2018.

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  1. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have just started really applying myself toward learning CW, and I don't understand why I see different patterns for the question mark?

    I thought for sure it was ..--..

    Source (and what I hear on air in HL land, where I am now): http://naqcc.info/cw_abbr.html

    But then I listen to the ARRL audio files, and it's -...-

    http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Morse/Archive/5 WPM/180103_05WPM.mp3

    Is it different, by region? The first source I listed says -...- is an equal sign or double-dash. I am Confused? Who is correct? Are there any others CW oddities I should know about?
  2. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    In International Morse or ITA 1, the ? character is ..--.. and the
    = characters is -...- and have been for a very long time.

    What you have encountered is a "quirk" in the Unicode text representation, where unrecognised characters in a text file are replaced with a "filler", in this case �.

    It appears that the = character uses a non-Unicode compatible character in the QST text files used for the generation of the ARRL code practice.
    There were no ? characters anywhere in the file.

    KI5WW, KE0EYJ and KD2RON like this.
  3. KF7DF

    KF7DF Ham Member QRZ Page

    Back when I was learning Morse Code (late 80's), _..._ (BT) was a substitute for the period. Some ops would use a period between the rst report, qth, and their name for example. But most ops used (BT) instead.

    Another quirk that you may find on the air is short-hand for the word "and". It is (ES) but there is only one dit spacing between the E and the S, rather than a dah spacing.

    If you ever code practice by copying news feeds on AA9PW's website, when their program encounters a symbol in the text that it doesn't recognize, it uses (HH), which we use when we've made a mistake in sending and are going to resend the word. It really threw me for a loop the first time it happened because the last thing I expected was for a computer to send that it made a mistake!

    KE0EYJ likes this.
  4. K7KBN

    K7KBN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Back in 1963 when I went to USN Radioman School, if you made an error, you sent AT LEAST eight "E"s. You didn't hold the dit paddle on the bug, you sent AT LEAST eight individual dits. Not two "H"s; not two "S"s and an "I".

    That was in the classroom. Once you got to the fleet, different operators had their own quirks, but the operator on the receiving end would patiently send the last word he'd received correctly and the sender would start right back up with that word and continue.

    Good operators.
    WB5YUZ and W5BIB like this.
  5. WB2WIK

    WB2WIK Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Eight dits is an "error" but I find most experienced CW ops don't waste time with that.

    I send "di-dit di-dit" (two "I"s) to indicate the same thing and so do most experienced CW ops. However, even less time consuming than that is to simply send the same thing again with a correction.

    If I sent "OP STEVI" which is a mistake, I just send "STEVE" again, correctly. No need to send any kind of error signal -- almost anyone would understand this, especially anyone who's experienced.

    In real practice, punctuation marks are actually rarely used among experienced CW ops. I send a "?" if I don't get something (QSK, so nothing else is sent, just the "?") and they all get it. If QSB or QRM kills a piece of information, like someone's name, I just send "OP?" and that's quite enough. Missed the callsign? "QRA?" and that's quite enough.

    CW is using Morse in the most abbreviated fashion possible.

    I never use periods.:) I do use "R" as a decimal point, e.g., "Hey hrd u on 14R027 B4." But a period is a time suck, as are commas and most other punctuation.

    It's easy to tell when someone's a new CW op, they use way too many words and punctuations.:p
    WB5YUZ, WA7PRC, KA0HCP and 2 others like this.
  6. N5MEP

    N5MEP Ham Member QRZ Page

    Kinda related I guess. When, and why, did it become the convention to send "QSL" on CW to indicate receiving a message instead of a simple "R" or two.
  7. W7UUU

    W7UUU Super Moderator Lifetime Member 133 Administrator Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    In my experience over the years, QSL was only really used in nets. I only use "R" when on CW. In fact, the only place I hear QSL much is on sideband!!!

    W9RAC and N4NYK like this.
  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    Having military and commercial radiotelegraph background,
    I would say that "R" is a less formal acknowledgement of a message, it basically says "received" and no more.

    On the other hand, "QSL" is a legally binding statement that a radiotelegram has been received 100% and that it will be properly forwarded to the receipient.

    In amateur radio Morse usage, there are no formal requirements that a message format is followed and that every character have been taken down as sent.

    For getting the contents in an amateur radio message through, "punctuation" is not necessary.

    The = sign is however handy to use when you need a second or two for thinking about what to say next...:)

    NW6V, N2SUB, WB7OXP and 3 others like this.
  9. W5BIB

    W5BIB Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    exactly !!... a moment to gather one's thoughts before continuing & also giving the receiving operator a chance to get back in-sync with the sending operator.

    A "BT" (or two) sent at 30/40 wpm is different than a "BT" sent with a straight key at a relaxed rate as dahdididitdah @ 15 or 20 wpm. The "relaxed rate" gives the receiving operator a chance to think about what (s)he has just copied & a chance to confirm or request a repeat. It's akin to taking a deep breath before continuing @ higher speeds.

    To me, there's nothing worse than an operator using a keyboard for CW, & never using/having natural pauses.

    When I worked at WLO Marine Radio,... I used the "CW keyboard" in conjunction with a straight key. Often using the Keyboard set at about 20 wpm to send the message (real time/NO buffer) & the straight-key to do repeats or reply to query's. -

    Even today, when working DX contests, I use a bug or straight-key (full QSK) so that I can stop sending when the DX station calls another station. I'll stop in the middle of my call-sign if he calls someone else. A lot of operators have their call programmed into a automatic keyer & it will continue to send their call-sign even if the DX station is calling another station. :mad: Too me,... that's just poor operating practice. :( (JMHO)
    AC7LX, WB5YUZ, VE7PJR and 2 others like this.
  10. KE0EYJ

    KE0EYJ Ham Member QRZ Page

    I heard another used for a contest this weekend.


    A lot easier send than 599

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