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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
|Posted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:17 pm Post subject: Q Codes
|I suppose I knew a little bit more than the average person about this
topic, because I've been a serious postcard collector/dealer for many
A QSL card is a kind of postcard that is exchanged as part of the
ham radio hobby. It acts as a kind of acknowledgment sent to
a ham radio broadcaster, that you received their signal. It would
include the frequency, location, data, and time that the signal
was received, as well as information about signal strength, etc..
Someone sending these cards would have a number of these cards
printed up, and the "front" (the side that did not contain the postal
address), would be available for special decoration, or an original
design. Typically A QSL card would show an image of the sender's
home ham radio setup. Also popular, would be a quick sketch showing
the sender's family, or a kind of cartoon of their hobbies. Always the sender's
own radio call letters and frequency would be prominently featured,
but other than that, the graphical content was/is entirely arbitrary.
QSL cards are postcards, but of a very specialized kind. Although
these are still exchanged, in the age of email, postcards, and even
ham radios, seem a bit quaint, and both hobbies have lost a bit of
I recently bought a large lot of these kinds of cards, described
as "QSO" cards. Since there were other typos in the description
and listing, I bought them under the belief that these were "QSL"
cards, not "QSO" cards, and was I really sure that there weren't
really QSO cards as well as QSL cards? For instance, knowing that
QSL and ham radio relies on early communication protocols
(ham radio often uses Morse code, and the value of abbreviations
in this context is quite clear), I thought that a QSO might, for instance,
be an acknowledgment of a QSL.
In the course of investigating this question, I found a full catalog
of Q Codes, of which both QSL and QSO are parts.
Q Codes are an example of the class of "brevity codes", and would
seem to be quite useful, in an admittedly nerdy way, in the age when
TLA's (3-letter acronyms) are popular. In a way that would be
appreciated by modern computer programmers and programming
language designers, the "namespace" of call letters and nation-codes
omits "Q", meaning that instances containing Q would be relatively
differentiated from other message text.
Although designed for Morse code, Q codes still are in use in Naval
and Aeronautical contexts, ham radio (of course), and also in more
"routine" voice radio contexts, like police radio communications.
Q Codes tend to be "meta" information, about the detailed workings
of the communication protocol itself, rather than the information that
the communication is "about".
Below, I include some of the more common Q codes for ham radio hobbyists:
QRA What is the name (or call sign) of your station?
QRG Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ...)?
QRH Does my frequency vary?
QRI How is the tone of my transmission?
QRJ How many voice contacts do you want to make?
QRK What is the readability of my signals (or those of ...)?
QRL Are you busy?
QRM Do you have interference?
QRN Are you troubled by static?
QRO Shall I increase power?
QRP Shall I decrease power?
QRQ Shall I send faster?
QRS Shall I send slower?
QRT Shall I stop sending?
QRU Have you anything for me?
QRV Are you ready?
QRW Shall I inform ... that you are calling him on ... kHz (or MHz)?
QRX When will you call me again?
QRZ Who is calling me?
QSA What is the strength of my signals (or those of ... )?
QSB Are my signals fading?
QSD Is my keying defective?
QSG Shall I send ... telegrams (messages) at a time?
QSK Can you hear me between your signals?
QSL Can you acknowledge receipt?
QSM Shall I repeat the last telegram (message) which I sent you, or some previous telegram (message)?
QSN Did you hear me (or ... (call sign)) on .. kHz (or MHz)?
QSO Can you communicate with ... direct or by relay?
QSP Will you relay a message to ...?
QSR Do you want me to repeat my call?
QSS What working frequency will you use?
QSU Shall I send or reply on this frequency?
QSW Will you send on this frequency?
QSX Will you listen to ... (call sign(s) on ... kHz (or MHz))?
QSY Shall I change to transmission on another frequency?
QSZ Shall I send each word or group more than once?
QTA Shall I cancel telegram (message) ?
QTC How many telegrams (messages) have you to send?
QTH What is your position in latitude and longitude ?
QTR What is the correct time?
QTU At what times are you operating?
QTX Will you keep your station open for further communication with me until further notice (or until ... hours)?
QUA Have you news of ... (call sign)?
QUC What is the number (or other indication) of the last message you received from me (or from ... (call sign))?
QUD Have you received the urgency signal sent by ... (call sign of mobile station)?
QUE Can you speak in ... language
QUF Have you received the distress signal sent by ... (call sign)?
So, the answer to my question is that QSO means "can you communicate
with <soandso>?" which would not be a proper answer to a QSL,
which would not lend itself to being put on lots of postcards, and would
ultimately be either a typo or an "aural typo"
Last edited by brian-hansen on Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Joined: 17 Mar 2006
|Posted: Sat Feb 12, 2011 2:18 pm Post subject:
|By the way, I got most of this information on Wikipedia.
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