Operating Procedures

Courtesy is synonymous to amateur radio. Amateur operators are expected to strictly adhere to the correct procedures on the use of radios since they operate on common frequencies with all other hams in their locality, their country, and the world. Enumerated below are some guidelines in the use of the frequencies allocated to the amateur bands.

  1. Hams all over the world use the “Q” code in transmission. The Q-code are extensively used in CW, but has been, to a limited extent, adopted and accepted in the phone band. Actually, only ordinary language is required in conversation in the phone mode.
  2. Do not tune your units on frequencies being used. Always see to it that the frequency is clear before you tune your units. Tuning is recommended to be done on a dummy load so as not to disturb other users. When tuning antennas however, be sure that no one is using the frequency at that time.
  3. Always listen in a few seconds, a minute if necessary, before calling for a “CQ” on frequency. This will avoid your stepping on a weak signal. The short wait will assure you that no one is using the frequency since you do not hear anyone.
  4. In breaking in an existing conversation, it is recommended to break in with your call sign during “pauses” of the QSO. Though it is allowable to join with the “break” the call sign may be better because it saves time since the other users do not have to call for a QRZ.
  5. On the use of “break” ….. it is understood that one “break” is used ordinarily to join into an on-going conversation. Two breaks, or “break, break” is used when there is urgency or priority traffic or messages that has to be pushed through because of time constraint or because of its importance. The triple, or “break, break, break” is used to extreme emergencies, or a matter of life and death. When anyone breaks, in with a “break, break, break”, all stations are requested to stand-by and assist the emergency call.
  6. After calling for a certain station, give another three calls to make certain that he is not on stand-by. Do not give more than these number of calls. . . . because for practical reasons, if he was there and heard you, he would have answered already. Wait another five minutes and give him three calls again if you would wish to really raise him up. Do not give continual calls. It would just be useless and the frequency may not be used by other amateurs. Make your call as short as possible.
  7. Always make your conversations as short as possible, especially on calling frequencies. In the Philippines, calling frequencies on 40 meter band is 7.045 MHz LSB and on two meter band, 145.000 MHz.
  8. On checking in to the nets, always check-in or break in with your call sign. This avoids further waste of time by not having the net control call for a QRZ anymore.
  9. The word “contact” is used during net time especially to break in after the station (who you may want to contact) has just check-in.
  10. Do not entertain or try to reply or threaten a jammer. A jammer or a heckler finds satisfaction when he is answered or when he is able to get you mad, or gets your goat. You win, if you pretend that he is not there at all. If everybody adheres to this procedure, the “jammer” population should decrease.
  11. In using repeater systems, always see to it that QSO are short. Repeater frequencies are usually common to members, and are primarily calling frequencies. Do not use the repeater, if you can go on simplex. It will prolong the life of the equipment, and also afford other stations to use it.
  12. A repeater is privately owned. We realize that any license holder has the right to use the frequency, however, since a repeater is privately owned, it would be better to ask permission from the owners prior to using the repeater. This is common courtesy, and should be observed in order to avoid any conflicts. It is common practice however, that in cases of emergencies all owner of repeaters allow their equipment to be used.

(Source: So you want to be a “HAM”…, Amateur Operator’s Review Manual (Revised Edition), published by the Philippine Amateur Radio Association)


The Golden Rules of Operating a Radio Station

1. Listen

The first rule states: “If you don’t hear them, you won’t work them.” Therefore, you must listen on the band you propose to transmit on. The strongest reason for listening is so that you don’t interfere with someone already using the frequency.

The second reason for listening is that it can tell you a great deal about the state of the bands. Although a band may be “dead” by popular consent at a particular time, frequent openings will occur, which you can take advantage of ir you are around at the right time.

2. Keep it short

Of course, if we all listened and never called, the bands will be even deader than they are now. So, if after listening, you have not made contact, call “CQ”. Rules for calling CQ are:

  1. Use your CALLSIGN frequently
  2. Keep your call short, listening often

If replying to someone else’s CQ, the rules are:

  1. Use your CALLSIGN frequently. The chap you’re calling knows his own callsign — he wants to know yours.
  2. Keep it short. Either he has heard you or he hasn’t. Either way, it’s a waste of time giving a long call. If conditions are bad, use phonetics, keep it short. A very bad practice can be observed in “pileups” of the calling stations carrying out what amounts to an endurance exercise – the station who gives the longest call gets the contact, purely because is the only one the DX station can hear clearly. This is definitely alligator behavior, and should not be considered – wait your turn in the pileups.

Whe you have made contact, again keep it short. Conditions can change very rapidly, and long overs become tedious to the listener. When operating via repeater, this rules is very important. (Repeaters have their own problems, and will be considered separately.)

3. Do unto Others

This rule, if faithfully applied, would make the crowded VHF bands far more bearable.

  1. Don’t interfere with another station for any reason whatever (except in dire emergency).
  2. Don’t use full power to tune your aerial to resonance – dont tune the transmitter on the air at all.
  3. Keep your power down to the minimum required to make the contact.
  4. Don’t overmodulate. Don’t shout to the microphone and maintain 3 inches distance.