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5 Do's And 5 Don'ts of Amateur Radio

5 Do's and Don'ts of Amateur Radio

Have you ever wondered if you're following the proper etiquette when making a QSO, or just simply need a refresher on the basics? When you're making a QSO there are some general rules you should always follow. Today we'll be going over some Do's and Don'ts every amateur radio operator needs to know when they're on the air.

Do: Be friendly and respectful

Don't: Break an ongoing transmission

To many hams, radio is a place where we can go and have engaging conversations with one of our friends or even make a new ones. Anyone transmitting deserves to be respected when making a call, and if the experience for those transmitting becomes more painful than it is fun, your communications will cease to exist. That's why it's important to always carry yourself with a friendly demeanor and respectful tone. If you're always trying to break into other ham's transmissions or only offering negative comments when in communication, you're going to create a bad experience for those involved.

Do: Congratulate those who get their license

Don't: Transmit without a valid license

You're on amateur radio because you worked hard to get your license and everyone transmitting likely has too. It can take a lot of studying to finally get your license, so be sure to always welcome those new hams who just got theirs. If you do plan to transmit, be sure to have a valid license. These licenses are necessary because it helps the FCC monitor these bands. This ensures you don't use other frequency bands that are not available to your radio. If you ever want to learn more about studying and testing for your radio license, check out this Ham Radio License Guide.

Do: Speak clearly to others when transmitting

Don't: Forget to give your call sign

Ham radio as a hobby is an incredibly active place but that doesn't mean you should get in the practice of talking too fast. If you want fellow users to understand you you need to keep your words clear and concise. This practice will make transmitting more efficient, improving the experience of everyone involved. Most importantly, when you're transmitting, you should clearly state your call sign. Contacts will likely want to know your name, but your call sign is a must. If you're not identifying who you are, it's considered an illegal unidentified transmit. To avoid this, you must identify yourself every 10 minutes of communication. If you're not making a call for longer than 10 minutes, be sure to do it at the end of the call.

Do: Keep a call log

Don't: Forget to send a QSL card

The practice of keeping call logs can feel time consuming and inconvenient, but it's important for several reasons. These reasons include legal, record-keeping, and QSL cards. A call log helps you prove yourself innocent of any interference complaints. It also allows you to keep a history of your transmits so you can go back and remember the past calls you've had. Most importantly, a call log enables you to successfully send a QSL card to your fellow hams. A QSL card is a written or electronic confirmation of a transmission between two radio operators. QSL is a telegrapher's shorthand for, "I acknowledge receipt of your message or transmission." It's essentially the final handshake between the two operators. Your card can include an array of information, but should always have your call sign, location, time and date, frequency, mode, and signal report. Cards can even be made with all kinds of creative designs and colors to show a little of your personality. Overall, QSL cards are a long-standing tradition in ham radio and they're just a fun way to send something more personal to a fellow ham to remember your call.

Do: Become more proficient in the phonetic alphabet

Don't: Waste air time

There are several reasons you need to know the phonetic alphabet. For one, you're going to have to identify yourself, as well as your fellow transmitters. However, the main reason why you need to know your phonetic alphabet is because it's easier to understand these unique sounds under rough conditions. Whether it's static or just a lot of background noise, understanding this alphabet will help you hear more clearly and not waste air time. There's a good chance when you're transmitting, there are many hams listening in. Be sure what you're sharing doesn't ruin the experience for them. The objective of what you're transmitting should bring better conversation to the hobby, and never take away from it. Ultimately, it's important to transmit something that's contributing to the enjoyment and fun of amateur radio.

Following these 5 Do's and 5 Don'ts, will only enhance your current amateur radio experience. Although some of these tips may seem simple, many of these ham radio don'ts are enacted every day. These tips can put you a step ahead of other hams out there that may be interrupting transmissions or forgetting to announce their callsign. Maximize your DMR adventure by implementing the Do's and avoiding the don'ts.
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