Rhyme or Reason to Q Signals?

From : Steve Polaski
Sent : Wednesday, January 4, 2006 12:22 AM
To : SolidCpyCW
Subject : [SolidCpyCW] Q signals

Is there any rhyme or reason to the initials used in Q signal? This may seem elementary but if were made aware of some sense to it I might be able to learn them more easily.
QRP-?reduce power?–seems to make sense but what about QSO?


Steve–(Tech testing + CW 1/14/06)


From : Art Burke
Sent : Thursday, January 5, 2006 6:20 AM
To : SolidCpyCW
Subject : [SolidCpyCW] Re: Q signals

Amazingly, one seems to hear “Q” signals more on SSB than on CW, where they were originally designed for use. They are “shorthand” for communication between two (or more) ops, for both brevity and overcoming (hopefully) poor conditions.

Common “Q” signals:

QRL? – Is this frequency in use?

(CAUTION: you’ll tick me off if you don’t realize that a “Q” signal sent without the question mark means the opposite of NOT using the question mark!) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been listening to a DX station, patiently waiting for my “turn,” and hear someone sending QRL? My response, properly, is QRL – that means, yes, the frequency is in use!

QRL – this frequency is in use
QRO – please increase power
QRO? – do you need for me to increase power
QRQ – please send faster
QRQ? – do you want me to send faster?
QRS – please slow down (slower cw speed, please)
QRS? – do you want me to slow down?
QRM – there is man-made interference on the frequency
QRN – there is natural interference on the freq (like lightning!)
QSK – please work full break-in
QSK? – can you work full break-in?
QSL? – can you acknowledge what I sent?
QSL – I successfully received what you sent.
QSY – please change frequency (hopefully followed by a number!)
QSY? – do you want me to change frequency?

There are many others, and there are lots of special ones used on nets (a tone of the ones used on nets start with “QN”) that you don’t hear very often in casual QSOs. Snoop around on the web (I’ll bet the AC6V web site would have a bunch of info) and you’ll probably find a very comprehensive list of “Q” signals.

Since “Q” is not a heavily used letter of the alphabet (certainly not to begin words!), they tend to “stand out” somewhat in cw use.

As an aside, and Mac will probably appreciate this, I’m amazed at how many SSB nets I hear (like during hurricanes), where so many ops assume everything must be spelled phonetically. An operator should not waste time sending *anything* phonetically, unless the op on the other end doesn’t understand! If I tell you my name is Art and you understand, you’ll probably say something intelligent like “Nice to meet you Art.” If I automatically say “My name is Art, alpha radio tango” on everything I transmit, we’ll be here a long time! Don’t repeat things unless the op on the other end says he/she needs it!

You’ll be amazed how many times you’ll hear guys on SSB using some of those “Q” signals, while they’re 20 over S9 to each other!!

Art – K4IRS
Leesburg, FL


From : Dave Oldridge
Sent : Thursday, January 5, 2006 5:08 PM
To : SolidCpyCW
Subject : Re: [SolidCpyCW] Re: Q signals

And more standard ones, but still much more useful in nets, like QRU? Do you have any messages for me (or for the net)? QRU “I have no messages.”

QTC? “How many messages do you have.”
QTC 5 “I have 5 messages for

Then there’s a bunch of really RARE ones, like QSX, QTX, QTP, QTO that are nut much used by amateurs at all.

Dave Oldridge