A Modest Proposal for Two New Q-Signals

Yesterday, three of us carpooled to the Marshall Hamfest, about an hour west of Ann Arbor. On the way over, we got to talking about CW. Jack, WT8N, a relatively new ham who has—I am happy to report—taken up CW, noted that one thing he found puzzling was that it seemed to be common practice for guys to say how old they are and how long they’ve been hams.

To be honest, I’ve always found that kind of curious, too. In fact, I rarely volunteer this information unless prompted to do so. Jack even went on to say that there have been some contacts where guys would ask if he did not offer this information.

Now, I don’t want to get into the psychology of this particular practice. I’m no psychologist. What I would like to do, however, is to make passing this info quicker and easier. Especially since it appears this has become a common operating practice.

So, what I’d like to propose is that we create two new Q-signals. The first, QHO, will stand for “I am __ years old.” So, instead of sending “AGE HR IS 51,” I can simply send “QHO 51.”

Since the number of years one has been licensed often follows this bit of information, e.g. “AGE HR IS 51 ES BN HAM 35 YRS,” I propose adopting a second Q-signal, QBH. We’ll use QBH to mean, “I’ve been a ham for __ years.”

Now, according to Ralf D. Kloth, DL4TA, QBH has been used in the past in the aeronautical service to mean “I am flying below cloud and at flight level/altitude …” or “Maintain a vertical distance of … (figures and units) below cloud.” I doubt that there will be much confusion, however, if hams adopt QBH for the meaning I’ve just described.

Of course, adding a question mark to the Q-signal will turn it into a question. So, if you would like to know the age of a ham you’re in contact with, send QHO? If you want to know how long they’ve had their ticket, send QBH?



  1. Ronny, KC5EES says:

    Although I don’t operate Code that much (I ‘eavesdrop’ quite a bit to get a better ear for it…), I think these are really good ideas. For new to Code hams, trying to always copy everything is frustrating. With Q-signs, I found it a relaxing feeling to know, for example, that I was about to copy a QTH. At least, I knew that THIS information really counts, so focus, focus. Adding QHO and QBH to the mix would allow for additional comfort zones in the QSO. You may miss “been fishing all day down at my lakehouse” which may or may not be important, but at least a new ham could focus enough to catch Name, QTH, QHO, etc.

    Good luck in this venture. Sounds like the idea should be sent in to ARRL ‘letters to the editor’. Make for some good conversation, at any rate. How would one go about ‘officially’ getting a Q-sign added, anyway?

    Ronny, KC5EES
    Round Rock, Tx

  2. The Pembrokeshire Radio Society Blog has a few more suggestions for new Q-signals. Go to http://pembsradiosociety.blogspot.com/2007/11/new-q-code.html to see them.

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