My Latest Pet Peeve…

…is the operator who treats a normal rag-chewing QSO like a DX contact.

Let me give you an example. The other day I called CQ, and a fellow came back to me with only his callsign. Not only that, he only sent it once. Now, if you have any experience at all with CW, you know that it’s always wise to send your callsign at least twice. The reason for this is that there are a number of things, including QRN, QSB, and distractions in the shack, that could cause the receiving station to miss the callsign.

Now, normally, I would make the other guy send his call again, by sending QRZ? This, time, though, I copied the signal cleanly, so I launched into the QSO, sending him a report, my name, and location. When I turned it back to the guy, he sent, “599 FL 73″ ¬†and off he went.

Now, I ask you, what sense did it make for that guy to even answer my CQ? This has happened to me two or three times in the last month and each time I had the same reaction.

Please, unless you’re a DX station trying to make use of good band conditions, don’t answer my CQ if all you want to do is swap signal reports with me. Unless I’m calling CQ DX, which I almost never do, I’m looking for conversation, not just an info swap.


  1. John KO0D says:

    First, not all hams are rag chewers. Second, I don’t see anything in your call, or anyone else’s, that says you are only interested in a rag chew. Third, if signals are good, repeats and long calls are usually unnecessary. I think what makes hamming intriguing is that it is unpredictable as to what your next QSO will be like and as such we need to be able to ‘go with the flow’. 73 de KO0D

  2. How true….Don’t know quite how to get around this but yes, it’s very frustrating at times. I also want to know something MORE than the basics with a QSO (except DX contacts). I’ve developed many friendships with hams with a long QSO. Although I’ll probably never meet some of them personally, I feel like they’re my neighbors.
    Was recently in Iowa and called a local guy near a relative who I’ve talked with several times with a long QSO. (gave me all the info with a CW QSO) I visit NYC and talk with another WV guy who moved there and uses a random wire hanging out an apartment building in the middle of town.

    You can only get to know people this way by actually having a “chat”…those 559 OP and QTH contacts just don’t cut it. This is what radio is really about. Get to know your radio neighbors just like you would your local neighbors.

    Great post!

  3. Dan KB6NU says:

    KO0D: Well, I guess you’re right about not all hams being ragchewers, but I can’t help but think that they’re really missing out by limiting their contacts to “599 FL 73.” I really find nothing intriguing about such a contact, even with DX stations. I wonder what they’re getting out of it.

  4. Hi Dan, I agree with you, but most of my CW contacts are QRP, and just the nature of the beast has these contacts short and sweet. Just the basic info being exchanged. But when a strong contact is made, it is refreshing to have a decent CW QSO. It also helps out the CW speed and proficiency.

  5. John K3TN says:

    I think it is pretty much common sense that if you hear a W calling a 3×3 or 2×2 CQ, then they are looking to ragchew. The 599 FL guy obviously wasn’t using common sense, but what the heck – it only cost you 20 seconds or so if no one else had answered you anyway!

    Here’s a different CQ etiquette question: If a US station calls CQ DX, everyone knows it means he doesn’t want to talk to another US station. But if a non-US station calls CQ DX, does it mean he just doesn’t want to talk to a station in his own country, or he also does *not* want to work a US station?

    The reason I ask is I’ve answered CQ DX from some EU and several Caribbean stations and they’ve ignored me or sometimes replied “I was calling DX.” Not always, not most of the time, but often enough for me to wonder.

    John K3TN

  6. Dave N4KZ says:

    Hi Dan,

    Glad to work you last night on 40m QRP. Too bad the QRN was so heavy and your signal faded out rather quickly on me. I had just gotten Ham Radio Deluxe working with my FT-817 so it’s nice to have a big screen to control the tiny rig with rather than those tiny FT-817 buttons and knobs. I awoke about 4 a.m. today unable to sleep so I slipped into the ham shack where I worked KH7Y on 40m SSB with my FT-817. Not bad for 5 watts.

    Yes, I share your frustration about a CW CQ being answered by a domestic station who signs his call just once. Unless it’s a contest scenario, that’s not good operating, in my book. I also find it frustrating to have someone answer either my SSB or CW CQ and call me so far off my frequency that I have to turn on the RIT but lack sufficient time to get them tuned in if they call just once. I mean — really, where’s the common sense in that?

    But here’s the real kicker. I operate HF mobile and recently I’ve had 2 or 3 stations answer my SSB CQ by signing their call just once and they’re off my transmit frequency. I’m an old-school ham (41 years so far) who refuses to fall into this “we must only operate on even frequencies” stuff. These days the bands are full of people operating on 14.250.00 or 7.150.00 or 3810.00. Me — I just spin the dial until I find a clear spot and call CQ and if I happen to be on 7.136.348, then so be it. Anyway, back to my venting, I’ve had these guys answer my CQ by saying their call just once and they’re off my transmit frequency to boot. And when I come back and ask them to repeat their calls several times so I can tune them in with the RIT, they just say their callsign one or two times again.

    Since when did several mean once or twice? It means more than twice but less than many. Look it up. Operating mobile is always a challenge from the noise perspective. There’s road noise and wind noise in the vehicle, ignition noise from the vehicle, power-line noise from outside and on and on. Do they really think under those conditions you can copy their call if they say it only once?

    I don’t mean to sound like an unhappy geezer — because I’m not, or at least not too much — but one can’t help but wonder about some operating habits. A little listening to good operators would go a long way in learning what to do and what not to do.

    73, Dave, N4KZ

  7. Chris KC2SYK says:

    Dan, have you considered that the operator might not have been proficient yet at CW and was hesitantly responding with the two things he had practiced: his call and a signal report?

    -Chris KC2SYK

    • Dan KB6NU says:

      That’s certainly possible, Chris. I hadn’t really thought of that. If that’s really the case, then I’m glad that I had the contact with him, and I hope he makes more CW contacts in the future!

  8. Stuart GD0OUD says:

    The ones who annoy me are those who when you have sent your CQ then reply with just a question mark.

    I take it as the CW equivalent of “eh?” and I never reply.

  9. You might want to rethink that Stuart.

    When I hear the question mark, I take it to mean that for some reason they were unable to copy my call sign. So, I crank down the speed and send “CQ de KB6NU KB6NU KB6NU.” Sometimes, the question mark station just goes away, but quite often slowing down results in a nice QSO.

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