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Author Topic: Selecting an effective call sign  (Read 3849 times)
KK7KL
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« on: April 09, 2016, 04:17:43 PM »

I would like to start a discussion on selecting an effective vanity call sign.

The FCC has made it easy and free to change your call sign online. You can use radioqth.com to find which call signs are available.

I passed the Extra exam the same day my Tech and General call signs were issued. I wanted a K and 7 and chose and was granted KK7KL.

This works great on psk31 and the multiple K’s create problems on ssb.

In working with a VHF net, I have found a 1x3 call sign easiest for me to envision when heard and am considering changing. I think K7xxx being from Utah.

Thoughts on a Ax7xx 2x2 format call sign

Thoughts on a 1x3 format as compared to a 2x2 call sign

Thoughts on best letters to select. I have heard the following comments

1. no doubled letters – such as KK
2. avoid s/f, b/d and e/t as they sound alike unless phonetic
3. avoid K as the last letter if on morse code

I am leaning towards K, X, R, G, M

Thoughts
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K8WV
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« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2016, 11:25:59 AM »

The late humorist Jean Shepard, K2ORS, often spoke of W5EEE.
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N0IU
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« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2016, 03:50:57 PM »

Remember, you asked for my thoughts.....

Personally, I think it is a huge waste of time to discuss what constitutes an effective vanity callsign.

Because there are so many different modes, what may make one callsign work well for one mode might make it suck on another. My callsign is a perfect example. I chose my vanity callsign in recognition of my Alma Mater - Indiana University. It just so happens that it works extremely well on CW. OTOH, it is absolutely horrendous on phone! Those three letters and one number add up to a whopping eleven syllables when using standard phonetics. On digital modes, it doesn't seem to make a difference one way or another.

The bottom line is that I have had this vanity callsign for nearly 20 years (back when you used to have to pay big bucks for them!) and I am not about to change it now. I picked this callsign (which thankfully was available at the time) because it had a special meaning to me, not because it worked well on a particular mode.

So pick a callsign that you like or has some special meaning to you and make it work.


« Last Edit: April 10, 2016, 03:57:36 PM by N0IU » Logged
HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2016, 08:49:52 AM »

I had a similar question/thread awhile back:

http://www.eham.net/ehamforum/smf/index.php/topic,107831.0.html

Some folks will essentially say "why bother?" but I think you are on the right track thinking it through.  It's hard for me to understand why some hams would spend time measuring to millimeters and fractions of a dB but not consider the value of a good call sign - but people often have their own sense of what's important.  No problem.  Clearly, call sign selection isn't the biggest challenge the world is facing.

(I think there is chance we will get some posts here that will say the whole discussion is nonsense, pointless, useless, etc.)

My opinion is that when communicating it's good to take into consideration both the transmission and the reception - so a call sign that is easily and clearly transmitted is valuable but it's equally or more valuable to have a call sign that is easily and clearly (accurately) received.  I'm not very experienced with ham operations compared to the many long-time hams here but I don't know why anyone would want to spend extra time repeating call signs over and over just to make them clearly heard, understood, and remembered.

Overall, I think a shorter call sign is generally (but maybe not always) easier for the sender and receiver than a longer call sign; so 4 characters would generally be preferable to 5 and 5 would generally be preferable to 6.  And no doubt, some characters are easier to enunciate than others and some are easier to accurately perceive than others.  It seems like you are down the path in sorting this out.  Likewise, you are giving consideration to combinations of characters.

IMO, if you do voice, you are pretty much always going to say the characters.  How much you use the phonetics might be determined in part by how much they are needed to add clarity to the characters.  Even if the characters are clearly said and heard you will still probably use the phonetics a fair amount so the ease and clarity of the phonetics are likely a consideration.  So now you are down to which characters in which combinations go most effectively with the phonetics.

Then you have CW.  For hams that do entirely or largely CW the combination of dits and dahs is a very important consideration.  When selecting a call sign I think it's worth considering what percent of the time you will be doing CW vs. voice or other modes.  Ideally, it would be good to have a call sign that works well with characters, phonetics, and CW but if CW is only going to be 5% of all your work maybe it's not as important as the characters and phonetics.

For all three (characters, phonetics, and CW) I think there is something to be said for combinations; rhythm is a real thing.

Then there is the purely "special meaning" consideration - your initials, your school initials, etc.  This is a reasonable consideration.  It might help you or others remember your call sign.  (It's funny how sometimes a ham can forget his call sign characters or the phonetics for a split second when they are needed.)  Some combinations can have strong sentimental meaning.  In an ideal scenario you could select a call sign with special meaning plus good (easy to say/transmit, understand, and remember) characters, phonetics, and CW.

fwiw, the characters you cited (K,X,R,G,M) seem to be pretty good candidates.  I think K and X might be the easiest to say and the easiest to hear of the five.  G is pretty easy to say but will it be heard as B, C, D, E, T, Z?  Maybe R is easy enough to say, and maybe M won't sound like N.  It's all minor stuff but I get where you are coming from.  For some people naming is "pick one and move on" or "just give me what ever comes out next from the random generator", but for other people selecting a call sign is fun.  You generally only do it once or twice of maybe a few times so I think it's ok to be thoughtful.

At the end of the day, I think it's preferable, if possible, to pick a call sign that makes it easy for the other party to hear, understand, and remember what you transmitted.

73
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 09:05:10 AM by HAMSTUDY » Logged
K7MEM
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2016, 02:10:19 PM »

Personally, I think it is a huge waste of time to discuss what constitutes an effective vanity callsign.

I agree. It's a big waste of time trying to cobble together an effective call sign. Your going to make up all the things it should, or should not be, and then find out there are very few available in that category any way.

Similar to N0UI, I picked mine in Y2K, before they started changing the licensing. I knew at the time changes were in the air and pretty soon there would be a rush on vanity call signs. So I looked through the "7" district call signs simply for one that I liked. I had a Extra class licence, and there were a lot of 1x2 and 2x1 call signs available, but I liked my 1x3 the best. I think I submitted about 15 possibilities, but the one I have now was my first choice. I had a bunch of Ax7xx 2x2 calls on the list, but I glad I didn't get them.

My prior call signs were WN2TCL, WB2TCL, WB2RQE, DA2EU, KB7EQS. I liked them all and they were all pretty easy to send, on CW or voice. I don't recall have problems with any of them being understood.

Some times people hear what they want to hear on the radio. From time to time, I get contact information from hams that worked W7MEM. I don't think "Whisky" and "Kilo" sound the same at all. So no matter what you choose, someone will get it wrong.
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
HAMSTUDY
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2016, 04:31:47 PM »

Personally, I think it is a huge waste of time to discuss what constitutes an effective vanity callsign.

I agree. It's a big waste of time trying to cobble together an effective call sign. Your going to make up all the things it should, or should not be, and then find out there are very few available in that category any way.

Similar to N0UI, I picked mine in Y2K, before they started changing the licensing. I knew at the time changes were in the air and pretty soon there would be a rush on vanity call signs. So I looked through the "7" district call signs simply for one that I liked. I had a Extra class licence, and there were a lot of 1x2 and 2x1 call signs available, but I liked my 1x3 the best. I think I submitted about 15 possibilities, but the one I have now was my first choice. I had a bunch of Ax7xx 2x2 calls on the list, but I glad I didn't get them.

My prior call signs were WN2TCL, WB2TCL, WB2RQE, DA2EU, KB7EQS. I liked them all and they were all pretty easy to send, on CW or voice. I don't recall have problems with any of them being understood.

Some times people hear what they want to hear on the radio. From time to time, I get contact information from hams that worked W7MEM. I don't think "Whisky" and "Kilo" sound the same at all. So no matter what you choose, someone will get it wrong.


For a guy who thinks it's a waste of time it seems like not only have you had your share of call signs but you wound up with a very good one.  I like K7MEM a lot.  Nice job!  

(I guess there's no sense in thinking about it or discussing it; just try five and the sixth one could be the charm.)  Smiley
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 04:53:41 PM by HAMSTUDY » Logged
K7MEM
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« Reply #6 on: April 13, 2016, 02:33:34 PM »

My prior call signs were WN2TCL, WB2TCL, WB2RQE, DA2EU, KB7EQS. I liked them all and they were all pretty easy to send, on CW or voice. I don't recall have problems with any of them being understood.
For a guy who thinks it's a waste of time it seems like not only have you had your share of call signs but you wound up with a very good one.  I like K7MEM a lot.  Nice job!  

Yes, I did have a lot of call signs, however those calls are over a span of 50 years and only the last one, K7MEM, was my choice. All the reset were issued by the appropriate authority.

WN2TCL was issued in 1965, when I first got my Novice license. WB2TCL was issued a year later, when I tested for Technician. WB2RQE was issued in 1981, when I went to Germany. DA2EU was issued that same year, when I applied for a reciprocal German license. When I returned from Germany, a few years later, I requested a updated call that would reflect my call sign zone. KB7EQS was what I ended up with. Then in the year 2000 I put in for K7MEM and was approved.

Yea, I did wind up with a good one, but it was completely accidental. The MEM is just my initials. I didn't consider how it would be on the air. Although, it it turned out really bad, I probably would have changed it again.
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Martin - K7MEM

http://www.k7mem.com
K3NRX
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2016, 08:19:02 AM »

Remember, you asked for my thoughts.....

Personally, I think it is a huge waste of time to discuss what constitutes an effective vanity callsign.

Because there are so many different modes, what may make one callsign work well for one mode might make it suck on another. My callsign is a perfect example. I chose my vanity callsign in recognition of my Alma Mater - Indiana University. It just so happens that it works extremely well on CW. OTOH, it is absolutely horrendous on phone! Those three letters and one number add up to a whopping eleven syllables when using standard phonetics. On digital modes, it doesn't seem to make a difference one way or another.

The bottom line is that I have had this vanity callsign for nearly 20 years (back when you used to have to pay big bucks for them!) and I am not about to change it now. I picked this callsign (which thankfully was available at the time) because it had a special meaning to me, not because it worked well on a particular mode.

So pick a callsign that you like or has some special meaning to you and make it work.




Agreed. It's all in the eye of the beholder.  For me, you can't get more effective than K3NRX, especially with regard to CW....however, I also agree with no double letters, and avoiding the letter K at the end, call signs with letters that sound the same (c, g, d, e, p, x, s, f, etc.) or  combination that requires tongue twisting are also on the avoid list....but, the big bugaboo with me is anything with the 2x3 callsign.....for 29 years I had a 2x3, and finally got the gumption to neuter it by one letter....2x3s are long and bulky and and a pain in the ass with any combination of letters, but especially with the ones issued now when you get your first license.....you are initially issued a 2x3 call sign upon the entry level....why would you change it to another 2x3 as a personal call sign is beyond my comprehension.

V
K3NRX

« Last Edit: April 15, 2016, 08:21:35 AM by K3NRX » Logged
W7WQ
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Posts: 273




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« Reply #8 on: April 20, 2016, 09:08:21 AM »

my first call in the 1960's was WA7KJA....a tongue twister on phone and a long cw call but I worked nearly 350 countries with it.....but I must say this is better...
« Last Edit: April 20, 2016, 09:12:28 AM by W7WQ » Logged
W8ASA
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2016, 08:30:35 AM »

My first call sign was WA3BQU. When I moved to California in 1969, the FCC issued WB6QWF, which was horrible on CW because it took so long to send. Some years ago, I decided to go for a shorter call sign, and W8ASA was available, so I took it. It's short on CW and easy to phoneticize, except for some folks in other countries. Alpha Sierra Alpha is often mistaken as Alpha Kilo Alpha, though I don't know why. I'm thinking about going for AE5E or N5EE if they become available, just for the brevity on CW. But, ASA has other meaning to me, so I'll most likely keep it.

In any case, enjoy the hobby!

73,
Ken W8ASA (52 years in the hobby, and still loving it)
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NN4RH
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« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2016, 04:27:04 PM »

What's wrong with your current callsign?
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KC8Y
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« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2016, 03:40:44 PM »

In 1967, my first call (as a novice -1 year) was WN8CXC...Didn't want to loose it [liked the "...CXC..." for CW]; so as I up-graded to tech (6-months) & advanced (33 years), I became WB8CXC.  Now, licensed 13-years, as an extra. and getting use to it on CW Smiley  Still love CW.

Ken KC8Y 
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KC2QYM
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« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2016, 09:41:30 AM »

The whole vanity call sign program is nothing more than that...vanity.  I couldn't give a rat's a_s what random numeration system the FCC used to assign my call sign to me.  If I have to repeat my phonetics a few times for the other station to get it then so be it.  Sometimes a DX station doesn't get my call sign correctly during an exchange and I'll do everything possible to correct it before disengaging but if I can't it doesn't matter in the scheme of things. As long as I know I made the contact I don't care if my call sign bounces on some logging program simply because I am not collecting cards, certificates, awards, etc.  I have enough real diplomas to decorate my walls.  Isn't that why hams want vanity calls...to make the contact easy to remember and simpler to copy on the other side so they can get their silly awards/certificates.  Ha ha ha to vanity calls... Cheesy
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K3NRX
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« Reply #13 on: Yesterday at 09:51:19 AM »

The whole vanity call sign program is nothing more than that...vanity.  I couldn't give a rat's a_s what random numeration system the FCC used to assign my call sign to me.  If I have to repeat my phonetics a few times for the other station to get it then so be it.  Sometimes a DX station doesn't get my call sign correctly during an exchange and I'll do everything possible to correct it before disengaging but if I can't it doesn't matter in the scheme of things. As long as I know I made the contact I don't care if my call sign bounces on some logging program simply because I am not collecting cards, certificates, awards, etc.  I have enough real diplomas to decorate my walls.  Isn't that why hams want vanity calls...to make the contact easy to remember and simpler to copy on the other side so they can get their silly awards/certificates.  Ha ha ha to vanity calls... Cheesy

No that is not why hams want "vanity" calls....I always hated the term "vanity"....makes one think that we hams are looking at ourselves in the mirror and saying how beautiful we are and how beautiful our station is.....translation, makes us look VAIN.... if you like your big long tongue twister call sign that you have to repeat over and over and over again until people finally get it, then that's your business....Some of us might want a "PERSONAL" call sign probably because the sequence that was initially issued to us from the FCC SUCKED!.....is a tongue twister....is too long.....is too hard to understand......has double letters...has to many letters that sound the same.....any number of reasons.....if I wanted my call sign to be all about me, I would have changed it to K3VSP (my initials-- NOTE: that is not a slam on hams that use their name's initials in their call sign-- you want to do that, so be it) or K3VIN (the first three letters of my first name).....I wanted a shorter call sign....and I got it, by practically not giving up my original....I could not be happier.....it has nothing to do with vanity..........some of us are not the vain ham radio egotists that you think we are, so please, don't judge everyone who wants to pick the letters in their call sign....vanity.... Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Roll Eyes Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue Tongue........I really wish they would change that......

V
K3NRX
f/k/a KA3NRX

« Last Edit: Yesterday at 10:03:08 AM by K3NRX » Logged
K0BT
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« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 01:19:26 PM »

The whole vanity call sign program is nothing more than that...vanity.  I couldn't give a rat's a_s what random numeration system the FCC used to assign my call sign to me.  If I have to repeat my phonetics a few times for the other station to get it then so be it.  Sometimes a DX station doesn't get my call sign correctly during an exchange and I'll do everything possible to correct it before disengaging but if I can't it doesn't matter in the scheme of things. As long as I know I made the contact I don't care if my call sign bounces on some logging program simply because I am not collecting cards, certificates, awards, etc.  I have enough real diplomas to decorate my walls.  Isn't that why hams want vanity calls...to make the contact easy to remember and simpler to copy on the other side so they can get their silly awards/certificates.  Ha ha ha to vanity calls... Cheesy

What an interesting idea, to assume that your way of thinking might apply to everyone else.   Smiley 
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