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Author Topic: Is the frequency clear?  (Read 19906 times)

Posts: 219

« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2013, 04:05:27 AM »

Most likely I do not have to ask QRL ? due to the fact I have listened on that freq for a good time. I have looked at the DX Summit and I have watched the reverse beacon.

I give you example of this though.

You use no network to check the freq . You are in the DX Window . You really do not care and that is find . I sure would like to have a nice rag chew in the dx window with a dx station also. Not my point I am trying to get across.

You listen for as long as you so care to . You DO NOT hear anyone.
Does NOT mean there is NO one there .

The station is there working Split . It really does not matter you call cq . After all you can not hear him. There may be 1000's of stations working this DX station  split though and can hear the DX and YOU . 

It can happen on ANY band this condition for you , not hearing the station in question. So call cq without the QRL ? and see what happens. 2 things : No one comes back , someone comes back .either it answer your cq or run you off . No big deal. It is just a hobby!

Last night on 160 a station was on 1824 with a pile up UP 2kc. Just happen there was a dX station up 2.5 kc. Every one was having a fit over people on freq. Saying up up up ect...adding to the qrm. Finally the DX at 26.5 just went to working EU stations. NO big deal , this happens on a crowed band. Some one will still get through and there is tomorrow.

Either way to use or not use QRL ? "listen "  before calling cq.

The majority of hams that Call QRL?  the pro sign I mostly hear is R R or just one R by most hams to indicate the Freq is in use. . Not saying that is right. It is just what I happen to hear most times.

And so then I have heard this happen where a station ask QRL? and someone comes back R and the Station in question waits 2 min and then just starts to call cq. I guess he thinks the guy sent the R was just not telling the truth . After all he can not hear anyone.

73 JIM

Posts: 374

« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2013, 04:46:32 AM »

Here is one process:
1. Listen for a minute or so with wide filter and watch panadapter (if available) -- give 500 to 1000 KHz buffer, depending on how crowded
2. If no activity, call "QRL?" -- wait 5 or 10 seconds and do it again -- twice, maybe three times
3. If no response, start the CQ -- keep filters wide and receive RIT on (in case you have to chase a boat anchor)

Regarding responses, I have heard "yes", "R", "QRL" and "C".  (Sometimes I get a "go ahead" from someone who has presumably been hanging around a while and then will start.)  When on the receiving end of the "QRL?", I usually just send "C" and that sends the requestor off to QSY.

Perhaps most important, if I get a positive response to my "QRL?", I do not reply with anything -- no "TU", "TNX OM" or even "di-dit".  The frequency is in use, after all! 

Regardless, if all else fails, just tighten the filter to 50Hz and put that close-in dynamic range spec. that you paid for to the test -- it is all fun!


Posts: 4710

« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2013, 08:21:24 AM »

Here's what I do:

Step 1: Listen, tuning up and down a bit because I have a sharp receiver filter.

Step 2: Send "didit..dit"

If no response,

Step 3: Send "QRL?" and wait several seconds or more. Repeat.

If no response,

Step 4: Send CQ. I find 3/2/1 works best:


73 de Jim, N2EY

...btw, "AR" is only used when replying to a CQ and at the end of formal messages. "AR K" is not good practice.


Posts: 197

« Reply #18 on: February 17, 2013, 06:55:19 AM »

QRL? has migrated to the norm in today's ham radio, I do recall a time in the early 70s when many CW ops just sent a couple I's , repeated it and if no response that usually meant the frequency is clear, if you got a response it was usually answered with a Q signal and most of the time it was Qrl, meaning the frequency is busy,  I made thousands  of CW contacts while operating in AK from 74 to 79 and that was pretty much the norm up there at that time,  of course things have changed as they always do,  QrL followed by a ? sent a few times should be all  you need to do.  Have fun, CW is still Awesome!!  By the way Q signals are for CW use, not phone but slowly they have migrated in to  phone usage over the years, another example of how things change over  many decades and as the hobby progresses, some hams like change , some don't,  73 Jim N0XE

Posts: 179

« Reply #19 on: February 17, 2013, 08:44:03 PM »

And in the early 60s, it was not rare to hear the land telegrapher's "C" (a quick "didit dit") instead of QRL? to ask if the frequency is clear.  That OT practice diminished quickly as Novice ops misunderstood and morphed it into a "shave & a haircut" mating call to establish contact (instead of calling CQ). 

It was hilarious - back in the days of receivers with barn door-wide front ends - to hear one Novice op do that "shave & a hair cut" lidism on his own crystal frequency, followed by a slew other lids replying with "dit dit"s spread across the entire Novice band. 


Posts: 194

« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2013, 03:36:11 AM »

Couple basics, please. First yes do listen. But skip may mean you are not hearing a station already in QSO but you'll QRM the guy he is working. And he may transmit for a minute or two -- so a brief listen may not let you know the freq is indeed already in use. QRL? a couple times may hurt an in progress QSO. That plus the guy's sending back QRL may be just enough disruption to cause someone to miss a valued DX contact or part of an NTS message or the exchange needed for an award r contest. Listen then a quick ?? and listen and a quick ?? is less disruptive. If you get back a quick C or Y you have your answer. If not a quick de yourcall another listen then CQ will fulfill the ID requirements well enough with a minimum chance of being disruptive. Not ID, tuning up, failing to actually listen, not realizing skip often means you will only hear one of the two stations already in QSO are all bad form. You are to be commended for caring enough to check it out and learn. WELCOME ABOARD.

Posts: 43


« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2013, 02:58:45 PM »

Agree with the friends here, the standard practice foresees a modified use of the Q code, by sending a QRL?, then wait, the again QRL? then wait, and then - if no response - start CQing.
If the frequency is in use the best practice is to send a "C" as another OM said, however it happened that someone replied "No" to my QRL?, HI.
73 Carlo IK0YGJ

Download Zen and the Art Of Radiotelegraphy free in PDF format here:

Now in 4 languages: Italian, English, German, French

Posts: 875

« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2013, 03:18:33 AM »

Listen first for a little while.
It may be that a DXpedition is working split and their is a temporary lull in the mayhem.
So tune up and down a few Khz and scout out the terrain.
I usually turn off my narrow CW filter at first, and can usually hear if something unusual is happening up or down from me.

Then, one QRL? and a 5 second wait should be enough to give someone a chance to send C or something else.
Of course what may not be busy now could be in a minute - that is just the price we pay for using the ionosphere for propagation.

73 - Rob
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