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Author Topic: Why do we use "K"?  (Read 1947 times)
W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« on: August 04, 2009, 08:27:05 AM »

For over 58 years I have often sent K after a CQ and after an "over". Many others do it,too.

So, I'm asking why? Who started this rather senseless practice?

If I send "CQ DE W4YA" and stop sending, it seems to me that 99.9% of those listening would assume that I am done and am waiting for a reply. The other 0.1% might just sit there, expecting something more to come!

The same goes for the end of a transmission. W3ROU DE W4YA K. What is the "K" for? Is W3ROU that stupid that he would sit there for many minutes waiting for me to send more if I omitted the K?

The answer is that we read it in a book, or we head others doing it.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not talking about SK or KN. Both of these convey specific information. However, K does not, because if it is omitted, no important information is lost.
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K5END
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« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2009, 09:55:26 AM »

Great question. I'd prefer not to send "K" after a CQ. Maybe it is useful for the guys who send 10 or 12 CQs in a row. The "K" means he has to catch his breath and now is a chance to answer-hihi.

I don't know the whole story, but I recall reading that as far back as 1912 (in a transcript of the radio communications on the Titanic) "K" was a response to another station calling.

You call me, and I say, "K," which means "go ahead."

Even the "dah-di-dah" sounds rythmically like "go ahead," but I don't know if that is relevant or not.

I'm still wet behind the ears in CW, and am a bit confused when I hear, "AR" "BT" "BTU" or "K" at the end of the message. Do they mean different things?

I do appreciate hearing the "dit, dit" after we both sign off.
That way I know he heard my sign off and "73."
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N2EY
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« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2009, 11:40:55 AM »

The K is so you know that the op has stopped sending. This is important when signals are weak and/or fading. It's also quicker, because when you hear K you *know* he's turning it over; you don't have to guess whether he stopped or it's just a momentary pause.

I've heard hams who guessed wrong and started sending on top of the CQer, who couldn't hear the reply because neither had QSK.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2009, 11:56:12 AM »

I always send K.  It denotes an invitation to transmit, thus indicating your CQ is finished.  In fading conditions, it might be impossible to know if someone is "finished" or simply faded out.

Under truly weak weak signal conditions, multiple K's are very common (such as working VHF meteor scatter): CQ WB2WIK CQ WB2WIK CQ WB2WIK CQ WB2WIK CQ WB2WIK CQ WB2WIK K K K K K

This is because other parties might only copy 2% (or less) of what is sent so everything needs to be repeated -- a lot.  It's simply "what works," determined experimentally.

WB2WIK/6
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N2EY
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« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2009, 11:57:03 AM »

"I'm still wet behind the ears in CW, and am a bit confused when I hear, "AR" "BT" "BTU" or "K" at the end of the message. Do they mean different things?"

Yes!

"AR" means "I'm calling you but I've not made contact yet". In formal message handling, "AR" means "end of message". When used this way and followed by "B", means "more messages to follow", while when followed by "N" means "last message, no more".

"BT" (dahdidididah) is used instead of a period.

Never heard anyone use "BTU"

"TU" means "thank you" ("TNX" means "Thanks")

"K" means "go ahead anybody"

"KN" means "go ahead, but only the station I'm working"

"SK" means "end of QSO"

"CL" means "closing down station"

(If you want I'll post a whole list)

For example:

CQ CQ CQ DE K5END K5END K5END K

K5END DE N2EY N2EY AR

N2EY DE K5END R TU BT UR 599 599 PODUNK TX PODUNK TX HW? N2EY DE K5END K
 
K5END DE N2EY R TU BT UR 599 599 WAYNE PA WAYNE PA OP JIM JIM HW? K5END DE N2EY K

N2EY DE K5END R TU BT SRI BUT XYL SEZ TSTRM CMG FAST  MUST QRT BT TNX QSO ES BCNU 73 SK N2EY DE K5END CL

K5END DE N2EY R WONT HLD U BT GL 73 ES BCNU LTR SK K5END DE N2EY (dit dit)

(dit dit)

---

These prosigns and abbreviations may seem odd and numerous but after a while they become second nature. Teenagers I meet are amazed that I can read their text messages so easily; they don't realize word compression isn't new.


73 de Jim, N2EY
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AB9NZ
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Posts: 176




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« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2009, 06:35:29 PM »

Jim, I think guys send "BTU" for  "back to you"-
Tom
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N3OX
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Posts: 8854


WWW

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« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2009, 08:25:10 PM »

"W3ROU DE W4YA K. What is the "K" for? Is W3ROU that stupid that he would sit there for many minutes waiting for me to send more if I omitted the K?
"

Man, you are clearly not a weak signal op ;-)

Some indicator that a transmission is over is critical in the things I like to do in ham radio (like DX contacts on 160)

It's not just a dumb ham quirk.
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73,
Dan
http://www.n3ox.net

Monkey/silicon cyborg, beeping at rocks since 1995.
W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2009, 11:06:38 PM »

N3OX - Good point. Yes, I've made many what I would call ESP QSOs on 160 and all bands where I didn't clearly hear my entire call sign, but since nobody else came back to the guy, I assumed he said W4YA, etc. In those "ESP" exchanges, I think that timing and experience were as important as what was actually sent.

In my silly example with the W3ROU exchange I honestly think that the use of K is unnecessary. The same goes for BTU, AR KN, etc. But I did say that I sometimes send K out of habit.

Actually, I didn't think anyone would actually respond to this observation. Some very good points were made.

73,
Jim W4YA
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2009, 04:52:14 AM »

Steve, have you worked much meteor scatter?

If you have, that would make a good article and I would enjoy reading it.

I am interested in learning more about using it for contacts, as the trails and such tie a bit into my background.

I would not expect an individual meteor to provide a long QSO. But in a meteor shower this could be a good opportunity.

The timing of the showers is as predictable as the moon phases. However, the *magnitude* of the shower is not very predictable. Most showers are from the earth passing through an old comet's orbit trail, with small debris still occupying the same orbital path.

The circadian aspect of the shower is that the local peak is around 2 or 3 AM local time. Your locality is hitting the trail like the windshield hits raindrops.
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K0OD
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Posts: 2546




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« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2009, 07:37:56 AM »

Hey, after a CQ nowadays one must beg for an answer with multiple PSE's.

The worst: Ending a CQ with KN which I hear occasionally. That means I'm calling CQ (a general call) to a specific station. What?

THE PROPER WAY TO END A CW CQ IS WITH a simple K, NOT AR, KN, and most certainly not the horrendous and often heard ARK.

Whose opinion is this? The League (QST) has been saying all of this for a half century and some hams still don't get it!

Just a K! (agree that multiple Ks are useful in very rough conditions).
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2009, 09:49:59 AM »

>RE: Why do we use "K"?       Reply
by K5END on August 5, 2009    Mail this to a friend!
Steve, have you worked much meteor scatter?<

::Thousands of contacts.

>If you have, that would make a good article and I would enjoy reading it.<

::I could write one but my m.s. activity pretty much stopped when WSJT software became popular and the contacts were becoming keyboard-to-keyboard via the JT modes.  That actually makes m.s. so easy, it's just not a challenge anymore.  In the "old days" when we were all analog, it was great fun!

>I am interested in learning more about using it for contacts, as the trails and such tie a bit into my background.

I would not expect an individual meteor to provide a long QSO. But in a meteor shower this could be a good opportunity.<

::If you run enough power and enough antenna gain, you can have a whole QSO via one meteor trail, if it's long enough and falling within your radio horizon.  I used to get up early to work m.s. on 50 MHz SSB almost every day, back in the mid-70s to early 80s.  Ran 1500W PEP to 20 elements at 75 feet, and "random" meteors always produced contacts -- every day, if I could get up early enough to do it.  The "other" stations were usually pretty well equipped, and DX was typically 500 to 1200 miles.  We all enjoyed it, as it was "pioneering," to some extent.  It no longer is.

>The timing of the showers is as predictable as the moon phases. However, the *magnitude* of the shower is not very predictable. Most showers are from the earth passing through an old comet's orbit trail, with small debris still occupying the same orbital path.

The circadian aspect of the shower is that the local peak is around 2 or 3 AM local time. Your locality is hitting the trail like the windshield hits raindrops.<

::Most of my m.s. work was done before I moved here, when I lived back in NJ.  M.S. would occur all night and into early morning, usually petering out just after sunrise and "peaking" just before sunrise, hence the "getting up early!"

73

Steve WB2WIK/6
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AD7WN
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Posts: 113




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« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2009, 06:28:09 PM »

As to why do we use K, without going back to the story of creation, amateur and commercial and military operators have been doing this for many decades.  They have found this is an efficient way of saying "over."

But they have not used K without exception.  Commercial and military operators, at least back when they were still using morse, would often omit the K if conditions were good and they were using QSK.  When conditions were rough, the K was a good indicator that the sending station was now listening.

Just my two centavos worth :-)

73 de John/AD7WN
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K5END
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Posts: 1309




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« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2009, 07:31:37 PM »

Well here is a related question.

I asked our local card checker recently about calling CQ to a particular state I need for W.A.S.

Say I had 49 states and still needed Texas to make 50 because I didn't have any close in antennas. (I know that is silly. It's just an example.)

So I got myself an NVIS and would call "CQ TX..."

If I understood him correctly, this is acceptable practice (the "CQ TX," I mean.)

Given that, would I end the "CQ TX..." with "K" or "KN" meaning I only want to hear back from TX?
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W4YA
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Posts: 317




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« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2009, 10:39:32 PM »

"Given that, would I end the "CQ TX..." with "K" or "KN" meaning I only want to hear back from TX? "

If you used neither K or KN, and a TX station answered, would that make you a believer that both K and KN are unnecessary? Or would you ignore the TX station because he answered an improper CQ?
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K5END
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« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2009, 04:50:46 AM »

"If you used neither K or KN, and a TX station answered, would that make you a believer that both K and KN are unnecessary? Or would you ignore the TX station because he answered an improper CQ?"

Well, the answer to your question is in the first response in this thread (#2 on page 1) to your original post.

In my first or second sentence in that post I said I'd prefer to not have to use "K" after a CQ.

If no stations in my target area were answering, and eventually someone else answered I would respond to them anyway.

It could be an old friend whose call sign I did not recognize, or...it might be another station who tells me he can hear my target respond, so clearly the propagation isn't working for me on this band.

Then he tells me he hears a live QSO on the next band down between my target area and another ham he knows who lives about 5 miles from me. So, I switch bands and nail state #50 (for whatever that is worth.)
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