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Author Topic: Prosigns  (Read 3111 times)
AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« on: January 16, 2011, 11:16:09 AM »

I had my very first CW QSO yesterday.  Although I am 57 years old and have been through a lot in my life, I was as nervous as any time I can remember.  My thanks to Russ from Homer Michigan SKCC 6973C for hand-holding me through the process. I am almost an expert now! 

I have a couple of questions about pro-signs please.  It surrounds the use AR and K or KN and when to use each.  I thought K or KN is used for any turnaround within a QSO and AR is used within a QSO to separate message data from everything else.  However, one of the guides I read stated that AR should be used to end a response to a CQ as in   K4SKC de AE5QB AE5QB AR  Is there a reason that AR is used in this circumstance instead of just K or KN?

Also throughout the QSO I hear people using BT in place of punctuation.  Is this standard practice or should I plan on using punctuation?

It seems to me that with every exchange, it is started and ended with the transmission of call signs.  This doesn't happen with voice QSOs.  Is this required?  At my speeds it takes up a good portion of the total time dedicated to the QSO.  Is it not appropriate to just use K or KN to end a transmission and work the call signs in at the beginning, end, and every ten minutes as required by FCC regs?

Finally, when copying CW, and not at the point of doing it in ones head,  is it good practice to write down the pro-signs or just skip those and just write down the rest of the words?  It seems to me that in preparation for passing formal traffic one day, it might be good to know the proper expectations. I'm assuming that formal traffic must be copied 100% letter by letter with no shortcuts or omissions.  Is this a valid assumption?

Sorry for the Newby questions.  These are the types of things that rattle around in the mind of the uninformed.

Regards,

Tom 
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K3JPC
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« Reply #1 on: January 16, 2011, 11:39:48 AM »

Congratulations! I just downloaded software to try to learn the code. I'm 54 and I hope to be right behind you!

How long were you practicing Morse code? I'm wondering how long it might take. I know determination and dedication to regular practice and all that, but I'm curious how long it took you since you and I are close in age.

Congrats again! I can imagine the excitement.

73

John  K3JPC
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KT1F
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« Reply #2 on: January 16, 2011, 11:49:11 AM »

Hi Tom

Congratulations on the first CW QSO. Great stuff.

Although a lot of these things probably have strict rules defined somewhere, it's all fairly relaxed in normal QSOs. Most CW "overs" begin and end with callsigns but they don't have to. If you want to pass it back to the other station without the callsigns then the usual thing seems to be to use BK. I sometimes to send it twice BK BK just to make it clear. Just K at the end of a sentence would be a bit confusing. If someone does BK to me then I usually start my transmission with BK or maybe R rather than just launching directly into the sentence. That seems to help keep things in sync especially if there is some QRM about.

As for the other codes. About the only ones I use are K SK and BT. I don't bother with AR. I think KN means, "go ahead but only the station I'm talking too". That seems a bit unnecessary in a normal QSO so I usually end an over with <you call> DE <my call> K or, if it's the last "signing off" with someone then it's <you call> DE <my call> SK. He might then come back with a final dit dit which is quite common.

Yes BT is quite common. I don't know what, if anything, it officially means but in practice it's a general separator mark to separate paragraphs or subjects. For me it often means "I'm still here but just thinking what to say next"  Smiley . At least that's how I use it.

I don't bother writing down the prosigns. You're probably right about formal traffic but in an informal QSO, just relax and write whatever you need to do to understand what the other station is saying.

73
Ross  KT1F  (I must get my call changed here at eHam)
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 04:05:07 PM by KB1KGA » Logged
AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2011, 12:24:43 PM »

Congratulations! I just downloaded software to try to learn the code. I'm 54 and I hope to be right behind you!

How long were you practicing Morse code? I'm wondering how long it might take. I know determination and dedication to regular practice and all that, but I'm curious how long it took you since you and I are close in age.

Hello John, the process is both frustrating and fun.  It is certainly challenging.  I have to admit that I might not be a fair indicator of learning times.  Way back in 1973 when I first entered the Navy, I decided to learn code and I obtained my Advanced license.  I was at about 15 WPM at best then but I never really operated CW then so it stagnated pretty quickly.  When I got out of the Navy in 79, life interceded and I put Ham radio on the shelf for 30 years and just picked it back up again last year.  While it seemed as if I was starting from scratch, I am sure deep in there somewhere, there were a few brain cells that remembered something about CW.

I remember when I first learned it back in the 70's, I was out at sea a lot and had plenty of time to listen to the cassette tapes. If I recall, it took me about 6 weeks of intense daily practice to get up to 15 WPM.  I would estimate that I am back up to about 10 WPM now and I have been practicing 4-5 times a week for the past 2 months.  It is definitely going very slowly at this stage in my life.  But I am not surprised, everything I try comes more slowly now. That is just a fact we have to accept. 

I can actually copy about 18-20 wpm if it is just 5 character code groups. But that is not real life.  When I try to copy words and QSOs with pro-signs, I really slow down.  My mind wants to anticipate what is coming and a lot of times it is wrong so I get out of rhythm and miss 3 or 4 characters before I can get back in sync. I suspect this is very normal. While the goal is to copy in my head at about 20 words per minute, I think trying to get there too quickly is actually slowing me down.  I want to anticipate and finish the words rather than just listen to the sounds and hear the rhythm.  But I am getting better at picking out some of the common words.

I am using G4FON and I really like the ability to enter a text file and play it back.  I am downloading Shakespearean Sonnets and using them to practice as the formal language he uses makes it quite difficult to memorize the text and anticipate what is coming.  Then I just listen a lot on the radio as well, but that doesn't always work out as I can only hear one side of the exchange in a lot of instances. But it is good for learning the sequence of exchanges and abbreviations.  I am also using the ARRL mp3 code practice files.  They are good because they use some pro signs but not many of the other abbreviations.  I don't listen to ARRL online much as a matter of time convenience.

Anyway, that is more than you wanted.  By all means I encourage you to jump in. It might be a slow process but one thing is for sure, if you don't get started, you will never get past your first character. Besides, what difference does time make?  If it takes you 6 months to a year to learn it at 5 or 10 wpm, who cares?  In a year from now you will either be at 0 WPM, 20 WPM, or something in between.  You may as well jump in and give it a try.  It is a lot of fun.

One other added benefit I have discovered is as my hearing continues to worsen, I see that I will be more confident with CW. I really struggle hearing call signs on SSB. I can anticipate conversations but there is no way to anticipate a call sign or a name.  With CW, I don't have to hear the call sign or name, I just have to hear a pure tone and then listen for the rhythm.  While I currently suck at it, CW is also somewhat reassuring to me for this reason.

73

If you have an hour for a QSO, listen for me. Smiley

Tom
AE5QB 
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AB2T
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« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2011, 01:40:00 PM »

Welcome aboard Tom!

Here are some personal observations.  Everyone's experience is different, so don't take mine for gospel truth.

I use 'K' at the end of a transmission.  This is what I was taught to do as a Novice, so I just kept on with it.  'BK' is also fine.  Any CW op will know what to do either way, so don't stress it.

Many hams send 'RRR' at the beginning of a contact.  Don't send any 'R's unless you have fully understood what the op has sent.  If not, ask for clarification.  I interpret 'R' to mean that I can proceed to something else in the contact.

'KN' is not used in ragchewing.  It's often found though in traffic handling.

'NAME' versus 'OP': when I work a foreign station I use 'OP'.  When I'm working someone from an English speaking country I'll use 'NAME'.  Many hams will use OP all the time.  Again, doesn't matter.

ES is &.  American Morse landline telegraphy had a short space within characters and a longer space between characters.  dit (short space) dididit was &.  Early hams carried this over to wireless Morse. 

73, Jordan

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N2EY
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« Reply #5 on: January 16, 2011, 02:53:08 PM »

It surrounds the use AR and K or KN and when to use each.  I thought K or KN is used for any turnaround within a QSO and AR is used within a QSO to separate message data from everything else.  However, one of the guides I read stated that AR should be used to end a response to a CQ as in   K4SKC de AE5QB AE5QB AR  Is there a reason that AR is used in this circumstance instead of just K or KN?

Here's what I learned way back when:

K means "any station go ahead". It is used after a CQ and during a QSO when it's OK for other stations to jump in.

KN means "called station go ahead, all others keep out". It is only used during a QSO when it's is not OK for other stations to jump in.

AR has two completely separate meanings.

The first meaning is to indicate the end of a call to a specific station, when a QSO hasn't been established yet. This is usually when you are answering a CQ.

The second meaning is to indicate the end of a formal message in traffic handling. In such use it is paired with B if there are more messages to follow, or N if there are no more.

Formal traffic handling on CW has a whole bunch of prosigns and special Q signals. It's a real blast to do once you learn the procedure.  

Also throughout the QSO I hear people using BT in place of punctuation.  Is this standard practice or should I plan on using punctuation?

In regular QSOs, punctuation is usually kept to a minimum. Formal sentence structure and such isn't really needed; the thought is what matters. (And the Young Squirts think they invented text-speak!)

BT is used to separate thoughts, like a period or comma. The question mark is used to make it clear when there is a question. Commas, semicolons etc. aren't really needed in most usage. Abbreviations and such really speed up a QSO and make it flow; often the conversation is as fast as normal spoken conversation.

Compare the following:

AE5QB DE N2EY R R R THANKS FOR THE CALL. YOUR SIGNALS ARE RST 599, 599. MY QTH IS WAYNE, PA, WAYNE, PA. MY NAME IS JIM, JIM. HOW IS THE WEATHER THERE? AE5QB DE N2EY K

AE5QB DE N2EY R TNX CL BT UR RST 599 599 IN WAYNE PA WAYNE PA BT OP JIM JIM BT HW UR WX? AE5QB DE N2EY K

Same info, but look how much time is saved.

It seems to me that with every exchange, it is started and ended with the transmission of call signs.  This doesn't happen with voice QSOs.  Is this required? 

It is not required by regs, but it's usually a good idea until you get used to the flow of CW QSOs.

The reason is that with CW you need to recognize who is calling who.

Finally, when copying CW, and not at the point of doing it in ones head,  is it good practice to write down the pro-signs or just skip those and just write down the rest of the words?  It seems to me that in preparation for passing formal traffic one day, it might be good to know the proper expectations. I'm assuming that formal traffic must be copied 100% letter by letter with no shortcuts or omissions.  Is this a valid assumption?
 

Write down whatever works for you.

In formal traffic handling, the prosigns and such are not written down. Only the message parts (preamble, address, message, signature) are written down. The operator knows what prosigns to use.

You may see and hear variations of the above. Some folks like to put AR at the end of every transmission, before the callsigns. Some will use the period (didahdidahdidah) rather than the BT. Some use the question mark rather than the error signal. Some leave out the DE.

IMHO, while the above variations and others are not standard, they are not anything to fret about. FCC regs actually require very little; the real issue is being clear about who is calling who and what is being said.

73 de Jim, N2EY
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F6EEQ
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« Reply #6 on: January 16, 2011, 04:05:59 PM »

Hi Tom,

speaking of pro-signs and CW operating, have look at following pa
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F6EEQ
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« Reply #7 on: January 16, 2011, 04:08:33 PM »

Sorry, bad key stroke!!!

Hi Tom,

speaking of PRO-SIGN and CW operating, have a look at this document made by IARU Region 1

http://www.iaru-r1.org/index.php?option=com_remository&func=fileinfo&id=19

It's all about ethics, and lot of interesting thing on procedures.
Although I've been operating CW since +35 years, I still learned some stuff.

Have fun reading.

73 from Gerard, F6EEQ
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K3JPC
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Posts: 49




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« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2011, 05:18:04 PM »

Tom,

Thanks for the thoughtful reply and the encouragement. I, too, downloaded G4FON. Great tool! Hopefully I'll be where you are soon!

Wayne, PA, eh? Jim, you and I are practically neighbors! I just dropped my son back at Valley Forge Military Academy.  Smiley
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WX7G
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Posts: 6034




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« Reply #9 on: January 17, 2011, 06:21:47 AM »

I almost never use AR or KN. K will do.

BT is used instead of other puncuation.

A comma is used when giving ones QTH.

The period can be skipped. It seems that new hams and those with keyboards use the period.

BK is used like OVER

The endless sendng of call signs does consume much time, as you say. They need be used only once every 10 minutes. When establishing a standard QSO I use it at the beginning of my first exchange to assure the other station he is working who he thinks he is.

If a station gets your call sign correctly but sends ? to make sure, simply send QSL. If you send your call sign again you are saying "you did not copy my call correctly, here it is again."

Do not repeat the words RST, QTH, or NAME. We know what you've sent because we've heard these thousands of times. You can even skip RST and QTH and use OP for NAME.

DE can be left out also

Here is a QSO without all the wasted sending:

CQ CQ CQ DE AE5QB AE5QB CQ CQ CQ DE AE5QB AE5QB CQ CQ CQ DE AE5QB K

AE5QB DE WX7G WX7G K

WX7G DE AE5QB TNX FER CALL UR 559 559 IN HOUSTON, TX HOUSTON, TX - OP TOM TOM BK

AE5QB DE WX7G FB TOM UR 569 569 IN TOOELE, UT TOOELE, UT - OP DAVE DAVE BK

GUD COPY DAVE - RIG HERE RUNS 100 W TO DIPOLE UP 25' - WX SUNNY AND 85 F BK

FB AGN TOM - RIG RUNS 500 W TO A SHORT VERTICAL - WX IS OVERCAST AND 55 F BK

TNX FOR QSO DAVE GOTTA RUN - 73 AND CU AGN WX7G DE AE5QB SK

AE5QB DE WX7G TNX FOR QSO TOM AND CU AGN ON CW 73 DE WX7G SK

"AE5QB SENDS" DIT DIT

"WX7G SENDS" DIT DIT

As in "Shave and a Haircut, two bits"
« Last Edit: January 17, 2011, 09:08:43 AM by WX7G » Logged
AE5QB
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Posts: 269




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« Reply #10 on: January 17, 2011, 06:56:38 AM »

QST de AE5QB bt Tnx fer the info friends bt

it makes more sense now bt more on air practice for me bt pls be patient as I learn more bt

FB dave ur last example is very helpful es it just makes a lot of sense bt seems to me cw is

all about clr concise info exchange bt ur example does that vy well bt I need lots more practice

and maybe some formal traffic handling classes bt hope to hr everyone on the air real soon ar

73 AE5QB SK  dit dit
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W5ESE
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #11 on: January 17, 2011, 10:08:07 AM »

You might also enjoy this classic article from November 1956 QST.

'Your Novice Accent - and What to do About It' - by W6DTY

http://sites.google.com/site/arsw5ese/home/wn5rmq/Accent.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1

Lots of good tips on CW operating procedure (and I love those old cartoons
from Gil Gildersleeve!).

Hope to hear you on the air; I am near Austin.

73
Scott W5ESE
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K7KBN
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« Reply #12 on: January 17, 2011, 02:36:35 PM »

A point of explanation on that "Your Novice Accent" article where it implies that you should tune several KHz around your transmitting frequency to see if anybody's calling you.  Why wouldn't they call you very close to your calling frequency?

Remember, this article was first printed in the middle-1950s.  Novices were limited to small portions of 80, 40 and 15 meter CW, and 2 meter phone.  Other limitations included a power limit of 75 watts INPUT to the final (somewhere around 50 watts RF output), and NO VFOs.  Frequency had to be crystal controlled.

I had ONE 15-meter Novice band crystal, which put me on "21.153" KHz, assuming the frequency indicated on the rock's nameplate (7051) was spot on.  Sometimes I would find someone calling me 10-15 KHz away, but this was as close as his crystal selection would get him. 

Of course, General Class and above could use VFOs, and they'd be right on my frequency.  And so would DX stations!  At that time, Nevada was a "rare" state, and the DX often formed a pileup on ME!

Today, there are very few crystal controlled transmitters any more except in the hands of collectors and often on SKN.  VFOs are the rule.  Except for band and subband edges, or working split, there's not much need for tuning much beyond a couple KHz from your transmit frequency.

73
Pat K7KBN
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73
Pat K7KBN
CWO4 USNR Ret.
N3QE
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« Reply #13 on: January 18, 2011, 09:02:08 AM »

BT is the "standard punctuation mark" you'll hear in a QSO. If you use a period or a comma (other than between city and state) that's a bit unusual. If I hear a lot of periods and commas I'm pretty sure the other guy is using a keyboard.

It is also OK to completely omit the BT most all the time especially when being brief. Sometimes BT is overused like we would say "uh" and "um" in voice to keep the VOX from dropping out, to prevent dead air while we think - while fairly common this is not the best operating practice. At the same time leaving a lot of dead air isn't productive either. AS should be used before dead air due to a phone call or XYL or kids etc.

K or KN are most common ways of turning around. AR is also used but I personally don't view it as adding anything.

There is a long standing practice in some circles to repeat everything twice in a CW QSO but this is IMHO a bad habit to get in to.
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KE4JOY
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« Reply #14 on: January 18, 2011, 12:44:57 PM »

I always considered BT to be the CW equalivelent of "ummmm" or a pause.
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