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eHam Forums => CW => Topic started by: W4YA on August 04, 2009, 08:27:05 AM



Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: W4YA 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.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END 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."


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: WB2WIK 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: AB9NZ on August 04, 2009, 06:35:29 PM
Jim, I think guys send "BTU" for  "back to you"-
Tom


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N3OX 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.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: W4YA 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END 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.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD 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).


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: WB2WIK 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: AD7WN 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


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END 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?


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: W4YA 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?


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END 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.)


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: W7ETA on August 06, 2009, 04:14:27 PM
An interesting question, why K out of all the possible letters?

When i used a straight key, never got the hang of a bug, I would elongate the last dah, dah dit daah.

73
Bob


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N0EQ on August 07, 2009, 09:21:21 AM
AD7WN wrote:
"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." "

Even the NYPD used to use "K" to indicate over. CHP used to use "BY". Lots of public service agencies did/do use some kind of term "go ahead" to indicate "I'm finished, now you talk".

I would guess that stems from very early public service radio services being a new form of simplex communications that not many people at all were used to.

If anyone/anything, ham radio sort of emulated military communications with their strict format and language/abbreviations. Even today, some ham net control operators almost chastise participants for not closing with their callsign, simply because "it's the format we use".

The most formatted comms are probably aircraft. They probably escape the need to say "over" or anything else because they simply hear all the required info, in the proper format and therefore know the other party is finished.

None of that addresses the question "Why is it the letter K and not something else", obviously. I don't know the answer to that other than "It's been that way for a long time in the two most populated radio services".

Craig 'Lumpy' Lemke

www.n0eq.com


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END on August 07, 2009, 03:53:20 PM
It probably goes wayyyyy back to wire telegraph days.

I would look there if I had the time and inclination to research this.

We know it was already in international radio use by 1912 from the transcript of the last transmissions from the Titanic with other ships.

It would make a very GOOD article if someone would do some documented research and get some proof of where it started, what it meant initially and why "K" was chosen.

Yes, that would take a lot more time and effort than shooting from the hip with self-efficacious and self-aggrandizing speculation disguised as "knowledge."

It's a new concept for many, I know.

But it grows on you.

Try it.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE3WD on August 07, 2009, 05:50:11 PM
As with most of this sort of thing, the history of it may explain the present day usage.  

"K" -- At one time was "OK" -- Meaning what it says, OK to transmit now, I'm throwing the transfer switch to receive and listening for you.  IN an age where the Tuned RF receiver or the Regenerative was the state of the art, plus noiser longwire or tophat wire antennas, this was likely a very necessary convention in order to tell any op getting ready to respond to your feeble call that you were done transmitting and now listening.  

Of course, with CW, the abbreviation is what it is all about, so it did not take long for ops to shorten it by dropping off the O, leaving just the K.  

OKN meant "Okay to transmit, Named station only" and was not intended to be used when calling CQ at all, something that should be rather obvious, but as with speech, some ops just can't stop talking or keypounding and add all sorts of needless stuff to their transmissions.  Won't get into that one, pro or con, its just a hobby.  


KE3WD


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD on August 07, 2009, 08:40:15 PM
"OKN meant "Okay to transmit, Named station only""

Do you have any citation for all those ancient 'facts?' Google has nothing on the subject and I can't recall hearing anything along those lines in my half-century in the hobby.


--
Last message from the Titanic (call MGY):
"CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD DE MGY MGY"

Note that was the first time SOS was ever used (which caused some problems)
 
Hear a reproduction of that spark message:
http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Lab/8972/titanic.au

Very nice procedure I think.

A lot more info on the end of Titanic with emphasis on the radio communication:

http://www.solarnavigator.net/titanic_sinking.htm


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD on August 07, 2009, 09:13:54 PM
"Note that was the first time SOS was ever used (which caused some problems) "

Not exactly. While CQD was the common distress call before 1912, some use of SOS had occurred previously especially in Germany.



Lusitania signaled distress three years later with "SOS, SOS, SOS. COME AT ONCE. BIG LIST. 10 MILES SOUTH OLD KINSALE. MFA." {MFA is the call letters]

No mention of a K at the end


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY on August 08, 2009, 04:50:09 AM
K0OD: "Last message from the Titanic (call MGY):
"CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD DE MGY MGY" "

The lack of K at the end may be due to power failure. According to Harold Bride, the operator who survived, they kept calling for help until the power failed. This was only moments before the ship broke in two and sank.

I think it should be remembered that the engineering officers of Titanic all stayed below in the boiler rooms and engine room, keeping steam up and the generators turning until the very end so that the lights and wireless would keep working. None of them - not a single engineer - survived the sinking.

"Note that was the first time SOS was ever used (which caused some problems)"

No, it wasn't the first time SOS was used at all. SOS had been used at least as early as 1909, in a distress situation involving the ship SS Arapahoe. It may have been used even earlier.

There are many myths and legends about Titanic that simply aren't true. I don't know why that is, the reality is interesting enough. Some, such as Sarnoff's self-promoted legend, were done for obvious reasons.

The Titanic sinking had an enormous effect on radio in general, and specifically on amateur radio. Prior to 1912, there was relatively little regulation of radio, particularly in the USA. Licenses weren't required for amateurs, wavelengths and callsigns were often self-assigned, and there were at least three versions of Morse Code in use (International, American, and Navy).

There had been various bills proposed to regulate radio in the USA, but most had failed to pass and the rest were so watered-down that they had relatively little effect. In those laissez-faire times, the whole issue was seen as something to be left to the big wireless companies such as Marconi and Telefunken to work out on their own.

The Titanic sinking, and the role radio played in the rescue, put a new emphasis on regulations. Of particular interest was the fact that there was at least one ship (Californian) within sight of Titanic during the whole sinking, but because her sole radio operator had gone to bed before the first distress call, she played no role in the rescue.

The resulting 1912 radio regulations changed amateur radio enormously. Government-issued licenses were now required for all stations and operators. All stations were assigned callsigns by the government. With a few special exceptions for stations far inland, amateur stations were limited to wavelengths no longer than 200 meters and to power of no more than 1000 watts. International Morse became the standard code for radio.

Some sources estimate that at least half of the amateur stations on the air in early 1912 left the air because of the new regulations. Some thought that amateur radio would die out, partly because of the license requirements, but mostly because the 200-meter-and-shorter wavelengths were considered useless for long-distance communication, particularly with such low power as 1000 watts and the insensitive receivers of the time.

But in fact the opposite happened. While there were fewer amateurs, they developed better techniques within the regulatory limits. New technologies such as the Audion and the regenerative circuit were put to use to improve station performance. Organizations such as ARRL appeared to coordinate message relaying, technology and operating techniques, and to represent the amateur cause to the government.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END on August 08, 2009, 06:26:56 AM
Jim,

It looks like you (and others) have a good outline there just waiting to become a nice article.

I'd like to see more articles discussing or promoting use of "code" and CW.

In fact, I'd like to see code/CW promoted in any way possible. From my perspective, it is (still) the foundation of Amateur radio. I know I don't need to explain or sell that point here on the CW forum.

LK


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD on August 08, 2009, 07:35:56 AM
Titanic's chaotic and ineffective distress communications offer lessons that hold up even today. http://www.solarnavigator.net/titanic_sinking.htm

CQD or SOS? If only they could have used voice to scream "THIS DAMN SHIP IS SINKING AND I'M GOING TO DIE!" English speakers, at least, would have understood their plight perfectly. That's an example of why the jumble of 10-10 codes and other jargon are being dropped by many emergency services in favor of plain language.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY on August 08, 2009, 08:56:56 AM
K0OD writes: "Titanic's chaotic and ineffective distress communications offer lessons that hold up even today."

The lessons hold up, yes. But the communications were neither chaotic nor ineffective.

The first distress call went out about 12:15 AM. Carpathia answered about 12:25 AM - just ten minutes later! Within a few minutes Carpathia had turned around and was heading at full speed (about 17 knots) for Titanic.

All the other ships on the air that night were much further away and could not get there any sooner. Titanic sank about 2:20 AM.

With one exception, "better" communications would not have made any difference, because other ships were too far away. The exception was Californian, which was within sight of Titanic but her radio was turned off.

"http://www.solarnavigator.net/titanic_sinking.htm "

contains a few mistakes. Most of them are in the chronology of events; the story jumps backwards and forwards in time for no reason. For example, Carpathia did not shut down radio transmission until after the all the survivors were on board and a list of their names sent to White Star.

"CQD or SOS?"

Doesn't matter. Everyone knew both meant trouble.

"If only they could have used voice to scream "THIS DAMN SHIP IS SINKING AND I'M GOING TO DIE!" English speakers, at least, would have understood their plight perfectly."

And it would have made no difference. The operators all knew Morse Code and all of them that mattered understood Titanic's situation. The essential info was Titanic's position, which determined which ships could best lend assistance.

Yelling on voice would not make the rescue ships go any faster, nor cause those with radios turned off to turn them on. The 10-15 minutes or so it took Carpathia to respond and turn around were of no consequence; getting there 10-15 minutes earlier would not have saved people who'd frozen to death in the water.

"That's an example of why the jumble of 10-10 codes and other jargon are being dropped by many emergency services in favor of plain language."

The only valid use of jargon is when it makes something clearer and more concise.

---

The whole Titanic disaster story is a near-perfect lesson in how a series of small and seemingly unimportant mistakes can add up to a major problem. The Titanic disaster didn't happen because of technology; it happened because people didn't use the technology correctly.

One story that I think would make a great movie is what happened on the Carpathia. Even before her captain had all the information, he ordered Carpathia turned around and headed for Titanic at full speed, even though it would take at least 4 hours to get there.

This meant he was heading right into the same ice field that would soon sink the world's biggest and most modern ship. And he was doing so on a moonless night in a much older ship. Fortunately Carpathia did not hit anything, but many times in that 4 hour dash she had to turn to avoid icebergs.

Carpathia was a Cunard ship, Titanic was White Star. (You can tell by the last letter of the ship's name).  

---

The movie to watch about Titanic isn't the 1997 blockbuster but the excellent 1956 British film "A Night To Remember", based on the book of the same name.

It does, however, have one mistake in the radio part.

In real life, one of the Californian's radio officers had learned the code and could copy pretty well. Often he would listen when the radio op was off duty.

After the regular radio op had turned in, the officer went into the shack and tried to listen in, at about the time the distress calls were going out.

But the Californian's receiver used a magnetic detector, which worked by a clockwork mechanism. The office forgot to wind up the detector, and so heard nothing. This is detailed in the book "A Night To Remember".

But in the film, the officer is shown hearing the Morse but not understanding it. That didn't happen.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD on August 08, 2009, 09:06:51 AM
"This meant he was heading right into the same ice field that would soon sink the world's biggest and most modern ship. And he was doing so on a moonless night in a much older ship."

Good point


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: W5HTW on August 08, 2009, 03:48:32 PM
"K" is, and has been for many decades, an international prosign meaning, essentially, "over."  Or "it's your turn."  It was used in every CW radio service, including our and other military services, from the inception of wide range communication.  It was also used in RTTY.  It is NOT a "ham only" thing.  It is an international prosign.

I do not understand the propensity for today's hams to want to dispense with prosigns.  Now we hear calls like this:  CQ CQ CQ W5HTW W5HTW W5HTW   No "DE" which is another international prosign, and no "K".  Are we so rushed for time we can't use known and accepted prosigns?  What IS this logic?  Or non-logic.  

BTU, by the way, is NOT sent as one character.  It is three letters, and it does mean "back to you," though it has not always been used.  Also you will run into "BK TO YOU" and in this case the "BK" is NOT sent as one run-together character.  

"BK" as a single character means "BREAK"   It does not mean anything else.  Usually, though, if CW guys are using QSK, it becomes superfluous. A pause tells the other guy to go ahead.  

"AR" (one character) technically means "nothing follows."  That is true in all radio services.  Check out the W1AW bulletins.  At the close, they send 'AR" and that is what they mean.  "Nothing follows, not listening for a reply."  

So  a CQ ending with AR means 'I'm not listening for a reply!"

"KN" (one character) means I am listening for a reply ONLY from the station I am talking to.

"SK" (one character) means "This is my last transmission."  But it does NOT mean you are closing your station.  You may be open to someone else calling you.  

Neither KN nor SK are used in commercial/government services.

("SK" as separate letters means "silent key" - dead guy)

"CL" (two letters!)  Means "closing the station, I am not listening for calls from anyone else.."   This prosign is not used in commercial or government CW.

Some of the old timers used to wrongly use "K" on phone.  Instead of saying "over" they would say "Kay."  Like W3GAB this is W5HTW Kay"  It was pretty rare, but it was used.  At the end of a CQ the guy might say "Kay please."  In my opinion, it is not good operating practice.  And I almost never hear it anymore.  

"DE" (two letters) means "This is."  It is used in all services that use CW or RTTY.  It is a long established international prosign.  

Interesting info on the Titanic, by the way.  A lot of it I had never read before.  Thanks!

Ed


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END on August 08, 2009, 04:21:07 PM
Speaking of "DE," you might find this humorous.

When I was first learning code I would listen to the bands and try to copy at least the call signs. Copying the "CQ" was a piece of cake, and knowing the call sign would follow I would try to copy the call sign. Usually I would just get the first couple of letters.

Upon my first attempt at this I was amazed at how many stations were from Germany. All of them were German--100%

After a few minutes I realized something must be amiss.

I'm still laughing at myself over that one.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE3WD on August 08, 2009, 05:12:55 PM
>>by K0OD on August 7, 2009  Mail this to a friend!  
"OKN meant "Okay to transmit, Named station only""

Do you have any citation for all those ancient 'facts?'  <<


My citation would be my uncle and Elmer, long since SK, who held and operated not only amateur licensed CW but the old 1st Class Radiotelegraph License, both as ship's radio officer and as shore as well as having worked for commercial telegraph companies as an op and then there was his military experience.  

His way of teaching me the prosigns was to give me his version of the history of each one.  

You can do with that whatever you will.


KE3WD


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY on August 08, 2009, 05:32:19 PM
W5HTW writes: "I do not understand the propensity for today's hams to want to dispense with prosigns."

I don't either. I think part of the reason is that a lot of hams today didn't start out on CW, and never got a copy of "Your Novice Accent" and similar articles.

But the big reason is that a lot of procedure is no longer required by the regs, and is not on the test. IIRC, it used to be FCC regulation to use "DE" and to put your own call last. Not anymore!

""AR" (one character) technically means "nothing follows." That is true in all radio services. Check out the W1AW bulletins."

I have to disagree with that, at least in amateur radio. I can point you to QST articles and other publications to prove this.

"AR", per longstanding ARRL recommendations, has two uses:

First, "end of transmission" - recommended when calling a specific station before contact has been established. ("K" could be used for the same purpose.)

Second, and more important, to indicate the end of a formal message. This is why it is used at the end of W1AW bulletins; it tells you the bulletin has ended.

Typical use at the end of a message in formal message handling looks like this:

when there are more messages to follow:

"...AND PLEASE TELL DADDY TO SEND THE CHECK TOMORROW BT SUSIE AR B"

when there are no more messages to follow:

"...AND PLEASE TELL DADDY TO SEND THE CHECK TOMORROW BT SUSIE AR N"

"SK" (one character) means "This is my last transmission."

Last transmission in this QSO.

btw, SK derives from the same number abbreviations that gave us 73. Here's how:

In American Morse as used on the wire, "30" had a similar meaning. You will occasionally see it used as a form of "The End" in stories from a particular era.

"3" in American Morse is didididahdit
"0" in American Morse is daaaaaaah (extra long dash - American Morse had some features International doesn't)
Run them together and you get didididahdidaaaaaaah
Shorten up the last dah and you have SK

"ES" for "and" has a similar origin; "dit dididit" was the American Morse for "&"

"Some of the old timers used to wrongly use "K" on phone."

Yep. I always thought that was really silly.
 

""DE" (two letters) means "This is.""

It derives from the French word "de" which means "from".

"Interesting info on the Titanic, by the way. A lot of it I had never read before. Thanks!"

You're welcome! I can go on and on about it...

Here's some more:

The wireless ops Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were technically not ship's crew, and the wireless equipment was not White Star property. They worked for, and were paid by, the Marconi Company, and the equipment belonged to Marconi Co. White Star did that sort of thing quite a bit; many of the ship's personnel (the band, some of the restaurants) were actually contractors or concessionaires, not White Star employees. Of course everyone on the ship answered to the captain.

Having two wireless ops on a ship was unusual; most ships had only one, if they had wireless at all. Titanic and a few other big ships had two operators because of the large amount of private traffic handled for passengers. After the disaster, all ships over a certain size had to have wireless and had to carry at least three operators, which was a business boom for companies like Marconi but a big cost item to White Star, Cunard and the rest.    

Titanic had been designed to carry enough lifeboats for all on board through the use of ingenious new davits, but the boats would have cluttered up the boat deck, and they cost serious money, so it was decided to only carry as many as regulations required. Regulations did not require lifeboat space for all aboard because it was thought that a large ship would take many hours to sink, and that the main use of lifeboats was to transfer passengers between a stricken ship and rescue vessels. The biggest fears of steamship companies weren't sinking or crashing into things; they were fire and boiler explosions.

There was no separate power source nor emergency generator for the wireless, so the ship's engineers had to keep the main generators turning for the wireless to transmit. After the disaster, a separate, independent backup power source for the wireless was required.

After the disaster, Titanic's sister ship Olympic was quietly sent back to dry dock and given a double hull, watertight bulkheads higher than E deck, higher capacity pumps and of course more lifeboats. The third Olympic-class ship, originally to be named Gigantic but actually named Britannic, was still under construction in 1912 and had those features added.

If you haven't seen the film or read the book "A Night To Remember", be sure to do so. Except for not realizing that the ship broke in two they are very fact-based. The film was on YouTube last time I looked; the radio sequences are accurate down to the actual Morse and how spark sounds in a receiver (like a buzz, not a pure tone).

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K0OD on August 08, 2009, 07:58:04 PM
The first hams I heard CQing without DE were contesters maybe 30 years ago.


I never could figure out some of the power levels exchanged in the ARRL tests. KH6IJ, long ago, always sent TTT for KW or 1,000 watts. But that's another subject.

The Titanic ops should have signed off with SK


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END on August 09, 2009, 08:10:39 AM
I'm new to contesting, but it seems the "DE" is almost superfluous in the first part of the exchange.

However, it is absolutely necessary at other times during the contest exchange.

From what I have seen, a "DE" in contesting usually means, either

"here is the rest of my call sign, you only got part of it, and here is the rest of it"

or,

"hey, you got my call sign wrong. it is:__"

That is the way it seems to this noob, but I would welcome correction from veteran contesters if I misunderstand the semantics in that context.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE3WD on August 10, 2009, 11:48:24 AM
DE prosign is indeed from the French, for "from".  

Once upon a time, French was considered to be the "international language".  

That's why phone ops call "MayDay" -which is actually a transliteration from the french, "m'aidez" (help me).

Yet more uncited lore from my uncle.  

But if Uncle Ernie were alive today, he'd simply say to the doubters, "Hell, I was there."  


--KE3WD


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE5MMT on September 04, 2009, 10:06:35 AM
N2EY:

As a phone only op who's also learning the code I found your post to be tremendously informative.

I do however have a question (in parentheses):

<snip>

"K" means "go ahead anybody"

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


For example:


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

(Since contact has been established, why is KN not used instead of K for the two examples above?)

Thanks.

Everett
KE5MMT


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: WA9UAA on September 04, 2009, 10:45:06 AM
Everett,
Technically KN could have been used, If one wants to invite others into the QSO the "K" by itself is an invitation of sorts; or, perhaps a non-exclusion.
73,
Rob WA9UAA


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY on September 04, 2009, 01:58:38 PM
To KE5MMT:

Thanks for the kind words.

What WA9UAA says is spot-on correct.

In most CW QSOs there's no objection to others joining, so K is used.

KN is used when a station doesn't want others to join the QSO. An example is when a rare-DX station is working a specific station and doesn't want to start a pileup.  

---

A lot of CW procedure, and amateur procedure in general, used to be required by the regs. For example, the use of DE and sending your own call last were once written into FCC rules, and violations were handed out for not following them. Many were based on commercial practice.

But whether the rules require them or not, following standard operating practices is a good idea because it makes your intentions clear.

Four resources for the ham who wants to be a CW op:

1) "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy" by N0HFF. Available free for download from several websites, just google for it.

2) "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code" by ARRL back in the 1940s to 1960s or so. "Old-school", but has some interesting info such as how to block-print with a minimum of strokes and errors and how to adjust a key.

3) "Operating an Amateur Radio Station" by ARRL back in the 1960s. This was a 25 cent pamphlet that contained lots of info on practical CW operating.

4) The "Operating a Station" chapter of old ARRL Handbooks (1950s-60s) had lots of good info as well.

73 de Jim, N2EY


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KC0W on September 07, 2009, 02:49:08 PM
North Americans like sending "K". Rarely will you hear Europeans or Japanese sending "K"...........If it's good enough for the EU's & JA's not to do, it's good enough for me not to do.



Tom KC├śW


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: K5END on September 07, 2009, 03:17:09 PM
quote> "For example:
N2EY DE K5END R TU BT UR 599 599 PODUNK TX"


Sir,


I'll have you know I do NOT live in Podunk.


But we do keep a cabin there for weekend getaways.



:)


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE3WD on September 07, 2009, 06:18:22 PM
I hope everyone realizes that the K stands for "Key".

As in, "Key your xmtr".

SK stands for Silent Key, right?  

KN means, "Key Named"



--Mac


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: WA3KVN on September 14, 2009, 11:39:27 AM
Consider the station of yesteryear.  When it came time for an op to send, he/she would have to do several things, often taking 15-30 seconds or more to start the reply.  The receiving op had similar work to do. Often the reply came on a frequency far removed from the one used originally.  It would seem to me that having a clear prosign that says something like, "I'm done, and we both can start switching our stations to send/receive," whichever is appropriate, would facilitate efficient communications.  If there were no clear signal such as this one, the likelihood of significant missed traffic would be high.  In those days, as I understand it, very little ragchewing went on; most traffic was real third party traffic.

I'm no expert here and I certainly wasn't there to report from a position of authority.  Nobody ever gave me this explanation; I'm just sort of thinking hypothetically (translate that, making it up).  However, the above sounds at least plausible to this op.  Is there an old timer out there who could verify this sort of thing, or at least contribute an opinion authoritatively???

This is an interesting topic (to me at least).

Charlie, WA3KVN


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: KE3WD on September 15, 2009, 05:52:08 PM
You are on the right track, Charlie, only I doubt if the switchover took as long as 15-30 seconds.  

More likely around 5 seconds or so.  


For the slow and deliberate op.  


Someone who knew their setup or perhaps a maritime op could surely switchover rather quickly without fear of a mistake.  Maybe even down to around the 1 sec mark.


Title: Why do we use "K"?
Post by: N2EY on September 16, 2009, 02:24:01 AM
WA3KVN:

"Old time" stations didn't take 15-30 seconds to go from transmit to receive or the opposite.

Worst case scenario:

1) operate antenna switch

2) start transmitter MG set or tip rectifier

3) turn down receiver gain

4) start sending

Maybe 5 seconds, tops. There were stations in the 1930s who had full break-in, and others with single-toggle-switch control, so TR time isn't the issue.

"K" is really used for the opposite reason. It means "I'm done sending, you go ahead", same as "over" or "go" on voice. The receiving op doesn't have to guess whether the station is going to send more, and can just start sending right away to answer. This avoids delays and unintentionally sending on top of each other.

73 de Jim, N2EY