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NON HAM - GLOSSARY OF HAM RADIO TERMINOLOGY

Explanations noted below appear in the same order as in the Presentation.

Call Letter Prefixes:   Every country has a unique Ham radio call sign prefix.  For example:  All Hams in the USA have their call letters begin with the letters, A, N, K or W.  The old USSR call letters began with E, R, or U.  The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues.  Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the ITU includes in its membership 193 Member Countries and several hundred Sector Members and Associates.  They are authorized to determine which Ham Radio prefix shall be used for every country in the world.  When a licensed Ham from one country wishes to operate in another country, he or she would need to be granted official permission to do so.  In that case, the country's prefix would need to be used in front of the visiting Hams call letters.  In my case, R3/WB2DHY denoted an American Ham (W) operating as a guest in Russia (R).  Edward, NT2X was honored at the time by the Russian Government and was the first non-Russian citizen issued a Russian Ham radio call sign "RV7AA."

QST & Q-Signals:  Derived from a coded list of Q-signals.  These three letter Q-signals sent via CW (Morse Code) allowed Hams to transverse any and all language barriers.  For example:  a Ham in Russia not able to speak English would need only to send, "QTH Moscow" and an American Ham would know the location of that Russian Ham.  If the Russian Ham sent, "QTH?" the American would understand the Russian is seeking to know his or her location and would reply, "QTH Dallas, TX."  The coded letters could be used as a question (?) or a statement.  The Q-code is also used during voice communications for both practical and traditional reasons.  Over nearly 100 years of Ham radio, the following additions to the Ham coding are now part of our world wide common Ham radio language.

They are:
73 - Best regards
88 - Love & Kisses
YL - An unmarried young lady (Miss) or female Ham radio operator
XYL - A married Ex-young lady (Mrs.) or the wife of a Ham
OM - Old Man - all male Ham radio operators or the husband of a Ham

QST:  Has one meaning world wide - Calling All Hams.  It is also the name of the leading Ham radio monthly journal in the USA published by the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) and one of the most read in the Ham radio world.

To view common Ham radio Q-Signals CLICK HERE!

To view and/or download all the country's Prefixs CLICK HERE!

Novice License:  The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created the Novice Class license in 1951 as the entry-level license for Ham Radio.  A basic exam covering mostly FCC rules and regulations with fundamentals on how to properly operate a simple Ham radio station.  It also required the passing of a 5 WPM (Word Per Minute) Morse Code test.

Extra License:  Highest-level class of Ham license in the U.S.A., created in 1951.  Required the passing of a rigorous 50 question exam on technical issues dealing with electronics and radio technology, FCC rules and regulations as well as a 20 WPM Morse Code test.  On February 23, 2007 the FCC dropped Morse Code requirements for all U.S. classes of Ham licenses.

DX:  Means "Distance."  It came to Ham radio from the old telegraph operators who use the letters "DX" to denote going to or coming from a long distance away.  DXing is the pursuit of special, rare and/or distant Ham radio stations.

SWL:  Means "Short Wave Listener."  These are people who explore the Short Wave radio bands and listen.  Over the years, one could hear official short wave broadcasts from countries all over the world, such as Radio Budapest, BBC London, Radio Moscow, Voice of America and on and on.  SWL'ers could send their QSL card to these stations, include a signal report and receive a QSL card acknowledgement in return.  Like rare stamps, SWL'ers took great pride in collecting QSL cards from all over the world.  They also send QSL cards with signal reports to Hams world wide and then look to receive the Ham's card in return.  Some viewed it as more fun than collecting stamps.

QSL Card and Awards:  These are post card sized cards which confirm a contact (QSO) between two Ham stations.  The card details the date, time, frequency, mode, signal report and is signed by the sending station operator.  An exchange of these cards by stations that have contacted (worked) each other is proof for each of them that the QSO was made.  Submitting these cards is necessary for many different awards. Two very popular awards are "Worked All States" (WAS) which is issued after confirmation of contacts (QSOs) with at least one station in all 50 U.S. States.  The other popular award is called "DX Century Club" (DXCC) which is issued after confirmation of contacts with at least 100 different countries.  Both are issued worldwide by the American Radio Relay League. Collecting these cards from rare locations is on par with having a rare stamp.

DX-peditions:  The most difficult countries to contact and get a QSL card from are not necessarily those places that are farthest away in terms of miles.  They are the places from which there are very few or no Hams operating.  For example, currently the rarest country in the world to contact and get a QSL card from is P5, DPRK North Korea.  Ham radio has been outlawed in that country for over 75 years.  There are deserted islands and uninhabited places that count as countries.  International groups of Hams who gain authorized permission to operate from these places, often dangerous places, will risk life and limb to operate from those locations.  For example, recently a group traveled to KH1, Baker Island in the south Pacific that is totally uninhabited.  This is the island Amelia Earhart was supposed to land on to refuel and sadly went missing on July 2, 1937.  Thousands upon thousands of Hams from all over the world attempted to make contact with the KH1 operation during their one-week stay on the island.  The chase was on!  Having a successful contact with Baker Island was incredibly rewarding and a thrilling accomplishment.  It's usually decades between KH1 operations.

QRZ.COM:  www.qrz.com is one of the leading web sites for worldwide Ham radio news and information.  It also serves as a great information base covering a vast number of topics related to the various subjects and specialties that Hams are activity involved in.  One of the most popular features is the ability for a Ham to create his or her own personal web page and include whatever info and images they would like to post on their page.  An analogy to this would be sort of an international Ham radio Facebook.  Also, QRZ.COM posts the personal QSL information for each Ham operator, including the station's mailing address, allowing an easy path for Hams to exchange QSL cards directly with each other.

Propagation:  In radio communications, Sky Wave and Skip are often referred to as Propagation.  This occurs when radio signals are reflected or refracted back toward Earth from the ionosphere, an electrically charged layer of the upper atmosphere.  Almost all long-distance short-wave, high frequency (HF) Ham radio communications between 1.8 and 50 MHz are the result of Propagation.  The conditions permitting radio HF Propagation is always in flux.  The capability to have these types of communications are impacted by an 11-year solar cycle which on a regular basis cycles around to a period of maximum amounts of solar radiation streaming from the sun to ionize the earth's ionosphere to periods of minimum ionization.  Because the degree of solar radiation on the ionosphere affects Propagation, operating during daylight can have much different results compared to operating at night.  Another factor dealing with Propagation is the particular radio frequency a Ham station is operating on.  The international Ham radio spectrum is so varied and vast, there is a real learning curve for new Hams to understand and learn which frequency and at what time of the day or night would offer the best possibility of communications between two different places on earth.

AM:  Amplitude Modulation - technically, the modulation of a radio wave by varying its amplitude, used chiefly as a means of radio broadcasting in which an audio signal is combined with a carrier wave.  This is the mode you listen to on your commercial AM car radio.

SSB:  Single sideband is the most popular mode of voice transmission on the HF bands in Ham radio. (FM is mainly used above 30 Mhz.)  The mode got its name from a key difference between the older mode, AM, which is used by AM broadcast stations and was the original voice mode that Hams used.  Without getting too technical, single-sideband modulation (SSB) is a type of modulation used to transmit audio signals by radio.  A technical refinement of amplitude modulation, it uses transmitter power and bandwidth much more efficiently and effectively.

VHF:  Very High Frequency (VHF).  These are the internationally authorized Ham radio frequencies at 50 Mhz., 144 Mhz., 222 Mhz. and 420 Mhz.

Meters and Centimeters:  Not to get too technical but to explain.  The Ham bands are exclusive segments of the radio frequency spectrum recognized worldwide by international agreements.  These bands are commonly referred to by their Wavelength.  The Wavelength is measured using the metric system.  For radio transmitters to work effectively, they need to use an antenna of a particular length relating to the frequency used.  All these frequencies have corresponding antenna lengths measured in meters and centimeters.  In the Presentation, several Ham bands are mentioned.  The 2 meter band is 144 Mhz to 148 Mhz and the 70 cm band is 420 Mhz to 450 Mhz.  These are VHF bands that are used mainly for local communications.  The 20 meter band is 14.000 Mhz to 14.350 Mhz and the 80 meter band is 3.500 Mhz to 4.000 Mhz.  These are HF bands that are used mainly for DX and transcontinental communications worldwide.

ARRL (America Radio Relay League):  The American Radio Relay League is the largest membership association of amateur radio enthusiasts in the U.S.A.

To learn more about the ARRL CLICK HERE!

ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service):  In the United States and Canada, the Amateur Radio Emergency Service is a corps of trained amateur radio operator volunteers organized to assist in public service and emergency communications.

RARC:  Richmond Amateur Radio Club is an American Radio Relay League affiliated radio club.

DXCC:  "DX Century Club" is an award which is issued worldwide by the American Radio Relay League to a Ham who has confirmed contacts (QSOs) with at least 100 different countries.

QSL Bureaus:  In the pre-Internet days, available for purchase in the western world but banned in the USSR and other communist countries, were two types of printed Callbooks containing the call letters, names and mailing addresses of Hams.  One version held the names and addresses of every American Ham radio operator.  The other version was international.  The International version contained information on a limited number of countries and was not always accurate. These books were published annually.  This afforded Hams an opportunity to exchange QSL cards directly with each other.  For Hams who didn't have a Callbook or access to one, the next viable alternative was to use a country's QSL Bureau.  Most countries had a central place where all QSL cards could be sent and would eventually be distributed directly to the Ham it was intended for.  It was not unusual for Hams at that time to actually exchange mailing addresses over the air during their contact, but to do so as a Ham in the USSR, the ramifications could be anything from a loss of your Ham license to a prison sentence.  The QSL Bureau for the entire USSR was P.O. Box 88, Moscow, USSR.  Not only did the USSR require every incoming QSL card to go through Box 88, but every outgoing card as well.  Hams in the USSR faced very serious near criminal prosecution for QSL-ing directly or by any means other than via Box 88.  In the USSR the government controlled nearly everything.

CRC:  Central Radio Club of Moscow operating under a chain of command leading to D.O.S.A.A.F. had as its mission the retaining of total control over all aspects of Ham radio in the USSR and maintaining total centralization.

IRC:  International Reply Coupons are coupons that can be exchanged for one or more postage stamps representing the minimum postage for an unregistered priority airmail letter sent to another country.

IARU:  International Amateur Radio Union is the worldwide Voice of Radio Amateurs.  Ham radio is organized nationally and internationally for better mutual use of the radio spectrum among radio amateurs throughout the world.  The IARU works to successfully interact with the agencies and governments responsible for regulating and allocating radio frequencies.  National Ham societies throughout the world work together for the international good of Amateur Radio under the auspices of a representative democracy, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU).

Beam:  A particular type of high gain antenna that is very directional and can radiate nearly all its energy in one direction.  Beam antennas can be rotated to face any compass point.  On the HF bands these antennas are used for successful DX communications.  They are utilized by a great number of Hams worldwide.

Linear Amp:  A particular kind of radio equipment that will amplify a transmitter's power output.  Most modern radio transmitters will produce no more than 200 watts of signal power.  Using a Linear Amplifier can boost that output in excess of 1,000 watts (1KW).

QTH: Part of the Q-signals and when followed by a question mark it requests the location of the Ham station when stated with a location. It's a statement.  For example, "QTH Richmond, VA."

CQ & CQ Magazine:  Sending the letters CQ in Morse Code or saying CQ via voice, Ham radio operators are making a general call (calling: CQ)  By transmitting the letters CQ in code or saying it in voice transmissions followed by the Ham's call letters on a particular radio frequency is an invitation for any Ham operators all over the world who are by happenstance tuning by or listening on that frequency to respond.  This is a major way Hams initially engage each other in radio communications and conversation.  Somewhat akin to fishing, you don't know what you will catch!  CQ Magazine is a major Ham Radio journal published in the USA.  It dates back to 1946 and the English language edition is read worldwide.  CQ Magazine sponsors (as does the ARRL) some of the largest Ham radio contests in the world.  They publish the results of these contests in their journal.  Since western Ham radio publications were banned in the USSR, many Hams behind the Iron Curtin were very interested in the results of these contests.

Reciprocal License Agreement:  Some nations have what is known as a "bilateral" operating agreement with the U.S. and other countries.  What this means is that Hams from each country have a means of operating from the other country.  But just because there is a bilateral agreement does not necessarily mean you may simply go to the other country and operate.  Some countries require you to apply for a formal permit.

Third Party Traffic:  Certain countries have official third-party traffic agreements with each other.  This allows Hams in these two countries to pass messages between non-Ham people in these countries.  These messages cannot be commercial in nature.  No business is transacted via Ham Radio.  During an emergency, countries can very quickly arrange a special temporary agreement allowing Ham radio messages to be employed to save lives by expediting rescue operations, emergency equipment and supplies, transportation resources, reassuring family members, requesting medical assistance, etc.

Dayton Hamvention:  One of the world's largest gatherings of Ham radio operators in the world.  This is an annual event held each May in the Dayton, Ohio area.  Hamvention offers forums, exhibit space and a flea market and usually has over 20,000 visitors.  Many amateur radio operators attend Hamvention, traveling from all over the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Australia and many other countries.

Rag Chewing Net:  A Net is a group of Hams that meet on a particular frequency at a regular time.  The Nets have varying purposes ranging from technical issues, Ham contests, awards, propagation, weather and so on.  These nets are conducted with good manners, extreme politeness and respect.  There is always a Net Control station supervising the round table discussions to be sure everyone gets their turn to speak.  It's always carried on with class, dignity and at times humor.  The term "Rag Chewing" is a Net that doesn't necessarily have a particular subject, but rather like a group of friends getting together to chat about whatever might be the various subjects of interest.  It's somewhat informal.

CW:  Continuous Wave, is a simple unmodulated signal unlike others which use some form of modulation.  By interrupting the signal with a key, Morse code is sent.  Thus Morse code is not a mode but, as the name implies, a code which is used to communicate by controlling the CW signal.  Long duration signals are dashes and short duration signals are dots.

Pile-up:  When a very large number of stations are calling simultaneously on the same frequency, the conglomeration of signals makes it very difficult to understand any of the stations.

Packet Radio DX Clusters:  Simply put, Ham radio was many years ahead of the Internet technologically when it came to the use of computers to transmit Data.  Instead of using the Internet, we use radio to send Data from one point to the other.  We have bulletin boards that allowed Hams to post information.  These bulletin boards are linked to each other via radio to create a network called a Cluster.  So, if a Ham "worked" a rare DX station he or she would post the call letters and frequency on the Cluster and this would alert Hams monitoring the Cluster that a rare station was operating and exactly on what frequency.  So, if a rare station was posted, in a very short period of time, the word would spread throughout the Ham community resulting in many stations coming on frequency looking to contact the rare station.  This concept is still employed today, except the information is sent via the Internet to a worldwide Ham radio audience and the response to a rare station is nearly immediate and yes, from all over the world.

Working Split:  When the pile-up on a rare DX stations gets overwhelming, with dozens upon dozens of stations calling, it is very prudent to Work Split.  This is done by the DX station staying on one frequency and asking everyone calling to spread out a certain number of kilocycles up.  By spreading out the calling stations to avoid them interfering with each other, the flow of contacts is quicker, and exchanging signal reports runs more smoothly, efficiently and effectively.

Sked:  This means a scheduled radio contact, arranged in advance on an exact date, at an exact time and on an exact radio frequency.

Transverters:  These are specially designed and built units that convert a receiver or transmitter's operating frequency.  In the application mentioned in the Presentation, Russian Hams ingeniously were able to take surplus military radio equipment designed to operate on Russian military frequencies and convert them to be used on the Ham bands.

SK:  Silent Key - a deceased Ham.

ITU:  The International Telecommunications Union is the leading United Nations agency for information and communication technology issues.  Based in Geneva, Switzerland, the ITU includes in its membership 193 Member States and several hundred Sector Members and Associates. The ITU determines what call letter prefix a country shall use.  With the break up of the USSR, confusion and distress was caused to the thousands of Hams in the former USSR.  Hams were not sure what call sign to use and suddenly they were holding Ham licenses with call letter prefixes for a country that no longer existed.

Contesting Stations:  Contests and/or Contesting (also known as radiosport) is a competitive activity pursued by amateur radio operators.  In a contest, an amateur radio station that may be operated by an individual or a team, seeks to contact as many other amateur radio stations as possible in a given period of time and exchange information.  Rules for each competition defines the amateur radio bands, the modes of communication that may be used, and the kind of information that must be exchanged.  The contacts made during the contest contribute to a score by which stations are ranked.  Contest sponsors publish the results in magazines and on web sites world wide.

ARRL VEC:  Volunteer Examiners (VE's) are U.S. licensed Radio Amateurs holding a General Class license or higher, who offer their time to administer the FCC licensing exams through an FCC authorized Volunteer Examiner Coordinator (VEC) organization.

CSCE: Certificate of Successful Completion of Examination.


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