Check Your Mailbox for the May Issue of QST
Read by: Ed KE4JWS
This May issue of QST focuses on digital operating. From RTTY to PACTOR III to PSK31 to D-STAR to JT65, there’s a digital mode to satisfy just about every ham appetite. And with new privileges on 60 meters, there’s a whole new band for digital operators to explore. So set aside a couple of hours, grab a snack and get ready to explore the May issue of QST.
If you’ve ever wanted to try D-STAR, but you don’t have access to a D-STAR radio, you won’t want to miss “From Analog to D-STAR” by Gary Pearce, KN4AQ. In his article, Pearce explores how D-STAR works, how to program a D-STAR radio and even how to get on the air with D-STAR using your existing equipment. QST Editor Steve Ford, WB8IMY, is a digital radio guru. His article “Who’s on JT65?” takes a look at this mode developed by Nobel Prize laureate Joe Taylor, K1JT, and explores its strong growth as a digital mode on the HF bands.
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Read by: Martha KJ4RIQ
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Read by: ADAM W8IFG
The Q code is a standardized collection of three-letter message encodings, also known as a brevity code, all of which start with the letter “Q”, initially developed for commercial radiotelegraph communication, and later adopted by other radio services, especially amateur radio. Although Q codes were created when radio used Morse code exclusively, they continued to be employed after the introduction of voice transmissions. To avoid confusion, transmitter call signs are restricted; while an embedded three-letter Q sequence may occur (for instance when requested by an amateur radio station dedicated to low-power operation), no country is ever issued an ITU prefix starting with “Q”. The codes in the range QAA–QNZ are reserved for aeronautical use; QOA–QQZ for maritime use and QRA–QUZ for all services
The original Q codes were created, circa 1909, by the British government as a “list of abbreviations… prepared for the use of British ships and coast stations licensed by the Postmaster General“. The Q codes facilitated communication between maritime radio operators speaking different languages, so they were soon adopted internationally. A total of forty-five Q codes appeared in the “List of Abbreviations to be used in Radio Communications”, which was included in the Service Regulations affixed to the Third International Radiotelegraph Convention in London (The Convention was signed on July 5, 1912, and became effective July 1, 1913.)
Read by: PAUL KJ4WQN
Over the years, modifications were made to the original Q codes to reflect changes in radio practice. In the original international list, QSW/QSX stood for “Shall I increase/decrease my spark frequency?”, however, spark-gap transmitters were banned in the United States in the 1920s, rendering the original meaning of those Q codes obsolete. Over a hundred Q codes were listed in the Post Office Handbook for Radio Operators in the 1970s and cover subjects such as meteorology, radio direction finding, radio procedures, search and rescue, and so on.
Some Q codes are also used in aviation, in particular QNE, QNH and QFE, referring to certain altimeter settings. These codes are used in radiotelephone conversations with air traffic control as unambiguous shorthand, where safety and efficiency are of vital importance. A subset of Q codes is used by the Miami-Dade County, Florida local government for law enforcement and fire rescue communications, one of the few instances where Q codes are used in ground voice communication.
Read by: JERRY KE4ETY
The QAA–QNZ code range includes phrases applicable primarily to the aeronautical service, as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation. The QOA–QQZ code range is reserved for the maritime service. The QRA–QUZ code range includes phrases applicable to all services and is allocated to the International Telecommunications Union. And QVA–QZZ are not allocated. Many codes have no immediate applicability outside one individual service, such as maritime operation (many QO or QU series codes) or radioteletype operation (the QJ series).
Many military and other organizations that use Morse code have adopted additional codes, including the Z code used by most European and NATO countries. The Z code adds commands and questions adapted for military radio transmissions, for example, “ZBW 2”, which means “change to backup frequency number 2”, and “ZNB abc”, which means “my checksum is abc, what is yours?”
Used in their formal “question/answer” sense, the meaning of a Q code varies depending on whether or not the individual Q code is sent as a question or an answer. For example, the message “QRP?” means “Shall I decrease transmitter power?”, and a reply of “QRP” means “Yes, decrease your transmitter power”. This structured use of Q codes is fairly rare and now mainly limited to amateur radio and military morse code (CW) traffic networks.