Old-timers are already familiar with it but new or prospective hams may not be aware of a wonderful online callsign reference called QRZ.
The ham radio brevity code QRZ means, “who is calling me?” if you’re not sure or didn’t catch their complete callsign.
QRZ is a very powerful and popular callsign database that is located at qrz.com The QRZ site takes its name from the Q-code question, who is calling me? It’s particularly useful to look up a fellow ham you’re having a QSO with or have heard about or met in person.
If they have a callsign, you can look up their FCC registered address, license class, license expiration, exact location including the important Maidenhead grid square and a map of their location with exact distance from your station. It’s also useful for learning their previous callsigns if they have changed from what the FCC originally assigned them.
If the other ham has added info about themselves, you can see photos of them and their equipment, a biography, specific interests or whatever else they choose to share, including an email address. Hams can also use QRZ as a contact log if they choose to do so.
The database is updated daily from the FCC main file so it’s up to date and accurate. You can search by call sign, partial call, name, address or grid locator. If you look yourself up on the map you can see all the hams in your immediate vicinity; you might be surprised at how many there are.
I like to use QRZ to put a face to the name of people who are on Emcomm nets, the local repeaters, or during my HF QSOs and know a little more about them.
The QRZ database includes international hams so if you want to look up call signs around the world you can do that, too. I found a distant relative fellow ham in Germany just by searching my family name.
By the way, QRZ is properly pronounced, “Cue Are Zed” as we learned in the post on how to pronounce the letter Z.
QRZ has at least one major competitor, HamCall, plus a copycat with the confusing name of QRZCQ.
Before personal computers and the internet became common, hams relied on large printed books to look up the name and address associated with a particular callsign. The main one was the Radio Amateur Callbook with the Pegasus (winged horse) mascot. It is still available on CD-ROM and/or USB memory stick. Old print copies can be found on eBay and Amazon.
So check out QRZ and start using it. I’m sure it will become a bookmarked browser favorite of yours.