Clutter

Don’t hesitate to make that first radio contact.

Don’t hesitate to try a new band or operating mode.

Don’t hesitate to upgrade your license class.

Most importantly, don’t hesitate on the air.  With your mic keyed to transmit, don’t fill up time and space with “um…”, “well…”, “er…”, “aah…” and other such sounds of hesitation.

It’s not only annoying to hear but hesitation really clutters up the airwaves.  In certain cases it impedes more important communication.  For example, during a special event operation or true emergency communication (Emcomm) situation or drill, the Net Control Station (NCS) is constantly talking to various stations.  If you’re using up valuable time on the air, other stations cannot be relaying their info.

A good rule of thumb or general practice is to know exactly what you will say before you key the mic.

If net control asks you a question that you cannot immediately answer, don’t take 20 seconds to stall or explain away your delay, just reply that you will get back to them.  This frees up the net for others and lets the NCS know to expect a reply shortly.

The opposite of hesitation is brevity in radio work.  Keep your transmissions short, few, and far between in a special event or Emcomm scenario.

Don’t call in periodically just to let the net know you’re still there.

Use the minimum number of words to communicate effectively.  Don’t use 50 words where ten would do, as is often heard on a net.  It takes forethought and practice to keep a report short and simple.

Don’t talk to sound important or just to hear your own voice; others can usually tell when this happens and it’s aggravating.

Study up on Emcomm radio practices, guidelines, procedures and etiquette and then practice these.  Drills and special events are perfect exercise.  Refer to our “EmComm Toolbox” topic for related info.

Another form of clutter to avoid during a special event or Emcomm operation is speculation.  Only give solid facts.  Rumor, guessing, second-hand info, and supposition of events often leads to confusion and unnecessary concern.

QRZ

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.