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.

Q-Codes

Back in the ham-speak topic we noted that ham radio vocabulary includes plenty of jargon and lingo.  As mentioned there, it is best to not use too much ham-speak on the air, since plain language is preferred for voice modes (phone) but in reality you still hear many code words and abbreviations being used.

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You will run across many terms on the air as well as in books and magazines and perhaps in email that are cryptic to the new or prospective ham.  To help you with this we will present the topic of Q-codes here.

The Q code (or Q-code) is a standardized collection of three-letter codes, all of which start with the letter Q, where each code has a particular meaning. These brevity codes were originally developed for commercial radiotelegraph use but were quickly  adopted by amateur radio operators.  Although Q codes were created when radio used Morse code exclusively, they continued to be employed after the introduction of voice transmissions. Some history on Q-codes can be found here and here and here.

Listed below are ten Q-codes the average ham is most likely to hear (in the author’s opinion), along with their meaning and common usage:

  • QRM- Man-made interference, interference from other stations.
  • QRN- Natural interference, typically static or crashing from thunderstorms.
  • QRP- Low power transmit, generally 5W or less.
  • QRT- Quitting; stopping transmission or shutting down station.
  • QRZ- Who is calling me?
  • QSB- Fading signal.
  • QSL- I acknowledge receipt; also confirmation of contact.
  • QSO- Conversation, radio contact and exchange.
  • QSY- Change frequency.
  • QTH- Location.

You should be familiar with at least these and perhaps some others as well.  Comprehensive lists of Q-codes can be found here and here and here and here.t21b10

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The main point here is not for you to learn Q-codes to use them, but to understand them when you inevitably hear them.

That’s all for now so 73 and I’ll be QRT.