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In the early days of Amateur Radio signal reports were always given accurately, and most often without any exact metering system. Reports were given by ear.

In the last days of Amateur Radio signal reports are often not given at all, no matter the signal strength, 599 or 5NN is given.

The majority of those who give accurate signal reports use the RST system and appear to use it correctly as it has always been intended, assigning the correct number to the situation, more on that below.

A minority of those who intend to give accurate signal reports use the RST system but use it incorrectly: they read the value off their S-meter. More on this below, and why this approach is not correct.

First, let us acknowledge that the actual basis of the Amateur Radio License is experimentation and self-education in communications, and this is the basis upon which the ITU world wide defines amateur radio.

For many of us, we still enjoy building our own equipment, even if only our own antennas, and also the study of propagation. To this end, we wish to receive accurate signal reports. Inaccurate signal reports are not helpful at all.

So what is an accurate signal report? And what constitutes an inaccurate report?

It is difficult to give an entirely accurate report. However, there are way to use and not use the S-meter in the giving of "accurate" reports. First, let us look at the "R" part of the RST system:

R1 = UNREADABLE (Comment: that means TOTALLY unreadable, not even occasional words)
R2 = BARELY READABLE, Occasional words distinguishable

The "R" part of the signal report cannot be measured by a meter on a radio, that is clear. The R is an easy part of the report to give accurately. It WILL be influenced in some circumstances by your ability: your hearing, your interpretation skills, your code skills. It will certainly be influenced by factors such as signal to noise ratio, fading, interference. But there are clear differences between each of the 5 steps:

If you have total arm chair copy it is R5. If not, R4 if no difficulty but ANYTHING LESS than PERFECT COPY. If you have any real difficulty copying, but are still able to copy (even if with repeats), then R3 is appropriate. If you only get little bits here or there, it is R2. If you cannot make anything out it is R1. So the R part of the system is very simple.

So what about the S (Signal Strength)? This is the most difficult part of the system and the one that is, these days, used in different ways, which renders it unhelpful. As stated earlier, some always give it as S9. That is WRONG. Others read it directly off the S-meter: that too is wrong, and here is why:

The S-meter is dependent upon many things: receiver model, receiver settings (bandwidth, notch, attenuator, pre-amp, etc). It thus serves ONLY as a guideline (more on that below) but can be useful in direct antenna-switching comparisons. The wrongful use of the S meter leads a minority of stations to directly read e.g. S1 on the meter, for a signal that is actually around S5 to S7, due to having pre-amp off, and perhaps even attenuator on, and/or a sluggish S-meter.

Just as it is more accurate to decode Morse Code even in the age of supercomputers BY EAR (with an experienced operator) so it is also more accurate to give an S report (not S METER report) by EAR. One has to compensate and consider a number of factors, when doing so, for example:

On higher frequencies, such as 28MHz, the noise level may be virtually nothing, allowing for very weak signals to be heard. On a typical receiver, the S meter at 28MHz is very sluggish, it may not even move until a signal is strong. Many QSO the S meter will be showing S0 but the signal is R5 and loud. If we look at the OFFICIAL S-scale, we can see there is NO S0 in existence, since S0 would actually mean NO SIGNAL AUDIBLE AT ALL:

S1 = Faint signal, barely perceptible
S2 = Very weak
S3 = Weak
S4 = Fair
S5 = Fairly good
S6 = Good
S7 = Moderately strong
S8 = Strong
S9 = Very strong signals

From the official S scale above, we can see very clearly that this is NOT AT ALL intended for direct measurement from any S meter! Otherwise, there would be S0, and there would be options for S9+10db etc, and the scale would not be given in broad human interpretation terms, but instead would be given as a measurement of e.g. Micro Volts etc.

So, returning to the example of a very quiet 28MHz band with a loud signal not moving the S-meter on the radio. Clearly it is not RST509, so what is the actual S value to be given? This is where you can use your experience of your radio, and its response, and also the feel of how strong the signal is: if the signal is NOT barely perceptible, it's obviously not S1. Is it VERY WEAK (S2), or just WEAK (S3)? Is it FAIR (S4) or even FAIRLY GOOD (S5)? Or even GOOD (S6)? You decide, and give the report accordingly.

Another example, on 80m, the S meter may be over responsive on some rigs. Noise levels will have a big factor often on lower frequencies. If a signal is buried in the noise, one cannot give an accurate S report, however, the R report will evidently be 3 or less, and that will give a clue as to the S report being a "wild guess", e.g. "339 LOCAL QRM5" will be clear to the receiving station that the "S3" is only a guess. With strong local noise of "S8" the buried signal may be in fact S6.

Fading (QSB) makes giving signal reports on relatively low powered amateur radio signals difficult, as signals will typically fluctuate by even several S scale levels: a signal could be fading between Strong (S8) and Weak (S3) but usually a fade of one or 2 S points is normal on HF even in good conditions. Thus the amateur S scale is not so practical for general use unless a range is given as e.g. RST539/579 or RST53/79 etc.

This is why the commercial QSA code has only a scale of 1 to 5 making it much easier to give a report unaffected by normal levels of fading: E.g. QSA3, would cover from around S4-6, QSA 4 would cover from around S7-8, and QSA5 covers S9 and "above"… Note that on the S scale, there is NO such thing as "S9+10DB" etc. ONLY S9. S9 means VERY STRONG SIGNALS — no matter that is S9 or S9+60dB. The S meter can of course be used, but it is not the official, standard and intended use of the S scale as in the RST system.

For this reasons, some, including this author, have suggested alternative systems to RST, which can be adopted among regular QSO partners or some nets, to make things shorter, quicker, and simpler. E.g. the T in RST is almost invariably T9. If it isn't, QRI is available: QRI1 means good tone, QRI2, variable tone, QRI3 bad tone. Since 99.9% of T reports are T9 these days, we can safely drop it. The "Q" report suggested at is one such system.

Although radio amateurs, especially if taking the modern understanding of the word "amateur" as being "non professional" are under no obligation to follow any standard, and can do as they please. Thus we have those who can hardly copy you, giving a 599 report, and those who copy you very loud and clear giving a 519 report. But it certainly helps if we are on the same page, and if standards are adhered to. Otherwise, one should create alternative systems.

It has been suggested to create an alternative to "599" for those who don't wish to give a signal report. Meanwhile, if using RST, please refer to the above tables for the PROPER STANDARD. As stated, amateurs can do as they please, and it is a hobby and for most of us it is about having fun. From time to time it is necessary for us to remind ourselves of what the actual standard is, otherwise it gets lost and the majority abandon it.

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Accurate Signal Reports by VK5EEEVK5EEE, 21 May 2017 02:55

CW News has been launched on the Telegram and platform!

Sample view:


Get it for free along with updates on any of your devices here:

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

CW News Publication Launched by VK5EEEVK5EEE, 20 May 2017 02:06

G'day All!

As per the winter schedule will kick in now so the net will be at 0930Z on 7051.2 followed by QSY to 3515 KHz. Tonight I will run the net as usual at 0830Z, announce the new schedule, then rerun the net at 0930Z.

73 & 77 de Peter VK4QC

Hi all,

For those learning to use the key and can read CW starting Monday week, i'll be listening from 7pm Monday to Friday on 3550 plus or minus QRM for 30 minutes writing up CW practice sessions, for those who wish to try there fists to see how your fists are going. Those interested in joining in are most welcome and this will give you the chance to overcome your fears. Every second Thursday I will not be available due to work comments. Speed is not the point, but to overcome your fears.

73 & 77 de Michael VK2CCW

Michael VK2CCW

80m CW Learners net by Michael VK2CCWMichael VK2CCW, 07 Apr 2017 09:28
0830Z CW Net
VK4QCVK4QC 05 Apr 2017 01:01
in discussion Forums / General Discussion » 0830Z CW Net

Hi All,

Propagation has been no good these last few days for short distance QSO's so if there are no check-ins within 5 mins we will QSY to 3515 Khz.

73 Peter VK4QC

0830Z CW Net by VK4QCVK4QC, 05 Apr 2017 01:01

Let's hope 7050 could some day become like this

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Watch this final transmission at EAC to understand this: there is nothing more SERIOUS than the FINAL transmission on 500kHz after almost 100 years but look how casual — walking around, smoking, chatting, and at the same time sending messages as such OPs lived and breathed CW every day as easy as chatting among friends

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

I've generally placed 'em into the re-cycle bin
most places, that I've tried to give 'em to - didn't want 'em.

maybe just placing 'em, in stealth mode .. ..

well, I'm just looking some activity - - any activity.
- on any part of any band.
coz there ain't that much about.

Re: Activity around 7030 by Peter VK6ISPeter VK6IS, 12 Mar 2017 10:48

All those that enjoy getting on the Sunday CW Net Also need to jojn in on volunteering

Posting about this here is not likely to get many results. The vast majority of those that take part in the CW net are not members of, and many of them don't even have a computer or email. You have a great opportunity during the CW net when you are NCS to ask stations if they would consider volunteering, when they check in. And at the end of the net make another announcement. But best chances are to ask directly when they check in.

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Hi all,

All those that enjoy getting on the Sunday CW Net Also need to jojn in on volunteering. Looking at the current roster there is 3 stations on multiple times this month. This is unacceptable everyone that enjoys this net needs to help out and there is no excuse for not helping with another 8 volunteers the NCS only needs to work about once every three months or so. Its like I said once before its always the same that help out get left in the dark. Everybody wants the net to survive but no one, but the few do the net. I can tell you that I'm not going to be the NCS twice a month. This needs fixing as there are plenty of you out there that can help but don't want to. Come on guys be fair its not a hard thing to do, if I can do it so can others. You want the net to survive so help do your bit.

73 & 77 de Michael VK2CCW

Michael VK2CCW

Anyone notice the concentrated CW activity around 7030, all in a 3k band??
Bit like the bash!

73 es 77


Activity around 7030 by VK7MAVK7MA, 01 Mar 2017 07:24

Wow. Very Nice indeed. Great job George.
It sure has gone to a good home. I agree with Chris, well deserved!

73 es 77

That looks like a very precision piece of kit! Well done George and well deserved Lou.

Re: Brainteaser
VK5EEEVK5EEE 25 Feb 2017 04:31
in discussion Forums / General Discussion » Brainteaser

Nice one! I got all except UDA, and thus learned something! Similar to Morse, the one less behind it got the fame of the name: "It was invented in 1926 by Shintaro Uda of Tohoku Imperial University, Japan, and (with a lesser role played by his colleague) Hidetsugu Yagi." Thanks OM!

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Re: Brainteaser by VK5EEEVK5EEE, 25 Feb 2017 04:31

I'm with you on waiting rooms and more fortunate countries which will appreciate those magazines. One good place would be the Sahara DX Club in Algeria, they'd sure value those magazines. Any club that is organised and contactable. Otherwise waiting rooms is good and inexpensive, if the cost of sending, which is very high from Australia, is an issue.

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Re: Recycling radio magazines by VK5EEEVK5EEE, 25 Feb 2017 04:23

What a wonderful gift from George VK2DLF "for getting all the CW action going here in Australia" — THANK YOU George! It works a beauty! Lovely to look at, lovely to operate, and lovely sound no bounce, no scratchy dits!

77 de Lou, VK5EEE

Brainteaser by Chris VK1CTChris VK1CT, 25 Feb 2017 01:28
Re: Antenna
Chris VK1CTChris VK1CT 24 Feb 2017 22:44
in discussion Forums / General Discussion » Antenna

When I first started in radio with my novice licence, I was restricted on HF to 80, 15 and 10m (if I recall correctly). At first, I tried using a commercially made G5RV. That wasn’t very successful for a number of reasons. Then I tried a homebrew dipole for 15m. I used copper wire for the elements and a 1:1 balun fed with RG213 coax. I made my first DX contacts into Japan with that antenna and I fell in love with 15m!

I also wanted to use 80m, but after the failed experiments with the G5RV, I decided that a vertical was the way to go. I pestered my parents to buy me a Butternut HF6V for Christmas in 2000. I remember putting it together on Boxing Day and after that I spent most of my radio time on 80m. My brother’s bedroom was nearest to the antenna and he could always tell when I was on-air because his stereo system would be overdriven by RF!

Fast forward to now… I use an inverted vee fed with 300 ohm ladder line. The antenna is 100 feet long and tunes all bands, some better than others! The centre support is a Spiderbeam squid pole which has been in service for just over 10 years now. Being a telescoping fibreglass pole, it used to collapse in strong winds and part of it broke in a storm. To prevent it from collapsing, I installed small self-tapping screws in each of the joins and it has been faultless ever since.

For portable operations, I use a dipole for 40m with a feedline of RG174 coax. It has a 1:1 balun which was made from a kit produced by SOTABEAMS in the UK. I recently bought an MFJ-2286 telescopic HF whip for $100(US) from DX Engineering. It is 17 feet long when fully extended and collapses to 27 inches. It comes with a loading coil for use on 40m. I’m looking forward to trying it out on-air soon.

Re: Antenna by Chris VK1CTChris VK1CT, 24 Feb 2017 22:44

One of the reasons I really enjoy getting my monthly copy of the RSGB Radcom magazine is the advertising material within its many pages of all things amateur radio. It’s great to see the products that are available, especially the Morse keys!

I can remember a time (not so long ago) when the WIA Amateur Radio magazine had many more advertisers than it currently does. There were ads from Andrews Communications, Strictly Ham, Harris Communications, ATRC, Dick Smith Electronics and others. Some of the retailers have sadly gone out of business, but there are new companies selling amateur radio and electronics products. Jaycar now advertises in the magazine, but a lot of their products leave much to be desired…

Nowadays there mainly seems to be the usual Icom and Yaesu glossy ads on the inside front cover and back cover of AR magazine. Is it a sign of the times, or simply apathy on behalf of the publications committee who do not actively seek out companies to advertise in the magazine?

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