Amateur operating procedures | ACMA

Amateur operating procedures

This information, about the operating procedures for the amateur service, can help prospective amateur operators studying for amateur exams.

Emission modes and emissions

Emission classifications provide an internationally recognised standard by which to specify, accurately and concisely, the significant characteristics of a transmission.

Examples of commonly used amateur transmissions and the corresponding emission classifications are listed below.

Commonly used emission characteristics

Purpose of transmission

Emission mode symbols for a particular transmitter modulation

AM

SSB

FM

PM

Morse

A1AA1B

J2AJ2B

F1B

G1B

Speech

A3E

J3E

F3E

G3E

Data (packet)

A2DA1D

J2D

FIDF2D

G1DG2D

RTTY

A2D

J2D

F2D

G2D

Facsimile

A2C

J2C

F2C

G2F

FSTV

C3FA3F

J3F

F3F

G3F

SSTV

A2F

J2FJ3F

F2FF3F

G2FG3F

AM = amplitude modulatedSSB = amplitude modulated and uses a single-sideband, suppressed carrierFM = angle modulated and uses frequency modulation andPM = angle modulated and uses phase modulation.

For further details see:

Spurious emission limits for amateur stations

Amateur operators must also comply with International Telecommunication Union (ITU) requirements for amateur stations. The maximum permitted spurious emission power level is calculated by subtracting the following values of "attenuation" from the transmitter power supplied to the antenna transmission line.

Type of service

Attenuation (dB) below the power supplied to the antenna transmission line

Amateur services operating below 30 MHz (including those using SSB)

43 + 10 log (PEP), or 50 dB, whichever is less stringent

All other amateur services

43 + 10 log (P), or 70 dB, whichever is less stringent

P = mean power in watts supplied to the antenna transmission line.

PEP = peak envelope power in watts supplied to the antenna transmission line.

Spurious emissions from any part of the installation, other than the antenna and its transmission line, shall not have any effect greater than would occur if this antenna system were supplied with the maximum permitted power at that spurious emission frequency.

Restrictions on connection to a public telecommunications network

Amateur Advanced, Standard and Repeater Stations may be directly or indirectly connected to a public telecommunications network provided that the licensee has implemented reasonable measures to ensure only appropriately licensed persons access the station.

Licensees of amateur Advanced and Standard stations who connect a person from a public telecommunications networks to the station (e.g. ‘phone patching’) must ensure the person being connected knows that his or her transmissions will be overheard. The person must also be given the opportunity to not proceed with the connection.

Foundation licensees are not authorised to connect a foundation station directly to a public telecommunications network. However, foundation stations may be indirectly connected to a public telecommunications network through a gateway operated by another licensee.

For more details see the AILS fact sheet.

Interference

Interference to domestic television and radio receivers can occur from a nearby CB and amateur transmitters.

Equipment standards and licensing conditions ensure that CB and amateur transmitters meet stringent quality requirements.

The ACMA encourages operators of CB or amateur equipment and persons experiencing interference to their television and radio services to resolve the problem by mutual agreement and assistance. In dealing with unresolved interference, the ACMA takes into account:

  • whether good installation practices have been followed by the transmitter operator;
  • whether the location of the transmitting antenna is, within practical constraints, consistent with minimisation of interference;
  • whether the fitting of a filter at the domestic television or radio would reduce the interference;
  • whether, in the case of an amateur transmitter, the output power of the transmitter could be reduced to resolve the interference; and
  • whether, in the case of an amateur transmitter, the frequency of operation could be changed to resolve the interference.

Persons experiencing interference to their television or radio reception may attempt to resolve interference by applying various self-help principles, which are outlined in the following brochures:

  • Better Television And Radio Reception - provides general advice to people who are having trouble with television and radio reception
  • CB Radio Interference and your Audio Equipment - helps find out why this type of interference is occurring and the steps taken to resolve it.

If the transmitter operator has not attempted to resolve the interference caused by the offending equipment, the ACMA may decide to restrict the operation of the transmitter or take regulatory action pursuant to the provisions of the Act.

Call and reply

The following is a summary of the calling procedures for amateur communications. The principles set out in the procedures are for the general guidance of amateur operators and may vary depending on the mode and frequency of operation employed.

Radiotelegraphy

The call in radiotelegraphy should consist of the signal CT gif(CT) sent once, the callsign of the station called sent not more than three times, the word DE gif(DE), the callsign of the station calling sent not more than three times and the invitation to transmit K gif(K).

Example: VK7AB gifVK7AB VK7AB VK7AB VK9YZ gifVK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ end gif

A general call to any other amateur station may be made by substituting the signal 'CQ' in place of the called station's callsign.

Example: CQ gifCQ CQ CQ VK9YZ gifVK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ end gif

A reply call in radiotelegraphy should consist of the signal CT gif(CT) sent once, the callsign of the calling station sent not more than three times, the word (DE), the callsign of the station replying sent not more than three times and the invitation to transmit K gif(K).

Example: VK9YZ 3 gifVK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ VK7AB 2 gifVK7AB VK7AB VK7AB VK9YZ end gif

Radiotelephony

The call in radiotelephony should consist of the callsign of the station called spoken not more than three times, the words 'THIS IS ', the callsign of the calling station spoken not more than three times and the word 'OVER'.

Example: VK7AB VK7AB VK7AB THIS IS VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ OVER

A general call to any other amateur station may be made by substituting the signal 'CQ' in place of the called station's callsign.

Example: CQ CQ CQ THIS IS VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ OVER

A reply call in radiotelephony should consist of the callsign of the calling station spoken not more than three times, the words 'THIS IS', the callsign of the station replying spoken not more than three times and the word 'OVER'.

Example: VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ THIS IS VK7AB VK7AB VK7AB OVER

Other modes

Calls and replies using other transmission modes consist of the callsign of the station called sent not more than three times, the words 'THIS IS' or 'DE', the callsign of the station calling sent out not more than three times, followed by the invitation to transmit 'K' or the word 'OVER'.

Mobile or portable operation

When a station is operated as a portable or mobile away from the licensed address, each callsign or reply is suffixed with the locality of operation. Suggested methods of calling are as follows:

Radiotelegraphy

CQ gifCQ CQ CQ VK5YZ gifVK5YZ VK5YZ VK5YZ portable Emerald Queensland VK9YZ end gif

Radiotelephony

VK4UB VK4UB THIS IS VK4AM VK4AM operating mobile between Bowen and Proserpine, OVER

You should give the name of the State or Territory when operating outside the State or Territory in which the installation is licensed. To indicate the State or Territory in which the operation is taking place, please add the state identifier to the callsign for intervening calls, for example:

Radiotelegraphy - VK3GAA/5

Radiotelephony - VK3GAA mobile South Australia

Emergency procedures

Distress signals

Use of the distress signal indicates that a ship, aircraft or person is threatened by grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance.

The radiotelegraphy distress signal consists of the group SOS gif(SOS), transmitted as a single character.

The radiotelephony distress signal consists of the word 'MAYDAY'.

Distress call and message

The distress call consists of:

  1. the distress signal sent three times;
  2. the words 'THIS IS' or 'DE'; and
  3. the callsign or other identification of the station in distress, sent three times.

The distress message consists of:

  1. the distress signal SOS (radiotelegraphy) or MAYDAY (radiotelephony);
  2. the name, or other identification, of the station in distress;
  3. particulars of its position;
  4. the nature of the distress and the kind of assistance required; and
  5. any other information which might be of assistance.

Obligation to accept distress traffic

A distress call or message has absolute priority over all other transmissions and may be heard on any frequency. Operators in the amateur service should be prepared to accept such traffic at all times.

When a distress call is heard, you must:

  1. immediately cease all transmissions
  2. continue to listen on the frequency
  3. record full details of the distress message (the information should be recorded in writing and, if possible, by tape recorder).

If a distress message is received, wait for a short while to see if the message is received by a station better placed to help.

If the distress message is not acknowledged within a reasonable time, the amateur operator is obliged to assist.

Notifying appropriate authority

After acknowledging or attempting to acknowledge receipt of the distress message, you should immediately forward details of the distress situation to:

You should resume listening and keep the respective authority informed of any developments. Any assistance practicable should be given until cessation of distress traffic is announced (by means of the operating signals 'QUM' in radiotelegraphy or 'SEELONCE FEENEE' in radiotelephony), or until you are advised that assistance is no longer required.

Urgency signals

In cases where the use of the distress signal is not fully justified, the 'URGENCY' signal may be used. In Morse radiotelegraphy, the urgency signal consists of three repetitions of the group 'XXX' , sent with the letters of each group and the successive groups clearly separated from each other. It shall be transmitted before the call.

In radiotelephony, the urgency signal consists of the group of words 'PAN PAN' , each word of the group pronounced as the French word 'panne'. The urgency signal shall be repeated three times before the call.

The urgency signal has priority over all other transmissions except distress. All stations hearing an urgency signal should:

  • ensure that they do not cause interference to the transmission of the message that follows
  • be prepared to assist if required.

International use of radiocommunications in the event of natural disasters

In the event of natural disasters, normal communications systems may be overloaded, damaged, or completely disrupted, and the rapid establishment of communication to facilitate world-wide relief actions is essential.

Amateur bands are not bound by international plans or notification procedures and are well adapted for short-term use in emergency situations. The amateur service, with its widespread distribution and demonstrated capacity to assist with the use of certain amateur frequencies, is vital in meeting this need until normal communications are restored.

The 1997 WRC adopted Resolution 644 that acknowledges the increasing complexity and diversity of telecommunications resources available that may be used for disaster mitigation and relief operations.

The communications devices that may be used for these purposes include the use of amateur radio, mobile and portable satellite terminals and other appropriate and available communications resources.

The frequency bands allocated to the amateur service specified in the ITU Radio Regulations (3.5 MHz, 7.0 MHz, 10.1 MHz, 14.0 MHz, 18.068 MHz, 21.0 MHz, 24.89 MHz and 144 MHz) may be used by administrations to meet the needs of international disaster communications.

Amateur involvement is limited to the duration of the emergency and to the specific geographical area of the emergency, as defined by the responsible authority of the affected country.

Disaster communications will take place within the disaster area, and between the disaster area and the permanent headquarters of the organisation providing relief.

Any communications shall be carried out only with the consent of the administration of the country in which the disaster has occurred. Relief communications provided from outside the country in which disaster has occurred shall not replace existing national or international amateur emergency networks. Close co-operation is desirable between amateur stations and the stations of other radio services which may find it necessary to use amateur frequencies in disaster communications. International relief communications shall avoid, as far as practicable, interference to the amateur service networks.

Operating signals

Operators often use the 'Q' code as a form of abbreviation. 'Q' signals can be in the form of a question or response and often use suffixes to convey additional information. For example:

Question - QTH? (What is your location?)

Answer - QTH Adelaide (My location is Adelaide.)

Some commonly used `Q' signals are:

Table 2 - Commonly uses 'Q' signals

QRA?

What is the name of your station?  

QRG?

Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ... ?)

QRH

Your frequency varies

QRK1-5

The intelligibility of your signals is: 1 Bad, 2 Poor, 3 Fair, 4 Good, 5 Excellent

QRM1-5

I am being interfered with: 1 Nil, 2 Slightly, 3 Moderately, 4 Severely, 5 Extremely

QRN1-5

I am troubled by static: 1 Nil, 2 Slightly, 3 Moderately, 4 Severely, 5 Extremely

QRO

Increase power

QRP

Decrease power

QRQ?

Shall I send faster?

QRS

Send more slowly (...words per minute)

QRT

Stop sending

QRV?

Are you ready?

QRX?

When will you call me again?

QRX

I will call you again at ... hours (on ... kHz or MHz)

QRZ

Who is calling me?

QSA1-5

The strength of your signals (or those of ...) is: 1 Scarcely perceptible, 2 Weak, 3 Fairly good, 4 Good, 5 Very Good

QSB

Your signals are fading

QSL?

Can you acknowledge receipt?

QSL

I am acknowledging receipt

QSO

I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ...)

QSP?

Will you relay to ... ?

QSP

I will relay to ...

QSX

I am listening to (callsign/s) on ... kHz or MHz

QSY

Change to transmission on another frequency (or on ... kHz or MHz)

QSZ

Send each word or group twice (or ... times)

QTH?

What is your location?

QTH

My location is ...

QUM?

May I resume normal working?

QUM

Normal working may be resumed

Phonetic alphabet

When using telephony, words and callsigns may be misunderstood because of phonetic similarity. To overcome this difficulty, the phonetic alphabet has been introduced. This pronunciation is recommended for use by amateur station licensees. Emphasis should be placed on the syllable which is shown in capital letters.

Phonetic alphabet

Letter

Code words

Spoken as

A

ALFA

AL fah

B

BRAVO

BRAH voh

C

CHARLIE

CHAR lee or SHAR lee

D

DELTA

DELL tah

E

ECHO

ECK oh

F

FOXTROT

FOKS trot

G

GOLF

GOLF

H

HOTEL

hoh TEL

I

INDIA

IN DEE AH

J

JULIETT

JEW lee ETT

K

KILO

KEY loh

L

LIMA

LEE mah

M

MIKE

MIKE

N

NOVEMBER

no VEM ber

O

OSCAR

OSS cah

P

PAPA

pah PAH

Q

QUEBEC

keh BECK

R

ROMEO

ROW me oh

S

SIERRA

see AIR rah

T

TANGO

TANG go

U

UNIFORM

YOU nee form or OO nee form

V

VICTOR

VIC tah

W

WHISKY

WISS key

X

X-RAY

ECKS ray

Y

YANKEE

YANG key

Z

ZULU

ZOO loo

Phonetic numbers

Number

Spoken as

1

WUN

2

TOO

3

THUH-REE

4

FO-WER

5

FI-YIV

6

SIX

7

SEVEN

8

AIT

9

NINER

0

ZERO

Amateur internet linking systems

Amateur radio operaters should be aware that the conditions of their licences also cover the use of an amateur internet linking system (AILS). The ACMA has developed a fact sheet to assist amateur radio operators with the regulatory requirements applying to AILS.

Morse code signals

The morse code signals information paper provides details of written characters and corresponding morse code signals.

Testing and monitoring

Before any call or test transmission, an amateur operator should monitor the frequency on which the transmission will occur to ensure that a transmission will not cause interference to other stations. The operator should also monitor the receive frequency before transmission. Test transmissions should indicate that they are for this purpose.

More information

Information relating to amateur examinations is available:

  • Amateur examinations and certification
  • Overseas amateurs visiting Australia

If you have other queries relating to examinations, please contact:

Examination Section
Wireless Institute of Australia
PO Box 2042
BAYSWATER VIC 3153

Radiocommunications Licensing and Assignments Section, ACMA, Canberra.

Last updated: 10 May 2017