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Amateur operating procedures

This information may help you study for amateur exams. For further information regarding amateur qualifications visit the the Australian Maritime College.

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 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 modulated

SSB = amplitude modulated and uses a single-sideband, suppressed carrier

FM = angle modulated and uses frequency modulation and

PM = angle modulated and uses phase modulation.

Access to emission modes and frequency bands are based on the level of qualification, for further information please see:

Amateur LCD

Emission characteristics of radio transmissions

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.

Amateur Internet Linking Systems (AILS)

Amateur radio operators should be aware that the conditions of their licences covers the use of an Amateur Internet Linking System (AILS).

An AILS connects amateur operators in Australia and overseas using the internet.

Amateur operators can connect to an AILS through an amateur station or by other means, such as a computer with internet access.

There are many examples of AILS, including iLink and IRLP (Internet Repeater Link Protocol).

Regulatory requirements

Amateur operators, including those operating an AILS, are personally responsible for the operation of stations under their control or stations to which their amateur licence relates.

When connecting to an AILS, you should be aware that you must comply with legislative requirements, including the requirements set out in the:

Amateur licences are apparatus licences, a type of radiocommunications licence. AILS operations, like all amateur activities, must comply with regulatory arrangements established by us under the Act, particularly sections 107 and 108, which detail the conditions of apparatus licences.

The Act does not apply if the internet is used to link a computer in Australia with an amateur station in another country and radiocommunications transmissions do not occur in Australia. In these circumstances, the activity is outside our regulatory scope.

Communication by an amateur station

Amateurs are granted certain operating privileges by their amateur licence, which reflects their level of qualification. An AILS must not be used to extend an amateur's operating privileges in Australia or overseas.

Licensees of Australian amateur stations linked with other amateur stations are responsible for all transmissions through their station. When linking with stations in overseas countries, although third party traffic is generally permitted, licensees should respect any restrictions applied to amateur stations in foreign countries.

AILS approval

The regulatory framework governs actual behaviour 'on air' by amateur operators rather than prospective behaviour. For this reason, we will not approve a particular AILS for operation on the basis of demonstrations or documentation. Design flaws, operational limitations and other problems may only become apparent during operation and may result from the level of experience of the operator, system modifications (such as software or hardware upgrades) or malicious attack ('hacking').

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) sent once, the callsign of the station called sent not more than three times, the word (DE), the callsign of the station calling sent not more than three times and the invitation to transmit (K).

Example: VK7AB VK7AB VK7AB VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ

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 VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ

A reply call in radiotelegraphy should consist of the signal (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).

Example: VK9YZ VK9YZ VK9YZ VK7AB VK7AB VK7AB

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 CQ CQ VK5YZ VK5YZ VK5YZ portable Emerald Queensland

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), transmitted as a single character.

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

Distress call and message

The distress call consists of:

  • the distress signal sent three times
  • the words 'THIS IS' or 'DE'
  • the callsign or other identification of the station in distress, sent three times

The distress message consists of:

  • the distress signal SOS (radiotelegraphy) or MAYDAY (radiotelephony)
  • the name, or other identification, of the station in distress
  • particulars of its position
  • the nature of the distress and the kind of assistance required
  • 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 always be prepared to accept such traffic.

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

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:

  • land based distress situations - the nearest police station
  • air or sea-based distress situations - the Australian Maritime Safety Authority's Rescue Co-ordination Centre, Canberra, ACT
    Aviation Rescue services is 1800 815 257
    Maritime Rescue services is 1800 641 792
  • any other appropriate authority

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 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.)

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

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

 

Testing and monitoring

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

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