Congratulations, you've got your new Amateur Radio license and can't wait to start operating on HF phone!    Perhaps you're not certain how you want to conduct yourself.    After all, there very few mandated rules as such.   Most hams have developed good operating practices and etiquette simply by listening to more experienced hams and you will as well.  Here are some of my preferences for your consideration.  Have fun!

Opinions from Don "K4QKY"







Strive to

► Exercise politeness regardless of the circumstances.  Whenever you begin to feel that you can't, then stop transmitting.

► Be a good example especially for newly licensed Hams as well as short wave listeners who may be thinking about becoming a ham.

► Be a good listener.  It will help you better organize your thoughts before transmitting.

► Reply to a CQ, or call CQ yourself.  It is and always should be a major ingredient in the magic of ham radio.

► Speak clearly and slowly, especially when giving your call sign to someone you have never worked before.

► Promote friendship and goodwill to DX contacts.  Look for ways to get to know each other rather than simply exchanging signal reports and 73s!

► Try to keep track of everyone in the QSO.  Hopefully someone has assumed the role of "traffic director" to make sure everyone has a chance to contribute to the discussion.  If not, don't hesitate to do it yourself.

► Make it clear at the end of each transmission which station is expected to transmit next.  Try to do this even when operating VOX.

► Operate on frequencies that are in whole Khz (e.g. 18.130Khz). This alleviates ambiguity and makes it easier for everyone to be on the same frequency.

► Openly praise other hams when you observe them doing something that you feel is especially deserving. e.g., helping demo ham radio to a group of scouts.

► Always be ready to quickly and calmly respond to emergency situations.  Rehearse what you would do if presented with various scenarios.

► Operate in keeping with good amateur practice.  Be certain to always comply with the provisions of Part 97 of the rules.

► Pause between transmissions.  "Quick keying" gives the appearance that other hams are unwelcome in your QSO.

► Consider using the Internet to enrich your QSO.  Avail yourself of the opportunity to add additional information and photos to your page.  You may also want to consider developing your own comprehensive personal website.

► Respect the privileges of hams operating in other modes on the HF bands including those who enjoy AM.

► Make a point to try 17 and 60 meters.  Good practices are especially prevalent.

► Look for opportunities to "Elmer" newly licensed hams when you hear them on the HF bands.   Welcome them, solicit their questions  and give them pointers on  good operating practices.

► Remember that no one country can proclaim to be the leader of the Amateur Radio world.   Likewise, no one country's foreign policy is any more right or wrong than that of another country.  Let's always keep this in mind when operating on the ham bands.

► Talking politics is generally considered to be in poor taste on the ham bands.  However, if you are willing to courteously listen to the opinions of others while not insisting that you're right and their wrong, then you may want to do it.   Just be careful to not offend others, especially if they are in another country. 

► Develop good operating practices.  You will be doing your part in helping insure the continuance of our long and proud tradition of self-regulation.  Moreover, you just might convince someone else to also become a ham.



► Acting like some sort of broadcast radio station.  Your fellow "Amateurs" will most likely not appreciate such a blatant display of personal ego.

► Acknowledge the presence of deliberate interference.  After all, that's their overall objective.

► Being excessively long winded especially when in a round-table discussion. (KG9OM often fails to head his own advice)

► Just talking about ham radio.  Many hams often have other interests.  

► Operating when you are in a bad mood.   You will be that much more vulnerable to losing your temper.

► Overusing Q-codes and other ham radio jargon on the phone bands.

► Claiming any particular frequency for nets, schedules, etc.  If your designated frequency is already in use, simply move up or down as necessary.

► Transmitting before first determining if the frequency is clear.  This includes transmitting within 3Khz of other known QSOs.

► Breaking into an ongoing QSO unless you can hear the majority of the participants.

► Ignoring someone new to a round table QSO.  Do your part to make everyone feel welcome. It is inappropriate to say anything that makes the discussion appear exclusive to a particular circle of friends.

► Testing your radio on the air.  It is far better to use a dummy load.

► Coughing , sneezing or clearing your throat into your microphone.

► Operating VOX when it may potentially tend to foster "quick keying" as it may tend to give the appearance that you don't welcome breakers.

► Becoming a "Band Policeman" quick to tell others what you feel they are doing wrong.  In instances where it may be called for, always be polite and constructive.

► Turning up your microphone gain or resort to excessive speech processing in order to be heard.  Such practices will most likely result in diminished audio quality and increased likelihood of interference (IMD) to nearby QSOs.

► Using the word "break" when wanting to join an on-going QSO.   Simply give your call sign between transmissions and reserve use of the word "break" for more urgent situations.

► Joining an ongoing QSO unless you have something to contribute to the discussion.  Try not to interrupt  other hams with a  request  for audio checks,  signal reports, etc.

► Knowingly interfere with an ongoing QSO just because you are working DX especially split frequency.   Working DX is great fun but should never assume to assume to include special operating privileges.

► Saying that the frequency is not in use if you hear someone ask if the frequency you are listening to is in use.  You should only respond if you know that the frequency or one nearby is in use.

► Ridiculing other hams or express any negative views of the overall state of Amateur Radio.  If you don't have something positive and constructive to say, don't say anything at all.

► Hiding behind your microphone.  Don't say anthing over the air to someone that you wouldn't say face to face.  



(1) The foregoing list represents the opinion of one ham.   As such, it is intended to be nothing more than a “shopping list” of suggested guidelines presented almost entirely from the perspective of a “rag chewer”.   DXers, contesters and hams who enjoy other modes will most likely have somewhat different views.    Equipment related issues, being generally well known, are purposely not included here.     In any event, it is hoped that this list may prove somewhat useful especially for new operators.   The overriding theme is common sense and courtesy to others.  Let’s always remember what a privilege it is to operate on the ham bands!  This will help avoid doing anything that might impinge on the enjoyment of our hobby for others.  

(2) Equipment related practices, although beyond the scope of this article, are none-the-less important.  Always be aware of your signal quality especially through careful adjustment of microphone gain and speech processor/EQ settings.  Lets all do our part to avoid generating interference.  

(3) Thoughts and recommendations are welcome.  Email K4QKY at .  

(4) You or the organization you represent are welcome to create a link to this page.

(5) Links to other related resources:

...and these Jahoo! Email Groups: - Ham Instructor group - Ham Radio Help group