ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Using Phonetics, Part 2.
Last week we looked at use of the phonetic alphabet to communicate anything which must be spelled out: call signs, other mixed letter/number groups, proper names and uncommon words. It was noted that use of standard phonetics is considered good practice. Remember that amateur radio spans all cultures and languages of the world. It is also very diverse, ranging from public service and emergency communication to learning about other cultures, chasing awards, contesting, and making contacts in a seemingly infinite number of ways. With so much diversity, developing standard, universally understood operating procedures has many benefits.
That said, there are times when temporarily substituting a different phonetic can be helpful. An example would be the last letter of my call sign (G) when talking to an operator in Central or South America who may be just learning the phonetic alphabet or struggling with the English language. Substituting the longer word Guatemala, clearly enunciated, can be more effective than Golf in that case. Good practice would be to try standard phonetics first and use something else only when encountering difficulty. For example if I have tried standard phonetics twice and the other operator is still having trouble getting it I will try an alternate only for the specific letter or letters that are not being understood. Don’t switch phonetics for a letter that has already been correctly understood! This may lead the other operator to think he got it wrong and try to change it. I always revert to standard phonetics for the next contact. Those who find themselves enjoying aspects of amateur radio where alternate phonetics can be an asset will learn when and what to use as they observe what works (and doesn’t work) for others.
One other point about phonetics is worth noting. Some repeater owners and repeater clubs frown on the use of phonetics. We should try to respect their wishes and fit in when we become aware of their preferences. Phonetics are very welcome and encouraged on the N1BUG 147.105 repeater. Not everyone has perfect hearing. Understanding letters that sound alike can be a real challenge regardless of mode. Many new hams start out on FM and repeaters. Some go on to other aspects of amateur radio where phonetics are much more important. I see repeaters as a good place to learn and practice universal operating techniques and skills that may be useful here as well as elsewhere throughout amateur radio.
Remember it is often kinder to elmer than to overlook.
From one of my good friends and my first Elmer, N1BUG.
ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Order of Call signs.
Convention on which call sign goes first (calling station or station being called) varies by radio service. In amateur radio the call sign of the station transmitting goes last. Let’s look at an example. I am N1BUG. If I want to call K1PQ, the correct order is “K1PQ, N1BUG”. A tip to help remember this is to imagine the words “this is” between call signs. Sometimes we actually speak those words: “K1PQ, this is N1BUG”. Often we omit the middle part and just say the call signs, but “this is” is always implied. From this you can see the call sign of the station actually doing the transmitting should always come last. The same applies if you choose to give both station call signs at the 10 minute ID interval or at the end of a communication. (Note: you are only required to say your own call sign every 10 minutes and at the end of a communication, but in practice we often say both the call sign of the station we are communicating with and our own call sign).
Why it matters: On local repeaters where people quickly learn to recognize each others’ voices this may seem unimportant. What is important is maintaining uniform operating procedures throughout amateur radio. In other facets of amateur radio call sign order is very important. Getting it reversed can lead to confusion, frustration and misunderstanding. It is better to encourage and learn the proper order of call signs early than risk having to let go of established habits and relearn later on.
Remember it is often kinder to Elmer than to overlook.
ELMER TIP OF THE WEEK: Station Identification Requirements.
FCC Regulations require us to give our call sign every ten minutes during a communication and at the end of a communication. Remembering to identify can be a challenge for those coming to amateur radio from unlicensed personal radio services. Of course nervous mistakes happen when one is new but in the absence of gentle reminders it is easy for such mistakes to become habit. A common error is giving one’s call sign only when making a call or checking into a net, then forgetting to identify every ten minutes during and at the end of a communication. On nets such as the Wednesday PARC Net where we check in and later get a turn to make comments, it is important to give our call sign at the end of our comments regardless of timing or whether we expect to transmit again during the net. We may not know whether we will be transmitting again or how long it will be before our next transmission. Identifying at the end of our turn ensures we stay within the rules. For normal communications outside nets, we should identify every ten minutes and at the end of the contact or conversation.
Why it matters: Identifying may not seem important when everyone on the repeater knows each other, but remember we are granted extensive privileges to use a finite and valuable resource known as the electromagnetic spectrum. In return we are expected to follow certain regulations. It behooves us all to do so.
Remember it is often kinder to elmer than to overlook.