Ham Radio Jargon for beginner

Posted by Fred C. (W6BSD) on Apr 09 2020

If you are a new ham checking into a repeater or someone listening to the ham radio band with a scanner, you will discover a lot of the jargon. In the following table, you will find the most common lingo you will hear on the amateur band and, more specifically, on repeaters.

The table also contains some of the most common QCode. It is a standard collection of codes starting with the letter "Q", initially developed for commercial radio-telegraph communication and later adopted by other radio services.

The ARRL recommends that amateurs use the NATO phonetic alphabet as most amateurs around the world will recognize them. The call sign W6BSD will be Whiskey, 6, Bravo, Sierra, Delta, and not Wendy, 6, Bob, Susan, Dorothy.

Term Meaning Example
7 3 Cheers / best wishes Thank you for the QSO and 73 from W6BSD
Boat anchor old radio I am replacing a vacuum tube on my boat anchor
HT handheld transceiver I am only carrying my HT when I travel
PTT push-to-talk button Press the PTT and wait a second before talking
QRM interference I had a lot of QRM during your last transmission
QSL acknowledge / confirm QSL on your signal report
QSO contact Thank you for the QSO
QSY change frequency Let's QSY on 652
QTH location what is your QTH?
clear off the air 73 all from W6BSD, clear
copy understood 100% copy on your last transmission
double talk simultaneously There was a double on the last tranmission
elmer mentor My elmer told me about your club
final end of transmission I will be clear after your final
full‑quieting no background noise you are full-quieting into the repeater
homebrew home made I am using an homebrew antenna
jump off leave the radio diner is ready, I need to jump off
kerchunck short press on the PTT someone is kerchunking the repeater
key up transmit key up when you are ready
mobile traveling this is W6BSD mobile or this is W6BSD bicycle mobile
net on-air gathering The club net is Wednesday at 7:30 pm
picket fence fluttering transmission I hear picket fence noise are you mobile?
ragchew long discussion Yesterday I had a ragchew with W6IPA
relay pass a message Can you relay that information for me?
roger agree Roger that Wayat
rubber duck short inefficient antenna how am I getting into the repeater? I am on a rubber duck
shack radio room I have a boat anchor in my shack
silent key passed away Mike, K4LUY is a silent key
stand by wait Ok John take your time, W6BSD standing by
step on talk over / double Sorry Larry I stepped on you
unkey stop transmitting unkey your microphone before sneezing on the air
ARRL

Ham Radio1 is a great hobby to learn. It will introduce you to new groups of people. You will be learning about technology, people in other parts of the world, emergency communications, and radiosport, amongst other things. The Radio Society of Great Britain produced a great video to explain what is ham radio.

If you are interested in becoming a licensed ham radio operator, you can find all the information on how to pass the exam on the ARRL website2.


  1. Amateur Radio Operator 

  2. Amateur Radio Relay League 

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