K3ZO's "Is the frequency in use?" or "QRL?"

K8DO at aol.com K8DO at aol.com
Sat Jul 22 13:00:04 EDT 1995


>From Larry Tyree <tree at cmicro.com>  Sat Jul 22 17:03:47 1995
From: Larry Tyree <tree at cmicro.com> (Larry Tyree)
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 1995 09:03:47 -0700
Subject: QRL
Message-ID: <199507221603.JAA20726 at cascade.cmicro.com>

Well, I for one WILL change how I ask if a frequency is in use.  One
suggestion was to use "TEST K9MA" as a quick CQ to use instead of QRL.

I will now send "TEST K9MA" if I want to know if a frequency is in use.

Tree N6TR

(Thought we needed a little humor in here somewhere...)

>From Rich L. Boyd" <rlboyd at CapAccess.org  Sat Jul 22 17:09:32 1995
From: Rich L. Boyd" <rlboyd at CapAccess.org (Rich L. Boyd)
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 1995 12:09:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: "Is the frequency in use?" or "QRL?"
Message-ID: <Pine.SUN.3.91-FP.950722114824.17748F-100000 at cap1.capaccess.org>

I think K3ZO is among the most considerate of all contest operators, 
after observing his style for many years.

I think many of the shocked reactions to his QRL viewpoint may be a 
misunderstanding of what he really means.  I hope my previous messages in 
support of his view have helped explain it better.

To summarize what I've said, I believe the op should listen before either 
sending QRL? or calling CQ in any case and should have a good idea of 
whether the frequency is available or not, after listening.  There are 
many abusers, people who send QRL? without listening first, and people 
who CQ without listening first, and people using either method who don't 
hear or choose to ignore the response they get and stay on the frequency 
anyway.  I do not think using the CQ approach is inherently less polite 
than using the QRL? approach.

Noting the 34-year-old ham's comment, let me say I am 43 and have been 
contesting since 1965.  For maybe the first 10 or more years of that time 
I never heard QRL used.  When I first heard it used I had to look it up 
because it was an uncommon Q signal.  I don't know who started the QRL? 
thing and have often wondered.  When I was a novice it was common 
practice in a QSO to give RST, QTH, then name.  Sometime in the 
intervening years the practice has changed to give it in this order:  
RST, name, QTH.  I don't know why or how it started, but these things 
just happen and new fashions come along I guess.

We have a parallel thing on the local repeater where it's common practice 
(but not by me) to check in with your callsign suffix.  Okay, I'll admit 
once or twice, yielding to temptation to be a devil's advocate, I jumped 
in with "Q" and felt remorse afterward.  Some of these things can get on 
a person's nerves.

But if a new ham comes on the air -- and maybe it was back in 1975 they 
came on the air -- and QRL? has become common, they may have the 
impression it's always been that way and anyone who departs from that 
procedure is being rude.  Some of us (and Fred certainly does) go back to 
a time when QRL? was never used and we have a tendency to resist caving 
in to some of these newer things, and sometimes (maybe most of the time) 
with good reason.  When I make a call on the local repeater, I give my 
whole call.  And when I contest I don't favor the QRL? method either.

When you're tuning the band and come across me, I prefer you to listen 
long enough (5-10 seconds should do) to hear me on the frequency.  If you 
don't hear me and you begin a short CQ, I prefer you to move along when I 
speak to you directly, and politely, asking you to move along.  hi.  I 
will not be more greatly offended by the short CQ and a polite 
interchange between us than I would be by a QRL? from you.  In my 
experience, QRL?, followed by a yes from me, is often followed by a CQ 
from the QRLer anyway.  So, we need to work these things out politely.

By the way, once time I was CQing in the Europe run -- I think it was 15 
CW -- and after several hours of doing so a G station (and Gs are world 
renowned for their politeness) asked me to leave the frequency for some 
reason unknown.  When I didn't, he was clearly irate and started 
haranguing me -- all on CW, including calling me a "cretin," just before 
he left the frequency.  He had gotten my goat enough that I remembered 
it, to the point of looking up "cretin" after the contest.  I discovered 
it meant something to the effect of "A Christian who lives in a cave," 
which I decided, personal policy-wise, to take as a compliment.

Obvious typo correction above:  "By the way, one time I was CQing..."

Another thought on "the heavy impact of contests on the bands."  I think 
most of the anti-contest complaints come from people who occupy certain 
frequencies regularly:  once-a-week sked guys, DX nets, ragchew and 
good-ole-boy nets, etc.  These are guys who feel they have a greater or 
lesser right to a certain frequency at a certain time.  Oh, I forgot to 
mention SSTVers, another group who "own" a ceratin frequency, or 
frequency range.  These conflicts and competitions for spectrum are a 
reality of what we deal with.  On a larger scale, it's ham spectrum 
versus commercial interests who can make money from it all if they have 
the chance.  A local AMer bent my ear recently about the AMers just 
wanting "a little portion of the band..." and I think it was 10 khz or 
so.  He realizes their signals are broader than most of the others.  He 
said they're geting tired of fighting for their little piece of the band 
so now they're deciding "the heck with it" and they're going to spread 
out all over the band (75 meters) intentionally and let the SSBers and 
others lump it.  So, these conflicts are not just contesters vs. 
anti-contesters; it's various competing uses.

Who are the heavier users, with the most impact on the bands?  The ones 
who use a certain frequency or frequency range every day, in some cases 
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in other cases for several hours during 
"prime time" every evening for their group ragchews?  Or, the contesters 
who are off the air the vast majority of the time, choosing to do their 
operating during intense 24-48-hour periods several times a year?  And, 
though a contester may CQ on one frequency for a long time, most of us, 
the single ops at least, move around a lot and don't stay on any one 
frequency a long time.  And, if I'm a single op, I don't really care if I 
find a great clear frequency at 3505, 3515, 3525, or you name it higher 
in the band, whereas nets and others may want a very specific frequency 
all the time and don't want to go up five or down five.

Contesters, in my experience, spend the majority of their "ham time" 
building and maintaining their station (and lately reading Contest 
Reflector mail, hi).  They have the best stations in ham radio and could 
certainly gouge out permanent frequencies to ragchew on if they cared to.

So I think the perspective is wrong that feels contesters hog the bands.  
I think the reverse is true:  We choose NOT to hog them, but do choose to 
get on once in a while, a few weekends a year.  73

Rich Boyd KE3Q

More information about the CQ-Contest mailing list