Do all CW operators know what the CW prosign KN means? (Part 2)

Continuing the discussion from Do all CW operators know what the CW prosign KN means? (Part 1) - #100 by K6YK.

Previous discussions:

Shiny magic software… it looks like the latest version of Discourse (the software that powers this forum/reflector) automatically creates a follow up thread when the reply limit is reached on an existing thread.

Interesting! Well, I’m getting an education in English by reading these
SOTA messages! I love it !

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So we cant filibusterer a topic to death?


It seems no matter what the original subject is, the conversation always goes down some other road.

Wow, that’s new! I’m not sure that I approve, sometimes its better to let a thread die - tho’ not in this case!

There’s a new option appeared in Admin where you can enable auto follow on thread creation. Auto-create is set “on” but can be easily flipped to “off”.

Yes indeed, I don’t have a problem with it myself, and am happy to go along with the present day definition and customary usage. You will note I carefully and deliberately used the phrase “the moderator might take down…”. This is because our moderator is of advancing years and may only have been familiar with the 16th Century version. If so, I trust he gave himself a good ticking off.

Hi Andrew VK I think maybe I have given the wrong impression as I fully know what prosigns etc are and as far as I’m aware none of the complaints are about moi as like yourself or maybe, I learned in the late fifties early sixties and maybe I’m wrong but anyone who has heard my CW certainly can’t complain nor of my method of operation.
Andy MM if I have offended anyone then that was not my intention and I am deeply sorry but I don’t think I have mis-read the comments, then again maybe I have , but I just expressed my view of how it came over.
best 73 anyway

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Honestly, that’s all the respect that the whippersnappers give you nowadays! :grinning:


If it is set to “automatically create a new thread when the limit is reached” the limit is not really a limit. Is there an advantage in limiting the length of threads?

When I saw it had been terminated, I looked for a way of “liking” the termination, thinking there must be a certificate available for liking such things, but no, sadly, no way to like something like that.

A slow news day indeed.

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Hi Allen,

Received and understood.

I suspect that whatever our original training in morse, we all regard the prosigns and procedures we learned then as the “right” way to do things. So post office, railway and military operators all have very definite views on these topics, all slightly different, and all are mystified by any suggestions of alternatives.

Eg. No-one has mentioned the dit-dit, di-dit prosign, which I used to hear the long time operators using… I suspect it was an instruction to execute a carriage return (and line feed) on the typewriter, in other words, start a new line. The folk who learned that regard it as a fixed part of morse procedure and the rest of us have no clue as it isn’t in our operating manuals as far as I know.

In any case, I think it would be helpful for a set of the most common terminology, prosigns and procedures to be documented for the benefit of newcomers. I will add appropriate text to my FAQ.

73 Andrew VK1DA/VK2UH

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Oh dear. Splitting hairs or:-
Re the “dit dit” " dit dit" or the letter ’ I ’ sent twice, and other observations on prosigns:-

'Ditdit ditdit 'was used by the military to separate parts of the handling instructions (the Date, Time, From, To, etc) in messages/signals. It would generally indicate a new line - but it wasn’t always used like that. It all depended on the whim of the operator!! We wrote it down, if needed as a dash -

It was also used (by the Navy), if you’d stopped sending for some reason and wanted to indicate to the other operator you’d not dropped off to sleep or suffered a physical or electronic malfunction, or perhaps just dropped the message you were sending !!

The ditdit ditdit (double I ) I only heard used by commercial operators as a error/correction - even though 8 or more dits was their ‘normal’, written procedure, ditdit ditdit was king! But the military always used 8 or more dits!! to correct sending errors!.

The letters BT sent together were only used to separate the actual text of a message from the message handling bit and also to indicate that the text had finished. (Before you sent ‘K’) and were never, ever used in the way hams use it. The military wrote it down as; '// ’ and the commercial service wrote it down as ’ =

In the merchant service a telegram handling instructions were separated by the letters “BT” sent together.

K &/or AR In both civilian and the military usage world wide, K meant you want a reply and/or answer/acknowledgement to what you had just sent… If the operator sent or ended a message, or exchange of information and ended it with AR, he/she did not need or want an answer or reply.
However, most commercial signals/telegrams and formal messages ended with AR meaning, ‘End Of Message/telegram’. But normally the operator would want a QSL so would add a K after the AR, indicating they wanted a reply/acknowledgement.

So for both services & commercial operators, a message ending in AR only, meant, 'thats it I’m finished, I don’t need an answer. And a K at the end meant you expected a reply. Simple!

The letters KN sent together I never heard used by any military or commercial ship or shore station to indicate you wanted a reply from only the person called. K. was used by both military and commercial services to indicate that you wanted a reply or acknowledgement. But KN was used for open bracket, ’ ( ’ and KK sent together, was used for closed brackets ’ ) ’

VE sent together was often used by commercial operators to indicate a signal/msg etc., was received and I only remember it being used at the start of the reply/acknowledgement = "VE GBTT de GKB QSL K (or AR) - VE did sometimes get used in the same way in the military, but normally only if you were sending stuff only to the other operator or radio department. It was never used unless you received and understood everything that was sent to you - so never, ever; "VE de GKB ? Addrs agn pse K ".

QSL was of course the standard way of acknowledging the receipt of a telegram or a message in the Merchant service but never in the MIlitary. We always used the letter R which of course stood for Roger and meant the same thing. As for RST these were never used by either the merchant or military. QRK & QSA were king, and no one bothered about the T tone of a signal!. I only ever sent QRI 3 once. And the operator I sent it too told me their radio was manufactured in 1940 and what did I expect?. (RAF sea rescue launch).

CT sent together was only used to indicate the start of a telegram. At which point the operator would start writing. It had no other function, but like K6KY , Andy stated, I believe it was in use by older hams too.

SK sent together was used by the commercial operator to indicate that their communication was ended - and normally implied you were switching your set off and going for a cup of tea, or going elsewhere to work someone else with another message perhaps. But not always used!!

It was relatively common in the merchant service to hear ships call up a shore station on HF (never on MF), with just the station being called’s callsign:
eg, “GKBGKB GKB GKB GKB etc., Until of course the operator at GKB heard it. In which case the GKB operator would simply send ;- “de” and the operator of the ship would simply reply, “de GBTT.…” and carry on with the QSO. But we rarely did that in the military.!

I never ever heard or read of either commercial or military operators sending their callsigns, at the end of a QSO - seems rather unnecessary in my view. AR or K would do depending on whether you wanted an answer or not.

ERE would do in the military for ‘here’, but in the merchant service ER would do!

So when after a gap of using morse ashore and at sea, of over 50 years, before I became a ham, It was somewhat of a shock to discover that hams have a different usage of the prosigns, abbreviations and Q codes I’d used all those years ago.

Then there’s the way the final flourish of dits was used and sent at the end of a transmission or QSO at sea. Oh, yes! Hams do it differently to the way the merchant service did it or dit dit at sea! But i’m sure you’ve read enough!!.



There never was a limit as such as once a thread was automatically closed, any poster could create a part 2/part3 etc. continuation. In the vast majority of cases this doesn’t happen and the thread as such stops. All that the software change does is create the follow on automatically instead of waiting for someone to do it manually.

The reason for a limit is due to the UX of very long threads. On modern, fast, high performance phones, tablets, computers having long threads is not an issue. On old hardware, it could be a dire getting to the end of a long thread. Also, massive threads are dis-concerting to people who have just joined, a “reasonable” limit makes them more likely to be read.

A quick look shows 13 threads exceed 200 posts pre-limit, 25 threads have exceed 100 posts and “part2” has been started and 3 threads have a “part 3”. What I can’t see easily is how many threads there are in total.

Draw any conclusions you fancy from this :wink:

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With the interesting description David @M6GYU has given us of the variation in use of prosigns between different commercial and military organizations, it makes me wonder if there was ever a golden age where all amateur CW operators used prosigns all the time and in the same way [especially as many would have come from those organizations].

It’s perfectly clear to me that there never was, and that the protocol the ethics document tries to push is but one of many. The K vs AR bit is, perhaps, the most contentious (in that I’ve heard folk say they won’t work someone who uses the one they consider wrong), but there are other situations where the document is a mite dogmatic in a way that is not entirely helpful; different situations may need variations. It does mean there’s more to learn, but that makes life more interesting.

I’ll take that!

Really? If someone gets upset enough to take that attitude, I wouldn’t be bothered if they didn’t work me. Now let me think, where in the list of things going wrong in the world today is the K vs AR debate?


To me, sending just a K at the end of a transmission becomes confusing because if I get called by a ham with a callsing ended in K, I’m in doubt if that final K is part of the callsing or is the end of transmission.
I rather use AR K, AR KN or BK.


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Yes but I doubt anyone sends the K following their call without some gap. i.e. I have never heard Phil send
G4OBKK but G4OBK K. He may always send AR but I tend to go into a slight automaton trance when doing CW and when I switch back to thinking and speaking I can’t quite be sure who sends what.

I do know some of you have beautiful fists that make my life copying you much easier.

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