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Preferred Exchange

I see at the minimum the exchange is a signal report.

What does the majority like to see as a default exchange?


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That should do it (RST). Short 'n sweet is the go. As hunters, we should keep in mind that every word of needless waffle probably deprives another chaser of making the contact, as the activator may be under the gun due to approaching darkness, restless companions, or approaching bad weather. I note that USA chasers seem to want to impart their state - possibly a holdover from POTA/WWFF? As DX improves, we will be working many entities that don’t embrace the concept of states or provinces, so it cannot possibly be made mandatory.

Highjjacking your thread slightly, can I also request that signal reports be REALISTIC? Here in VK, we’ve got that aced, but there is nothing more farcical than a USA station giving a VK activator a 599 report after having clobbered about 5 previous QSO’s because he or she clearly cannot hear the activator.

Happy trails!
John, VK4TJ


I also prefer an realistic RS(T) whether it be POTA or SOTA rather than a default exchange. I’ll accept or give an honest 42. Let’s leave the default 59(9) for contesting. Pre rollover, as an activator I like to keep it short & sweet but I’m quite happy to have a short rag chew after roll over, however that’s my operating style & it may not suit everybody.


Yes, RST and callsign, but it does need some commonsense applied.

IMO for a chaser the minimum I expect is to be called by my callsign plus confirmation of receipt of my report.

As an activator I send the callsign of the station I want to work plus a report. I expect a R and a report. If I’ve got the callsign wrong I expect a correction.

I send reports twice, three times if signals are weak. Its quicker than being asked to repeat and then repeating.

As an activator I’ll send out my peak info when there is no pile up.

I’ll send T U 73 SK E E to conclude.



As an activator i like to also have a few longer qso’s…this is not a contest and it adds to my enjoyment to catch up with chasers.

When chasing I might ask about working conditions and wx, but only if it sounds like the activator os happy to do so.

I like to give real rst, although as a newbie to CW it is easier to give 5NN if I am starting to struggle.

This is an extreme example of an exchange. The last activation I was hammered a few times by a strong station putting in his callsign over top if every one. I stuck to my guns and worked through in order those I had heard before. After several more pokes with his call sign giving me ur 5NN [what ever that means] then as his turn came around, and I was giving him my Report that I heard his signal and I heard him saying 73 dit dit and I had not even finished giving my report. I read full break in quite good on my KX3. Consequently I did not score him as a chase, not sure if he penciled me in his chaser log but I can have a good guess.
Keep reports simple Call sign ur 599 on CW or what ever you determine the strength to be if you got time to read the signal meter. After a while of doing it you come to know what a stronger 599 signal sounds like compared to anything weaker or less readable. SSB signals can probably have bigger variations between “heard” strengths to unreadable.
Have fun it’s all part of the craft of ham radio and hill walking.
Ian vk5cz …

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Hi Ian,
I’m surprised an experienced CW op like you is not conversant with cut numbers. I presume you never log my 5nn. What about 5dn? It’s OK as I haven’t uploaded them recently.

Forget the S meter unless you have a 1960’s valve Rx or an expensive SDR rx The absolute worst is the FT817. I have had a few people give me 50 reports. My response is that I will log their report as 52 because 0 represents nil signal and S1 is barely detectable. At S2 the report probably should be 42 but I let that one go.

There is a regrettable habit on VHF SSB here of giving 51 reports which are a nonsense.
Some of my regular contacts think their signal is 6 dB stronger than it was 20 years ago. Nope. Just correcting a reporting error.

For those who want some relief from the stress on the hill can I suggest repeated numbers are good.
339 missing bits due to QSB.
449 readable but hard copy
559 readable but not strong.

For stronger signals 579 then 599 or as I send them, n instead of 9 as in 55n, 5nn etc.

I’ve had a 551 report which I suspect was a minor brain burp.

The old ARRL handbooks had excellent guidance on reporting.

If someone comes back much faster than you are sending then a readability of 2 or 3 might be appropriate as in 399.

Well that’s going to cause enough trouble for one night.

Stay cool/warm as suits.



Indeed, a lot of the sub-miniature rigs like the ATS and MTR serires don’t have an S meter.

I tend to give strong clear signals 59(9) using cut-numbers where appropriate, weaker clear signals get 55(9), if I’m having any problems copying then it’s 45(9).

On SSB I’ll often use 57 or 58 if the signal sounds weaker than other chasers.


I have to agree with Ron & Colin that a correctly selected subset is more than enough to give meaningful reports.

The worst problem is trying to unlearn bad habits… I still give 519 reports when I shouldn’t. I’ve just about banished myself from 55 reports on voice which always causes people to say “thanks for the 59” when they are a bit of an effort to work.

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The minimum is a signal report but it is “strongly recommended that the summit identifier be given during each contact”. This is important because self spotting errors do occur, and chaser spot errors are more frequent - I remember one occasion where according to the spots the activator was on three different summits at the same time! It is not unheard of for an activator to run through a pile-up only giving locations when requested, the GR requires that if the summit ID is not given in each contact it should be given every few QSOs. So in answer to the question, my preferred exchange is report and location.


I agree Matthew. I like to know where the chaser is and maybe a little more description of my signal report than a just numerical value. I like SSB because I like a little chat if I have armchair copy.

I was reminded that ham radio etiquette dictates that the calling station sets the pace of the QSO. First and foremost a chaser should listen. If the activator is just wham-bam-thank-you-mam, then don’t try and chat them up. If they are lah-dee-dah-whatever, then, by all means, ask them about the weather or the hike up. The key is to follow the activator’s lead. If they say “QRZ?” after the signal report, don’t key down again.

I have heard chasers that are painfully unaware of this basic etiquette. Don’t be that guy.

Another country heard from,


I try to strike a balance between a QSO that contains many details and the need to ensure that Chasers are not kept waiting, or frustrated, too long. So in a big pilup then one QSO per minute, including RST sent, received and confirmed. Few callers, a slightly longer QSO, 2 minutes perhaps and a few more pleasantries. I always strive for good etiquette, remember it is a hobby. Realistic reports are very important. Several times the sudden dropping of reports from 589 to 549 has indicated that my mast has fallen down! I give my location every QSO, or in a pileup every couple of QSO’s and the word “SOTA” regularly. I also end my QSO with E E.


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Been there, done that. A couple of times when I’ve been on 60m it didn’t actually make any difference!

Now where should the summit ID be inserted? in the exchange? after a CQ? after a QRZed? and should the whole Identifier be used like the W9/xxx or just the simmit part?


Joe, I am not necessarily a good model.

I start with asking if the frequency is clear twice then three CQs , SOTA, my call three times, summit ID in full once, my call again and K or " standing by".

If asked for my QTH then of course the summit ID is given and its name if it has one.

If there is a steady procession of chasers no summit ID is given. This in my case possibly lasts for six chasers.

When all goes quiet I generally use the same CQ sequence as above.


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I think most activators don’t include their summit reference at all unless asked by the chaser. Most chasers will have your summit reference from your spot and you will want to work through the pile-up quickly as a courtesy to those chasers who are wanting to get the exchange done and move on to someone else. In addition, you need to remember that your signal will be weak and chasers will have a hard enough time making out your call sign without mixing that up with the summit reference number. This protocol is different with an S2S contact where you will want to get the other stations summit reference, repeating it to make sure you have it correctly and also giving your summit reference and allowing the other station to repeat it if necessary. When there is no pile-up, or the pile-up is finished and if you happen to be on a sunny comfortable summit that is the time to enjoy more lengthy conversations.

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State and a real signal report is always great for me. It lets me know where and how my signal is behaving. I always give a real signal report.
73 Gary

At the point that best conveys the information to the other party.

And when the spot is wrong which it often is?