What Makes a Good CW Callsign?

Having bluffed my way through another exam yesterday I should be able to go online tomorrow and obtain a new callsign in the format M0xyz. The “M0” is fixed but I have a measure of choice over the “xyz”.

I’ve been using the QRZ website to see what might be available. Sadly the direct conversion of my current callsign, M0GQM is already taken.

But I’m also wondering, as I’m interested in CW, are there any letter combinations to avoid? For example M0MOO isn’t on QRZ. This doesn’t mean it isn’t available, I won’t know until I try it in the application process, but M0MOO has a lot of dashes. You would have time to brew a cup of tea while sending it.

At the other end of the scale, should I avoid E or T, especially at the end of the callsign? Might the single dot or dash be lost?

Or am I over-thinking all this? :slight_smile:


I just fished around until I found one that sounded good in CW.
Its not the best for voice, but I’m on FM/SSB so rarely I don’t mind. :man_shrugging:


I think it depends what you want to achieve John. Various options may suit:
M0QRZ or M0QRS may address 2 needs in one. Or if morse gets all too much, maybe M0QRJ?


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Mike G4DDL’s call always sounds good to me dah-di-dit dah-di-dit di-dah-di-dit

Try to avoid some ending in K or E.


Hi John,
Congrats on your successfully passed exam.
I would tend to avoid a combination of letters with too many dashes and also a suffix ending in K, and BK because it can be confused with the end of your transmission, but I wouldn’t worry too much about the sound of the callsign on CW and I would apply for something that you like for whatever personal reasons, as long as it’s available.
Try to prepare a list of potentially available suffixes and then choose something you like.
My first callsign was EC2AJR, which was bah! and I only had it for less than a year. Then I got EA2BUN which I liked very much, but I finally decided to change it to a 2 letters suffix because it minimised the chances for copying errors and it also was shorter and faster to be sent which is something I wanted for contesting. Also the IF suffix was nice to me because it was ham radio related like the Intermediate Frequency.
I hope you’ll find and finally get something that you like.



Congratulations on the new license level, John.

Tongue in cheek, MO0MOO would be instantly recognized by all. M0MOO is, too. It’s a great call for those who have trouble sending dits.

There are all sorts of reasons for choosing one call over another. In the end are you happy with what you chose? Can you send your call easily and can others? How does it sound in voice? Easy phonetics or complicated? Do you need a short call for contesting or other on-air activities?

It is more comfortable to alternate dit and dah movements on a paddle, AA1AA or N6NB, for instance.
Sending characters that end with a dit then begin with a dit can be harder at higher speeds. They can seem to merge, too, such as N6AN becoming N6P.

I was given WN6KJI, then WB6KJI. In 1977 I chose AA6RX rather than get a 1x2 that was a lower choice. It served me well until 2001 when N6AN became available. It jumped out to me from the page of callsigns. I feel very lucky to be the second holder of the call.

Good luck with your search. Enjoy!
73, David N6AN

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Congratulations on the pass!

I think I would avoid having a T or an E in the callsign if possible - when sending, I find it easier to time the inter character space if I have just sent a combination of elements, rather than one dit or dah. That might make it easier for the receiving station too…but bear in mind that I’m an occasional CW op rather than an expert :smiley:

73, Adrian


There are other options, Ofcom are currently allowing any older series call that hasn’t been used in the last 3 (I think) years.

See Amateur Radio Daily | Daily news from the world of Ham Radio

I’d avoid anything that ends in a single dot which can get lost too easily and also avoid things ending in K for obvious reasons.

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Hi John,
Big congrats !
If you want to use CW you could avoid in your callsign letters: E, I, S, H, B, D, Z.
M0MOO is very fine for me in CW & SSB as well.
Good luck !
Wait to meet you on the frequencies.

73, Jarek


I find it helpful to have a call sign that ends in a ‘dah’, it’s a little bit more time to finish the string. My old call sign ended with ‘H’ and I was constantly sending S instead - I found it difficult getting the keyer timing just right.

Going against all that was Roy, now SK, who had the distinctive call of G4SSH, it was a very recognisable call sign.

A good mix of dits and dahs and shorter character lengths I suppose is the key.

I chose to reactivate my M1 call because I prefer the ‘1’ over the ‘0’ and M1’s are a bit rarer on CW.

Congratulations on the upgrade!

73, Colin


That can be an interesting video for you to watch:


My suggestions, after 54 years of CW operating in contests, DXpeditions and at home are, in order of importance:

  1. Avoid E anywhere in the callsign but especially at the end. The single dit is very easily lost in QRM.
  2. Next, try to avoid letters that end in a single dit, C, G, N, etc. Again the dit can get lost in QRM
  3. Avoid multiple “long” letters: C, F, Q, X, Y, Z, etc. One is OK but more than that and the callsign starts getting a bit time consuming to send. compare M0XQY with M0TTT for example.
  4. Try for something that is rhythmic. I missed G3WIT, which ticks almost all the boxes by just a few days (back then there was no choice - you got whatever the next callsign was in the sequence). I am especially jealous of my old friend Don, G3XTT who has one of most instantly recognisable and the easiest to copy callsigns out there!

Whatever you end up with, have fun on CW!

73, John, G3WGV


I agree with Colin avoid HSI, used to work a KH6HSI or ISH I forget that was hard to keep up with, you loose track or think what did he send. I chose my suffix CZ cos I think It sounds good on cw.
Congratulations on the upgrade.
vk5cz …

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I can tell you from 4 years of being WU7H… that ‘H’ on the end is problematic. Not so much that I’m planning on changing my call, but I would avoid a call ending in: E, I, S, or H

The best sounding call that I hear pretty often on the air is Phil @NS7P. It’s got a really nice rhythm to it.

I worked an op the other day - last letters were ‘CQ’. :thinking: That could cause some confusion!

Congrats on your license upgrade. Hope to QSO with you someday when HF condx improve!




Many thanks for all the replies and comments. I hadn’t considered the implications of a C/S ending in “K”. :slight_smile:
I guess"TU" would have the same potential for confusion. As for “QRT” or “QSY”…

Fortunately, in the UK, the Qxx series is never issued as a callsign, to avoid the obvious potential for confusion. And yes, for the same reason callsigns with K, KN or CQ at the end are best avoided. TU is perhaps less of a problem.

S and H can be problematic because they are easily either sent wrong (too many or too few dits) or they are read wrongly (again dit count). Newcomers to paddle keying are particularly prone to spraying the bands with spurious dits and it’s sometimes anyone’s guess whether he meant E, I, S, H or 5 :woozy_face:


Looks like I’m lucky to have a J in mine.
Of course when I was licenced, we didn’t have the luxury of picking vanity callsigns.
We got what we were given (the next on the list) :slight_smile:


I believe that op was me. :grinning:

Ooops. :roll_eyes: Well, perhaps. I was issued “ICQ” 50 years ago when I passed the Novice exam and have kept it ever since. I had long worried that “ICQ” could cause some confusion, but in the end I decided that it’s nice to have a distinctive call, and “I CQ” is definitely that!

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Hi John,
First of all WELL DONE, getting to the Full (top) licence level (called Full, Extra, Advanced in other countries).
I just wanted to point out that having a full licence exam pass as well as M0, you can also apply for any not-in-use G1xxx-G8xxx callsign as well (G2xxx must be done by paper application, it’s not supported in the online system. Two letter G2xx callsigns can only be re-issued to relatives of the original holder or under special circumstances). Some people don’t like applying for a “G” callsign as it suggests they have been in the hobby longer than they actually have but it will give you a larger range of call sign letter combinations to go through. Remember though, once allocated it can’t be changed in the UK. Another advantage of a “G” call sign is that all AR references and maps show G as England - whereas a lesser number acknowledge M and 2E as also being England.

73 Ed.(G8GLM)


I think the M5 series is an option too.

I didn’t choose my call sign with CW in mind, but now I am learning it turns out to work pretty well.

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