We've all had those moments when someone told us one thing, and we heard something completely different. The fact is, communication can sometimes be hard. It's full of slang, miscommunications, ambiguities, and thousands of different little words that we may not even know.
When you are trying to communicate quickly and effectively, reducing these errors and standardizing the process is a good first step!
So let's look at one of the most common systems of shorthand that was used to simplify important radio communications—Q codes and wire signals!
Other Related Morse Code Guides:
Q codes are an internationally standardized group of 3 letters, all starting with Q that are used to express common questions and answers quickly and accurately. You can essentially think of them as 3 letter abbreviations.
The first Q codes were developed by the British government in 1909 and used by the Navy as a shorthand communication system.
They were quickly adopted internationally as they allowed quick and clear communication between operators who spoke different languages.
While Q codes were originally created as Morse code, they are also with modern-day technology and communicated verbally.
All Q codes follow the same basic structure of starting with a Q and containing three letters.
They are broken down into three groups based upon the sector they are used for. These sectors are:
Q codes can be used in three ways—two pose a question, provide an answer to that question, or simply make a statement. Let's look at a practical example using the Q code QTH.
QTH with a question mark at the end is shorthand for asking, "What is your location?"
However, it can also be used to answer the question by communicating the Q code, followed by your location.
In this example, the response would be "QTH Denver."
"QTH Denver" can also be used as a statement if you are trying to convey that information without a preceding question.
There are quite a variety of Q codes; however, the most useful group to know are the general use codes.
Below is a list of the most common Q codes used for general amateur ham radio, including how to use each as a question and answer.
Remember, if you ask a question, you need to add a question mark at the end of your code.
|QRA||What is the name of your station? The name of my station is ___.|
|QRB||How far are you from my station? I am ____ km from you station.|
|QRD||Where are you bound, and where are you coming from? I am bound ___ from ___.|
|QRG||Will you tell me my exact frequency? Your exact frequency is ___ kHz.|
|QRH||Does my frequency vary? Your frequency varies.|
|QRI||How is the tone of my transmission? The tone of your transmission is ___ (1-Good, 2-Variable, 3-Bad.)|
|QRJ||Are you receiving me badly? I cannot receive you, your signal is too weak.|
|QRK||What is the intelligibility of my signals? The intelligibility of your signals is ___ (1-Bad, 2-Poor, 3-Fair, 4-Good, 5-Excellent.)|
|QRL||Are you busy? I am busy; please do not interfere.|
|QRM||Is my transmission being interfered with? Your transmission is being interfered with ___ (1-Nil, 2- Slightly, 3-Moderately, 4-Severely, 5-Extremely.)|
|QRN||Are you troubled by static? I am troubled by static ___ (1-5 as under QRM.)|
|QRO||Shall I increase power? Increase power.|
|QRP||Shall I decrease power? Decrease power.|
|QRQ||Shall I send faster? Send faster (___ WPM.)|
|QRR||Are you ready for automatic operation? I am ready for automatic operation. Send at ___ WPM.|
|QRS||Shall I send more slowly? Send more slowly (___ WPM.)|
|QRT||Shall I stop sending? Stop sending.|
|QRU||Have you anything for me? I have nothing for you.|
|QRV||Are you ready? I am ready.|
|QRW||Shall I inform ___ that you are calling? Please inform ___ that I am calling.|
|QRX||When will you call me again? I will call you again at ___ hours.|
|QRY||What is my turn? Your turn is numbered ___.|
|QRZ||Who is calling me? You are being called by ___.|
|QSA||What is the strength of my signals? The strength of your signals is ___ (1-Scarcely perceptible, 2-Weak, 3-Fairly Good, 4-Good, 5-Very Good.)|
|QSB||Are my signals fading? Your signals are fading.|
|QSD||Is my keying defective? Your keying is defective.|
|QSG||Shall I send ___ messages at a time? Send ___ messages at a time.|
|QSJ||What is the charge to be collected per word to ___, including your international telegraph charge? The charge to be collected per word is ___, including my international telegraph charge.|
|QSK||Can you hear me between your signals, and if so, can I break in on your transmission? I can hear you between my signals, break-in on my transmission.|
|QSL||Can you acknowledge receipt? I am acknowledging receipt.|
|QSM||Shall I repeat the last message which I sent you? Repeat the last message.|
|QSN||Did you hear me on ___ kHz? I did hear you on ___ kHz.|
|QSO||Can you communicate with ___ direct or by relay? I can communicate with ___ direct (or by relay through ___.)|
|QSP||Will you relay to ___? I will relay to ___.|
|QSQ||Have you a doctor on board? (or is ___ on board?) I have a doctor on board (or ___ is on board.)|
|QSU||Shall I send or reply on this frequency? Send a series of Vs on this frequency.|
|QSV||Shall I send a series of Vs on this frequency? Send a series of Vs on this frequency.|
|QSW||Will you send on this frequency? I am going to send on this frequency.|
|QSY||Shall I change to another frequency? Change to another frequency.|
|QSZ||Shall I send each word or group more than once? Send each word or group twice (or ___ times.)|
|QTA||Shall I cancel message number ___? Cancel message number ___.|
|QTB||Do you agree with my counting of words? I disagree with your counting of words. I will repeat the first letter or digit of each word or group.|
|QTC||How many messages have you to send? I have ___ messages for you.|
|QTE||What is my true bearing from you? Your true bearing from me is ___ degrees.|
|QTG||Will you send two dashes of 10 seconds each followed by your call sign? I am going to send two dashes of 10 seconds each followed by my call sign.|
|QTH||What is your location? My location is ___.|
|QTI||What is your true track? My true track is ___ degrees.|
|QTJ||What is your speed? My speed is ___ km/h.|
|QTL||What is your true heading? My true heading is ___ degrees.|
|QTN||At what time did you depart from ___? I departed from ___ at ___ hours.|
|QTO||Have you left port? I have left port.|
|QTP||Are you going to enter port? I am going to enter the port.|
|QTQ||Can you communicate with my station by means of the International Code of Signals? I am going to communicate with your station by means of the International Code of Signals.|
|QTR||What is the correct time? The time is ___.|
|QTS||Will you send your call sign for ___ minutes so that your frequency can be measured? I will send my call sign for ___ minutes so that my frequency may be measured.|
|QTU||What are the hours during which your station is open? My station is open from ___ hours to ___ hours.|
|QTV||Shall I stand guard for you on the frequency of ___ kHz? Stand guard for me on the frequency of ___ kHz.|
|QTX||Will you keep your station open for further communication with me? I will keep my station open for further communication with you.|
|QUA||Have you news of ___? I have news of ___.|
|QUB||Can you give me information concerning visibility, the height of clouds, direction, and velocity of ground wind at ___? Here is the information you requested...|
|QUC||What is the number of the last message you received from me? The number of the last message I received from you is ___.|
|QUD||Have you received the urgency signal sent by ___? I have received the urgency signal sent by ___.|
|QUF||Have you received the distress signal sent by ___? I have received the distress signal sent by ___.|
|QUG||Will you be forced to land? I am forced to land immediately.|
|QUH||Will you give me the present barometric pressure? The present barometric pressure is ___ (units).|
Wire signal codes are shorthand abbreviations of common phrases using numbered codes—similar to how police use 10-4 to communicate, "understood."
Let's look at s few of the more commonly used wire signal codes!
I hope that you found this little guide on Q codes and other types of Morse code shorthand useful. They can really add an old-school spice to your transmissions and add to the experience.
Also, please consider sharing your thoughts in the comments below. We'd love to hear from you all!