5 and 9, Thank you, Ham

Working 5 and 9, what a way to make a living – as somebody once said.

Is there anything wrong with calling CQ and having short, snappy QSOs that are limited to Signal Report, Name and QTH?  Known as the infamous “rubber-stamp” QSO, it’s an obvious choice when using a mode like CW or PSK/RTTY.  But for voice, particularly on HF, why shouldn’t you have a longer waffle?

If you’re relatively new to the HF bands, then you may be surprised that many QSOs are of the Rubber-Stamp form – this could be for a number of reasons, some quite obvious, others not so:

  • English may be their 2nd language which they only speak “for the QSO”
  • They may be looking for more DX contacts and answered your call out of politeness – and being called by every “ten-watt-chancer” may soon become annoying
  • A “big gun” EU station may soon grow tired of repeating the details of the their Shack, aerials, family tree and pet dog on the 5th QSO and simply revert to those short ‘n’ snappy contacts
  • Band conditions could be changeable
  • They may wish to maximize their enjoyment (and logbook) by working as many stations as possible

The flip-side of getting a short QSO is that you may be working this Country/DXCC for the first time – possibly with low power.  In Europe, there are many to tick-off and a few are not overly large places which poses a problem not only in terms of the number of active Hams but also the distance being too close to work on a particular band.  If you live in the South East of England, how often do you hear LX on 20m?  Hear much PA on 15m?  Bands like 80m+40m would be a doddle for close-in Countries like that, but on higher bands they can be tricky.

Usually, around April/May time, my logbook has featured a number of DL/PA and GM contacts on bands like 20m+17m simply because conditions have been a little strange.  Short-skip on 20m is an interesting thing and, suddenly, the band is behaving like a very lively 40m.

So, what dictates how deep you go with a QSO?  I’d say the language skills of the operator closely followed by the band conditions.  Then, the likelihood of the other station wanting a “chat”.  With online resources like QRZ.com it’s easy for the other end to look you up and find out some details during the QSO.