RST Matters

We all like a good signal report, don’t we?  Sometimes I like a really bad one – It carries some meaning. If it’s R4 (or less), it means that the other station is having trouble reading me.  This (ideally) tells me that I should probably send their signal report a few times and perhaps pass the transmission back to see if they copied me.

A recent CW QSO on 20m started with me taking 3 attempts to get the callsign.  This should have been an indication to the other station that things could be tricky.  Therefore, my initial “over” consisted of the following:


Hoping for something equally as efficient in return, I actually made an audible sigh as I played “fill in the gaps”:

MYC__L de URCA_L GE UR 579 579 = NA_E BOB QT_ ___WN RIG F_9_ PWR 2_W WX CL_U__ = HW? M__ALL DE U__ALL _N.

Luckily, it turned out that I had worked “Bob” on another band previously.  Either he didn’t know this (or assumed I didn’t) so I got the life history in less-than-ideal propagation.  Had this been a new QSO or my ears not as good as they are, I’d have probably struggled.

I’m all for a QSO under difficult conditions but when you indicate to your QSO partner that there’s QSB or simply not a very strong signal to work with – It should mean a short and simple transmission.  This can be made worse on SSB when superfluous words are added such as: HI HI, my friend, microphone back to you etc.  I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve been called by a QRP station, struggled to get their details only to have them ramble a bit and then stop mid-sentence without a clear indication that they’ve stopped transmitting.

So, use all of the available numbers in your signal/readability reports – unless you’re a contester, of course!