FAQs

What is a Repeater?

From N4UJW's "A New Ham's Guide":

It's a two-way radio system that receives on one frequency, then re-transmits what it receives on another frequency at exactly the same time. It's nothing more than a "dumb electronic machine" with some smart people behind it.


What is a Repeater used for?

From N4UJW's "A New Ham's Guide":

Your mobile or handheld transceiver, has a limited range due to it's antenna height with respect to the radio

horizon and RF attenuating surroundings. Repeater systems are used to "transfer" your transmitted and received signals to much higher levels electronically using large, very efficient high gain antennas, low loss feed-lines and a transmitter and receiver that is rated for heavy or continuous duty. A repeater "gets out" your signal and receives the station you are talking to with a far greater range and coverage area! You take advantage of the repeater's higher elevation to increase your effective transmitting and receiving coverage versus your mobile or hand held transceiver!

Why do we use the expression CQ?

From ARRL.org we get the explanation here:

The telegraph call CQ was born on the English Telegraph over a century ago as a signal meaning "All stations. A notification to all postal telegraph offices to receive the message." Its meaning was close to the present meanings of QNC and QST. Like many other telegraph terms which originated on the landlines, CQ was brought over into radio and used as a general call to all ships by the Marconi Company. Other companies used KA until the London Convention of 1912, which adopted CQ as the international general call or "attention" signal. CQ still means, literally, "attention" but in amateur radio its meaning is perhaps more accurately described by Thomas Raddell who compared it to yelling "Hey, Mac!" down a drain pipe.


But why the letters CQ? From the French, sécurité, (safety or, as intended here, "pay attention"). Later, the origin of the abbreviation was  changed to the phrase "seek you."


Where did the expression 73 (seven three) come from?


From ARRL.org we get the explanation here:

The traditional expression "73" goes right back to the beginning of the landline telegraph days. It is found in some of the earliest editions of the numerical codes, each with a different definition, but each with the same idea in mind--it indicated that the end, or signature, was coming up. But there are no data to prove that any of these were used.

 

The first authentic use of 73 is in the publication The National Telegraph Review and Operators' Guide, first published in April 1857. At that time, 73 meant "My love to you!" Succeeding issues of this publication continued to use this definition of the term. Curiously enough, some of the other numerals then used have the same definition now that they had then, but within a short time, the use of 73 began to change.

 

In the National Telegraph Convention, the numeral was changed from the Valentine-type sentiment to a vague sign of fraternalism. Here, 73 was a greeting, a friendly "word" between operators and it was so used on all wires.

 

In 1859, the Western Union Company set up the standard "92 Code". A list of numerals from one to 92 was compiled to indicate a series of prepared phrases for use by the operators on the wires. Here, in the 92 Code, 73 changes from a fraternal sign to a very flowery "accept my compliments," which was in keeping with the florid language of that era.

 

Over the years from 1859 to 1900, the many manuals of telegraphy show variations of this meaning. Dodge's The Telegraph Instructor shows it merely as "compliments." The Twentieth Century Manual of Railway and Commercial Telegraphy defines it two ways, one listing as "my compliments to you;" but in the glossary of abbreviations it is merely "compliments." Theodore A. Edison's Telegraphy Self-Taught shows a return to "accept my compliments." By 1908, however, a later edition of the Dodge Manual gives us today's definition of "best regards" with a backward look at the older meaning in another part of the work where it also lists it as "compliments."

 

"Best regards" has remained ever since as the "put-it-down-in-black-and-white" meaning of 73 but it has acquired overtones of much warmer meaning. Today, amateurs use it more in the manner that James Reid had intended that it be used --a "friendly word between operators."


From http://www.ac6v.com/73.htm:

Via Louise Ramsey Moreau, W3WRE and Charles A. Wimer KC8EHA 

The following is from Louise Ramsey Moreau, W3WRE: "The traditional expression "73" goes right back to the beginning of the landline telegraph days. It is found in some of the earliest editions of the numerical codes, each with a different  definition, but each with the same idea in mind - it indicated that the end, or signature, was  coming up. But there are no data to prove that any of these were used. 

"The first authentic use of 73 is in the publication The National Telegraphic Review and  Operators' Guide, first published in April 1857. At that time, 73 meant "My love to you"!  Succeeding issues of this publication continued to use this definition of the term. Curiously  enough, some of the other numerals used then had the same definition as they have now,  but within a short time, the use of 73 began to change. "In the National Telegraph Convention, the numeral was changed from the Valentine-type  sentiment to a vague sign of fraternalism. Here, 73 was a greeting, a friendly "word" between  operators and it was so used on all wires. 

"In 1859, the Western Union Company set up the standard "92 Code." A list of numerals  from one to 92 was compiled to indicate a series of prepared phrases for use by the operators  on the wires. Here, in the 92 Code, 73 changes from a fraternal sign to a very flowery "accept  my compliments," which was in keeping with the florid language of that era. "Over the years from 1859 to 1900, the many manuals of telegraphy show variations of this  meaning. Dodge's The Telegraph Instructor shows it merely as "compliments." The Twentieth  Century Manual of Railways and Commercial Telegraphy defines it two ways, one listing as "my compliments to you"; but in the glossary of abbreviations it is merely "compliments." 

Theodore A. Edison's Telegraphy Self-Taught shows a return of "accept my compliments."  By 1908, however, a later edition of the Dodge Manual gives us today's definition of  "best regards" with a backward look at the older meaning in another part of the work  where it also lists it as "compliments." 

Editor Note -- Dodge's "The Telegraph Instructor" can be found at URL: http://artifaxbooks.com/afxrare/dodge.htm

"Best regards" has remained ever since as the "put-it-down-in-black-and-white" meaning  of 73 but it has acquired overtones of much warmer meaning. Today, amateurs use it more  in the manner that James Reid had intended that it be used - a "friendly word between operators." I hope that this helps you in some way.... 

73, Charles A. Wimer Amateur Radio Call:  KC8EHA Assistant Emergency Coordinator, Trumbull County (OH) ARRL Official  Emergency Station (OH)
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Somebody  wrote: Actually "73" was a term the old telegraph operators would use back in the old west days.  It meant that they owned a Winchester 1873 rifle (their most prized possession) and that  when they died they would give it to the other operator. Hense '73' meant I will you  my 73 rifle. '73s' meant you had more than one rifles that you would give to them (they  were a really good friend.). 

Hello, It's a nice story, but it has no basis in fact. The actual source of "73" and "88" was the list  of numerical abbreviations used by wire telegraphers. These abbreviations were used in a  manner similar to Q signals today. Here's a partial list of number abbreviations:  1 – Wait 2 - Important business 3 - What is the time? 6 - I am ready 7 - Are you ready?  12 - Do you understand? 13 - I understand 14 - What is the weather? 17 - Lightning here  19 - Form 19 train order (used by RR) 21 - Stop to eat 23 - All copy 24 - Repeat this back  30 - No more, end 31 - Form 31 train order (used by RR) 44 - Answer promptly by wire  73 - Best regards 88 - Love and kisses 92 - Deliver promptly 134 - Who is at the key? 

Note that American Morse was used by landline telegraphers. The signal "30" in American  Morse is "..._. ____" (zero is an extra long dash). This was corrupted into a single character,  "..._._" which is usually thought of today as SK or VA, with the space between letters removed. 73 (never plural!) de Jim, N2EY

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QRPers sometimes sign off with 72 indicating they may be a mite short on power for a full 73!

But Kevin Cozens writes "In one of the magazines I was getting for a while from one of the QRP clubs (can't remember if it was from the Michigan QRP club or the G-QRP club) I learned of the use of 72 for the first time. Their use of 72 was based on the idea that "QRP operators do more with less". If you add that to the page you will have both a QRP as well as the QRO operators view of 72."

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Len Anderson retired (from regular hours) electronic engineer person Writes:

After 1844 (the year of the first commercial telegraph service in the USA, Baltimore, MD to Washington, DC), the blazing speed of the early electromechanical sounders made it necessary for commercial telegraphers to use abbreviations for standard phrases in telegrams. It gave telegraphers a chance to send more telegrams during a workday, increase their profits, etc., etc.

A whole bunch of different two-number sub-codes were invented and used. Few survive to today since morse codes have survived only in amateur radio.

One of the enduring sub-codes is "73" meaning "Best regards." Hams use it on voice, as well. It has become traditional jargon.

Morse code did NOT begin as the character = <dot-dash group> but was originally ALL numbers! Morse got a financial and lab mentor in railroad heir Alfred Vail who is reported to have suggested a change from the all-number code to one where each letter, number, and common punctuation mark has a unique dot-dash group. This latter improvement, along with a way to increase the distance of a landline by using a "relay" of an electromagnet whose magnetically-coupled switch substituted for a telegrapher's key in an unmanned telegraph line relay station. Up to three such  "relays" could be used on a wired telegraph circuit. That may or may not be the etymological origin of the word "relay" as the  component we know today.

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Jim, N2EY writes on a news group

In 1859, Western Union standardized on the "92 code" in which the numbers from 1 to 92 were assigned meanings. It was in this list that 73 got its present meaning. Later more numbers were added. Here's a partial list:

1  Wait a moment 
 
2  Important Business  
3  What time is it?  
4  Where shall I go ahead?  
5  Have you business for me?  
6  I am ready  
7  Are you ready?  
8  Close your key; circuit is busy  
9  Close your key for priority business (Wire chief, dispatcher, etc)
10  Keep this circuit closed 
 
12  Do you understand?  
13  I understand  
14  What is the weather?  
15  For you and other to copy  
17  Lightning here  
18  What is the trouble?  
19  Form 19 train order  
21  Stop for a meal  
22  Wire test  
23  All copy  
24  Repeat this back  
25  Busy on another wire  
26  Put on ground wire  
27  Priority, very important  
28  Do you get my writing?  
29  Private, deliver in sealed envelope  
30  No more (end)  
31  Form 31 train order  
32  I understand that I am to ...  
33  Car report (Also, answer is paid for)  
34  Message for all officers  
35  You may use my signal to answer this  
37  Diversion (Also, inform all interested)  
39  Important, with priority on thru wire (Also, sleep-car report)  
44  Answer promptly by wire  
73  Best regards  
88  Love and kisses  
91  Superintendent's signal  
92  Deliver promptly  
93  Vice President and General Manager's signals  
95  President's signal  
134  Who is at the key? 

Editor Note; Had an input for  99 = Get Lost (probably unofficial)

"19" and "31" refer to train orders of two different types (absolute and permissive). They were so well known that the terms "19 order" and "31 order" were still in railroad use in the 1970s, after the telegraph was gone from railroad operations.

The Morse code used in US wire telegraphy was the "American" Morse code, which shares some codes with the "Continental" code we still use today. (The continent referred to in the name is Europe, and it became the standard code for radio work early in the 20th century).

The abbreviation "es" for "and" derives from the American Morse character "&" which was
 
dit dididit. The prosign "SK" with the letters run together derives from the American Morse "30", which was didididahdit daaaaaaaah (extra long dah is zero in that code).

There are some urban legends about Winchester rifles and such, but they do not stand up to historical fact.

73 de Jim, N2EY