What is the proper CW calling procedure?

June 20, 2013 Dan KB6NU

Yesterday, I tweeted:

kb6nu's avatar@kb6nu
I’m no longer going to respond to stations that reply to my CQs with only their callsigns, esp if they send it only once.

What brought this on was a very short QSO I had yesterday on 30m. I called CQ on 10115, sending “CQ” four times and my call three times, and someone replied with just his callsign, as if this were a contest. In contest mode, this is an appropriate reply, but not on 30m on a weekday evening.

I should have know better than to acknowledge the call, but I did, giving him a signal report, my name, and QTH. His reply was a curt, “599 73.” What a waste of time that was! This is not the first time this has happened, and it was equally disappointing then, too. As a result, I’ve decided that I’m just not going to reply to stations that answer my CQs with only their callsigns. If you can’t take the time to at least give me a real signal report, your name, and your QTH, don’t bother answering my CQ.

My tweet prompted several replies about what is the proper operating procedure. In my not so  humble opinion, you should, at the very least, send the other station’s callsign at least once and your callsign at least twice:


This lets the other operator know that you’re calling him, and gives him two chances to get your call right. I’ll go even further to say that you should do this only when band conditions are really good, the ham at the other end seems like a skilled operator, and it’s armchair copy both ways.

When band conditions are marginal or noisy, send the other station’s callsign at least twice, and your callsign two or three times. This is not that hard to do, makes things a lot easier for less-skilled operators, and will help you avoid repeats or miscopied calls.

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