After reading the commentary in this question and its answer, it's apparent that ham procedures/norms/protocols/etiquette are substantially different than military and public safety radio procedures. And it turns out that I am much more familiar with the latter than the former.

Public safety radio operator norms are much more varied than military radio operator procedures, but I believe they are usually similar and based on military procedures. If you didn't know, they vary by region, department, service (Fire, police, ambulance, EMS, etc), and many other factors.

What should a ham radio operator who is more familiar with military and public radio procedures know about ham radio procedures? Which procedures are the most different and cause the most problems when operating on the different spectrums for different purposes?


1 Answer 1


Ham radio procedures derive from multiple sources, including:

  • the laws that govern the license
  • the NATO phonetic alphabet (which should be identical to what the military uses, but differs from what many local police uses)
  • Q codes which originated from morse code usage; these are used heavily in digital modes, and occasionally in phone modes, and occasionally frowned on for phone modes and FM repeaters (i.e., usage varies a lot)
  • the local customs and practices (i.e, those of the local club or repeater you are using)
  • customs recommended by (ARES) training and courses such as FEMA IS-100 IS-200 IS-700 IS-800, ARRL EC-001 EC-016, etc.

The best way to get use to ham radio practices is to listen for a while and join a local club.

  • $\begingroup$ In my local area, many hams aren't very familiar with the NATO phonetic alphabet and tend to avoid using it, at least on VHF/UHF. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Dec 5, 2018 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ ARES typically trains pretty hard on the phonetic alphabet. Sounds like hams in your area have little exposure to such or the NTS nets. $\endgroup$
    – user10489
    Dec 9, 2018 at 16:28

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