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I'm new to CW and one thing I couldn't figure out is when I supposed to send "E E". Let's say I'm calling CQ and somebody answers me. The QSO is almost over. Should it be ended like this:

- TNX FER NICE QSO 73 <SK> E E
- GDX 73 <SK> E E

... or:

- TNX FER NICE QSO 73 <SK>
- GDX 73 <SK> E E
- E E

Or maybe both options are OK, or maybe none? In other words how to use "E E" properly?

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First, some history. As I understand it, the "dit-dit" (E E) comes from an old practice. There is a short tune in popular music that was often used to end a musical performance in a humorous way, called "shave and a haircut, two bits". The Wikipedia article has a recording of the tune. For older people, the rhythm of the notes in the tune is instantly recognized in a knock on a door; the person on one side of the door traditionally knocks the "shave and a haircut" rhythm, and the person on the other side knocks the "two bits" rhythm.

In the early 20th century, this practice carried over to Morse code. At the end of a QSO, one party would tap out the "shave and a haircut" rhythm, and the other would tap out the "two bits" rhythm, hopefully leaving a smile on both faces. In the more recent era, the "shave and a haircut" part has been dropped, possibly because it's harder to get the rhythm right with an electronic keyer, but the "two bits" part has survived. The "two bits" rhythm is what you describe as "E E". (By the way, I've never heard "shave and a haircut" as "dah-di-di-dah-di" as it says in the Wikipedia article; I've only ever heard it as "dit didi dit dit", or "E I E E" if you prefer.)

To answer your question, I don't remember ever seeing advice anywhere on how to use "E E" at the end of a QSO, because it is such an informal ritual. So I don't think it really matters, but I personally do it at the very end. From time to time I still do the "shave and a haircut" rhythm, and when an old-timer (old person) answers me with "two bits" (E E), it still puts a smile on my face.

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The dit dit that is sometimes (not all the time) sent at the end of a QSO is a derivitive of the old time "shave and a haircut -- two bits".

Back when I was a novice on the 40-m band in the 1960s it was quite common for the final signoff (whomever that might be) to send "dit di-di-dit dit" and the other operator would then respond with "dit dit". However today, it is almost universal that both ends (or all parties of a QSO) merely send dit dit.

I participate in several CW Traffic nets and in one of those nets the net control always ends with dit dit as the final signoff. Since there are a dozen or more other operators participating in the net, you can here all of these individual dit dits being signed by each operator spaced over about five seconds of time.

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  • $\begingroup$ You reminded me that when people are listening to a CW QSO by two other people, and the QSO ends with "dit dit" from the two parties in the QSO, then the listeners often drop in their own "dit dits" afterwards. It's not strictly legal, because the listeners aren't identifying themselves, but I think it's a charming tradition. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Jan 8 at 17:48

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