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I'm a new-ish ham, licenced for about one year now. Within that year I've heard a lot of CQ calls from other hams on phone (both HF and VHF), and it seems that a large portion of hams routinely mentions the band being called on within the call itself, e.g.

CQ 20 CQ 20 this is G1ABC G1ABC calling CQ on 20 meters...

It seems to be not as ubiquitous on VHF and above as on HF (at least where I live), but is still quite common. I haven't come across anything of the sort on non-phone modes, however.

Why do people do this? Is there any practical purpose? Doesn't someone who's tuning around and hears the call already know which band they're on?

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe for the same reason that golf announcers on (American) TV say "that was a fine golf shot". $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 25 at 13:35
  • $\begingroup$ @rclocher3 Nope. Henryflower's answer is exactly correct. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters
    Aug 25 at 19:39
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    $\begingroup$ I've never heard anybody mention what band they were on while calling CQ in Morse code. I wonder why it's just a phone thing? $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 25 at 22:05
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe you should try saying "CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ CQ" and see how you feel about it. $\endgroup$ Aug 26 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ IMO you should write that up as an answer, Phil. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 26 at 14:23
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I have a scanner capable of HF receive, multiple HF receivers, and several HF SDR transceivers capable of receiving on more than one amateur band slice simultaneously. Lots of contest stations run more than one receiver at a time to "pounce" on whoever pops up on any of several bands.

When using a radio with a scanner, or a station with multiple HF receivers, or an SDR receiver capable of receiving multiple HF slices on multiple bands simultaneously, it might be nice when hearing a CQ call to know which scanner channel, or which receiver, or which band slice the call came over, and without having to stop scanning, or shut down a receiver, or turn down the volume on a slice to disambiguate.

Even if one runs multi-band spectrum waterfalls on big monitors, the CQ signal one heard may have scrolled off the bottom of the display.

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    $\begingroup$ On some other services it's normal practice to announce the channel being used. Like in the maritime service the textbooks say to sign off with "boaty mcboatface out on one-six". Some stations will be cross-monitoring multiple channels so it may benefit them. $\endgroup$
    – CCTO
    Aug 25 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ Do you listen to more than one receiver in HF phone contests? I could see that for VHF/UHF contests, but I've never heard of doing that on HF. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 26 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ With the deepest respect for everyone that commented on this question, all these reasons to say the band when calling seem like clutching at straws to me, if you think about it in reality saying what band you are calling on doesn't really perform any useful function. I always have multiple radios running at once and i can always tell which voice is coming out of which radio because i can hear it coming out of the relevant speaker ... It'd be sad if you couldn't tell which radio was making which sound ... unless you were blind or something ... $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Aug 27 at 8:30
  • $\begingroup$ A modern direct sampling SDR (software for Anan, Hermes Lite, et.al.) can simultaneously route multiple HF receivers (multiple band slices) to a single audio speaker and a single visual monitor. $\endgroup$
    – hotpaw2
    Aug 27 at 15:36
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It may have served a purpose in the past, with less filtering in transmitters and receivers, no digital frequency displays &c, e.g. to avoid mistaking a harmonic on a higher band for the transmitted signal.

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  • $\begingroup$ That argument has merit, but I've never heard anyone do it in Morse code, and I think it would be easy to copy harmonics on the Morse code sub-bands. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 26 at 14:27
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Apart from historical reasons it's also a filler. When calling CQ on SSB you probably want to stretch out your transmission a bit because that's what you need to get heard. In theory you could just say your Callsign and "CQ", as it is enough information. If people would hear each call immediately it would suffice. In practise expanding the length of your transmission will increase your chances of hams noticing you on the band.

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    $\begingroup$ Hello Stefan, and welcome to ham.stackexchange.com! $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 27 at 0:37
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    $\begingroup$ @rclocher3 Thank you, 73. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan I
    Aug 27 at 0:46
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    $\begingroup$ I can't speak for other hams and their equipment, but this is exactly why I personally do it! It can become very tiresome to repeat "CQ this is 2e0hln x3" over and over again $\endgroup$
    – Cyclic3
    Aug 27 at 21:03
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We can come up with any number of reasons, perhaps historical or utilitarian, which aren't invalid. But I think the primary reason is saying nothing but "CQ" more than six times leads to an uncomfortable self-reflection on the sound of one's voice. So naturally as humans we want to add some other words, the band being one of a very small number of things that can be said apropos of the call.

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    $\begingroup$ :) Or we start saying CQDX since no one in our own region/state/country/timezone wants to talk to us. :) :) (Of course, I'm kidding) $\endgroup$
    – David Hoelzer
    Aug 26 at 22:40
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The question asked:

I've heard a lot of CQ calls from other hams on [HF] phone, and it seems that a large portion of hams routinely mentions the band being called on within the call itself.

Henry Flower's answer to this is correct. Here is additional, historical information about "CQ 40" etc.

Before new laws were passed —in the mid-20th century— which required much greater filtering of out-of-band signals, hams calling CQ on 80m often had a weaker second harmonic on 40m.

Why did they have a spurious signal at twice the frequency?

A common amplifier circuit was two tubes in push-pull with their anodes connected through a parallel tuned circuit, with a link consisting of a few turns directly connected to the feedline. The second harmonic appeared on the antenna via both inductive and capacitive coupling, even in single-tube circuits (such as the mil-surplus Command Sets). That's now illegal, and that is why Pi-networks are so common now. They filter out the second harmonic to such a low level that it passes FCC laws concerning out-of-band emissions.

Where did CQ (band) originate?

The ones in the early 20th century —using the common transmitter designs of that era— that called CQ 80 ... were actually:

  1. Being courteous to the hams hearing the signal on 40. That way, they didn't get frustrated when they replied to the CQ on 80.
  2. Helping themselves, so hams on 40 hearing the CQ 80 would QSY and answer them.

The ones you hear in 2021 calling CQ 40 ... picked it up from older hams who picked it up from still older hams ... until we arrive at the hams (long dead) who had those homebrew transmitters. The latter had a real need to add the band to their CQ.

If not for this reason, we wouldn't hear CQ 20, etc.

I know this to be a fact, because I read it in old QST magazines and other, non-ARRL printed sources; also, long-dead hams that I listened to as an adolescent in the 60s.

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    $\begingroup$ "hams (long dead) who had those homebrew transmitters" I am alive and kicking!!! in my 40s and I remember pretty well both using a homebrew (or profoundly modified factory-made) linear amplifier as well as hearing others that use similar equipment at 2x or 3x their intended frequency. $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Aug 27 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ So why don't we do this on CW? Were the CW transmitters in the same era not subject to the same problems? $\endgroup$ Aug 27 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ I remember hearing CQ 80 <call> back in 1990s. But I am not much a CW person. $\endgroup$
    – fraxinus
    Aug 27 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilFrost-W8II Certainly they must have had the same spurs. I don't know; maybe it has something to do with CW being slower (say, 20 WPM), or the CW folks having a different mindset. But these are just guesses. $\endgroup$
    – Mike Waters
    Aug 28 at 20:29

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