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31 votes
Accepted

Why do people say, "get a nickel," on repeaters?

"Getting a nickel" is a reference to how metered pay phones work (worked?). You'd put in some coins, make your call, and when the time you'd payed for expired, the phone operator would ...
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  • 2,855
26 votes

Why do amateur radio operators call an RF choke a balun?

"Balun" is a portmanteau of "balanced" and "unbalanced". Anything made to interconnect a balanced and unbalanced load can be called a balun. A common-mode choke (like a ...
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17 votes

What is the difference between channel & frequency & band in RF?

If you don't know what a frequency is, you need to read up on waves-in-general and radio waves. But the other two terms can be defined in terms of frequency; frequencies are the “natural” thing and ...
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  • 23.1k
15 votes

What is a link budget, and how do I make one?

That's a pretty good answer but I can add some more details. The exact formula for path loss is $$ 20 \times \log_{10}\left( 4 \times \pi \times \frac{d}{\lambda{}} \right) $$ $ 20 \times \log_{10}\...
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  • 251
14 votes
Accepted

What's the difference between saying “CQ” or “QRZ” in a contest?

This became clear to me after a bit of time to think, but it wasn't at all clear on initially jumping in. It helps to know the formal definitions of the codes used: CQ is “Calling any station”. The ...
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  • 23.1k
14 votes

Why are radio frequency ranges aligned on multiples of 3?

The ITU bands are actually delineated along plain powers of ten! They're just hiding a bit. From the description above a table of all the bands on Wikipedia: As a matter of convention, the ITU ...
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13 votes

What do "QRM" and "QSB" refer to?

I keep these "Q" signals in line with this : QRN is "N"atural band noise ( lightning ) QRM is "M"an-made band noise ( crowded signals ) QSB is "B"utterfly effect from Ionosphere in-stability.
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12 votes
Accepted

What is homebrew?

Homebrew is (as the name suggests) when you make your equipment yourself, as opposed to buying it. An amateur setup consists of many components - the largest and most complicated of which are a radio ...
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  • 4,409
9 votes
Accepted

What is a "calling frequency"?

A calling frequency is a common channel known to all - this is the channel that anyone can jump onto and say Hi! Or a specific person you know may be monitoring this channel, you can call out to them. ...
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9 votes

Why is the band scope called panadapter?

Marcel Wallace founded Panoramic Radio Corp. and details his "Panoramic radio receiving system" in patent US2279151A (1938). Page 2, column 1, line 19 of the patent gives us a clue as to how the ...
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  • 7,693
8 votes

Why are Amateur Radio operators so obsessed about and hostile towards violation of the rules?

As has been mentioned, many radio amateurs tend to be in the types of fields where various forms of rules are the name of the game. Electricity always behaves the same. So does a computer (assuming it ...
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  • 4,810
8 votes
Accepted

In amateur radio conversation, what does "hihi" mean?

It is ham radio laughter. HIHI, sometimes HI, other other times HIHI. It's origins are in CW (aka Morse Code), not voice. In fact, I believe old-timers might think it is silly to say HiHi or ...
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  • 2,868
8 votes
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Is there a special name (and if so what is it) for this flush-style SMA variant?

It is known as an SF style SMA connector. It is also commonly known as a Motorola SMA connector since they seem to be one of the few large scale users of this style connector You can find some ...
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  • 18.2k
8 votes

Is a 5 watt UHF/VHF handheld considered QRP?

My personal opinion is that QRP means using significantly less power than is customary for a given mode of operation. In that sense, a 5W HT would not be QRP because pretty much everybody else with an ...
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  • 1,013
8 votes

Is a 5 watt UHF/VHF handheld considered QRP?

My understanding of "QRP" is simply the use of as little power as possible to make contacts over interesting distances. There isn't a specific power level that equates to "QRP" - it is more a function ...
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  • 101
8 votes

What is a "roofing filter"?

The roofing filter is the filter through which the first IF must pass. The roofing filter is an IF filter, specifically the first one. AB4OJ provides a block diagram: As for why it's called a "...
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7 votes

What is a fixed digital message forwarding system?

That's a lot of words for digipeater. These are stations that listen for digital messages, record them in temporary storage, then re-transmit them. This particular allocation is on a secondary basis, ...
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6 votes

What's the difference between saying “CQ” or “QRZ” in a contest?

As said by other answerers, it's typically the station announcing 'I'm ready for more contacts at this time.' It doesn't necessarily have to be a DX station, but any station that is attracting a lot ...
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  • 161
6 votes

What's the difference between saying “CQ” or “QRZ” in a contest?

During contests, a popular station (say DX) has a pileup with lots of stations trying to make contact. A station will often merely say QRZ for picking up someone from the pileup. Thus, in this I am ...
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  • 2,868
6 votes
Accepted

Why are Amateur Radio operators so obsessed about and hostile towards violation of the rules?

I think there are two parts to this; why are they so "anal" /strict / uptight about the rules? why are they so hostile / aggressive / generally unpleasant? The first part I think is due to ...
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6 votes
Accepted

Antenna length in relation to lambda length

Terminology can be ambiguous here; there is no universal standard for how to describe antennas. That said, here are some heuristics: If someone says, e.g., “a 20-meter dipole”, they mean an antenna ...
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  • 23.1k
6 votes

What is the origin, history behind "Ben's Best Bent Wire"?

In the RAF we used "best bent wire" as a test transmission largely because it has a lovely jazz rhythm. Some put "bens" in front, some put another "bent" on the end, but i you send it a reasonable ...
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6 votes
Accepted

What is a QSL card?

A QSL card is a physical card usually the size of a postcard. They are sent to verify a contact known as a QSL. To get various awards like Worked All States or DXCC (worked 100 entities) you need to ...
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  • 1,218
5 votes
Accepted

What do hams mean when they refer to "higher bands"

In this case, they probably mean higher frequency. Two pieces of evidence: One typically says “longer/shorter wavelength”, not “higher/lower wavelength”. Lower power output at higher frequencies is ...
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  • 23.1k
5 votes
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“Repeater” vs. “reflector”

According to Wikipedia for IRLP: IRLP connections are of two types: node to node, and node to reflector. Stations wishing to communicate with 3 or more nodes at the same time may accomplish this by ...
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  • 1,246
5 votes

What is a panadapter?

A panadapter is a device that adapts the narrow (typically 4kHz) bandwidth of a traditional receiver into a much wider bandwidth, perhaps the entire band. The pan- prefix means all, as in panoramic, ...
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5 votes

I was told to check the cluster. What does that mean and how do I do that?

Definition A DX cluster is a venue (a website or Telnet session) where amateurs may post information about the callsign and frequency of a desirable DX station, so that others may see the posts and ...
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  • 7,544
5 votes

What does CI-V stand for?

CI-V stands for Computer Interface 5 [Roman numeral "V"] and is ICOM's designation for their rig interface to a computer or to another rig. You can find it on most HF and some VHF rigs since the ...
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  • 7,544
5 votes
Accepted

Repeater identification ending (CW)

The repeater is in Blacksburg according to an internet search, so BBG is almost definitely an abbreviation of that.
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  • 9,275
5 votes

What is IQ in the context of SDRs?

"IQ" refers to the practice of having two mixers with their oscillator phase 90 degrees apart, and then the digitization and processing of those two streams of data. One practical problem is in a ...
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