Never end a CQ with [AR] or Silence !!!

SUMMARY: you must ALWAYS end a CQ with a K

Let us look at why, and the harm being done by those who do not do so!

Sadly some of the good CW operators in recent years have read a book published by the IARU called: Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur (EOPRA). The CW section of this book contains dangerous errors. These hapless hams, intending to “do the right thing” with the best of intentions, have adopted the worst possible CQ practices which they read in this book.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

The booklet, we’ll call it EOPRA for short, was written by two Belgians ON4UN and ON4WW. Whatever else they may be qualified in they certainly were not qualified CW operators, nor Qualified True Telegraphists.

The gross errors in EOPRA were decried by renowned CW and amateur radio organizations including FISTS, AGCW-DL, and IRA, the national amateur radio organization of Iceland. Attempts to bring these gross errors to the attention of the authors, and their friends and sponsors at the IARU, were met by deaf ears and a reluctance to correct these important errors, while, at the same time, being unwilling and unable to state that the errors are correct.

While the IARU would not go on the record as stating the operating practices set forth in EOPRA were correct, they also did not withdraw publication and this continues to be promoted by RSGB, ARRL, DARC, the “big 3” of IARU. Let us now examine a few of these errors, and especially how NOT to call CQ.

We must however make it very clear, that the errors we are about to point out, are not a matter of contention, nor opinion. They are fact. They are rooted in around 100 years of telegraphy, well-established Prosigns and their use throughout the entire history of amateur radio and ALL other services!

Unfortunate would-be conscientious CW operators are calling CQ for hours on end with hardly any results and do not know why. When we point it out to them, some correct their ways, others find it hard to correct their bad habits and do not even believe us, since they simply trust the IARU and not you.

These same operators who go about spreading this misinformation to other new operators, cannot give one logical reason for their wrong methods other than “it’s in the EOPRA!”, whilst we, on the other hand, not only have the entire history of true telegraphy on our side as witness, but we can also provide a great many reasons WHY the correct way works better.

In this article, we’ll also show that at least one of the authors of this book, ON4UN, ignored his own incorrect advice which he refused to correct, and when calling CQ for many years later would do so in even more bizarre ways!

What would you say to this CQ format used by ON4UN in the years after authoring the IARU-sponsored EOPRA booklet?

CQ DX DX ON4UN ON4UN DX DX (silence)

CQ DX DX ON4UN ON4UN DX DX (silence)

Or, this other alternative option of his, also programmed into his macro:

CQ DX DX = LP ON4UN ON4UN DX DX = LP (silence)

CQ DX DX = LP ON4UN ON4UN DX DX = LP (silence)

CQ DX DX = LP ON4UN ON4UN DX DX = LP (silence)

Maybe he finally discovered that ending a CQ with <AR> brings too few results, but could not bear to admit he was wrong and everyone else was right, and so he decided to simply end his calls in silence? Whatever, it’s all wrong.

OK, so now with this preface as to some of the background of the publication of EOPRA by the IARU and the attempts by major CW groups and amateur radio organizations to get IARU to pass resolutions to put it right, with failure in the face of obstinate arrogance, what did ON4UN actually say about CQ?

He siad that every CW must end with <AR> and nothing else. He said it must not end with PSE K nor even with K. It must always, without exception, end with <AR>, according to the author ON4UN. Never mind that he did not follow his own advice, but what was the reason he gave for ending with <AR>?

He gave an entirely concocted (invented) new idea of his own: a CQ has not yet established communication and because “K” or “<KN>” must only be used when already in communication (again completely incorrect, no idea where he got this other crazy idea from), “therefore, a CQ cannot end with a K!”

“This means you should always terminate your CQ with β€˜AR’ and never with β€˜K’, because there is nobody there yet whom you can turn it over to”, is his argument, and this is completely false. K has nothing to do with anyone being there already or not. It signals that you are now going to RECEIVE and that you are inviting a reply from anyone.

Nothing is nearly as complicated as he tried to make it all in the EOPRA booklet on CW operating procedures. <AR> means only “end of transmission (or message)”. K means simply “Over, I’m listening for any replies”.

CQ, as we all know, means “calling all stations”. A CQ call does not have to result in a two way communication, it could be a preface to a message to all stations within any radio network. However, radio amateurs generally use it for general calls and expect to receive an answer.

If you want an answer, you always end your transmission in voice with “over” and in CW this is a simple “K”. You MUST ALWAYS end any CQ with a K at the very end, no matter what else you put before that K, if you want an answer.

This meaning of “K” has been from the very beginning of telegraphy and is universal. It is not only within amateur radio but all radio services. It is in the International Telecommunications Union codes since the very beginning and remains there today. There is no shorter way to invite a transmission.

Nor is there any other letter that signals “over” – I have finished my transmission and am now listening for yours. No other letter of the alphabet, and no other Prosign. K is the one and only. Yes you can preface it with PSE or with <AR> as in PSE K, or <AR> K or <AR> PSE K, but it must end in K.

We’ll look at reasons why you may want to prefix it with <AR> PSE before the compulsory K, in a moment. But let’s look at what happens if you do NOT end with a K, aside from going against the well-established Radio Regulations of ITU and all of the history of radio telegraphy, it is illogical, and here is why…

Let’s say you simply end with <AR> as ON4UN said you must do, but did not do himself, not believing in his own misguided ideas, ending his CQ instead with silence. The reason you do not END a CQ with <AR> is because <AR> means “end of transmission” OR “end of message” but nothing else. It is NOT an invitation for anyone to reply.

The reason you do not end a CQ with silence as some unfortunate hams are doing today is because, do we have to state the obvious (?!) you are not asking for anything, and the person who wants to reply to you doesn’t know if you have finished. It causes confusion. Aside from that it is plain rude.

You may think it is cool and professional, it is anything but.

Let’s say you call CQ like the minority of those who use these incorrect procedures today, and you just end with CQ DE CALLSIGN and silence, or CQ DX DE CALLSIGN CALLSIGN DX and silence, and so on, not only is there no invitation for anyone to reply, or clear indication that you are now listening, but anyone far away suffering QSB can’t be at all sure you have stopped.

So, now let’s say we end our CQ correctly with a K as in CQ CQ DE CALLSIGN CALLSIGN K. In this case we know that the CQ call has finished, and, it is not just a general broadcast or test, and, that you are now listening, and, that you want a reply, that you are inviting anyone to reply to your call.

See how simple that is? The “K” at the end, even on its own, says it all.

But why do some people send <AR> K or PSE K or <AR> PSE K and do these additional prefixes to the simple and COMPULSORY ENDING OF “K” serve any additional practical purposes, or is it just for fun, or politeness?

No doubt many operators just do whichever they fancy, and that’s fine, so long as we end the CQ with K. But there is also logic in the reason of the optional “PSE K” ending. It isn’t only about politeness, and it is NOT at all rude to end a CQ with a simple K. It is rude to ONLY end a CQ with silence.

The practical advantage of ending a CQ with PSE K, is because if someone tunes in to your CQ at the end of your calling and only catches your callsign, but was not yet on frequency to hear your CQ, they will not know if you are already in a QSO or were calling CQ. Ending PSE K makes that very clear.

Therefore, logically, those who call CQ with at least a 3X3 format if not an even longer 3x3x3 format, and end with PSE K and not only K, will result in more replies to their CQs because of less losses from uncertainty, as at some stage you give up calling CQ, and this might have been your final CQ.

What about <AR> before the K or before the PSE K? This is up to you, again, it can serve the purpose of dragging out the end of your CQ a little longer, but all it means is “end of transmission” in this case, and so serves little practical purpose. But there is no harm in using it provided you do not end with the <AR> Prosign only but also follow it with K or PSE K.

This author has conducted many months of surveys of CQ calling in use on the bands and the numbers who end CQ calls in silence, or <AR> and, although the number is growing over the years due to the misinformation of the IARU “Ethics” EOPRA publication of ON4UN et al, along with his ARRL and RSGB buddies who promoted it, it is still, thankfully, a minority of misguided hams.

The irony of course, is that those using these incorrect methods which are also illogical and unhelpful, not only think that they’re doing the right thing but some of them think that everyone else is doing it wrong. Sometimes they’re the fastest on the key, or great lovers of CW and may they think those Old Timers have got it all wrong, or, that this is a new development in amateur radio.

However, as surveys show that only 23% of the population do any thinking whatsoever that involves self reflection, it is safe to say the majority of them read the book, or were told by someone else, and simply followed suit. Not one of them can give any practical or logical reason why you should end a CQ with <AR> at the end, when we can and have given several reasons why NOT to.

On the other hand, if they were to say “I end my CQ with <AR> because it is shorter than PSE K, and serves the purpose to show I was calling CQ”, then they would still be wrong, as it could simply be the end of a transmission. The shortest way to invite a reply is K. And the shortest way to show you were calling CQ and invite a reply is PSE K.

There are many other crazy errors in his publication, we’ll not look into those in this article. Needless to say his saying that CL must be sent as <CL> is not only again a pure invention of the late ON4UN but even he could not have mastered sending -.-..-.. as if it was a combined Prosign, when it is NOT.

The fact that his instructions on correct CW Operating Procedure contain such basic, and obvious errors, renders the rest of his book also useless. If I as a telegraphist can see through his lack of knowledge in this chapter of his book, how can I trust his knowledge in other chapters of his book? An honest author would only write what he knows about, or would at least seek review by others who know about the subject, before publication.

And, how could I trust a person who gives advice and instructions to others on procedures but did not use them himself? This is pure hypocrisy. Even if the entire history of the Radio Relegations and the very clear non-controversial meanings of <AR> and K as used by a million telegraphists all over the world for the past hundred years did not exist, he’d still be wrong.

Please share this article with any Radio Amateurs you hear calling CQ but not ending with a K at the very end. Maybe they’ll thank you, and you’ll help to prevent the uptake of a trend which can only cause more confusion in the future. When something works perfectly for a hundred years, don’t break it when it doesn’t need fixing!

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