A recent harmful trend among less experienced CW operators, who often lack the luxury of being guided by an experienced but still up-to-date Old Timer, or the confusion of a myriad of Apps and websites giving contradicting information, is the mis use of the “dit dit” and this post will address this.
Firstly, we have a lot of sympathy for the well intentioned newcomers, and even old timers who returned to CW after a long absence, and the lack of authoritative information available to them, which this series of articles under the Operating category will seek to address via Quality True Telegraphists.
In this post we address one of these recent negative trends in CW protocol evolution, having previously addressed a harmless trend, namely the gradual obsolescence of the <CT> Prosign in general QSO usage. This negative trend is the misuse and abuse of the “dit dit” which is optional at the end of a QSO.
Let us first, address what the “EE” signifies, and also as it is optional, what other options exist, before we address the current harmful misuse and abuse.
Picture two operators who are enjoying their QSO. Having exchange various information, they come toward the end of the contact. They exchange greetings, best wishes, such as 77, HPE CUAGN, 73 and so forth, and then they hand it over, having made their “final”, to the other operator to make a “final”.
It would be rude at the end of your own final, to not give the chance to the other operator to give their final, correct? Hopefully that is obvious. If it was now my final transmission and I’ve got nothing more to say having sent my parting greetings, it is now my duty to listen to the parting greetings of the other operator. So, how should I end my final “over”?
There are a number of options available to you at the end of your own final over. You can just send the callsigns and <KN> inviting the other to transmit, leaving it open as to whether this is your final final or not, since after all, you may be open to a longer QSO if the other operator also so wishes.
Or, you can end your final over with <SK> if you wish to signal that you have no further information and would like this to be your final over. Do this just before sending the callsigns and ending <KN> as otherwise if you end with <SK> after the callsigns, this might cause anyone listening on the frequency who can hear you but not the other station, to jump in and start calling you.
The right thing therefore to do is this: send the <SK> at the end of your last over unless you are open to the possibility of yet another over, and follow it by the callsigns. Here is an example, you are OE9ZZZ and you have sent your QSL info, best wishes, and HPE CUAGN and have nothing more, and would like to signal this is your final, you’d send this to your QSO partner G7ABC:
… TNX FER FB QSO ES HPE CUAGN 73 ES GL <AR> <SK> G7ABC DE OE9ZZZ KN
By doing this, you have made it clear with <SK> that this was YOUR own final, and you are putting the transmission back to your QSO partner for their final.
At the end of their own final if they also have nothing more, having understood that you don’t expect any further overs after that as you ended your last over with <SK> so they can end it thus: … QSL DR OM ES VY 73 HPE CUAGN SN GL GB TU <AR> OE9ZZZ DE G7ABC <SK> EE
Now you can respond also with EE.
Or maybe the other station ended the very end of the final final with ESE then you add on your side EE or maybe you dance with dits back and forth. This is also a tradition of parting CW operators.
The important point here is that the dits are ONLY sent at the VERY VERY END of the VERY FINAL FINAL, and NOTHING is going to follow afterwards! The dits are exchanged live back and forth between you at the very end.
This means that, you have both already sent your final greeting transmissions, both ended with correct legal requirement to end with your callsigns, and only when that has all been completed, can and should anyone send any DIT DIT.
This is polite, effective, and the normal and correct way for a Quality True Telegraphist, and has been done in similar fashion for some 100 years.
Now, let us look at the harmful negative trend today which causes confusion, irritation, or embarrassment to your QSO partner, and why the DIT DIT should absolutely NEVER be sent until the very end of all transmissions on BOTH sides.
Let’s explore what happens when today’s well-intentioned but inexperienced or misdirected CQ operator misuses and thus abuses the “EE” or “DIT DIT”.
You send your final transmission, you have nothing more to send to the other station, and you want to signal it is the end, but the other station has not yet had the opportunity to say TNX FER QSO, QSL INFO, 73, GB and so forth, they have not yet had their final. But, you still end yours with a EE.
Now what is the other operator to do? You sent EE so now they must send EE? That means, they cannot send their final greetings, only “73 TU EE” and this is not satisfactory, you have denied the other operator the right to have their final over to wind up any information and greetings they wish to send you.
If you send EE this truly means everything is completed. Any experienced Quality True Telegraphist will feel annoyed, as it sounds very rude. You don’t want me to also have my final and wish you all the best until we meet again?
So, do I now just send EE and appear to also be very rude?
Or, do I now risk offending you by sending my final with greetings, when perhaps you signaled that you have had all your satisfaction and cannot wait to get off the key and back to your XYL, and still I send my own final, thinking I better be polite and say thanks best wishes and good bye, do I need to now do it in a rushed and short form?
All the time that other operator is sending their final final, after your premature DIT DIT, they are uncomfortable and confused. They don’t know whether you were just inconsiderate and selfish and whether they should also just send EE, because you had your say and perhaps you think you also spoke on my behalf, which is arrogant, and assumed I had no wish to give my heart felt parting greetings in an over, as you only had the privilege of doing?
It is very harmful and bad practice to make any CW operator confused, or to appear rude, or not following long established etiquette.
So now, let us summarize: NEVER EVER send an EE or ESE or DIT DIT etc, the so-called final dits, until truly everything has been finished.
Your final over, if you are NOT the last one in the cycle of overs, must make it clear that you are now ready to also listen to the final of the other side.
You send your transmission and end with <SK> CALLSIGN DE CALLSIGN <KN> because if you do not end with a K or <KN> and moreover especially if you end there with a TU EE you are saying “that’s all, nothing more” and you are not inviting the other station to send their final, you’re asking them to skip over their final, just save time and forget the courtesy, just also end “EE”.
Very very bad practice. So you end with <SK> CALLSIGN de YOUR CALLSIGN <KN> as they have not yet had their final! You do not ever dictate to the other operator what to do unless there is an emergency, the kitchen is on fire, the XYL has thrown your dinner into the cat’s bowl and you need to go urgently to placate her to save your marriage. In this case, send SRI QRT <SK> or <AS> or QRX if you need a minute and will be back.
Now, when the other side has ALSO had their final transmission, so all is fair and square, you have both had the right and courtesy of your final transmissions, and he has also signed off, having heard that you ended with <SK> at the end of your last transmission he will also end his final over with your CALL DE his CALL <SK> TU EE or leave you to send the TU EE, and both of you exchange dits, this is really the end, where it belongs.
Again: EE or ESE or TU EE whatever dits, NEVER belong anywhere except at the very end.
This is an example of a bad practice which is harmful because it causes confusion. You cannot read the mind of the other operator. EE means you also send EE everything has finished. It means they are rude as they ended without wanting to hear your final transmission. Or it means they are an inexperienced operator even if their CW sending is good, just they were misdirected.
What do you think a QTT should do if your QSO partner ends their final with a EE and you have not had your own final? Do you think you should go ahead unhurried and send your final over without any worries about the intention behind the misplaced EE, or do you think the EE signals that the other side is not interested in your final or in anything other than you sending TU 73 EE?
Do you think this is due to inexperience, or wanting to end the QSO prematurely and a lack of appreciation of the importance of fairness and etiquette among CW Operators, perhaps and extension of the “quantity over quality” rush to fill the logs with callsigns in “5NN TU EE” contacts, and this is affecting the non-5NN “Protocol QSO“?
Tell us in the comments!