Existing standard: RST System with our gratitude to Cebik W4RNL [SK] and to those who selflessly have preserved his website data. He advocated replacing the T with something more relevant, hence the RSN system below.


Readability Strength Noise: see RSTN for details

RS(T)N is a new signal reporting system used by some hams in place of the now outdated RST system.

R = Readability (scale: 1 to 5)
S = Signal Strength (scale: 1 to 9)
N = (Local) Noise Level (scale: 1 to 9)

R and S are the same as in the existing RS(T) system.

N is the current local noise level on the current frequency and bandwidth in the receiver

In voice and digital modes RSN is given as 3 digits, in CW it may either be given as 3 digit RSN or 4 digit RSTN, in which case the Tone is usually sent as N for 9 which also serves as an N for Noise to introduce and separate the 4th Noise level digit, e.g. RSTN 37N6 or RSN 376.

RSN table

R Meaning QRK
R1 Unreadable Bad
R2 Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable Poor
R3 Readable with considerable difficulty Fair
R4 Readable with practically no difficulty Good
R5 Perfectly readable Excellent
S Meaning QSA
S1 Faint signal, barely perceptible QSA1: Barely perceptible
S2 Very weak signal (QSA1/2)
S3 Weak signal QSA2: Weak
S4 Fair signal (QSA2/3)
S5 Fairly good signal QSA3: Fairly good
S6 Good signal (QSA 3/4)
S7 Moderately strong signal QSA4: Good
S8 Strong signal (QSA 4/5)
S9 Very strong signals QSA5: Very Good
S should NOT be read directly from the “S-meter” as these are mostly only calibrated at S9.
N Meaning QRM/QRN
N1 No noticeable noise None
N2 Very slight noise
N3 Slight noise Slight
N4 Slight to moderate noise
N5 Moderate noise Moderate
N6 Moderately severe noise
N7 Severe noise Severe
N8 Very severe noise
N9 Extreme noise Extreme

The usual suffixes can be appended to RS(T)N reports, as follows:

A : signal distorted by auroral propagation
C : chirp
K : key clicks
M : distorted by multipath propagation
S : distorted by scatter propagation

A Short “Q” Reporting System for Traffic Nets

Another proposed system is the Q report. It is more easy and meaningful in the context of amateur radio communications which typically contain fading between several S points, where a quick assessment needs to be made to save time (such as in QTC traffic nets) where the importance of readability is paramount. If time permits, additional signal strength and noise level can conveyed by expanding Q to 2 or 3 digits respectively.

If there is only one digit following the Q then this is Readability (QRK). E.g.: Q3 means R3 readable with difficulty.

Q1 = Not readable
Q2 = Readable at times
Q3 = Readable with difficulty
Q4 = Readable without difficulty
Q5 = Perfectly readable

If there are two digits following the Q, then the second is signal strength on a scale of 1-5:

Q_1 = No signal
Q_2 = Weak signal
Q_3 = Fair signal
Q_4 = Strong signal
Q_5 = Extremely strong signal

E.g. Q55 is the highest possible and means perfect copy and extremely strong signal. Q32 would mean readable with difficulty and weak signal.

If there are three digits following the Q, then the third is the noise level (QRN) at your receiver, 1-5:

Q_ _1 = No noise
Q_ _2 = Little noise
Q_ _3 = Average noise
Q_ _4 = Strong noise
Q_ _5 = Very strong noise

This is not QRM as from other stations, this is the background noise according to your filter setting and receiver, typically the noise from electromagnetic pollution in your area. When the Q and RST codes were invented we did not yet have the mass surveillance and control society full of consumer junk, there was only man made noise from other stations (QRM) and static (QRN).

Example: Q551 would be the best possible report. You cannot have Q555 realistically as that would mean perfectly readable, extremely strong signal and very strong noise.

Q345 would mean your signal is readable with difficulty, signal is strong, but noise is very (or extremely) strong.

Either RSN or Q system could be used. For traffic nets in particular the Q system is good as it saves time and can be reduced to one single digit.

For the RSN system on CW, operators could choose to give RSN, or, to avoid any confusion, RSTN as mentioned earlier above.


Q1 R1 Not readable
Q2 R2 Readable at times
Q3 R3 Readable with difficulty
Q4 R4 Readable without difficulty
Q5 R5 Armchair copy
Q55 RST 599 Armchair copy, extremely strong signal
Q44 RST 479 Good readable, strong signal
Q33 RST 359 Readable with difficulty, moderate signal
Q22 RST 239 Readable at times, weak signal
Q11 RST 119 Not readable, barely perceptible signal
Q54 RST 579 Solid readable, strong signal
Q34 RST 379 Readable with difficulty, strong signal
Q43 RST 459 Good readable, moderate signal
Q551 RSN 591 Solid copy, extremely strong, no noise level
Q542 RSN 573 Solid copy, strong, low noise level
Q433 RSN 455 Good copy, moderate signal strength, moderate noise level
Q334 RSN 357 Difficult copy, moderate signal strength, high noise level
Q235 RSN 259 Readable at times, moderate signal, very high noise level (S9)


  • For those knowing the Q codes: Q is QRK, Q followed by 2 digits is QRK and QSA, Q followed by 3 digits is QRK, QSK, QRN all on a scale 1 to 5.
  • QSA 1 through 5 equates with S1, 3, 5, 7, 9.
  • QSA 4/5 would thus be S8.
  • History of RSTN reporting system and adoption comments see