I was listening to one of the Echolink gateways this morning and a couple of guys were having a contact. Well, should I say, one of them was trying to have a contact. The other chap, who, I´m guessing was newly licenced, really seemed to have little idea about how to make a contact - one word overs, no indication of what his callsign was and so on.
It would be easy to ridicule, but I don´t want to do that. It is difficult, when you first get on the air, perhaps, to work out how to conduct contacts. I daresay in ´my day´ it may have been easier, as we had been listening around the bands before getting a licence. Things have changed though - and though there is some rudimentary advice in the licence syllabii on how to make contacts, it is pretty minimal.
If you´re a beginner, what can you do to sound like you´ve been on the air for years (in a good way!)
- Listen around - this will help! Get an idea of how more experienced operators conduct their contacts, what they say and so on.
- If you suspect you may be tongue-tied, then write out some postcards with ´template QSOs´ on them (eg ´My Name is..... My QTH is..... Your report is.... Hope you copy ok..... M?XXX from G?XXX Over´ And then the next over might be something like ´M?XXX from G?XXX all copied. My equipment is.....´. And so it goes on. Hopefully you´ll soon feel more comfortable, will ad-lib and will never need your postcards again!
- Callsigns. Though you are not obligated to give callsigns on each transmission, it is good practice to do so unless you are engaged in a quick-fire back and forth. Just give your callsign at the end of each transmission. No song and dance is required ´from G4VXE over´. Phonetics are useful. If you haven´t worked someone before, then it may be helpful to give your callsign phonetically when you call them first of all. As soon as you have established contact and you are confident you have each others callsigns ok, there´s no need to spell it all out phonetically. Don´t forget at the end of the contact, though, to think about giving your callsign in phonetics. After all, someone else may be listening who might want to give you a call!
- Perhaps you may have operated on CB before hand. Don´t worry, you are very welcome on the Ham Bands. But please, leave CB jargon on the CB band where it belongs. Your ´personal´ should become your name and your ´twenty´ your QTH or location. We have our own jargon, you see! And never, ever, say ´Call´ after your callsign when you´re on the amateur bands, as in ´M3XYZ G4VXE Call´. Never.
- Sounding enthusiastic and interested! I´ve heard some people that sound like they couldn´t careless what the other person says - in fact - it almost seems the fact that someone else is on the other end of the contact passes them by. They just go along, ´talking to themselves´. Engage with your QSO partner - ask questions and respond to them. It IS meant to be fun, after all!
Well, I´m sure there´s much more that could be included, but I hope this might be of some benefit to people starting out - in how to make your contacts more interesting - and hopefully - you will sound like a seasoned pro!