Ed's Radio (AA6ED) – Q Codes

Q Codes (or Q-signals) are three letter combinations beginning with the letter "Q" representing common phrases or sentences. They were developed in the early twentieth century to facilitate maritime radiotelegraph communications. The list of codes has expanded over the years. While primarily used on CW, use of Q Codes has even crept into voice communication. You hear several used on VHF and UHF bands every day.

When used with a question mark (?), Q Codes represent a query; when used without, they are a statement. For example:
QTH? (What is your location?)
QTH Pittsburgh (My location is Pittsburgh)

FCC §97.113(a)(4) states – No amateur station shall transmit messages encoded for the purpose of obscuring their meaning. So what about Q Codes? Well, their meaning is well known and they were designed to facilitate communication, not obscure it – so they are allowed. Several other common Amateur Radio words and phrases are also allowed for the same reason.

Q Codes
Code Question Statement
QRAWhat is your call sign?My call sign is ...
QRGWhat is my exact frequency?Your exact frequency is ...
QRHDoes my frequency vary?Your frequency varies.
QRIHow is the tone of my transmission?The tone of your transmission is (1. Good; 2.Variable; 3. Bad)
QRJHow many voice contacts do you want to make?I want to make ... voice contacts.
QRKWhat is the readability of my signals?The readability of your signals is ... (1 to 5).
QRLAre you (or this frequency) busy?This frequency is busy.
QRMDo you have interference?I have interference.
QRNAre you troubled by static?I am troubled by static.
QROShall I increase power?Increase power.
QRPShall I decrease power?Decrease power.
QRQShall I send faster?Send faster.
QRSShall I send more slowly?Send more slowly.
QRTShall I stop sending?Stop sending.
QRUHave you anything for me?I have nothing for you.
QRVAre you ready?I am ready.
QRWShall I inform ... that you are calling him?Please inform ... that I am calling him.
QRXWhen will you call me again?I will call you again at ...
QRZWho is calling me?You are being called by ...
QSAWhat is my signal strength?The strength of your signal is ... (1 to 5).
QSBAre my signals fading?Your signals are fading.
QSDIs my keying defective?Your keying is defective.
QSGShall I send ... messages at a time?Send ... messages at a time.
QSKCan you work break-in?I can work break-in.
QSLCan you acknowledge receipt?I acknowledge receipt.
QSMShall I repeat the last message sent?Repeat the last message sent.
QSNDid you hear me on .. kHz (or MHz)?I did hear you on ... kHz (or MHz).
QSOCan you communicate with ... direct or by relay?I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ...).
QSPWill you relay a message to ...?I will relay a message to ....
QSRDo you want me to repeat my call?Please repeat your call.
QSSWhat working frequency will you use?I will use the working frequency ....
QST[No Query Version]Here is a broadcast message to all amateurs.
QSUShall I send or reply on this frequency?Send or reply on this frequency.
QSWWill you send on this frequency?I am going to send on this frequency.
QSXWill you listen for ... on ... ?I am listening for ... on ....
QSYShall I change frequency?Change frequency.
QSZShall I send each word or group more than once?Send each word or group ... times.
QTAShall I cancel message No. ...?Cancel message No. ....
QTCHow many messages have you to send?I have sent ... messages.
QTHWhat is your location?My location is ....
QTRWhat is the correct time?The correct time is ....
QTUAt what times are you operating?I am operating from ... to ....
QTXWill you keep your station open for further communication with me?I will keep my station open for further communication with you.
QUAHave you news of ...?Here is news of ....
QUCWhat is the number of the last message you received from me?The number of the last message I received from you is ....
QUDHave you received the urgency signal sent by ...?I have received the urgency signal sent by ....
QUECan you speak in ... (language), - with interpreter if necessary; if so, on what frequencies?I can speak in ... (language) on ....
QUFHave you received the distress signal sent by ...?I have received the distress signal sent by ... at ... hours.
A Few Common Amateur Radio Codes / Acronyms:
Code / Acronym Definition
73Best Regards
88Hugs and kisses
CWContinuous Wave (i.e. Morse Code)
HFHigh Frequency Bands (3 to 30 MHz)
VHFVery High Frequency Bands (30 to 300 MHz)
UHFUltra High Frequency Bands (300 MHz to 3 GHz)
YLYoung Lady (i.e. girlfriend)
XYLEx-Young Lady (i.e. a wife)
CQCalling all Stations
hihiA laugh in CW
RACESRadio Amateur Civil Emergency Service
ARESAmateur Radio Emergency Service
CERTCommunity Emergency Response Team
MARSMilitary Auxiliary Radio System
ACSAuxiliary Communications Service

The Difference Between CQ and QST

CQ is used to make a general call as an invitation for any operators listening on that frequency to respond. It is widely used on HF (both CW and voice) for initiating contacts.

QST means Here is a broadcast message to all amateurs. Unlike CQ, replies to a QST are not expected.