First Steps

First Steps

Now that you have passed your foundation examination and obtained your first Amateur Radio Licence, you will be setting up a station of your own soon.

You have set everything up, your antennas are all tuned, and now it’s time for your first contact, however, your mind has gone blank and you are not sure what to do. Don’t be concerned this happens to everyone all here is some advice to help you.

If maybe you want to try and answer someone else’s CQ call or you might want to call CQ yourself, it’s worth doing some preparation before you start, consider setting a plan or a crib sheet for your first QSOs, it might go something like this:

It is good practice to say your call sign at the Start and finish of your transmission, current advice from Ofcom is that “the callsign is transmitted as frequently as is practicable during transmission *”

When making a “Test Call”  you should make sure that the frequency is clear, After checking that the frequency is clear, you should make your call as follows.

“M7ABC. Is this frequency in use? M7ABC”

Don’t be shocked if someone comes back and says it is!

Then move on to making your test transmission, which should go something like this.

“M7ABC. This is a test transmission, checking audio etc, one, two, three, four, test, M7ABC

A good starting point for a crib sheet you could try the following;

Have your callsign spelled phonetically.

QTH – where you live

Locator – the locator square from which you are operating – you can find this at 

Radio – details of which transceiver you are using.

Antenna – which type of antenna you are using and details of how high it is in the air (height above sea level).


I found it very useful to have the phonetic alphabet and commonly used abbreviations to hand especially some of the ones used by CW operators as these crop up in data modes quite often,  and it’s not always that easy to look them up mid-QSO!

Remember there is a lot of useful information in your Foundation Licence Manual!

You will remember from your Foundation Studies that there is no calling channel on HF. Therefore, CQ Calls on HF should be longer and repeated a few times in order to allow others to find you, don’t give up after your first CQ call on HF, remember it takes time to tune up or down the band.

Suggested Sample Script for HF.

“CQ, CQ, CQ, CQ, CQ, CQ, This is M7ABC, M7ABC calling CQ”

do repeat this 4 or 5 times until you get a response.

Reply – M6ABC this is PA1ABC, PA1ABC

“PA1ABC – Good Afternoon, my name here is PAUL Papa Alpha, Uniform, Lima, Location is Sheffield, over.

Reply – M7ABC, Good Afternoon Paul, my name is Peter, Papa, Echo, Tango, Echo, Romeo, Location is Utrecht, your signal report is 59, 59 .

Peter, your signal report is also 59, 59 all received.

At this point, you can now start to have a chat about anything, or you may find you get 73s as they want to move on and work with someone else.

It’s good to have a page set up at as people will often look you up. Please do include information about QSL Cards, say if you want them or not or if you use an electronic QSL format such as .

Q Codes;

QRL – The frequency is in use.

QRM – (M = Man-made) Interference i.e. from other stations.

QRN – (N = Natural) Interference from thunderstorms / static etc.

QRP – Low Power

QRT – Closing down my station.

QRZ – Who is calling me?

QSB – Fading

QSL – Transmission received correctly – as in QSL Card – you might say your signal report is 43 43 QSL?

QSO – Contact with another station

QSY – Please change frequency

QTH – Your location, in most cases it’s the nearest town. NB H for Home.

QRS – Send more slowly – used in CW

QRX – wait/stand by – Quite often used by older amateurs

K – At the end of a transmission (CW and Data) Replies from any station are invited

de – from

KN – “used in the format PA1ABC, PA1ABC, PA1ABC de M7ABC pls KN” directed at a specific station only (no others  to reply)