Congratulations on obtaining your new Amateur Radio license! Whether you're eager to start operating on HF phone or you're a seasoned operator unsure about on-air conduct, here are some opinions from K4QKY to enhance your experience. Keep in mind that while there are few mandated rules, embracing good operating practices and etiquette is crucial. Here's a guide for your consideration:

  1. Have Fun and Be Respectful:

    • Enjoy yourself while respecting the rights of all hams to have fun too.
    • Exercise politeness in all circumstances; if you can't, pause and refrain from transmitting.
  2. Set a Positive Example:

    • Be a good example for new hams and short-wave listeners.
    • Be a good listener to organize your thoughts before transmitting.
  3. Effective Communication:

    • Speak clearly and slowly, especially when giving your call sign to someone new.
    • Reply to CQ calls or initiate one; it's a crucial aspect of ham radio.
  4. Promote Friendship and Goodwill:

    • Foster camaraderie with DX contacts; go beyond signal reports and 73s.
    • Keep track of everyone in the QSO, ensuring everyone has a chance to contribute.
  5. Operating Practices:

    • Pause between transmissions to avoid the appearance of unwelcoming quick keying.
    • Operate on whole kHz frequencies for clarity and simplicity.
  6. General Tips:

    • Praise other hams for positive actions.
    • Be ready to respond calmly to emergencies.
    • Exercise good amateur practice and Part 97 rules.
  7. Respect and Consideration:

    • Avoid discussing politics, and if you do, be courteous and open-minded.
    • Respect the privileges of hams operating in different modes, including AM.
  8. Guidance for Elmers:

    • Help newly licensed hams with advice and guidance.
    • Remember that no one country is the leader of the Amateur Radio world
  9. Things to Avoid:  

    Avoid acting like a broadcast station or being excessively long-winded.

    • Refrain from operating when in a bad mood; it can lead to tension.

Technical Considerations:

  • Use the Internet to enhance your QSO with additional information.
  • Respect others' frequencies, and don't claim a frequency for nets without checking.
  1. Etiquette and Politeness:

    • Avoid deliberate interference and be considerate of others.
    • Don't interrupt ongoing QSOs unless you have something relevant to contribute.
  2. Mic Usage and Audio Quality:

    • Avoid excessive use of Q-codes and radio jargon.
    • Don't test your radio on the air; use a dummy load instead.
    • Be cautious with VOX to prevent quick keying.
  3. Social Interaction:

    • Don't become a "Band Policeman"; be polite and constructive if necessary.
    • Refrain from excessive audio checks and mundane small talk.
  4. Final Thoughts:

    • Stay positive, and constructive, and avoid negative views on Amateur Radio.
    • Remember, the magic of ham radio lies in sharing important life experiences.


(1) The foregoing list represents the opinion of K4QKY only.   As such, it is intended to be nothing more than a “shopping list” of suggested guidelines presented almost entirely from the perspective of a “rag chewer”.   DXers, contestants, and hams who enjoy other modes will most likely have somewhat different views.  In any event, it is hoped that this list may prove somewhat useful, especially for new operators.   The overriding theme is common sense and courtesy to others.  Let’s always remember what a privilege it is to operate on the ham bands!  This will help us avoid doing anything that might impinge on the enjoyment of our hobby for others.  

(2) Equipment-related practices, although beyond the scope of this article, are nonetheless important.  Always be aware of your signal quality, especially through careful adjustment of microphone gain, and internal or external speech processing settings.  Let's all do our part to avoid generating interference.  

(3) Thoughts and recommendations are welcome.  Email K4QKY at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

(4) You or the organization you represent are welcome to create a link to this page.

(5) Links to other related resources:

http://www.ham-operating- - "Good operating practices and procedures for the ham bands" by AJ4D - "Guides to amateur radio for beginners" courtesy of The DXZone - "HF Operating Practices" by W9UVI

Other K4QKY amateur-related publications:

Vintage Radio Restoration

Restoration project

Some old photos

K4QKY's experimental Two-element Delta loop antenna array


Letter from a silent key (deceased):

This letter was received on the occasion of Don's 1929 retirement from a 28-year Navy career.  What wonderful support that Frank and others provided me then, afterward, and still today.   Indeed, this is what I think our hobby should be all about!