Some may just jump to the conclusion that I’m recycling articles from QST, but I’m not — I promise! Having said that, on with the show…
A few months ago there was a nice two-month series in QST about signal reports. The author concentrated on what the numbers actually mean and how to use the reports. The first installment was about voice signals, the second about digital signals along with a suggestion of a tweaked system for digital signal reports.
I enjoy a nice cross section of our hobby: rag chewing, traffic handling, EmComm, some contesting, DX’ing, nets, and digital work. Of all those aspects there is one thing that stands out that seems pointless. Every signal report is a 5 by 9. Now I understand that during the peak or activity in a contest, it may be easiest to give the same report to everyone, especially if you can have your logging program pre-fill the signal report. But is this helpful? Is it ‘honest’? The signal report system was designed to give a signal report. An honest evaluation of how you can copy the other station. It wasn’t conceived to be an autopilot tool to speed along a contest or QSO.
If someone is stuck in autopilot with 5 by 9 reports, what’s the point of even giving them? There are times where it’s beyond obvious that I was hard to pull out, yet I’m told I’m 5 by 9. If they we’re honest about my report, I could tweak my antenna or processor or if I have an amp, turn up my power a little to improve my signal. If I’m only giving out a 5 by 9 report, the same holds true, it’s of no help whatsoever to the other station.
I refuse to just give 5 by 9 reports. I don’t care if it’s a contest or a rare DX station. If they are not an honest 5 by 9, I will not give them a 5 by 9 report. I’ve made a few contesters mad. One even chewed me out about it. One even tried to ‘teach me’ to only give 5 by 9 reports. But I refuse. I want to use the system properly!
I challenge others to join me, give an honest signal, even when it catches the other station off guard. Maybe if enough of us do that we’ll start getting honest reports back and be able to actually use the reports as they were intended!