Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM

The conventional wisdom in amateur radio is that we should not call CQ when using FM on the VHF and UHF bands, especially on repeaters. The reasoning for this is that during normal VHF/UHF FM operating, radio amateurs are tuned to a specific frequency and will easily hear a call on FM.

Compare this to the HF bands, where the other ham is generally tuning around to find someone to contact and stumbles onto your transmission. In that case, you want to make a long call (CQ CQ CQ Hello CQ This is Kilo Zero November Romeo calling CQ CQ CQ…) so people tuning the band will find you and tune you in. On VHF/UHF FM, the assumption is that the other hams have their radio set on the repeater or simplex channel being used and will immediately hear you. FM communications are often quite clear and noise free, which also helps. The normal calling method is to just say your callsign, perhaps accompanied with another word like “monitoring” or “listening.”  For example, I might say “KØNR monitoring.”

Question T2A09 in Technician exam pool reinforces this idea:

T2A09 (B)
What brief statement indicates that you are listening on a repeater and looking for a contact?
A. The words “Hello test” followed by your call sign
B. Your call sign
C. The repeater call sign followed by your call sign
D. The letters “QSY” followed by your call sign

Gary/KN4AQ wrote this tongue-in-cheek article HamRadioNow: Do NOT Call CQ on Repeaters which says that calling CQ on a quiet repeater works well because it is likely that someone will come on and tell you not to call CQ. Gary wrote:

So I trot out my standard advice: make some noise. I even recommend calling CQ, because that’s almost guaranteed to get someone to respond, if only to tell you that you’re not supposed to call CQ on repeaters.

There is also an interesting thread on the topic on reddit: 2 meter calling frequency.

Scanning and Multitasking

Some important things have changed in our use of VHF/UHF FM over past decades.  The most important shift is dispersion of activity: while the number of VHF/UHF channels has increased, the total amount of VHF/UHF radio activity has declined. This means that we have tons of channels available that are mostly quiet. Tune the bands above 50 MHz and you’ll hear a lot of dead air. In response to this, some hams routinely scan multiple repeater and simplex frequencies. While getting ready for Summits On The Air (SOTA) activity, I’ve had hams ask me to make a long call on 146.52 MHz so they can be sure to pick me up on scan.  

Another factor that comes into play is the multitasking nature of our society. Hams don’t generally sit in front of a 2m radio waiting for activity to occur. More commonly, they are doing something else and listening to the FM rig in the background. VHF FM is the Utility Mode, always available but not necessarily the top priority. A short call (“KØNR listening”) on the frequency can easily be missed.


My conclusion is that the Old School “KØNR Monitoring” style of making a call on VHF is no longer sufficient. First off, it sends the message of “I am here if you want to talk to me.” If that’s your intent, fine. However, if you really want to make a contact, being more explicit and a bit assertive usually helps. Follow Gary’s advice and make some noise.

For example, during a SOTA activation I’ll usually call on 146.52 MHz with a bit of a sales pitch.  Something like: “CQ CQ 2 meters, this is Kilo Zero November Romeo on Pikes Peak, Summits On The Air, anyone around?” This is way more effective than “KØNR Monitoring.”  I might also include the frequency that I am calling on, to help out those Scanning Hams. Something like “CQ CQ 146.52, this is KØNR on Pikes Peak, Summits On The Air.”  Note that these calls are still pretty much short and to the point, only taking about 15 seconds. This is a lot shorter than the typical HF CQ.

If I am driving through another town and want to make contact on the local repeater, I will adjust my approach accordingly. For example, on a relatively quiet repeater, I might say “CQ, anyone around this morning? KØNR mobile I-25 Denver.” Or if I have a specific need, I’ll go ahead and ask for it. “This is KØNR looking for a signal report.”

Keep in mind that VHF/UHF operating tends to be local in nature, so it makes sense to adapt your approach to both local practice and the specific situation.

  • It’s OK to call CQ on VHF FM, make some noise on the frequency.
  • Give other operators a reason to contact you.
  • Don’t make your CQ too long, maybe 15 to 20 seconds.
  • The callsign/listening approach is fine too.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

73 Bob K0NR

The post Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM appeared first on The KØNR Radio Site.

Bob Witte, KØNR, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from Colorado, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

12 Responses to “Go Ahead and Call CQ on 2m FM”

  • jeff n1kdo:

    There are written rules for the repeaters I run. One of the rules is “Use of CB “lingo”, Q-codes, so-called radio-speak (e.g. “hi-hi”, “roger that”) is highly discouraged. This is amateur radio FM voice radio-telephone, not CB, not CW, not HF SSB.”

    Though that does not specifically include long-winded CQs, you can be sure that is frowned upon and will draw the attention of a control operator, who will talk to you long enough to tell you to “cut it out.”

  • Harry K7ZOV:

    For the last 50 yrs (or so) I have used my “call sign (K7ZOV) and listening.. Sometime add “anyone around”… I make noise, thus I make contacts, assuming anyone is around. This also goes for FM Simplex. SSB and CW CQ CQ CQ like it should be.

  • jerry w5kaw:

    jeff n1kdo well you can also get too strict and that’s why I quit 2m as theres more freedom on hf ssb and a lot of others as well quit 2m due to being too picky! now I love 6m ssb as it is fun when its open!!

  • Ross KG5OED:

    Say What!!!??? Call CQ on two meters? Is nothing sacred? We have all the HF bands for that.Nuff said.

  • Walt N5EQY:

    Well there are couple reasons that FM repeaters are pretty much dead and unused. When you “own” and dictate personal agenda to your users the will usually become discouraged and move to other repeaters or stop using them. It happens a lot and is still happening, even “long conversations” are being frowned upon. I suppose the owner of the machine doesnt want it used up? My last location was a cordial and friendly group of users that enjoyed chatting and nightly rag chews. I dont use the repeaters here in my new location. It seems that new people are sort of frowned on if they are not club members. I stick with HF, and old friends who enjoy meeting and sharing of the freqs.

  • jerry buchanan:

    yep well I do hang out on simplex 146.520 as I do like it better no repeaters no one telling me what to do on simplex! plus I love 6m better even 52.525fm is fun for local work just like being on 2m but a tad better I really wish more people would operate 6m even do local rag chews would be fun!

  • David Todd ka9koj:

    Well the cw on repeaters might be frown upon by the tight mikes,but I say heck with it.USE IT OR LOSE IT.
    Alot of dead air due to the internet.I feel ,why not.I know there are several repeaters near me .Nothing but dead air.How about running simple and try ding with it.Just because some tight mike says don’t do it,there isn’t an FCC rule against it.only time they are activated is when the local clicks get on .Try talking to these so called clicks .I have tried a bunch was on,there was a big pause I threw my callsign out ,nothing,but laughter and someone saying who does this guy think he is getting on our repeater.well it was an open repeater but full of arrogant snobs.CALL CQ EITHER ON REPEATER OR SIMPLEX GO FOR IT.IF the clickys don’t watch out,FCC will eventually sell it off due non activity.I run SIMPLEX thruout the 2 meter band.in fact I have run cw and made contacts 3 states over consistently.REMEMBER THE FCC MAKES THE FINAL RULES.THE ARRL IS MOSTLY SUGGESTIVE.Example: after expansion of phone bands,alot of guys try to push out the cw guys on hf.You will find these guys constantly monitoring the dead air on 2 meters and will ignore your call unless you are part of the click.

  • David Todd ka9koj:

    I don’t use repeaters on 2 meters if I can help it.Alot of strict ops out there that forget where they come from.These are the rude guys who don’t usually use cw or hf.And if they do,they are the first to tune up on a dc station so they can clear that portion of frequency.Like I said before,try
    Dxing SIMPLEX.plenty of room throughout 2 meters .I prefer 6 meters myself .Anyone gets on to tell anyone that there’s no rag chewing,cqing etc,should get out of the hobby.The tight mikes think since they have an open repeater ,blah blah blah,they can restrict it.wrong.if they don’t want riff Raf on their repeater,then put a ctcss tone to access it and make it private.I used to have homebuilt gear for 2 meters,but I have sold all except an old heathkit transceiver which I use for SIMPLEX.This is why ham radio is suffering.ohhhhhh you have to be a club member for any of us to talk to you.used to be we would talk sometimes hours on end about technical stuff.that was how some of the newbies learned,and swlers listened in on scanners dc and learned too.

  • K0PRM:

    I’m wondering if DMR FM will cause a greater use of 2m ? Based on eyeball conversations I’ve had, I would LIKE to think in my local area (SW Missouri) that might populate the frequencies..hopefully. The next FM rig will be a DMR tier I & II capable/analog dual band that I will buy.

  • Russell Trippy==w2rdt:

    I feel “CQ” should not be used on 2 mtr simplex or duplex. It is customary to use CQ otherwise with due respect to Ham Radio on the other bands. Not a big issue but CQ belongs on Long Distance.

  • Jerry Winkler,WB5MPJ:

    CQ CQ, righto, VHF/UHF repeater clicks here, but not many of them anymore in
    Houston, on 6m these are flat lands down here, hardly any activity.
    For individual activity here, one must be persistant. Possibly the
    requirement of a test to get a HAM license the biggest deterrent in Houston
    and or “who knows, who cares” attitude, Jerry, WB5MPJ, Houston, Texas

  • Gil W0MN:

    I feel a short CQ is no different than W0MN monitoring etc. No need fpr the longer as heard on HF but it is really no different than any other way you use to get attention.

    I have been licensed since 1953 and I think that has always been the rule so I follow it and do not use CQ on VHF FM but I see no reason it is basically banned. Keep it short though no matter how you announce yourself.

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