"QRL?" – please !!!!!

I did go out to the Jeep during lunch today, and no, the bands were NOT dead. But before I go there, I must digress.

I was involved in a 2X QRP QSO on 14.060 MHz with Tom, KC9RXI in WI. He was about a 449 to me; and I'm sure I was no better to him, but we were having a QSO.  I'm sure at times, that to people who may have been listening to the frequency, that it sounded like it was dead.

It wasn't.

All of a sudden, out of the blue, another QRPer started calling CQ/QRP on frequency!  The call will be omitted to prevent embarrassment (but it is forever burned into my brain).  Not so much as a single, solitary "QRL?"

Yes, I am sure that both Tom and I were weak, but we WERE in the middle of a QSO.  Coming on to a frequency, plopping yourself down and commencing to call CQ without asking is just - arrgh! And to top it off, the CQer was calling CQ DE WXXXX/QRP !!!!  I'm sorry, but QRPers, above all Amateur Radio ops, should know better. No excuse - period. If he had sent "QRL?" waited for a bit AND THEN had started calling CQ on top of us, I may still have been annoyed, but I would have thought to myself, "Well, he just didn't hear us."

Unfortunately, while Tom was trying to talk to me, I had to transmit "QRL. PSE QSY". He immediately QSYed (so he was able to hear me!), but at that point I had lost what Tom was trying to say. Shortly after that the QSB went off the Richter scale and the QSO came to a premature end. The "meat" that I could have copied was drowned out forever by needless QRM.

A bit after that debacle, I went to 12 Meters and tuned around for a bit. I heard 7QAA in Malawi quite loudly.  He was loud enough to work - even QRP. I don't think I broke the pile up, as again there was a lot of QSB. If I had more time (lunch hour was running out) I'm pretty darn certain I would have worked him. This time I had the patience - I ran out of minutes.

So , even with the G4 geomagnetic disturbance, Malawi was coming in the best I've heard them so far. Go figure.  Luckily, the station will be on the air until early April and I'm taking a vacation day on Friday. I just may make it into their logbook yet!

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

11 Responses to “"QRL?" – please !!!!!”

  • peter kg5wy:

    I completely agree Larry. People should first listen, then QRL?
    I do it 3 times CW & with SSB “ask if the frequency is in use” before transmitting.
    I don’t know if it’s a lack of manners or knowledge with some.

  • Cliff KU4GW:

    I know exactly what you mean Larry! I had been in QSO with W4CJV Wayne on 7.062 Mhz beginning at 2330 UTC this evening and long about 2355 or so KB2DHG in KY started calling N3GUY in PA on 7.062.85 without so much as a single QRL? or anything! Wayne and I were almost done with our QSO anyway and called it quits at 0010 UTC and then I zero beat the interfering stations on 7.061.85 right below us. Apparently KB2HDG wasn’t hearing me at 50 watts and Wayne in GA at 20 watts, (I was 20 dB over S-9 at Wayne’s in GA and he was also 20 dB over S-9 here in NC) but N3GUY was hearing us because I listened after Wayne and I had cleared and heard him comment he was clearing because he had been getting some bad QRM! Still yet, at the very least, it would have been nice if KB2DHG had asked QRL? before he began transmitting only 150 Hz below me and I could have tried to respond to him, but anyway, my 60 Hz DSP filter helped out tremendously and we were still able to complete our QSO. Whatever happened to using “QRL?” and a little common courtesy? Both of them have been hams since the late 1980s and know better! Geez!

  • Cliff KU4GW:

    **CORRECTION: KB2DHG & N3GUY were on 7.061.85, not 7.062.85 as I stated in my previous post. Sorry for the typo!

  • Dave G0WBX:


    One of my pet hates are people who obviously don’t listen before transmit (LBT) on any mode.

    When you do challenge them, it’s obvious they can copy you all too easily.

    There are ignorant/arrogant types in all walks of life sadly.


    Dave G0WBX.

  • Fred ZS2XXX:

    Sending QRL is **STUPID** why not listen to the frequency for several minutes
    before QRMing it with however well meant QRLs. Only reason I can think of
    for QRL is *maybe* needing the use of a frequency quickly – perhaps moving
    off a net frequency to pass traffic. Improper use of QRL, to me, is a lot like
    “BREAKER BREAKER ONE NINE”. Along the same lines QRZ is not a substitute
    for CQ. Wahhhh. My two cents.

  • Larry W2LJ:

    Let’s see …. suppose an extended rag chew is going on between two stations. Due to propagation, one you can hear, the other you can’t. The one you can’t is giving his partner in conversation a long winded description of his daughter’s 16th birthday party.

    YOU think the frequency is clear, but it’s not. A quick “QRL?” enables the station you CAN hear to quickly send a “C” or a “Yes” letting you know the frequency is in use.

    Still “stupid”?

    My .02

  • ZS3XXX:

    LID jumps on a CW frequency, occupied or not, sends string of QRLs, does not
    listen long enough to possibly hear any reply and calls CQ. To me that translates
    same thing except there is an active QSO +/- a hundred Hz away. By the way,
    don’t forget to send a question mark after QRL.

  • XX13YY:

    Operators should first perform a lengthy tuneup on the frequency then call QRL QRL QRL a few times. Be sure the QRLs are very close together, do not waste time receiving in between QRLs. In other words its like you walk into a quiet room, make some noise then yell “IS ANYONE LISTENING HELLO IS ANYONE HERE” then you may send your CQ. Seriously, if you bothered to listen to the frequency first then there would be no need to send QRL. QRL is equivalent to BREAKER BREAKER ONE-NINE THAT’D BE A GREAT BIG 10-4 TO YA GOOD BUDDY.

  • XX13YY:

    Oh, yeah… good idea about the question mark after QRL, I’d forgot about that.

  • Carol Laferty K4SAF:

    Some commenters here need a better understanding of propagation. Sometimes you are hearing only one side of the QSO or one side is very weak. Nothing stupid about it! It takes a while to learn the characteristics of each band. That’s one of my pet peeves…hams who advance to the highest license level without ever having really listened or operated ham radio. You learn so much by listening first and learning the bands’ behaviors.

  • Joesph Benoit WA3NZA:

    Only a few ..Hmmm I am mentoring a new ham and looked this up for her. FINALLY, someone sensible in Carol but my comment a few years late. Exactly right, no matter how long or hard you listen you may not hear a conversation on your frequency, not called SKIP for nothing, lol. Your signal, sending that annoying QRL? might be heard by one or both of the other parties.

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