HAM Radio “Q” Codes

Ever wonder what those HAM guys are saying when they say QSY or many of those other Q things they say? Well here is a list.

The Q-code is an international set of abbreviations that was created at the beginning of the last century to simplify radiotelegraph communication. Each code is composed by three letters always starting with Q. Each code can be a question if followed by a question mark or an answer (or statement) if not. To avoid confusion, no station call-sign begins with Q.

You will hear HAMs using Q codes on the air via voice, however this is not the place for it. Q codes are still used in CW communications, but using them on voice violates plain language principles not to mention it is jargon which can really chase new and perspective HAMs away. They have their place, it’s important to know where it is. Many HAMs still don’t, and I will be the first to admit, I was one of them until recently because I am not a CW guy.

Amateur radio international Q-code

Amateur radio operators use a subset of the full international Q-code and they use it extensively still today. In many countries, learning this code is necessary to obtain a ham radio license; the exact subset used may slightly vary from country to country. Hereunder the most common codes.Sometimes Q-codes are used informally with a slightly different meaning.

QRAWhat is the name (or call sign) of your station?The name (or call sign) of my station is …
QRBHow far are you from my station?The distance between our stations is … nautical miles (or km).
QRGWill you tell me my exact frequency (or that of …)?Your exact frequency (or that of … ) is … kHz (or MHz).
QRHDoes my frequency vary?Your frequency varies.
QRIHow is the tone of my transmission?The tone of your transmission is (1: good, 2: variable 3: bad)
QRKWhat is the readability of my signals (or those of …)?The readability of your signals (or those of …) is … (1: bad .. 5: excellent).
QRLAre you busy?I am busy. (or I am busy with … ) Please do not interfere.
QRMDo you have interference?I have interference.
QRNAre you troubled by static noise?I am troubled by static noise.
QROShall I increase transmit power?Please increase transmit power.
QRPShall I decrease transmit power?Please decrease transmit power.
QRQShall I send faster?Please send faster (… words per minute).
QRSShall I send more slowly?Please send more slowly (… words per minute).
QRTShall I cease or suspend operation?I am suspending operation.
QRUHave you anything for me?I have nothing for you.
QRVAre you ready?I am ready.
QRXShall I standby? / When will you call me again?Please standby. / I will call you again at … (hours) on … kHz (or MHz).
QRZWho is calling me?You are being called by … (on … kHz (or MHz)).
QSAWhat is the strength of my signals (or those of … )?The strength of your signals (or those of …) is … (1: very weak .. 5: very strong).
QSBAre my signals fading?Your signals are fading.
QSDIs my keying defective?Your keying is defective.
QSKCan you hear me between your signals (while transmitting), and if so can I break in on your transmission?I can hear you between my signals (while transmitting); break in on my transmission.
QSLCan you acknowledge receipt?I am acknowledging receipt.
QSMShall I repeat the last telegram (message) which I sent you, or some previous telegram (message)?Repeat the last telegram (message) which you sent me (or telegram(s) (message(s)) numbers(s) …).
QSNDid you hear me (or …) on … kHz (or MHz)?I did hear you (or …) on … kHz (or MHz).
QSOCan you communicate with … direct or by relay?I can communicate with … direct (or by relay through …).
QSPWill you relay a message to …?I will relay a message to … .
QSSWhat working frequency will you use?I will use … kHz (or MHz).
QSUShall I send or reply on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))?Please send or reply on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz)).
QSVShall I send a series of “V” on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))?Please send a series of “V” on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz)).
QSXWill you listen to … on … kHz (or MHz)?I am listening to … on … kHz (or MHz).
QSYShall I change transmission frequency (to … kHz (or MHz))?Please change transmission frequency (to … kHz (or MHz)).
QSZShall I send each word or group more than once?Send each word or group twice (or … times).
QTCHow many telegrams (messages) have you to send?I have … telegrams (messages) for you (or for …).
QTHWhat is your position in latitude and longitude (or according to any other indication)?My position is … latitude, … longitude.
QTRWhat is the correct time?The correct time is … hours.

Amateur radio informal Q-code

In informal ham language, some codes have slightly diverted from their original meaning and are used just as a replacement for a specific word. The table below summarizes the most common:

QROHigh power
QRPLow power
QRQHigh speed CW
QRSLow speed CW
QRSSVery low speed CW
QRTShut down the station
QRXStand by
QRZ?Who is calling me?
QSDDefective keying
QSKBreak in
QSLConfirmation or card to confirm contact
QSORadio contact
QSYChange frequency

Full international Q-code

This is a more complete Q-code set that includes almost all codes from QRA to QUZ but the majority of them are for maritime/rescue use and are seldom used by amateur radio operators.Then, there are many other Q-codes from QAA to QZZ in use in aviation and maritime traffic that are out of scope here.

Here only the “question” part is shown, but it’s easy to guess the answer from the question.

QRAWhat is the name of your station?
QRBHow far approximately are you from my station?
QRCBy what enterprise are the accounts for charges for your station settled?
QRDWhere are you bound for and where are you from?
QREWhat is your estimated time of arrival at … (over …)?
QRFAre you returning to … ?
QRGWill you tell me my exact frequency (or that of …)?
QRHDoes my frequency vary?
QRIHow is the tone of my transmission?
QRJHow many radiotelephone calls have you to book?
QRKWhat is the intelligibility of my signals (or those of …)?
QRLAre you busy?
QRMAre you being interfered with?
QRNAre you troubled by static?
QROShall I increase transmitter power?
QRPShall I decrease transmitter power?
QRQShall I send faster?
QRRAre you ready for automatic operation?
QRSShall I send more slowly?
QRTShall I stop sending?
QRUHave you anything for me?
QRVAre you ready?
QRWShall I inform … that you are calling him on … kHz (or MHz)?
QRXWhen will you call me again?
QRYWhat is my turn?
QRZWho is calling me?
QSAWhat is the strength of my signals (or those of …)?
QSBAre my signals fading?
QSCAre you a cargo vessel?
QSDIs my keying defective?
QSEWhat is the estimated drift of the survival craft?
QSFHave you effected rescue?
QSGShall I send … telegrams at a time?
QSHAre you able to home on your direction-finding equipment?
QSII have been unable to break in on your transmission.
QSJWhat is the charge to be collected to … including your internal charge?
QSKCan you hear me between your signals and if so can I break in on your transmission?
QSLCan you acknowledge receipt?
QSMShall I repeat the last telegram which I sent you (or some previous telegram)?
QSNDid you hear me (or … ) on … kHz (or MHz)?
QSOCan you communicate with … direct (or by relay)?
QSPWill you relay to … free of charge?
QSQHave you a doctor on board (or is … on board)?
QSRShall I repeat the call on the calling frequency?
QSSWhat working frequency will you use?
QSUShall I send or reply on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))
QSVShall I send a series of Vs on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))?
QSWWill you send on this frequency (or on … kHz (or MHz))
QSXWill you listen to … on … kHz (or MHz)?
QSYShall I change to transmission on another frequency?
QSZShall I send each word or group more than once?
QTAShall I cancel telegram (or message) number … ?
QTBDo you agree with my counting of words?
QTCHow many telegrams have you to send?
QTDWhat has the rescue vessel or rescue aircraft recovered?
QTEWhat is my true bearing from you?
QTFWill you give me my position according to your bearings?
QTGWill you send two dashes of ten seconds each followed by your call sign (repeated … times) (on … kHz (or MHz))?
QTHWhat is your position in latitude and longitude?
QTIWhat is your true track?
QTIWhat is your true course?
QTJWhat is your speed?
QTKWhat is the speed of your aircraft in relation to the surface of the Earth?
QTLWhat is your true heading?
QTMWhat is your magnetic heading?
QTNAt what time did you depart from … (place)?
QTOHave you left dock (or port)?
QTPAre you going to enter dock (or port)?
QTQCan you communicate with my station by means of the International Code of Signals?
QTRWhat is the correct time?
QTSWill you send your call sign for tuning purposes or so that your frequency can be measured now (or at … hours) on … kHz (or MHz)?
QTTThe identification signal which follows is superimposed on another transmission.
QTUWhat are the hours during which your station is open?
QTVShall I stand guard for you on the frequency of … kHz (or MHz) (from … to … hours)?
QTWWhat is the condition of survivors?
QTXWill you keep your station open for further communication with me until further notice (or until … hours)?
QTYAre you proceeding to the position of incident and if so when do you expect to arrive?
QTZAre you continuing the search?
QUAHave you news of … ?
QUBCan you give me in the following order information concerning: the direction in degrees and speed of the surface wind, visibility, present weather, and amount, type and height of base of cloud above surface elevation at … ?
QUCWhat is the number (or other indication) of the last message you received from me (or from …)?
QUDHave you received the urgency signal sent by … (call sign of mobile station)?
QUECan you use telephony in … (language), with interpreter if necessary; if so, on what frequencies?
QUFHave you received the distress signal sent by …?
QUGWill you be forced to alight (or land)?
QUHWill you give me the present barometric pressure at sea level?
QUIAre your navigation lights working?
QUJWill you indicate the true track to reach you (or …)?
QUKCan you tell me the condition of the sea observed at …?
QULCan you tell me the swell observed at …?
QUMMay I resume normal working?
QUNWill vessels in my immediate vicinity please indicate their position, cruise and speed?
QUOShall I search for … (aircraft, ship, survival craft)?
QUPWill you indicate your position by searchlight, black smoke trail, pyrotechnic lights?
QUQShall I train my searchlight nearly vertical on a cloud, and if your aircraft is seen, deflect the beam up wind and on the water?
QURHave survivors … (1. received survival equipment, 2. been picked up by rescue vessel, 3. been reached by ground rescue) party?
QUSHave you sighted survivors or wreckage?
QUTIs position of incident marked?
QUUShall I home ship or aircraft to my position?
QUWAre you in the search area designated as …?
QUXDo you have any navigational warnings or gale warnings in force?
QUYIs position of survival craft marked?
QUZMay I resume restricted working?