What constitutes a QSO?

When you’re speaking to someone, a QSO is very easy to define.  Generally an exchange of callsigns and signal reports is the accepted minimum required to complete a contact although I notice that signal reports aren’t even mentioned on the ARRLs Logbook of The World.   During HF contests the signal report is always a 5-9 no matter how strong the other station is.  I always thought this was a bit strange before I operated HF but I understand that it’s the normal practise and I don’t have a problem with it.

The data mode I’ve been using a lot, JT65A is different though, the QSO format is standard and I feel that unless the procedure is followed and the correct information is passed then the QSO isn’t complete.

The format is as follows:

CQ G6NHU JO01 <– Initial CQ call which contains my locator
G6NHU G1XXX IO91 <– G1XXX has replied with his locator
G1XXX G6NHU -10 <– I reply with his signal strength
G6NHU G1XXX R-15 <– He replies, the R confirms my transmission and he gives my strength
G1XXX G6NHU RRR <– I confirm the report
G6NHU G1XXX 73 <– This confirms to me that he’s received my RRR and the QSO is complete
G1XXX G6NHU 73 <– optional but also confirms to him that we’re done

We’ve exchanged callsigns, signal reports, confirmation and 73.

The final two transmissions can be replaced by free text such as “20W LW TU 73” which passes station details, in this case it tells that the station transmitting it is running “20 watts to a long wire, thank you and 73”

I worked a station in the early hours of this morning on 10MHz, I sent RRR and received nothing back which I thought was odd as the other station was very strong.   I noticed that there was another trace on my screen so I enabled the multi-decode mode in JT65 to see the station I was working calling someone else.  I had no way of knowing whether he’d received my RRR so as far as I’m concerned, the QSO wasn’t complete and I deleted it from my log.  Watching the other QSO, he did exactly the same thing, got as far as the RRR and then called a third station.

I dropped him an email to ask what happened and his reply was that he’d received RRR and moved onto a different contact.   I think that’s wrong, without that final confirmation I have no idea whether he’s received my transmission or not and if I’d not enabled mult-decode then I’d have resent the RRR a few times waiting for a reply.


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  1. I’m with you on this Keith.

    On JT65 unless I get the 73 it’s not complete, and as I courtesy I send 73 as well.

    Paul MØTZO

  2. Absolutely Keith, the QSO you made without the last 73’s is not valid in my opinion as well. However when you’re working a DXpedition there is not always confirmation, sometimes only “tnx”. Wouldn’t worry too much about it… 73, Bas

  3. In LoTW, you can upload logs with the signal report field blank and it accepts them. For a QSO to count, all you need to exchange is call signs.

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