[amsat-bb] The Need for Phonetics

John Papay john at papays.com
Sat Apr 9 18:49:14 PDT 2011

Kevin, KF7MYK, provides a great example of what
happens when operators do not use phonetics.  You
may think you are saving time by not using them, but
the fact is that unless someone is familiar with your
callsign, they may copy it incorrectly.  You want
everyone on the bird to have your callsign correct so
they can call you with the right call rather than having
to ask for it again in phonetics, or worse yet, getting
it wrong.

If you call someone using just their suffix, it means that
you don't have their prefix.  When you hear someone call you
that way, you know they need the missing part of your call.
If you have someone's complete callsign, don't call them by
their suffix.  That's not their callsign.  Sometimes you only
hear the grid square and call someone that way.  This is an
indicator that you need the persons complete callsign.  A
complete exchange is what we should strive for.

If you call someone with an incorrect call, other stations
pick up on that callsign and the inaccuracy propagates
throughout the pass. You find yourself looking them up
on qrz.com and not finding a match. Then you are listening
to the recording and trying to figure out where you went wrong.

Satellites have varying audio quality and the users
radios are all over the place in terms of level and
clarity.  Phonetics will get the callsign through
correctly and avoid the problems associated with not
getting it right.  Everyone is not copying the bird full
quieting.  Give them half a chance.

Also keep in mind that when you are working someone whose
first language is not English, they may have even more
trouble with your callsign if you don't use proper phonetics.
Many non-English speaking amateurs know just enough to
copy a callsign, give you their name, report and QTH.
They learn the International Phonetic Alphabet and will
recognize the words associated with the letters.  If you
use some other words, they may not understand what letters
you are trying to convey.  Adjust your operating based on
who you are trying to work.

Remember that everyone on the bird is listening to your QSO
and hopefully writing down your callsign for future reference.
Use phonetics and SLOW DOWN.  Don't run your grid square into
the end of your callsign. Announce your callsign at a constant
pace.  This methodology will help everyone get it right the first
time and save airtime in the long run.

All this, of course, in my humble opinion.

John K8YSE

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