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Two-Way Radio Etiquette

It's important to get familiar with the etiquette of two-way radio communication. This will help improve your overall experience when using your radio.  To make radio communication go more smoothly, over the years  certain rules, or etiquette, have been established. Below we have outlined the basic etiquette a radio user should understand.

 

Basic Radio Etiquette Rules

 

 

4 Golden Rules of Radio Communication

 

1. Clarity: Your voice should be clear. Speak a little slower than normal. Speak in a normal tone, do not shout.
2.  Simplicity: Keep your message simple enough for intended listeners to understand.
3. Brevity: Be precise and to the point.
4. Security: Do not transmit confidential information on a radio unless you know the proper security technology is in place. Remember, frequencies are shared, you do not have exclusive use of the frequency.

 

 

 

Speaking The Language

Term Meaning
Radio Check What is my signal strenght?  Can you hear me?
Go Ahead  You are ready to receive transmission.
Stand-by You acknowledge the other party, but I am unable to respond immediately.
Roger or Ten Four Message received and understood.
Negative Same as "No".
Affirmative   Same as "Yes".  Avoid "yup" or "nope" as they are difficult to hear.
Say Again Re-transmit your message
Over Your message is finished.
Out All conversation is finished, the channel is clear for others to use.
Break, Break, Break You are interrupting in the middle of communication because you have an emergency.
Read you loud & clear   Response to "Radio Check". Means your transmission signal is good. Also use "Read you 5-by-5".
Come in You are asking the other party to asknowlege they hear you.
Copy You understand what was said.
Wilco Means "I will comply".
Repeat Used before you repeat something. ex: "I require 9-5, repeat 9-5, gallons of diesel fuel. Over"
   
Marine & Aviation  
Sécurité Safety call. Alert to some safety warning. Repeat 3 times. Has priority over routine calls.
Pan-Pan Urgent call. Help needed.  Repeat 3 times. Has priority over safety calls.
MayDay Distress call. Repeat 3 times, and again following each transmission. Has priority over all other calls.
  See our section  Using VHF Marine Radios  for more information.

 

These terms can be combined such as "Roger Wilco" means "I understand and will comply", or "Over and Out" means "I've finished talking and I'm signing off".

 

Making a Call

Follow these easy steps to make a call.

  1. First listen to ensure the channel is clear for you.
  2. Press the PTT (Push-To-Talk) button.
  3. After 2 seconds:
    • Say "recipient's call sign"  twice
    • followed by   "THIS IS"   and "your call sign".
  4. Once the person replies, convey your message.

 

Here's a typical radio conversation:

            You: "Papa November One, Papa November One, This is Papa November Nine, Come in, Over"   (PN1 is their call sign, PN9 is your call sign)
  Recipient "Papa November Nine, This is Papa November One, Go Ahead, Over"
  You: Say your message and then say:  "Over"
  Recipient: "Roger Wilco, Over"
  You: "This is Papa November Nine, Over and Out"

 

Did you notice how at the beginning and end of the transmission you pronounce your call sign?  Because there can sometimes be many people listening on the frequency, pronouncing your call sign, and the call sign of the party you are calling, lets everyone know who the tranmssion is for. Communicating this way might feel a little odd at first, but you'll soon get use to it. With practice it will start to feel natural.

 

Emergency Calls

   If you have an emergency message and need to interrupt others' conversations:

 

 

Memorize the Phonetic Alphabet

 

Following is a list showing the international phonetics used for the alphabet:

             A - ALPHA H - HOTEL O - OSCAR V - VICTOR
  B - BRAVO I - INDIA P - PAPA X - X-RAY
  C - CHARLIE J - JULIET Q - QUEBEC W - WHISKEY
  D - DELTA K - KILO R - ROMEO Y - YANKEE
  E - ECHO L - LIMA S - SIERRA Z - ZULU
  F - FOXTROT M - MIKE T - TANGO  
  G - GOLF N - NOVEMBER U - UNIFORM  

 

Other Guides

How Far Can I Talk? - The most common question we get, here are the facts about radio range.

Battery Basics - How to maintain your battery for longer life.

Using VHF Marine Radios - Overview of how to use marine radios, list of all marine channels and frequencies. Helpful tips.

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