International Phonetic Code, International Morse Code, Q codes, etc.

Last updated May 13, 2012
2012, BILL'S SITE, all rights reserved

 

INTERNATIONAL PHONETIC ALPHABET

The phonetic alphabet shown is that promulgated by the ICAO and subsequently adopted by many other international organizations.   Note that these are basically English words as English is the default international language for aeronautics, shipping, and for military use.    The spellings for Juliett and Alfa are concessions to non-English speakers in order to facilitate standardized pronunciation.   Having said that, it remains true that there is considerable variation in pronunciation just as there are within English itself; but at least two actual mispronunciations are common:    "kwebec" instead of "kebec"  and "gulf" instead of "golf"

 

Letter/Numeral Phonetic
A ALFA
B BRAVO
C CHARLIE
D DELTA
E ECHO
F FOXTROT
G GOLF
H HOTEL
I INDIA
J JULIETT
K KILO
L LIMA
M MIKE
N NOVEMBER
O OSCAR
P PAPA
Q QUEBEC
R ROMEO
S SIERRA
T TANGO
U UNIFORM
V VICTOR
W WHISKEY
X XRAY
Y YANKEE
Z ZULU
1 ONE
2 TWO
3 THREE ("TREE")
4 FOUR
5 FIVE ("FIFE")
6 SIX
7 SEVEN
8 EIGHT
9 NINE ("NINER")
0 ZERO

 

INTERNATIONAL MORSE CODE

This code has fallen out of general use for communications with the advent of newer technologies but is still used by amateur radio operators and is as well still employed for the identification of aero and marine beacons and other radio navigation facilities.   Additionally it is often used by automated station identification systems in the land fixed and mobile services.  For example the Morse code renditions of the official call signs of sites in the NS TMR may be heard transmitted from time to time if you listen in conventional mode.  These are not heard in trunking mode. 

In this table special character letters are omitted  for the time being.

 

A .- M -- Y -.--    
B -... N -. Z --.. . .-.-.-
C -.-. O --- 0 ----- , --..--
D -.. P .--. 1 .---- qmrk ..--..
E . Q --.- 2 ..--- ! ..--.
F ..-. R .-. 3 ...-- : ---...
G --. S ... 4 .....- `` .-..-.
H .... T - 5 ..... ` .----.
I .. U ..- 6 -.... = -...-
J .--- V ...- 7 --...    
K -.- W .-- 8 ---..    
L .-.. X -..- 9 ----.    

 

COMMON PROCEDURAL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS USED IN RADIO

These could be considered parts of codes but are more commonly thought of as individual items rather than parts of a system. 

CW indicates it is used in radiotelegraphy.  W indicates a sort of shorthand in written expression.  V indicates used by voice.

This list is only of a few common expressions and excludes all technical terms and abbreviations.

CW/V -.-. --.- CQ "Calling all stations"*
CW -.. . de  "from" or "this is" (this is only used with CW)
CW ...---... SOS** "emergency"
W   DX Distant reception
W   WX Weather (Wx is not spoken as such, it is just a written abbreviation; same with the next 3)
W   xmtr transmitter
W   rcvr receiver
W   xcvr transceiver
V   Roger Okay, acknowledged
V   Over transmission ended and waiting for reply.
V   Out transmission ended and not expecting a reply.
V   Securite Safety traffic not of a higher level.
V   Pan Pan Urgent traffic
V   mayday Emergency

* In amateur radio it implies calling anyone who wants to answer.

**sent as one character, not three letters:   ...---...

 

Q Codes Commonly Used by Radio Amateurs

Three letter Q codes were at one time common in radiotelegraphy, especially in the maritime service and in meterorology.  Here are some still used in amateur radio morse code usage and in some cases used as spoken expressions.  For more explanation as well as more complete lists search Q codes in Google.

Code Question Answer or Statement
QRG Will you tell me my exact frequency (or that of ...)? Your exact frequency (or that of ... ) is ... kHz (or MHz).
QRI How is the tone of my transmission? The tone of your transmission is (1. Good; 2. Variable; 3. Bad)
QRK What is the readability of my signals (or those of ...)? The readability of your signals (or those of ...) is ... (1 to 5).
QRL Are you busy? I am busy. (or I am busy with ... ) Please do not interfere.
QRM Are you being interfered with? I am being interfered with.
QRN Are you troubled by static? I am troubled by static.
QRO Shall I increase power? Increase power
QRP Shall I decrease power? Decrease power
QRQ Shall I send faster? Send faster (... wpm)
QRS Shall I send slower? Send slower (... wpm)
QRT Shall I stop sending? Stop sending.
QRU Have you anything for me? I have nothing for you.
QRV Are you ready? I am ready.
QRX Will you call me again? I will call you again at ... (hours) on ... kHz (or MHz)
QRZ Who is calling me? You are being called by ... on ... kHz (or MHz)
QSA What is the strength of my signals (or those of ... )? The strength of your signals (or those of ...) is ... (1 to 5).
QSB Are my signals fading? Your signals are fading.
QSD Is my keying defective? Your keying is defective.
QSK Can you hear me between your signals? I can hear you between my signals.
QSL Can you acknowledge receipt? I am acknowledging receipt.
QSM Shall 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) ...).
QSN Did you hear me (or ... (call sign)) on .. kHz (or MHz)? I did hear you (or ... (call sign)) on ... kHz (or MHz).
QSO Can you communicate with ... direct or by relay? I can communicate with ... direct (or by relay through ...).
QSX Will you listen to ... (call sign(s) on ... kHz (or MHz))? I am listening to ... (call sign(s) on ... kHz (or MHz))
QSY Shall I change to transmission on another frequency? Change to transmission on another frequency (or on ... kHz (or MHz)).
QTA Shall I cancel telegram (message) No. ... as if it had not been sent? Cancel telegram (message) No. ... as if it had not been sent.
QTC How many telegrams (messages) have you to send? I have ... telegrams (messages) for you (or for ...).
QTH What is your position in latitude and longitude (or according to any other indication)? My position is ... latitude...longitude
QTR What is the correct time? The correct time is ... hours

 

TEN CODES

Ten codes are used in the land-based radio services including emergency services, government and business, as well as in the CB personal use band.  These vary considerably from agency to agency; however some are almost consistent in usage such as 10-4 and 10-20.   Some users think of them as a sort of private jargon or code that helps to keep meanings of transmissions secret or secure but this is in general not true at all.    Many of the 10-codes are well known, and most others are of little consequence if outsiders overhear and understand them.   The main purpose of 10 codes was originally to reduce time on the air used in expressing common phrases.  The ``Ten`` prefix supposedly comes from the original user agency, the tenth precinct in an American police department.  The prefix is a device to force users to not say the important part first before the intended listener has their ears tuned in to the transmission.    For a good explanation of all this and a more complete chart, go to this Wikipedia article 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ten-code

The use of Ten codes has become so common that there is now a problem in that various agencies have developed their own versions so that in interagency operations there may be dangerous consequences or at least confusion and chaos.     In addition it can fairly be said that in most cases it would nowadays be better and clearer and perhaps even shorter to use plain language.    The NS Dept of Corrections is notorious for saying things in the 10 code when they could much more easily and just as clearly say it in regular English.

Here are some of the more common ones in use in the Maritimes but this list does not pertain to any particular agency.   Organizations might think of these as secret codes that others are not supposed to know but the reality is that they are for the most part easily discernible by any listener and as well widely published, and in fact are intended not for secrecy but for clarity on the radio.  

 

  • 10-1 - Receiving poorly
  • 10-2 - Receiving well
  • 10-4 - Message received
  • 10-6 - Busy
  • 10-7 - (going) out of service.  Sometimes also in slang refers to a death.
  • 10-8 - In service and available
  • 10-9 - Please repeat message
  • 10-10 - Negative
  • 10-11 - roadside check
  • 10-12 - non-officers present (ie: watch what you say and how)
  • 10-17 - enroute
  • 10-19 - Return (often refers to station)  [no longer heard in the Halifax area]
  • 10-21 - Telephone  i.e. Call by telephone
  • 10-27 - drivers licence information
  • 10-28 - vehicle registration information
  • 10-29 - criminal records check
  • 10-30 - Caution.  may be followed by a letter indicating type, such as S for a suicide risk, V for violence,  E for Escape, M for mental health issues.
  • 10-33 - Emergency situation or message
  • 10-35 - Beginning shift (for the day)
  • 10-36 - Ending shift (for the day)