Frequently Asked Questions


This is a list of frequently asked questions. If you don't find what you're looking for here, try the search box above; also check the glossary. If you have any more questions, please email


What do phrases such as "five by nine" mean?

These are R-S signal reports. The two numbers represent readability and signal strength.

What does "73" mean?

"73" is a "code word" that means "best regards". It originated with CW (Morse code) radio operators, who seek to abbreviate as much as possible because Morse code is much slower than speech, but is also very commonly used on phone and digital radio modes.

Why do hams have so many antennas?

Different bands require different antennas to avoid high SWR. For example, an antenna that works very well for making worldwide contacts on HF will probably be useless for checking into local nets using repeaters on VHF.

Also, it is sometimes useful to have multiple antennas for one band. For example, a dipole antenna does not radiate much energy off the ends of the wires; it may be useful to have two dipoles perpendicular to each other for use when talking to people in different regions. A beam antenna, which works very well in one direction, will not work well when talking to several people in different places.

Is it "ham radio," "Ham radio," or "HAM radio"?

"Ham" is not an acronym or proper noun; it is capitalized as a regular word. If it appears at the beginning of a sentence, it should be capitalized, but otherwise it should be lowercase. Basically, capitalize "ham radio" if you would capitalize "amateur radio" in the same context.