[AMRadio] Open vs Closed QSOs


D. Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Tue Oct 27 13:48:15 EDT 2009


Should "breakers" *always* be welcome to join in a QSO regardless, or are 
there times when it is best not to interrupt an on-going QSO, and when is it 
OK for the participants in a QSO to ignore would-be breakers?

One of things I often find annoying when attempting to carry on a contact 
near any of the popular AM operating frequencies is the near impossibility 
of avoiding a large, cumbersome roundtable.  The band may be completely 
devoid of any AM activity for a half-hour or more, but as soon as one 
station starts up a QSO with one other, within minutes you can expect the 
inevitable breaker wishing to join the conversation. Then another.  And 
another.  The more participants in the QSO, the more frequent the breakers, 
until a group has developed with 5, 8 or more stations. If the old buzzard 
roundtable procedure is observed with a large group, you can count on at 
least one participant getting the sequence wrong, per go-round, and someone 
often gets left out for one or more rounds. It goes without saying that one 
or more the breakers will be piss-weak, and the general rule is the weaker 
they are the longer they talk. Before long, each member of the roundtable is 
waiting 45 minutes between transmissions, which tends to encourage long 
old-buzzard transmissions when one finally does get a turn to transmit. It 
is virtually impossible to carry on a simple conversation with one other 
station on a topic of interest during prime-time operating hours.

Not that I mind joining in a nice chat with a group of AM stations or having 
others join in on a relaxed informal conversation, and maybe attracting a 
newcomer or two to the mode. But sometimes I find myself engaged in 
conversation with another station on a specific topic of particular interest 
to both of us, but then the inevitable breakers enter the QSO without 
displaying any interest in the topic of discussion, and before long the 
whole conversation is redirected off topic and the original discussion 
fizzles before it is allowed to reach a conclusion.  I find this highly 
annoying to say the least.

What's the best way to handle this situation?  With CW there is a convenient 
pro-sign that specifically tells the other station and only that station to 
transmit, and that all others should stand  by until the ongoing 
communication is finished.  That pro-sign is KN in lieu of a simple K at the 
end of a transmission.  But I know of no corresponding pro-sign for use with 
phone.  Is it rude to ignore breakers, or must they always be made to feel 
welcome to join any conversation regardless?  One technique when everyone in 
the QSO has a strong signal, is to overlap the carriers as one station turns 
it over to the other so that there is no pause between transmissions. Some 
people say they find that rude, but wouldn't it be equally rude to approach 
two or more strangers on the street, and to butt into their conversation 
without being invited?

I would suggest listening to the content of the conversation in a QSO before 
attempting to break in.  If the participants are discussing a specific 
topic, do not attempt to interrupt unless you have something to contribute 
to the topic at hand.   Listen carefully, and you will likely hear clues to 
whether or not they would welcome others to join.  If there is any doubt, 
QSY to a nearby frequency and call CQ, or scan the band for another on-going 
QSO that would appear to be more welcoming to breakers.

We will generate more AM presence in the bands with several simultaneous 
QSO's with 2 or 3 participants each, than with everyone falling into one 
large, boring roundtable with 8 or more stations, each taking their turn to 
make a 10-20 minute transmission. On 75m, if 3870-90 is fully occupied, 
consider moving "down below" to 3600-3750 or thereabouts, or give 160 or 40 
a try.

Don k4kyv
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