> Ham Q & A



I would like to open a forum for the volley of questions.  Many HAM operators have various degrees of experience... and ALL have questions.  And many could have answers.  I have recently approached the club president Carter Morgan with the intent of opening a group discussion at the monthly meetings.   

There should be no shortage of questions.  Many people may be harboring the SAME questions.  At present I have a short list of some very GENERAL questions that may be asked by a newbie. 

Any member with a HAM related question is encouraged to contribute.  Should you have a question or an answer please feel free to post.

Understanding Signal Report - What does S9 over XX mean and how do I give a report?

The S meter shows the relative strength of the received signal

For frequencies less than 30 mhz a S9 reading indicates that the signal is 50 microvolts across a 50 ohm load.

For every lower S unit it means the signal has decreased by 6 db, or cut in half.  So an reading of 8 on the S meter means 25 microvolts, S7 is 12.5, etc.

For extremely strong signals the powers that be decided it wasn't enough to go in 6 db steps, hence there is no S10 on the meter.  Instead they decided to go in 10 db steps so you get S9+10 (160 microvolts) all the way to S9+60 (50 milivolts) or one thousand times stronger than a S9 signal. 

To answer your question, if you are receiving a good readable signal and your S meter is reading past the S9 and sitting on 20, you would give a report of 59 +20, meaning the signal is very readable and the strength is 20db over S9.

S meters are known to be inaccurate so it is mostly used as a relative measurement.   

For frequencies 30 mhz and above the standard is .5 microvolts for a S9 reading, so a S5 on the 20 meter band is not the same as a S5 on the 6 meter band.  Many of the VHF and UHF radios don't even have an S meter, they have a bar graph.  If you are getting a good clear signal on such a radio you should report, "I receive you with full quieting" -- meaning no noise or bacon frying noises in the background.


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