Saturday, March 5, 2016

Too Vain for N4PBQ

Just call me AA4OO

N4PBQ is now AA4OO

After getting my upgrade to Extra I wanted to get a new shortened call sign.  I wanted one that was more Morse Code friendly.  That means a couple of things to me.  One is Morse Code weight. That is a measure of how long the morse code elements take to send.  The site will allow you to enter multiple call-signs to compare weight.

Call SignWeight
AA4OO 58
N4PBQ 64

The other factor was how complicated the actual Morse code letters are to send and copy, i.e. the dit-to-dah transitions.  I'm not aware of a calculator for this but my former call N4PBQ had a lot of dit-to-dah transitions in the PBQ suffix.  When other stations would send my call back to me they would really stumble over the PBQ so I wanted something simpler.  I've worked a number of stations with 'E' in their suffix and I find that hard to hear so I didn't want something like N4EE because people would miss the DIT or hear an I.

For the prefix, the letter 'A' is simple to send (just squeeze and release for paddles) and the letter 'O' while being long to send is likely one of the most distinctive and easy to recognize letters in the Morse alphabet.

For phone contacts it's also an easy one to say: Alpha Alpha Four Oscar Oscar
Thus AA4OO was chosen
Say it out loud in Morse and it sounds cool.
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Text to Morse Converter

Extra Vanity Call Sign Information

The website has excellent information on vanity callsigns and their availability.

I would have liked to have a 1x2 or 2x1 (i.e. A4OO or AA4O) call but as you can see using the website the 1x2 and 2x1 extra calls are completely taken for most regions and the competition is fierce when one comes available.

Changing call signs requires some updates

It takes about 19 days after applying for an available vanity call sign for the FCC to grant it based on some rather arcane rules that are described at this link. After the FCC assigns your new call don't forget to update your call on your LOTW account as well as any clubs you belong to.  The QRZ site will automatically update your call after a few days from its FCC database feed.

That's all for now

So lower your power and raise your expectations

Richard AA4OO (formerly N4PBQ)


  1. AA4OO has nice phonetics too. "Official Operator"

  2. You can't have N4EE, though we can get it in your log. N4EE is the club call for the Trident Amateur Radio Club :-)

  3. I wouldn't say it was too fierce... I tried for a few 1x2's and on my 2nd or 3rd attempt, there were only 4 people shooting for 'K6QV'.

    I was the lucky winner. When I did it, good 1x2's were coming up about once or twice a month. I'd be willing to bet that no more than 6 months of applying would land you a short call sign. I did limit myself to '6' - since I'm California, and didn't want to confuse anyone.

    But I was surprised at how easily I snagged one.