CQ CQ CQ: Ham Radio Thursday – ZedNet reminder and a throat tightener

As you recall, ZedNet is operational.  More HERE.  We should figure out some schedules.

In a rather lackadaisical way I’ve put my toes into the waters of Morse Code.  I find it fascinating and would like to do CW, maybe QRP, but I just haven’t put in the effort.

There are also quite a few codes or abbreviations that ham radio operators use to tighten up their contacts.  An example would be QRZ, meaning, “Who is calling?” or QTH “What is your location?” or “My location is…”   QRP means that you are operating at low power, such as 5 watts.

In addition, there are some other conventions in use.   For example, from old telegraph wire signals, hams use 73 at the end for “Best regards” used at the end of contacts and, used judiciously, 88 for “love and kisses”.  Also, “es” is a way of writing & (ampersand).

I learned of a story that moved me to work a little harder.  It is an application of Morse Code and Q codes that I hadn’t considered.

Once upon a time, a member of a radio club was in his final hours in a nursing home.  He couldn’t talk anymore, but he and his wife communicated using Morse Code.

The dying man made his last “contact” with his wife who was holding his hand as he died.  His last transmission, made by squeezing his wife’s hand was…

– -… …- –   . …   – – -.. – – -..

73 es 88


I just now thought of another situation in which Morse Code was useful.  Fathers, remember this.

Do you remember the story of Jeremiah Denton? He was Navy pilot and POW at the “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. At one point his savage captors put him on TV and interviewed him as propaganda. During that presser, he blinked in Morse Code T-O-R-T-U-R-E.

Who knows what the future holds for priests and bishops. It could be that a future regime will round us up and parade us in front of the public. We might even be – who knows? – sequestered in a garden monastery with handlers who closely restrict access to us. If that ever happens to me, watch my eyes or hands.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. tho says:

    Three letter groups beginning with a Q or Z are called pro signs. The group with the letter Z are for the military. There are many pro signs in communications, for instance IMI, .. — .. means repeat. there are many that are applicable to the military, for instance the letter J, .— means verify and repeat.
    In case of any errors, I am using an old brain, to remember USN information from the early 1950s.

  2. Kathleen10 says:

    Heartbreaking moment, even just to hear about it, never mind knowing them. Some things only God can get you through.

  3. WGS says:

    There is a convenient mnemonic for IMI .. — .. meaning “repeat”.
    I think of it as “I Missed It”.

  4. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I remember Jeremiah Denton well. I especially remember the vitriol that the media had for him when he was a senator.

    The way he faced the torture he underwent was heroic. Others underwent torture and were not heroic. Still others underwent torture and we will never know how they responded. I cannot judge either of the last two groups as I do not know what I would have done in their shoes

  5. CandS says:

    Fr. Z,

    I started in CWOPS Academy free CW/Morse beginners course last Jan-Mar. I set it aside after that, but am picking it up again, trying to pick it up again and advance in the intermediate course now.

    The courses are free, there is a waiting list such that you don’t always get in the first round, but seem to get in for the second time after you sign up.

    Do check it out: https://cwops.org/cw-academy/cw-academy-student-sign-up/
    and lots of good resources:

    I got my General license 2015, but still haven’t done much with it, but as you say, it doesn’t hurt to have the knowledge and equipment just in case.


    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  6. acardnal says:

    What “tho” wrote above is accurate. In fact, there is even an unclassified DoD manual (there is one for everything!) available that explains the use of Q and Z signals.

  7. robtbrown says:

    Jeremiah Denton was a Catholic.

    His book, When Hell Was in Session (which I did not read), was turned into a TV movie, which I did see. It made my skin crawl.

  8. Tara Tremuit says:

    That Jeremiah Denton was able to listen to the questions and answer coherently whilst blinking Morse Code also indicates that he *prepared* well for that moment, and probably rehearsed extensively whilst in prison. Edmund Campion did the same, rehearsing his answers to tricky questions whilst awaiting the rack. Even so, his gaolers lied that he had confessed the locations of his secret Masses. Even when this disinformation was reported by a clearly evil regime, “the lie made a deep impression upon many minds and was so believed that one Catholic said he knew that Father Edmund had when upon the rack confessed everything he knew. But a little while after the gentleman owned that he had been too credulous, nevertheless the common people were not so easily undeceived.” This should be a warning. In the absence of proof, do not believe any report of any statement by Benedict. Does anyone recall any instances when Benedict’s words or intentions were misrepresented by his captors? Lettergate anyone? And yet the common people are not so easily undeceived…

  9. Unwilling says:

    The “&” came into existence as a medieval abbreviature or ligature of Latin “et” meaning “and”.

    Blinking Morse while dying is featured in the Diane Lane thriller https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Untraceable.

  10. catholicjen says:

    I had an advanced class license that I stupidly let lapse. Hopefully at some point I can work on the no-code license to at least get my call sign back, then, perhaps, go for higher-grade licenses.

  11. Semper Gumby says:

    acardnal: You’re right, there’s a field manual for everything. The best, of course, is: The Chow Hall- A User’s Manual.

    Anyway, GHP’s comment about putting a book in the collection basket in the “Update- Hilarity Ensues” post reminds me there’s a field manual for Religious Support (FM 1-05), and two FMs on Stress Control:


    I’m not sure how useful that will be for a tactical cleric on a rainy day. Perhaps someone could produce a small handbook with more practical excerpts from, say, Fr. Ciszek’s experiences in the Soviet Union, Bp. Schneider’s family background, Bible verses such as Luke 22:10-13 (“recognition signals”), and from fiction the stories of at least four priests in “Father Elijah” and “Eclipse of the Sun.”

    Here’s an article about a Chaplain’s Assistant:



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