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The RST System

The RST System of Signal Reporting has been used for years (circa 1934)as a shorthand method of reporting Readibility, Signal Strength and for CW, Tone (i.e., quality of the CW tone). For voice contacts only the R and S are used. The S component is usually not the same as your S-Meter reading as most S-Meters aren't calibrated to track the RST System. The RST is also reported on QSL Cards and must be filled in correctly -- e.g., a 569 report for a Voice Contact is invalid. Note that many DX operations and contest stations merely report 59(9) as a convenience to avoid having to log each of the real reports. A questionable practice but a fact of DXing/Contesting

1 -- Unreadable
2 -- Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable
3 -- Readable with considerable difficulty
4 -- Readable with practically no difficulty
5 -- Perfectly readable

1 -- Faint signals, barely perceptible
2 -- Very weak signals
3 -- Weak signals
4 -- Fair signals
5 -- Fairly good signals
6 -- Good signals
7 -- Moderately strong signals
8 -- Strong signals
9 -- Extremely strong signals

1 -- Sixty cycle a.c. or less, very rough and broad
2 -- Very rough a.c. , very harsh and broad
3 -- Rough a.c. tone, rectified but not filtered
4 -- Rough note,some trace of filtering
5 -- Filtered rectified a.c.but strongly ripple-modulated
6 -- Filtered tone, definite trace of ripple modulation
7 -- Near pure tone, trace of ripple modulation
8 -- Near perfect tone, slight trace of modulation
9 -- Perfect tone, no trace of ripple or modulation of any kind

Infrequently used is the addition of a letter to the end of the 3 numbers.
These are: X = the signal is rock steady like a crystal controlled signal;
C = the signal is chirpy as the frequency varies slightly with keying;
and K = the signal has key clicks.

X is from the early days of radio when such steady signals were rare.

Today most all signals could be given an X but it is hardly ever used. It is helpful to report a chirpy or clicky signal by using the C or K, e.g. 579C or 579K.

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