Radio Operating Procedures

Below are some basic procedures for good operating practice on your radio. Listed are:

See this video on Best Practices for Event Operators, courtesy of the Marin Amateur Radio Society in Marin County, CA. (YouTube, 6:08)

In addition, the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) adopted in 2011 a universal guide on operating ethics and procedures. It's available in PDF format at Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur.

General Basics

Basic Terms
“Over” means you have finished your sentence and you expect to hear back from the other party. The frequency is not available for another user to butt in. On HF or on repeaters that lack a courtesy tone, “over” is the proper way of handing the frequency over to the other party. When the repeater has a courtesy tone when the PTT is released (not all do,) then “over” is redundant, but not incorrect.

Clear; Out:
“Clear” and “out” mean the same thing. There is not a bit of difference between them, except “clear” sounds more friendly and “out” sounds more military. “Out” or “clear” means you have finished your sentence and you do NOT expect to hear back from the other party. The frequency is now available for another user to initiate another (possibly unrelated) contact. “Out” might mean you are turning the radio off, but not necessarily. It just means you are finished talking with that particular party or group.

Stand By:
“Stand by,” is usually a request for all operators on that frequency to stop transmitting. A courteous operator will limit their stand-by request to no more than 15 seconds; getting the info needed and getting back on the air. 15 seconds of dead air is a LONG time. If it is going to take longer than 15 seconds, “standby” is not at all the appropriate proword. In an emergency situation, net control will say “all other stations stand by until we have handled this situation. “Standby” is a polite way of saying “everybody shut up!”  If you do not need that forceful a statement to all operators, you might say, “net control, wait one while I get that information from the rest stop captain.” Or, “net control, I will get that information and get back to you.” That permits net control to recognize another station while you are busy getting the information. But “stand by” is kind of the nuclear option—after using those critical words, no-one else can use the frequency—you have frozen it.

Radio Care

Safety Guidelines

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a safety standard for human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic energy emitted by FCC regulated equipment. Proper operation of the radio will result in user exposure substantially below FCC recommended limits.

Electromagnetic Interference / Compatibility


Medical Devices


Clean external surfaces of the radio with a mild detergent and a stiff, non-metallic, short-bristled brush.

A suitable detergent solution may be mixed by adding one teaspoon of mild dishwashing detergent to one gallon of water (0.5% solution). Apply the detergent solution sparingly with the brush, being careful not to allow excess detergent to remain entrapped near connectors and controls or in cracks and crevices. Do not submerse the radio in the detergent solution. Dry the radio thoroughly with a soft, lint-free cloth.  Clean the radio with the recommended solution only. Cleaning the radio with solvents or spirits may be harmful and permanently damage the radio housing.

Clean all battery contacts with a lint-free cloth to remove dirt, grease, or other foreign material that may prevent good electrical connections.