RST and RSQ Report

rst analog

RST (Readability, Strength, Tone)
The RST code is used by amateur radio operators to exchange information about the quality of a radio signal being received. RST stands for Readability, Strength, and Tone.  The code is a three digit number with one digit each for conveying an assessment of the signal's readability, strength, and tone.  The RST system is used for giving a quantitative report of the signals received. It helps to ascertain the quality of signals at the other end, which helps to improve the signal quality of the transmission.

R = Readability:
It is a qualitative assessment of how easy or difficult it is to correctly copy each of the characters in the text of the message sent or how easy or difficult it is for each spoken word to be understood correctly in CW and phone respectively. The readability is measured on a scale of 1 to 5.
R 1 – Unreadable
R 2 – Barely readable, some words occasionally distinguishable
R 3 – Readable, but with considerable difficulty
R 4 – Readable with practically no difficulty
R 5 – Perfectly readable

S = Signal Strength:
It is an assessment of how powerful the received signal is at the receiving location. This is usually assessed by the S-meter of the radio receiver in a location. The Strength is measured on a scale of 1 to 9.
S 1 – Faint signal, barely perceptible
S 2 – Very weak signal
S 3 – Weak signal
S 4 – Fair signal
S 5 – Fairly good signal
S 6 – Good signal
S 7 – Moderately strong signal
S 8 – Strong signal
S 9 – Extremely strong signal

Tone is used only in CW or Morse code and in digital transmissions. It is omitted during voice operations. The imperfections in tone in digital transmissions are not usually detected by humans as it is ascertained by the receiver itself. If the CW signal is steady because of crystal control, add X to the report eg. RST 599X. If the signal chirps, add C to the report eg. RST 567C. If the signal has key clicks, add K to the report eg. RST 588K. Tone is measured on a scale of 1 to 9.
T 1 – 50 / 60 hertz a.c., very rough & broad
T 2 – Very rough a.c., harsh & broad
T 3 – Rough a.c. tone, rectified but not filtered
T 4 – Rough note, some trace of filtering
T 5 – Filtered rectified a.c. but strongly ripple-modulated
T 6 – Filtered tone, definite trace of ripple modulation
T 7 – Near pure tone, trace of ripple modulation
T 8 – Near perfect tone, slight trace of modulation
T 9 – Pure Tone, no trace of ripple or modulation of any kind


RSQ (Readability, Strength, Quality)
The traditional RST report was developed for CW and Phone communications to describe the quality of the code received by ear in terms of its Readability, Strength, and Tone.

PC sound card technology has recently enabled easy low cost access to a broad range of digital modes for the Amateur Radio operator. Many of the newer modes, such as PSK31 for example have become very popular, and as a result there is a significant increase in the activity of narrow band keyboard conversational modes on the HF bands.

Unfortunately the traditional RST (Readability, Strength, Tone) signal report is difficult to meaningfully apply to these text modes, causing the majority of operators to give contest style 599 reports regardless of the true merit of the received communication. RSQ (Readability, Strength, Quality) has been adapted from RST to provide a more useful signal report for HF digital modes.

R = RSQ Readability (Percent characters correctly received):
The new descriptive table has a corresponding range of percent readable text. This is consistent with the common practice of providing a percentage figure during a QSO or when responding to the inevitable "HW CPY?" at the end of an over. Currently, a percent readable text figure is often provided to the other station to clarify its readability after the traditional RST report has been sent.
R 1 – 0% Undecipherable
R 2 – 20% Occasional words distinguishable
R 3 – 40% Considerable difficulty, many missed characters
R 4 – 80% Practically no difficulty, occasional missed characters
R 5 – 95%+ Perfectly readable

S = RSQ Strength (Signal over Noise rather than S-Meter):
Most HF digital mode programs provide a broad band waterfall or spectrum receive display. As a result, it is common practice for operators to monitor and even decode multiple signals when working a narrow band digital station. Under these conditions, a visible measure of signal trace relative to noise is more meaningful than an S meter reading that averages the strength of all signals in the pass band.
S 1 – Barely perceptible trace
S 3 – Weak trace
S 5 – Moderate trace
S 7 – Strong trace
S 9 – Very Strong trace

Q = RSQ Quality:
The presence of additional unwanted trace modulation observed on the waterfall or spectrum indicates possible spurious emissions and provides a basis for assessing the quality of digital mode signals. The traditional RST Tone report being designed to evaluate CW signals for the presence of audible hum, key clicks, chirping etc is simply not relevant to digital modes.
Q 1 – Splatter over much of the spectrum
Q 3 – Multiple visible pairs
Q 5 – One easily visible pair
Q 7 – One barely visible pair
Q 9 – Clean signal – no visible unwanted sidebar pairs



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