The QSY Rule

radio tuning dials

On 14 June 2020, New Zealand Straight Key Night will adopt the QSY Rule. It’s an experiment, and your feedback after the event will be greatly appreciated.

What is the QSY Rule?

If a station calls CQ, and makes a contact, they must then leave the frequency at the end of the contact, and move to a frequency at least 2 kHz away.

In other words, you cannot park on a frequency and work multiple stations.

Why are we doing this?

  • Contests can be very repetitive, and this is a way to make SKN more interesting.
  • As there are relatively few stations in SKN, we often end up with a lot of identical scores, so this may help to spread the results by making it more challenging to work everyone else.
  • This may help develop operating skills, as ops will need to be good at quickly spotting stations they need and working them, quickly finding a clear frequency to call ‘CQ’, etc.

If you are the CQ station:

You can call CQ as many times as necessary on one frequency – but after you have made a contact, you must move to another frequency immediately.

If you are an answering station:

At the end of the contact you may use the frequency to call CQ and make one contact. If you don’t “claim” the frequency after a reasonable pause, then any other station may use it (except the station that used it most recently for a CQ).

What if a CQ station fails to move off frequency?

This is understandable, as our tradition in amateur radio is that the frequency “belongs” to the station that called CQ until they decide to give it up. The QSY Rule requires the opposite approach, which may confuse some operators, especially if they haven’t read the contest rules.

If you work a CQ station, and they start to call CQ again, please give them a gentle reminder such as:


After all, they probably just forgot.

And if they still don’t move, well, you probably have a VFO so give it a spin and forget about it. 🙂

What if I’m the CQ station and, at the end of a contact, another station calls me. May I work them?

No, please leave the frequency.

May I ask the new caller to QSY with me?

No, please leave the frequency.

May I announce what frequency I’m moving to, so others can find me?

No, because you would be delaying the next station entitled to use the frequency. Please leave the frequency.

May I return to use a frequency on which I previously called CQ?

Yes, but please allow a couple of minutes (long enough for someone else to use the frequency if they wish).

Finding a frequency to use

It is expected and assumed that all participants in SKN will show the usual courtesy of checking a frequency for other activity, by sending QRL? or IE or ? before transmitting. Thank you.


Please contact the SKN Manager.