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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
Readability, Signal Strength & Tone (when using Morse code)

(i.e., quality of the CW tone). For voice contacts only the R and S are used.

 

The S component is usually the same as your S-Meter reading though most S-Meters aren't calibrated correctly 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.

 

RST  SYSTEM

Readability:

Signal Strength:

Tone:
(for Morse code contacts only)

1 - Unreadable.

1 - FAINT Signals, barely perceptible.

1 - Sixty Hz AC or less, very rough and broad.

2 - Barely readable, occasional words  heard.

2 - VERY WEAK signals.

2 - Very rough AC, very harsh and broad.

3 - Readable with great difficulty.

3 - WEAK signals.

3 - Rough AC tone, rectified but not  filtered.

4 - Readable with practically no difficulty

4 - FAIR signals.

4 - Rough note, some trace of filtering.

5 - Perfectly readable

5 - FAIRLY GOOD signals.

5 - Strong ripple modulated.

 

6 - GOOD signals.

6 - Ripple modulated tone.

 

7 - MODERATELY STRONG signals.

7 - Trace of ripple on tone

 

8 - STRONG signals.

8 - Slight trace of ripple on tone.

 

9 - VERY STRONG signals.

9 - Perfect tone.