Vanity Call Sign

Status
Not open for further replies.

chrissim

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Messages
203
Hello:

I told myself once I passed the extra, I'd go vanity. That time has come. I'm confused, however.

I'm in district 4. Using the radioqth webpage, I am able to see which 1x2 and which 2x1 call signs become available at certain dates. I have attempted to conceive my own call sign, but alas, everything I pick is already taken. So then, I have to use resources online to find which call signs become available.

Here's the question(s):

If I use such a resource as radioqth and I note that there are several 1x2 calls becoming available (district 4) within a few weeks, can I add those to the FCC vanity application even though they are not yet available?

I ask this because if there are something like 4 1x2 calls available immediately, then potentially 100 amateur radio operators could all go for the same call signs at the same time, leading the FCC to have to issue boat loads of refunds for the application procedure. Not efficient.

Secondly, do I have to pick a call sign in my district, or can I pick one from say, district 7? What I have read leads me to believe that I can pick any 1x2 or 2x1 within the contiguous U.S., but I may have misinterpreted it.

Have I made any sense?
Thanks in advance.
 

n5ims

Member
Joined
Jul 25, 2004
Messages
3,842
Secondly, do I have to pick a call sign in my district, or can I pick one from say, district 7? What I have read leads me to believe that I can pick any 1x2 or 2x1 within the contiguous U.S., but I may have misinterpreted it.
With a few restrictions (basically the special regional call sign prefixes like those in Alaska, Hawaii, and a few US territories) you can pick any district call sign. For example, you can live in Maine and get K6CW if available.

Vanity Call Signs
First, the FCC does not limit the Vanity call sign choice numeral (0-9). For example, you can be a W1-land addressee, and have a W6 (California) type call if you so desire.

Also, aside from a very few FCC-limited choices, Extra class licensees can choose virtually any vacant but valid US call sign -- FCC call sign Groups A, B, C or D. Although Advanced class licensees cannot seek the special 1x2, 2x1 or 2x2 (beginning with letter "A") Extra class type call signs, they can seek a 2x2 or 1x3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or a 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) -- FCC call sign Groups B, C or D. General or Technician class licensees can seek a 1x3 call sign (beginning with prefix N, K or W), or 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) -- FCC call sign Groups C or D. Novice licensees also have access to the Vanity program. Novices can seek a 2x3 call sign (beginning with prefix letter K or W) of their choice -- FCC call sign Group D.

Unless you have a mailing address specific to Alaskan, Pacific or Caribbean areas, you would not be able to obtain certain call signs where the second prefix letter is an L, H or P in conjunction with certain call area numbers (e.g., KL7??? is limited to Alaskan addressees only, KH6??? to Pacific Island addressees only, KP4??? to Caribbean addressees only, etc).
 

canav844

Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2007
Messages
561
Just a word of caution on going out of district, depending upon where in 4land you are, it may just make things really confusing when talking to the locals (or even to a degree some contesting or trying to relay your location to others on HF). There are a lot of people with this map memorized and use it as a key context clue, especially when trying to pull an unfamiliar station out of the static.
Not saying don't do it, but think about it beyond what sounds good or will look good on a QSL card.
Sometimes it can be an advantage to, on 2m and above it will almost always prompt a question for the story of the unusual call, which can be a welcome ice breaker and way to learn about the story of another ham. Or make your call sound just a little different than those around you making you the one that sticks out in a pileup.
Regardless I know switching from my mouthful of a 2x3 (that for what the 3 were HAD to be done phonetically) to my 2x1 and having something that had some flow so it's much easier to say and has some rhythm in Morse code and has an initial in it was a very welcome change and it's gotten a lot more use than my old call and is something that is going to stick with me regardless of where I move because it's become part of who I am on the radio (and I do respond to it as equally well as my name).

And I'll 2nd the reject it comment; and never heard of a refund for a rejected call. A little luck and a backup plan are the best for not wasting the application fee if memory serves me.

And most of all congratulations on the upgrade!
 

John_S

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
91
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Call sign changes

Just went through this process a few months ago and this guy's site can be very helpful once you figure how to navigate around on it...AE7Q's Amateur Radio Database Query Tools ...What floored me was the guys on QRZ.com that will charge you $40 to take care of all the supposed paper work and hassle. What paperwork and hassle? If you have a valid FRN number, the FCC makes it fairly easy. But do thorough searching for available ones and it does help to have alternatives. After you look around on AE7Q's site for a while, you can see what went wrong with other applications. My change was made to get more easily heard phonetics during noisy conditions.
 

chrissim

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Messages
203
Thank you for the replies. If I understand the process correctly, if I check the radioqth or similar webpage, which lists available call signs, I have to wait until one shows up that is currently available, then I can apply for that call sign via the FCC. This much I understand.

However, what a terrible system. I am yet to see more than one call sign become available on a single day. This means that I, along with potentially hundreds of others, can apply for the same single call sign. I can repeat this process and pay for the application fee over and over again for eternity (potentially).

The FCC allows for 25 options when one submits their desired call sign. From what I can tell, simply conceiving your own call sign is near impossible as it seems every combination is taken already, which leaves me relying on already existing call signs. I have spent a considerable amount of time randomly "making up" a call sign only to find that they have been issued already. I can't imagine what it would take to repeat this process 25 times. What a nightmare.

What they should do is allow applications for call signs that will become available within a month's time span, at least one could then list a few, say for the entire month of August. But one at a time?
 

John_S

Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2010
Messages
91
Location
Saratoga Springs, NY
Like every other governmental system...

It has it's imperfections. But it's all we have to work with. I'm gathering you're already a 2x3 call originally as a Tech. Can you make do with a 1x3? I hadn't looked at that site before, but it does make the search a lot easier. How bout modifying your existing call? That's what I ended up doing. Dropped the N1 and went to K2 and left the existing suffix. It's going to get more difficult to complete this process and get the desired call sign because of the fairly large influx of new people in the last few years...along with the popularity, and ease, of using the vanity call system. Lots of people want their initials. So the competition for call signs is just going to get higher. When I first started thinking about doing this, I had thoughts about taking a call sign that had belonged to one of the original members of the radio club that I had joined. He was a fairly well known person in my small town and had become a silent key a few years back. I was fairly certain that none of his children were involved with amateur radio. I felt it would be nice to at least keep his call fairly close to home, but this thinking eventually got pushed aside by the notion that I really needed to make this all my own. So I went the route of modifying my existing call. But from investigating the silent key's call, I noticed that another gentleman who had been a club member, who had also become a silent key, still had an active license...no one in his family had gone through the process of cancelling his license. So it will stay active...and unused, till it goes up for renewal in several years. Wonder how much more of this goes on.
 

chrissim

Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2012
Messages
203
I had to go through the process to better understand it. I provided 7 2x1 options to the FCC. There were no immediately available 1x2 call signs. I do not appreciate that I paid them $16.00 for an application fee along with the possibility that they can deny each call sign request. I am happy that they provide the service and I'm not complaining, but I'd happily pay them $50.00 if it were guaranteed, but I could be doing this again in a few weeks for another $16.00.

Thanks again for the help.
 

ng8j

Member
Joined
Jul 21, 2014
Messages
1
One helpful thing to note is that you have ten days to pay after you submit your application. Check out AE7Q's Amateur Radio Query Tools to see how many people applied for your desired call. If there is a bunch just don't pay and let the application expire; if there are only a few you can pay and roll the dice.
 

KC0KM

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
278
Location
Kansas City (Raytown) MO
When I got my Extra, I as well decided to go for a Vanity call. I looked, and already knew that a Group A, (1 X 2 and 2 X 1) are rare to begin with, so I opted for a Group B, (2 X 2 ) call sign. I found one that I liked, KC (my hometown) Zero (my call district) and KM, my initials. A perfect call for me. I also looked on the FCC data base for several hours researching all of the calls that I wanted, to insure that they where all valid. Luckily for me I got my first choice. I went though the FCC directly, and found it rather easy, once I found out the "key". In order to process it, you have to make a change on you license. I had to drop my middle initial, in order for it to be to go through, once that happened it was easy. I paid something like $15 for my Vanity. On the other hand, my father, who also had decided to get a vanity as well (his old college roommate's from 50 some odd years ago), and he went though W5YI, and paid about $40. Going through the FCC is easy once you get the hang of it, and know the "key" -- simply make a small change.

Keep in mind that at Group A, is still hard to come by, once they come up, anybody and everybody scramble for them. I forgot how they choose, but I have heard some apply numerous of times for the same call. I also recall something awhile back when someone got a "out of district" call, and someone from that call district got mad because they thought that those in the call should have first crack at it (it was later upheld to the one that got it). If you cannot get a Group A, try for a Group B, they are easier to come by.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,667
Location
Central Indiana
If you are saying that you have to request a change to your license in order to get the FCC to process a vanity callsign request, you are incorrect. I'm on my third vanity callsign and never did anything other than submit a callsign change request through the FCC's web site. No change of address, no dropping a middle initial. Just fill out the online form requesting a callsign change under the vanity rules.

Callsigns that are vacated as a result of a licensee requesting a different callsign, the license expiring, or the cancellation of a license (such as the death of a licensee) all go into a waiting period of two years plus one day. The FCC will only accept vanity callsign requests for licenses that are available after the waiting period has expired. An application submitted for a non-available callsign will be rejected.

If more than one application is received for an available callsign, the FCC uses a "lottery" to determine who gets the callsign. I applied for one callsign only to find that five other hams applied for it. I lost that lottery. I applied for another callsign only to find that four other hams applied for it. I lost again. When I applied for W9BU, there was one other application for it and I won the lottery.

There is no need to pay W5YI or another other service to get a vanity callsign. You can go directly to the FCC's web site and make your application there. Once you complete the application, the FCC's site will direct you to another form where you make your payment directly to the FCC. Groups like W5YI charge you more than the FCC charges because they do the application for you, but they cannot guarantee that you will get your requested callsign.

Also, if the FCC rejects your application or you fail to win the callsign lottery, you can request a refund of your application fee.
 

K7MEM

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2013
Messages
341
Location
1158 W. Valley Circle, Ash Fork, AZ 86320-482
Just because you are now an Extra does not mean you "have" to get a 1x2 or 2x1 call. Being an extra means you also have other choices like 1x3's.

I obtained my Extra in 1999. At the time I knew that there was going to be a big change in the licensing, but I didn't want to wait and went for the Extra. Once I received my Extra I started to look at vanity call signs. I knew that as soon as they dropped the Morse requirements, the call pool was going to dry up fast. I had lots of 1x2's and 2x1's available, but none of them seemed right, I finally went for my initials which turned out great. My 1x3 is easy to send/hear on CW or phone. Try a few out, you may be surprised at how good they might be.
 

uli2000

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Apr 25, 2012
Messages
49
Location
Ely, NV
I used the AE7Q website to research available calls when I got my vanity.

From what I understand, a call becomes available 2 years and one day after expiration/canceled. So lets say the call you want expires July 31st. The call becomes available August 1st at midnight. Get your app in as close to midnight as you can. I got lucky, I got a 1x2 on my first try. There were 11 apps for the call I got, which is a 7th area call. I believe the 4th area has the highest number of hams, so expect lots of competition.
 

AK9R

Lead Wiki Manager
Super Moderator
Joined
Jul 18, 2004
Messages
6,667
Location
Central Indiana
Get your app in as close to midnight as you can.
You have all day to get your application in. The time you entered your application has nothing to do with whether or not you'll get your desired callsign. If the callsign becomes available on August 1, everybody who enters an application on August 1 goes into a "lottery" and your chances of getting your choice are random.
 

N1EN

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jan 4, 2014
Messages
11
I'll second the recommendation to look at AE7Q's website. He's got all the information on how to apply buried in the pages there.

If I use such a resource as radioqth and I note that there are several 1x2 calls becoming available (district 4) within a few weeks, can I add those to the FCC vanity application even though they are not yet available?
Generally for 1x2's and 2x1's, you generally apply for them on the day that they become available (usually 2 years and 1 day after they expire. Note that the FCC processes vanity call applications as batches the night after a business day; so, if there is one call you're interested in that becomes available on a Saturday, another that becomes available on a Sunday, and another that becomes available on a Monday, you could put all three on a single application and submit it sometime between 4am Saturday and midnight Monday night, and have a valid application.

I ask this because if there are something like 4 1x2 calls available immediately, then potentially 100 amateur radio operators could all go for the same call signs at the same time, leading the FCC to have to issue boat loads of refunds for the application procedure. Not efficient.
The FCC is an agency of the U.S. government. Why would you expect efficiency?

Secondly, do I have to pick a call sign in my district, or can I pick one from say, district 7? What I have read leads me to believe that I can pick any 1x2 or 2x1 within the contiguous U.S., but I may have misinterpreted it.
You can apply for any non-geography-restricted callsign, plus any callsign that matches your address at the time of your application. Because there are more hams in 4-land than in any other FCC district, it's quite common for 4-land hams to take vanity calls outside their district due to the extreme competition for 4-land vanities. However, if you put in an application with a second character of "H", "L", or "P", you're wasting time and effort unless you have an address to match.

A few other things to consider:

1. After you've been active for a while, changing callsigns can be a pain. Be sure that you pick a call that you're going to like.

2. When looking at potential calls, remember to spend some time listening to them, using regular letters, standard and alternative phonetics, and CW. (Even if you don't think you'll do CW, listen to your proposed callsign in CW; you might change your mind about learning, if the contest or DXing bug gets you; changing callsigns after you've been active is a pain!) Make sure that you like the sound, and that it is understandable enough in the hash.

Some calls are less desirable than others for this reason. For example, you frequently won't see much competition for callsigns ending with the letter "E", because that single dit gets lost in CW, and "echo" isn't a particularly strong phonetic.

That being said, don't agonize too much over finding a perfect callsign. Sometimes somewhat imperfect callsigns are just fine. For example, I almost didn't apply for my current call, N1EN, because the phonetics are unweildy, and I wasn't certain how the "E" would play in CW. It turns out, it's a great call for CW, and the phonetics are still slightly better than my original call.

You might also want to spend some time Googling potential calls, and looking to see if there are any well-known calls that could be confused for your potential call. When I was searching for a new callsign, I rejected several because they had been previously held either by an SK who was well-known and liked in the area, or because I didn't like what I saw returned by a web search.

There is something to be said for having a callsign native to your area, or to an area you expect to move to. Up here in 1-land non 1-land calls stick out like a sore thumb. However, because of changes in demographics, and the sheer number of hams in 4-land, I think it's less of a concern down there.

If you might play in contests, however, be aware that some contests require you to either have a callsign that matches your district, or to append a portable indicator (e.g. "/4"), because of the way their scoring rules work.

3. Because of the level of competition for 1x2 and 2x1 calls, be patient and/or broaden your search to include 2x2's and 1x3's. I'm trustee for a club that until recently used the call WW1MM. That was a great, fun phone call -- the "mike mike" punches through the noise on sideband, and it brought a chuckle to more than one person. It was a tedious call for CW, however, which is part of the reason that it changed.
 

KC0KM

Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2002
Messages
278
Location
Kansas City (Raytown) MO
If you are saying that you have to request a change to your license in order to get the FCC to process a vanity callsign request, you are incorrect. I'm on my third vanity callsign and never did anything other than submit a callsign change request through the FCC's web site. No change of address, no dropping a middle initial. Just fill out the online form requesting a callsign change under the vanity rules.
(sorry it took so long to get back)
All I know is, when I went to get this call sign, it would not go though, until I made the small change. Once I made it, bing, bang, boom, it accepted it.
 

N0IU

Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
Messages
802
Location
Wentzville, Missouri
However, what a terrible system. This means that I, along with potentially hundreds of others, can apply for the same single call sign.
With all due respect (uh oh, now you know you're in trouble!)...

So what you are looking for is a system that gives you some sort of advantage over all of the other people who want the same call sign that you want?
 

Token

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,161
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
However, what a terrible system. I am yet to see more than one call sign become available on a single day. This means that I, along with potentially hundreds of others, can apply for the same single call sign. I can repeat this process and pay for the application fee over and over again for eternity (potentially).
How else would you have it done? Maybe give hams that have held a license longer preference? Allow them to apply a day earlier? Nah, then the new people will talk about the elitist old hams. I got my license in 1967 and am only moderately active, why should I have any advantage over a 1 year ham that is super active? Maybe we could have the newest hams get first dibs? Ooops, then the old hams will complain about how the newbs have it easy.

Simply put, there probably is no better, workable, fairer, way to open a callsign and allow people to apply for it. Almost any other way you can think of would give an advantage to someone.

I only grabbed a vanity call maybe 9 or 10 years back, I had used sequential calls before that. I did not want a particularly short call (that as an Extra I could have gotten), no funny word play calls, etc. I wanted a classic sounding Group C, 1x3, call starting with a W, and using my correct district. As a bonus I was able to find a few that I liked the 3 letter suffix of, including one with my initials. I ended up putting the one with my initials at the top of my list of 7 choices, and I got that one first try. On CW it is not great, but the voice phonetics are pretty strong.

One of my pet peeves is when the FCC relaxed the district requirements. As a person who moved a lot before this was relaxed I understand the problem of having to apply for a new callsign every time you changed districts. But hey, it was not that hard. And if you heard a 2 call you knew, to a pretty small area, where the station was from. Now the district number in a callsign means essentially nothing, and I am not sure why the FCC continues to define districts based on geography or why they continue to have a district number in a ham call.

T!
 

vagrant

ker-muhj-uhn
Joined
Nov 19, 2005
Messages
1,816
Location
California
Now the district number in a callsign means essentially nothing, and I am not sure why the FCC continues to define districts based on geography or why they continue to have a district number in a ham call. T!
I prefer that a district number is used/kept around. To myself and others I know, it does mean something. I obtained my 1x3 vanity two years ago after everything was opened up, but preferred to keep the 6 and relatively identify the district I was in. My assigned call was terrible and I chose my vanity after much consideration, especially phonetically. It has a 64 weight for CW as a 1x3.

Another new ham local to my area decided on using zero so that when spelled out it could replace the letter O to form a word, or a form of the properly spelled word. Unfortunately, no one was there to Elmer him on that decision and he is persistently asked about his location. Thus, it is his burden to bear.

I decided it was better to obtain my Tech, General, and vanity within the first month versus having to switch things up later. I believe I did have it pretty easy though when searching for available call signs. There was a site named Vanity HQ that which would list various available and soon to be released calls. The way that site was structured made it very easy to see my options.
 

Token

Member
Premium Subscriber
Joined
Jun 18, 2010
Messages
2,161
Location
Mojave Desert, California, USA
I prefer that a district number is used/kept around. To myself and others I know, it does mean something. I obtained my 1x3 vanity two years ago after everything was opened up, but preferred to keep the 6 and relatively identify the district I was in. My assigned call was terrible and I chose my vanity after much consideration, especially phonetically. It has a 64 weight for CW as a 1x3.

Another new ham local to my area decided on using zero so that when spelled out it could replace the letter O to form a word, or a form of the properly spelled word. Unfortunately, no one was there to Elmer him on that decision and he is persistently asked about his location. Thus, it is his burden to bear.
Maybe you missed my point, although you described it for me well.

Why do you prefer the district number to be used or kept, when they have no meaning as a definition of the district of the ham? Is it a matter of just liking the format?

Because the FCC allows almost anyone, and almost anywhere, to select any district number, regardless of their location, the district numbers mean nothing today. When you hear a 6, or a 0, or whatever, you have no idea of the location of the station, until you ask them or look them up. You cannot assume they are in the district that matches their call. This is why I said “I am not sure why the FCC continues to define districts based on geography or why they continue to have a district number in a ham call”, when the district number is no longer a district number in actual application.

And it is not just “new” hams without Elmers around that select odd district numbers. Of the 6 or 7 local hams I talk with daily, all in 6 land and ALL licensed for many years, 4 of them have district numbers that are misleading. Three 0’s and one 2, two of them are Advanced licensees, one old school 13 WPM General, and one no code General. But then again, why not? It is, after all, allowed in the regs. My point was, why allow such usage if you bother to define regions and tie them to district numbers?

T!
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top