Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Country prefix codes - do you need to know them all?

Well, I'm no expert, as you know, having never taken the ham test in Ireland. However, one could surmise that the good people at IRTS and Comreg are not expecting you to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the prefix codes for the obscure nations and islands of the world. Perhaps you should stick to Europe and America, and maybe Russia?

Why? I hear you all ask. Well, on the sample paper you are asked in which country is the prefix LA (Norway) used. In the June exam it was CT (Portugal). So I guess one could deduce that a pattern is becoming obvious there.

It has to be said, in all fairness, that those of you who have been SWLs (Short Wave Listeners) for years will be at a distinct advantage on this front, but don't worry. I have been an SWL for a while but am still rusty on the prefixes. Let's give as good a list as possible for the European prefixes and try to learn these ones at least:

EI - Ireland
EJ - Islands of Ireland
GI - Northern Ireland
GD - Isle of Man
GM - Scotland
GW - Wales (easy one that - W for Wales!)
G - England
F - France (Couldn't be easier, eh?)
C3 - Andorra (not likely to be asked to be honest but I threw it in there anyway!)
EA - Spain (Think of EspanA - EA)
CT - Portugal
PA - Netherlands
ON - Belgium (for this one, I think of the Belgian port city of OosteNde)
LX - Luxembourg (one of those rare prefixes that is accurate to the country name!)
DL - Germany - think of "Deutchland"
OZ - Denmark
HB9 - Switzerland
HB0 - Liechtenstein
OE - Austria
OK - Czech Republic
SP - Poland
OM - Slovak Republic
HA - Hungary - HungAry
S5 - Slovenia
YO - Romania
LZ - Bulgaria
9A - Croatia
YU - Yugoslavia
Z3 - Macedonia
ZA - Albania
SV - Greece
SV9 - Crete
I - Italy (what could be simpler?!)
TK - Corsica
IS - Sardinia
9H - Malta
TF - Iceland
LA - Norway
SM - Sweden
OH - Finland
ES - Estonia (careful, don't confuse with Spain EA)
YL - Latvia
LY - Lithuania (Latvia the other way around!)
EU - Belarus
UR - Ukraine
UA - Russia

A very good website with an exhaustive list of ham country prefixes, but probably too detailed for the Irish ham exam, can be found here.

A good way to learn the prefixes is to listen in on the ham bands as an SWL and use a program like DX Atlas to look them up. DX Atlas is free to download. It's the one I use.

Don't forget that, in addition to the prefixes, you will need to know the Q codes. Again, I don't think you need to know an exhaustive list, but will post more about this later.

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