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How to Break in to a Ham Radio Contact

Sometimes, you can’t wait for the end of a contact to call a ham radio station. Interrupting another contact is called breaking in (or breaking). The proper procedure is to wait for a pause in the contact and quickly say “Break” (or send BK with Morse code) followed by your call sign.

Why do you want to do this? Perhaps you have an emergency and need to make contact right away. More frequently, you tune in to a contact, and the participants are talking about a topic with which you’re familiar; if you wait for the contact to end, you may not be able to contribute or help.

To break in a contact, follow these steps:

  1. Listen for a good opportunity to make your presence known.

    When the stations switch transmitting and receiving roles, that’s usually a good time to break in. You may hear something like this: “So, Sharon, back to you. AE7SD from NØAX.”

  2. Quickly make a short transmission.

    Don’t be shy and wait for the other station to begin transmitting. Say “Break,” followed by your call sign, just once.

  3. Wait to see whether either station heard your transmission.

    If a station hears you, the operator may say something like this: “This is AE7SD. Who’s the breaker?”

    If no one hears your transmission, start over with Step 1.

  4. Respond as though you’re answering a CQ.

    Say this: “AE7SD, this is KD7FYX [repeated twice]. Over.”

  5. Depending on the circumstances, give your name and location before proceeding to explain why you broke in.

    At that point, the stations may engage you in further conversation, and you’ll be in a three-way QSO. Sometimes, however, they won’t want to have a third party in the contact, in which case you should just courteously sign off and go on to the next contact.

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