The Psychology of a QRM Issue

Psychology of the QRMer Article published in the journal CQ, by James Millner, WB2REM, October 2013 issue

If you have ever been the victim of intentional interference, you probably asked yourself, “But what makes this person do this? “. Well, WB2REM, a registered psychologist for more than 30 years offers answers and tries to explain the use of hams with multiple call signs. One local ham radio operator can be classified in all categories.

Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation on the radio when at the same time someone is sending you a carrier, or is the person making an unpleasant comment about you without being identified? This is the case for me, and at a growing frequency. I have been a radio amateur for more than 50 years, and during this time I have seen a gradual decline in the good habits and procedures of radio operators, which could also reflect the general decline in civility that is seen in the general public. In recent years.

So what is a QRM transmitter and who is it? By definition, QRM is human-caused interference, and a QRM transmitter (1) is a person who manifests these attributes by sending. This behavior can be seen as involuntary or voluntary in nature, the latter being a category of malicious interference. Once we understand why the QRM transmitter interferes with us, it should be easier to deal with his behavior more positively.

I believe that the deterioration of behavior among amateurs has its roots in several avenues.

These include:

– the intolerance of divergent views

– lack of operational experience

– feelings of inferiority in connection with his station

– inappropriate behavior diffused by a group

– operation under the influence

– acts performed by individuals with real emotional problems.

-having multiple call signs

Involuntary QRM

Involuntary interference can occur in different forms. For example, it may come from a station operating near the frequency of someone else. Similarly, when two amateurs unknowingly share a frequency in an ionospheric transition, they may suddenly find themselves competing with one another. At that time, stations need to be aware of what happened and politely agree to change frequency.

Very strong stations, although transmitting within the normal bandwidth, may lead to the belief that they are over-channeling the entire band. The affected station, whose receiver may be overloaded, could blame the station stronger for causing interference. This can sometimes be corrected by closing the noise suppressor and / or the preamplifier.

Networks operating on established frequencies may also create interference with the existing QSOs. A network can not appropriate a frequency. However, in such cases, if you politely explain that a network is expected soon on that frequency, the stations in conversation are likely to respond positively and change frequency. The worst thing to do is to proceed with the network by pretending that the other stations in QSO do not exist. This is certain to create animosity and possibly lead to intentional interference on the network.

Participants in competitions may also precipitate predictable involuntary QRM and cause anger from non-participants who are affected by the rivalry to obtain a frequency. The demand for a frequency spectrum is greatest during these times, which can lead to overloading of stations and loss of patience. Competitors sometimes forget that the frequency used is not their exclusivity and that non-participating stations have the right to operate within the same spectrum. Stations that are not involved in the competition may find less active frequencies to avoid confrontation. The CAMR bands (2) (30,

QRM voluntary

Malicious or intentional interference appeared in a very apparent form in the 1990s. With the advent of FCC prosecutor Riley Hollingsworth in 2000, the FCC began to crack down on offenders. Active subpoenas and prosecutions of offenders with respect to malicious interference have resulted in a decrease in malicious interference. However, malicious interference has resurfaced over the past few years in the form of swear words, songs, blows of carriers as well as other insolent and odious behaviors.

(Note: Riley’s perception of increased enforcement by the FCC while Riley was in the position resulted in a general improvement in on-air behavior.) Riley’s retirement coincided with changes in the FCC With respect to privacy practices that resulted in a smaller number of legal notices on coercive actions and the perception of a decrease in enforcement mechanisms, although in practice there was very little Of changes, but the perception of a decrease in enforcement mechanisms resulted in a more general deterioration of on-air behavior – W2VU)

Stations operating from rare DX entities are also targets of choice for intentional interference, especially if they practice – which is generally recommended – transmission and reception on different frequencies. The greater the width of the separation (“split”) selected for the DX operation (occasionally up to 20 kHz), the greater the risk of interference with the current QSOs. This type of operation, as well as the associated interference, often results in anger and animosity towards the DX station, and increases the likelihood of retaliation by stations affected by interference. Where possible,

Very strong stations seem to attract QRM transmitters. I can only assume this because lower power stations feel intimidated by their presence, or because they are heard by more people, which in turn attracts more headphones. One way to approach the problem is to make those listening comfortable and invite them to join the conversation if they wish.

When stations engage in discussions on controversial topics such as politics or religion, this may prompt stations that are tuned in on the frequency and inadvertently provoke an emotional reaction. This can put on the defensive one that is normally a passive earphone, and possibly lead to disturbing and illegal transmissions.

The consumption of illegal substances affects all aspects of society. Unfortunately, station owners sometimes encounter malicious interference from people who have let go of their inhibitions under the influence of alcohol and / or other drugs. The only way to approach these individuals is to ignore them. According to any conjecture, engaging in a fruitful conversation with someone in a drunken state would not be productive.

Underlying Factors

As a registered psychologist for 35 years, I was put in contact with several types of personalities. I feel that many of the operators creating malicious interference are individuals with psychological disorders. The behavior of QRM transmitters that we observe, in large part, is not driven by us but by the overall mental health of the delinquent operator.

Most of us would agree that those who deliberately interfere have a need for attention and recognition. These operators tend to use inappropriate aggression, which corresponds to anger directed towards others rather than to the source of their frustration, while passing to the act with a rather childish behavior. These lovers tend to rationalize their behaviors by thinking that others believe as they do, and they can project their self-image towards others. The overuse of defense mechanisms by such individuals tends to create anxiety and emotional disturbances.

Inappropriate group behavior is created by spreading responsibility. Some disturbing QRM hot spots – where there are swear words, insults and bad operating procedures – are self-perpetuated by a “Do Me Like Me” attitude. There is this feeling that if someone else can get away with this behavior, I too can. It is preferable to avoid these frequencies in order to lessen their impact and decrease the number of listeners that these people desperately seek.

Multiple Call Signs

An indicator of multiple call signs and multiple personalities. Its an interesting observation how the persona changes when the call signs are used.

What you can do

How can you make your amateur radio experience more enjoyable? You can avoid tuning frequencies that promote toxic and provoking behavior, and that demonstrate a need to attract attention. Like children, these resorts have terribly wanting attention. If they are deprived of this attention, they will feel unrewarded and often they will leave the frequency. If someone chooses to do the QRM, ignore it. Challenging him will let him know that it annoys you, and this will reinforce the idea in him to continue. In the worst case, when the offending station transmits, announce a change in frequency and exit.

Do you see yourself in a mirror here? On occasion stress and anger affect us all.

When it gets bad, close your radio! Recognize your feelings before they get you into trouble, and face the unhappy person in an appropriate arena. Amateur radio is a great hobby that offers a positive life outlet to most of us. Let’s not spoil it with unnecessary behaviors that detract from the quality of our hobby.


(1) QRMer; Pronounced in English by some as “Quarter”.
(2) World Administrative Radio Conference (WARC)

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