From: [email protected] (Jeffrey Herman)
Subject: Guide to the Newsgroups
Date: 9 Nov 2001 06:18:17 GMT
Message-ID: <[email protected]>
Summary: This article provides an overview of the newsgroups devoted
         to the personal radio services (amateur and CB), describes
         each newsgroup and its charter, and gives a brief tutorial
         on netiquette.
Keywords: faq radio amateur ham cb netiquette
X-Last-Updated: 1999/05/16
Posting-Frequency: 15th of each month

Archive-name: radio/personal-intro

This message describes the*,,, and newsgroups, as well as their Internet
mailing list counterparts and complements. It is intended to serve as a
guide for the new reader on what to find where. Questions and comments may
be directed to Jeffrey Herman, KH6O, [email protected], or Paul Schleck,
K3FU, [email protected].

This message was last changed on 14 March, 1998.


Way back when, before there was a Usenet, the Internet hosted a mailing
list for hams, called (appropriately enough) INFO-HAMS. Ham radio
discussions were held on the mailing list, and sent to the mailboxes of
those who had signed up for it. When the Usenet software was created, and
net news as we now know it was developed, a newsgroup was created for
hams: net.ham-radio. The mailing list and the newsgroup were gatewayed
together, eventually.

Over the years, as the net grew, the volume of discussion became
progressively higher. First one by one, and then as part of two
reorganizations, what was once one group became many. In the process,
developments elsewhere on the net were reflected in the groups as they
were created, most notably the change to place all of the ham radio groups
in one hierarchy.

The collection of newsgroups continues to grow as more people join the
net, and as more topics of discussion gain volume, I expect to see more
groups be created as well. This follows what is happening on the rest of
the net.

Nearly all of the radio newsgroups have corresponding mailing lists, the
notable exception being There are also a few mailing lists
that don't have newsgroups.

The Current Groups

It's important to post messages to the group that's appropriate for them,
and not to the groups that aren't. The whole idea of having different
newsgroups is so that folks who aren't interested in, say, homebrewing,
don't have to wade through messages about homebrewing on the way to read
about Field Day. Posting appropriately is just good etiquette.

The group is the catchall. It is what rec.ham-radio
was renamed to during the first major reorganization. Any amateur radio-
related message that's not more appropriate in one of the other groups
belongs here, from contesting to DX to ragchewing on VHF to information on
becoming a ham.

The group is for discussions related to
(surprise!) digital amateur radio. This doesn't have to be the common
two-meter AX.25 variety of packet radio, either; some of the most
knowledgeable folks in radio digital communications can be found here, and
anything in the general area is welcome. The name was changed to emphasize
this, and to encourage discussion not only of other text-based digital
modes, such as AMTOR, RTTY, and Clover, but things like digital voice and
video as well. The former group,, was removed on
September 21st, 1993. It is obsolete, and you should use .digital.misc
instead (or the appropriate new mailing list, mentioned below).  The group
has .misc as part of the name to allow further specialization if the users
wish it, such as .digital.tcp-ip.

The swap group is This recognizes a fact that became
evident shortly after the original group was formed: Hams don't just swap
ham radio gear, and other folks besides hams swap ham equipment. If you
have radio equipment, or test gear, or computer stuff that hams would be
interested in, here's the place. Equipment wanted postings belong here
too. Discussions about the equipment generally don't; if you wish to
discuss a particular posting with the buyer, email is a much better way to
do it, and the other groups, especially .equipment and .homebrew, are the
place for public discussions. There is now a regular posting with
information on how to go about buying and selling items in;
please refer to it before you post there. To answer a frequently asked
question: No, there is no mailing list that goes along with this group. If
you can't read Usenet news directly, you're out of luck.

The group was created as a place for all the
discussions that seem to drag on interminably about the many rules,
regulations, legalities, and policies that surround amateur radio, both
existing and proposed.  Recent changes to the Amateur Radio Rules (FCC
Part 97) have finally laid to rest the Great Usenet Pizza Autopatch Debate
- it's now legal to order a pizza on the autopatch, if you're not in the
pizza business - as well as complaints about now-preempted local scanner
laws hostile to amateurs, but plenty of discussion about what a bunch of
rotten no-goodniks the local frequency coordinating body is, as well as
the neverending no-code debate, may still be found here.

The group is the place for all discussion about the Citizens'
Band radio service. Such discussions have been very inflammatory in
rec.ham-radio in the past; please do not cross-post to both
and* unless the topic is genuinely of interest to both
hams and CBers - and very few topics are.

The group is just what its name implies: it's the place
where informational messages from across* may be found,
regardless of where else they're posted. As of this writing, information
posted to the group includes Cary Oler's daily solar progagation
bulletins, ARRL bulletins, the Frequently Asked Questions files for the
various groups, and radio modification instructions. This group is
moderated, so you cannot post to it directly; if you try, even if your
message is crossposted to one of the other groups, your message will be
mailed to the moderator, who is currently David Dodell, WB7TPY. The email
address for submissions to the group is
[email protected]. Inquires and other adminis- trivia
should be directed to [email protected]. For more
information about, consult the introduction and posting
guidelines that are regularly posted to that newsgroup.

The groups r.r.amateur.antenna, .boatanchors, .dx, .equipment, .homebrew,
and .space are for more specialized areas of ham radio: discussions about
antennas, the older tube based amateur, military, and commercial gear,
commercially-made equipment, homebrewing, and amateur radio space
operations. The .equipment group is NOT the place for buying or selling
equipment; that's what is for. Similarly, the .space group
is specifically about amateur radio in space, such as the OSCAR program
and SAREX, the Shuttle Amateur Radio EXperiment; other groups cover other
aspects of satellites and space. Homebrewing isn't about making your own
alcoholic beverages at home (that's rec.crafts.brewing), but rather
construction of radio and electronic equipment by the amateur
experimenter. The .dx group is devoted to long distance amateur
communications. Each of these subgroups has its own charter and FAQ;
please refer to the archives to find these documents.

Except for and, all of these newsgroups are
available by Internet electronic mail in digest format; send a mail
message containing "help" on a line by itself to [email protected] for
instructions on how to use the mail server.

All of the groups can be posted to by electronic mail, though, by using a
gateway at the University of Texas at Austin. To post a message this way,
change the name of the group you wish to post to by replacing all of the
'.'s with '-'s - for example, becomes rec-radio-swap - and
send to that [email protected] ([email protected], for
example). You may crosspost by including multiple addresses as Cc: entries
(but see below). This gateway's continued availability is at the pleasure
of the admins at UT-Austin, and is subject to going away at any time - and
especially if forgeries and other net.abuses become a problem. You have
been warned.

Mailing Lists

In addition to the mailing lists that mirror the Usenet newsgroups, there
also are a few that stand alone. These cover specific areas of ham radio,
and discussion is focused on just those areas. PLEASE BE SURE TO SAVE THE

The cq-contest mailing list is for discussions of contesting in ham radio.
To join, send an email to [email protected].

The DX mailing list covers the finer points of DXing. This one is also
joined by mailing "subscribe" on a line by itself, this time to
[email protected].

There's also a VHF mailing list, for VHF operators of the weak signal
persuasion. You can join this one be sending "subscribe vhf" on a line by
itself to [email protected].

The QRP-L list is devoted to building and operating gear at low-power
outputs. To subscribe, send an email to [email protected] and only
write:    subscribe qrp-l Your Name.

The TopBand e-list is devoted to all areas of operation on 160m. To
subscribe, send an email to [email protected] and only write:
subscribe topband and follow the instructions you'll be sent. This site,, also hosts a couple dozen other ham-related e-lists. Use
the above address, and only write:  lists to get the entire index.

The Boatanchors e-list is devoted to the older tube-based ham, military,
and commercial communications gear. To subscribe, send an email to:
[email protected] and only write: subscribe boatanchors

For homebuilding transmitters and receivers using tube technology,
there is the Glowbugs e-list; send an email to:
[email protected] and only write: 
subscribe glowbugs 

The VHF DX discussion list can be accessed by sending an email
to:  [email protected]  and only writing: subscribe VHF-DX-discuss.

We now have a list devoted to amateur radio history. To subscribe,
send an email to: [email protected] - leave
the body of the message blank. hosts over 100 ham-related e-lists, including lists devoted
to each state, manufacturer, mode, band - too many to state here. Send
an email to [email protected] and only write:  lists    to get the
complete index.

For one of the most complete indexes of email lists, see the excellent
web site

Please do NOT send subscription requests to the mailing lists themselves;
that doesn't work very often, and is very annoying to those on the list.
Also, please keep your electronic mail address current with any mailing
lists you subscribe to, as dealing with returned email is a nuisance for the
person maintaining the mailing list.

A Few Words on Crossposting

Please do not crosspost messages to two or more groups unless there is genuine
interest in both groups in the topic being discussed, and when you do, please
include a header line of the form "Followup-To:" in your article's
headers (before the first blank line). This will cause followups to your
article to go to the group listed in the Followup-To: line. If you wish
to have replies to go to you by email, rather than be posted, use the word
"poster" instead of the name of a group. Such a line appears in the headers
of this article.

One of the few examples of productive cross-posting is with the
newsgroup. To provide a filtered presentation of information articles, while
still maintaining visibility in their home newsgroups, the moderator strongly
encourages cross-posting. All information articles should be submitted to the moderator so that he may simultaneously cross-post your
information to the appropriate newsgroups. Most newsreaders will only present
the article once, and network bandwidth is conserved since only one article is
propagated. If you make regular informational postings, and have made
arrangements with the moderator to post directly to the group, please
cross-post as appropriate.

Jeffrey Herman, KH6O

Telecommunication Specialist          Mathematics  Lecturer
      U.S. Coast Guard             University of Hawaii System
   jherman @             jeffreyh @