By: Larkin Folsom (NC4AU)
Many of us have considered the possibility of selecting a vanity callsign. This article is intended to discuss the callsign selection process from two different perspectives. We hope this will assist hams who are considering a vanity callsign. With potential FCC application fees looming on the horizon, now would be a great time to apply for one.
I would like to begin this article by mentioning that you do not need to pay a third party to apply for a vanity callsign. You may be tempted to do this as some websites offer this as a service for a rather hefty fee. I nearly made this mistake myself, but after additional research I realized that you can apply for it directlyusing the FCC website.
I first earned my Technician and General class licenses in July2020 using remote testing. Then I took my Extra exam in August 2020. This is where I met Mark (N4MQU). I specifically waited to apply for a vanity callsign until I had upgraded to Extra because it meant I could have access to the full range of callsign configurations. Additionally, I was concerned about having a vanity callsign application still pending when I took my Extra exam. Since the shortest callsigns are difficult to come by, I decided I would pick a 2×2 once I upgraded.
Now that I knew I was going to request a 2×2 vanity callsign, I started thinking of various themes. This was a process of thinking about my interests and coming up with various combinations of letters to represent those interests. After I compiled a list of legal candidate callsigns, I began to search through the FCC database to determine which ones were available.
During my selection process I also considered how difficult the callsign might be to understand if my signal was weak. So, I tried to avoid letters which are more likely to be confused with other letters. I learned from my systematically assigned callsign (KO4FJI) that “f” is often confused with “s”, and I was surprised to find that “j” was often confused with “g”.
I settled on the NC prefix for obvious reasons. Because I like both astronomy and gold, I ultimately decided that my suffix should be AU. In astronomy, AU refers to an Astronomical Unit, which is the distance between the Earth and the Sun. In chemistry, the symbol Au from the Periodic Table, which is derived from the Latin word “Aurum”, refers to gold. This callsign was not used according to the database, so I applied for it. In addition to this callsign, I added several other candidate callsigns to the list that I submitted to the FCC in case someone else took the callsign while my application was still being processed.
After about 20 days, I received a notification that I had been assigned my new callsign, NC4AU. I am very happy with it and I am glad that I put careful thought into selecting it. The next portion of this article is written by W8NTV. She will cover another route to consider when selecting a vanity callsign, which is the concept of multi-generational callsign heritage.
Larkin Folsom (NC4AU)