To Slash the Zero or Not to Slash the Zero: Ham Radio Callsigns in the Tenth Call Area

My callsign, KEØOG, is an example of a call in the tenth call area, with the 10 being represented by a 0 (zero). The idea of 0 for 10 is an old one, going back to the old Stroger telephone exchanges—if you dialed a 0 you hear ten clicks (pulses). Anyway, my callsign appears as KE0OG on my license. Many callsigns suffer from the “zero ambiguity,” as the zero can sometimes be interpreted as the letter O. For example, if my callsign were really KØOG, and it appears as K0OG, it could be interpreted as either KOØG or KØOG, both of which are legitimate callsigns.

Since most alphabets make little distinction between the zero and the letter O, we either live with it and hope we can tell via context, or else we use the Alt-0-2-1-6 trick to create the Scandinavian letter Ø. There’s a problem, however. I own the URL (note the slashed zero in the “code” font), which points at the ham radio page on this site. However, if someone types in keØ, then DNS doesn’t know what to do with it and returns a “not found” error. In fact, the Scandinavian Ø is an illegal character that can’t be used in a URL (I tried).

The other option is to use a font in which the zeros are slashed. There are several such fonts available. I thank friend and reader Eric Smith, WAØUAV, for pointing out an excellent article on the subject. The article, which includes several sample fonts, may be found here at K8ZT’s website. Using such fonts is cool for printed materials, but does not offer much help for web sites. The reason is that the web site author doesn’t really have control over the font used to display the text—it can appear differently in different web browsers on different computers.

So what’s the solution? I don’t know—feel free to comment. In QST the ARRL uses a slash-zero font, but only for callsigns. For the web, I’ll keep using the ALT-0-2-1-6 trick (while holding down the Alt key, type 0216 on the numeric keypad, then release the Alt key). I’ll give a couple of the fonts a try for printed material.

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2 Responses to To Slash the Zero or Not to Slash the Zero: Ham Radio Callsigns in the Tenth Call Area

  1. Wayne Schlueter says:

    Can I use your article for our monthly newsletter? “Grounded Grid” Please reply to and that call sign is with a zero? Thank you. Wayne

  2. Rich Pomerleau says:

    Take a peek at: section named: Representation in Unicode and HTML. I use the 0̸ construct for HTML and it serves me well. [Note from Dave: Rich provides the code, but WordPress insists on rendering it, and incorrectly at that. Here is the code, but remove the spaces between the characters: 0 [zero] & # x 3 3 8 ;]

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