Originally Posted by rhyary
Why do you have two call signs?
Bruce has a callsign from another country, in this case the Cayman Islands. Our FCC has reciprocity agreements with many other countries' radio spectrum management bodies. If you were to travel to these countries and want to operate you get a callsign to use there. The actual process varies depending on the type of agreement. The exception to this is Canada, you have automatic equivalent privileges and just use your US callsign followed by stroke-VE3 (/VE3). All others you have to get a local callsign.
Another thing is that as I am talking to England, I can here them well 5-9 or 4-6 and then I may loose them for a 2 to 4 second. So it is not steady 4-6. will flactuate 4-6 to 2-3.
RST (just R and S for phone) is largely subjective. Obviously readability for one person is different than another.
The strength to me is also relative because all S-meters are not calibrated and the level is very affected by the receiving station. For example running with your RX pre-amp adds a couple of S-units to the indicated strength or using a beam instead of a vertical will push a stronger strength down the feedline to your radio. Two identical radios and antennas can get different signal strength based on feedline type (coax or twinlead) and quality even.
If the signal is very strong, S9 and higher, it will usually not matter if the pre-amp is on or off, the radio's AGC will roll back to compensate for the added gain. So pre-amp on/off really only affects mid scale. The +whatever is number of decibels over S9, so S9+20 is 20dB over S9. S9 is understood to be 50uV signal strength, so +10dB over would be about 150uV at your receiver, +20, +40, goes up. At S9+60 you are 60dB over 50uV, which is around 50mV.
The fluctuation is fading. Very typical for HF propagation, particularly with verticals and dipoles. Sometimes your path is strong and does not vary much, other times the path comes and goes in minutes. That happens a lot with 6m and 10m during solar cycle transitions, the band will open and close in minutes. The RS report I send on my QSL card is based on the initial contact.