Digital modes such as PSK have been around for a long time but it appears only a few amateurs have adopted the RSQ (Readability, Strength, Quality) signal reporting method which is much better suited to digital modes where we can't use our hearing to assess the signal.
The RST (Readability, Strength and Tone) works well for Voice and CW but is impossible to apply to narrow signals such as PSK. We typically get a 3kHz wide signal into our software where we watch the waterfall and pick out one of many traces trickling down the waterfall. If we were to listen to the 3kHz wide audio we can hear all traces at once and can not picking the audio of the other station. The PSK31 signal is only 31Hz wide.
So we can't assess the T(one) nor can we assess the S(ignal) quantitatively as the S-Meter is going to display the average of all traces nor can we assess it qualitatively as we can't hear the individual trace.
Readability could be assessed by looking at the decoded test but the 1-5 scale (Unreadable, Barely Readable, Readable with difficulty, Readable, Perfectly Readable) is a very subjective description.
The Current Way
Most of use 599 as the standard report and add additional information at some of the QSO. The 599 indicates nothing more than "Yes , my signal is being decoded", it doesn't tell us anything about the real signal quality. The most common addition we often see is a percentage figure to indicate how much of the transmission is decoding correctly.
The Better Way
The RSQ system overcomes many of the problems listed above.
|Practically no difficulty, occasional missed characters|
|Considerable difficulty, many missed characters|
|Occasional words distinguishable|
|S9||Very Strong trace|
|S1||Barely perceptible trace|
|Q9||Clean signal - no visible unwanted sidebar pairs|
|Q7||One barely visible pair|
|Q5||One easily visible pair|
|Q3||Multiple visible pairs|
|Q1||Splatter over much of the spectrum|
I would encourage everyone to use the RSQ system to provide better and more meaningful signal reports to other stations.