My First Delivery of NTS Traffic

It was 10:40PM on the Heavy Hitters Traffic Net. John W1ZNY (now a silent key) listed a
piece of traffic for Quincy. I had been checking into the Traffic Nets for about 2 weeks
and I finally built up the courage to take a piece of traffic.

I jumped in at the next listing of traffic and said, “N1LKJ for Quincy”. The Net Control
quickly replied, “N1LKJ for Quincy”. “W1ZNY please call N1LKJ and pass 1 Quincy
on frequency”. “Roger” came the reply from W1ZNY. “N1LKJ from W!ZNY are you
ready to copy”? “Yes” I replied “But go slow, its my first time”. “No problem” said
John. “Please copy message ” and he passed me the message at a copyable pace.

Shortly after that I was cleared from the Net. It was now about 10:45PM and I was very
proud of myself and quickly reached for the phone to deliver the traffic. After several
rings the phone was answered by a female voice, who the message was indented for.

I introduced my self and told her I had a message for her from Courage Handy Hams in
Golden Valley Minnisota. I then proceeded to give her the message. She thanked me for
the message and then said. “Please don’t deliver me any more messages after 10 o’clock
because I am a handicapped person, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on others
to put me into bed”. My stomach fell to my feet and I profusely apologized to her.

She quickly accepeted my apology. I told her it was my first piece of traffic I ever delivered
and after that she asked me questions about Ham Radio and we talked for a few minutes.
Needless to say I learned a very important lesson. I never delivered another piece of traffic
after 9:00PM, except of course if it was emergency traffic or Mars Traffic.

The women became a regular user of the NTS, for sending out greetings to friends and
relatives all over the country. Sadly she passed away a few years ago, but I will never
forget that first piece of traffic.


Traffic Handling Class “A Great Success”

EMA NTS logoJim Ward, N1LKJ wrote:

The NTS Training Session conducted by Mark, W2EAG was completed the end of May. The 13 week course met once each week. Those who completed the course were: Bill Mcinerney, N1KBV of Bourne; Ed Maccaferri, KB1ERV of Plymouth; John Mahon, N1PYN of Brockton; Kenton Bradshaw, KB1ESG of Falmouth; Andrew Bullington, W1AWB of Siaconset; George Allen, N1NBQ of Nantucket; John Dehahy, Jr., W1ABS of Centerville; Kenneth Pereault, N1KP of Swansea.

We congratulate all who completed the course. We also wish to commend their instructor, Mark Rappaport, W2EAG for the great job he did in presenting the course. All stations who completed the course received a Certificate of Achievement from Section Traffic Manager Jim Ward, N1LKJ.

Everyone can anticipate another class in the Boston area sometime in the fall.

-Jim Ward N1LKJ, STM-EMA

Traffic Handling Training on the Air!

A new traffic handling training net will begin on Thursday evenings at 8 p.m., beginning February 13th, on the Falmouth repeater (146.655, no tone). This is an excellent method to learn about traffic handling. It’s also excellent training for RACES/ARES groups. Many thanks to Mark, W2EAG for leading this effort, and to the Falmouth Amateur Radio Association for hosting the net.

ARRL Eastern Massachusetts Section
Section Manager: Phillip Temples, K9HI

“Eastern Area Net”

fiction by Phil Temples, K9HI

published, January 5, 2003

This story, while fictionalized, serves as an introduction to the National Traffic System beyond the local nets. The dedicated hams who relay traffic throughout the US and Canada are role models for all who aspire to this high service.


I transmitted the net name, “EAN” indicating to stations that they should now “QNI” or “check in” to the Eastern Area Net. This particular net was being conducted via Morse code, an efficient mode for this sort of work. Traffic would be heavy this Tuesday evening, just a few days before Christmas. I was Net Control Station, or “NCS” of the Eastern Area Net, a clearing house for all formal, written radiogram messages passing between regions in the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. and Canada.

As NCS of the net it was my responsibility to act as the “master of ceremonies” to ensure that stations with messages for one region would get hooked up to their counterparts in other regions to send, receive and relay messages destined for other nets.

In response to my call, I heard:


“…Dah dah.”

“… …Dididit.”

Three stations came back simultaneously with different “signs” and on slightly different frequencies a few Hertz apart. The result was a not-unpleasant melody of varying pitches spelling out letters like “E”, “M” and “S.” They were easily distinguishable to the ear. I thought I recognized the swing in the “M” emanating from the semi-automatic key “fist” of W2MTA.

“Dah dah,”I replied, pressing one side of the Bencher paddle to form the dashes indicating that the station signing “M” should go ahead.

Immediately I heard, “…DE W2MTA PAN RX QRU.

Bill’s regular schedule, or “sked” involved him acting as the receiving station (“RX”) for message traffic destined for the Pacific Area Net. Bill used a standard Q signal, “QRU” to indicate that he had no traffic to send.

W2MTA R AS,” I replied. “R” meant “received.” And the letters “AS” sent together “didahdididit” instructed him to standby.

DE …”

DE,” I replied, in turn.

“…W2EAG 1RN TX QTC CAN 12 3RN 5 4RN 3 AR.”

W2EAG, Mark in Taunton, Massachusetts was the First Region Net Transmit station. His list of traffic, or “QTC” included the traffic’s destination followed by actual number of messages. Clearly, Central Area Receive was going to be busy this evening. In addition, Mark listed traffic for the Third and Fourth Regions.

Sending radiogram traffic on Morse code can be an absolute pleasure. One of the real advantages one has using Morse code over voice is something called “full break-in.” If Mark had been transmitting simultaneously, or “doubling” with another station he would have quickly known this by hearing the dots and dashes of someone else’s signals between his own. The concept is similar to a group at a party who begin to speak all at once, then pause and allow one to proceed. Traffic handlers refer to full break-in as “QSK.” Sent as a question, QSK means, “Can you receive between my signals?” As a statement it means, “I can receive between your signals.”


I instructed the sender of “U” to proceed.


Marcia, KW1U, from Martha’s Vineyard was accepting messages on behalf of the Central Area Net. Marcia would check in directly to the Central Area Net in one hour with any messages she received off the Eastern Area Net.

I decided to get down to business.


“…dah,” replied Marcia, immediately.


“…dit,” Mark responded, about fifty milliseconds later.

“D 10 CAN.”

Simultaneously I heard two “dahs” from Marcia and Mark, respectively, acknowledging my instructions.

In less than six seconds I had instructed both stations to move off frequency’specifically “D 10” or “down ten kilohertz.” It was understood that Marcia would be receiving traffic destined for CAN. As the receiver, she would call Mark on the closest open frequency “down ten” per my instructions.

“EAN K.” Ready for more business.


I acknowledged the “B” station.

“…DE VE3BDM ECN TX 1RN 4 2RN 3 4RN 6 8RN 2 AR.”

George in Elizabethtown, Ontario, acting as Eastern Canada Net’s TX station, listed his QTC.

Without so much as an “R” for acknowledgement I decided to hook George up with the Fourth Region Net Receive station–a station who had not yet checked in.

“4RN RX QNI,” I sent to the net. In other words, “Fourth Region Net Receive station please check in now.”

“…DE W4ANK 4RN RX QRU,” came the reply.

I dispatched the two off frequency:


I heard a quick “dit” and “dah” response from W4ANK and VE3BDM as they headed “Up Seven” to handle the Fourth Region traffic.

Ten minutes later, I had Transmit and Receive stations checked in from the First, Second, Third, Fourth, Eighth and Eastern Canada Region Nets. I also had TX and RX stations from the Central and Pacific Area Nets. The latter were members of the TCC or “Transcontinental Corps”, an elite group who liaise between the three Area nets.

An Alternate Transmit, or “ALT TX” station from First Region Net came to EAN. The 1RN Net Control Station had wisely decided to spread the load of outgoing traffic between two stations instead of a single TX station. To further assist with the heavy volume I also had 2RN- and a 3RN ALT RX stations standing by if needed. One other station with no assignment casually checked in, “QRU.” I politely excused him from the net.

I consulted the “bingo sheet,” my low-tech, pencil-and-paper solution for tracking the locations and traffic lists of all stations on the Net. By my calculations I had facilitated the passing of roughly 60 percent of the traffic listed. Several stations were “queued” up off frequency awaiting their turn to send traffic to receiving stations.

Using my auxiliary VFO, I tuned down 20 kHz to hear how the Fourth Region Net Receive and Third Region Transmit stations were doing. Everything sounded copasetic.

“…AR 1.”


The 3RN TX ended a message with the pro sign “AR” followed by the number 1, indicating that he had one more message left to transmit. 4RN RX acknowledged that he was ready to copy the next message by answering with a single “dit”. I decided that it was time to have the next station with 4RN traffic queued up and ready to go.

I flipped back to the net frequency.

“HRI,” I sent, addressing the 1RN Alternate TX, WB1HRI.

“Dit,” replied WB1HRI.

“QNQ D 20 W4ANK 4RN,” I said. (Translation: “Change frequency down 20 kHz and wait for W4ANK to finish handling traffic. Then send him traffic for 4RN.”)

G,” he replied. (“Going.”)

Just like that, it was done.

I dialed “Up 20” to listen to the traffic flow between the 2RN TX and 3RN RX stations. Things were a little rough. The Receive station had instructed the Transmit station to “QRS 10” or “Send more slowly, 10 words per minute.” There was a significant amount of signal fading, or “QSB” between the two stations.

Solid copy is paramount when handling radiograms; speed takes a back seat to accuracy. I’ve heard veteran traffic handlers slow down to less than five wpm when the situation warranted.



The receiving station hit his key to interrupt. When he heard the TX station had stopped, RX sent, “AA MERRY.” Translation: “ALL AFTER the word MERRY.”

A causal operator might assume that the word in question was CHRISTMAS. When handling traffic, however, one does not assume. Instead, one requests a “fill” by using pro signs such as AA (“All After”), AB (“All Before”), BN (“BetweeN”) and so forth.

The sending station picked up with the word MERRY and continued sending the rest of the message slowly.

Back on the Net frequency I heard, “QRL?” A station that was not a part of the Net was inquiring, “Is the frequency in use?”

“QRL” I replied. (“The frequency is in use.”)

“SRI.” The station apologized for the intrusion and left.

A moment later, I heard: “OKN NG” followed immediately by, “…FTX.”

The previous exchange between the 3RN RX and 2RN TX stations had gone poorly. W3OKN had indicated a busted exchange by saying “NG”, or “No Go.” Following proper procedure, they returned to net frequency to await further instructions. It was time to get them a relay–someone located in a favorable QTH who could both hear and be heard by them.

“OKN FTX AS,” I replied. “Standby.” Then I called for a relay.


Dah.” W4ABC responded.

I said, “QNB W3OKN N4FTX U 20.”

I heard three “dits” confirming that all three stations acknowledged my instructions for W4ABC to act as a relay for W3OKN and N4FTX. All three went up 20 kHz to try again.

Things were rolling along. The net had been in session for thirty five minutes. Everyone who had their traffic cleared had been “QNX” or excused from the net. Eight stations were currently passing traffic, or queued up waiting. I had had no new check-ins for ten minutes. I decided to officially close the net.

QNC QRU EAN QNF TU GUD WRK ALL.” Translation: “Announcement. No traffic for Eastern Area Net. The Net is Free. Thank You. Good Work, Everyone.”

I remained on frequency for the next 15-20 minutes, excusing returning stations and thanking them individually. In the space of 55 or so minutes, we had collectively relayed 67 messages with 100 percent accuracy. Tomorrow evening a whole different group of Amateur operators would get together and do it all over again, as it’s done every day of the week, 365 days per year.

Request For Comments: NTS and ARES Cooperation

Happy Thanksgiving, EMA traffic handlers!

I wanted to share this Request For Information from the ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee, via Steve Ewald at ARRL Hq. VRC feels that more cooperation is needed between NTS and ARES programs. They are looking for input from Section Managers, Section Traffic Managers and Section Emergency Coordinators as to how this might occur.

Additionally, I invite comments from any NTS or ARES participants.


Phil Temples, K9HI

ARRL Section Manager,
Eastern Massachusetts Section

ARRL Section Managers,

The ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee has asked me to forward this letter to you.
Thank you very much for your help.


Steve, WV1X

Dear Section Managers,

It has never been more important for the volunteers in ARRL’s
emergency communications programs to serve with professionalism and
excellence. During the past year, the Volunteer Resources Committee
has been studying the ARRL’s programs related to emergency
communications (see Minute 35, Board of Directors meeting, January
2002, March QST, page 64). This review was undertaken not only because
of the growing concern for homeland security following September 11,
2001, but also because of the ongoing need to ensure that Amateur
Radio responds effectively to disasters unrelated to terrorism —
floods, hurricanes, forest fires, earthquakes, hazardous materials
incidents, etc.

Several inter-related themes have emerged during the study. One is
that Amateur Radio must earn and maintain increased credibility with
served agencies, both nationally and at the local level. Another is
that Amateur Radio emergency communications volunteers must be more
actively involved in a variety of training experiences throughout the
year. Finally, although ARES and NTS are (and will continue to be)
structurally separate in your Section Field Organizations, these two
volunteer programs need to work more cooperatively, functioning as
part of one coherent emergency communications program at the Section

The VRC believes that both ARES and NTS are valuable programs, and so
we will propose no structural change at the Section Level. We are
convinced that more cooperation is needed, however.

Some Sections have achieved a high degree of functional integration
and cooperation between ARES and NTS. In other Sections, each may
operate as though the other did not exist. The VRC believes that close
cooperation between ARES and NTS, with mutual respect and pooling of
expertise, is the best way to serve agencies effectively and to earn
credibility as fully-skilled emergency communicators.

The VRC will recommend that leadership officials in both ARES and NTS
be strongly encouraged to achieve certification in the ARRL’s
Emergency Communications certification program. We will also recommend
that grass-roots volunteers be encouraged to pass at least the Level 1
certification. Along with the many other benefits of certification,
ARES and NTS operators will gain better understanding of and
appreciation for the value of both programs.

The VRC requests all Section Managers (in consultation with your SEC’s
and STM’s) and the three NTS Area Staff Chairmen to develop a vision
of how a closer working relationship can be effected between ARES and

Input from all Section Managers is needed, because Sections are very
different from one another.

1. If your Section has already brought ARES and NTS together quite
well, please describe how it is done, what problems may have arisen,
and how the problems were resolved. Your success stories will provide
ideas to other Section Managers.

2. If your Section’s ARES and NTS are functionally separate now,
you are asked to work with your SEC and STM to develop a plan for
bringing them into closer cooperation. Please describe your thought
process: what do you see as the major issues to be considered, the
important problems to be solved, and the major goals to be achieved?

Please post comments as soon as possible on the SM reflector. ARRL HQ
Staff will see that your input is relayed to the VRC, so it can be
considered as we prepare our report to the Board.

Thank you for working with us toward the goal of serving our
communities and our country to the best of Amateur Radio’s capability.


New EMA Section Traffic Manager Appointed

It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Jim Ward, N1LKJ as the new Eastern Massachusetts Section Traffic Manager effective June 1,2002. Jim replaces outgoing STM Bill Wornham, NZ1D of Townsend, MA…
Jim Ward has been licensed for over ten years. He currently holds a General Class license. Jim has been an active traffic handler for over 10 years, and has served as Net Manager of the Eastern MA Two Meter Traffic Net (EM2MN) for eight years. *N1LKJ* enjoys DXing, PSK, Packet and RTTY modes.

A retired commercial property manager, Jim has been married 40 years this September to his wife, Diane. They have three daughters and six grandchildren.

Jim inherits a well-managed operation from NZ1D. I want to thank Bill for his efforts! I’m sure that Jim can count on Bill’s sage advice, as well as the assistance of all the wonderful traffic handlers in the EMA section.