Holiday Greetings to All,
It is that time of year and I want to wish all a very happy, healthy and safe holiday season. We hope you will consider keeping the nets busy with radiogram greetings. They’re fun to deliver and recipients are usually surprised. We know too that some will be traveling or visiting with family and may miss net assignments. While we try to get our nets covered, sometimes that just doesn’t seem to work out. If anyone is looking for a net and finds no net control station, feel free to call the net. No need for a formal preamble of proper procedure in such a case. It is more important to just get any traffic passed. No pressure, no criticism. You may even find it fun and a rewarding experience.
I was looking over some reports over the past ten months and found some interesting statistics. Both traffic and check-ins took a dip during the summer months but picked up again in September and October. No surprise! We in New England are back indoors and looking for something to do. The total of messages passed for January through October is 4591 and the total check-ins for the same period is 10,806. That’s an average of 459 messages and 1080 check-ins per month. That’s a pretty impressive record in my book. Thanks to the dedication of all of you!
NTS Participation in November SET
I’m sure most of you are aware of the recent SET conducted in Eastern Mass on November 11. Thanks to Jon N1ILZ, Michael WZ0C and Rob KD1CY as well as Peter KC1HHO and others, we had good NTS participation. Coordination between the NTS and ARES programs is a national goal of ARRL and we in our section are working toward that goal. In a disaster or other emergent situation ARES folks are best known for local support of emergency service agencies while NTS has the network to handle long haul messaging, particularly welfare traffic. Knowing what to do and being prepared to do it is important for both. This exercise had it’s successes as well as things learned and leadership, under our section manager Jon N1ILZ, intends to follow through with those lessons before the next SET in February. Stay tuned.
NTS 2.0 Updates
Want to know what is happening with the NTS 2.0 mission? Check out the website nts2.arrl.org and the NTS Letter. Anyone can access the website, but to receive the NTS Letter one must be an ARRL member and opt in on the ARRL website to receive it by email.
While you may not currently find much that’s new on the website, except of course for Michael WZ0C’s video presentation (noted below), the teams continue to meet each week and several projects are underway. One project we feel is very important concerns recognition of traffic handlers. This documentation has been forwarded to the EC&FSC at ARRL for review. More on that later. Also we continue to press forward with the Net Directory project. That is still waiting for the swamped IT department to move forward. Also we have begun work on the production of training videos. More on that later.
You have no doubt heard about Michael WZ0C’s APRS-NTS Gateway, allowing folks with APRS capability to connect to the gateway and send radiograms that will be entered into the Digital Traffic Network. You will note in the October report that this gateway is definitely being used as more and more folks become aware of it. Note that radiograms have been coming from all over the country as well as abroad. Michael says it’s a good way to be able to access the network when traveling or otherwise unable to get into a traffic net. Note a new video on the nts2.arrl.org website under Training and Documents Special Topics created by Michael which describes this gateway and how to send a radiogram. If you are an APRS capable station, give it a try. For information check this video.
Learn or Brush-up on your CW?
Morse code can be a lot of fun and has been gaining in popularity. Want to learn CW or brush up on skills long since forgotten? There are two well known groups that offer classes. CWOPS offers different levels from beginner upward, accessed via Zoom. Check out https://cwops.org/cw-academy/. These classes are free.
Also the Long Island CW Club is an international group offering all levels of CW training also via Zoom. It does require membership in the organization however. They ask for a donation of $30 for one year. Multiple classes are ongoing all year long and you can jump in almost any time. I recently learned of a class they are currently conducting concerning the National Traffic System Net Training. Information available on that from N2GSL. The LICW website can be found at longislandcwclub.org.
Spotlight of the Month: N1ILZ
This month I’m spotlighting our illustrious Section Manager and active NTS participant Jon McCombie, N1ILZ. Jon received his Novice class amateur radio license while a Junior in High School in Shawnee Mission KS His call was WB0UGM. There was a radio club in his school and, since he describes himself as “an avid electronics geek, electronics kit builder, and two-way radio enthusiast, ham radio was a perfect match and I was quickly hooked.” Jon says he had heard about NTS and traffic handling reading QST throughout the years and finally in 2020 he tuned into MARIPN where, after listening for awhile he decided to check in. He now net controls that net as well as the Cape and Islands Traffic Net and the First Region Net on a regular basis.
Following an entire professional career in high-tech and IT, especially software systems development and computer networking, it was a natural that digital amateur modes would be a perfect fit. After dabbling in various ham digital modes since the heyday of Packet radio and after learning about the VARA sound card mode for HF, Jon decided to try the Digital Traffic Network (DTN) and has since become a regular relay station from DTN to Cape Cod destinations. Jon says he understands the need for and strongly supports voice and CW nets, but the speed and accuracy with which we can pass traffic using digital modes makes that an important part of the system.
Jon has also been active with the ARRL’s NTS 2.0 initiative. He states, “I’m excited about NTS 2.0, especially the focus ARRL is putting on it. I look forward to seeing NTS 2.0 recognized as the message-handling “division” of ARES/RACES, and as a reliable, trusted service for moving messages generally. I think the sky is the limit re what we can accomplish. We’re off to an excellent start, and I’m thrilled to be working with the NTS 2.0 team to achieve our goals.
Thanks to all for your participation and support. The October report is below.