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Net Notes

net management

From: Presentation given by Lance Morris, April 2011


There are various types of nets – social nets, laid back, not too formal, and emergency nets: informational, tactical, local, section, region, area.

When you get to emergency nets, that’s a whole different situation … chaos, confusion, lots of people talking, nothing getting done.
The key thing to being a net control operator is the word control.
Whatever the level of the net, you must maintain control, not be an announcer. If it’s a directed net, you’re the director, be prepared for leadership. You must maintain the set procedures, explain the purpose of the net, have a preamble and stick to it, and be sure others stick to it. You have a time for check-ins, allotted time for taking announcements; the purpose of having a structure is to maintain order. You keep a log, write down the names, full call signs, location (when called for) of the participants as they check in, note the information from any announcements, and that’s just on a social net.
If it’s a traffic or emergency net, you need to be more prepared:

Check your equipment and make sure you are operational and readable, or hand off the responsibility to someone who is readable.

Have pen/pencil & paper handy.

Remember to identify yourself and the net at least every ten minutes.

Don’t allow illegal transmissions (no call sign given), call them on it immediately and do not be a party to an illegal transmission yourself.

Determine what the objectives of the net are and stay within those confines, don’t let it get out of hand or become something for which it’s not intended.

If you’re calling a net and there is an emergency, there will be someone there to help handle it.
#1 is always to stay calm, maintain your composure, get the information you need. Stick to the old-time “Ws”: Who Where What When & How.
Ask who you’re listening to, if they haven’t already identified; where are you, what has happened, when, how can we help, what do you need? Once you’ve determined what needs to be done to solve the problem, ask if there’s anyone on frequency who can take the appropriate action. Write everything down and be able to repeat the information you’ve gathered when necessary. You manage the flow of communication.

Listen to the SkyWarn nets, they specify the kind of information they need reported in order to minimize a lot of unnecessary chatter and focus on what is pertinent to the situation.

Maintain a sense of calm at all times, if you get flustered or frantic, the whole net gets frantic.

If you’re calling an emergency net, if at all possible, set up outside the chaotic location so you can maintain power and hear the transmissions more clearly.

There are plenty of helps, tips, and information out there, just google “net control.”
You are encouraged to call a net, even if not on a regular basis. It’s the best training and way of gaining experience for when there is an emergency. Take that first step.


From: Presentation given by Pat Lane, April 2011


“During disasters or other emergencies, radiograms are used to communicate information critical to saving lives or property, or to inquire about the health or welfare of a disaster victim.”


The Radiogram Form is divided into four sections:


1. The Preamble Section – consisting of 8 fields is detailed below.

2. The Address Section (recipient's contact information) – be sure to also write the recipient’s entire phone number including area code.
3. The Text Section – keep the message brief, less than 20 words whenever possible. Write five words/ groups per row for an easier count. (A “group” has a space on the left and on the right, such as a word.) Do not use the period. X-ray is never the last word in a message. X is the separator and counts as a word. No standard punctuation is used.

4. The Signature – this is your signature if you’re the person first putting this message into ARRL radiogram format.

Section 1, the preamble section contains eight fields:




Station of Origin


Place of Origin

Time Filed


Number: This is the Originator's reference number. It can be anything the Originator likes. Some people use a four-number date code, such as 1216. Others use a sequential number, indicating the number of messages they've handled this month or year. At the end of the message relay, the receiver will confirm the message using this number. The number stays with the message from origination to delivery.

Precedence: Emergency first, then Priority, Welfare, and Routine last

emergency (Spelled out on form.): Any message having life and death urgency to any person or group of persons, which is transmitted by Amateur Radio in the absence of regular commercial facilities. This includes official messages of welfare agencies during emergencies requesting supplies, materials or instructions vital to relief of stricken populace in emergency areas. During normal times, it will be very rare. On CW/RTTY, this designation will always be spelled out. When in doubt, do not use it.

priority (P): Use abbreviation P on CW/RTTY. This classification is for a) important messages having a specific time limit, b) official messages not covered in the emergency category, c) press dispatches and emergency related traffic not of the utmost urgency, d) notice of death or injury in a disaster area, personal or official.

welfare (W): This classification, abbreviated as W on CW/RTTY, refers to either an inquiry as to the health and welfare of an individual in the disaster area or an advisory from the disaster area that indicates all is well. Welfare traffic is handled only after all emergency and priority traffic is cleared. The Red Cross equivalent to an incoming Welfare message is DWI (Disaster Welfare Inquiry).

routine (R): Most traffic in normal times will bear this designation. In disaster situations, traffic labeled Routine (R on CW/RTTY) should be handled last, or not at all when circuits are busy with higher precedence traffic.

HX (Handling Instructions): The codes HXA through HXG determine how the message is to be handled. HX codes are optional, and not used if not needed. (HX codes are listed in the NTS manual; link is provided below. They mostly pertain to making collect phone calls and are generally no longer necessary because of the use of cell phones.)

Station of Origin: This is the call sign of the first Amateur station who put the message into ARRL radiogram format. It may or may not be the actual originator of the message text.

Check: This is the count of the number of words/groups in the text of the message. The check provides a way to confirm that the message was copied exactly as written. If the text of the message contains an ARL code, the letters “ARL” will precede the check number. Note that ARL followed by the check number has no relation to the actual ARL number used in the text of the message. (Example: ARL 63 is one group in the text section.) The check count includes closing salutations, but does not include the signature. (You can download the “ARRL Radiogram Via Amateur Radio” form that lists all the HX codes and the ARL codes. Link below.)

Place of Origin: Not necessarily the same as the Station of Origin, this is the location (the City and State) of the person indicated in the signature, i.e., the author of the message text.

Time Filed: This is the time that the Station of Origin created the radiogram. When using the time field, always use Zulu time (write the Z, and take note if it makes the date fall into the next day.)

Date Filed: This is the date that the Station of Origin created the radiogram. The date should not be omitted, since traffic handling depends on it.


Note: The following website http://tricountytraffic.net/Radiogram.html has interactive radiogram forms you can practice with, that you can type into and print out, or print out blank to use.

More fully-detailed explanations are here (also covers OP Note): http://www.arrl.org/files/file/Public%2520Service/MPG104A.pdf

Once a message has been formalized and entered into the NTS (National Traffic System) it is called "Traffic". An NTS Liaison is a person who is authorized to and will pass the traffic from its local origin, through the system to its destination exactly as it was originated.

Speak clearly. Use standard phonetics. Spell out numbers. Accuracy is paramount.


Below is the address to ARRL’s web site that contains links to several different areas of information and guidelines related to the National Traffic System. (Overview)


Also, a downloadable PowerPoint presentation is available on that page by clicking on the heading: National Traffic System—An Introduction.

Below is the address to get the actual ARRL Radiogram form (download pdf file) and line-by-line explanations (FSD-218).


Below is the address for the NTS operating manual. You can click on “learn more” under each section.


Full credit is hereby given to the ARRL for any of their information that appears in this document and is being used for training purposes only.




Linda Ware,
Dec 1, 2013, 12:48 PM