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Traffic?
  I was very surprised to discover that one of my radio friends, a HAM of 10 or so years didn't know anything about `HAM radio' traffic. What do you think about when you hear a fellow HAM check in to a net with the comment, `no traffic'? Is it some kind of slang? It is a reference to the RADIO-GRAMS that HAMS send around the world free of charge to anyone in any country that has a 3rd PARTY agreement with the United States. ONLY! The most visible display of this is at presentations of HAM radio, such as at Scout-O-Ramas, (and at commemorative stations at commemorative celebrations) where a booth is setup with pads of RADIO-GRAM forms and a guy with a radio set up in the back of the booth, where he sends the message on its way to is to its destination. The average trip takes about 2 days. It is the basis of the American Radio Relay League, relying messages between two stations that cannot contact each other directly. That is where it got it's name. The American Radio Relay League, serves the United States and Canada! We have a system called the NTS, the National Traffic System it is a ARRL organization. They have special forms printed up and a list of prepared messages that the `customer' can pick from so the message could be from XXX to YYY, message is # 21 or something like that. (something like: I will see you next week. or: It's a boy. (I'm just guessing!) Remember I said: "any country that has a 3rd PARTY agreement with the United States. ONLY!" We (the U.S.A.) only have a 3rd PARTY agreements with countries with `under developed' communications systems. The governments of those countries with reasonably developed communications systems, telephone and telegraph (telegrams) companies, do not want any FREE competition for their local companies. Why? Why do we maintain a system that sends free messages for strangers to other strangers? Seems a bit nutty. This is a special form of public service and the best training to handle emergency traffic in preparation for emergencies. In a true emergency a ham will be `stationed' at the city hall, another at the police department, another at the court house, another on the outskirts of town with beams on towers and an emergency generator, everybody has a handi Talki and can talk to each other, the guy with the beams can talk to Miami and Tallahassee, on H.F., he can also check into the Texas or South Carolina NETS, and pass his traffic on toward it's destination. Some HAMs will tell you most messages are sent and are sent faster using the 'phone NETS, I don't know for sure, but understand the morse code nets are fast and effective. There are lots of people, you will see them at some of the bigger hamfests with a chest full of ribbons, showing the ordinations that they belong to, some of them are high speed C.W. TRAFFIC NETS! They are hoping to meet other fists (operators) that they know only as `radio friends' they are hoping for a eyeball QSO's, possibly set up as `skids.' (schedule) I have used the masculine form in talking about the radio operators here, but in fact the YL's and XYL's among us are well represented in traffic handling, there are a lot of them that can cruse with their bugs (Vibroplex speed keyers) at 45 words per minute all day log.
Ron KA4INM ka4inm@qsl.net