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Weekly 19 Set CW Nets

Updated May 16, 2011

      All stations are welcome to participate in CW operations during the “19 Set Net” (19SN) each MONDAY night on 3607 kHz at 2000 hours Eastern Time.  This net provides training opportunities to enhance your Morse code skills.  A 19 Set is not needed to participate; however, be prepared to hear the distinctive 'chirp' of those wonderful old WWII “boat anchors”.     

    Note that this is a directed net and the NCS (Net Control Station) directs ALL activity.  CW speed is to be kept under 15 WPM with a generous space between words.  Also, be sure to accurately zero-beat on NCS.  Because the W.S. No. 19 is not a “QRK” rig, it is necessary to give a generous pause between receiving and transmitting.   Please read and comply with the net procedures found below.


Wireless Set No. 19 Group  

CW Net Procedures  

 (version  2.4 – 25 Oct 2010)



1.            Background.  Since October 1991, the Wireless Set No. 19 Set Group has conducted monthly voice nets for the benefit of anyone interested in collecting, restoring and operating vintage military communications equipment.   Those nets have operated primarily with modern equipment but with the occasional demonstration of vintage gear.  During those demonstrations, the need for additional CW net expertise became apparent. As a result, a weekly CW training net was initiated on 11 September 1995.  This has provided needed training as well as a regular opportunity for members to log contacts for the Vintage Operator's Award program. (NOTE: Voice nets have been suspended.)


2.           Accessibility.  It has been argued that to fully appreciate military equipment, it would be best to operate under the same rigid procedures as were used during the operational life of the particular sets.  This creates a problem in that such a net would be accessible only to those who had spent considerable time in studying WWII military procedures. In addition, such things as daily-changing call signs, link call signs, coded messages, authentication and obscure prosigns are incompatible with the amateur radio service.  Therefore, the 19 Set Net operates under amateur radio rules, however it does so with as much of a military flavour as possible.


3.         Aim.  This paper details the procedures used by the Wireless Set No. 19 Group during its Morse code nets.


4.         Tuning.  All stations must maintain radio silence until NCS opens the net.  Preliminary transmitter adjustment must be made off-air (i.e. into a dummy load).  Antenna tuner adjustments can be made ahead of time with appropriate settings noted in the logbook for future reference.  Initial variometer tuning can be done by ear.  An alternative to on-air tuning is to use a non-radiating device such as a noise bridge to make antenna tuner adjustments.  On-air tuning is usually unnecessary and often creates interference which obscures transmissions from the Net Control Station.  With preliminary adjustments made off-air, the out-stations make their final adjustments in response to the NCS sending the “ZYT” operating signal. 

  5.            Transmissions.  Every radio transmission is composed of three parts – call signs, text and an ending.  Consistent use of all three parts is very helpful in maintaining the unambiguous flow of information.  The following guidelines are offered:

              a.            Call signs.

             (1)        The traditional format for the call sign portion of each transmission is to give the full call of the station to whom the message is intended, the word “de” (meaning from) and the full call of the station transmitting the message (e.g. “VE3BBN de VA3ORP”).  This can be abbreviated to “RIH de ORP” without any loss in clarity.  In the case where only two stations are on-air, the use of call signs can be taken as understood and they need not be sent at all (other than as required by law every 10 or 30 minutes).  In order to minimize overhead, the sending of call signs should be reduced to the absolute minimum required to ensure clarity. 

             (2)        In a directed net, the use of call signs can be minimized by adopting the military “link call sign” procedure.  Under this scheme, the “link” between NCS and each out-station is given a unique identifier - usually the abbreviated call sign of the out-station. (e.g. the “link” between NCS and VE3BBN would simply be identified as “BBN”).  When either NCS or VE3BBN are transmitting to each other, they use only “BBN” as the “call sign” portion of their message.  This causes no confusion for VE3BBN because he knows that he has only to respond to transmissions beginning with either “BBN” or the collective call for the entire net (“19SN”).  There is no confusion on the part of NCS as he knows that, as it is a directed net, all transmissions from the out-stations are directed to him.  This is a very efficient procedure and requires only that out-stations respond to their own “link call sign” or to the net’s collective call.  

b.         Text.   This is the information portion of the transmission.  It should be as short as practicable (normally not more than 50 words) and be restricted to one subject.  As some of the out-stations may be copying in their head, the use of long words and unusual abbreviations should be avoided.  If there is a conflict, the requirement for clarity will always take precedence over the desire for brevity.  The conclusion of the text portion of the message is indicated by sending the prosign “ar”.

         c.         Ending.   The traditional format for the ending portion of each transmission is to give the full call of the station that is to transmit next, the word “de” and the full call of the station that is making the transmission (e.g. “VE3BBN de VA3ORP”).  This can easily be abbreviated to include only the abbreviated call of the station that is to transmit next (e.g. “BBN”).  This is then followed by the prosign k, kn or bk.  The plain language equivalent of the ending, “BBN kn” would be, “VE3BBN only, go ahead”.  This abbreviated ending works very well with the link call sign procedure.

 6.         Co-ordinating Instructions.

         a. Net Control Station.  Net control will normally be by VA3ORP, Dave (QTH 25 km NE of Kingston, Ontario). Depending upon propagation, other net stations may be assigned net control or relay duties on a temporary basis.  Note that the Group's call sign VA3WSN may be used by Net Control.

           b. Time/Frequency.  The net operates on a primary frequency of 3607 kHz (red freq) at 2000 hrs EST/EDST every Tuesday.  Should that frequency be occupied, NCS will search up to 10 kHz above and then 10 kHz below looking for a clear frequency.  If conditions on this band are completely unworkable, then the alternate frequency of 7035 kHz (blue frequency) will be tried.  If prior notification of the move to 7035 kHz cannot be given, then out-stations should search for NCS on 7035 kHz (+/- 10 kHz) after 2010 hrs. If contact is not established by 2015 hrs, the net is automatically cancelled for that particular night.  

c. Speed.  The net operates with a word speed of 15 WPM (Farnsworth spacing).  Emphasis is given to consistent, precise keying so that information may be passed as accurately and efficiently as possible.  While the Morse speed is relatively slow, the overall pace of net activity is high.

         d. Agenda.  The following sequence will normally be followed for the net (see Annexes for examples):

 (1) Call-up & check-in (QNI)

 (2) List of stations in net (QNS)

 (3) Traffic list and signal reports (QTC? RST?)

 (4) Passage of traffic (including any exchanges for Vintage Op Award)  

(5) Special procedures exercises (QSY, QNA, QNV, etc)  

(6) Informal chat, gossip, etc.

         e. Duration.   The net will operate for one hour and all out-stations are encouraged to remain for the entire period.  The purpose of this lengthy practice period is to develop the discipline and tenacity which can make the difference between success and failure when trying to work under poor conditions.

 7.         Net Activity. 

 The function of the NCS is to control the activity on the net.  In doing this he will take special efforts to maintain order and to ensure that out-stations understand what is required of them.  Out-stations may be asked for positive confirmation that certain instructions have been understood.  A reply to such a transmission should be as brief as possible.  In all cases however; while brevity is desirable, clarity is indispensable.

 8.             Operating Signals. 

 The proper use of Q & Z Operating Signals is essential for efficient net operations.  A list of those recommended for the net and examples of their proper usage is included in the Annexes A and B.  Of particular interest are the following:

            a.             QNA - Answer in Pre-arranged Order.  Proper use of this procedure saves a great deal of net time.  When a question is addressed to the net generally (i.e. to "19SN"), it is necessary for out-stations to respond, in order and without prompting.  The order of out-stations responding will be that given by the NCS following the "QNS" signal.  This is best seen by following example 2 and 3 in Annex B.

           b.            QNV – This operating signal is used when the net has a lot of traffic to clear.  It is sent by NCS and directs two out-stations to move off frequency to pass a message.  The form of the QNV signal is, “W1HIS QNV VE3BBN QTC 2 up 10”.  This tells W1HIS that VE3BBN has two messages for him.  It directs W1HIS to contact VE3BBN on the net frequency.  If they can work each other, W1HIS will increase frequency approximately 10 kHz and call VE3BBN.  After they have established contact on the new frequency, W1HIS will receive the messages from VE3BBN.  Once the messages are acknowledged, both stations will return to the net frequency and check-in.  W1HIS will advise NCS that the messages have been received.  

9.           Procedural Signs (Prosigns). 

The proper use of prosigns at the end of each transmission is also very helpful in keeping the net operating efficiently.  These are a simple and rapid means of advising net members what is expected of them.  The following prosigns are commonly used:

             a. bk - Short Break.  This is used to indicate that the shortest possible response is desired.  Often something as short as "...RIH  de  ORP  r  bk..." is all that is necessary.

             b. kn -  Over (to specific station only).  This is used to indicate that a response is desired from one specific station only. 

             c. ar - End of Message.  This indicates the end of the text portion of a transmission.


10.            Abbreviations. 

 Most references on Morse code offer long lists of abbreviations.  Although these can be used to good effect, there are many times when their use will create confusion, especially to operators who are copying in their head.  For that reason, only the most common and readily understood abbreviations should be used.  

11.          Collective Call. 

 When it is desired to address comments to the entire net, the collective call "..19SN.." will be used just as though it were the call-sign of a single station.  Out-stations must therefore pay particular attention to messages addressed to both their own call sign and to the net's collective call sign.

12.       Signal Reports. 

 Signal reports will use the RST (readability, strength, tone) format with the number nine (9) being replaced by the letter “N” (November).  It is often useful for all out-stations to know how well signals are being received by all other stations.  Should NCS ask for signal reports, out-stations should report these as briefly as possible.  For example, if VE3BBN is receiving all stations well, he might respond by saying only, “…all 5NN  ar …”.  If signal reports are significantly different for the various out-stations being heard, the report should be given by listing the stations in the order that was given in the QNS operating signal.  Again, the report should be as brief as possible (e.g.  “…VA3ORP VE3BDB 5NN = W1NU W1GDZ 359 = WF2U nil =  ar …”).  Call signs will normally be abbreviated in signal reports and it is usually unnecessary to repeat the numbers. 

 13.       Poor Conditions.   

        When operating conditions are poor, adopting the following procedures may be helpful:

             a.            Reduce Morse speed and increase word spacing.  

            b.            Switch to using full call signs (this gives the receiving station an opportunity to make minor equipment adjustments and to become fully attuned to the sender’s fist before important information is sent).  

            c.            Switch to “words twice” mode  

            d.           Simplify and shorten the text of the message as much as possible.




14.            Adherence to the above procedures will permit the net to operate efficiently.  While every eventuality has not been covered, direction for some specific situations has been given and general guidelines have been offered that will be helpful in other situations.  

15.            Remember that the objective is to communicate.  Any action by an operator that detracts from that goal, either intentionally or otherwise, must be avoided.  The one overriding principle is that clarity must always take precedence.  


ANNEX "A" to CW Net Procedures, 25 Oct 2010   

Operating Signals, Prosigns & Abbreviations


  1.         Q & Z Operating Signals

 a.             QRM - I have interference (1 – 5)

 b.             QRN - I have static (1 – 5)

 c.             QRU - I have no traffic

 d.            QRV – I am ready to copy  

e.             QSB - your signal is fading  

f.             QSL - acknowledge receipt  

g.            QSY - change to frequency (xxxx kHz)  

h.            QTC - I have messages for you  

i.             ZYT - tune antenna now


2.              QN (net) Operating Signals

a.             QNA - answer in prearranged order

b.             QNC - all net stations copy

c.             QND - this is a directed net

d.             QNF – the net is free

e.             QNI - net stations check-in now  

f.             QNN - Net Control Station is (call sign)  

g.            QNS - following stations are in the net (list)  

h.            QNV – make contact with (call sign) on this frequency. If successful, QSY and receive traffic  

i.             QNZ - zero beat on this signal  


3.            Procedural Signs (Prosigns, sent as a single character)


a.             ar - end of text portion of the message  

b.             as - stand-by  

c.             bk - short break  

d.             bt - separation  

e.             cl - closing station  

f.             cq – all stations

g.             g - read back  

h.             hm - radio silence, all out-stations stop transmitting  

i.              imi – I say again  

j.              k - over (to any station)  

k.            kn - over (to specific station only)  

l.             sk - end of contact  


4.            Abbreviations  

a.             c - affirmative, correct  

b.             n - negative, not correct  

c.             r - message received and understood  

d.            wilco – message received, understood and will be comply with  


ANNEX "B" to CW Net Procedures,  25 Oct 2010 


1. 19 Set Net - Call-Up  

19SN 19SN 19SN  19 set net =  

QND =  


QNZ (15 seconds of carrier for zero-beating) =  

ZYT (15 second pause while out-station tune) =  

QNI  k


            CBK (ve3cbk checks in)  

            BBN (ve3bbn checks in)  

            NU (w1nu checks in)  

CBK BBN NU r as  

19SN QNI  k  

(no further check-ins heard)


19SN de ORP = QNS CBK, BBN, NU =  ar  as  


2. Signal Reports  

19SN de ORP = QNA RST all stns ?  bk  

            de CBK = all 5NN  bk  

            de BBN = all 5NN  bk  

            de NU = all 5NN except BBN 359 QSB  bk  

19SN de ORP = r tnx  ar  as


3. Frequency Change  

19SN de ORP = heavy QRM here = QSY 3680 ? 3680 = QSA QSL?  bk  

            de CBK r  bk  

            de BBN  r  bk  

            de NU confirm 3780 ? 3780  bk  

NU de ORP = n  n = QSY 3680 ? 3680 QSL?  bk  

            de NU  r  bk  

19SN de ORP = QSY now  sk  


4. Pass Informal Message Between Out-Stations  

BBN de ORP = pass your info to NU  kn  

            ORP de RIH  r  as  

            NU de BBN = name David QTH Niagara rig ws19 mk 3 serial  c76543  

                                                                                    RST 478C = ar = g = NU kn  

            BBN de NU = g = David Niagara ws19 mk 3  C76543  

                                                                                    RST 478C = ar = BBN  kn  

            NU de BBN = c = tnx  ar  

            ORP de BBN = message passed  =  ORP kn  

            BBN  NU de ORP =  r  good exchange  ar  

            19SN de ORP  as  


ANNEX "C" to CW Net Procedures,  25 Oct 2010   

CW Tuning Considerations   

            When tuning his radio the operator must have a clear understanding of the internal functioning of the set.  This is especially so for sets that provide an automatic offset for CW operations.  

            When operating CW with most modern rigs, the set adjusts itself so that when the dial frequency and the incoming frequency are the same, an 800 Hz audio note is produced.  This is known as an automatic BFO offset and operates by the receiver being automatically tuned LOW to deliver a beat note of 800 Hz.  When the set is switched to transmit, this offset is cancelled and the transmitted signal matches the dial frequency.   

            This arrangement usually causes no problem except when trying to operate CW to other stations that are receiving in LSB mode.  The other stations are "listening" to the band 250 to 2750 Hz BELOW the dial frequency.  If CW is transmitted on the dial frequency, it will zero-beat with the LSB stations and, being outside their audio passband, will not be heard.   

            To be heard, it is necessary to adjust the CW transmit frequency 800 Hz lower than the LSB net frequency.  With a little bit of thought this can easily be accomplished when modern equipment is used (either with dual VFOs in Split mode or with RIT/XIT manipulation).   

            A different problem exists when using vintage equipment like a W.S. No. 19.  The CW netting  procedure for a 19 Set is as follows:  

            a.            zero-beat with mode switch in “R/T” and with the “Net” switch (BFO) in the “on” position  

            b.            switch to CW and adjust the “Het Tone” for desired note.  

            When this is done, the BFO is automatically adjusted so that the set is tuned below the frequency of the incoming signal (i.e. listening to the HIGH side).   

            If the 19 Set frequency dial is adjusted to listen to a LSB signal (while on R/T with the BFO on), the CW transmit signal will be produced in the zero beat of the LSB stations.  If the set is adjusted to listen to a LSB signal while in CW mode, then the CW transmitted signal will be 700 to 1700 Hz ABOVE the LSB net frequency.  Such signals will simply not be heard by the other stations.   

            In order for a 19 Set to make a CW check-in to a LSB net, it is necessary to shift the frequency of the transmitted signal into the passband of the net stations (i.e. down by about 800 Hz).  This is difficult to do with any precision, especially as this adjustment must be cancelled in order to hear the LSB reply.   

            For a net operating in USB, the above problem would not exist.  Tuning in the USB stations while in CW (vice R/T) will automatically put the 19 Sets transmitted signal in the passband of the USB receivers with a 700 to 1700 Hz tone (adjusted by the "Het Tone" control).   

            Out-stations must clearly understand the operation of their own equipment in order to manage the problem outlined above.

Compiled by David Lawrence, VA3ORP, OIC The (Original) Wireless Set No. 19 Group.


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