The four levels operate in an orderly time sequence to make a definite flow pattern for traffic, from origin to destination.Who can participate? - Any licensed radio amateur with an interest in traffic handling
are sent via a network of ham radio operators known as the National
Traffic System, sponsored by the American Radio Relay League.
The National Traffic System is designed to meet two principle objectives:
1. Rapid movement of traffic from origin to destination.
2. Training amateur operators to handle written traffic and participate in directed nets.
NTS operates daily and consists of four different net levels:
AREA, REGION, SECTION, and LOCAL
The ARRL Radiogram
ARRL provides a standard form for all radiograms transmitted via the
NTS. This uniformity ensures that NTS operators can quickly and
efficiently handle traffic.
Every radiogram message originated and handled should contain the following 4 main components:
|The Preamble includes information used to prioritize and track the message and ensure its accuracy.|
This includes the name, address, city, state, ZIP, and telephone number of the intended recipient, as complete as possible. (Note that punctuation is not used in the Addresss section).
The message information, limited to 25 words or less if possible. Normal punctuation characters are not used in the text. A question mark is sent as QUERY, while DASH is sent for a hyphen. The letter X is used as a period, (but never afetr the last group of the text), and counts as a word when figuring the Check. The letter R is used in place of a decimal in mixed figure groups. For example (146R52 for 146.52).
The name of the party for whom the message was originated. This may include additional information such as Amateur Radio call sign, title, address, phone number, and so on.
- This indicates the serial number of the message. It is assigned by
the Station of Origin and never changed. Numbering is necessary because
hams may handle dozens of messages daily, and without a numbering
system it would be difficult to identify any given message. |
PRECEDENCE - Determines the order in which traffic is passed. Assign each message a Precedence of R (Routine), W (Welfare), P (Priority) or EMERGENCY.
(Handling Instructions) - Optional, used only if a specific need
is present. Handling instructions are detailed below.
STATION OF ORIGIN - The call sign of the station originating (creating) the message.
CHECK - The number of words or word groups contained in the Body of the message. (A word group is defined as any group of 1 or more consecutive characters with no interrupting spaces).
PLACE OF ORIGIN - The location (city and state) of the party for whom the message was created and not necessarily the location of the Station of Origin.
TIME FILED - Optional, used only when the filing time has some importance relative to the Precedence, Handling Instructions or Message Body.
DATE - The date the message was filed.
|Any message having life and death urgency to any person or group of persons, that 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 efforts for the stricken populance in emergency areas. On CW and digital modes, this designation will always be spelled out. When in doubt, do not use this designation.
Abbreviated as P on CW and digital modes. This classification is for important messages having a specific time limit. Official messages not covered in the emergency category, press dispatches and emergency-related traffic not of the utmost urgency.
Abbreviated as W on CW and digital modes. This classification refers to an inquiry about the health and welfare of an individual in the disaster area, or to 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 American Red Cross equivalent to an incoming Welfare message is DWI (Disaster Welfare Inquiry).
Abbreviated as R on CW and digital modes. Most traffic in normal times will bear this designation. In disaster situations, traffic labeled routine should be handled last or not at all, when circuits are busy with higher-precedence traffic.
Instructions (HX) convey special instructions to operators handling and
delivering the message. The instruction is inserted in the
message Preamble between the Precedence and the Station of
Origin. Its use is optional with the originating stations, but
once inserted it is mandatory with all relaying stations.
(Followed by number). Collect landline delivery authorized by adressee within _______ miles. (If no number,
authorization is unlimited).
(Followed by number). Cancel message if not delivered within ________ hours of filing time; service originating station.
Report date and time of delivery. (TOD) to originating station.
Report to originating station the identity of station from which received, plus date and time. Report identity of station to which relayed, plus date and time, or if delivered, report date, time and method of delivery.
Delivering station get reply from addressee, originate message back.
(Followed by number). Hold delivery until __________ (date).
Delivery by mail or landline toll call not required. If toll or other expense involved, cancel message and service originating station.
The name, call sign (if going to a ham), street address or P.O. Box, city, state (abbreviated)
and ZIP code of the person the message is being sent to. Clear,
complete addresses are desirable. Include in the address of your
message all matter that is necessary to enable operators to identify,
contact, or locate the adressee.
Telephone Number: Be sure to include the area code and double-check the number!!
Note - Digital and Packet NTS messages are routed via ZIP code.
This Radio Message was Received at: Your station identification.
The message information, limited to 25 words or less, if
possible. Normal punctuation characters are not used in the text. A
question mark is sent as QUERY, while DASH is sent for a hyphen.
The letter X is used as a period (but never after the last group of the
text), and counts as a word when figuring the CHECK.
The letter R is used in place of a decimal in mixed figure groups. Example: 146R52 instead of 146.52
SIGNATURE: There is no “Signature” field. Just write it in below the text; Name and call sign of author - include phone number if not a ham or if not known on an NTS net.
Call sign or individual from whom you received the message and date and time of receipt. Time may be either your local time or UTC time. Make sure the date agrees with the time. (Remember UTC time is ahead of EST and can cause the date to roll forward).
Call sign you sent to or passed the message to, or to whom you delivered it, with date and time. Also good to note delivery method for your own reference. (i.e., via phone or left on voice mail). Always leave your call back number if message was left on voice mail!
radiograms are an efficient way to convey common messages. The
letters ARL are inserted in the preamble in the check and in the text
before spelled-out numbers. Note that some ARL texts include
insertion of information.
For a complete list of Numbered Radiograms, click here.
How to Deliver a Radiogram
- Via telephone or hand delivery is preferred.
to leave on voicemail or answering machine if you’re
comfortable you have reached the right person.
- A Radiogram postcard may be mailed if the receipient cannot be reached by phone.
- Service originating station to inform if you cannot deliver the message, or if they requested confirmation.
operating phone, it is customary to use introductory words such as
"figures" prior to sending numbers, "mixed figures" or "mixed group
figure" before sending a combination of letters and numbers, and
"initial" prior to sending a single letter, such as I or A. This
helps the receiving station to copy the message more clearly and with
Maine Public Service Net
Maine Slow Speed Net
Pine Tree Net
Twelve County Net
EASTERN AREA NET (EAN)
Mon - Sat
Mon - Fri
Sat - Sun
Sat - Sun
Mon - Fri
8 PM local
5 PM local
9 AM local
6 PM local
7 PM local
1 PM local
KQ1L System (2 meters)
KQ1L System (2 meters)
3577, 7050 kHz
3577, 1810 kHz
Section Wide Emergency Net (Region 1)
Emergency Traffic & Weather
In the example below, you'll learn how these are used in an actual message.
Example of a message sent by voice (From the ARRL Public Service Manual)
Sample message for example:(Preamble) 26 R N3XYZ 17 BANGOR ME JUL 24(Address) JOHN R SMITH23 OAK DRIVEPHILADELPHIA PA 19034215 555 2345(Text) I WILL ARRIVE TOMORROW AT 6PM X CAN YOU PICK ME UP AT THE AIRPORT QUERY 73(Signature) BILL
KEY: “.” = word pause, “.. ” = group pause, “.. .. ” = copy pause, (//) = release of PTT, (/.../)= required listening pause.
Prowords, operational words and introductory words are shown lower case. Try sending the prowords and operational words in a slightly higher pitched voice, the introductory words in a slightly lower pitched voice, or vice versa. TX is the sender, RX the receiver, on a net frequency. (See STATION OPERATIONS for details on off frequency calls.)RX: “W3RX ready to copy”. (In severe conditions the RX station may ask the sender to repeat each group 2 or 3 times and/or use letters or phonetics to spell all groups).
TX: “W3TX” (Optionally informs RX of quantity and if listening between groups.)
“number.. TWO.SIX.. ROUTINE.. NOVEMBER THREE X-RAY YANKEE ZUZU.. ONE.SEVEN.. BANGOR.. MAINE.. JULY.. TWO.FOUR”.. .. “JOHN.. initial.ROMEO.. SMITH I spell SIERRA MIKE INDIA TANGO HOTEL.. .. figures TWO THREE.. OAK I spell O.A.K.. DRIVE.. .. PHILADELPHIA.. .. .. PENNSYLVANIA.. figures ONE NINER ZERO THREE FOUR.. .. figures TWO ONEFIVE.. FIVE FIVE FIVE.. TWO THREE FOUR FIVE.. break” (/.../) (interruption pause) “initial.INDIA.. WILL.. ARRIVE.. .. TOMORROW.. AT.. .. mixed group figure SIX PAPA MIKE.. initial X-RAY.. CAN.. YOU.. .. PICK.. ME.. UP.. .. AT.. THE.. AIRPORT.. .. QUERY.. figures SEVEN THREE.. break.. BILL I spell BRAVO INDIA LIMA LIMA.. end.. no.more”
RX: “ROGER.. W3RX” (or “ROGER.. 73 W3RX”, etc.), or asks for fills, and acknowledges the message when done.
TX: “W3TX” (or “THANKS 73 W3TX”, etc.); (The exchange is complete.)
* PTT releases (//) are not shown in this example. On fast VOX or PTT operation, release or listen after every group or phrase. The expected interruption pause (/.../) is shown.
On FM repeaters, due to audio delays and receive site delays, it may be impractical to break after groups without loss of audio. In this case, the PTT switch is released only at the customary expected fill breaks. When sending long messages or batches the receiving operator may be forced to say “go ahead” by saying “over” at the break point between messages, thus confirming continuing good copy. Keep the repeater transmission time limiter in mind also.
ARRL Net Directory – Excellent NTS reference with net listings by state ($5 from ARRL). Online version is accessible free at the ARRL web site (www.arrl.org).Public Service Communication Manual – Detailed reference on NTS message handling ($1 from ARRL ), also available on ARRL web site.NTS Policies (Cycle Time Schedule) http://www.arrl.org/chapter-three-nts-policies ARES Field Resource Manual - Quick trainer and resource guide for the emergency communicatorNTS Homepage - on ARRL website, provides all the information you’ll need to get started with traffic handling, including the Policy Manual, and updated net directory.
Society of Southern Maine P.O. Box 174, Scarborough, ME 04074