The ESS Bulletin  April 2013

Pete Gellert W2WSS Memorial Net

Daily 6 PM local Eastern time on 3576 KHZ

Anne Fanelli, WI2G, manager

541 Schultz Road

Elma, New York 14059

(716) 652-6719

E-mail: at  [email protected]


Net Control Stations Thursday Friday Saturday


                                      MARCH ROSTER

AB2WB Pat Ithaca 27                WA2DAC Lynn Peru 22

           K2ABX Paul Apalachin              31 WA2WMJ J. B. Pine Bush 28

            K2DYB Nat Verona 31             WA2YOW C. J. Staten Island 4

            K2MMW Bill Milford 17            WB2GHH Jack Binghamton 14

            K2NPN Phil Marcy 22                WB2YOR Tom Clifton Park 8

            K2TV Bob Copiague 4                WE2G Tom Hudson 17

            K4LV Rich Marcy 26                   WI2G Anne Elma 17

            KB2ETO Bill Dryden 25               K1PJS Pete Concord NH 16

            KD2LE Rick S. Glens Falls 29      N1DBS Dave Enfield CT 1

            KT2D Bob Latham 5                     N1JX Arnold Roseland NJ 25

            N2UC John Holland Patent 22      AA2SV Willie Brick NJ 12

            N2YHQ Marcelo Penfield 1         W2EAG Mark New Bern NC 4

            NI2F Tom Binghamton 1              WB2GTG Bill Easton PA 28

            W1ALI Alice Poughkeepsie 11     K3ZYK Bill Penn Run PA 6

            W2MTA Bill Newark Valley 30    WA3JXW Dudley Reading PA 7

            W2RBA Joe Mount Vision 28       AB8CR Steve Glenville WV 1

            WA2BAH Stan Schenectady 1     WB8WKQ Jeff Dryden MI 17

            March Totals: QNI 538, per session 17.4 (Feb 17.6); QSP 98, per session 3.2 (Feb 2.9). Another good

month as far as the numbers go; we almost made it into triple digits, and while the checkin count is healthy it

seems like the same few stations handle all the traffic. NCSs can help by not taking the easy way out and

automatically relegating traffic to the workhorses (however tempting the prospect), and checkins can volunteer

to take a message as soon as it's listed. With low-cost long distance a reality for many of us, delivery to a “dead

zone” is no more costly than a local call. NTS (and traffic-handling in general) lost one of its lions with the

passing of George Hart, W1NJM, on March 24 after a long period of declining health. George conceived a

National Traffic Plan (which evolved into the National Traffic System), announcing it in a September 1949

QST article; ARRL members can access the article on the League website, and it's a fascinating glimpse into the

past. George's plan was envisaged as an alternative to the existing pre- and postwar trunk-line system (the

nearest current equivalent is the Hit & Bounce Net), which was characterized by individual stations who

covered particular areas; this led to hit-or-miss coverage. The National Traffic Plan was a structured hierarchy

of nets—section, region and area—with an interchangeable cast of characters and no need for “iron” operators.

Nearly as welcome a sign of spring as the crocuses is the awarding of the first crop of net certificates, and a

bumper crop it is; congratulations to K2ABX, W2RBA, AB2WB, K2DYB, KB2ETO, WA2WMJ and—as Pete

laughs in heaven—W2MTA. Earning a net certificate is easy—just accumulate 80 points in a calendar year

(one point for each QNI, and a bonus point for serving as NCS). Birthdays: April—KT2D 4, W2CS 5,

W2NTV 10 and AK2E 17. May—K2MMW 17 and KB2ETO 27. Additions and corrections, as always, to

Suzi Sunshine (who much preferred this March to last year's, despite the bump in her heating bill).

Back to Basics

Since I can't remember the last time I explored CW-traffic-net basics in this space, it's probably time.

One of the few things that bothers me about the present state of ESS is that while we have plenty of checkins,

the pool of stations actually handling traffic on a somewhat-regular basis is much smaller. When I came onto

the scene many years ago, the traffic-handling hierarchy (including net managers, and in particular my

predecessor) was considerably more hard-core about net participation; if you checked into a net, it was assumed

that you were ready and able to take traffic as needed. When I first considered taking the plunge into CW

traffic nets, I read somewhere that it's a good idea to have about a year of CW operation under one's belt (in

other words, to be past the initial oh-my-God-what-do-I-do-next stage, and able to manage a QSO of reasonable

length) before checking into a CW traffic net and I still think that guideline is a good one. It's also a good idea

to listen to a net for a session or two before checking in for the first time; while it's true that CW traffic nets

share a similar general protocol, they also have an individual flow. The Central Area Net, for example, uses a

QNA (prearranged) format in which the NCS calls checkins in a particular order (according to function—9RN

transmit, 9RN receive and so on); most other CW traffic nets (including ESS) have an informal checkin

procedure in which stations with traffic expect to be able to check in first. And yes, that means that you're

expected to stand by at the beginning of the net if you're QRU; “well, I always check in first” doesn't apply


While no NCS expects rapt attention for an entire 20- or 30-minute net session, once you check in you're

assumed to be present as needed unless you've requested to be excused (QNX)--which you should never hesitate

to do, of course, when life intervenes in the form of chow call, company or similar. Another useful QN signal

(from the ARRL's invaluable FSD-218, available on the ARRL website or in “pink card” form from me), less

frequently used, is QNT followed by the number of minutes you expect to be unavailable for that phone call, pit

stop or whatever else you don't really need to leave the net entirely for. When you return, just drop your suffix

to advise the NCS.

If you're asked to receive traffic by the NCS, there's no need for panic. For logistical reasons, CW nets

primarily use QNY procedure—the receiving and sending stations are sent a few kHz from the net frequency

(on ESS the first “traffic pair” is usually sent down 3 kHz; a second pair would be sent down 6 and so on) to

clear traffic while the net continues. If the NCS is either sending or receiving traffic, of course, it's cleared on

the net frequency (which can provide new checkins with an excellent opportunity to learn what radiogram

format sounds like and copy traffic).

When the NCS sends you DWN 3, say, to receive traffic you don't have to go down exactly 3 kHz no

matter what; you, as the receiving station, pick a spot as QRM-free as possible beginning with the frequency

ordered by the NCS (if you come back toward the net frequency by 500 Hz or 1 kHz that's okay, but you don't

want to end up too close to the net frequency) and call the sending station. Once you've established contact

with the sender, when you're ready to copy send QRV K. The sending station will respond with HR NR..., your

cue to start writing.

Radiograms consist of four parts: preamble, addressee, text and signature. The preamble is the recordkeeping

part of the message: message number, precedence, station of origin, check (the number of “groups”--

words--in the text), place of origin and date. Lines in the addressee block are separated by AA; the addressee

and text, and text and signature, are separated by BT (no separation character is needed between the end of the

preamble—the message date—and the start of the addressee). The end of a message is indicated by AR

followed by N (if there are no more messages) or B if there are more messages.

It's no big deal if you miss part of a message; it happens to all of us due to QRM (local or on-air),

nerves, fatigue or whatever. When you do, you ask for “fills” after the relevant message part (hence those BTs),

at the end or while it's being sent (if the sender has QSK). In any case, just ask for WA ___ (word after ___),

WB ___ (word before ___), BN ___ ES ___ (between ___ and ___), AB ___ (all before ___) or AA ___ (all

after ___). After getting whatever fills you need, take a moment to look the message over quickly; if all seems

copacetic, roger the message with QSL, say 73 and return to the net frequency. More next month....