ETH045 – How To Be A Net Control

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Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to be talking about Net Control , we talk about the Columbia Amateur Radio Club from Columbia, SC  in our amateur radio club spotlight, we talk about some upcoming events/contests and Hamfests for the next two weeks and wrap it up with some news from around the hobby!

Tech Corner – How To Be A Net Control

Characteristics of a Good Net Control

  • Good Listener
  • Ear to Hand
  • Multitasking
  • Speaking Clearly
  • Good Handwriting or computer skills
  • Good under pressure
  • Decision making skills

Member Accountability

Always know where you net members are located, and always make sure that everyone is accounted for. There is nothing worse than someone not answering a roll call, or ending a net and someone not checking secure and you have to go and look for them. If you don’t know where they were, you don’t even know where to look. Just like my role as a 911 dispatcher, it is your responsibility to do everything in your power to make sure that those that you are “working” with” go home safely.

Know Your Radio

During an emergency is not the time to find out that you don’t know how to do something on your radio. Make sure that you know how to do all the functions with your radio before you are put in a position where you HAVE to know how to do something and you can’t figure it out.

It is also a good idea to make sure that you have your radio manual with you as well. That way in case you don’t know how to do something or you have forgotten to do something you can always look it up.

Whether the radio that you will be using during a net is your own personal radio or if you go to a location like an Emergency Operations Center to run the net, you need to train using whatever radio you will be using. If you will be using a radio that is not yours, you should always try and use it as much as possible before you have to use it in an emergency situation.

Know Your Logging Program(if you use one)

Short of using a pen/pencil and paper, make sure that you understand how to use whatever you will use to do your logging with. If you are just going to use a pen/pencil and paper, make sure that you write neat enough to where others can read your handwriting, especially if someone will be taking over from you.

If you will be using a computer program, make sure that you know how to use the program well before you need to use it during an emergency. Make sure you understand all the functionality of it and how to start the program in case it crashes on you or if you are the first one to use it during a net.

Mistakes Happen

If you make a mistake, acknowledge it, correct it and move on! Everyone is human and everyone makes a mistake. The difference is if you make a mistake, you need to acknowledge it and correct it. This will not only make sure that everyone that is listening to you has the correct information, but it will also help earn their respect for you as a net control operator.

Think Before You Key Up

There are two things that are my biggest pet peaves when it comes to taking on the radio. One is when you don’t listen to whats going on and I have to say something twice or more. The second is when people key up to give a weather report or something and they  say something then they will say like ahhh or ummm and then something else and then umm again and it just take forever to get done saying whatever it is that they are trying to say.

When you have something that you need to say on the radio, think about what you are going to say, get all your thoughts together and then key up, say it and unkey. Not only does this make whoever is talking look like they don’t know what they are doing, but it also reflects on the organization for not training them enough and it ties up the frequency for other people to use that have something to report as well.

Use Standard Phonetic Alphabet

When you are operating on a net, make sure that you use the official International Phonetic Alphabet. If you use something other than that, the receiving person will have to think about it more than if you use the standard alphabet. I talked with one person on the radio one day that had a suffix of CFS and he identified himself as Chicken Fried Steak. While it may be “cute”, it still took me a extra second or two to realize what his callsign was. Partly because it wasn’t the standard Charlie Foxtrot Sierra and partly because I was laughing when I heard it.

Have a Backup

There are two backups that you need to have planned for on a net, a backup net control and a backup frequency. Both should be announced at the beginning and during the net. You should have a backup net control in case something happens to you station during the net or if you need to take a bathroom break or a phone call or something. I have been on several nets where something has happened to the net control stations equipment and they just all the sudden when silent. One person I know that was running a net and his house got hit by lightning and everything got fried. There wasn’t a backup in place and the net was in limbo until someone took over for him.

The other thing that you need to make sure that you have in place is a backup frequency. Just like that something could happen to your own station, something could happen to the repeater that you are using as well. If lightning were to strike the repeater and knock it out, the whole net would come to a halt. If you have a backup repeater or frequency in place and everyone knows it, if no one responds to you, you could automatically change to the backup frequency and continue with the net.

Be Respectful

No matter what happens either before, during or after a net, ALWAYS be respectful to who you are working with. If you don’t have the respect of those you are working with, things could be very stressful for both you and those you are working with.

If something happens during a net or event that was done against what you asked the person to do, don’t talk to that person about it during the net or in front of others. Handle what needs to be handled during the event and afterwards, pull that person aside and talk to them about what happened. Don’t jump down their throat or chew them out, talk to them civilly and with respect. The way that you talk to them could have all the difference in the world in later interactions.

Pace Yourself

Being net control can be very demanding on you. There is so much going on, multiple frequencies and radios to monitor, phones, other people and so much more. It is very easy to get overwhelmed. No matter how good of a net control that you are you need to pace yourself. Never stay as net control for more than two hours at a time. If you have the personnel, change every hour or thirty minutes depending on how busy you area in the net.

If at all possible, stagger your helper shift and your net control shifts. Have the first hour of your shift as a helper with someone else as net control. After an hour take over as net control and a new helper will take over for you. An hour later, you rotate out, your helper rotates to net control and a new helper takes over as helper.

Tactical Call Signs

Tactical call signs are probably one of the most useful things that I use as a net control. A tactical call sign is a word used to describe a location where a station is located at. For example, if you are running a net and you have two shelters, a Red Cross building, and an EOC. If each location has two operators at them, you may never know who is at the radio as net control. So if you call a location by call sign, you might have to call a couple times because you don’t know exactly who to call.

Instead use a tactical call sign like Shelter 1, Shelter 2, Red Cross, and EOC. By doing this, no matter who is at the radio at that location, they will know who you are calling.


Amateur Radio Club Spotlight

CARC Logo - Net Control

The Columbia Amateur Radio Club

Website: http://w4cae.com/

The Carolina Amateur Radio Club is a service-oriented club and has been in existence for more than 40 years. Originally known as the Carolina Repeater Society, it was an offshoot of the Palmetto Amateur Radio Club (which is the oldest South Carolina amateur radio club, having been founded in 1928 on “the Horseshoe” at the University of South Carolina).

Around 1976 the club name was changed to the Columbia Amateur Radio Club to include a broader range of interests, not just repeaters. From the beginning the club was active in promoting amateur radio, giving classes for new hams, and maintaining a testing team.

Meetings

  • First Monday of the month at 7:30pm at the SCETV Telecommunications Center, 1041 George Rogers Blvd, Columbia, SC 29201

Repeaters

  • 146.775 – PL 156.7 Ft. Jackson
  • 147.330 + PL 156.7 Columbia

Nets

  • Every Sunday and Wednesday Evenings at 8:30pm on the 147.330 Repeater

Activities

  • Annual Picnic
  • Field Day
  • Workshops
  • License Classes
  • Testing Sessions
  • Bike Races
  • Walk-a-thons
  • Hamfest – in 2016 it was on the first Saturday of April.

Upcoming Events

NCCC RTTY Sprint 0145Z-0215Z, Nov 25
NCCC Sprint 0230Z-0300Z, Nov 25
CQ Worldwide DX Contest, CW 0000Z, Nov 26 to 2400Z, Nov 27
QRP Fox Hunt 0200Z-0330Z, Nov 30
Phone Fray 0230Z-0300Z, Nov 30
CWops Mini-CWT Test 1300Z-1400Z, Nov 30 and

 1900Z-2000Z, Nov 30 and

 0300Z-0400Z, Dec 1

UKEICC 80m Contest 2000Z-2100Z, Nov 30
NRAU 10m Activity Contest 1800Z-1900Z, Dec 1 (CW) and

 1900Z-2000Z, Dec 1 (SSB) and

 2000Z-2100Z, Dec 1 (FM) and

 2100Z-2200Z, Dec 1 (Dig)

NCCC RTTY Sprint 0145Z-0215Z, Dec 2
QRP Fox Hunt 0200Z-0330Z, Dec 2
NCCC Sprint 0230Z-0300Z, Dec 2
ARRL 160-Meter Contest 2200Z, Dec 2 to 1600Z, Dec 4
TARA RTTY Melee 0000Z-2400Z, Dec 3
Wake-Up! QRP Sprint 0600Z-0629Z, Dec 3 and

 0630Z-0659Z, Dec 3 and

 0700Z-0729Z, Dec 3 and

 0730Z-0800Z, Dec 3

TOPS Activity Contest 1600Z, Dec 3 to 1559Z, Dec 4
Ten-Meter RTTY Contest 0000Z-2400Z, Dec 4
SARL Digital Contest 1300Z-1600Z, Dec 4
ARS Spartan Sprint 0200Z-0400Z, Dec 6
QRP Fox Hunt 0200Z-0330Z, Dec 7
Phone Fray 0230Z-0300Z, Dec 7
CWops Mini-CWT Test 1300Z-1400Z, Dec 7 and

 1900Z-2000Z, Dec 7 and

 0300Z-0400Z, Dec 8

*Information taken from the WA7BNM Contest Calendar

Hamfests

11/25/2016

11/26/2016

12/03/2016

12/04/2016

*Information taken from the ARRL Hamfest Calendar


News

Rocky Mountain Division Director Dwayne Allen, WY7FD, Overcomes Challenge to Win Election

11/18/2016
ARRL Rocky Mountain Division Director Dwayne Allen, WY7FD, has won election to a 3-year term. As Vice Director, Allen assumed the Director’s seat last January, after the Board of Directors elected former Director Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, as Second Vice President. Allen outpolled challenger Garth Crowe, WY7GC (ex-N7XKT) 1112 to 528 votes, to win the seat in his own right.

Ballots were counted November 18 at ARRL Headquarters. The Rocky Mountain Division Director’s seat was the only contested election for the 2017-2019 cycle.

Allen served previously as Wyoming Section Manager, from 2005 until 2007.

New terms of office begin on January 1, 2017, at 12 Noon Eastern Time.

 

Work Continues to Strengthen Relationship between Amateur Auxiliary, FCC

11/17/2016

Work continues to promote the visibility of Amateur Radio enforcement within the FCC, the ARRL Executive Committee was told recently. The EC met on October 22 in Rosemont, Illinois. ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, chaired the session.

ARRL General Counsel Chris Imlay, W3KD, reported that meetings have been held with the FCC concerning more effective FCC use of the volunteer resources of the Amateur Auxiliary (Official Observers) program, the current FCC-ARRL Amateur Auxiliary Agreement, and the development of a new Memorandum of Understanding that better incorporates the Amateur Auxiliary program — especially in light of the FCC’s recent closing of field offices and reduction of Spectrum Enforcement Division staff.

The EC directed Second Vice President Brian Mileshosky, N5ZGT, to continue work on the review and revitalization of the Amateur Auxiliary, in cooperation with the FCC, to ensure active use of the Amateur Auxiliary program.

In other FCC-related issues. The EC provided guidance in the domestic implementation of the worldwide Amateur Radio allocation at 5 MHz, agreed upon at World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) last fall. Delegates to WRC-15 reached consensus on 15 kilohertz-wide band, 5351.5-5366.5 kHz, with stations limited to an effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP) of 15 W.

Imlay, in conjunction with ARRL International Affairs Vice President Jay Bellows, K0QB, and Midwest Division Director Rod Blocksome, K0DAS, will review of the National Broadband Plan, with an eye toward determining any impact it might have on Amateur Radio allocations.

In addition, Imlay and West Gulf Division Director Dr David Woolweaver, K5RAV, will meet with officials of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and congressional offices to address the effect on Amateur Radio antenna systems between 50 and 200 feet tall of new painting and lighting requirements required under the FAA Reauthorization Act (H.R. 636).

ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, told the panel that several new educational initiatives under way, and, as those pilot programs are assessed and refined, the programs will be made available to the Amateur Radio community.

In his report, Bellows told the EC that the IARU Administrative Council has begun preparations to represent Amateur Radio at various meetings to be held in advance of World Radiocommunication Conference 2019.

Minutes of the October 22 meeting are available on the ARRL website.

New ARRL Repeater Directory Will Leverage Crowdsourcing Technology

11/14/2016
ARRL partner RFinder, the creator of a web and app-based directory of Amateur Radio repeaters worldwide, will supply all data for the 2017-2018 ARRL Repeater Directory®. RFinder will employ its crowdsourcing technology to aggregate timely and accurate information for the Directory, marking the first time crowdsourcing has been put to use in the production of an ARRL publication. “Crowdsourcing” is a means of using data gathered from public resources — in this case, repeater owners and frequency coordinators — via the Internet to obtain the necessary listing information more quickly and flexibly. Including RFinder’s data in The Repeater Directory will help users seeking the most complete listing of on-air repeaters. The Repeater Directory will continue to publish repeater listings according to state, city, frequency and mode.

Although RFinder’s data is primarily user supplied, ARRL has invited volunteer frequency coordinators to contribute their coordination data to RFinder. RFinder has setup an online portal to accept uploaded data from coordinators. Every coordinator that supplies repeater data to RFinder will have its listings credited as coordinated repeaters both in the RFinder smartphone apps and web listings, and in the hard-copy Repeater Directory.

As part of this program, RFinder will make the RFinder database available to all frequency coordinators free of charge, with the exception of the Apple iOS version app, which requires a $9.99 license. The Android-compatible database is a free download.

“We believe this will help you in your coordination activities, as it will provide you with a complete map of machines, both coordinated or not,” RFinder said. “It will also assist coordinators to bring uncoordinated machines into coordination.”

ARRL earlier this year established an agreement with RFinder to be the membership association’s preferred online resource of repeater frequencies. RFinder’s steadily growing worldwide repeater database now includes more than 60,000 repeaters in some 170 countries around the globe. RFinder listings are dynamic, regularly reflecting new, updated, revised, and deleted information.

RFinder is integrated directly with EchoLink on both Android and iPhone and provides the ability to share repeater check-ins on Facebook, Twitter, and APRS. RFinder is integrated with RT Systems and CHIRP radio programming applications and has a routing feature that lets users find repeaters worldwide over a given route. Video demos of RFinder features are available on YouTube.

ARRL had previously discontinued its own products that supported digital listings of repeater data including the TravelPlus for Repeaters™ software and its own apps.

RFinder is $9.99 per year. Subscribe to RFinder by visiting http://subscribe.rfinder.net/ from your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or from your Android smartphone or tablet.

RFinder also includes the ability to report radio jamming anywhere. Those without a device or subscription can file reports online. Individuals or entities responsible for coordinating anti-jamming activities also can request access to view jamming reports for their area.

Southern Florida Assistant Section Manager Ray Kassis, N4LEM, SK

11/17/2016
ARRL Southern Florida Assistant Section Manager Ray Kassis, N4LEM, of Cocoa, Florida, died unexpectedly on November 9. He was 69. Licensed as WB4CTZ in 1966, he served the ARRL Southern Florida Section for many years in various capacities, most recently as Space Coast District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) and Assistant Section Manager (ASM).

Kassis had been the Brevard County Emergency Coordinator (EC) since 1991, and he was instrumental in constructing several mobile communications units in the area. He was the owner of, and air personality on, WWBC radio, where he maintained a second ham station.
p“We have suffered a great loss in our Section family with Ray’s passing,” said Southern Florida Section Manager Jeff Beals, WA4AW. “Ray was a dear friend and a valued member of my section staff.”

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73 de Curtis, K5CLM

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