Volunteers Providing Emergency Communications for Multnomah County, Oregon

Dos and Don’ts when Operating on a MCARES Net

DO

  • Listen to Net Control’s instructions and check in as instructed, giving all information asked for, and nothing else.
  • Check in with your call sign phonetically. After this, you do not need to give it phonetically.
  • Especially on repeaters: PTT – inhale – talk; on linked repeaters: PTT – count to three – inhale – talk.
  • To eliminate doubling with someone else, listen before you talk.
  • If there is a double that doesn’t involve you, wait for net control to straighten it out and acknowledge those involved in the double.
  • If net control makes a mistake in acknowledging your call sign, say “correction” and then wait to be acknowledge before giving your correction.
  • Be forgiving. Be patient.
  • GO SLOWLY when transmitting anything the receiving station is writing down. Go even slower if asked to repeat.
  • Learn and use ITU phonetics.
  • Be efficient. Use pro-words and “short talk” such as: “with traffic”, “I say again”, “correction”.
  • If asked to repeat something, repeat it and spell phonetically.
  • If you are talking for more than two minutes, unkey the mike momentarily to let the repeater reset.
  • After check-ins, if you have something to say, give your call sign and wait for net control to acknowledge you before continuing.

DON’T

  • Don’t challenge net control on the air.
  • Don’t try to check in before net control opens the net.
  • Don’t check in early; OK to check in late if you got lost in a double or simply joined late.
  • Don’t use Q codes.
  • Don’t sign in and say “no traffic.” Just say “with traffic” if you do have traffic to relay.
  • Don’t say “I pause,” or “I’ll let this drop”, etc. when you unkey the mike.
  • Don’t follow along and break protocol if you hear others doing so.
  • Don’t leave before the end of the net without signing out.
  • Don’t check in again if you are not recognized immediately. Instead, wait for net control to acknowledge the next group of check-ins. If you are not recognized then, try again in the next group or at the end of check-ins when net control asks for “late or missed stations.”

Pre-Net Checkins and Early Outs

The weekly MCARES net meets every Wednesday at 7:00 PM on MC-1 (except on the second Wednesday of the month, when we either do a simplex net or use our portable or cross-band repeater). This is an information net which starts with a brief training “Gem” and an opportunity for questions and sharing when net control asks, “Are there any announcements, questions, contacts, or other business for the net?” We want your participation!

This is not just a numbers net where all we want is the maximum number of checkins. Therefore, checking in with net control before the net starts or checking in at the beginning of the net and asking for an early out is not appropriate. If you have other obligations and can’t make the net, that’s OK. There are no “Brownie points” for a hit-and-run checkin.

The net rarely runs for more than 30 minutes. Once you do check in, you are expected to stay on frequency throughout the net. There are often more announcements at the end of the net, or people asking for contacts after the net. It is sad when they find the person they heard check in is no longer on the air. And if you stick around a little longer, there is often an informal “rag chew” after the net closes.

How I Run an Efficient Simplex Net

Our goal in all we do as ARES volunteers is to get the job done as accurately and efficiently as possible. A simplex net that covers a large geographical area is a particular challenge. Our monthly second Wednesday simplex net gives us the chance for net control and other net members to learn how to keep it simple and quick.

After a brief preamble, net control calls for checkins by team. As net control, after acknowledging the stations I hear, I ask the station with the strongest signal for any callsigns they have heard that I didn’t recognize. After acknowledging those stations, I then ask the relay station to call for any other team members who have not checked in or been recognized to try again. Before moving on to the next team I make one more call for any station to relay in any other stations they may have heard that I have not recognized.

All net members should copy all stations they hear and mark each callsign when it is recognized by net control. Not only is this good practice for when it’s your turn to be net control, it also means you will be ready if you are the station net control asks for relays. By marking callsigns when they are recognized, you won’t be relaying in stations already checked in and you will be able to relay in for that last call for any missed stations.

One key to keeping it efficient is for net members to NOT try to relay each scratchy station as it comes in. Be patient and wait until net control asks for relays. I have heard helpful minded stations offer relays before being asked and this can be confusing to net control and cause undue delays. Remember that what may be very difficult for you to hear may be perfectly clear to net control and that net control will ask for relays. Wait for that request. Another key is for net control not to agonize over each scratchy signal. Just recognize the clear ones first and then ask for relays. That’s what the relay stations are for.

This is a different procedure than the weekly net on the MC1 repeater. There, net control can ask a station with a poor signal to make adjustments and try again. If the signal is still not readable, net control can ask other stations to listen on the reverse and then ask the scratchy station to try once more. Then if someone did pick it up on reverse, they can offer the relay. Relays are not held to the end of each team’s checkins.

One last note: If you try to tune into the simplex net and cannot hear net control intelligibly or at all, don’t give up. Wait until you hear someone ask for your team’s relays. If you are on Delta, Echo or Mike teams, you will be waiting longer than those on the Alpha or Bravo teams. And of course Charlie Team is right there in the middle and often has the most relays thanks to those west hills.

Weekly Net News

The changes to the weekly Wednesday night net have gone well so far. Checkins are now by team instead of by callsign suffix. This encourages members to learn to recognize their team members. Also, training gems, traffic, and announcements are before checkins, so please try to tune in on time at 7:00 PM

Weekly Net News

At our April 11 leadership meeting we decided to make some changes to the weekly Wednesday night net. Checkins will be by team instead of by call sign suffix. This encourages members to learn to recognize their team members. Also checkins will follow training gems, traffic, and announcements so please try to tune in on time at 7:00 PM. Our net manager, Rachel KI7NMB, will update the net scripts and announce when these changes will go into effect.

Weekly Net News

Here are this year’s results for the most checkins to the Wednesday net!

Deb KK7DEB and Joe WA7FWC are tied for first (46 checkins each), followed by Bill KG7SEU in second (45), and then Ralph AG7FE in third (44). Thanks for a great year! Thank you net manager, Rachel KI7NMB, for compiling this information.

Wednesday Night Net Gems

My name is Pattie KB7GMM and I am the Gem Coordinator for the weekly ARES net. We have heard wonderful comments regarding how much our members like hearing about our little Gems. First off I want to thank those who have been a source of wonderful information. Without the assistance of our members we could not have the great Gems we have.

We would like to make sure we touch on the topics everyone could use. So what we are asking here is any topics that we could assist with. Keep it small; we have a 10 minute slot to use. We are also looking for members that might want to speak to these subjects. So everyone who wants to know a little more about something please speak up. And those who would like to deliver the message or have subject matter that the group wants to hear please let us know.

Thank you so much and we look forward to hearing your ideas. Email me at Kb7gmm [at] gmail [dot] com

Net News

The monthly Simplex Net has moved to the second Wednesday of every month. The Traffic Handling Training Net (THTN) will be once a month on the fourth Tuesday at 8:00 PM (147.180MHz, 103.5Hz tone).