"...The National Traffic System plan is a means for systematizing amateur traffic handling facilities by making a structure available for an integrated traffic facility designed to achieve the utmost in two principal objectives: rapid movement of traffic from origin to destination, and training amateur operators to handle written traffic and participate in directed nets. These two objectives, which sometimes conflict with each other, are the underlying foundations of the National Traffic System.

NTS operates daily, even continuously with the advent of the advanced digital links of today.

The personnel consists of operators who participate for one or two periods a week, and some who are active daily. The National Traffic System is an organized effort to handle traffic in accordance with a plan which is easily understood, is basically sound, and which employs modern methods of network traffic handling in general acceptance today..." —ARRL Public Service Communications Manual

A Thought for Message Handlers

A Thought for Handlers.
Just a suggestion which may help a few of you:

When delivering a message to a non ham who doesn't know you it's
particularly important to give the info most important to the recipient
first. The mechanics of how the message got to him/her is secondary. Start
with:

I have a message from (name) in (place) for (name).

That way they know you're not a telemarketer and they may want to hear more.
Then you can say that the message came via ham radio if the text doesn't
have that info. You're starting with a name they know and saying that you
have info from him/her. I have never gotten a negative response from this.
The mechanics of the transmission process is of interest to us but not to
our public. In the case of ham to ham spam, I agree with the prior comments
that blindly going from unedited lists of calls is not the best practice,
but how often do we hit a silent key? Also, perhaps the next of kin might
like the fact that somewhere, someone, has made note of the prior existence
of the loved one? And like it or not we do need the traffic during periods
of low activity of "real" messages. A traffic net can't exist without
traffic.

In the"Sirens of Titan" it turns out that life and technology over the
course of 5000 years were speeded up by an alien whose intergalactic
spacecraft made a forced landing on Titan (a moon of Jupiter) and needed a
part which required a developed planetary technology. At the end we find
that his mission was the delivery of a message from the president of his
galaxy to the president of another. His route took him through our galaxy.
The content of the message proves to be trivial. Thus the medium is the
message. Even our spamgrams are of greater importance. But the fact remains
that delivering the message is an end in itself.

The Future of NTS/ARES

Hello everyone:

There are some comments in Gil's letter below that I find very disturbing.
In particular, the comment about "handing the whole show to ARES." Having
served as an EC, NM, STM, and SEC, as well as having dealt with ARES and
RACES organizations from the other side of the fence (as a Professional
Emergency Manager), I feel I have a fairly unique perspective.

On one hand, I agree that there is no harm integrating the Internet and
automated digital protocols into ARES and NTS. This is simply evolution and
progress. It needs to be done. However, it should be noted that these are
simply additional communications tools, whereas NTS is a methodology.
Please bear with me while I illustrate with an example:

During a recent bioterrorism response exercise in Central Michigan, the ARES
group repeatedly entered the Emergency Operations Center requesting
etiological information and other data from State and Federal public health
officials. In each case, the served agency representative asked some very
simple questions:



* "How's requesting this information"
* "What time did he request it?"
* "What facility is he located at"
........and on and on.

Finally, the local Emergency Manager walked into the ARES room, handed them
a book of radiogram blanks, and demanded they use them. He's not a radio
amateur. As an exercise evaluator, I asked him what his reasons were for
doing so. The response was straightforward: "NTS format will insure we get
all of the necessary information in a consistent manner."

As one who has had to rely on ARES and RACES groups to send messages at
HAZMAT scenes, during major disasters, and so forth, I can say without
equivocation that Amateur Radio has serious deficiencies. These may be
summarized as follows:

MEET JOE O'BRIEN K1LCQ

Born June 28, 1926 in Jamaica Plain. Graduated from St. Ann's School Neponset June 1939. Graduated from Mechanic Arts High School (now Boston Tech) June 1943. Served US Army Air Corps as a bandsman and also a broadcaster on the base Armed Forces Radio Station at Fort Pepperell Newfoundland, August 1945 to December 1946. Played the trombone in the Army and also locally with American Legion Bands, but I was a lousy trombone player.

Upon return to civilian life I worked for phone company 1947 - 1949. Joined the City of Boston Public Works Dept. in 1950 and later the Boston Water and Sewer Dept. until retirement in 1996. The last 15 years of which I served as their Radio Dispatcher and was responsible for keeping their repeaters in operating condition, working with FCC licensed contractors.

Joined the ranks of amateur radio June 10, 1959 as a tech and operated six meter AM. Upgraded to General Glass and Advance class a few years later. At that time Hams took their exams in the FCC Office at the Custom House Building in downtown Boston. Joined EM2MN back in the days when it was on 145.800 using AM emission before we had FM and repeaters. Had to use Beam Antennas to communicate and pass traffic. That was back in 1978.

Have been NCS on EM2MN on Friday nights for 25 years.

ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee Report: ORS's Comments

My name is Peter Grace, KB1CVH.
I am writing to you about the Volunteer Resources Committee report on the ARRL's Field Services Organization dated July 18-19, 2003.

When I first became licensed, and before I even owned an amateur radio, I was called on the phone by an amateur radio operator who welcomed me with a radiogram that welcomed me to the amateur radio world. When I obtained my first radio, my first or second conversation was with Jim Hatherley, WA1TBY,SK. I was very impressed by his kindness to this new ham. I then listened to and checked into the Eastern Massachusetts 2 meter traffic net on 145.23. I was welcomed to the net by Jim and the other amateurs who participated. Jim sent me a package on NTS in the mail. I didn't check in again for some time as I wasn't quite ready to handle traffic. Eventually the day came when I checked in and took traffic.

Now I am an Official Relay Station, a Net Control Station, a member of Eastern Massachusetts ARES, and RACES officer for the City of Somerville, Massachusetts, the 5th most densely populated city in the United States.



My introduction to amateur radio, besides reading the ARRL Amateur Radio Handbook, was listening to the local 2 meter traffic net. I'm certain that traffic nets are a way that the ARRL and Amateur Radio reaches out to many new hams. If there's an NTS net on a local 2 meter repeater that meets every night like the Eastern Massachusetts 2 meter traffic net, many new hams will hear it.

While participating on traffic nets, I have learned how to participate in a formal net, how to pass traffic, how to receive traffic, how to be a net control station, and how to be part of the 'System'. These skills are invaluable to amateur radio and to its members. These skills can be used in formal voice nets, in taking and passing traffic for served agencies in both ARES and RACES.

ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee Report: STM's Comments

Jim Ward, N1LKJJim Ward, N1LKJ writes:

I found the VRC Report regarding traffic disturbing.

We all know that since the inception of electronic mail, traffic handling has been seriously effected. When I first got into traffic handling and later, became Net Manager of Boston's Eastern Massachusetts Two Meter Net, we used to average 400 checkins per month. After more and more hams got into the computer age, the checkins dropped to about 280 each month. Checkins have remained at that figure ever since.

There is no question that e-mail has hurt, but hams have stepped forward by creating messages like welcoming new hams to the hobby. How can anyone find these message offensive and label them "canned traffic," "crap traffic," etc.? They're missing an opportunity to deliver this traffic and welcome a new ham to the hobby. They're missing an opportunity to talk to a new ham and tell him or her about local clubs, the ARRL, ARES, and RACES. There was even one SM who complained about birthday and holiday traffic. I guess Scrooge and the Mad Hatter still live.

Gil, W1GMF, one of the stations who originates "welcome to ham radio" traffic receives hundreds of messages from hams to whom this traffic is delivered. The hams thank him for sending it. STMs from all over the country have thanked Gil for what he and other hams like him are doing. Sure, there are a few disgruntled STMs--but they very much in the minority.

The NTS is alive and well. It remains a training place for ARES and RACES operators to enhance their skills in copying, sending and acting as a Net Control Station. I can only speak for my area of operation. The local nets, the First Region Net and the Eastern Area Net are all handling a lot of traffic by dedicated traffic handlers.

N1IQI Awarded Brass Pounders League Award

N1IQI BPL award presentationBPL awardW1GMF wrote:

The presentation of a BPL bronze medallion from the ARRL was made to Loren Pimental, N1IQI at the July 15, 2003 meeting of the Massasoit Amateur Radio Association for points assessed from traffic handling over a period of 6 months.

Presenting the award to Loren (center) were Phil Temples, K9HI, ARRL Section Manager (left) and Jim Ward, N1LKJ, Section Traffic Manager (right).

Congratulations, Loren, on this recognition of your participation in this important aspect of amateur radio.

My First Delivery of NTS Traffic

"Eastern Area Net" Story On-line

A fictionalized story describing the operation of the Eastern Area Net is available on my personal web site for your reading pleasure. Phil Temples, K9HI

Request For Comments: NTS and ARES Cooperation

Happy Thanksgiving, EMA traffic handlers!

I wanted to share this Request For Information from the ARRL Volunteer Resources Committee, via Steve Ewald at ARRL Hq. VRC feels that more cooperation is needed between NTS and ARES programs. They are looking for input from Section Managers, Section Traffic Managers and Section Emergency Coordinators as to how this might occur.

Additionally, I invite comments from any NTS or ARES participants.

73,

Phil Temples, K9HI

ARRL Section Manager,
Eastern Massachusetts Section

ARRL Section Managers,

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