A traffic net is an organized meeting of amateur radio operators dedicated
to handling third party messages. To facilitate an efficient flow of traffic
there are rules to abide by. Here are a few:
1. LISTING YOUR TRAFFIC
Always list your traffic with NCS and follow NCS instructions as to
who to send it to and where.
2. RECEIVING STATION CALLS FIRST
If you are the one with traffic to send and you are sent 'up 5', wait
until you hear the receiving station calling you. Remember, it is up to
the receiving station to find a clear spot, and it may not always be exactly
'up 5'. Get on to his frequency to send your traffic.
3. IDENTIFY YOURSELF
Make sure you identify yourself properly. This ensures you are either
sending the correct traffic, or receiving the traffic intended for you.
Also, on a busy net, there may be others waiting to pass traffic with you
and are waiting in line. They want to be sure they are on the correct frequency.
4. DON'T TUNE UP ON FREQUENCY
Never tune up right on a net frequency. Others are often monitoring,
or could be passing traffic under difficult conditions. If you tune up
off to the side of a frequency your rig will still be tuned for the net.
Also, it is very unlikely that you need to re-tune when going off 5, or
even 10, away from the net frequency.
5. KNOW YOUR "QN" SIGNALS
The "QN" signals are there for efficiency. Strange though it may seem, most net members have lives to lead other than checking into traffic nets. The more quickly and efficiently they can pass their traffic the better for everyone. If you don't know your QN signals you will tie up the net with unnecessary explaining, which may be annoying for the NCS, as well as others who are waiting to handle their traffic and leave.
QNZ means Get on the same frequency as the Net Control Station. This does not necessarily mean the designated frequency for the net. The NCS is the one who has to be able to hear clearly, and he may have some sort of local interference on the designated frequency. He may move to a clearer spot, but it should be as close as he can get to the designated frequency. If he has moved, it is up to all net members to follow him and get on his frequency
QNX means You are excused from the net. Unless NCS has QNX'd you, return to the net frequency to let NCS know that you have cleared your traffic. NCS should know where everyone is, and what frequencies are clear to send others off to. Also, NCS may need you to help with relaying when conditions are poor. Don't leave the net without asking for QNX.
QNV means Call the other station on THIS frequency, and if you can hear each other THEN go to the designated frequency to handle your traffic.
QNR means Receive traffic - easy to remember because of the "R"
QNK means Transmit your traffic - easy to remember because "K" means Go ahead, Transmit.
QNP means Unable to copy. If you don't copy a station passing you traffic, don't be afraid to use QNP and go back to the net frequency to inform NCS that you need a relay. Relaying is part of the game too, and is good practice for handling traffic in an emergency.
QNJ means Able to copy
Notes on the Use of QN Signals: (Taken from the ARRL Net Directory 1993-94)
These QN signals are special ARRL signals for use in amateur CW nets only. They are not for use in casual amateur conversation. Other meanings that may be used in other services do not apply. Do not use QN signals on phone nets. Say it with words. QN signals need not be followed by a question mark, even though the meaning may be interrogatory.
Some other "Q" SIGNALS you should also know:
QSK means I can hear you between my signals. In other words, you can break me during my transmissions. This is useful for traffic handling - it means the transmitting station does not have to repeat words, which can sometimes get tedious. If the receiving station doesn't get a word he can break immediately and have that word sent again. This makes for more efficient traffic handling.
QTX means Keep your station open for further communications until
further notice. In other words, don't leave net until excused by NCS, you
may be required to help in some way.
1. When sent off frequency to pass traffic, the receiving station picks a clear frequency and calls the transmitting station. This makes sense as it is the receiving station who has to copy the traffic.
2. When receiving traffic, make sure you have the correct amount of words in the text as indicated in the CK in the preamble. Query the transmitting station, it is easy sometimes to miss sending a word, especially if you have a lot of traffic, and one word can make all the difference to the meaning of the text. If you find there are 17 words in the text and only a CK of 15, when you pass that traffic along make the CK 15/17. Conversely, if you find there are only 15 words in the text with a preamble CK of 17, put CK 17/15 in the preamble when you pass it along. This shows the receiving station that there are either more or fewer words in the text than in the CK. It also shows the delivery station, and therefore the addressee, that the message may by incomplete.
Make use of QTB - it is a very efficient way of finding out where there may be a discrepancy between the CK and the amount of words in the text. QTB is where the transmitting station sends the first letter of each word in the text including the 'x'.
A handy way of counting the words in the text is to write only 5 words on each line when copying the message. You can see at a glance if you have the correct count as indicated in the CK.
Passing third party traffic through the nets is a team effort, and a certain amount of pride can be felt by those who participate in getting a message to its destination correctly. Accuracy is the name of the game; you do not need to understand a message, but you do need to make sure you have copied it correctly. If it is sent correctly by all participating stations, in all likelihood the addressee will understand it. Be sure you have copied it correctly from the transmitting station before you QSL it, and pass it on exactly as you have received it. If you think there is an error in the message add a note at the end to the receiving station.
Traffic handlers have a history of gentlemanly conduct. Not only does this make our hobby more enjoyable, but also encourages others who may be listening to think about joining us. Keep up the good work, and have fun.
by VE7ANG August 1997