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Open Letter to Net Control Stations

(And a worthwhile read for everyone else)

I'm pleased that so many of our members have stepped up to take Net Control duties.  Each net you run is an opportunity to sharpen your on-the-air skills.  In listening to our weekly  70 cm net (and several other nets as well), I have noticed some areas that often leave room for improvemment.  Please think about your own techniques and ask yourself whether any of these might apply to you.

1) Long pauses are not good.  They waste time and  leave everyone wondering what's going on . . . Should I call again?  Shall I add my call to the last one?  Did Net Control have a radio failure?  I know some of you are looking up callsigns on one list or another, but why?  Just listen carefully, write down what you hear and respond promptly.  Remember, you're not just logging someone else's transamissions, you are supposed to be controlling the frequency.  Long delays also make the whole net run too long.   With our check-in, check-out system, people are waiting (sometimes impatiently) for you to finish the net's business.  Get on with it!  If you can't hear callsigns accurately when you hear them, practice more.

2) Avoid non-specific acknowledgements.  Each time you come back to someone, everyone listening should have no doubt as to which station you were addressing. Saying OK, I have you" is useless; you have who?  If two stations called and you couldn't hear one of them, they both think they're checked in.  Say, "K6XYZ, I have you".  If you missed part of a callsign, ask for the missing part.  "K6X-something-Z, what's the middle letter?" or "XYZ, your prefix please?"  And when you need the suffix, don't ask for the prefix.  Be sure you know the difference and ask for the right one.

3) Phonetics are for stations calling in for the first time. If you hear Kilo Six X-ray Yankee Zulu, you can acknowledge K6XYZ.  Same on check-out; everyone's in the log by then, so no one needs to use phonetics again.  The only time Net Control needs to use phonetics is to clarify a callsign ("Was that Delta Papa Bravo or Delta Bravo Bravo?") or when two callsigns sound so smilar that you need to distinguish the one you're calling from the one you're not calling.

4) Don't think out loud with the push-to-talk engaged.  If you're on the air saying "Let's see, where I did I put that pencll?" you will sound disorganized and won't be projecting the confidence and authority that Net Control should display.  If you need a few seconds, say "All stations please stand by" and let go of the mic button.

5) Be sure you have a loud, clear signal on the net frequency.  Ask for an accurate signal report ahead of net time, or listen to yourself on another band-output (preferably with headphones).  If you're noisy or have low audio, ask your alternate to take over while you figure out what the problem is.  You can't control the frequency if you're hard to hear.

By consciously avoiding the problems described above, you will be practicing doing it right rather than reinforcing bad habits.  That will make it easier to keep doing it right in the future.

Marty N6VI

Documents for Net Control Stations

You'll find useful documents in our Library, including the various districts' net control scripts, tips, official forms and other helpful items.

Net Control Schedule

See the Districts' pages for their specific Net Control schedules.