Passing Messages

I’ve been a licensed amateur radio operator nearly 26 years – N7NET is my call sign. The desire to have my own radio station and chat with other hams around the world was the initial driving force that caused me to pass a battery of electronic theory and Morse code tests thrown at me. But my license soon took on a more important meaning. I was now able to lend a hand with emergency communications during times of disaster, man made as well as those caused by nature.

Shorty after earning my license I learned there were ways an old man could still service his country. I joined Military Affiliated Radio Service (MARS) and assisted in relaying messages to and from our troops serving during the ’91 Gulf War.

When that was finished I continued relaying messages on the amateur bands using the National Traffic System (NTS). It is imperative that these messages arrive at their destination unchanged and in a timely manner, but there is also a larger picture – NTS keeps operators trained for times of emergency.

One skilled operator is Kate, K6HTN, who lives in Pasadena, California. She passes messages across the nation every night, including this past July 4th while the fireworks was occurring. Her dogs were not pleased with the celebration. I’ll let her share her experience with you.

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Fireworks and NTS
4 July 1014

Definitions: RN6 = Sixth Region traffic net, PAN = Pacific Area Net,
TCC = Transcontinental Corps, PAS = Pacific Area Staff.

Rough nets last night! First, something went wrong with the ionosphere. I don’t see anything on, but something was going on. Very ringy sound, like breaking into one’s own code stream. RN6/1 just faded away to nothing, just after I was informed that K6YR had suggested that I should be P1 (I had a lot of QTC [messages]).

Not long after PAN started, the illegal fireworks outside really got underway. I was in the middle of sending to K0TER, when one of my dogs, Lopo, panicked & dived under the desk, shutting off the power strip in mid-message. I got that back on shortly, but had to continue sending CW [Morse code] while holding his collar with my spare hand, so it would not turn me off again! He was on the verge of twisting around & biting me. Kip was barking his head off the whole time. Hope I didn’t make too many errors, because I could not have known if I did. Went back to the net freq [frequency] & had to wait my turn just long enough to stick Lopo into a crate.

Of course, the ops [operators] that I happened to interact with on PAN that night were my two “bosses” on the PAS, the Area Chair & the TCC Coordinator!