NTS + ARES = Long Haul Emergency Communication

Discussion in 'NTS (National Traffic System)' started by W3JY, Jan 25, 2014.

  1. W3JY

    W3JY Active Member

    Amateur Radio has changed quiet a lot in the last twenty years and so too has our League and its Field Organization. Many new licensees selflessly serve their local ARES unit using new digital techniques such as Winlink 2000, NBEMS, or HSMM. And why not? They are easy to use, reliable, and offer high capacity. It's not hard to guess most are not familiar with the National Traffic System, although traffic handling was the founding purpose of the ARRL!

    But the NTS soldiers on wjth dedication and discipline just the same. And it's a good thing, too: the NTS remains the backbone of the ARRL's continental emergency communication system.

    Operating in every state and province of North America, in every Section, using traditional CW, SSB and the Pactor waveforms, the NTS relays tens of thousands of Radiograms from one side of the continent to the other in an efficient, scalable and reliable network of volunteers.

    Yet most ARES organizations know very little about NTS or its proven capability. Many believe this was inevitable with the demise of the Novice class as a gateway to HF, the concurrent rise of the ubiquitous Internet, and the post-9/11 emphasis on government communication systems.

    But the NTS remains the only emcomm organization in the country that offers end-to-end RF-only communications for the general public.

    And that is why the NTS soldiers on outside the spotlight. When all else fails, NTS works!

    Here is a PowerPoint presentation with the details, "THE NTS TODAY: 2014" by W3JY as presented to the Holmesburg ARC.

    Attached Files:

    wedgar likes this.
  2. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Good presentation!

    Perhaps one technique to try would be to have local amateur clubs have some NTS traffic handling lessons and practice on club nets. These local nets can utilize local 2 meter repeaters to teach new hams and practice message handling.

    Once they upgrade, they can more easily join in the HF nets and they'd have a head start from learning at the local level.

    - Bill
  3. W3JY

    W3JY Active Member

    Bill - quite correct and I thank you for catching that important nuance wrt ARESCOM.

    FYI, I'm getting some enthusiasm for a return to Radiogram traffic on local VHF nets. We hope it will come to pass.
  4. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Glad to hear the enthusiasm is building for Radiogram traffic on the local nets!
    Gilbert Skip Kauffman likes this.
  5. W.T. Jones

    W.T. Jones Moderator Staff Member Silver Member Golden GPS Recipient AtlDiv EPA Leader AtlDiv ARES Member

    Under the heading of FWIW I have to agree that message handling needs to be done on the local level. At least as far as training is concerned. Our local situation dictates that we pass messages by voice with content that is unique to a nuclear power plant. At our last test we discovered that many of the hams can read, can speak, but have a real tough time transferring a message. And you could tell by the tone of their voices when they were getting frustrated by their inability to get across what they needed to get across.

    We will be starting a local VHF ARES net in the near future. Much to the disdain of our local traffic handlers there will other things besides NTS work. I can't satisfy everyone but NTS and message handling will be near the top of the training subjects. And the net will provide an outlet for any traffic, incoming or outgoing. Live traffic is good but we can't always get that. One of our hams way back when left us with a valuable training tool. A set of 50 NTS messages that illustrate almost every possible type message and handling experience that a traffic handler can expect.

    There will be certificates for those that manage to take all 50 of the messages as a reward.
    Gilbert Skip Kauffman and wedgar like this.
  6. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    Excellent! Keep us posted how this goes.
  7. W3JY

    W3JY Active Member

    Here's a RACES radiogram form that was used until fairly recently (1990s). It could handle most technical material given the extra space for content. I have the original .tif scan if you would like high res.

    Attached Files:

    Gilbert Skip Kauffman and wedgar like this.
  8. wedgar

    wedgar Administrator Staff Member Gold Member

    That would still work well if computers aren't functioning?
    Gilbert Skip Kauffman likes this.
  9. Gilbert Skip Kauffman

    Gilbert Skip Kauffman Moderator Staff Member Bronze Member

    International and continental traffic has been handled though digital modes for many years. In the 1990's I installed a packet system using a FlexNet backbone system. It went from NYLI through NJ, DE, VA, PA and MD. The backbone carried the DX clusters from YCCC, FRC. NNJDX, SNJDX, and a few more during the contest season. It also carried continental and intercontinental traffic from Pactor and other HF nodes. Totally transparent to the user. WB3DTG's node went out to 20 meter Pactor for European traffic. When I moved from Eastern PA out to Western PA I offered the entire system to anyone who would run it.. NO takers.. We dismantled the system and I now have it in Coudersport, PA. If you are going to continue using voice for traffic, there needs to be more new hams getting involved. My question is what is better training for voice o digital message handling ??? Will more folks get involved with the newer digital modes or stay with voice. No matter what is chosen there is the training that is required to learn how to pass traffic. My thoughts are that a store and forward digital system would be better and require less training. The other plus is that it does not have to be manned. OK, I know that is a bad word. But, folks today have a very limited amount of time to spend on a hobby. After all, Ham Radio is just a hobby ???
    de Skip
  10. W3JY

    W3JY Active Member

    I tend to agree with your assessment of the present state of volunteerism. People are stressed to the limits and spare time for public service is restricted accordingly. Digital store-and-forward, i.e., packet BBS systems are ideal in my experience. They also have the benefit of just working once they are set up. Very little to remember as with NBEMS and other soundcard modes that depend on regular practice and, critically, Windows' stability to function properly (ahem).

    Too bad about your FlexNet system. We are actively workign to reestablish the packet network in greater Philadelphia. If you are still keen to find a good home for the equipment, let me know: we will put it to use down here.
    Gilbert Skip Kauffman likes this.
  11. Gilbert Skip Kauffman

    Gilbert Skip Kauffman Moderator Staff Member Bronze Member

    Ok, here's the rub...... FlexNet tnc are setup with six pack chips. The configuration was complied and needed the chip set. I have no means of transportation. The trans in my F350 4X4 is broke and I have no way to get in town.... UPS, FedX will not deliver to me ... I have 3 Paccom Tiny II TNC's and 3 MFJ's some set 1200 and other 9600 they are yours.... I can not get any interest in a FlexNet system out here... Folks out here never heard of FlexNet... I am still listed on Northeast FlexNet.. Send me your phone number via email k3cc@verizon.net and I'll call you de Skip

Share This Page