How to Be the NCS

Taking Control

Okay, it's time. We have been waiting and training and suggesting, but the results haven't been what we need. It's time for some additional net control stations. If you heard the last Wisconsin Nets Association meeting, you noticed that every net reporting listed lack of net control stations as a problem. And it's a problem quite easily solved. It just requires a little effort from those who already make the effort to check in.

One training exercise which you may observe on our section nets in the near future is QNG, passing the net control duties to another station. A regular NCS may call up the net, get things started, and then give the whole show to someone else. It would mean stations might find it advantageous to learn who has checked in and what traffic is listed beforehand -- or just find out at the time they take over. Either way, it would simulate a very real possibility of losing a net control mid-net. Conditions change. Equipment fails. Storms strike. It happens. Why not be ready for it on our section nets?

At the risk of redundancy, repetition, and saying the same thing twice, here are some hints for being a good NCS.

How to Get Ready

A. Become familiar with the other stations on the net. Knowing correct call signs, names, and locations is a good idea. Even if you never perform as an NCS, it's always good to know with whom you're working and where they live. Check out the current QNI Index and Routing Guide at www.wna.eboard.com.

B. Make some notes. Pay close attention to the stations that go off frequency to pass traffic. What frequencies does the net use to move traffic? Up to 95? Down to 77? UP 4? DWN 5? Usually the NCS knows the open spots, where adjacent nets are, etc. You'll get a feel for the NCS action by keeping track of what's happening.

C. Try to guess what the NCS will do next. Sometimes, different types of traffic will appear on a net and the NCS will have to rank them in importance. For example, you may notice that out-of-state or "thru" traffic gets higher priority than a message bound for a city usually represented on the net. Of course, formal traffic will take precedence over "informal" exchanges.

D. Notice the order of things. Who's asked to check in first? Emergency and priority traffic holders? 9RN representative? Listen for the jargon, the pacing, and the phrases that make things flow. "Additional stations please call . . ." "NEED MKE, LAX, QNI K" Under poor conditions, hear how the NCS has the station holding the traffic and the receiving station establish contact on the net frequency before moving.

How to Serve as NCS

(1.) Keep order. The NCS must call up the net at the right time and announce the purpose and procedures which apply. It's easy to follow a script, and net managers gladly provide the wording.

(2.) As stations check in, get their calls right and donít forget to say or send the call of each station you acknowledge. They won't know if you've heard them unless you say so.

(3.) Be friendly but efficient. As NCS, you are a facilitator, not a lecturer. Keep things moving. Handle all formal traffic first.

(4.) If you take comments (or second-goes), remember to stand by frequently for additional check-ins. List the outstanding traffic each time you take a stand-by.

(5.) If you have traffic, donít hesitate to send it on frequency, sending it properly to set an example.

(6.) When band conditions are noisy, donít hesitate to ask for relays and assistance from stations who check in. Bad conditions might also prompt handling more traffic on net frequency, too.

(7.) Remember to thank stations for checking in, for relays, and for their liaison duties.

(8.) Time the entire operation for your net report. Include the time you take to send the net report to the NM at the end of the net, since that's net activity, too.

(9.) When the net is closed, you can send the net report to the Net Manager. Include the name of the net, the date, the number of stations who participated (include yourself), the number of pieces of traffic listed, the number cleared, the total time of the net (including traffic sent after the check-ins are excused), and which stations served as liaisons to or from other NTS nets such as 9RN or WIN.

There is now no excuse for you not to step in as net control when needed.

73- K9LGU/ STM - WI