Ham Radio Nets
Ham operators with common interest or using common equipments usually congregate at certain frequencies to chat or exchange information. At times, the hams may decide to have regular on-the-air meeting for their discussions at specific days and time. Such organized and regular meetings are called Nets.
Nets may be scheduled for pleasure, for instance when hams schedule to be meetings for regular chat; to play radio games such as radio chess, to discuss certain topics or they could meet for arranged contests. Also nets can be held for pertinent radio issues such weather reporting, to check and enhance traffic on radio and also they can be held incase of emergency situations.
Nets are usually classified according to their nature and structure.
Directed net. This is a net which follows standard operating rules. The basic structure of directed nets involves a Net Control Station (NCS) which is used to initiate net operations, ensure that there is order among hams operators (in nets they usually referred as stations because of the way one checks in), directs all net activities, and also end all net operations when the activities are over. This means that there must be a net manager to oversee all these operations.
The net manager defines net policies to be adhered, and works on managing the NCS stations to keep the net meeting on a regular basis and ensure everything runs according to schedule. Stations (ham operators) that want to be involved in the net activities usually check in at the direction and command of the NCS.
You should note that nets have different structure of operations, so as a new member who wants to participate, you will have to tune your radio and listen, then you will have to identify the NCS, and follow the directions and policies set as well as study the behavior of net members to guide you on what how you can participate.
Checking in on ham radio nets
If you are already a member of a net, checking in is not a big deal. You only will have to register your call sign and location with the NCS. Therefore you will have to listen to the NCS and follow the instructions provided.
If you are a newcomer, however, it there may be some hindrances because you will have to wait for the NCS to invite visitors who want to participate. This is your chance, so follow the instructions and register. Then check in and give your call sign once and wait for the NCS to copy your call. If your call sign is not copied, repeat it until it’s copied and you are allowed into the net.
Another way of checking in is through announcements or through traffic (messages) for that specific net.
— This means that you will have to listen to the net as other members check in and find out which method is appropriate to use.
Incase you want to contact other stations checking in, you can state this intention as you give your call sign. This may make it seem as if you have net business and it will be scheduled for attention by the NCS. Alternatively, you can wait until the check-in process is over and when NCS calls for net business you indicate your intention.
Either way you decide to do this, the NCS will request the other station to acknowledge your call and thus connects the two of you together as per the nets policies and procedures or any other relevant regulation.