Thursday, November 17, 2011

Posted early as I may very well be busy as hell tomorrow.

I am a member of a website that has quite a number of different forums on it. One of the forums is the ham radio forum.

WHile the ham community in general has a pretty damned good message system for people to get emergency messages delivered, it strikes me that the messages system (the one run by the ARRL) is somewhat dependent in both computer and telephones. This means that the sender of the message is getting word out to another ham to either phone or email the recipient of the message.

While I suppose that is well and good and over the years has probably done quite a bit of good, it still is based on other forms of communication.

What I would like to do is something along these lines:

Scenario: Someone has approached me and given me three things, a call sign, a hometown (on the west coast, 2500 miles away.) and a message. The object, of course, is to get the message to the person on the west coast.

What we are up against, and it is a LOT:

First of all, we do not know what kind of rig the recipient has. HF? 2 meter?

What we DO know is the schedule he monitors his radio and a list of POSSIBLE frequencies. There will be 2 frequencies posted from each band when I initiate this, a primary and a secondary.

If the recipient only has 2 meters I guess it will be a case of local knowledge of which repeater he is hitting.

I will start this by QSOing as many members of the website that I can and passing on the call sign, hometown and the message and from there it is a scramble to get the message to the recipent.

The guys involved are going to have to be able to think out of the box.

Telephones and computers may NOT be used to forward the message.This is STRICTLY ham radio.

However, website members are encouraged to pass on their progress through the website just to see how things are going and what they have done.

I'll probably try and get this thing started in a couple of weeks when my work schedule permits.

This idea came to me the other day when the government held their recent little emergency communication drill and on no notice a small net grew like topsy. The net was actually computer based.

The instant plan was to try a frequency on the 10 meter band. It wasn't the right time for it, nobody seemed to be able to communicate. One free thinker suggested 20 meters and posted a frequency and I switched with better results.

I think it get rolling when a man from SC and I made the first solid contact and posted it on the web. A couple of others joined in and the man from SC handed me net control, which is a bitch with a PRC 320 because it is not designed for no hands operation as there is no PTT foot switch and being net control means busy hands.

It was chaotic at best and I'm sure my 'log', consisting of scratch paper is very incomplete. It got so chaotic that I kicked over a trash can for paper to keep notes on. IF ANY OF YOU GUYS I qso'd HAVE NOT RECIEVED A QSL CARD FROM ME, GO TO eQSL AND SEND ME ONE. I will both confirm it and send you a paper card (listing my QTH as being BFE)

I took all of the check-ins I could get and decided that I wanted to see how far west the net would go if I passed it wast as I really had no check-ins that were west of the Mississippi. I passed control onto a person I knew to be west of me and told him to accept check-ins and then pass net control in a westerly direction. Incidentally, as I write this I am stating here and now that there ARE inaccuracies as this was chaotic and is now still somewhat of a blur.

Shortly after I passed net control I did manage to squeak in a QSO with someone in NM, which surprised me. I also got word through the net that my signal had reached Montana, but the person there was also runing low power and we couldn't QSO, but I digress.

The reason I passed net control west was to see how many people we could get on the net because as I was running it it occurred to me that on-demand long distance HF communications is not really possible. In order to get word across the country, while possible is not an on demand thing.

A net like this should be a flexible system of relays to fill in the gaps and jump the gaps. What's just as important, everyone on this net should be allowed to think on his feet and act. Net control should be a flexible thing. Everyone involved should be able to use their skills to get the word through.

It would be fun to see what happens, and my money is that we can do it, but it might take us a while.

my other blog is:


  1. 10-10 does this everyday and has a net control with several relay stations that the NC can hear. They make the rounds several times during a net.

  2. On a totally unrelated subject, I've been reading your blog almost daily for a couple years.

    For a couple years, I've wanted to restore a car, but didn't really know where to start. Honestly, I still don't really know - but I saw 'the right car' at 'the right price', and had the money. While I was looking at it, I thought "ol' piccolo bought a sailboat and set out with it. He didn't fuss around, he just did it...... I can do this. I'll learn this as I do it." - laid down the cash and towed it home.

    Sir, keep living the life. You're an inspiration.