Net Operations Manual





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INTRODUCTION:
The primary objective of the East Coast Amateur Radio Service (ECARS) is to provide effective Amateur Radio communications for both mobile and fixed stations, with priority given to mobile stations. ECARS operates daily when band conditions permit and volunteer NCS (Net Control Stations) are available. This manual was developed in the spirit and intent of satisfying the goals set forth in Paragraph 1 of the Preamble to the ECARS Bylaws.

SERVICE FREQUENCY AND MODE:
ECARS holds no claim to any particular frequency. However, the NCS will maintain operations as close as practical to 7.255 MHz utilizing Lower Side Band (LSB) .

NET OPERATIONS:
ECARS Net Operations consists of one or more of the following:
a.    Routine check-in to the ECARS net by radio amateurs to include identifying information, signal reports, and brief exchanges of interest to the operator and NCS 
b.    Net announcements by the Net Control Station 
c.   
Traffic handling, and associated communications to that purpose, when appropriate 
d.    Special purpose communications approved by the ECARS Board of Directors, such as communications associated with operation of a ‘Swap and Shop’ function for the advertising of amateur radio equipment available for sale or swap, or conduct of periodic roll calls of ECARS members.


COMMUNICATIONS, PRIORITIES AND TRAFFIC:
The vast majority of ECARS communications is routine and associated with the sociable furtherance of amateur radio communications.

There are various types of traffic that may be passed on the ECARS net.
1.  Formal message traffic of the type handled by the ARRL National Traffic System
2.  Urgent assistance needed by a call in
3.  Convenience and coordination

Type 1 traffic is very rare and not typically handled by ECARS.  The exception would be if an NTS station brings Morale and Welfare, Priority, or Emergency traffic to ECARS with a request for delivery, or there is a significant emergency in the ECARS operating area and ECARS leadership has decided that ECARS should handle this type of traffic for some period of time.  In the event that the ECARS NCS gets a request to handle routine Type 1 traffic, or Type 1 traffic not from the NTS, the NCS should recommend that the caller input his traffic via the National Traffic System and point him to the ARRL list of traffic handling nets

 Type 2 traffic is rare but generally involves an event that has created some urgency for action on the part of someone checking in to the net.  Examples might include someone whose vehicle has broken down , or someone who has taken to feeling poorly, on the highway or in a remote location.  The proliferation of cell phones has made this less probable than 20 years ago, but it can still happen.  Net Control Operators should handle such traffic in the most reasonable manner possible.  Specific action might involve notifying state police, or family and may be performed by the NCS directly, or passed off to someone to perform.  In the latter case, the NCS station should follow up with the tasked station and make sure the requested action was performed.  The NCS should report back to the traffic passing station when the action has been completed.

Type 3 Convenience and Coordination traffic is the most common type of traffic that ECARS will handle.  Examples include requests to pass a message to someone (e.g. W1XYZ) if he calls in, or a request to meet a check in from Rhode Island, or Delaware, and to move off frequency for a quick WAS QSO.  The Net Control Station should get a window of time that the request is valid for.  If the NCS is not able to satisfy the request during his shift, and the window of time has not expired, he should pass the request to his relief.  In some cases, it may be appropriate for the NCS to blend the request into his routine such as putting a request for Rhode Island stations to call in into his development of a check in list, so that they can be linked to a station needing their state for Worked All States. On occasions when it is impractical for stations to establish contact on another frequency, or when requested in order to coordinate establishing another frequency on which subsequent communications will occur, permission may be granted by the NCS to pass other brief messages or net announcements of a non-emergency nature on the net frequency. The determination that a situation falls within any of these categories resides with the NCS in charge.


Net announcements are informational bulletins of general interest to the ECARS community. These bulletins may consist of general ECARS administrative information or information on hazardous road conditions, weather information or other matters deemed by the NCS to be of interest to the ECARS community. All bulletins and announcements relating to OFFICIAL ECARS business or policies must be approved by the Board of Directors, or Net Manager. When possible, Net Announcements should be transmitted at the top of the hour.

Priority traffic to be coordinated on the net frequency may concern natural disasters, public disasters, life and death emergencies, roadway or traffic information or any other information or assistance of a serious nature.  See type 2 traffic above.

During an emergency situation, the NCS on duty has the authority to declare a "Net Alert."  During a "Net Alert" all stations shall refrain from transmitting unless specifically called by the NCS. When the emergency situation has concluded, as determined by the NCS on duty, he shall announce that the "Net Alert" is ended and the Net will resume normal operations. The ability to cope with emergency situations can be acquired only with serious intent and constant involvement.  See further “Net Alert” procedures below.

NET CONTROL STATIONS (NCS) OPERATIONS:
All NCS are appointed by the Net Manager and must be an ECARS member in good standing and who is familiar with Net operations. NCS schedules will be coordinated through the Net Manager. A weekly schedule will be posted by the Net Manager and kept current to changing circumstances. If a NCS cannot keep his time slot he should promptly notify the Net Manager. The NCS operator should be aware of the goals of the organization. He should be familiar with accepted principals of net operations and the content of this manual. The success of ECARS resides with these individuals. An atmosphere exemplifying the highest standards of Amateur Radio operations must be maintained at all times. The position of the NCS is to serve those checking into the service. At no time should the net be used as a platform for arguing, personal views, or monologues.

When opening the Net, the NCS must exercise courtesy to other amateur radio stations The NCS starting net operations, or restarting following a period of interrupted net operations, to make sure the frequency is clear by calling "QRZ" and listening carefully for any response. If there is activity, the NCS should move the net up or down to a clear frequency until the activity has subsided and operation can be resumed on the normal net frequency.

In instances where an interpretation of policy is required, consult the Net Manager.  If appropriate, the Net Manager may consult with the Officers and Board of Directors.

It is important, when QRM occurs, for participating stations to refrain from addressing remarks to the interfering station. If it is felt the QRM is not intentional, the NCS may request a participating station to contact the interfering station and resolve the situation. If it is believed that the QRM is intentional, the NCS shall act in accordance with the ECARS Deliberate Interference Protocol posted on the ECARS website.  Continue to run the net and ask for assistance from other stations on frequency if needed. Do not shut down the net and give any satisfaction to the interfering party.

The Net Manager, or Directors, may remove an NCS for any reason. Final determination whether a station will continue to act as an NCS is at the discretion of the Board of Directors or the Net Manager.

NET ALERT:
When a "NET ALERT" is declared, the NCS on duty is in complete control for the duration of the emergency. The NCS must obtain as much pertinent information as possible concerning the emergency and insure that all information is immediately forwarded to the proper individuals and authorities. If a message is to be delivered by a net-participating station, the NCS shall instruct the delivering station to report back to the NCS as to the message’s ultimate disposition. Message delivery confirmation shall be reported to the originating station if requested. The NCS shall use any means at his disposal to contact affected parties.

The NCS on duty must maintain the Net Alert as long as necessary. In the event a NCS must leave the air for any reason during a Net Alert, it is the responsibility of the departing NCS to assure the incoming NCS is both competent and fully aware of the details pertaining to the declared emergency. When the situation is resolved, the NCS will declare the Net Alert has ended and the net will return to regular operation.


The NCS must maintain a record of all pertinent details of the declared emergency, and forward them to the Net Manager.

NCS PROCEDURES:
During the conduct of his shift, an NCS should:


   1. Identify the net as the East Coast Amateur Radio Service (ECARS) on or near the frequency of 7.255 MHz.

   2. Identify himself by call sign, name, location and ECARS number.
   3. State that he will be Net Control and that ECARS is a directed net and works from a list. Restate this information periodically.
   4. At the top of the hour ask for any stations that have a schedule to keep. Then make the regular announcements.  For NCS shifts that do not start on the hour, the NCS may make regular announcements at the start of his shift in lieu of at the top of the hour.
   5. Ask if anyone has anything for the good of the Net or for Amateur Radio.

   6. Develop a check-in list.  Call for Check-ins by call sign. If the net is particularly busy the NCS may wish to break the check-ins down by call areas. Keep the check-in list to a manageable number.

   7. Periodically develop a check in list for mobile stations only.
   8. Recognize stations in the Check-in list in the order in which they were identified, except that mobile stations shall be moved to the top of the Check-in list and recognized first. 
   9. When recognizing each station in the check-in list, each station should respond when called with their call sign, name, location and service offered or desired. The NCS should enter the information into his log. Assist the station checking-in with any traffic or contact he might have.
   10. If a station is heard to be calling, but cannot be identified by the NCS, ask for relays.  Have any station invoking the RELAY Procedural Call make the contact and pass the information to the NCS.

   11.  Routine exchanges with each check-in may involve signal and audio reports, weather exchanges, current activities, and like information but should be kept reasonably brief.  The NCS should manage check-in durations based upon the check-in activity level.  During periods of low activity the net may be operated in a more relaxed, informal manner with more time allowed for communications with each check-in.  However, lengthy discussions and debugging of technical problems should be done off the net frequency.  General rag chewing is never appropriate.

PARTICIPATING STATIONS (Stations Checking In):
It is not required that a station be a member of ECARS to participate in the net.

Keep all transmissions reasonably brief.


When a "NET ALERT" is announced, no further transmissions shall be made by any station unless specifically called upon by the NCS in charge. Under the direction of the NCS every effort should be made to resolve the emergency without any delay.

When initiating a contact during the net it is standard procedure to find a clear frequency and move off the net.

PROCEDURAL SIGNALS:
When using any of the following procedural signals follow it with your call sign, and wait to be recognized by the NCS

1. BREAK or BREAK BREAK: Highest priority, life and death or health and welfare situation. Also urgent traffic related to property damage or another emergency.

2. CONTACT: Used to notify the NCS that the caller wishes to CONTACT a station known to be on frequency that has checked in earlier.

3. INFORMATION or INFO: Is used to notify the NCS that the caller has information pertinent to the business at hand.

4. QUERY: Indicates to the NCS that the caller has an inquiry pertinent to the business at hand.

5. RECHECK Indicates to the NCS that the caller has returned from being off frequency.

6. RELAY: Advises the NCS that the caller copies a station apparently not heard by the NCS.  Net Control should acknowledge the RELAYING station by call sign and ask him to make the contact and pass the information and any request from the unheard station to the NCS. At this time the RELAYING station should stand by and await further instruction from the NCS.

Use discretion when offering a RELAY. Do not offer multiple relays unless the NCS requests relays at the end of his list of call ups. Remember the location of a station is a contributing factor as to what he will hear and it differs from any other station.

7. CHECK OUT: Used only if you have traffic listed with the net and can no longer remain on frequency.


Note: Please note that the words "CHECK-IN" are not used. Check in with your callsign only, when the NCS has requests check-ins.

ALL PROCEDURAL SIGNS MUST BE FOLLOWED WITH YOUR CALL SIGN TO BE RECOGNIZED
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CHECK-IN PROCEDURES:
1. When the NCS calls for check-ins announce your call sign once.

2. LISTEN: the NCS will acknowledge stations heard and ask for additional check-ins. Repeat your call sign only if you were not heard previously.

3. The NCS will announce the end of check-ins and will proceed to call individual stations. Be prepared to transmit and offer your station information and state your business when called on.

4. When called, sign-in with your call sign, NAME, location, ECARS number, traffic you may have or service you have to offer to the Net.


Note:  ECARS discourages the use of the slang terms “Handle” or “Personal” on the net.  Do NOT use them.

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CHECK-OUT PROCEDURES:
1. It is not necessary to check out unless you have listed traffic.

2. If you have traffic listed call "Check-Out" followed by your call sign. When the NCS acknowledges you, request that the traffic be cancelled and sign out.


Net Operations Manual revised February 25, 2006 by Joe WY3T
Net Operations Manual revised June 2016