Friday, March 18, 2011

Stress test

Last night was like one of those arithmetic word problems from school days:

“K6HTN held 6 pieces of traffic.  Struggling with QRM on RN6/1, she picked up 1.  Following RN6, she then got 10 more on a sked before LAN started.  After LAN, where she was NCS, she had 3 left over, plus 1 she picked up for RN6.  Then she got 6 on RN6/2 & delivered 2 of those immediately via WINMOR.  The last two copied were both difficult PAN net reports.  How many messages were there now on her hook at the end of Cycle 4?  Which ones were they?

Well, 4 of them have to be the ones from RN6/2 that were not delivered by WINMOR, because there is nowhere else for them to go.  The one picked up for RN6 also had nowhere to go that night, so that one is left.  The 3 left over from LAN all happen to be from the original 5, but you don’t know that from the problem.  So that  - 8 – is how many I have.

But that’s not the point.  

The point is that they are all accounted for.  Even the one with the horribly mangled address.  It turns out that the address was mangled somewhere between the VEC & the FCC data base, not in the NTS.  I was lucky, that addressee was known personally by the handler who picked up that message on LAN.

I’m also told by the same handler that the phone numbers were all wrong.

The point is that I went from one net straight to another, with no time to recopy messages, check them against, or any of the normal detective work that we do before delivering the messages by telephone or asking another traffic handler to do it.

I made a couple of recoverable errors, but I juggled the messages without losing any.  My voice started giving out (after all I read 12 out of the 15 messages that I took to LAN, which is a local voice net) before my fist did.  I didn’t forget any Morse code.  My protocol may have been a little wacky by the fourth net, which was RN6/2, but I did it.

Stress test passed.  Two years & two weeks after I got my first ham license.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NTS operators needed, psychic ability a big plus ...

I received a message last night with ARL SIXTY FOUR, ARL SEVEN, and no return address information, just a first name & call sign.

ARL SEVEN means "Please reply by Amateur Radio through the amateur delivering this message. This is a free public service."  Basically the same as HXE.  OK, fine.  Normally I could get the address from & the phone number from

But ARL SIXTY FOUR means "Arrived safely at _____."  So this guy is far from home.  The context of the message suggests he is likely to stay a while.

Sure hope the addressee knows his whereabouts!  We are good, but we aren't that good.