Last night I was privileged to pick up a real 3rd party message, as opposed to one of the “bulk” messages that we get on the traffic nets. I received it from someone that I have not worked with much before, who is a very good op, but who made mistakes when trying to key slowly enough for me. The message also had errors already in it, as well as a couple of unusual names & an usual handling code. Also, the station of origin was in a different state, the opposite corner of the coterminous U.S. in fact, from the place of origin (where the 3rd party lives, in this case), which raised a red flag with me. To add to the trouble, RF propagation conditions were okay, quite readable, but not great. I thought there were hyphens in the preamble, but since a hyphen is not a character I usually encounter, I wasn’t quite sure if they were hyphens or the sender “crossing out” something that was sent wrong. I did finally get it all, but even then, I admit I sort of had my fingers crossed. The transfer took between 15 & 20 minutes. It was a long 20 minutes.
The message was inconsequential, just family greetings and “HERE IS A RADIO MESSAGE USING MORSE CODE FROM US TO YOU” etc.
But I was ecstatic to find that the telephone number checked out (on whitepages.com) to the right name & address! So today I called the party up & delivered the message. They were happy to get it & might even have known (with the wonders of modern technology) that it was coming. “So it works, wow!”
I don’t know if it was a curious anachronism to them, an oddball type of greeting, or a family test to see if contact could be made in an emergency. No way to know how they managed to know a ham on the complete other corner of the nation to originate the message. We never get to know that stuff. We just send it (or deliver it) like we get it.
One reason I thought it might be a test of some sort was that the handling code was HXDE. I even had to look up the D, never having encountered it before. It calls for each station in the relay chain to service the message, leaving a paper trail across the country where it can be seen who got the message when. Well, in this case the system worked & not especially slowly. No time of origin was given, but the transit time was probably less than a day. Then I had to wait for a civilized hour to call.
I helped the recipients compose a short reply & waited while they dug up the necessary address & telephone number needed for the ham on the other end to make the delivery.
Sent the reply message out on the RN6 net this evening. It was also a tough transfer. The other station had a so-so signal, but I could copy him. He said, though, that I was fading in & out (QSB – which is cause by, of course, the ionosphere). With all the requests for repeats, I kept slowing down more & more & turning up my power. That session took almost 30 minutes, for my two messages (the reply & the service message).
I take these difficult sessions as training, feeling that I will have an easier time of it next time, having stuck with it. On last night’s session, though, I was sort of at a wall. This is where you have to say to yourself, once piece at a time. You missed the address figures, ask or them again. I think there was something in the text before “HELLO”, ask for “WB HELLO”. Etc. Eventually I have it all pieced together, one piece at a time. On a slow net, I may actually have the option of walking away from it, but not on the Region net. It’s good for me not to succumb to frustration, or quit because it’s hard.