Saturday, March 30, 2013

National Traffic Nets

When I was scanning the airwaves one night, I happened in on something rather interesting. It was the Amateur Radio National Traffic Service, specifically the Virginia branch of it. The specific group I ran in to was called the Northern Virginia Traffic System.

Essentially, this is a way of passing messages across the country. There are different levels of network, starting at local areas, and ending at the entire country. The messages are passed from one region to another, ultimately ending with a Ham operator personally delivering (Or via phone) the intended message. It is really just an act of kindness which really intrigued me.

I have several family birthdays coming up, and decided to try and send them a birthday greeting via the NTS. The message consisted of "ATS FORTY SIX X HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY". There were several other important bits, including the handling instruction, HXF, which instructed them to deliver this on the day of their birthday, Routine, meaning there was no special priority associated with it, and my location, call sign, and the date. I also included their addresses, phone numbers, name, etc. It was a great practice for using the phonetic alphabet. The operators were actually excited to see a new piece of traffic being generated, which was really cool. They were nice and talked me through the entire thing.

I suppose this is good practice for when the time might come that a message urgently needs to be passed across the country. And it is good fun for many people anyways, a way to personally do stuff like send birthday greetings. Still, it's nice that people are willing to do such acts of service to help out a fellow Ham in need.

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