The Last of the Prowords
More on Directed Net Operations
Prowords are single words or phrases that enhance communications
efficiency. In the early days of electronic communications, abbreviations
were created by telegraphers to communicate common or frequently used phrases.
The term proword is a contraction of the terms: procedural words. In the
past two SATERN emergency communications training sessions, we've been
introduced to the following prowords:
'ROGER' is a term that's heard quite frequently in amateur communications.
And, not surprisingly, it's use is often misunderstood by those using the
term. The term 'ROGER' means, simply, you understood the other party's
transmission. It does not mean 'I agree with what you said.' 'ROGER' is
a one word acknowledgment transmitted by a receiving station. The word
'ROGER' is shorthand for 'I received your transmission.' If you're communicating
with another station and he asks if you're operating from your home station,
which you are, how do you answer him? If your answer is 'roger,' you really
have not answered the other station's question. All you've done is indicated
that you received his transmission. To answer the question, use 'yes,'
or 'affirmative,' not 'ROGER.'
We all make mistakes from time to time. Out tongues get twisted,
words take on new and unintended meaning... How we correct our on-the-air
mistakes can have an effect on communications efficiency. When, for whatever
reason, we stumble while transmitting a message, the proper manner in which
to correct the mistake is to use the word 'CORRECTION.' How you correct
the misinformation depends a great deal on what type of information you
were communicating. If, for example, you were in the midst of spelling
a word and phonetically transmitted the wrong character, you should start
sending the word, again, from the beginning. Here's an example. I'm trying
to communicate the word 'Exxon.' Here's the transmission:
EXXON I SPELL ECHO X-RAY X-RAY QUEBEC CORRECTION EXXON I SPELL ECHO
X-RAY X-RAY OSCAR NOVEMBER EXXON
And, in the case of mixed groups:
I SPELL WHISKEY WHISKEY NINE FOXTROT CORRECTION I SPELL WHISKEY WHISKEY
If you're in the middle of a plain language sentence and simply mispronounce
or misread a single word, go back to the last punctuation mark and retransmit
from that point forward. For example:
THANK YOU FOR YOUR MESSAGE PERIOD I AM AVAILABLE CORRECTION PERIOD
I AM NOT AVAILABLE FOR SERVICE PERIOD
By going back to the last punctuation symbol, you leave no doubt
in the other station's mind where the information you're retransmitting
should be placed in the message body.
Sometimes, even under the best of conditions, it's necessary to ask
for information to be repeated...or, in the communicator's lingo, get fills.
The magic words to use when asking for a fill or fills on a voice net are
'SAY AGAIN.' Those words put the sending station on notice that he or she
is going to have to repeat something to you. After you use the magic words,
you have to tell the other station what you need repeated. Your request
can take one of three forms:
It's easier to give an example than to explain...so, here's an example. I missed several words of a sentence. What I copied was: "WILL ARRIVE IN DALLAS ... EVENING."
I transmit the following: SAY AGAIN FROM DALLAS TO EVENING. The other
station transmits "I SAY AGAIN FROM DALLAS TO EVENING... DALLAS FIGURES
14 APRIL SATURDAY EVENING"
If I had missed only a single word, I would transmit "SAY AGAIN WORD
AFTER DALLAS..." or, "SAY AGAIN WORD BEFORE EVENING..."
Speaking of punctuation symbols, when transmitting formal traffic,
be it routine, priority, or emergency precedence, you won't come across
many punctuation symbols. The period, comma, colon, semi-colon, question
mark, exclamation mark, at-sign, dash and slant bar are about the only
symbols you'll come across. When communicating messages by voice, these
symbols are transmitted by using the names of the symbols, just as I gave
them. When you encounter internet addresses, the dot of 'dot com' as well
as the decimal point found in frequency designations are communicated as
periods. Slant bars, the symbol we append to a ham call sign when operating
away from home, are communicated as 'SLANT.' And, hyphens are communicated
Now, let's shift gears and talk some more about directed net operations.
As you may recall from the last session, a directed net is a network in
which all transmissions are controlled by the net control station (NCS).
SATERN's HF emergency nets, for the most part, will cover large geographic
areas. The vagaries of radio propagation, atmospheric and weather related
noise can make net operations quite challenging. Not all stations who wish
to participate in the net can be heard by the NCS. Conversely, stations
who might join the net don't get the opportunity if they cannot hear the
NCS. Each NCS should appoint an ALTERNATE NET CONTROL STATION. The ALTERNATE
NCS should be located at some distance away from the primary NCS so that
he or she may take advantage of propagation from his or her location, filling
in the gaps in the NCS' ability to communicate. Additionally, the ALTERNATE
NCS should maintain a complete log of all stations checked into the net
and all traffic listed with the net so that he or she can assume the NCS
position and carry on the business of the net without undue delay. One
interesting exercise is for the NCS to turn off his or her transmitter
in mid-sentence while simultaneously starting a stopwatch. This is done
to see how long it takes for the ALTERNATE NCS to pick up the net's reigns
and carry on. The ALTERNATE NCS should be able to pick up the net and continue
conducting the net's business within 3 minutes. Having appointed an ALTERNATE
NCS, the primary NCS should frequently use his or her services to make
net calls and relay information to the primary NCS.
As stations check into the net and periodically during the net, it's
a good idea for the NCS and the ALTERNATE NCS to poll the net members and
obtain RADIO CHECKs in order to stay abreast of changing propagation conditions.
The term RADIO CHECK is another military/MARS term and is answered not
in S-meter readings but in terms of relative signal strength and readability.
Signal strength is given by using the terms:
NOVEMBER FIVE OSCAR KILO QUEBEC THIS IS WHISKEY SEVEN LIMA X-RAY
ROMEO. RADIO CHECK. OVER.
THIS IS NOVEMBER FIVE OSCAR KILO QUEBEC. LOUD AND CLEAR. OVER.
THIS IS WHISKEY SEVEN LIMA X-RAY ROMEO. LOUD AND CLEAR. OUT."
I'll quit there for this week's session. To recap, this week, we have talked about the term 'ROGER' and it's meaning, giving and getting fills, discussed how to transmit punctuation marks, learned how to get and give RADIO CHECKS and introduced a new net officer - the ALTERNATE NET CONTROL STATION. Next week, more on directed net operations. As always, I can be reached by email at [email protected] or at my Callbook address.