SATERN Net Etiquette
SATERN Net “Never’s”
Never forget the Amateur Creed. All SATERN nets are very mindful of each point in the Creed and adhere to it as a general rule.
Never attempt to transmit without having the receiver volume at listening level and tuned to the frequency you are transmitting on. It is not only bad operating practice to do so...you cannot know whether or not you are transmitting over an active QSO.
Never tune up on the net frequency. Move off the net frequency at least 3 kc to avoid interference to the active net. Almost all antennas and amps will still be tuned well enough once you return to the net frequency. This is especially true if you have an automatic tuner.
Never try to “out transmit” another ham when attempting to check in. Propagation conditions vary widely across the country and the world. You may be heard well on one day and not so much on another day (or in some cases the next hour). If the net control station does not hear you, please be patient. Often there is an alternate station that will assist net control that may hear you better.
Communications,by definition, is a two way process. Successful communications involves a sender of information and one or more receivers of that information. If either of these parties do not do their part in the communications process, their efforts will have been futile.
Never use the net to check out your radio if you do not intend to be a part of the net operations.
Never try to help the NCS out with relays or advice unless NCS asks for help even if you think you can.
NEVER attempt to dress down someone over the air or make disparaging comments to or about another amateur. It is not only unbecoming and unnecessary, it is discourteous to others on the net. Remember, there may be sensitive young ears listening to the net who do not need to hear your comments.
Never attempt to break into a net just to check in or to make a comment. There is only ONE occasion when a station should be allowed, or attempt to, break into a net - that occasion arises when the station breaking into the net has an emergency. The use of the words BREAK or, BREAK, BREAK have no place in directed net operations. When the words BREAK, BREAK, BREAK are used, it is an internationally recognized phase to designate an emergency and all net operations are suspended to handle the emergency.
SATERN Net “Always”
The SATERN Net Control Station has several duties. They include:
- Identifying the net.
- Opening the net.
- Listing any traffic for the net.
- Calling for and acknowledging check-ins.
- Requesting additional check-ins.
- Distributing traffic.
- Maintaining net discipline.
- Closing the net.
All SATERN Nets are directed nets. The Net Control Station (NCS) will determine who will use the frequency at any given time. Listen to and follow all instructions from the Net Control. In emergency communications, proper net procedures will expedite the orderly operation and flow of traffic.
When SATERN is involved in an actual emergency, the most help you can give is to be silent.
That is, Learn-to-Listen. Either check into the net and stand by, or just monitor the net frequency and be ready to help if you are needed.
DO NOT break into the net unless directed to do so by Net Control, unless you have Traffic or an Emergency. If you have an emergency, simply use the word "Emergency" or "Mayday".
Do not use the word "emergency" to make an urgent bathroom stop.
Wait till the Net Control (or designated relay station) asks for check-ins and do not call in the blind. If you blindly call in, you will likely be interfering with ongoing check-ins or traffic, which you may not hear, but which others are trying to copy. Remember, the net may be handling emergency traffic.
Listen more than you transmit. A simple principal, but one that is good for all amateurs checking in to follow.
The Net Control will then pick up all the stations heard, one at a time. Please be patient. Give your call-sign (when ask), slowly and phonetically. When your call-sign is acknowledged, give your first name, city and state and whether you have traffic for the net. When Net Control asks for check-ins, often several stations will respond at the same time.
Please do not jump in and shout "relay", just because you hear some of the check-in. Simply wait till the Net Control is done picking up all of the stations the net control hears, then say "relay" once. Unnecessary interference must be avoided.
Your station may not be heard by Net Control. Be courteous, wait awhile to give the other stations a chance to be recognized by Net Control before you attempt to be check in again. It is much easier to be heard when there are fewer stations trying to check in. You may have to wait till the Net Control asks another strong station for relays or to call for check-ins.
When solicited for comments, be brief and to the point. There are multiple stations that will want to comment as well and often the net is time limited.
You should always have a pencil and paper (or computer) handy to write down messages or instructions.
If you have to leave the net for any reason, you should inform Net Control, if at all possible. This can save time in not having to call or search for stations that have dropped off. When the frequency is clear, simply give your call-sign once and then wait to be acknowledged. When acknowledged, give your name, call-sign, location, & the time of your departure.
If you hear a station that Net Control apparently does not hear, please wait till the frequency is clear & just say "relay", once. Do Not attempt to pick up that check-in until directed to do so by Net Control. Net Control may periodically ask for a relay for a weak station. If you hear that weak station well enough to copy, just give your call-sign once. Do Not immediately try to pick up that station, because you will likely be doubling with several other relay stations, which results in nothing but interference and wasted time...a real problem in an emergency. The Net Control will select the strongest station to provide the relay, by temporally turning over the net operation to that designated relay station. After the relay station has picked up the weak station, the relay station should return the operation back to the Net Control.
Never acknowledge interference, whether it is someone tuning up, or malicious interference. It generally does no good, it further interferes with net operations, and often satisfies the intent of malicious interference, making it more likely they will continue. There are a couple exceptions, such as when another station has an emergency or a legitimate concern about SATERN's net operations, but it is the responsibility of the Net Control to take charge and evaluate the situation.
Transmissions between stations are to be kept to a minimum and only under the Net Control. If you want to contact another station, wait till the frequency is clear, and only say "Contact". When Net Control asks for the Contact, respond with your Call-Sign and a brief request. Wait for Net Control to give you permission to contact another station. You may be asked to move off frequency, so it's best to be prepared with an available clear frequency to use.
When you are solicited for your comments, be brief and to the point. There are multiple stations that will want to comment as well and often the net is time limited.
In emergency operations, all stations should be able to act as a Net Control. You should always have a pencil and paper (or computer) handy to write down call-signs, messages, or instructions. You should have this material available before the net starts, otherwise time will be wasted when you are asked to copy something, take traffic, or take control of the net.
If you are a relay station, you are required to maintain your own list of your check-ins, because Net Control may have been unable to copy some of the calls you received.
It is a good practice for all participants to write down the call-signs they hear during the net. This not only helps you learn who often checks in, but it is vital if the Net Control Station goes off-the-air, and you are required to take over the Net Control Operation. This happens quite often, so everyone should be prepared.
SATERN leadership is working on coming up with an officially approved traffic form, but until then, all participants should be prepared to properly handle traffic. You should have at least 2 message forms handy at all times & know how to use them.
ARRL RadioGram Form
ARRL RadioGram Instructions
FEMA ICS-213 form
Be very cautious about using VOX (Voice Operated Transmit). A cough or sneeze can wipe out part of a message. PTT (Push-to-Talk) works better for net operation, whereas a VOX often produces unwanted interference.