July 2024 NTS Letter


Field Day 2024

Treasure Hunt Update

Traffic Analysis Tool

Experiences from the Field – KN4QJ, Georgia Section Traffic Manager

Spotlight: Peter Dintelmann, DL4FN

Training in CW Traffic Handling

From the Editor



Field Day 2024

ARRL Field Day 2024 is over, but the memories will no doubt live on as folks evaluate the successes and the issues in need of improvement before the next FD. Because ARRL wants to encourage more awareness of the National Traffic System plus greater coordination between ARES and NTS, extra points are awarded for generating and sending radiogram formatted messages via RF from Field Day sites. As observed from monitoring my 1RN DTN hub station, many of these were sent via digital means using Winlink. This was not surprising considering the availability of the template found in the Winlink Express software. However, I was curious to see how much activity took place on both voice and CW traffic nets. I personally handled approximately 15 or so radiograms on our section CW net. One message from the Boston ARC site was going to our New England Division Director in New Hampshire. The next morning, I heard his response had already been received by the Boston group, who were quite impressed with the speed of the whole turn-around.


I asked a few others if they had any experiences to share, and here are a few:


I received a radiogram greeting from the Field Day crew at the Billerica (MA) Amateur Radio Society. The delivering station included a postscript in the email stating, “Please reply to this email so I can report this message as delivered. If you wish to send a message to [the club’s name and call sign], or any other person please let me know (25 words or less). This is a free service.” I thought that was a nice touch! —Phil Temples, K9HI, ARRL Vice Director, New England Division


The outcome was better with our NTS traffic. Once again, a few days before Field Day, I’d sent myself mail using Winlink from my roof deck using my TH-D74 connected via Bluetooth. I assumed that from Westwood we’d have a better shot at, e.g., AB1PH in Walpole or the BROCK digipeater. No such luck! At this point I learned lesson number three: most problems can be solved by some piece of equipment that K1SU just happens to have. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull out a Geiger counter at some point, but this time it was a Signalink which I hooked up and used with Direwolf and the talk-in radio. That setup happily sent everything off to Marcia, KW1U. We sent the 100-point Field Day message to Rob, KD1CY (EMA Section Emergency Coordinator), plus two messages from K1SU and three from me. One of mine was a message on behalf of the club to Fred, AB1OC, our Division Director. We got a reply on Sunday morning, so it looks like all the messages went out. – Joe Chapman, NV1W, Secretary, Boston Amateur Radio Club


I had a couple of interesting Field Day messages. The first was from KW8N in Ohio. We have made several contacts in the past and I have sent him a confirmation radiogram for those contacts. Because of that, he knew I was an ORS. He asked me to relay a Field Day message to his Section Manager from his Field Day site. That occurred Sunday. The second was from the Providence, Rhode Island, club to their Section Manager, Nancy, KC1NEK. I took that message Saturday evening and delivered it on Sunday. I guess I was in the right place at the right time. – Bob Sparkes, KC1KVY, NM HHTN, ORS


I received several Winlink messages that came to me within minutes of their being sent. I also got a few messages via the regular path of HF radio, and they came to me within a couple of hours.


All in all, it seemed to me to be faster than last year for sure. – Scott Yonally, N8SY, Great Lakes Division Director


Not all traffic nets saw Field Day activity, as noted by Kate, K6HTN, who reported, “This has got to be the most boring Field Day for traffic that I’ve ever experienced! Virtually NO traffic passed over my desk…. RN6 was completely QRU, except for one radiogram unrelated to Field Day.” We’re sorry to hear that, Kate, and hope if digital systems are down someday, folks will know how to pass traffic via the traffic nets.


Treasure Hunt Update
Hello, treasure hunters! Twenty stations participated in the May NTS Treasure Hunt. The following stations successfully completed all three rounds:


05/14/24 20:29 W1LEM Lem

05/14/24 20:30 N1CVO Shawn

05/14/24 20:31 KC1TLF David

05/14/24 20:33 KY2D Jim

05/15/24 19:11 K1IG George

05/23/24 19:04 KC3MAL Stuart

05/24/24 23:23 KC3QVF Chris

05/27/24 20:52 AB3WG Chris

06/02/24 22:51 KC3WHU Walt


The first-place finisher in this, the May Treasure Hunt, as well as in future Treasure Hunts, will be awarded a specially designed mug courtesy of the NTS 2.0 Planning Committee. The other finishers will receive a certificate courtesy of the NTS 2.0 Treasure Hunt Committee. A copy of this nice certificate can be seen here:


NTS Treasure Hunt Certificate

On With the Hunt

For the July NTS Treasure Hunt, please answer this:


In the June 1933 issue of QST, on page 15, there is an announcement. What is the announcement about?

Send your answer via NTS Radiogram to Dan, AC8NP, Tiffin, OH 44883.


The text of the radiogram should consist of the word “THR1”, meaning “TREASURE HUNT ROUND 1,” followed by your answer. Be sure to format the NTS message properly, with the message number, the station of origin, and the correct check.


You will receive a confirmation radiogram back with the next clue or question and addressee; or a message explaining that your answer is incorrect and to please try again. The judges send their messages via Digital NTS, voice nets and CW nets. The relay stations may use other methods to deliver the message to you. We use your QRZ information so it may go to your email in some cases. Check your spam messages. You can use OP notes to help direct a path to you (Phone #, Traffic Nets).


The judges will stop answering messages when the August NTS Letter is published.


Good luck!


If you missed the official Treasure Hunt announcement in the December 2023 issue of The NTS Letter, here is a recap: This is a fun, on-air, multi-step competition in which you will respond to a “judge” with your answer to an initial clue or question via radiogram. The judge will reply via radiogram with the identity of the next judge, along with the next question or clue in the hunt.


We had quite a few responses to our survey, and we will be trying to address those issues. Thanks for the feedback. One common response was, “I never received a reply.” I would suggest you try using the “HXC” handling instruction. This will ask the station delivering your message to send you a message with the date and time they delivered your message to the addressee.


Check out the August NTS Letter for the July Treasure Hunt finders list!


If you have any comments or suggestions, please use the survey form or email Dan Rinaman, AC8NP, at ac8np@ac8np.com. 73


NTS Performance Analysis Tool in Development
By Bud Hippisley, W2RU, and Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC


An early project of the NTS. 2.0 team was to create a “snapshot” of then-current system performance by originating test traffic to more than 150 recipients throughout the entire United States.


Key takeaways from that initial exercise included:


• System-wide, there is plenty of room for improvement in how quickly and how accurately messages get from origin to destination.


• To improve the quality of our post-exercise summaries, we need tools that make it easy for all who are involved in any aspect of a traffic exercise to report, collect, and analyze results.


In response to the first bullet above, we are developing new training materials – as well as pursuing other vehicles for raising awareness of the need to improve our system performance. (See, for instance, “Do Your PART” by W2RU in the May NTS Letter.)


To improve the value of the test exercises themselves, we need new tools to simplify the reporting process for all participants and to more quickly generate output summaries of value to net managers, STMs, HQ, and all other stakeholders, including all participants. To that end, we presently have under development a web-based Performance Analysis Tool (PAT) to fill the current void. And as soon as we can, we’ll be announcing a small exercise – perhaps as early as this fall — specifically intended to test the new tool. Stay tuned!


Experiences from the Field – KN4QJ
NTS 2.0 Radiogram Deliveries

I am Frank Hobbs, KN4QJ, and I serve as the Georgia Section Traffic Manager and NTS 2.0 Radiogrammer. (See www.nts2.arrl.org/introducing-the-radiogram-web-portal for information about the Radiogram Portal. – Ed.) I have participated in the National Traffic System for a number of years by relaying and delivering radiogram messages (traffic). When delivering a message, you never know the response you might get, whether it be positive or negative, and this usually depends on the attitude, health, or recent situations of the recipient.


I would like to share a unique, pleasant experience I had in delivering traffic to a recipient.


I usually check the availability of traffic on the Radiogram Portal in the evenings. This one evening I noticed two radiograms from region 2 and going to region 4. I decided to wait a little while for someone in region 2 to handle the messages. An hour later I checked again, and they were still available, so I picked them up and originated both messages to be placed into the system for normal routing.


As luck would have it, a few days later, on Mother’s Day, I heard on the Georgia SSB Net that there were two pieces of traffic for Marietta, Georgia. I wondered if that was the traffic that I originated from region 2 to Marietta (region 4), so I volunteered to take the traffic for delivery. They turned out to be the two messages that I placed into the system earlier in the week. They were from an amateur radio operator in New Jersey going to her mother in Georgia.


I called the number, not knowing what to expect. A young lady answered, and I told her that I had two National Traffic System messages. She was elated and called out to her mother that the messages had arrived. We had a short conversation and I discovered she was the individual who put the messages into the Radiogram Portal for delivery to her mother. After a short discussion, she turned the phone over to her mother. I then learned that the mother recently had surgery and her daughter came down to care for her. After talking to the mother for a few minutes about the surgery, ham radio and the daughter, I delivered both messages. The mother was excited to receive the messages and she was a delight to talk to. Before ending the delivery, I wished her and her daughter a very happy Mother’s Day. She thanked me and wished the same for my wife.


Again, you never know what to expect, but from time to time you will deliver a message to someone who is pleasantly grateful, and you may never forget the experience. You will remember the great ones and when you do, it will bring a smile.


Frank Hobbs, KN4QJ


Spotlight: Peter Dintelmann, DL4FN
[Many traffic handlers are familiar with NTS traffic from Germany. Peter sends ham-to-ham traffic to amateurs across the US. I was particularly interested in his ham radio experience from a European perspective. – Ed.]


As a young boy, I was interested in electronics and learned it with experimental kits and textbooks for beginners. One of these textbooks was about building simple broadcast receivers and it ended with an Audion receiver for HF. With this receiver and another textbook containing a stations list and instructions on how to get QSL cards from broadcasting stations, I started discovering the world of international broadcasting. Soon I observed strange signals just below the 7 MHz broadcasting band and asked my father about them. My father worked as a researcher on satellite radio propagation for the German PTT and explained to me what amateur radio is all about. This is what I wanted to do myself and my father got me in contact with one of his lab engineers (Fred, DJ6NS) who answered all my questions and explained to me what I needed to learn and how to obtain a license.

With Fred’s help I started building a direct conversion superhet receiver for 80 meters and he also got me a copy of a CW course on audio cassettes.


I remember that I was 12 years old when I started learning the code and that it took me about 9 months to achieve a level of 16 WPM. CW had a touch of mystery, and it was fascinating from the very beginning. Furthermore, be aware that some 50 languages are spoken in Europe and that there was not a common language in the past. For example, 500 kilometers east of us is Czechia, where people speak Czech and learned Russian at school, whereas we are speaking German which is completely different and learn English as a foreign language. CW was clearly a simple means to bridge this gap. I became an amateur-radio SWL and still have a collection of QSL cards from these days. The step from 16 WPM audio cassette CW to real-world amateur radio CW was very difficult for me and I started copying the traffic of coastal radio stations (Portishead Radio GKA and Norddeich Radio DAN) to improve my CW reading capabilities. This was illegal at the time, and nobody knew. German laws at this time did not even allow one to mention the existence of such transmissions. This was my first contact with “traffic” and I admired the coastal radio station operators for their operating proficiency moving telegram messages. They were always role models for me. At age 15, I passed the German Extra Class exam and got assigned DL4FN. However, I was not allowed to have my own station yet because I was too young in the era of the Cold War. My Elmer, Fred, who was a CW man and the trustee of the local club station, also got me into contesting even before I passed the exam (my father was not lucky with this). Still not allowed to operate under my own callsign, I somehow managed to accomplish a 5th place finish in the QRP DX section of the ARRL DX contest. The contest bug bit me.


Our club had a subscription to QST and W1FB’s weekend projects were a great source for ideas to build and improve my own station for many years. My father became interested in amateur radio, too. He passed the German General as DH8FAD, later the Extra as DL8ZBF, which he still holds. He also became N3HFC and later KD3QV to simplify licensing issues when he was on one of his many business trips or research exchanges.


After finishing school, I studied mathematics and communications engineering, finished with a Ph.D. in math and started my career as an IT professional in a German bank. The knowledge I acquired in these jobs was later very useful when I built my digital station. Flipping through the pages of the ARRL Operating Manual, I (re)discovered NTS, which I already knew from old QST days, and I got in contact with (Marcia, KW1U) in February 2013. Germany (and many other European countries) had a strict state monopoly on any kind of communication means in the past. This was only weakened by the requirements of the European Union in the early 1990s. The exchange of messages was therefore never part of our way of amateur radio and therefore European amateurs do not know traffic at all, the only exception being the few former maritime radio officers. At about the same time, Greg, G0DUB, also got in contact with Marcia and we joined forces. When it became clear to me that I wanted to stay with traffic I applied for a club station callsign. You need to know that in Germany personal callsigns are only used for personal radio contacts and that the offering of services to others (repeaters, digipeaters, beacons, message gateways etc.) requires a separate license and callsign. After talking to the regulator, they assigned DF0NTS to me for traffic handling (DF0, DK0, and DL0 are our standard club station prefixes). I got into digital message handling with strong support from Dave, WB2FTX. When I later applied for a license for unattended operation, I got DB0NTS (DB0 = unattended station). My digital station became an official Digital Relay Station and later an NTS EAN MBO. Some years later, I designed and introduced the existing address scheme for international digital message handling.


Getting more European amateurs into traffic handling turned out to be very difficult. The EmComm people are more or less the only ones interested in this. About 10 years ago, we extended the ARRL SET to Europe and moved tons of messages, but with no lasting effect. Besides me, there are currently the UK Raynet group, of which Greg is a member, and an EmComm group from the Netherlands actively involved in traffic handling. The delivery of every message thus usually needs some explanation as traffic is unknown here for historical reasons. Delivery is typically by email or letter. Phonebooks are not generally available for privacy reasons. International phone calls are very expensive and there are still language barriers.


I was always fascinated by moving traffic in CW because it requires such good operating skills and had skeds with KW1U and Jeff, WB8WKQ (SK), in the past. I am happy for every single message I can move in CW, and I am happy that their numbers are increasing by now. In retrospect, it was my listening to the CW traffic of ships and coastal radio stations in my SWL days which infected me with the traffic virus. With CW being my favorite mode from the very beginning, I used paddles for 35 years and always wanted to have a bug. These keys are not widely used in Europe but there are a few enthusiasts. I got my first bug from my wife for my 50th birthday, later became a member of SKCC, and even later a member of the B.U.G. group.


In recent years, I became more and more interested in the history of radio. I am not focused on technology but rather on operating procedures and regulations. I collect original documents ranging from the Telegraph Convention of St. Petersburg 1875 to the GMDSS Handbook for modern maritime radio. If you have any original documents of interest to me, I will be happy for a copy…


Training in CW Traffic Handling
The Long Island CW Club (LICW), which offers training at all levels of CW operation, has been presenting training in NTS CW traffic handling. This group meets weekly on Zoom, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Eastern time for one hour, over a period of eight weeks, with a two-week period in between for practice and any additional help. Each class varies from 6 to 10 students and one can join a class at any time. To participate in these classes, one must be a member of LICW. Joining LICW costs a nominal fee of $30, but there are many other benefits to being a part of this group. LICW started with a couple hams and has grown into a worldwide organization with over 1200 members. Check their website at longislandcwclub.org and contact Ed Conway, N2GSL, eddieconway@gmail.com for information about training for CW traffic handling.



NTS Resources

The National Traffic System® (NTS) is a network of amateur radio operators who move information during disasters and other emergencies. General messages offering well wishes also move through the NTS to help test the system and to help amateur radio operators build traffic handling skills. While the NTS is primarily set up to serve the United States and Canada, it is possible to move traffic internationally through the NTS through various local, regional, area, and international network connections.


NTS 2.0

NTS Manual

NTS Methods and Practices Guidelines

Handling Instructions

Numbered Texts

Form Encoding Rules for Form



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Editor: Marcia Forde, KW1U, Section Traffic Manager — Eastern Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts, and Rhode Island


ARRL Director of Emergency Management: Josh Johnston, KE5MHV



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