Have a Question?
< All Topics

How do I become proficient in traffic handling and message relay?

Becoming proficient in traffic handling and message relay in amateur radio involves learning and practicing the skills required to accurately and efficiently pass messages between stations. The National Traffic System (NTS) is a network of amateur radio operators in the United States that is dedicated to handling and relaying messages (called “traffic”) across long distances. By participating in NTS or similar traffic handling networks, you can develop and improve your skills. Here are some steps to help you become proficient in traffic handling and message relay:

  1. Learn the basics of message handling: Familiarize yourself with the standardized message format, known as the Radiogram, used in traffic handling. A Radiogram contains several fields, such as the preamble, addressee, text, and signature. Understanding the structure and purpose of each field is essential for accurate message relay.
  2. Practice message handling: Copy messages from on-air traffic nets to get comfortable with the Radiogram format and practice transcribing messages accurately. You can also practice sending messages by participating in local and regional traffic nets or asking fellow amateur radio operators to send practice messages to you.
  3. Participate in traffic nets: Regularly join traffic nets on the air, both in your local area and on regional or national levels. Listening to and participating in these nets will help you become familiar with the procedures and techniques used in traffic handling. You can start as a check-in, then progress to handling traffic as you become more comfortable.
  4. Learn the procedures and protocols: Study the traffic handling procedures and protocols used in NTS and other traffic networks. This includes learning how to properly send and receive messages, use Q-signals specific to traffic handling (e.g., QTC, QSP), and relay messages between stations. The ARRL’s Public Service Communications Manual is an excellent resource for learning traffic handling procedures.
  5. Practice with fellow amateurs: Arrange practice sessions with other amateur radio operators interested in traffic handling. Send and receive messages, critique each other’s performance, and share tips and techniques to improve your skills.
  6. Attend training sessions and workshops: Look for local amateur radio clubs or organizations that offer traffic handling training sessions, workshops, or courses. These events can provide hands-on practice, guidance from experienced traffic handlers, and opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback.
  7. Volunteer for public service events and emergency communications: Offer your traffic handling skills to support public service events, such as marathons, parades, or disaster response drills. This will give you real-world experience in handling and relaying messages under various conditions and help you become more proficient in your skills.
  8. Seek mentorship: Find an experienced traffic handler or Elmer (mentor) who can guide you, provide feedback, and share their knowledge and experience. This can significantly accelerate your learning process and help you become more proficient in traffic handling and message relay.

By following these steps and regularly practicing your traffic handling skills, you’ll become more proficient in message relay and better prepared to support public service events and emergency communications.

Table of Contents