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Calling for Volunteers: Simplex Day Special Operations

posted Jan 7, 2020, 8:31 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Saturday, January 11, 2020 is the Ohio Simplex Day! Stations all over and around Ohio will be making contact with one another at 50MHz and up in simplex mode, using the same station classifications as Field Day, and competing for points according to rules specific to Simplex Day.

Central Ohio Traffic Net is looking to operate special 59-minute sessions starting at 1000, 1100, 1200, 1300, 1400, and 1500, covering the entire period of the contest. We are asking for stations able to serve as Net Control and Liaison stations in particular to volunteer for a shift or two, to ensure that someone is always on the COTN simplex operation.

Our nets will start as usual, with an abbreviated call-up for liaison stations and traffic. Once all traffic has been passed, the net will be free, where stations stay on frequency but any station may call any other, and make contacts for points in the contest. This operation will allow us to test simplex operation for traffic handling, identified as an area for improvement in SET 2019, as well as to assist contest participants by performing the function as a "spotter net" under the contest rules.

If you'll be participating in Ohio Simplex Day, please register your operation at https://ohsimplex.org/, and if you're able to support COTN's Simplex Day operation, please complete the form below to volunteer for a shift or two. We'll publish the COTN operating schedule on the COTN calendar before the contest gets underway at 10 o'clock Saturday morning.

Our operation will be according to our Standard Operating Procedure, which specifies operating frequencies—including simplex. If you don't hear a net when one should be active, try tuning around to see if the net is operating on a different frequency. Remember, net control is always on the right frequency—net control might have had to move the operating frequency to avoid interference—so find the net, move some traffic, make some contacts, assess your station's performance, and have fun!

Hoping to hear you on the air Saturday.

COTN 2019 Annual Report Released

posted Jan 5, 2020, 4:54 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) is pleased to announce the release of its 2019 Annual Report, available from the Report section of the COTN web site, or directly at http://www.cotn.us/reports/COTN%202019%20Annual%20Report.pdf.

During 2019, COTN conducted a total of 394 sessions (averaging 1.1 daily), with 4,493 stations checking in (an average of 11.4 per session), moving 1,093 messages (average of 2.8 per session), for a total of almost 132 hours of operation (average 20 minutes per session).

December 2019 Issue of QNI

posted Dec 25, 2019, 12:18 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

The December 2019 issue of QNI, an independent traffic handlers newsletter is now available at https://qninewsletterdotnet.files.wordpress.com/2019/12/qni-2019-12.pdf.

This issue contains several important articles—including one discussing work from COTN—about traffic net emergency mode operation. Some other important discussion includes the petitions to limit Winlink and other types of digital traffic operation. (Our own net manager Matthew Curtin KD8TTE has published his Opposition to the NYU Petition to FCC.)

Topics for this issue:
  • Old Sparky
  • The Ubiquitous Two-Meter HT
  • Can a Slave Serve Two Masters?
  • The Importance of Peer Review
  • The War on Winlink
  • Preparing Traffic Nets for Emergency
  • Training Column—Net Efficiency
  • Training Column—Did You Know
  • NYU Petition for Declaratory Ruling
  • RRI Response to NYU Petition
  • An Old Memory
QNI is an independent traffic handling newsletter published periodically throughout the year. It is always available from qni-newsletter.net.

KD8TTE Elected Net Manager

posted Dec 18, 2019, 3:05 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

DECEMBER 16, 2019—Central Ohio Traffic Net’s 2019 Teller AD8CM reported the successful conclusion of our election for 2020 Net Manager. According to the rules in our By-Laws, nominations were accepted from December 1–7, and votes were received December 8–15. By unanimous vote, Matthew Curtin, KD8TTE, was elected Net Manager of the COTN for 2020.

Annual Net Manager Election; AD8CM Appointed Teller

posted Nov 26, 2019, 12:45 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

In accordance with By-Laws 2 and 3, the Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) today appoints Marcel Casavant AD8CM Teller for the annual election of the Net Manager.

Each year, COTN membership nominates candidates for the position of Net Manager, and votes from among the candidates to elect the Net Manager to a term of one year.

Important Dates:

December 1–7, 2019: Teller calls for nominations and accepts nominations in the form of a Radiogram delivered on-air or by email.

December 8–15, 2019: Teller calls for and accepts votes from members of the roster in the form of a Radiogram delivered on-air or by email.

December 16, 2019: Teller announces the result of the election.

January 1, 2020: Net Manager term begins.

After-Action Report of Simulated Emergency Test 2019

posted Nov 11, 2019, 2:40 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Central Ohio Traffic Net's After-Action Report (AAR) for the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET) 2019 is now available from the collection of COTN Reports. As reported to ARRL earlier, we had a high level of activity this year, moving a total of 122 messages, including some agency traffic delivered as populated ICS-213 General Message forms. Over two days of operation, we had 37 unique stations join the nets, 25 of which were on emergency (non-grid) power. Of the 37 stations, 13 were new licensees since 2015, seven acted as net control stations for at least one session, and seven acted as NTS traffic net liaisons.

Five minutes short of 26 hours of operation, SET nets highlighted both strengths and weaknesses of COTN specifically and of the traffic system in Ohio generally. Assessment of those strengths and weaknesses led to several recommendations.

Strengths identified include our ability to fill a schedule of more than twelve hours per day for two days, effective use of repeater systems, clear and consistent use of directed nets, maintaining circuits to agency stations at Ohio EMA, Franklin County EMA, and Ohio Military Reserve, maintaining liaison with other voice nets, prompt and complete session reporting, and good delivery of traffic by phone, email, and in person.

Operation also identified areas for improvement, namely limited effective footprint in simplex operations, some difficulty in switching between directed and free nets, ambiguities in net control logs, limited use of available circuits to move traffic in parallel, limited number of liaison stations, limited number of stations able to operate in CW and digital modes, and a need for improved procedure for handling traffic originated from and to be delivered in standardized forms such as the ICS-213.

Nineteen recommendations followed:
  1. Create improved system for calling and maintaining emergency mode operation.
  2. Make regular use of all repeaters identified in our SOP.
  3. Conduct more simplex nets.
  4. Create a simplex coverage map of our served area.
  5. Continue to operate directed nets.
  6. Eliminate requirement for directed net.
  7. Conduct free nets.
  8. Establish procedure for switching between directed nets and free nets.
  9. Continue operations with W8SGT.
  10. Continue operations with W8OMR.
  11. Move stations to other circuits for relay.
  12. Coordinate with FCACC to provide net control operators.
  13. Train and encourage operators in HF voice traffic handling.
  14. Encourage CW operators.
  15. Encourage NTSD/DTN operators.
  16. Train in logging.
  17. Encourage non-voice modes.
  18. Encourage liaison stations.
  19. Ensure that message delivery is exercised at agencies such as Franklin County EMA.
The complete report is available from the COTN Reports collection as AAR SET 2019.

COTN thanks everyone for their participation and looks forward to developing the training plan for calendar year 2020 and making other recommended changes that will improve performance in ensuring that amateur radio remains ready and capable for public service.

Volunteers Needed: CERT Exercise Thursday 24 October 2019

posted Oct 21, 2019, 6:31 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

Franklin County Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) is conducting an exercise and is in need of volunteers as follows:
  • Radio Operators
  • Victim Players
When: Thursday 24 October 2019 from 1800-2200 (6-10p)
Where: Blendon Woods MetroPark ~ 4265 East Dublin-Granville Road, Columbus, Ohio, 43081

Contact KD8TTE by noon Thursday if you want to participate. Do not arrive without first being confirmed.

Radio Operators: Radio operators are needed to be positioned with CERT and to relay information back to the Incident Command Post (ICP) in the field, as well as from the ICP to the Assessment Center at Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security. Ideally radio operators should be CERT qualified and carry certificates for FEMA/EMI IS 100, 200, 700, 800, and 802. If you're volunteering as a radio operator, please indicate which of those qualifications you carry.

Victim Players: We also need volunteers to play the role of victims. You'll get moulage (injury makeup) and need to act out symptoms as described to you by exercise controllers.

The activity will involve multiple teams of graduating CERT volunteers, working with live "victims," conducting damage assessment, field assessment and transportation of victims to treatment, fire fighting, utility control, search and rescue markings, and cribbing.

Communication will be particularly important to ensure that the Incident Commander on scene and Area Command back at the Assessment Center have a current and complete operating picture. Expect to operate simplex from HTs and to work from an ICS-205, to relay tactical traffic, and to record activity on forms like the ICS 214.

If you want to participate in either capacity contact KD8TTE at kd8tte@arrl.net by noon Thursday. You'll need to be confirmed ahead of time to participate.

Best Recorded SET Performance

posted Oct 12, 2019, 6:06 PM by C. Matthew Curtin

Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) has posted the best performance for SET in possession of the Net Manager's records.

For the 2019 SET, our final tabulated records show:
 Sessions: 28
 Checkins: 186
 Traffic: 122 (breakdown: 12 priority, 33 welfare, 71 routine, 6 ICS-213)
 Time: 25 hours, 55 minutes
 Unique stations participating: 37
 Unique stations on emergency power: 25
 Unique new stations (licensed since 2015): 13
 Unique net control stations: 7
 Unique liaisons to NTS nets: 7

Total points, using the League's multiples, 355. The closest we got in points before was 263, in 2015. The official Form B 2019 report to the League is available in our Reports section of the web site.

Watch the Reports section of the web site for the complete After-Action Report/Improvement Plan in the coming days.

The Morning After SET 2019 (First Thoughts)

posted Oct 7, 2019, 5:28 AM by C. Matthew Curtin

This past weekend, Central Ohio Traffic Net (COTN) participated in the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET). We'll release a complete report of COTN exercise objectives, activity, performance, and training objectives by this time next month. Meanwhile, I want to report on a few initial thoughts and to ask for your help.

First, a reminder of why COTN exists: We train amateur radio operators to handle messages for other people and provide a connection between Central Ohio and the rest of the world of third-party message handling via amateur radio. It simply isn't possible for everyone who needs to talk to be directly in touch with everyone they need to reach at all times, which is why the store-and-forward model used by the "traffic system" (and most Internet messaging, for that matter) is so important.

We designed COTN's operation for SET to provide a circuit to allow for messages to flow. We provided outlets for the Ohio EMA (W8SGT) and through it the rest of the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), the Ohio Military Reserve (W8OMR) and through it military and government stations operating in other radio services, Franklin County Emergency Management & Homeland Security (W8THV), as well as the traffic system.

We didn't meet just once a day and handle whatever traffic had queued up for us. Knowing that an emergency was present (in simulation), we established operation according to our procedures and made the circuit available. Stations joined as they had the need to connect to any of our outlets, whether to send or to receive. If traffic came in, it could be handled in order of precedence. If traffic got too heavy to move on one circuit, net control directed stations to other frequencies so several messages could move simultaneously. 

Our operation was nearly continuous from six o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the evening, with a few extra messages passed in special midnight sessions for good measure. Our schedule allowed for our net control operators, liaison stations, and so on to rotate duties so that COTN could provide continuous service without requiring operators individually to sit at the radio continuously for fourteen hour days. Operators worked collaboratively with each other, covering gaps in the schedule, running long sessions so the next operator could conclude other business and then take over, and taking unscheduled roles. Experienced traffic handlers and brand-new licensees alike helped one another to get the job done. Some operators received, created, and relayed messages for the very first time during this year's SET.

COTN's operation was a great example of how it should work. I have never been more proud of COTN and each of the people who participated.

With a few session reports yet to be filed, our preliminary statistics are outstanding. Using the reports filed as of eight o'clock Monday morning, we can show:

Sessions23
Checkins154
Traffic100
Time22:27
Net Control Stations5
Liaison Stations7

Again, these are the numbers just after we've operated. We're still waiting on reports from two more net control stations. They're all going up from here as the stats compile.

Here's the part where I can use a little more help.

Please send me by email (kd8tte@arrl.net) your thoughts. What did you like about SET operation? What should have gone differently? Did anything confuse you, or otherwise leave you with questions? What do you hope comes out of this? Where do you think we should focus our training and exercises for the next year? All of this will be considered as we create our after-action report and develop the training and exercise plan for the coming year.

Again, thank you for your participation.

C. Matthew Curtin KD8TTE
Central Ohio Traffic Net, Net Manager

COTN Net Control and Liaison Stations Needed 5-6 Oct SET

posted Sep 29, 2019, 4:26 AM by C. Matthew Curtin   [ updated Sep 29, 2019, 4:27 AM ]

Just about one week away from the annual Simulated Emergency Test (SET), Central Ohio Traffic Net is now looking to complete the operating schedule. We are in need of net control and liaison stations.

Our plan this year is to operate as follows:
  • Midnight session, SET format net, closed once traffic and business has concluded.
  • Continuous operation starting 0600, concluding 2059 Saturday and 1959 Sunday.
    • At the start of each hour, the net control station will read the SET preamble and run the net.
    • Once all traffic and business has been concluded, net control will advise all stations that they are free to leave the frequency if they like.
    • Liaison stations may leave the frequency to join other nets for movement of traffic, and rejoin as traffic comes in.
    • Net control will advise that "the net is free," meaning that stations may call each other directly but that net control remains in control of the frequency to enforce discipline and to ensure that traffic can move.
    • Net control closes the net at 59 minutes after the hour, allowing the next net control station to start a directed net at the top of the hour.
  • Each session is reported separately through both the normal net reports, and the special SET reports.
Whether you can handle duty for one shift in one position or are available all day, please complete our form to advise us of your availability and station capability. Thank you!

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