COTN Annual Meeting 2016 Minutes

Post date: Jan 31, 2016 1:08:30 PM

Call to Order

Net Manager Matthew Curtin KD8TTE called the meeting to order at 1105.

Roll Call

Additionally present were Howard Luxhoj KD8TVB, Becky Mayse KD8YCW, Stan Sutton KD8KBX, Dave Maynard WA3EZN, Bryan McGeary KD8ZWI, Brian Burley KE8ANW, Tony Fabro N8RRB, Art Richardson W8ARR, and Jim Patterson N8RFT.

Reports of Officers, Boards, and Standing Committees

Mr. Richardson, outgoing Net Manager, thanked the group for working with him throughout 2015, and said that we had the greatest group of guys and ladies in the country. Mr. Fabro thanked him for accepting the responsibility, a sentiment joined by the group.

Mr. Curtin reported activity on the web site at being organized to promote traffic handling and NTS as well as to provide a resource for stations joining COTN. He further advised that promotion of the site and the topics through social media has increased visibility even while most uses appear to correlate to local stations. In connection with creating and maintaining that awareness he created a Google+ Community for the National Traffic System.

Reports of Committees

Mr. Curtin reported on the SET for 2015, highlighting the content of the report COTN submitted to ARRL HQ. COTN participated in the same scenario used throughout the Ohio Section for ARES, but ran over a two-day period instead of single day. In twenty-two nets, COTN passed a total of 112 pieces of traffic in seven hours and thirty-nine minutes of operation:

Mr. McGeary inquired about having the traffic originated for SET. Mr. Curtin discussed his preparation of traffic well ahead of the event such that when any net session was called he had traffic prepared to send out. Mr. Fabro added that our scenario including failure of battery backup in repeater systems was sound. Use of simplex nets, and knowing how we would operate simplex, e.g., at home station, or with HT, and which antennas we’ll use will help us to be ready to operate in any foreseeable condition.

Mr. Curtin reported on COTN’s participation in the November 2015 exercise with Franklin County CERT and discussed his recommendations. He reported the structure of the exercise, preparation of the exercise, lessons learned, as well as recommendations, which were:

    1. Establish a standard for training,
    2. Conduct regular training in person,
    3. Establish a schedule for progressive training,
    4. Encourage additional training and certification, and
    5. Continue to practice with other organizations in functional and full­-scale exercises.

New Business

Turning attention to new business, the net considered the matter of recruiting. Mr. Maynard reported that he has begun to use the FCC’s lists of newly licensed stations to send radiograms to new stations in the area. He reported that approximately ten percent of the stations had phone numbers that could be found. Mr. Curtin agreed that sending those radiograms or other welcome letters via USPS was perfectly fine and if postage became expensive, we could use the net’s Mail Fund for that purpose. Mr. Richardson added that the web site also included lists that would be helpful for finding new stations to recruit to COTN.

Mr. Luxhoj added that we need not only members for the roster but net control stations and section net liaison stations and asked about the goals for staffing. Mr. Curtin said that he expected that successful recruiting would mean that we had a different primary and alternate NCS for every day of the week, as well as a different primary and secondary SNL for each day of the week, with no station needing to take more than one position per week.

Mr. McGeary noted that new stations would benefit from a plan where new operators learn how to become effective, learning basic skills, taking greater interest in seeing to it that traffic is handled properly. Ms. Mayse volunteered to assist in recruiting efforts.

Moving on to training, Mr. Curtin introduced the need to have someone lead the training efforts and focus to that end. Mr. McGeary described the process of becoming NCS like being thrown from the nest and having no choice but to fly. Mr. Maynard added that mistakes shouldn’t be an excessive concern, as COTN is a training net and exactly the place to try new things to get good at them before trying elsewhere.

Mr. Curtin described the radio operator training introduced at Franklin County CERT, a progressive five-week course that addressed different aspects of interest to those radio operators, each of which concluding with practical exercise time: operating off-air, then on-air in simplex, and on-air with a portable low-power repeater.

Mr. Sutton noted that many people check in when they are new but don’t generate traffic, so one of the first milestones is for them to receive a radiogram. Generating their own and relaying it would come naturally after that. Starting small would be effective.

Ms. Mayse recalled that when she first started relaying traffic volunteers to take traffic were so rapid that she didn’t have time to volunteer. She thought that having experienced operators originate traffic to them would help to ensure that they are able to be involved. Mr. Fabro added that having someone in particular responsible for such traffic might be a good idea to prevent inundating new stations with traffic.

Mr. Maynard said that he changed his welcome text for new stations, specifically noting COTN and its meeting frequency and time. Mr. Luxhoj added that the web site is also effective for helping people searching online to find us. Mr. Maynard reminded us that the Ohio Section Journal is an important source of good information about traffic handling and other activities in the section. Anyone not receiving it may do so by sending email to Section Manager Scott Yonally N8SY at

Mr. Fabro recalled that former roster custodian Denny Allenmang WA8EYQ used to make periodic announcements on air about the roster and how new stations can join, which helped to get new stations involved. This led to some discussion of how to help new stations to see how to get a radiogram started.

Mr. Richardson highlighted the material developed by Mr. Maynard on traffic handling, showing how to originate it, and how traffic is relayed all the way up to the transcontinental level.

Mr. McGeary thought that adding a “tip of the week” would be helpful, where we discuss some particular issue of traffic handling on-air or on the web site for people to see and learn from. Ms. Mayse highlighted the value of elmers and that we might consider creating a program for elmers or mentorship where new stations are paired with an elmer.

Asking for a volunteer to lead COTN’s effort to participate in SET 2016, Mr. Curtin noted the need for someone to focus on the effort separate from other ongoing activity. The Net agreed on the need but no volunteer stepped forward.

Mr. Curtin advised the Net of an upcoming change to details on the roster, to address the need to identify stations qualified as ORS, OES, and with operators carrying qualifications of potential interest to served agencies, including ICS-100, ICS-200, IS-700, IS-800, and CERT.

Mr. Patterson will lead the effort to update the Franklin County Emergency Communications Plan jointly owned by COTN and COARES. The last update of that document was in 2003 and while the structure of the plan is sound, issues regarding frequencies and mechanism for coordination require attention to reflect current capabilities.

The Net discussed Dayton Hamvention and thought it useful to use it as a good networking opportunity to find other traffic handlers but recruiting for COTN would probably not be especially productive given how many of the tens of thousands of visitors are from outside of COTN’s served area.

Mr. Curtin, joined by Mr. Maynard, highlighted the benefit of the All-Ohio ARES conference. The springtime meeting has traffic handlers present, and more traffic handlers can help to support the alignment and interaction between ARES and NTS.

Good of the Order

Mr. Patterson inquired about MARS and how to participate with MARS stations conducting exercises. Mr. Curtin replied that MARS is a separate service from amateur as designated under 47 CFR 97 and has frequencies outside of the amateur spectrum. Participation in the MARS program requires amateur privileges but upon acceptance into the program, Army MARS will issue a MARS callsign for use on those frequencies. When MARS exercises work with other amateur stations, they do so on the amateur frequencies, using their amateur callsigns, as happened in November. KC8UR is the MARS coordinator for Ohio.

Mr. Maynard asked about having a presentation done for the net on the use of fldigi. Mr. Curtin readily agreed on that utility, especially for improving COTN’s ability to use fldigi for local message relay, and for interaction between local digital traffic and NTSD. Mr. Burley suggested that we might look to Andy Elliott K8LE and Richard Wynkoop KD8PHG for instruction on use of fldigi.

Mr. Maynard asked how radio operators responding to call-ups in emergencies will be allowed on to sites to conduct emergency communication. Mr. Curtin discussed the credentialing program the State of Ohio is rolling out for volunteers through OP3, the Ohio Public Private Partnership. Credentials for volunteers may be in the form of a twelve-month credential for volunteers who are likely to be called up for more than one incident at a time, with most volunteers being given a seven-day credential that works for the single incident after they have been activated. Mr. Curtin added that call-ups for particular stations may include requirements from the served agencies for certifications, reiterating the need not only for COTN’s roster to reflect such data, but the need for sending certificates to Jim Yoder W8ERW, administrator of the Ohio Training Database.

With no further business, Mr. Curtin adjourned the meeting at 1252.