Thoughts on Club Nets

Truthfully I seldom check into club nets.  Often I might think about it, but when I turn on my radios I find DX or other QSO opportunities that get me off track.

After an email reminder, I did check into a local club 10m net.  Well I was standby on frequency ready ten minutes ahead of time.

Once it was net time, it took me a while to check in, and actually I had to be a bit of rude breaking to check in.

Be clear, the few who did checked into the net had fun doing so.  Just you had to be break in to get recognized.

I’m wondering if the net had any purpose?

The first two in started into an in-depth rag chew, never breaking and never listening.  It was after five – six  minutes of a drone about belt vs shaft driven snowblowers and the cats each used to have, that I broken in followed by a few others on my heels.

Despite repeating my call back to be twice, later in the new I was unidentifiable as memory didn’t serve the talkers well, and perhaps they weren’t copying calls on any sort of a list?

I also looked liked they didn’t have a club roster at hand, as along with myself they struggled to recognize other club members who decided tonight was the night to check in.

Some suggestions:

  • Most group activities do well when a shared vision guides the event.  Have a goal and stick first to achieving it.  This net was promoted as a first goal of getting checkins, so don’t get lost in story telling – at least without listening.
  • Take a list.  Some like to do it on their computer – there is special software to manage this like Netlogger.  Personally I do it with a pad of paper if I am participating.
  • Have a roster available and use it.  While I am not a regular check-in or meeting attender, I’ve been a local club member for 30+ years and am on the air a lot.  One of the other members not recognized is a long time volunteer for public service, and again having a roster would help ID who the participants are.
  • Get those checking in call signs right.  I checked back in to avoid being a lost call, and a misheard call on another ham had be corrected several times before net control got it right.
  • ID yourself even if acting as net control.  Just because you know who you are doesn’t mean the checkins will know you by voice.
  • If your net is an informal net, have a goal of getting checkins to share something.  It was pretty good when net control coaxed a bit of dialogue out of a in-and-out from a call sign they knew well, but they were content with letting the unfamiliar calls be unheard.
  • Welcome the new folks.  Using “Thank you for checking in” and “Welcome” are almost as good as using the name of a new to you checkin.
  • ID and ID often, including your name.  The regulars missed that part. Some of this comes with making contest and DX efforts, where the QSO reward depends on getting your information to the other party.
  • Don’t skip taking a break every few minutes requesting any new checkins.
  • Tell folks when the next net will be. You do want to see them come back?
  • It is always neat if something is shared during the net.  So have something that can be shared with the checkins.
  • Have control and mastery of your equipment.  When I checked in I was told I was off frequency, and with the sort of station I have I was quickly able to confirm that the frequency change wasn’t at my end.  I was able to quickly confirm that my 28.450 was within 1 Hz or less (actually it would be a small part of a Hz, but I didn’t run the full calibration against the GPS Disciplined reference to get the actual accuracy limit.)  Later net control confessed both the had bumped their VFO and that their cat was somehow involved in frequency control.
  • Listen first and don’t be afraid to QSY the net.  This net started on top of another QSO in progress.  About 80 percent of the time there was another QSO running on frequency.  Of course if you never listen you will miss that your are on top of someone else.

It is kind of hard to make suggestions without coming over as overly critical.

Sorry about that, but just like when you’re doing any other group activity constructive criticism betters the game for everyone.  I can think of many times when playing saxophone that the player next to me suggested that we should retune, which is one of the more polite ways to tell me that to their ears I am off pitch.  Hell yeah I will tune and retune and retune again to make the music better.

Likewise adding a bit of structure, having & taking notes, listening more, ID more, sharing & encourage sharing, and having a purpose will improve “our” net.  Yes a net is always an “our” net as we need all the other folk to make it a net rather than a monologue.



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