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NTS Letter

The NTS Letter
April 2, 2024


New Features on the NTS 2.0 Website

To promote awareness of NTS, we have added a new page at where you can find materials to help introduce NTS to hams, new and old alike, as well as to the public. The page includes an archive of all issues of The NTS Letter including a list of the content in each issue. There is also a flyer that can be customized for your use, printed out, and distributed at club meetings, VE sessions, hamfests, etc. You can also find suggestions for promoting NTS at ARRL Field Day, including helping your group get the extra points for traffic handling and distributing information about NTS message handling to visitors at your Field Day site. We expect more content will be added to this site in the near future.

The site also features a series of brief training videos along with downloadable PowerPoint presentations created by WNY Assistant Section Traffic Manager Andy Harmon-Kimball, W2ZXN. The three-part series covers an introduction to NTS, Radiograms, and Sending Traffic. It is hoped folks will find these documents useful not only for themselves but also for presentations to clubs and other gatherings.

The videos can also be found at, along with an Introduction to the Radiogram Web Portal, How to Send an NTS Radiogram with APRS, and Agency Traffic Handling Procedures and Forms.

Our goal is to create a library of content to make training and promotion better and easier. Do you have ideas for promoting NTS? Let us know.

Treasure Hunt News

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


The first three Treasure Hunt finishers in the inaugural NTS 2.0 Treasure Hunt were awarded a specially designed mug courtesy of the NTS 2.0 planning committee. This month's and future first place winners will be awarded one of these mugs. Second and third place finishers will receive a certificate.

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.

The Treasure Hunt will be taking a break for the month of April and be back in May, so check the May issue of The NTS Letter for the next question.

We had quite a few responses to our survey, and we will be trying to address those.

Thanks for the feedback. Please fill out our survey here to let us know how we are doing. Good luck!

Radiogram Portal Update

Efforts to implement and promote the NTS 2.0 Radiogram Portal are under way.

The brainchild of EchoLink inventor Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD, the Radiogram Portal is a web-based tool designed to collect third-party messages for injection into the National Traffic System via the public internet.

Radiogram Portal

There are currently 25 volunteers, called "Radiogrammers," who have the ability to log in and perform this task. Radiogrammers access a special area of the Portal and accept texts deposited by third parties in their respective regions for message origination by voice, CW, or digital modes. The third-party identities are authenticated via email to eliminate spam, and the message texts themselves are always screened by a licensed amateur prior to message origination.

Thus far, the system has not experienced a lot of traffic, but it's anticipated that this situation will change with the arrival of warmer weather, when amateurs will set up message tables at fairs and other public events.

The NTS 2.0 Advanced Access & Delivery working group is working on several key modifications to the Portal, such as adding email notification to Radiogrammers when traffic in their region is present on the Portal for pickup. The Access & Delivery working group, in conjunction with the Recruitment, Training, and Online Presence working group are continuing work on how to better promote and educate traffic handlers on the Portal.

If you'd like to learn more about this exciting new tool, visit the Radiogram Portal Quick Start

History of NTS by Bud Hippisley, W2RU

About the time you receive this issue of The NTS Letter you'll be able to find a history of NTS on our website. The history began a few years ago as a collaboration between Old Old Timers Club (OOTC) Executive Secretary Pip Sager, WB4FDT, and Bud Hippisley, W2RU, as a brief overview of more than a century of amateur radio traffic handling, written for the OOTC newsletter. Bud has expanded the history to include additional detail related to the creation and subsequent growth of NTS over the years. You can find the article at

Best Practices: Traffic Deliveries and Numbered Radiograms

A fellow amateur recently recounted their experience of sending a radiogram to a friend. This radiogram included one of the ARRL numbered texts. The delivering ham read the message word for word as if he was sending it on a net, including the ARL number, the Xray and the Break (BT). You have probably heard of other such instances. Most of us are familiar with these numbered radiograms, which are generally designed to shorten radiogram content and therefore transmission time. They can be found here, and can be downloaded as a handy reference. (Note: This version replaces the old list of numbered radiograms found in the FSD 3 form on the website.) This delivering ham was likely new and had not considered the recipient's understanding of the message. While he may have been taught how to format and send a radiogram, perhaps he had not been instructed in proper delivery. Make sure your training program includes delivery techniques, which are an important aspect of traffic handling. After all, we want to make a good impression on those we serve.

From the E-Mailbox

Inviting New Amateurs to Traffic Handling Via Radiogram

"Bulk traffic" is a phrase that makes some traffic handlers cringe. But what if we look at that phrase from the perspective of outreach? Don't we need a deeper traffic handling base in nearly every sector of the NTS? Don't we need a renewable resource to keep the NTS relevant and viable? What better way than to get a radiogram in the hands of an amateur while their license is fresh, and they are looking to see what role in the hobby suits them.

The Southwest Florida Traffic Net (SWFTN) has long enjoyed a close relationship with the Fort Myers Amateur Radio Club (FMARC), and consequently with the local Volunteer Examiners. For the last several years, we have been generating radiograms on the net using the FMARC club call and signature to new and upgraded amateurs. The radiogram is congratulatory (ARL FIFTY SIX) and asks them to join the SWFTN. Since we are a local VHF net on a wide area repeater, amateurs of any license class have a reasonably easy time of joining in. The object is to get them familiar with a radiogram, get them on the air and on an NTS net, and make them aware of the local club.

It has taken some time to pay dividends, but this year has seen results. The SWFTN has seen a noticeable uptick in new amateur call sign check-ins (think KO4s and KQ4s). Some of these are even taking the plunge and handling a radiogram or two. I would encourage net managers, especially on the local level, to forge a close relationship with your local clubs and VEs. Get a list of those newly minted amateurs, regardless of license class, and get a radiogram to them. Hopefully you can add a few new traffic handlers to our ranks in 2024.

A final thought: send a monthly net report as a QNC radiogram on your local net. The SWFTN also does this, and it gives everyone present on the first of each month an opportunity to copy at least one piece of traffic a month. This can also be a great tool for breaking the ice with a new amateur/traffic handler. It allows them to copy traffic without necessarily being in the spotlight. - SFL Section Traffic Manager Dave Sheppard, W2PAX

The Hit and Bounce CW Nets

Are you looking for some practice in message handling while also increasing your code speed? Do antenna restrictions prevent you from participating on the evening nets on 80 meters? Do you have traffic from the night before that you wish to get on its way before work or other commitments? Check out one of the Hit and Bounce traffic nets that meet every morning on 40 meters.

The Hit and Bounce Net (HBN) is one of the oldest CW traffic nets still in existence. It was formed in the 1930s on the premise that CW operators would like a morning CW net if they could quickly be in and out to continue their usual business. The net meets daily at 8:30 AM Eastern Time on 7112 kHz. While it is an independent net, participants generally clear traffic on various NTS nets. Regulars come primarily from the eastern seaboard from Florida to Maine and from as far west as Oklahoma and Texas. We have even seen stations from the west coast when propagation permitted.

If you are looking for a slower speed net to build your code speed and increase your confidence in CW traffic handling, HBN might be just what you're looking for. It meets daily at 7:30 AM, also on 7112 Khz. The earlier time might also work well for those who need to clear their traffic before heading off to work or getting on with their day. If you would like more information about these nets contact HBN manager Tom, W4KX, or Hit and Bounce Slow Net manager Bill, W1KX.

Spotlight: Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD

Our spotlight this month is on Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD, developer of the Radiogram Web Portal software.

Jonathan Taylor, K1RFD, in his ham "shack"

Most hams are familiar with the popular Echolink software, which is used by hams worldwide. This software was developed in 2002 by Jonathan, who continues to support it.

Jonathan grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and got interested in amateur radio while listening to an old Hallicrafters shortwave radio his grandfather had given him. As a kid he built a couple of electronics kits. This apparently influenced his future career path. He was first licensed in 1974 and was very active in NTS nets in the mid to late '70s, mostly on CW in the Eighth Region, and then again during his first year at Cornell University in upstate New York.

Professionally, Jonathan says he had two careers, first as an on-air radio broadcaster in several cities, including NYC (a background which is notable in his Radiogram Portal presentation), and then as a software engineer and IT executive. He developed one of the early web browsers in the 1990s at Prodigy, and then spent 19 years at the startup company in Connecticut, where he now resides. He managed development teams at Gartner before retiring last year.

We are very fortunate to have Jonathan with his amazing talents on the NTS 2.0 team. If any of our readers have talents that might help us further the work of improving and enhancing NTS, please write to project leader Fred Kemmerer, AB1OC, at

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.

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The NTS Letter is published monthly and is free of charge to ARRL members. Subscribe:

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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NTS is a program of ARRL The National Association for Amateur Radio®. No other organization works harder than ARRL to promote and protect amateur radio! ARRL members enjoy many benefits and services including digital magazines, e-newsletters, online learning (, and technical support. Membership also supports programs for radio clubs, on-air contests, Logbook of The World®, ARRL Field Day, and the all-volunteer ARRL Field Organization.



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