The National Traffic System was designed and implemented in the 1950s to allow messages to be sent from coast to coast, via amateur radio, in under 24 hours, using amateur radio. Messages are sent during fair weather days to test the system and allow operators to practice their skills. During bad weather days, disasters, or other emergencies, messages are sent to communicate information critical to saving lives or property. Additionally, health and welfare messages can be used to inquire about a disaster victim.
This document will describe the NTS system used in Oklahoma, with an emphasis on the NTSOK Winlink digital delivery method. Here we use a combination of phone/CW nets and the NTSOK digital delivery system based on the Winlink amateur radio protocol. This document will not discuss the entire process, so the following documents can be used to obtain information about the entire NTS process.
- https://blubrry.com/arrlontheair/78772205/arrls-on-the-air-episode-20/ – The ARRL On-The-Air episode 20 podcast is devoted to an introduction to Winlink.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Traffic_System – Wikipedia has a great overview of the NTS which includes a sample mail delivery and audio files lets you hear a message being sent.
- http://www.arrl.org/nts – The ARRL NTS web page has links to information that can be used by hams to learn, present, and teach how the NTS works.
- http://www.arrl.org/files/file/NTS_MPG2014.pdf – This is the 484 page PDF document that can be used to answer almost any question about how the NTS functions. There are numerous examples and dialogs that can be used to answer any question you may have.
- http://radio-relay.org/ – Radio Relay International (RRI) is a group of amateur radio operators that have created and maintain a message backbone that will get messages around the world using local operators. (NTSOK uses RRI to send and receive messages outside of the state.)
- https://www.7290trafficnet.org/ – The 7290 Traffic Net is an independent, public service traffic net operating on or about 7290 kHz, and has been in continuous operation since 1953. This site explains how this national network functions and has many great training guides.
- https://kv5r.com/ham-radio/amateur-radio-traffic-handler-training/ – Harold Melton KV5R has a great website that details the entire NTS process. He has segments for the beginner, and details that can be used as a reference.
- https://www.ntstrivia.com/ – Aaron Hulett K8AMH is the North Texas Traffic Manager and he manages a weekly trivia contest that uses NTS messages to respond to his questions. Any amateur radio operator can join in on the fun.
The graphic shown above documents the NTS phone/CW traffic nets. Traffic from Oklahoma enters through the system as shown above to travel through the digital and analog systems.
In Oklahoma, NTS efforts are channeled in three different segments.
- NTS Phone / CW Nets – This link talks about the phone and CW nets that meet on the 40 m and 80 m bands.
- Local Traffic Nets – Here you’ll learn about local traffic nets that typically operate on the VHF/UHF bands.
- Winlink Digital NTS System (NTSOK) – The Winlink digital mode sends data across the state and across the country on HF and VHF data links.
- APRS Alerts for Winlink Messages – This video explains the process to have APRS messages appear when you have Winlink email waiting.