Interested in handling traffic?

Back in the days before phone (some of us go back to the days before SSB) there was only CW. And sending was done with astraight key (try that for an hour) and, if you were really modern, you used a bug. Unlike modern electronic keyers which send perfectly spaced code, straight keys and bugs had personality.

If you were a regular on the air, you could be known by your sending (good or bad) and others would know it was you before you signed your callsign.

Back in those days all amateur radio traffic was sent by Morse Code. There were no phone nets and packet systems were a long way off. But every night, the airways were filled with traffic nets sending messages as a public service via ham radio. Of course, these days those nets have largely been replaced by phone and digital communications but the idea of using amateur radio to pass traffic still exists and, yes, some traffic is still sent my CW.

If you’re interested in joining a net, in any mode, here’s a primer on traffic handling (thanks to the ARRL) you might find interesting. BTW learning how to handle formal traffic is a great skill for ARES participants.

2 Responses to “Interested in handling traffic?”

  • A great post. If anyone needs more information on NTS they could visit the Ontario Phone Net Blog ( or visit the Ontario Phone Net which meets nightly on 3.742 at 1600 eastern time on a daily basis.

    VA3QV Net Manager Ontario Phone Net

  • In actual fact, CW traffic nets are still the “way” to send traffic, especially once the sun goes down. Virtually all traffic nets after 7:30 pm ET are operated on CW, and continue up until 10:00 pm in most time zones. The vast majority of these are conducted on 80 meters, although the cross-country nets usually are on 40. We also utilize 160 for shorter range traffic during the winter months when propagation does not favour even 80 meters.
    There are a great group of dedicated CW operators out there who thrive on handling traffic. As stated, they have found their niche within the hobby. Personally I thoroughly enjoy handling traffic on CW, and in fact generate a fair amount myself. I guess you could say that retirement has its benefits where ham radio is concerned.

    Glenn VE3GNA, Ontario STM

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