What is a Radio Net?
A net is kind of like a meeting, or a directed conference call, on the air. It meets either on a pre-arranged schedule (such as Seattle's Nine O'Clock Net on the PSRG repeater) or ad-hoc, such as during or after an emergency.
Nets are directed, meaning a station acts as the net control operator. They function much like a police or fire dispatcher or an air traffic controller: they have the "big picture" of what's going on, they keep track of who has checked in, they indicate when it's a given station's turn to talk, and so forth.
Nets meet for many different purposes:
- "Ragchew" or social nets meet purely for the enjoyment of it. Hams share stories of what's going on in their days, insights about the hobby, etc.
- Public service nets provide logistical support for non-emergency events such as road races, parades, etc.
- Emergency organization nets often meet on a regular basis to pass information relevant to the organization, and to check the function of radio equipment. They're also useful for keeping folks from getting rusty on net procedures.
- Emergency nets are called when an actual emergency has occurred, to provide communications support in the emergency situation.
Ragchew and public service nets are a great way to get more familiar and comfortable with local hams and with operating procedures. They're a good stepping-stone to emergency communications, for those hams wishing to get involved with that side of the hobby.