How to Participate

Baltimore Traffic Net (BTN) – How to Participate

Like most traffic and public service nets, the BTN is a directed net.  That means that all net activity is done following the directions given by the Net Control Station (NCS). The NCS will indicate when it is appropriate for you to check into the net, communicate with other net stations, and be excused from the net.

Select one of the following for more information:



The net begins when the NCS calls the net– “Calling the Baltimore Traffic Net, calling the BTN”.  Then the NCS
will direct the flow of the net, which includes the following:

  • Handle any emergency or priority traffic
  • Check in alternate NCS
  • Check in liaisons (MEPN, WL2K, MDD)
  • Check in stations with formal traffic
  • Check in stations with informal traffic or announcements
  • Check in all other stations wishing to participate
  • Handle any announcements
  • Excuse stations no longer needed
  • Handle listed traffic (formal or informal)
  • Excuse remaining stations after their traffic is handled
  • Close the net

Once you check into the net, you should remain attentive and on the net frequency until directed by the NCS to change to another frequency (may occur to pass traffic) or until excused by the NCS (or the net is closed).  If you must leave the net early, please ask the NCS for permission to be excused.

Checking in to the BTN

Before you check into the net for the first  time, listen to the BTN to get a feel for the format of the net and how
the NCS invites certain categories of stations to check in.  Wait until the NCS calls the category to which you belong (e.g., liaison with another net, stations with formal traffic, stations with informal traffic or announcements).  Formal traffic is a radiogram  in standard ARRL NTS message format.  Informal  traffic includes a request to speak with another station (“words AA3SB”),  or to announce something to all the stations on the net (“words for the net”).
If you could fit into more than one category, check in when the first category for which you qualify is called. For example, if you have both formal and informal traffic, check in when  the NCS calls for stations with formal traffic.

Checking in as an assigned liaison

A liaison is a station that has been assigned as a representative to handle traffic between different nets.
When checking in as a liaison coming from or going to another net, identify your station and assignment and if you have traffic, list the traffic at the same that you check in.  If you are the liaison from / to multiple nets, identify your station and all your assignments when you first check in.  The following are some examples of liaison check ins:

WA1QAA from MEPN, no traffic.
W3YVQ from MEPN to MDD, traffic words WA1QAA, over.
AA3SB to MDD, traffic K3CSX 1, over.
N3OR from packet, traffic Baltimore 2, Rockville 1, K3CSX 2, over.

If you are listing traffic, end your transmission with “over” to let the NCS know that is the end of the list.

Checking in as a regular station

When checking in as a regulation station (i.e., without assignment as a liaison), identify your station and indicate “no  traffic” if you don’t have any traffic, or “with traffic” if you do have any type of traffic.  Wait for the NCS to request you to list your traffic by calling you and asking you to “please list”. Once you are asked to list the traffic, you should list all the traffic you have, both formal and informal (with formal traffic first). If you are mobile, it can be helpful to let the NCS know that when you check in by indicating “mobile” after your call sign.  If you must leave the net early, please let the NCS know that when you check in by requesting “early out”.  However, once you check in, you are expected to remain in the net until you are excused by the NCS (or the net is closed).  The following are some examples of regular station check ins:

W3YRS, no traffic.
KB3GFC, with traffic.
KA3EPR mobile, no traffic.
K3FT, no traffic, early out please.


Listing traffic to be sent

If you checked in as a liaison, you will list your traffic when you check in.  If you are a regular station that checked in “with traffic”,  wait until the NCS asks you to list your traffic.  When you list your traffic, you are letting the NCS know the type of traffic you have, its destination and the quantity.  The NCS needs this information to determine the best way to get your traffic passed. When you have traffic, you should include all the traffic you have (even if they are different types) at the first opportunity you are given. For example, if you checked in during the request for stations with “formal” traffic, after listing the formal traffic, you should also list any informal traffic or announcements you have. If the destination is outside the coverage area of the repeater, list “MDD” as the destination. The station assigned as liaison to MDD will take the traffic and relay it via the appropriate net. The following are some examples of listing traffic:

KB3GFB, traffic K3CSX 1, over.
W3YVQ, traffic N3WKE 1, words WA1QAA, over.
WA3GYW, traffic MDD 2, over.