NCS Operation Manual

South Coast Amateur Radio Service

Net Control Station Operations Manual

A Guide To Aid In Uniformity And Consistency

By Ron Haltermon WA4HWN  2007 some things removed

Updated by   Richard Hatalski ND4Z  December 2022

Amended by   Richard Hatalski ND4Z  April 28, 2024

(  Nothing  new, only some old things removed, and Hours of operation and Number of Members  are updated! )


Net Goals

South Cars has been in existence for more than 35 years, and like just about everything else has evolved over the years and will, no doubt, continue to do so. We have an NCS for each of the 35 hours, per week, that the net is in operation plus several alternate NCS’s. We have over 14,130 members as of this writing. It goes without saying that consistency in our operation is of prime importance. If we do not each conduct our net sessions in a similar manner then our net members can easily become confused as to our procedures. This, in turn, leads to disenchantment and eventual “fading” away on the part of our members. We need to make them feel welcome. We need to be sure that information pertaining to first time check-ins be forwarded to our data base manager.

We realize that folks, hams in particular, hate to read, or refer to the manual unless, or until, all else fails! However, we ask that you PLEASE thoroughly read this manual and that you work with us in following the procedures and guidelines accordingly. Each one of you, and the service you provide to the success of Southcars, is greatly appreciated. Without each of you, we wouldn’t have a South Cars Net!

We do ask, in return for the fun, satisfaction, and enjoyment that you receive as a net control station, that you help us by adhering to these guidelines.

This manual is for all of us, “old timer” NCS’s, Alternate NCS’s as well as new NCS’s and anyone else interested in knowing, and understanding, our preferred guidelines in our everyday net operations.

We also have net control stations that are giving out, from time to time, erroneous, and/or completely outdated, information. We have means in place for each of you to stay up to date on changes in procedures. We don’t want to change your personality. Everyone has his, or her, own unique personality.

We do, however, ask that we all be consistent in our procedures, hence the issuing of this manual.

Keep up on changes and updates.

Remember, if you allow deviations while other NCS properly adhere to the rules you are not being fair to your fellow NCS as deviations will probably propagate hard feelings, by the members, towards those NCS who are following the rules. Your help, your cooperation, and your willingness to take time out of your busy day to conduct your net session are appreciated!

 No Prelists!

By the same token, if you are opening the first hour in either the morning, or afternoon session and hear others on the frequency waiting for the net to start, do NOT put them on your check-in list. Let them check in along with everyone else, when you have opened the session and start your first list. If asked to do so, just indicate that, in fairness to all, we don’t take prelists.

Stations with a schedule and Birthdays:

At the top of each hour we should ask if there are any stations on frequency that have a schedule and wish to call their station to move off frequency for a contact. You are NOT taking a check-in list at this point, but only giving them the opportunity to call another station to move off frequency. Please do NOT add them to your check-in list. Let them check in, again, with everyone else. They will take advantage of this to get on board if you let them. If they make contact and move off frequency for their contact, acknowledge this. If they don’t then simply indicate that you are sorry their “station wasn’t there” and move on with your session.

Then follow by asking if there is anyone celebrating their birthday. If so, check them in at this time and wish them a very happy birthday. Finally, if propagation is “long” and you are not hearing stations close to you, try to, at least once during your session, pick another NCS located far from you to take a list of Mobiles and then a list of “anyone, anywhere”, thereby affording more people the ability to check in. Be clear to the assisting NCS as to what you want him, or her, to do, so that you don’t lose control of your session.

8AM and 12PM Eastern Time Sessions:

Have a copy of the Preamble for opening this session and don’t forget your note pad and pencil or pen.

  1. A) Starting and Running Your Session
  1. B) Read the preamble.

Please read the actual, up to date, preamble and don’t try to wing it. There is information in there that is designed to be informative to the newcomer. The preamble is NOT read at the close of this hour, since you will be turning it over, immediately to another NCS.

1) Ask if there are any stations that have a schedule for the top of the hour that wish to contact another station to move off frequency for a QSO. Announce that you are NOT taking a list for checkins at this time. If a station responds, then tell them to “Go ahead and call your station”. Help them by repeating the call of the station they are looking for. If no reply, state that “the station was not heard” and move on to the next step. Do NOT add the calling station to your check-in list. If you do this they will soon be popping up all over the place so they can easily get in on the check-in list. This is not treating others fairly!

2) Check to see if anyone is celebrating their birthday. If so, welcome them, let them check in, and wish them a Happy Birthday. You may choose to have everyone on frequency say “Happy Birthday”, followed by their complete call (Keep’em legal ! ). Do this “in  mass”! The bedlam created usually impresses the birthday celebrant!

3) There is only three types of list taken !

a.) Mobile ( Car, Truck, Boat, Plane ETC ) On a Mobile Type Antenna.

b.) Fixed  ( anyone anywhere )

c.) QRP ( The NCS can choose if he or she wants to take a QRP list or not )           

4) Always ask for check-ins by “suffix only, slowly and phonetically, one time only and spread them out”!

If you hear someone checking in with their full call, repeat your request and emphasize the SUFFIX ONLY. If we all are consistent on this, they will, or SHOULD, soon get the point.

Remember! Short timers are NOT given priority.

Everyone is taken in the order in which they are heard. Always read back the list you heard before you start checking folks in. Let them know who was heard. Not everyone can wait to see if they “made it or not” as they may well have other things they can be doing.

5) Start by asking for “Mobiles and mobiles only”. After taking the mobile list do NOT repeat it until after you have taken a list for anyone, anywhere. Now alternate back and forth between mobiles and anyone, anywhere. We have heard NCS’s take 3 or 4 mobile lists at the start and it’s 30 minutes into the session before the first “anyone, anywhere list” is taken. Again, this will contribute to stations indicating they are mobile, when they aren’t ! Let’s PLEASE alternate.

6) If during a check-in, or while you are running your list, you hear someone say “check-in’ or they give their call, trying to get on the list, it’s best to simply state you are “not taking a list at this time but will be taking more lists shortly. Please stand by”. Move on with your regular list.

7) If people are talking to you or anyone else on the frequency prior to your starting up the net, do NOT add them to your list at the start of the net. They should check in just like everyone else. Again, consistency is required. If one NCS deviates from the normal, then you make others upset, or worse.

8) Always be aware of, and record, the necessary information on first time check-ins. Tell them about the web site and the join SCARS tab !

9) Remember to announce our need for NCS’s and alternate NCS’s. Also, announce the Traders Net.

Announce and refer everyone to our website

10) Remember that you have a relief station coming on for the second hour. Be aware of the time.

Don’t take a list that can last past the top of the hour when you get near that time. Keep your lists short, even one or two. Turn your session over in a timely fashion to the oncoming NCS. Treat him, or her, as you would be treated! At the conclusion of your session conditions may prevent you from communicating directly with your relief station. If this is the case ask another station who is hearing you well, to call for the relief station to be sure he, or she, is there. Do NOT continue on with your session until you have exhausted every effort at turning it over to the incoming NCS. We have heard NCS stations try to make contact but failed. They proceeded on with the net under the assumption the other NCS wasn’t there when they actually were present! This is REALLY frustrating to the incoming NCS.

11) When you turn over your session let the incoming NCS know if you have any “carry overs”.

12) Remember, we are taking suffixes only. This IS legal. HOWEVER, we are required to identify every 10 minutes, maximum. Therefore, when you take a list mark down the time by the first one on the list, watch your clock and when you get near the 10 minute mark, indicate that you will be calling on a given station next and that you want the following stations to identify with their full call. Then read the suffixes off (the entire remainder of the list!) And ask that they ALL i.d. now. This speeds things It takes a long time to go through them one by one. All we need do is read the list and let them do it all at once. That keeps them legal. Note the time and proceed on through the list. Obviously, remember to ID your own station!

13) If you note intentional, or malicious, interference on the frequency the worst thing you can do is comment about it. This just eggs them on because they know they are accomplishing what they have set out to do! If others comment about it ask them not to do so. They (the offending perpetrator) will usually go away. If conditions warrant, (i.e. something occurs time after time for multiple days, or sessions), then notify the enforcement officer of the FCC. We realize that not everyone is set up to record these events, so you might wish to communicate an ongoing event to one of our members. There are several out there capable of making recordings and burning the cds to be sent to the FCC.

14) When you have a station that says “contact”, this should be used strictly for the purpose of contacting the station that you are currently checking in. This should not be a means for them to get onto your check-in list. Politely discourage this process.

15) One last suggestion. It would be strongly recommended that you check in on various other

sessions. This helps to keep you aware as to what is going on. We have some NCS operators who we

never hear from except on their net session. You are MUCH appreciated as an NCS but we sure would

like to see all NCS participate in other net sessions. This is obviously somewhat more difficult for those

who work but give it a try. Get to know your fellow NCS ops.


12 PM session

It is requested that you do read any pending bulletins at the top of the hour and further recognize any stations requiring contact for schedule purposes, and birthdays.

Solely at your discretion you can keep the net running longer than the posted hour should you choose to do so. If one stops to think about this there is no other NCS to turn the net over to, and in many cases you might be very surprised at the number of additional stations that will participate.

This holding the net open is by no means a requirement and is only suggested if you feel so inclined and have the time to do so. 

End of the net and return the Frequency back to regular Amateur use .

One Specific note should be made to the stations conducting the net from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on

Wednesdays as the trader’s net follows as shown below and timely transfer is required.

 Traders Net

Southcars operates a Traders Net. Although you probably, as an NCS, won’t have anything to do with

the operation of this Net, you should be able to answer queries from other hams about it.

The Traders Net is every Wednesday immediately following the close out of the 9 to 10 a.m., Eastern Time, regular session. It is on 7.251 MHZ. The NCS runs the net until there is no further check-ins or listings. Hams can list ham radio related gear. Contrary to some popular opinions no one lists these items on our website.

 NCS Responsibilities to Others:

We, as net control operators, have agreed to assume the responsibility of being dependable, both as to our sessions (showing up!) and to the time (showing up on time, starting on time) and, if doing the

first hour in either the morning or afternoon sessions, turning it over in timely fashion to your relief NCS.

Obviously, there will, no doubt, be times when you just can’t make your session. However! PLEASE notify the Southcars Scheduling Manager when you are going to be “out of pocket” so the team can find a temporary fill-in. If something happens that you find at the last moment you can’t make it (thunderstorm??), then pick up your phone, get your NCS Roster and call one of the alternates to see if they can pick up your session. At the very least, please call the Southcars Scheduling Manager or the Net Manager. All contact information is available on the Web Site Contact Us tab !

When your hour is close to winding up be SURE to keep your lists short (take them one, or two at a time!) so as NOT to run over into the relief NCS’s time. After all, if he, or she, can be there in timely fashion then it surely isn’t very polite to keep them waiting while you continue on. Please turn it over in timely fashion! All that is necessary is to let stations “out there” that it’s time for a “shift” change and do it. They will understand. Asking the incoming NCS to “Stand by” while you continue your session is strongly discouraged as they most surely will agree to it, but we wonder how they really feel about it! Note also, that many of us are using SKYPE and ECHOLINK, which is a great way to communicate for free. The software is free and the calls are free. Also, you can look at your computer screen and tell if they are on-line or not.

 First Time Check-Ins:

We have definite procedures for first time check-ins. We receive inquiries from hams, far too often, regarding their having checked in before and still not on the roster. Many of these folks really enjoy their participation in the net activities and we are really remiss if we don’t follow the procedures below.

1) At least once (preferably more) during your session announce that any first time check-ins please

“let me know that you are a first timer”.

2) When you get a first time check-in, make them feel welcome!

3) Quickly inform them of our hours of operations and about our website. they can go to click on the Join Southcars tab on the menu …E-Mail the requested information to the Data Base Manager and they will placed on the Roster usually in less than 24 hours.

Membership Roster. Also tell them that they SHOULD (not guaranteed!) receive an E-Mail reply from The Data Base manager, and also from The Welcome Committee ( a Long time SCARS member ) !