This is the second of a series of briefings on traffic handling. The source for this material is N0WPA (now K0RM) from the Colorado ECom web pages.
As mentioned last, the primary purpose of a standardized format is so persons can send and receive formal messages briefly, with the minimum amount of explanation. The RADIOGRAM is a specific format that everyone follows. This allows for the administrative handling of messages without having to go into lengthy discussions about where the traffic originated and or how important it might be and where it's going. One could imagine if there were no standardized format, the following exchange might occur:
"Hey Bud, I have a message here from a local ham in Colorado Springs; he took it from a lady who isn't a ham. I took the message yesterday evening and I'd like to see if there's a way we can get it passed to Tulsa, Oklahoma. There's no real urgency, the lady just wants to let her brother know that she received his letter and will be sending one back in a couple of days...."
The preceding unformatted message consists of 76 words. And ... we still don't know where the message needs to go.
The same message in NTS format might read as follows:
Number 58, Routine, NØXXO, 11, Colorado Springs, Colorado, November 18
573 Glenside Lane
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74131
918 635 0227
RECEIVED YOUR LETTER XRAY WE
WILL WRITE BACK SOON XRAY
Even counting the preamble (and the breaks), the message length is 35 words. Much more efficient use of time and spectrum. Also, the message has everything it needs to be delivered -- and to be traced back to its originator.
When passing formal traffic, hams should guard against adding superfluous (unnecessary extra) words since the parts of the message are standard, there is no need to identify each part as you pass the traffic -- a bad habit of many traffic handlers is to add these extra words. For example:
Number 56, Routine, station of origin NØXXO, check 11, Colorado Springs Colorado, November 18
Going to: Mark Smith,
Address 573 Glenside Lane, Tulsa, OK ZIP FIGURES 74131
Telephone 918 635 0227
I've just added 9 words to the length of the original message by adding superfluous words such as "station of origin", CHECK, "Going TO", ZIP, Telephone, and so on. If there is something about the message that deviates from the standard format, then additional discussion may be necessary; beyond that, adding extra words is counter-productive.
Keeping in mind that during routine, daily traffic nets we are practicing the handling of formal message traffic so that it becomes second nature -- it is imperative that we also practice being brief, and to the point so that in an emergency, being brief and to the point is also second nature.
When sending formal traffic, certain 'PROWORDS' are used to clarify portions of the message. These PROWORDS are:
When receiving formal traffic, certain 'PROWORDS' are used to ask for clarification or repeats of missing words. These PROWORDS, which should be preceded by the proword SAY AGAIN are: