We’re making some changes to the Simplex Net starting tonight. To give all net participants more information about propagation and reception we’re making the following changes to our operating procedures:
Two simple changes
- During your check-in, please tell us your transmit strength in watts. So your full report should sound similar to: “This is K3MJN. My name is Mike and I’m transmitting from Lititz with 25 watts. My answer to the question of the week is ________.”
- Net control will give you a signal strength report when they acknowledge your check-in. The report will be in the Readability-Strength (5-9) format.
What do we hope to gain by making these changes?
We expect to train better operators and have them build better stations!
From anecdotal evidence, it seems that most hams operate on the Simplex Net with their radio set to maximum power, whatever that might be. Good amateur operating procedure dictates that we all use the minimum power needed to get our transmission to the intended recipient. Just because you have a radio capable of 50 watts doesn’t mean you need to transmit at that power all the time.
If you’re new to the hobby, just changed your equipment, or are operating from a new location that might be justified. In any of those cases, you don’t have enough practical experience to know how your station is performing. By sharing transmit strength and signal reports, we’ll all start to gain knowledge and experience together. After you’ve got a few weeks of signal reports back when your operating at “full power Scotty” you’ll be ready to start backing the power down and compare the results.
After a month or two of varying your power each week you’ll have a good idea of how many watts it takes to get your message across the neighborhood, across town, or to the far side of the county. We’ll all learn from practical experience how VHF performance is most influenced by antenna height, line of sight, and good station design. If you’re not “getting out” the way that you desire, you might even decide to make some changes to your station to improve performance. Maybe that means raising your omni antenna another 10-15 feet. Perhaps switching to a different antenna type: dipole, beam, or yagi?
Or you might learn that your transmissions are just fine but your reception isn’t as good as you’d expect–when you find the guy down the street sounds weak even though he’s blasting out 100 watts. It could be time to reposition your antenna, check your feedline, or buy that new higher end rig you’ve been looking at for months.
More info about Readability and Strength reports
Readability and Strength are the first two components of the R-S-T system of signal reporting. Since our simplex net is FM voice we don’t worry about the third component (tone) which applies only to CW. Here’s what the values mean for readability and strength:
2–Barely readable, occasional words distinguishable.
3–Readable with considerable difficulty.
4–Readable with practically no difficulty.
1–Faint signals, barely perceptible.
2–Very weak signals.
5–Fairly good signals.
7–Moderately strong signals.
9–Extremely strong signals.
There’s also a fairly good article on Wikipedia about the R-S-T System.