To me a Net Control Station serves one key purpose -- that of insuring the smooth functioning of the network. It performs this function by:
- Maintaining discipline of the network, including procedure and protocols. (It sets the example during training.)
- Ensuring that traffic is passed expeditiously.
- Maintaining the integrity of the network.
- Maintaining a close watch for potential frequency and technical problems and for signals of its own or interfering networks.
An NCS should be located where it can best perform its function. It should be in good contact with all net stations. It should be in a facility that provides adequate and reliable power, space, access and backup communication means. The working environment of the operator should be protected to reduce non- network distractions.
Located at the emergency scene? Preferably NO. Located at a home station? Can the above criteria be best met there? If so- YES.
How long should it operate at one stretch? Until the need ends or it cannot perform its function due to operator fatigue or other reasons. Training and operator experience may be another factor to consider. An NCS usually needs two operators per shift as a minimum. One person (not necessarily operating) must always be a supervisor.
Packet is preferred for administrative and non-time critical messages. Radioteletype is possible but AMTOR is much more reliable. Also note that I am considering the net as handling (written) message traffic.
Not all hams are experienced traffic handlers and net operators. While Voice will always be around, it is usually less efficient, requires intense re-training of personnel to develop the mindset of message handling rather than a free-for-all "QSO". Look at the ambiguities of meaning that are caused by "QSL" and other "QTs". We all use them freely with no reference to the code book that defines their internationally defined meanings. Brevity codes and alphabets are not standardized except by the military, FAA and others who long ago learned the hard lessons. So what IS correct? Plain English only.
The NCS is the key to operating a successful net. Training and practice are the essential elements to having one.
I hope these thoughts and comments will help your search for answers to the dilemma. Apart from having exceedingly strong views on the subject, I like dogs, children, and HAMs, but not always in that order.
BRUCE KARR, KA4MCT@N6ZGY.#NOCAL.CA (ex K6CRS, W8TNM, WA6CEK, K7CGR)
State of California Region Five RACES Officer