The SATERN CW Net Mission
Amateur Radio remains the most survivable and versatile of all emergency communications systems because it is decentralized and independent of the complex distributed infrastructure required by many of our familiar common carrier resources, such as cellular telephones and the Internet.
There exists within Amateur Radio a variety of modes and networks, all of which offer specific advantages for specific applications. For example, voice communications is ideal for general coordination and limited exchange of record message traffic, but it suffers from a variety of disadvantages as well, not the least of which is the fact that its suffers from inaccuracy and a tendency on the part of users to transmit unnecessary language. Likewise, Digital methods are ideal for large volumes of data and some digital modes facilitate the transfer of binary files. However, the use of digital modes requires additional equipment of greater complexity and places greater demands on available power supplies. In other words, there is more to go wrong.
CW Nets also have distinct advantages for some applications, and the wise emergency communications specialist will want to take advantage of these benefits:
- CW nets have greater capacity than voice nets for record message traffic. The typical CW net, when properly conducted, will handle three to four times more radiogram messages per hour than voice nets.
- CW nets offer greater immunity to propagation anomalies and adjacent channel interference. This can be a real advantage when one must communicate regardless of conditions.
- CW is an ideal mode for deployment to disaster areas. A portable 10-watt HF CW transceiver offers approximately the same level of reliability as a 100-watt HF SSB (voice) transceiver. This allows for the use of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels and batteries or much smaller and more portable generators.
- CW nets use very narrow bandwidth. Multiple stations can be dispatched to adjacent frequencies to clear message traffic simultaneously, without consuming excessive amounts of spectrum.
- CW equipment is simple. Unlike digital modes, one needn’t transport a computer, printer, and similar ancillary equipment to communicate. All that is needed is a compact radio, wire antenna, key, and message blanks, all of which can be carried in a small camera bag thanks to modern technology.
- In actual practice, a skilled CW operator can clear messages as fast as the typical user of digital methods, the later being limited by his typing speed. Likewise, CW has been proven to be faster than “text messaging” via cellular common carrier.
For more information on the advantages of radiotelegraphy, please refer to “The Case for CW” article elsewhere on this web page.
SATERN CW Nets
The goal of SATERN is to provide reliable, accurate, and well managed messaging services to disaster response teams using radiotelegraphy. It is not designed to replace voice or digital modes, but rather, it is intended to offer a very valuable alternative in time of emergency.