April 27, 2002



PURPOSE AND SCOPE.  These guidelines are provided by the Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club, Inc. as a service for the person who may have heard of county hunting or run across a Net on the ham bands, and want more information on how the activity works and how to get started.  MARAC does not sponsor, provide Net controls, or act as a governing body for any county hunting nets.  Most county hunting Nets are administered by independent county hunters following the guidelines given here, more or less, for the common good and efficiency of those attempting to make county contacts.  The procedures described here are recommended guidelines only and are not intended to define rules for Net operation.  These guidelines cannot cover all situations.  Therefore, good judgment and common sense should always prevail.  At all times, the procedures and Net operation must be in full compliance with FCC rules. 


WHAT IN THE WORLD IS COUNTY HUNTING?  County hunting is a specialized interest within the hobby of amateur radio.  People in the fifty states and many foreign countries strive toward the ultimate goal of making a confirmed two-way radio contact with another Amateur in each of the 3077 counties in the entire United States of America, or hearing all counties in the case of Short Wave Listeners.  Doing so earns a large, beautiful award certificate and plaque from the publishers of CQ Magazine - the coveted United States of America Counties Award (USA-CA).  It would be hard to find a more attractive and impressive award to hang up in one's shack, or an award that would bring more satisfaction and new friends.  Not to worry though, one doesn't have to give up Monday Night Football to get started in county hunting.  The basic USA-CA award is issued by CQ Magazine at several achievement levels, starting at confirming 500 counties on any band(s) and any mode(s).  Many people would qualify simply by sorting through their present QSL cards, since any call at any time and from any operating location can be used for the award.  MARAC also issues a number of similar awards and many independent county hunters have created their own special awards. 


WHO ARE COUNTY HUNTERSYoung, old, women, men, paper chasers, rag chewers, mobiles, SSB, CW - in short, a cross section of amateur radio itself.  Some people prefer to put counties on the air for others, especially if their time or work has them traveling the highways and byways.  A majority works the mobiles for counties from their home stations, and some do both.  County hunters have established a few net frequencies for purpose of county hunting, but any contact on any amateur frequency can be used.  County hunters in general have become one big family. 


WHERE DOES ONE FIND THIS STRANGE BREED OF HAMSThe SSB and CW Nets are active in varying degrees every day of the year.  The 20-meter SSB Net on 14.336 MHz and the 20-meter CW Net on 14.056.5 MHz are the mainstays of daily activity, but operation may move to 40 meters for closer in contacts and difficult conditions.  On rare occasions 75 meters is used.  The Nets are directed by a Net Control Station to help the mobile stations giving out the counties, and to give everyone, both mobile and fixed stations, and a fair chance at working each county.



THE USA-CA COUNTY AWARDSponsored by CQ Magazine, the United States of America County Award (USA-CA) is a one time award, usually the first county hunting award attempted.  The basic certificate is available for working 500 counties in any of the 50 states, with SSB, CW, or any combination of modes and bands.  Award upgrades in the form of seals are available in increments of 500 counties with certain numbers of states required, until the goal of all counties is reached.  The award is also available on an SWL basis.  An optional walnut wood and brass plaque is awarded for finishing all 3077 counties for an additional fee.

All contacts for the award must be two-way (one-way for SWL's of course) and confirmed, usually on a QSL card or a Mobile Reply Card (MRC) a special county hunter confirmation card printed especially for that purpose.  To organize the record keeping task, CQ Magazine, and other vendors listed, offer the United States of America County Award Record Book which lists all the counties, has room for entering contact information for each county.  The book may be used for the initial application for the USA-CA award, or the contact information may be submitted by computer.  The preferred method for electronic submission is to insert a log file containing all 3077 contacts in the body of the e-mail as text.  DO NOT use an attachment unless unavoidable.  All cards confirming contacts must be verified by two hams, A random sample of confirmations will be requested for further verification by the CQ Awards Custodian.  If submitting by e-mail, the application, requested sample of cards and the witness statement must be sent by regular mail.  The award can be endorsed for all contacts SSB, CW, or other options as long as the applicant has QSL cards or MRCs to support the endorsement.  Contacts via repeaters, satellites, moon-bounce and phone patches are not allowed, but all other contacts using any calls, locations or dates are valid.  The complete rules governing the program are included in the USA-CA Record Book and should be read carefully.  Official rules are found at http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/usacarul.html.

Earning the award for working all counties is a major accomplishment, but it should be noted that the basic award is fairly easily reached.  While a few hams have worked all counties in as little as a year of intensive activity, a more typical period might be 2 - 5 years.  Double logging of contacts made after April 1, 1985, is not acceptable for the USA-CA Award.  So called 'team contacts' wherein one person acknowledges a signal report and another returns a signal report while both amateur call signs are logged, are NOT valid for USA-CA; acceptable contacts can be made with only one station at a time.  Such contacts however will be accepted for purposes of MARAC Awards, except for the YL award.  The double logging of contacts on CW is NOT recommended.

Awards for collecting all the counties one or more times are sponsored by MARAC.

WHAT IS MARAC?  The Mobile Amateur Radio Awards Club (MARAC) was established in the 1970’s to provide additional awards beyond the USA-CA award.  There are so many awards that you can pick whatever suits you.  You can work toward collecting all the counties multiple times, or working YL’s, teams of OM/XYL’s, big rigs, call prefixes, all bands and many more.  The complete list of awards is found at http://marac.org/award.htm.  MARAC does not require confirmation of contacts for most awards.

MARAC awards require direct two-way radio contacts between licensed amateurs.  Valid contacts must include an exchange of signal reports or other information between the two stations.


WHAT ARE THE U.S. COUNTIESAlthough we know counties as political - geographical entities larger than cities but smaller than states, there have been some changes and irregularities in county designation over the years.  A few counties have been absorbed by other, added, or changed to the status of Independent Cities.  Currently there are 3077 counties, but that could change in the future.  Both the four Federal Judicial Districts of Alaska, and the five major islands of Hawaii, are considered counties.  Independent Cities that do not reside within a county DO NOT count for a county.  In addition to a list of the regular counties in each state, a list of the 40 or so Independent Cities, and the counties for which they apply, is also in the USA-CA Record Book.  Sometimes a mobile station will park on a county line and run two counties at the same time.  Then, a single contact will count for both counties, provided that both are confirmed with a QSL or MRC.  For QSL cards that do not mention their county, the Post Office publication #65, the National Five-Digit ZIP code and Post Office Directory may be helpful.


DEFINITION OF A COUNTY LINE - A county-line is that legally defined boundary separating two geographic and/or administrative regions.  The best evidence of the location of a county-line is the marker permanently placed beside a highway.  The marker will be assumed to be correctly placed for county hunting purposes, except for those at wet lines.  Other devices may be found on secondary roadways, such as, a cattle gates/cattle guards, or a monument placed in the fence line.  Frequently, too, changes in the composition of the roadway surface are an indication of county boundaries.  For county hunting purposes, when no other means of identifying a county line is available, these markers may be used.  With the degradation of GPS having been turned off on 1 May 2000, GPS may be useful as an aid in locating county-lines.  While the accuracy of GPS is now a nominal +/- 20 meters, it may be relied upon only when other markers and evidence are not apparent.


A county-line may be run with credit being given for both counties.  A part of the vehicle must be in each of the counties.  Thus, a county-line may not be credited if the mobile is in motion.  A county-line may be "wet"; that is, a watercourse (river, lake, water reservoir, creek, brook, or stream) may cover the legally described boundary.  A wet line may be run for county-hunting credit as long as the County Line can be located as described above and can be run SAFELY.
Three and four county lines may not be run simultaneously for county-hunting credit.

Mobile operators are reminded that the integrity of all parties concerned is at stake.  If one is engaged in a specific goal, for example, USA-CA or working all county-lines, and contact is made knowingly to be in error both parties may suffer accusations of dishonesty.  "KEEP IT HONEST - MAKE IT FUN!"

RECORDS MAINTAINED BY THE MOBILE - The mobile operator has an important responsibility to log each contact.  The stations worked may be asking for a written confirmation of that contact.  Some mobiles log with a tape recorder and later transfer the log to paper or computer.  Other mobiles prefer to log directly on a paper log.  Whatever the method a written log is a necessity. 



When you don't know what is going on the Net, DO NOT talk - listen!  Never ask, "What's the County?”  Wait for the frequent announcements.  During the course of a typical run, the mobile's call sign and the county will be announced a number of times If you have a question for the mobile, find a suitable frequency and move the mobile off the net for your conversation.  

Assist the Net Control Station (NCS) only when help is requested.  If the NCS asks for help, don't just start transmitting - state your call sign and wait for the NCS to recognize you.

Never cross-talk under Net activity.  Always direct comments to the NCS or Assistant Net Control (ANC) station at the proper time.

When there is no NCS, , the net is in “open session,” the first station to pick up a mobile running should take the responsibility of announcing the mobile's county and state, helping with relays and announcing the next county, if any.

Maintain a high degree of patience and restraint at all time.  Some NCS are new to the hobby, if  complaints are in order because of poor operating practices, offer constructive help.  Never openly lose your temper on the Net.

DO NOT use phonetics when trying to be recognized by the mobile.  Phonetics tend to interrupt the smooth flow of the mobile's run while he attempts to mentally decipher the unusual words into letters of a call sign.  Should the mobile have a problem with your call, you may use phonetics at this time to clarify your call.

DO NOT attempt to make contact after the mobile has been signed out unless the net is in open session and there is no other activity.  When the net is “in session,” ask to move the mobile off frequency during the next break between mobile runs.  INTERRUPTION of the Net for routine contacts must be avoided.  If you need a county not being run, offer to move the mobile off frequency so that all may have the opportunity to work the county.  If you are moved off net frequency, wait until the NCS can check with the next mobile to run to see if they need your county.


Assist the QSL Bureaus and the Awards Custodian by providing a valid address to the MARAC Secretary.  Keep your records current, noting any address or phone number changes, or other information for your MARAC records.



DO YOUR SHARE - Help the county hunting endeavor by serving as NCS, as an ANC station, and/or by taking mobiles off frequency to run their counties.

All stations active on the Net should acquaint themselves with the procedures to be used in their areas to help a mobile in trouble.  I.e., telephone numbers of the State Police, etc.

Stations on the Net should stand by during an emergency unless they are asked to help.  The NCS and ANC stations will ask for help if they need it.

Be sure to thank the newcomers that pick up the Net.  Be careful not to criticize errors they might make because of being new to county hunting.  Encourage them to listen in, help whenever possible, BE COURTEOUS.  We all stumbled in the beginning.


STARTING UP - What is needed in the area of supplies to actually get started hunting counties?  A record book or computer-logging program is needed for a list of the counties in each state, and to keep track of counties worked and confirmed.  Very helpful is a book displaying a map of each state, with the counties outlined and labeled within that state.  Sometimes called a "coloring book," these map books allow the county hunter to color in the counties completed, and give quick reference to which counties have been worked and which are still needed in a given state.  In addition to a supply of personal QSL cards for sending the first time to mobiles, a supply of MRC's is needed.  These are usually sold in multiples of 500 cards, and can be obtained in different color stock if desired for tracking bands, modes or endorsements.  These supplies are sold through the vendors listed.  There are several sources of computerized logging programs suitable for tracking county hunting contacts.  Some computer logging programs will pint MRCs automatically.


County Hunter QSL & MRC Bureaus:


MRCS               mailto:kn6zb@juno.com                      
P. O. Box 1
Oak Run, CA  96069-0001


COUNTY HUNTER NETS - The easiest was to find people who are also interested in county hunting are the county hunter nets. 




75 Meters



40 Meters



20 Meters

14.336 *

14.056.5 *

15 Meters



10 Meters



* Primary Nets


The 20-meter Nets operate from early morning until the band goes out late in the afternoon or evening.  The 20-meter CW Net is more active on weekends, so if activity isn't heard on weekdays, try the weekend.  If the Net isn't immediately heard when tuning to 14.336, don't assume that the Net is not in session.  The Net control station or a mobile running his county may be too close for you to hear - particularly on 20 meters.  Don't jump in without listening first.  These Nets exist primarily to provide mobile stations a "protected" frequency to run their counties, and a place for fixed stations to meet and work the mobiles.  The Net is run by a Net Control Station (NCS), and an assistant net control (ANC).  The assistant is usually in a different geographical part of the country than the NCS to facilitate radio coverage of the entire U.S. Actual contacts are done "contest style" - that is, a rapid exchange and verification of signal reports, and then on to the next station that wants to work the mobile station in that county.  You will also notice that we do not use phonetics in the call signs.  The reason for this is obvious if you listen to the net for a while.  The use of phonetics slows down the cadence and rhythm of the mobile operator.  The mobile operators train their ears to hear calls and cannot take the time to translate what they are not used to hearing.  When you first start working the mobiles you will notice that your call, without phonetics, will be recognized immediately in just a few days.  Fixed stations do not usually run their county on the Nets unless there is no mobile activity.


CONFIRMATIONS - A most important step in the awards process is to obtain written confirmation of the contact.  All contacts for CQ's USA-CA Award and some MARAC awards require confirmations to be in the hand of the applicant at the time of award application.  Electronic confirmations by e-mail are also acceptable for MARAC awards but NOT for CQ’s USA-CA Award.  For up to the minute details, request the Awards Information Packet from the Awards Custodian.  Written confirmations are initiated by those needing the confirmations.  Instead of sending your personal QSL card to confirm every contact, most county hunters only send their personal QSL card the first time they contact a mobile, and use special printed reply cards to confirm all other contacts.  These cards are called Mobile Reply Cards (MRC's) and have room for listing several contacts on a single card.  A common mistake in filling out the cards by beginners is to put your call in the wrong place at the top of the card.  The MRC is from the mobile to you, so put his call as the FROM station and your call as the TO station.  Also, be sure to put the signal report the mobile gave to you, rather than the other way around.  See the example below The completed MRC is then sent to the mobile who put the counties out.  He will verify the contact data in his log, sign the card at the bottom for all the contacts if correct, and return it to you in the SASE that you provide.  Note: Many MARAC awards do not require confirmation of contacts which makes getting many of the really nice awards a little easier.


You are expected to furnish a SASE for the return of the signed confirmation.  The mobile gets many requests for contact confirmations, if you don't include return postage you may not get the cards back It is also common courtesy to include a QSL card the first time you request the mobile to sign your MRCs.



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1. Call of the Mobile Station.
2. Your Call here. The card is from the mobile  to you.
3. Date of the contact in MM/DD/YY format.
4. Time of actual contact in UTC (only)
5. Band of operation
6. The Signal report you received from the   mobile.
7. State the mobile is in.
8. The county the mobile is in.
9. Leave blank. This is where the mobile will  sign.


The MRC should be completely filled out except for the signature



 An alternative to sending MRCs directly to the mobile station is to use a QSL bureau (See above).  You bundle up your sorted cards and send them to the bureau with the processing fee.  The Bureau processes your cards along with everyone else's cards and sends batches of unsigned cards to the mobiles regularly.  The mobile signs everyone's cards after verifying the data and sends them back to the bureau, where they are returned to you.  This takes longer than sending the cards directly to the mobile, but is usually more economical, especially with large numbers of cards. 


COMPUTER LOGGING - The following information is provided as a service.  NO promise is made or intended regarding programs.  Use of any of these programs is at "your own risk" MARAC does not sponsor or guarantee them in any way.  Logging your contacts on a computer can be very helpful in tracking multiple operators, generating reports, printing MRC's and making "NEEDS" list.  Some of the MARAC Awards require their own special application and Log sheet, contact the Awards Custodian for these, but most MARAC Awards require only an application and a log sheet.  Some of the programs in use by County Hunters include:


KWIKLOG Classic - King Kong Pulishing - 4518 W. Haney Road, Rathdrum, Idaho, 83858


ZIP CODE/COUNTY - Hardy Data Systems, P.O. Box 7304, Tifton, GA 31793 Look up county from Zip Code


KWIKLOG WEBSITE - Download a free "Lite" version of Kwiklog, tracks USA-CA only.  There are many other very good Logging and Database programs available.  These are just a few, please contact these suppliers for system compatibility and pricing. 



For membership information please visit:




NET OPERATIONS - The achievement of the various awards is greatly facilitated through the use of a controlled Net.  Mobile stations that wish to run counties and fixed stations that wish to work counties, operate on the selected frequency.  These procedures apply to two-way SSB operation.  CW contacts on the SSB are disruptive and are discouraged; moreover, cross-mode contacts are not valid for USA-CA or MARAC awards.  The following describes typical procedures used on the SSB County Hunter Nets.  Actual procedures and techniques may vary according to the experience of the participants and the NCS.  The priority of all the Nets is emergency traffic.  The second priority is running mobiles in counties.  These activities take priority over other Net activity.  The operation of the Net usually follows a regular cycle of events and is similar to a DX net operation:


1. The NCS asks for mobile station check-ins, assembles a list of mobiles, what county they are in, and whether they are ready to run.

2. The mobile to be run is announced slowly and clearly by both the NCS and the ANC.  The call should be also announced phonetically.

3. The mobile runs his county, making as many contacts unassisted as he can in the allotted time.

4. Both NCS and ANC check for any stations that need help in working the mobile (called relaying.)  They can help with the call but not the RST’s.

5. The NCS announces the station and county that has just been run, and returns to step two with the next mobile on the list. 

The NCS runs the Net, and he or she is the one that decides the order in which the mobiles are run.  The NCS will announce the mobile's call and the county he is running.  The mobile will then say, "This is <callsign> in Cass, Texas, QRZ.”  Stations wishing to work the mobile give their call sign much like calling a DX stations and listen to see to whom the mobile station returns.  The mobile exchanges signal reports with that station, both acknowledge the report by repeating what they heard.  Then the mobile says QRZ for the next contact.  Different mobiles have somewhat differing operating styles, but most are a variation of this pattern. 


NET CONTROL STATION (NCS) - a Volunteer, preferably a fixed station, who coordinates activities on the Net in an orderly and controlled manner.

ASSISTANT NET CONTROL (ANC) STATIONS - One or more fixed stations that can hear signals from those parts of the country not heard by the NCS, and who will assist the NCS in the operation of the Net.

MOBILE STATIONS - Mobiles that have checked into the Net for the primary purpose of running counties.  To qualify as a mobile, the station must be independent of external power supplies and antenna systems, i.e., must be capable of moving away without making any connection, disconnection or changing the antenna in any way.

WORKING STATIONS - Any other stations on the Net. 


PRIVILEGES OF THE NET CONTROL STATION - The NCS and ANC station(s) HAVE NO SPECIAL PRIVILEGES.  They are in the position of being able to initiate mobile contacts that are not available to other stations on the net, and they should be extremely careful NOT to abuse their position.  THIS APPLIES TO QUESTIONS as well as county contacts.  The control stations should neither initiate contacts with mobiles who are not running, nor ask mobiles for special counties, unless the same privilege is extended to other Net participants.


WARM-UP SESSION - County Hunters will begin to gather on the Net frequency before the formal start up of the Net.  A preliminary period is usually necessary to establish control of the frequency.  County Hunters should never attempt to gain control of the frequency or cause interference if it is already in use.  A nearby frequency should be selected temporarily until the Net frequency is clear. 


DETERMINING THE NET CONTROL STATION - The NCS is always determined on a volunteer basis.  Net Control may be assumed for any length of time but a minimum of one or two hours helps to maintain continuity and reduces the loss of the time associated with changing the NCS.  The NCS should give some advance notice of when control will be relinquished; this alerts others, who may wish to assume NCS, so they can be prepared.


STARTING UP NET OPERATIONS - Then new NCS should announce - "This is <callsign> assuming Net Control of the Mobile Emergency and County Hunters Net.  My name is <name> and I am located in <county and state>.  The NCS should also make a short statement on the purpose of the net and how the listener can obtain more information about the Net.  For example;  By sending a blank E-Mail message to info@marac.org or information@countyhunter.com.  The NCS should stress the emergency nature of the net and that a double break on the net constitutes an emergency and will bring the net to a stop so that the emergency can be handled.  When the NET is not handling emergencies, the time is spent working counties.  Be careful about repeating this too often as it can become tiresome and wasteful of Net time.  The NCS will then ask for one or two stations to assist as Assistant Net Control.  An ANC should be in a geographical location that allows him/her to hear those parts of the country that the NCS cannot hear. 


CALL FOR MOBILES - The NCS should periodically put out a call for new mobile check-ins. Mobiles are recognized and added to the list in the order in which they are heard.  The NCS should ask the ANC station to put out a call for new mobile check-ins.  The NCS should repeat the calls of those mobiles.  Mobiles new to the net should be briefly told how the list operates, and given an estimate of the wait involved before they will be called to run. 


WHEN MOBILE MAY CHECK-IN - Mobiles should check into the Net when the NCS calls for check-ins. Alternately, the mobile should break the NCS or ANC station, between mobile runs and ask to be checked in.


NCS PRIORITIES - The NCS should use the following priorities in handling the business of the Net:

1. Emergency traffic of course.

2. Assisting mobiles to run counties.

3. Information breaks to announce a mobile running off Net frequency.  Such a mobile will have few, if any, contacts until an announcement is made on the net.

4. Any request from a mobile to be moved off frequency.  Mobiles wanting a contact for a transmitted county credit should try to do so by working the mobile that is running.  Ask the NCS for a contact only when you are having difficulty hearing the other mobile and you are willing to be moved off frequency to give everyone an equal chance of a contact.  If no one moves you then the NCS will give you a contact.

5. Other questions and comments have no priority, and will be asked for only when there is not a mobile ready to run.  If you must ask a mobile a question, then move them off frequency at the next break between mobile runs. 


KEEPING A LIST OF MOBILES - One of the very important duties of the NCS is to keep a sequential list of mobiles in the order in which they should be run.  Suggestions for maintaining the list are as follows:


Start with a list of mobiles arranged in the order in which they will be called to run their counties.  Announce the next two or three to run, whenever possible.

When a mobile runs a county, move the call of that mobile from the beginning of the list to the end of the list.

Add new mobile check-ins to the end of the list.  They should never be placed ahead of mobiles who are already listed and waiting to run.

If a mobile runs off Net frequency leave his call in place on the list.  Such a run off frequency does not count as a turn on the net.

If a mobile does not respond when called, leave him in his place on the list calling him in turn.  If, after a reasonable period of time, that mobile does not respond set him aside on the list until he is heard from again.  There are many mobiles who move between 20 - 40 and/or CW or who are in and out of the vehicle because of their occupation.  A mobile should NEVER lose his turn because he was not available to run at the time called.

Don't give priority to mobiles on special trips or on county lines.  Do, be especially attentive to their needs for moving off frequency, etc.


STARTING A MOBILE RUN - The NCS calls the mobile and determines that the mobile is ready to run a county.  If the NCS doesn't have a good copy on the mobile, the NCS may as the ANC station or some other station with a good copy to handle the run.  Assuming that the NCS is handling the run the NCS announces, "We have <call-sign> who is going to run <county and state> for the Net.”  The ANC station is asked to repeat the announcement.

The NCS then starts the mobile run by saying, "<call-sign> this is <call-sign>, your starting time is <time> and your are <signal report> from me.”  The mobile then responds.  The NCS acknowledge the report from the mobile and says, "Go ahead and run <county and state> for the Net, let me know when you are ready for relays.”  The NCS should not relay unless the mobile asks for relays. 


THE MOBILE RUN - After receiving a starting time from the NCS, the Mobile has the option of putting out a general call or a directed call to selected stations or groups of stations.  A typical call may be; "This is <call-sign> in <county and state>, any mobiles or DX, QRZ.”  ( We should note at this point that the Q-sign "QRZ" is a trigger and should be the last thing said.  When the listening stations hear QRZ, they will begin calling the mobile at that point.)  The mobile acknowledges a calling station with the call sign and a signal report.  The calling station, in turn, acknowledges the signal report and replies to the mobile with a signal report.  The mobile acknowledges the returned report and puts out another "QRZ.”  Like this:

Mobile: "W0ABC you're 5-5"

Fixed: " got a  5-5, you’re  5-7."

Mobile: " 5-7 back, QRZ"

When the pace slows the mobile re-announces “This is <call> in <county –state> QRZ.  The cycle is repeated until an exchange has been made with all the calling stations or until the allotted time has expired. 


RELAYS - Sometimes the mobile signal is so weak or the QRM so bad that the county hunter can hear the mobile but can't work it unassisted.  As the run progresses, the NCS running the mobile should be  alert to those stations that are calling but not successful in making a contact.  The NCS and ANC should be sensitive to the desires of many stations that DO NOT want relays.  A relay list can be started if you know that the calling station will accept a relay.  Otherwise list them only if they respond to the calls for relays.  The Mobile should ask for relays when he hears no more calls or when there is interference.  The NCS may break in and offer to help with relays.  The proper time to make this request is a matter of judgment and should be delayed as long as reasonable, because direct contacts are usually competed more efficiently than relays.  The NCS and Assistant NCS will put out a call for relays, "I have W1KKP and W6RXY, anyone else for <county and state> call W0ABC.”  After the list is developed, each station is individually relayed one by one until the mobile has worked all the stations he can hear, or as long as time permits.  It is important to note that the NCS cannot help with the signal report, but simply acts as a coordinator getting the fixed and mobile stations together. 


Example of relay:

NCS or ANC: "W5XYZ, go "

Fixed: "Mobile is 2-2, 2-2, 2-2, over"

NCS or ANC: "over"

Mobile " got a  2-2, you are also 2-2, 2-2, 2-2, over"

NCS or ANC "over"

Fixed: " 2-2 back"


Usually the fixed station is given two tries to get the signal report through before going on to the next station.  Double relays are sometimes necessary if ANC station has poor copy on the mobile.  They are easy if done properly.  The ANC station calls for double relays and repeats the calls as he hears them.  The primary station makes a list of the calls as they are repeated by the ANC station.  When the list in completed, the NCS feeds the calls to the mobile one at a time and the ANC tells them to go.  Both the NCS and ANC must work together to verify that the RST’s were received correctly.  A calling station can request the mobile go to 40 meters for shorter distance contacts, as many mobiles carry 40 meter antenna resonators.  The calling station should have already found a suitable frequency and tells the NCS.  The calling station is expected to go immediately to 40 meters and meet the mobile at the announced frequency.  Occasionally the list of mobiles waiting to run may get so long that an alternate frequency is started to two mobiles can run simultaneously.  Announcements of runs are made on both frequencies.

Request for a 'direct' contact during relays should  not be done; relay time should be used to aid those stations actually needing relays.  Direct contacts should be made before relays, or can then be made on the mobile's last call, time permitting. 


WHEN THE TIME LIMIT IS REACHED - Once a time limit has been established, usually 10 minutes it is important that it be strictly adhered to.  Time limit may be shortened if the list of mobiles waiting to run is long.  The mobile and the station running the mobile share the responsibility for terminating the run when the time limit is reached.  The Net is returned to the NCS at the end of the run.  The NCS should ensure that the number of "Last Calls" is limited to no more than three calls if time has expired, particularly if the net is extremely busy. 


MOVING A MOBILE OFF FREQUENCY - The NCS may ask for a volunteer station to move a mobile off the Net frequency to complete a run or make a run..  These off frequency runs should be handled with care.  The need for them should be minimized by efficient operation of the Net and special effort must be exercised to be sure that the alternate frequency is available and reasonably clear.

A mobile may request to be moved off frequency between other runs, if he/she cannot wait for his turn on the list.  Someone will be asked to assist with the move by finding an open frequency and helping with relays.  Occasionally, a mobile may move themselves off frequency by working the running mobile and as part of the RST report announce that they are moving to a certain frequency to put out a county.  By using the last method the mobile may or may not have any help for relays.


WHEN THE MOBILE RUNS OUT OF THE COUNTY - If the mobile has been running only a short time, the NCS may elect to continue the run in the new county.  In that event, the new county should be announced by both NCS and ANC before proceeding. 


SIGNING THE MOBILE OUT - At the end of the run the station running the mobile will check the mobile out by "W5XYZ this is W6ARK, your sign out time is <time>.  The ANC then announces, once more the mobile's call, county, and returns the net to the NCS.  After being signed out, the mobile should not respond to any further calls from stations desiring the county without the NCS's approval.


BREAKING STATIONS - The proper time to break the Net depends upon the urgency of the information being sought or passed.  The following priorities should be used when breaking the Net:

An emergency is usually indicated by a double break or "BREAK - BREAK" and may be used at any time to break the Net for a valid emergency.  The NCS needs to be polite to strangers who use this unknowingly.

A break to announce a mobile running off frequency is usually indicated by "Information.”  It is high priority and can be made during a mobile run but discretion should be used to use natural break points during the run.  One way to accomplish an information break is to work the mobile and state the information as part of the RST reply.


CALLS, COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS - During periods when there are no mobiles ready to run the NCS can keep the frequency occupied by announcing "Any calls, comments or questions?  W0ABC” This is a general invitation for any station make a general comment, ask a question, inquire about log information, announce planned trips etc.  Direct contacts with anyone other than the NCS should be made by moving the station off net frequency.  This is requested by saying “Move a mobile (or station).”  When several stations respond, a call list is developed by the NCS in the same way as the mobile list.  Stations are acknowledged in the order that they are heard and asked what they need.  The NCS should limit the number of stations on the list so that a frequent check for mobiles can be made.  A mobile wanting to run a county always takes priority.  The NCS should alternate with the ANC station in taking additional lists, if necessary. 


KEEPING THE FREQUENCY CLEAR - This is primarily the responsibility of the NCS and the ANC stations.  Unless so requested by the NCS, all other stations should refrain from attempting to clear the frequency.  Any station attempting to clear QRM should keep in mind that he or she is a representative of the Net and that his or her actions reflect on the Net.  The rule is UNFAILING COURTESY.  The other station's conduct has no bearing on ours: WE MUST BE COURTEOUS AT ALL TIME:


1. Don't tell the interfering station that it is on a Net frequency unless it actually is.  If he is 1 KHz below tell him so.  That will reduce arguments and the cases of a station moving from 1 KHz below to 1 KHz above.

In the case of deliberate interference, the only measure to be taken, after first asking the station to QSY, it to completely ignore the interference.  This will be difficult, but if let alone the interfering station will usually cease.  On some occasions, the best answer is to temporarily move the Net away from the interference and then to move back when the QRM clears up.

Don't tell an inquiring station the frequency is in use unless it actually is.  "In Use" means it is being transmitted on and just listening does not constitute use.  If the Net goes into open session and Net activity ceases then the frequency becomes available to all stations. 


RECORDS MAINTAINED BY NCS - Each NCS should maintain a log of mobiles run during the period of his/her control The log should include the date, starting and ending times of the mobile run, mobile call sign and the county and state.


REQUEST FOR A NEW NET CONTROL - The active NCS should give some advance notice of his intent to give up the Net, i.e., "I will run two more mobiles and then ask for a new Net control.”  Then, when the NCS must give up the Net, a call for a new NCS is made.

In the transition from one NCS to a new NCS, it is of the utmost importance to maintain the continuity of the Net operation and the rotating sequence of active mobiles.  The departing NCS should pass a list of the active mobile's, their approximate locations, and the order they should be run to the new NCS.  Then new NCS should maintain the previous mobile list but before proceeding, a call for additional mobiles should be made. 


PUTTING THE NET INTO OPEN SESSION - If no one volunteers for the new NCS, the NCS should announce his intention to place the Net into open session.  He should read the list of active mobiles, make an effort to get the first mobile station started, then announce that the Net will be in open session and sign himself clear.  Stations listening on the Net frequency should write down the list of mobiles as read by the NCS so that it may be passed on to a new NCS should one pick up control of the Net.  After the mobile station has exchanged reports with the stations he can hear he should relinquish the frequency to the next mobile on the list, and so on.


CW NET OPERATING PROCEDURES - Many of the procedures on the CW Net are similar to those on the SSB Net.  Therefore, this section will deal primarily with the differences.  The typical operating speed is about 20 - 25 WPM but some stations will slow (QRS) down as needed.  Also, the NCS should transmit at speeds above 20 WPM.  It is recommended that the word "NET" should be used as many times as possible, i.e., "The Net has just run K5XYZ/M in Jones, TX.”  This will let other stations know we are running a Net.  EMPHASIZE NET AT ALL TIMES.  The use of the identifier "CHN" or "CH NET" (County Hunters Net) as frequently as possible helps this. 


FREQUENCIES AND TIMES - The CW Net meets at 14.056.5 KHz.  It can be recognized by the use of the CHN signature.  7.039.5 is used as a calling frequency for stations that cannot make contact of 20 meters. 

The Net is most active on holidays and weekends, but is generally active nearly every day.  It usually meets for at least an hour or two beginning at about 1400Z every day.  Mobile trips are frequently announced and announcements are given as to the mobiles status.  The Net usually remains in session all day Saturday and Sunday, if there is mobile activity.  It is often open longer during weekends if a mobile is on a pre-announced trip. 


QNC - Please copy the following information

QRT - Station is closing down

QSX - I will be listening

QNI - Used by NCS to invite any station to check in

QRV - Are you ready to copy, run, etc. or I am ready

QTA - Please cancel or unable to copy

QNO - Station is leaving the Net

QRX - I will call you or I will standby

BK - Break the Net for info or question.

QNZ - Please zero beat this frequency.

QSP - I relay or please relay.

NIL - Nothing is heard.

It is suggested that you obtain a copy of the ARRL QN signals and keep them posted at your station or in your vehicle for handy reference as you travel.

NET CONTROLS - The CW Net seldom has a lengthy list of mobiles.  Therefore, the need for the duties of a formal NCS is somewhat reduced.  On occasion the Net will run reasonable effectively without a recognized NCS.

It should be noted that the Net runs considerably more efficiently with an NCS.  All participants should assist the NCS when requested, and to take over as NCS when necessary. 


KEEPING A LIST OF MOBILES - Unlike the SSB Net, a regular rotating list of mobiles is not usually kept on the CW Net.  Rather, each mobile checks in (QNI) with the NCS when in a new county and ready to run (QRV).  At times there will be more than one mobile ready to run.  The NCS will acknowledge the mobiles in the order they were heard, tell each what order they will run in, and inquire if they wish to wait their turn (QRX) or move off Net frequency (QSY).  When a mobile QSY's and runs off frequency, he is removed from the list of those waiting to run and should again QNI with the NCS when ORV in a different county.  Because of the fewer number of CW mobile active on the Net at any given time, the 10 minutes per run limitation are optional.  During time of heavy mobile activity, such as convention time, the NCS may impose a time limit at his discretion.  However, the average run on CW requires less than 10 minutes to complete, unless it is an extremely rare county (Kalawao, 2nd District of Alaska, etc.)


Suggestions for conducting the Net are:


Make a temporary list of mobile waiting to run (QRV).

When a mobile runs a county, remove the call from the list.

Add each new mobile check-in to the end of the waiting list, unless they choose to QSY and run off frequency.

Don't give list priorities to mobiles on special trips or county lines.  Do be especially attentive to their needs or making contacts or moving off frequency. 


MOBILE CHECK-INS - The CW net is quite informal and a lot of initiatives rest with the mobile.  The NCS will usually ask for mobile check-ins after each mobile run.  Another method is to work a mobile that is running and tell he or she that you are QRV.  A third choice, if a rag chew is in progress, is to send BK in a gap in the conversation.  In any event, be sure to indicate that you are mobile. 


Information breaks to announce a mobile running off the Net frequency or a mobile break-in should be given priority.  THAT MOBILE IS LEFT WITHOUT CONTACTS UNTIL SUCH AN ANNOUNCEMENT IS MADE ON THE NET THAT A MOBILE IS QRV. 


Often when you tune to the Net frequency, you won't hear any Net activity.  Don't be discouraged; that can be because there is no NCS and/or no mobile running at the time.  Just call "CHN de K5XYZ/m.”  If the Net is active, someone should answer. 


Follow the instructions given by the station.  If none are given, go ahead and run your county.  The "CHN" followed by the station's call is also used by fixed stations that want to inquire on the status of the Net. 


RUNNING A COUNTY - The procedure for running a county is essentially identical to that on the SSB Net.  The NCS will announce the run, exchange signal reports with the mobile, and tell the mobile to go ahead (GA).

Before a mobile is to QSY off Net frequency to run, the NCS will announce his county and frequency.  The NCS should then ask the other mobile waiting to run on Net frequency if he needs the QSYer's county before he/she moves off frequency.  Since both mobiles will be running at the same time on different frequencies, this gives them a change to work each other for their county.  The mobile then calls, "CQ CHN de K5XYZ in Jones, TX QRZ.”  Both stations repeat the signal reports that they receive.  At the end, the mobile can ask the NCS for any QSP's.  If there is no NCS, the mobile can call "any QSP?”  A couple of times and hope that someone steps in to help.  At the end of the run, the mobile announces the next county his ETA.  If unsure of the next county or time interval, the mobile simply sends "QNI next.”  The NCS relays this announcement on the Net. 


On a QSY to other bands, either station can initiate the calling, although it is much better if the fixed station calls the mobile.  In most cases the mobile will follow the same calling procedure used on the 20 Meter CHN. 


RUNNING OFF THE NET FREQUENCY - To run off the Net frequency, the mobile announces that "K5XYZ/M will QSY up (or down) 2 for Smith, TX.”  The announcement should be repeated by the NCS or some other station on the NET.  The mobile then moves (usually down) to the first clear frequency at least 2 KHz away as not to interfere with the Net.  14070 KHz and above is usually busy with RTTY, AMTOR and Packet modes.  The NCS should recommend the mobile "QSY Down."

 NET INFORMATION - It would help the Net operation if a mobile when checking in would advise the NCS of his/her intent to either standby on the Net frequency or QSY to another band/frequency.  If the mobile is going to QSY then the band/frequency must be given to NCS so it can be announced.  It would be helpful if the mobile would advise NCS of the band capabilities when checking in.  The mobile also needs to let NCS know when the mobile is quitting for the day.