Leroy R. Grumman Cadet Squadron, NER-NY-153

Civil Air Patrol - The official auxiliary of the United States Air Force

Communications - Overview

 

Mission

To organize and maintain a reliable nationwide point-to-point, air-to-ground and mobile capability for use in search and rescue, civil defense, and disaster relief missions; to augment other existing communications services in the event of floods, fire, tornado, and similar natural disasters and support the US Air Force Survival and Recovery Program.


About CAP Communications

The nation-wide CAP communication system has 840 high-frequency radio stations, 5,000 fixed-land radio stations and 10,000 mobile radios, deployed in CAP units in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition, many CAP members also choose to purchase their own NTIA compliant equipment for their use in the CAP communications system and this creates a unique blend of private and organizationally-owned HF and VHF radio equipment.

The Civil Air Patrol operates primarily on frequencies assigned by the United States Air Force. As a result, all CAP radios must comply with NTIA standards for transmitting and receiving. This requirement also applies to all radios used by other agencies that are permitted by MOU to operate on CAP frequencies. Interoperability with other agencies is also stressed.

Using volunteer operators trained to professional standards, the CAP communications network is a ready force for homeland security and the protection of life and property.  The system operates in support of all CAP missions, including Emergency Services, Aerospace Education and the CAP Cadet Program.

Advance planning and training is a priority of the communications program. Communication managers at all levels develop mission communication plans and manage resources to ensure sufficient assets are available to accomplish the missions of CAP. Because "emergency communication is our business", CAP communicators are obligated to have standard procedures developed and trained for communications under demanding conditions.

Communications - Usage and Procedures

RADIO PROCEDURES DURING NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS

 

CALLING AND COMMUNICATING TECHNIQUES

 

The secret to working quickly and efficiently in an emergency net is to use standard procedures. The techniques presented herein are the most common. It doesn't take much analysis to see that standards and guidelines must be established and then utilized.

 

  Before you key your mike, gather your thoughts about what you are going to say. Many people with radios have a tendency to talk and/or repeat too much.

 

  Say what you need to say without unnecessary repeats. Keep in mind that you must strive to get your message through the first time.

 

  In general, there are five parts to Calling/Communications. The more serious or complex the situation, the more important these procedures become. The information contained herein MUST be practiced until it is second nature.

 

Practicing proper day-to-day radio procedures will make emergency radio procedures automatic and reduces confusion. Another way of saying this is that the secret to working quickly and efficiently in an emergency is to use common approved radio communication procedures and guidelines and practice, practice, practice.

 

1st, you MUST give the radio callsign of the station you are calling. This alerts that station that they are being called and that they should listen to determine who is calling.

 

2nd; say "THIS IS". The called station knows your tactical call follows. This is extremely important in cases where there is a lot of confusion or poor signal conditions.

 

3rd, give your radio callsign. Don't give your first name. Radio callsigns are important and first names are not, egos notwithstanding. Remember, we are trained for radio to radio, NOT person to person, communications.

 

You WILL create confusion if you reverse the first three steps, especially during emergencies and when you are communicating with a dispatcher or people who do not know you. If your practice is the reverse of the "norm", you will not be able to change "on the fly" especially during the added stress brought on by an emergency situation.

 

4th, give your message. Speak clearly. Don't speak too fast especially if the message needs to be written down. Pause after logical phrases. Do not use the word "break" when you pause. It is confusing, wastes time and has other connotations. Merely unkey and pause. If the other station has questions, they should key up and make their request known. This also permits other stations to break in if they have emergency traffic.

 

5th, you can end your conversation with “CLEAR” however it isn’t required.

 

EXCEPTIONS OR VARIATIONS

 

1. It is sometimes permissible to omit the radio callsign designator of the station you are calling, BUT only after communications have been established and no confusion will occur. Don't waste time, by using a superfluous tactical callsign.

 

2. The term "THIS IS" is used to separate the FROM and TO callsigns. If, and only if, confusion will not result, omitting the "THIS IS" phrase is permissible.

 

3. If you are the calling station and you omit your own radio callsign, you can create confusion. In certain situations, such as quick replies between operators, it can be accomplished without confusion. You must NOT use this simplification where messages can be interpreted incorrectly.

 

4. Elimination of the words "OVER" and "OUT" is possible where it doesn't introduce problems. Unkeying after your message implies "OVER". To comply with FCC regulations, you must give your radio call sign when you first start to talk and when you finish your communication. Giving your radio callsign can imply an "OUT" ending. Should giving your callsign cause any confusion, do not hesitate to add the word "CLEAR".


 

RADIO PROCEDURES DURING EMERGENCIES

 

1. Identify yourself at the beginning of each transmission especially where confusion may result if omitted.

 

2. Identification is a requirement of the FCC. According to the FCC, radio users must give their callsign when they first start to talk and when they finish their communication.

 

3. Listen before transmitting. Be sure you are not on the air with someone else.

 

4. Know what you are going to say before you push the mike button; in other words, engage your brain before you put your mouth in gear.

 

5. Hold the transmit button down for at least a second before beginning your message to insure that the first part of your message is not cut off.

 

6. TALK ACROSS THE FACE OF YOUR MICROPHONE. This technique makes the communications more understandable. In other words, hold the face of the microphone almost at a right angle to your face.

 

7. Speak slowly, distinctly, clearly, and do not let your voice trail off at the end of words or sentences. Give each and every word equal force. For some this takes a lot of practice and conscious effort.

 

8. Never acknowledge calls or instructions unless you understand the call or instructions perfectly. If you do not understand, recontact and “say again” the missed traffic.

 

9. When you have understood the message, acknowledge the receipt with the words "copy", "received" or "acknowledged." The word "copy" is preferred.

 

10. The word "break" is never used UNLESS there is an emergency.

 

11. Always acknowledge calls and instructions. Nothing is more disruptive to the smooth flow of communications than dead silence in response to a message. If you cannot copy or respond to the call immediately, then tell the caller to “repeat” or “stand by.” Otherwise, acknowledge each call immediately.

 

12. Under stress, many operators have a tendency to talk too fast. ACCURACY FIRST, SPEED SECOND.

 

13. At times, radio conditions are poor and words must be overly exaggerated to be understandable. In general, speak very slowly and distinctly to carry through static and weak signals.

 

14. If you are relaying a message for another person, be sure you repeat the message exactly, word for word as it is given to you. If it makes no sense to you, get an explanation before you put it on the air. If necessary, refer the message back to the originator for clarification.

 

15. Do not act as a relay station unless Dispatch, or another radio station, asks for a relay – and you can fulfill the requirement with your station.

 

16. When transmitting numbers (house numbers, street & telephone numbers, etc.), always transmit number sequences as a series of individual numbers. Never say numbers in combinations.

 

17. If a proper name needs to be transmitted, try to spell it out using the recognized radio phonetic alphabet. Do not use cute or self-invented phonetics. There is no place for them in official and emergency communications. Avoid using the phrase "common spelling" to reduce confusion.

 

18. ONLY TRANSMIT FACTS. If your message is a question, deduction, educated guess, or hearsay, identify it as such. Do not clutter up the air with non-essential information. Be careful what you say on the air. There are many ears listening. Many facts will be taken out of context even when carefully identified.

 

19. If you do not understand the whole message given to you or if you missed a word out of the transmission, reply with "Say again. "Do not say "please repeat" because it sounds too much like the word "received" when conditions are poor.

 

20. Chewing gum, eating, and other activities with items in the mouth tend to clutter up the clarity of your speech. Don't.

 

21. Avoid angry comments on the air at all costs. Obscene statements are not necessary and are out of place in all communications.

 

22. Be alert and sound alert. Nothing destroys confidence as much as a bored or weary sounding radio operator. If you are tired, get a relief operator.

 

23. During an incident, communications suffers enough confusion without wisecracks and jokes. When providing emergency communications you must remember that it is serious business and should be treated as such at all times.

 

24. Stay off the air unless you are sure you can be of assistance. It does no good to offer advice, assistance, comments or other input to a net unless you can truly provide clarification. It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!

 

25. Always know your location. If you are mobile or portable and moving around, always keep a sharp lookout for landmarks. You must be able, if called upon, the accurately describe your location at any time. This is particularly important if you with a search team or other mobile units.

 

26. When you are on the fringes of communications, (such as in a building or at end communications boundaries edge) look for a receiving "hot spot" site and use it. Don't walk around talking while in a communications fringe area. Repeaters have much more power than your handheld. Even if you have a good signal from a repeater, it does not mean you are good going into the repeater.

 

27. A mobile radio (that is one that is mobile, portable, or airborne) has priority over any other type of radio station AND other forms of telecommunications. This is true in all radio services. Fixed station operators must recognize that a call from a mobile station takes precedence over telephone calls, personal conversations, and other activities. Respond promptly to any call from a mobile station -- even if it is to advise the caller to standby.

 

In conclusion, these few rules and suggestions are intended to help you become a better radio operator. Analyze your present operating methods and try to polish each element so your participation in radio communications is professional and worthwhile.

Communications - Procedure Words

To keep voice transmission as short and clear as possible, radio operators use PROCEDURE WORDS ('PROWORD's) to take the place of long sentences.

PROWORD

Explanation

ALL AFTER

The portion of the message to which I have reference is all that which follows ______.

ALL BEFORE

The portion of the message to which I have reference is all that which precedes ______.

AUTHENTICATE

The station called is to reply to the challenge which follows

AUTHENTICATION IS

The transmission authentication of this message is ______.

BREAK

I hereby indicate the separation of the text from other portions of the message.

BROADCAST YOUR NET

Link the two nets under your control for automatic rebroadcast.

CALL SIGN

The group that follows is a call sign.

CORRECT

You are correct, or what you have transmitted is correct.

CORRECTION

An error has been made in this transmission.  Transmission will continue with the last word correctly transmitted.

An error has been made in this transmission (or message indicated).  The correct version is ______.

That which follows is a corrected version in answer to your request for verification.

DISREGARD THIS TRANSMISSION -- OUT

This transmission is in error.  Disregard it.  This PROWORD shall not be used to cancel any message that has been completely transmitted and for which receipt or acknowledgement has been received.

DO NOT ANSWER

Stations called are not to answer this call, receipt for this message, or otherwise to transmit in connection with this transmission.  When this PROWORD is employed, the transmission shall be ended with the PROWORD "OUT".

EXECUTE

Carr out the purpose of the message or signal to which this applies.  To be used only with the executive mode.

EXECUTE TO FOLLOW

Action on the message or signal which follows is to be carried out upon receipt of the PROWORD "EXECUTE".  To be used only with the delayed executive method.

EXEMPT

The addressees immediately following are exempted from the collective call.

FIGURES

Numerals or numbers follow.

FLASH

Precedence FLASH

FROM

The address designator immediately following indicates the originator of this message.

GROUPS

This message contains the number of groups indicated by the numeral following.

GROUP NO COUNT

The groups in this message have not been counted.

I AUTHENTICATE

The group that follows is the reply to your challenge to authenticate.

IMMEDIATE

Precedence IMMEDIATE.

IMMEDIATE EXECUTE

Actions on the message or signal following is to be carried out on receipt of the word EXECUTE.  To be used only with the Immediate Executive Method.

INFO

The addresses immediately following are addressed for information.

I READ BACK

The following is my response to your instructions to read back.

I SAY AGAIN

I am repeating transmission or portion indicated.

I SPELL

I shall spell the next word phonetically

I VERIFY

That which follows has been verified at your request and is repeated.  To be used only as a reply to VERIFY.

MESSAGE

A message which requires recording is about to follow.  Transmitted immediately after the call.  (This PROWORD is not used on nets primarily employed for conveying messages.  It is intended for use when messages are passed on tactical or reporting nets.)

MORE TO FOLLOW

Transmitting station has additional traffic for the receiving station.

NET NOW

All stations are to net their radios on the unmodulated carrier wave which I am about to transmit.

NUMBER

Station Serial Number

OUT

This is the end of my transmission to you and no answer is required or expected.

OVER

This is the end of my transmission to you and a response is necessary.  Go ahead, transmit

PRIORITY

Precedence PRIORITY

READ BACK

Repeat this entire transmission back to me exactly as received.

RELAY (TO)

Transmit this message to all addressees (or addressees immediately following this PROWORD).  The address component is mandatory when this PROWORD is used.

ROGER

I have received your last transmission satisfactorily.

ROUTINE

Precedence ROUTINE

SAY AGAIN

Repeat all of your last transmission. Followed by identification data means "Repeat _____ (portion indicated)".

SERVICE

The message that follows is a SERVICE message.

SIGNALS

The groups that follow are taken from a signal book.  (This PROWORD is not used on nets primarily employed for conveying signals.  It is intended for use when tactical signals are passed on non-technical nets).

SILENCE
(Repeated three or more times)

Cease transmission on this net immediately.  Silence will be maintained until lifted.  (When an authentication system is in force, the transmission imposing silence is to be authenticated).

SILENCE LIFTED

Silence is lifted.  (When an authentication system is in force, the transmission lifting silence is to be authenticated).

SPEAK SLOWER

Your transmission is at too fast a speed.  Reduce speed of transmission.

STOP REBROADCASTING

Cut the automatic link between the two nets that are being rebroadcast and revert to normal working.

THIS IS

This transmission is from the station whose designator immediately follows.

TIME

That which immediately follows is the time or date time-time group of the message.

TO

The addressees immediately following are addressed for action.

UNKNOWN STATION

The identity of the station with whom I am attempting to establish communication is unknown.

VERIFY

Verify entire message (or portion indicated) with the originator and send the correct version.  To be used only at the discretion of or by the addresses to which the questioned message was directed.

WAIT

I must pause for a few seconds

WAIT -- OUT

I must pause longer than a few seconds.

WILCO

I have received your signal, understand it, and will comply.  To be used only by the addressee.  Since the meaning of ROGER is included in that of WILCO, the two PROWORDS are never used together.

WORD AFTER

The word of the message to which I have reference is that which follows ______.

WORD BEFORE

The word of the message to which I have reference is that precedes ______.

WORDS TWICE

Communication is difficult.  Transmit (transmitting) each phrase (or each code group) twice.  This PROWORD may be used as an order, request, or as information.

WRONG

Your last transmission was incorrect.  The correct version is _____.

 

Communications - International Radio Alphabet

Known as the ITU Recommended Phonetics, or the ITU Standard Phonetics, usage allows concise spoken character transmission:

 

A lpha
B ravo
C harlie
D elta
E cho
F oxtrot
G olf

H otel
I ndia
J uliet
K ilo
L ima
M ike
N ovember

O scar
P apa
Q uebec
R omeo
S ierra
T ango
U niform

V ictor
W hisky
X ray
Y ankee
Z ulu

Communications - Training

Basic Communications User Training (BCUT)

 

      Calling and answering

      Use of call signs

      Operating the radio

      Basic prowords

      Prohibitions

      National communications policies

      Local operating procedures

      Location and use of local repeaters

      Local operating practices

      Local net schedules

      No test is required.


 

Advanced Communications User Training (ACUT)

 

      Network operating procedures

      Formal message preparation and handling

      Familiarity with different radio modes and equipment (e.g. HF, VHF, SSB, FM)

      Working knowledge of CAPR 100-1, Volume 1

      Basic orientation to digital radio operations

      Successful completion of the Advanced Communications User Test (open book)

      A passing score is 80%, corrected to 100%.


 

Radio Operator Authorization (ROA) card

 

      A permit allowing operation of a CAP radio unsupervised

Communications - Safety

Antenna Safety

 

The following general recommendations are made to insure your safety during the installation of an outdoor antenna. The following material should be considered as a supplement to the specific directions supplied by the manufacturer of the antenna.

 

q                Read the manufacturer's directions and this advisory in full before proceeding.

 

q                The installation or dismantling of any antenna near power lines is dangerous. Each year hundreds of people are killed or injured while attempting to install or dismantle an antenna. In many cases, the victim was well aware of the dangers, but did not take adequate steps to avoid the hazards. For your safety and proper antenna installation, read and follow all safety precautions.

 

q                Choose an installation site for safety as well as performance.


All electric power lines, cable lines and telephone lines look alike. To be safe, assume ANY overhead line can kill you.

 

Do not place an antenna where it could potentially fall on to, or blow into a power line. To determine the SAFE DISTANCE follow these steps:


(A). Determine the proposed height of your antenna.
(B). Add the antenna length and the length of your tower mast.
(C). Double the figure.


Your answer will be the minimum safe distance from the nearest power line that you should install your antenna.

 

q                Never use a utility pole as a support for an antenna or guy wire. Never climb a utility pole.

 

q                Outdoor antennas should be grounded with an approved lighting arresting device. The radio should also be grounded to an earth ground to help protect both the radio and its user. Do not use hot water pipes or gas lines as a ground source.

 

q                Height or other restrictions on antennas may apply to your installation depending on your proximity to an airport, or local ordinances.

 

q                Take the time to plan your installation procedure. Each person should have assigned tasks. A foreman or "boss" should be chosen to call out instructions and watch for signs of trouble on big projects.

 

q                Do NOT work on a wet, snowy or windy day or if a thunderstorm is approaching.

 

q                Do NOT use a metal ladder.

 

q                If the assembly starts to drop . . . get away from it and let it fall. Remember that the antenna mast, cable, and guy wires are all excellent conductors of electrical current.

 

q                If any part of the antenna should come in contact with a power line . . . DON'T TOUCH IT OR TRY TO REMOVE IT YOURSELF. Call your local electric utility company immediately. They will remove it.

 

q                Should an electrical accident occur . . . DON'T TOUCH THE PERSON IN CONTACT WITH THE POWER LINE, (remember, stepping near a down electric wire can shock you as far as 30' (+-) away, you too can become electrocuted. Instead, use a DRY board, stick, or rope to push or pull the victim away from the power lines and antenna. Once clear, check the victim. If he has stopped breathing, immediately administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and stay with it. Have someone else call 911 without delay.

 

q                Remember that guyed towers are NOT self-supporting at any height. If your antenna installation includes towering, read the additional advisory on towers.

 

q                Install wire antennas high enough that they will not be "walked into" by people.

 

q                Do not install wire antennas over or under utility lines.

 

q                Do not touch or adjust any antenna while it is being transmitted through. Plastic coated antennas offer no protection in this regard.

 

Cadet Flying


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Emergency Services GTM Training


Balloon Festival

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