Serving as the net control station for an Amateur Radio net can be a rewarding challenge. Net control operators get to be involved throughout the net, and gain valuable skills and confidence. While serving as net control may seem like a formidable challenge, it is actually sort of like riding a bicycle. You may feel a little wobbly when you first try it out, but it doesn't take long before the skills become second nature, and you're able to focus on enjoying the ride. In an emergency, experience with the net control role allows an operator to coordinate the communications of various stations, while focusing on their needs and how to meet them, rather than the now second nature nuts and bolts of the role.
The MORI Tech Net is an especially enjoyable forum for practicing net control procedures. Most hams enjoy talking about technical topics, and most of us have a question our peers may be able to help us with from time to time. Tech Net participants are eager volunteers who have come to have a good time. Some net control operators enjoy the opportunity to inject comments into the discussion during Tech Net, but it's not necessary. A Tech Net net control operator may reasonably choose to simply coordinate the participation of the other stations. Experienced Tech Net operators will be glad to help those who would like to try their hand at net control by providing advice, support, and an opportunity to ease into net control duties.
If you think you might enjoy serving as net control, please see the information near the bottom of this page about contacting Tech Net coordinators or control operators.
Here are the points to cover.
As the stations check in, record their call sign and name, and whether they are "in for full participation" or "in for the count". After the short-time, mobile, portable and DX check-in's die off, open check-in to any and all amateur stations. Once those check-in's die off, you're ready to get started with the participation phase.
Your participation: You may wish to write down the topics that people bring up next to their name on your list of check-in's. This can help you remember what each person has brought up during the net, and remind you of things you want to say to them before their next turn. You may feel free to add brief remarks after each station's turn, and occasionally (more frequently, if there are few check-in's) take a few minutes to offer lengthier remarks. Of course, this sort of thing is entirely optional. If you would prefer to simply call the stations, and let them do all the talking and keeping track of the topic, that's just fine. The orderly transition of control is all that is really required of a net control station. The stations that check in can provide all the remarks and discussion, unless you, as net control, would like to add to it.
Keep it legal: Don't forget to identify your station properly during the net. Failure to properly identify is probably the most common error during nets. The only way you can be certain you will not break the FCC rules about station identification is to identify your station every time you turn control over to another participant. Otherwise, if they are still taking their turn whenever 10 minutes has passed since the last time you identified your station, you are now in violation of FCC regulations. The easy way to avoid this problem is to "call" each station with their callsign, followed by your callsign, each time you turn control over to a participant. Remember that there are no special provisions in the FCC regulations which suspend any of the regulations during nets. All regulations must be honored during the net, the same as at all other times.
Maintain order: Always maintain control over the net. Mostly, this simply means keeping the ball rolling, calling on the participants who have checked in for "full participation" to take their turns when their position on your check-in list is up next. When someone's signal isn't adequate for net participation, you will need to let them know, and give them an opportunity to make improvements. If they aren't able to improve their signal, and don't voluntarily stop trying, you'll have to decide when it's time to move on to other stations. During most sessions of Tech Net, that's about all there is to it.
If someone is behaving disruptively due to not understanding the right way to conduct themselves on the net, politely ask them to take the specific actions which will remedy the problem. If someone is behaving maliciously, try to just ignore them; go ahead and conduct the net as routinely as possible. Do not respond to jeers or insults.
Eventually, you'll have something happen during the net which we won't be able to cover here. For example, there may be a repeater malfunction. The malfunction could be a mere annoyance, or it could mean that the time has come to move the net to an alternate repeater. Or, instead of a malfunction, you could be presiding over Tech Net when something happens that none of us would have been able to predict ahead of time. When faced with that sort of situation, remain calm, take a moment to think, and then do whatever your best judgment suggests. If there's any question about what should happen next, you, as net control, should be providing that guidance. It's OK to ask for the opinions of others (in an orderly fashion), but never just relinquish control by remaining silent.