Template: Contribute to QSP by NTS

The most basic of transmission formats, the venerable NTS radiogram is simple but powerful, providing accounting, instructions for relay and delivery station operators, and the ability to be carried on voice, CW, and digital circuits. It is optimized for short messages that can be transmitted over slow connections in the period of about two to three minutes. Text is case-insensitive (traditionally rendered in all caps). Sentences are not ended with a period, but a standalone X is used as a STOP, indicating a change in thought, except for questions where QUERY is used in place of "?" Finally, other than /, punctuation is only rarely used and spelled out like COMMA when absolutely required.

NTS Radiogram is a transmission format, independent of presentation, and may be used for transmission of certain standard forms intended for human readers, such as the ICS-213, offering many more options for messaging when two agencies' operators may not directly exchange such messages at the same time on the same circuit.

Here we offer the following template for contribution of content to the QSP newsletter by NTS Radiogram. The bold text shows the parts you will want to change to suit your own message.

NR 1234 R AA1AAA 19 COLUMBUS OH 1316Z MAY 22
QSP Editor



The points of note for the template are:

  • NR, a literal token that is part of transmission procedure meaning number, showing the start of the message.

  • 1234, the message serial number. As the operator at the station of origin, you set the number and just increment it every time you issue one. This ensures that the message can be uniquely identified.

  • R, the precedence. In this case it is "routine" as voiced on phone nets, R as transmitted with CW and digital.

  • AA1AAA, the station of origin. This is almost always your own callsign.

  • 19, the "check." This is a count of the number of "groups" in the text of the message.

  • COLUMBUS OH, the place of origin. This is where the message was originated.

  • 1316Z, the time of origin. This is optional in most cases, required in cases like handling instructions that specify an expiration period, which we do not show in this example. While optional, it is not incorrect to specify it. Note the use of Z, "zulu time," also known as Greenwich Mean Time or UTC-0000. Time must match the date: if rendered in zulu-time, the time and date must correctly reflect the moment in local time when the message was originated. That is, 9 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time on May 22 is 0100Z MAY 23. Likewise, 9 P.M. Eastern Standard Time on January 2 is 0200Z JAN 2. Conversely, 9 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time on May 22 is 1300Z MAY 22. Amateur radio practice sometimes also includes the use of L for "local time," but I discourage it: there is actually a time zone L (UTC+1100). Eastern Daylight Time is Q and Eastern Standard Time is R. It's best always to use Z if you use a time at all.

  • MAY 22, the date of origin. The date that you created the message.

  • QSP Editor..., the addressee. In this case, it is a literal: use this address for sending your message into the QSP newsletter.

  • BT, a literal token as transmitted in CW and digital, and voiced "break" on phone circuits. This is a separator indicating the end of the addressee portion of the message and the start of the text.

  • BUCKEYE COUNTY ... THIS WEEK, message text. Note that it is written in all capitals, does not use punctuation except /, and is written with five groups per line. The five groups per line is a tradition that makes it easy to count the number of groups quickly, so the recipient can confirm that the number of groups matches the check up in the top row.

  • BT, another separator, this now indicating the end of the text and start of the signature section of the message.

  • JOAN THE HAM...AA1AAA, the signature. This indicates whom the message is from and can provide details including how to message back, such as city, state, and ZIP code, county and state, Winlink address, etc.

  • AR, the procedure sign indicating end of message, voiced "end" on phone circuits.