The HF WAS (Worked All States) and DX (Distance) Nets are a good way to work on your WAS and other awards. Most nets have their own, often extensive, awards program as well. And the nets give you somebody to talk to! While this guide is primarily for SSB nets, there are CW, AM and packet data nets as well.
My best advice is to listen to at least one entire session of a net before checking in yourself. You will learn the procedure and flow of the net. Most nets meet every day, so there is no hurry to check in. It will be there tomorrow! Don't check in and ask what the net is about. Know that before you check in!
Typically the Net Control Station, NCS, will give a preamble discussing the basics of net operation. Most nets have web sites with information as well. Then the NCS begins taking check-ins, typically by call district based on the date. That way all stations get a chance of being first on the list. Some may give priority to DX or top award holders.
When your district comes up, listen for a "hole" between the other stations checking in with the NCS, and give your call once phonetically. You may give you state and name, and perhaps a membership number (if you have one) depending on the net. As stations check in, write down their number, call, state, name and other information. Also indicate their signal strength (readability and signal) and make a note if it's a station you wish to work.
When it becomes your turn, you call the station (or stations if you get more than one call) you wish to work. And be listening for stations calling you. When you are new to a net, you will get lot of calls! Log contacts worked with stations call, state, sent and received signal reports, UTC time and date, and perhaps a membership number or name. If in doubt, write it down!
Most nets require you to exchange signal reports. That is, how well you are receiving the other amateur radio station. The RS system is the standard used. Also see my signal report page.
The WAS/DX nets are not the place to ragchew. Send your signal report and other required information but not much else! Stations are participating to work the maximum number of stations. Not to hear about your weather or antenna farm. However, after the net officially closes, many stations will hang out and have discussions.
The requirements to become a official member of a net varies. Some require you work all 50 states on the net, others you simply work two or ten others stations with membership numbers. Some are free to join, others may have a small one time or annual fee. The net web site will have all of that information. You do not have to be a member of a net to participate in most nets. Otherwise they would never get new members! Most nets are very patient and welcome new hams to the net.
Another advantage of the WAS/DX Nets is most operate a free QSL bureau. Typically you send about ten SASE's to the buro manager to get started. Put your call in the upper left for filing purposes. Send cards for stations you work on a regular basis. The buro manager sorts them all and mails you a packet of eight or so QSL cards. It's like Christmas! The QSL bureaus saves money and most people on the nets tend to use the bureau. If not, you are a direct QSL and stations will mail you a card to the location listed on the qrz.com website.
Here's a list of popular WAS/DX nets:
|10-10 International||www.ten-ten.org||Ten meters only|
|3905 Century Club||www.3905ccn.com||SSB on 40, 75 and 160, |
CW and data on 80, 40 and 20
|OMISS||www.omiss.net||SSB on 10-160 meters|
|Triple H||www.hhhnet.net||40-meter SSB late|
|Geratol Net||www.qsl.net/geratol||75-meter SSB in the Extra class segment|