CWB Operations

Radio Frequencies

Frequenceis for internal use among CWB and related agencies are to be known among CWB Operators and kept current, but although not secret are not to be disclosed in public forums or to non-CWB personnel without express authorised permission.

Frequencies are chosen according to availability with considerations of propagation, minimising interference, cross mode compatability and multi mode watch where possible, and suitability to emergency use.

General traffic nets are also engaged with public schedules to allow passing of messages to and from radio amateurs and all are encouraged to participate in these nets to be prepared to act as liaisons and relays.


(moved this section from 14349)

In a communications emergency having an area of the band that is less likely to be occupied by long QSO but where also a larger number of stations may be standing by and listening, is a huge advantage. Also having a place where people will go to when there is a communication or wide spread emergency, and be able to find established nets, experienced operators able to handle messages and network with others, is another advantage. Further, being able to have both CW operators who can pass on messages with high speed (e.g. 25WPM or more) and accuracy (see EMCOMMS as to why such operators can handle traffic faster than SSB operators) but also to be able to use SSB because many of those in a disaster area may not know CW, is another big advantage.

It is suggested that for EMCOMMS training and in a real communications emergency, the following frequencies and strategies be used:

14348.5 or higher be used for CW emergency traffic handling.
14348.0 be used for announcements and calling.
14347.0 be used for SSB emergency traffic handling.

Those in life threatening situations are legally allowed in a real emergency to use ANY frequency. Thus, if there is QRM, such stations can legally use 14350.0 USB or CW or even higher. However, those listening on 14347 USB or 14348 or 14349 CW-L will not hear unless they are using CW-U. It is thus recommended that all CW Operators use CW-U for their receivers and listen on 14347.6 CW-U with wide filter (if they wish to hear also USB on 14347.0 USB); or 14348.0 CW-U with wide filter if they wish to hear any calls on 14348 as well as CW traffic and messages on 14348.5-14350.0 (at higher pitch); or 14348.5 CW-U in wide filter if they wish to hear CW traffic and messages on 14348.5-14350.5 but not calls on 14348, and to switch on narrow filter if directly involved in immediate traffic handling.

The 20m Top End can serve as a good inter-regional traffic handling network, dipole antennas are relatively small and do not need to be high: if only a few meters off the ground they will provide strong single-hop signals, if closer to 10m above ground they will provide good long distance communications. A 20m inverted V on a pole 10m high will provide omni-directional good signal coverage, but even an inverted V on a pole only a few meters high will work well single hop.

Those wishing to be prepared for emergencies would do well to see EMCOMMS and print off relevant material, including this page, so as to be prepared in a communication emergency.

Radio Procedures

These are practiced within nets and are standard efficient message handling, prioritising and time saving and are best learnt by listening to or engaging with CWB Operators during such nets. Full QSK in CW is encouraged, short data transmissions. More information on applicable codes and formats may be found at QTC and other relevant pages on VKCW.NET.

Message Format

In order to ensure compatability between CWB, RRI, IARU and other formats as well as compatability between different modes (Data, CW, Voice) the following format is to be used when written as a text file and appropriately transferred to/from any forms:



The above format is the standard norm for CWB handled messages. The following should be noted:

  • ZCZC and NNNN allows automatic RTTY watches to receive messages without erroneous data printed between messages
  • NR in front of message number is optional, the number only may be used
  • W is recommended instead of CK to avoid confusion for non-radio handlers and with other CK methods and is shorter
  • Word count (check) is two digits: total number of words in message body / including address and signature
  • Alternatively if only one digit is given (for CWB use and non-compatible to IARU, ARRL etc) use total address, text, signature
  • A word is counted as any group of characters seperated from any other group by a space or break irrespective of length
  • Filing time is DDHHMMZ where DD is date, HH hour, MM minutes, Z is time zone indicator (Z=UTC) if not local time
  • Filing Month is sent as 3 letters JAN, FEB, MAR, APR, MAY, JUN, JUL, AUG, SEP, OCT, NOV, DEC
  • Year is optional and is normally last 2 digits of the year
  • The = on a new line is essential to ensure compatability to automatic CW relay as well as avoid visual confusion of e.g. BT
  • The closing NNNN should appear after at least one empty line on a line by itself




Operator Notes

At the footer of message form, each message sent and received must have date, time, frequency, mode, and signature of operator who sent/received, filled out immediately after sending or after receiving.

Message Preservation

All messages that are text must be recorded in writing, even if being sent/received by digital means, as a fail safe in the event of data loss, power loss.

Signal Reports

CWB uses a fast and simple method of giving meaningful and accurate Readability (and optionally Signal) reports. See: Q for details.

Digital Traffic Net

CWB is part of the Digital Traffic Net on HF Radio using Pactor.


Pactor is chosen for its robustness, reliability, and speed adaptation to conditions.

Pactor Controllers

Pactor controllers (PTC) are used due to their high performance, resilience, reliability and compatability with other modes where required.

Each CWB Operator with PTC should regularly check the parameters of the PTC to ensure that all settings are correct, and have not been overwritten during running of third party software such as RMS Express, Airmail, etc. Where possible a batch file should be run after exiting any software, to ensure the correct values are re-written to the PTC.

Recommended values include:

  • ARX 1 (if allowing AMTOR)
  • BC 1
  • BK 24
  • BOX 0
  • CHOC 26
  • CM 1
  • CTE (refer to PTC manual or as instructed)
  • CW 1 7 (note the space between 1 and 7)
  • FSKA (refer to PTC manual and adjust accordingly)
  • L 1
  • MA 1
  • MAR 1600
  • MYL 3 (2.7kHz bandwidth OK, if only 500Hz then MYL 2)
  • MYS (if allowing AMTOR)
  • PSKA (refer to PTC manual and adjust accordingly)
  • REM 1
  • SPA 1400
  • TO 4
  • DA (check the date is showing as current date!)
  • TI (check time is showing correct UTC time!)

If the above values are not set or are reset upon using other software then the station will NOT be compatible with CWB digital mode standards. One way to do this is to run simple32.exe from Simple Gold (free version is enough) and 2nd icon on bottom row allows editing and saving of text, save all the commands with their correct values one under the other ending with DA and TI so that you will see the date and time being correct or not. You will also need to click "edit wordwrap" on the menu above the text editor to ensure your CTE all fits on one line (see manual for CTE format e.g. # means new line). You may wish to start the list with LOC 0 and end with LOC 1 to ensure it is locked. However, if you lock the commands, you may need to unlock them before running any software such as RMS Express.

PTC Mailbox

PTC Mailboxes are to be used to ensure that Pactor stations in the CWB network will still be able to receive (for later retrieval or for relay) messages when no computer is connected (due to logistics etc) and continue to operate on low power in emergency.

These may only be disabled by software running such as RMS Express or Airmail if required, but must be re-enabled upon exiting any software, to ensure that PTC can be deployed during a power failure or emergency at short notice with all settings intact.

See section on Pactor Controllers regarding settings.

Recommended format for saving messages locally for pickup (or remotely at other PTC stations):

W CALLSIGN PRECEDENCE DESTINATION <changeover if remote or enter if local>
Message text in the same format as described in the section on Message Format.
Save with <changeover if remote or escape if local>

The W(rite) command if remote may need to be preceded by // as in //W

After saving, read the message to ensure it is correct, using the R command.

  • After receiving any message destined for you, please delete it from the remote box with the DEL command.
  • Do NOT delete messages that are not for you, deletion should normally be done by the addressee upon receipt.
  • Any formal messages (QTC format) must be copied down in writing for preservation on Message form.
  • List message directories with the //DIR or DIR command.
  • List public (broadcast) messages with //CH command

See manual for explanations of DIR, LIST, READ, WRITE and DELETE as these are essential commands to know, and also review REMOTE and BOX commands.

It is highly recommended to use PTC mailboxes on a regular basis for message handling to ensure knoweldge and best practices are maintained during any communications emergency.

Best Practices

Keep the circuit free by reducing connect time and idling:

  • 1st use //List Callsign — to get a list of messages for you with date/time (this is not available within the messages themselves)
  • Read all your messages in one go with //Read Callsign 1- (this will read all messages from 1 upwards)
  • If messages are not formal, and any formal messages have been copied and saved, delete with e.g. //Delete callsign 1- (all!)
  • Alternatively delete individual messages or ranges, taking care as file numbers change when deleted individually! Use //LIst first.
  • Compose messages offline, e.g. save in your own PTC, and send when promoted to enter text, use <esc>Send Filename Nr
  • E.g. I compose a message to VK4QC in my PTC with <ESC>W VK4QC Title or Subject<enter> enter message and end with <esc>
  • If that message is in my box as File no. 2 for VK4QC, I can connect to VK4QC, use //w VK4QC Title or Subject<enter> and when prompted to enter message text, I can use <esc>Send VK4QC 2<enter> and the text will be sent fast, and end with nnnn
  • Regularly make sure CTE, CM 1, REM 1 as well as MYC, PSKA and FSKA values etc are all correct.

Make your mailbox form reflect your presence or that of any monitoring software:

If you are present you can set box to Box 0 or 2, if absent set box to 1 or 3 so that // commands are not necessary and the prompt is "next?" — this clearly indicates you are not present and no relevant software is running on a connected PC, thus preventing the remote user from trying to enter any live text that you will never see.

Pactor Terminal

A simple option for QSO is the RMS Simple Terminal or a more advance one which has the added advantage of being able to run a text file with all your settings (see section on Pactor Controllers) is Simple32 Gold. Simple Gold is an advanced split 3-screen terminal software that will allow many features for easy QSO including in Pactor Duplex Mode (Cmd: PD 1) with a single click. Simple32 Gold also allows the sending of any files, photos etc easily between stations, and also can be easily used with the PTC for CW, RTTY, Amtor and PSK31. On the Command menu you can switch the Com Port on/off, so there is no need to exit the program when you are going to run another software such as Airmail or RMS Express. Simply close the Com port, and re-open it after exiting the other program later when you want to restore your settings in batch (see section on Pactor Controller).

For Linux, Minicom can be used as a simple terminal, with useful options including Echo on/off, Macros, etc.

QTC with PTC

As noted in Message Preservation all formal text messages must be also recorded on paper form. The PTC mailbox is very useful for storing messages for pickup but also for sending. When using remote commands remote stations can collect mail from the PTC mailbox and leave messages, the PTC light will flash green when standby, if there are messages for your callsign in your PTC. PTC mailbox must be backed up regularly as power loss often results in loss of mailbox and files. Simple32 Gold top right text menu Mailbox manager allows back up and restore of mailbox contents. Otherwise you will have to re-enter from your paper copy if you lose mailbox contents. Check regularly that your mailbox is intact. In any mode, such as CW, RTTY, PSK31, you can send the contents of a QTC stored in the mailbox by using the <esc> S CALLSIGN[FILENAME] FILENUMBER e.g. S VK5EEE 1 to send file number 1. (PTC file numbers always start with 1 and upwards, depending how many files (messages) are stored. There are NOT the official message number which is at the start of the actual message after ZCZC. Note that in CW, the ZCZC and NNNN will be sent when using this method but this is not a problem. For RTTY that is desirable, as RTTY can have squelch set to ignore any spurious reception until ZCZC is received and then squelch is on again after NNNN. To turn RTTY squelch on use SQ 145 to turn it off SQ 45 (see SQ command in manual).

Format for Saving Messages in PTC Mailbox

<esc>W VK4QC R VK6RR QTC for Roy<enter> then enter message (see Message Format section).


  • Back up your PTC mailbox regularly
  • Check the mailbox is intact at least once daily
  • Check your other settings are intact (see section Pactor Controllers)
  • Computer glitches are frequent, ideally also store QTC in the PTC Mailbox
  • Make sure all QTC are also filed in writing e.g. on official Message forms
  • Delete messages addressed to you after reading and copying them

Severe Weather Nets

CWB should develop in possible cooperation with others, Severe Weather Nets along the lines of:

Any information to be published in this section.

CWB Certified Operators

CWB Certification signals that a Communicator has recent recent qualification in CWB offiical message formats and traffic handling, as well as recent active participation levels in qualifying on-air CW Networks.

Just the same as a first aid certificate, which requires regular renewal, it is the same with formal radiotelegraphy traffic handling, it is a skill which requires routine practice and regular certification update. The following are currently CWB Communicator Certified (#tactical):

  • Rob (VK2MZ) #21
  • Peter (VK4QC) #41
  • Louis (VK5EEE) #51
  • Roy (VK6RR) #61
  • Bernard (VK2IB) #22
  • Neil (ZL1NZ) #ZLD

CCC (CSF-CWB Certified Communicators) are communicators who have achieved high standards in the following areas:

  • International Morse Code (CW)
  • Formal Message Handling (QTC)
  • Traffic Net Participation (CWNets)
  • HF Radio Operating Skills and Procedures

In addition CCC are expected to develop:

  • Skills in construction of radio transmitting and receiving equipment
  • Skills in construction of Morse Keys
  • Abilities in the use of mechanical Morse keys esp. bug, side-swiper
  • Skilled in evasion of QRM and in split frequency operation (QSW/QSX)
  • Abilities to send and receive QTC with 100% accuracy in QRK2
  • Use full QSK wherever possible and at least semi-QSK
  • Have a good knowledge of, or keep handy, Q codes, Z codes, QVZ

Station Activity Reports

Please supply stats at the end of each month as described here: SAR

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