Field Day Message / Traffic Handling – 300 Points There for the Taking

By Dan Henderson, N1ND, Regulatory Information and Field Day Manager

Each year, hundreds of Field Day operations try and find every advantage to earn as many points as possible. But many overlook bonus point categories that can add a reliable 300 points to your group score: the group participation NTS message to the ARRL Section Manager, the W1AW Field Day bulletin, and the NTS traffic handling bonus.

Each Field Day group should generate a formal NTS-style piece to their ARRL Section Manager or Section Emergency Coordinator. This message should include the group’s name, their location for Field Day, and the number of ARES members participating in the event. Most Section Managers make special provisions to have these messages handled during the regularly scheduled section traffic nets. Since it may mean that your group may have to take one of your stations away from operating normal Field Day contacts, your group is awarded the 100-point bonus for taking the time to pass this piece of traffic. To claim this bonus, you must submit a copy of the formal message with your Field Day entry. Note: The Section Manager message does not count as one of the 10 NTS messages for bonus points.

During a real emergency, there are often special bulletins transmitted by W1AW that will provide updates and important information. During Field Day, an official Field Day message is transmitted from W1AW twelve times on various bands and modes (Phone, CW, RTTY, and PSK31). The schedule of times for these bulletins is found in this packet with the list of rules. The W1AW frequencies are found each month in QST. The special Field Day bulletin is only available on-the-air during the Field Day period (it is not sent via the internet). Your group will earn a 100-point bonus for including a copy of the W1AW bulletin with its Field Day submission. Also, stations will once again have the chance to copy the bulletin when K6KPH transmits the bulletins. Their schedule is also included in the rules.

The NTS formal traffic-handling bonus is an excellent method of demonstrating Amateur Radio’s formal communication ability. All you have to do is have your Field Day team handle 10 formal National Traffic System (NTS) messages during the Field Day period. This involves 10 messages other than the Section Manager message noted above.

NTS messages are among the most important means of communication that Amateur Radio handles during emergencies. Every ham operator, especially ARES members should know how to properly format and pass formal traffic. Whether they are formal requests for supplies from a served agency to emergency management officials, or situation updates between branches of the same agency, in an emergency these formal messages are at the heart of performing our role of support communications to local, state and national officials and agencies. They are emphasized during Field Day, so that we will all know the standard format and style in which they are exchanged.

Your group will earn its 100-bonus points by Originating, Relaying or Delivering ten different messages during the Field Day period (ten points per message, up to ten messages handled). These messages must be handled during the Field Day period. You may pass them on local, state or regional HF or VHF traffic nets, via the packet network, or when in contact with other amateurs willing to assist you in handling the traffic. Many local groups assign one of their HF stations to check-in to the state or local traffic or emergency net at the appropriate time during the Field Day period, as that provides a central clearing house for routing messages, just as would occur during an actual emergency.

The messages generated during the Field Day for bonus credit do not have to be addressed to a state or local official (though in doing so you may help them become more aware of our message-handling network). Some groups will address formal traffic to other clubs or have visitors prepare messages to their friends and families. The key to remember is that all of the Field Day messages must be in standard ARRL NTS format. A sample NTS message is found in this packet. Also you can download a wide variety of NTS forms and information material from

You say you have never handled formal traffic before? Ask around your club. We bet it won’t take too long to locate a member with traffic handling experience. Or contact Steve Ewald, WV1X, Emergency Communications Specialist at the ARRL at if you need specific questions answered.

Formal NTS style traffic plays a big role during an actual emergency. Use this bonus to help your club achieve additional points for the Field Day efforts as well as to hone your skills for this key part of emergency communications.

Sample Field Day National Traffic System Message

Number Precedence HX Stn of Origin Check Place of Origin Time Filed Date
1 R E W1AW 24 Newington CT 2300 UTC June 27
To: Jane Q Public W1INF
ARRL CT Section Manager
225 Main Stre
Newington, CT 06111
Telephone: (860) 594-0200
ARRL Headquarters amateur operators are
participating in 2009 Field Day
from W1AW x 25 amateurs
and 34 others have visited
the site x 73  
Signature: John Q. Ham W1AW Field Day Chairman

Handling Instructions (HX Field)

A. Sequential Message Number
B. Handling Precedence
C. Handling Instructions (HX)
D. Call Sign of Originating Station
E. Check
F. Place of Origin
G. Time Originated
H. Date
I. Full Name and Address or Recipient with phone number
J. Text of message (total number of words and breaks (X-rays) are included in Check)
K. Signature