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Network Procedures

This page is provided as a guideline for Military, SHARES, authorized Federal and Civilian Government stations using the AF MARS Mission Support Network. The following information covers scheduling support, the suggested procedures to check into the net and how the NCS makes net calls.

Communications Support

All MSN User stations may check into the net at any time. If you are planning an operation, or exercise and would like MSN communications support, please contact the Network Manager as far in advance as possible to coordinate.

Checking into the Network

When making initial contact, please give your approximate location if not classified. If the MARS station has a beam, or directional antenna, reception can be improve if the operator knows which direction to point the antenna. This can make the difference between "Loud/Clear" and "Weak, Barely Readable" or "Unreadable".

On initial contact with the Mission Support Network, if you don't know the Net Control Stations call sign please call for "MARS RADIO".

"MARS Radio, this is [your call sign], [your location if not classified]. Over."

Example Radio Calls:
"MARS RADIO, MUSTANG 51." This example is acceptable, but we request you use any of the above examples. Our radio operators are used to hearing the word, "Over" to know when you are finished talking.

If the Net Control Station (NCS) is calling for check-in's, you can drop the "Mars Radio" from the call and use the following "abbreviated procedures"

"This is [your call sign], [your location if not classified]. Over."

Example Radio Calls:

The above abbreviated procedure is the preferred way to check into all MSN nets for MARS stations.

There are several things to keep in mind when checking into the MSN nets:

1. Call on the Primary Calling Frequency* first. The calling frequency designators and suggested times are listed on the operations page.
Depending on propagation, the Primary, Secondary or Tertiary frequencies could be utilized at any time as the calling frequency, or as additional traffic, or working frequencies.

Some of our operators are able to monitor two calling frequencies simultaneously and a few are able to simultaneously monitor all three calling frequencies.

2. Call multiple times if you do not receive an answer. To avoid confusion, the only station that will answer you on the first call is the "Net Control Station" (NCS). If Net Control does not hear you, other stations (if they hear you) will respond after your second call, which is why we request you make several calls if you are not answered on your first.

3. If you do not get any response after calling several times, please try all three calling frequencies and if you're still unable to get a response, try again in 15 to 30 minutes when propagation may be different due to the time of day, your location, or other MSN stations joining the net that might be in a better location to hear you.

4. Please check your radio to be sure you are on the correct "dial" frequency (-1.5 KHz offset from the NTIA "assigned" frequency) and using the correct sideband. All MSN frequencies are Upper Sideband (USB). If you continue to experience difficulty, please contact the Network Manager.

* Only the frequency designator is displayed. MARS Frequencies are not displayed on this web site per MARS regulations. Go to our Frequencies page for additional information.

Network Managers Note: Just because you don't receive an answer to your call, or you can't hear anyone, doesn't mean no one is there. You might not be able to contact a Mission Support Network station, or anyone else due to a number of reasons.

There are times you can communicate with a station over 2,000 miles away, but can't hear or contact stations that are closer to you and there are times you can communicate with a station within 300 miles, but can't hear or contact stations farther away. It depends on the frequency, atmospheric conditions, radio propagation, time of day/night, static and noise, transmitter RF power output, antennas in use, your location and the location of the other stations on frequency at the time of your call.

If you can't hear them, they probably can't hear you. Even if you can hear them, they might not hear you due to the reasons stated above. With over 100 assigned MSN stations around the US, we have good operator coverage, but there are times when the propagation and conditions just doesn't cooperate. Please refer to number 3 above.

MSN Net Control Station

The Net Control Station (NCS) on the calling frequency in use, is in charge of and directs activities on all of the Mission Support Network frequencies. The NCS will answer calls for "MARS Radio" and assign any MSN station on frequency that is in a better location to handle the traffic. Depending on the number of stations on frequency, amount of traffic, propagation and other considerations, the NCS could direct you to another frequency to pass your traffic. If you are directed to another frequency, return to the Calling frequency in use to report the status of the traffic such as delivered, or no contact, etc.

Stations may check into the net at any time and the NCS will make a net call on voice about every 15 minuets by saying:


and by transmitting in a digital mode (this is by NCS discretion and if they have operational digital capability at that time):

"MSN MSN DE [NCS call sign] K"

Pro-signs "DE" means "This is"
"K" means "Over"
"AR" (not used in above example) means "OUT"

"Z" and "Q" signals are not generally used on the MSN because our User stations (customers) may not know them, or they could have different meanings assigned.

If you have questions about these procedures, or Mission Support Network operations, contact the network manager.

Webmaster note: Additional information will be posted as it changes, or becomes available.

This page updated 27 July 2017 @ 1620 Zulu

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