The mission of the Neighborhood Net is to spread information over a wide area when other means of communication are not available. The Net is not for “command and control.” Its purpose is to deliver information to all stations on the Net to support their decision-making as part of the spontaneous response taking place throughout the area.
The Net is a collection of people using walkie-talkie radios to gather and distribute information about local conditions. Information is gathered by Blocks, Hubs, and individuals, relayed by radio to one or more Net Base stations, and “re-broadcast” to every station on the Net. In this way, information is spread throughout the area.
COMMON CONTACT CHANNEL: Channel 7, Privacy Code 12. Be sure you know how to set the channel on your walkie-talkie. Read the instructions that come with your radio, or email us directly if you need help to figure it out.
The Net relies on walkie-talkies, also known as “FRS/GMRS handheld radios.” FRS stands for “Family Radio Service.” GMRS stand for “General Mobile Radio Service.” The two “services” are defined by the Federal Communications Commission, and they share a set of frequencies.
In practice, you don’t need to know a lot about how the radios work in order to use them. Modern walkie-talkies combine FRS and GMRS frequencies, and provide a set of 22 “channel” numbers to choose from. No license is required to use these radios in the way that we use them.
We use and recommend either of the two radios shown below, which are variations on the same model. They each sell for about $68 per pair on Amazon.com (click photos). The black version (MR350R) is water-resistant and has a volume knob. The yellow version (MS350R) is totally waterproof; volume control is done with the buttons.
Both versions come with rechargeable batteries (and the black version has a mini-USB port for charging), but we recommend using only normal alkaline batteries (3 AA batteries per radio). In an emergency you are not likely to have access to power for recharging. Buy spare batteries when you buy the radios.
If you are committed to taking part in the Net but you find the expense of buying radios to be a hardship, please email us. We have some units we can let you use.
The most important thing when having a conversation over the radio is to Listen Carefully! If you listen carefully, you can learn almost everything you need to know about how to participate in the Net.
Everyone on the Net shares a single channel. Only one person can talk at a time, to prevent “doubling” or a “pile-up” where none of the transmissions can be understood. Listen carefully when other people are talking, wait for a break in their conversation, and only then begin your own transmission.
When you want to transmit, hold the radio so you are talking across the lower part of the front faceplate, where the speaker and microphone are located. Hold it very close to your mouth, but to the side so you are talking across the microphone rather than directly into it. Depress the “Push to Talk” button (usually on the upper left side of the radio as you look at it from the front, probably labeled “PTT”), wait 1/2 second, then begin speaking. (If you don’t wait, the first part of what you say will be cut off.)
To begin your transmission, say who you are calling, then your own identifier, such as your first name. For example: “All stations, this is David,” or “Phinney Base, this is David.” It is often useful to mention your location.
Download our “Procedure Words” information sheet as a PDF for specific useful information.
Special Note for advanced users, about PL tones and CTCSS: If you are using a UHF radio, you can find information showing the PL tones that correspond to the “privacy codes” on commercial walkie-talkies. Google “gmrs frequencies and codes,” or similar. Our Common Contact Channel is: Channel 7, Privacy Code 12.
Training and Test Nets
From time to time, we sponsor trainings where you can use our walkie-talkies to practice radio procedure. Please sign up for our email list to be notified when we’re doing a training.
We are doing a series of monthly “Test Nets,” where you have the opportunity to get on the air with other people in the neighborhood. Currently (April 2016) these Nets are centered on “Phinney Base” near the intersection of Greenwood Ave. N and N 67th St. in Phinney Ridge.