Traffic handling: The value of VOX

Photo of VOX control on a transciever

It’s a very good idea to use the voice-operated relay (VOX) function of your transceiver when sending traffic on SSB. If you use VOX, your rig will automatically stop transmitting between words. This will enable you to hear the receiving station, should that operator need to interrupt you for any reason.

I recently heard a real-life example of why this is important. During a section-level NTS SSB net, a net control station (NCS) was sending a radiogram to another net member. The NCS was not using VOX. His transmitter was therefore on continuously for the entire preamble and address block, until he finally transmitted the “break” between the address block and text. Then and only then did the NCS stop transmitting so he could hear a response from the receiving station.

Unfortunately on this day, the receiving station was having a problem with intermittent high noise levels in his receiver. The NCS had only transmitted for a couple of seconds when the noise popped up at the receiving end, making it impossible for the receiving station to copy the NCS. The receiving station tried to interrupt the NCS and let him know that radiogram reception was no longer possible, but to no avail. He had to wait and wait and wait until the “break” finally came.

Because the NCS was not using VOX, a considerable amount of net time was wasted. Fortunately, this is not a major issue during normal times of low traffic volume. But during a period of high volume, such as after a disaster, every second of net time counts.

You might think, “I’ll remember to turn on VOX during high traffic volumes.” But the fact is, as any musician knows, we perform as we practice.

Using VOX during the transmission of all radiograms is a best practice that all net control stations and other experienced operators should model for the newer traffic handlers among us.