About PRNet

** DO NOT edit the NETCONT.ROL or other files without first making a backup file **

The Windows version of PRNet replaces the older DOS version of PRNet written in 1990. The DOS keystroke functionality was preserved where possible. All files generated by the DOS version are forward compatible with Windows PRNet.

The software creates a new log file each day the program is used and names the file with the date. If the program is re-started on the same day, a prompt asks if you want to use the current log.

Check-ins editing | Learn the software | Options and editing | Look-up files
To run multiple nets | Back-up files and edits | Updating to new callsigns

All inputs are entered in the callsign input, followed by the <Enter> key. Non-callsign entries would be keyboard shortcuts, which allow software operation without using the mouse. Shortcuts A and C change modes - just the letter A is entered for example.

There are 3 modes:
Acknowledge <Ack>, Comments <Com> and callsign logging. Normal mouse-click can be used to change modes as well. Regardless of the mode, entering another callsign automatically changes to logging and to the acknowledge mode.

Net/Program flow:
  • Start a log.
  • Announce yourself and ask for check-ins.
  • Enter each callsign copied. Enter Call- for stations checking `in&out`. For those calls not copied, ask for a repeat. If you enter the wrong callsign - or partial call - that call probably will not be found in the netcontrol database file, and default personal information will need to be edited. This can be handled when convenient in several ways.
    1. If the call entered is wrong and it is the last call in the list, <Enter> `DL` to delete the last check-in,  then re-enter the correct call.
    2. You can delete a check-in not the last one in the list. <Enter> D# to delete a check-in line.
    3. Editing check-ins: Click a check-in line and do right-mouse click and select an option. Edit the prompted field and hit <Enter>. If not changing a field, just hit <Enter> to keep the current check-in data.
  • After entering a group of check-in stations, acknowledge each station. This would be the time to ask for a repeat of a station`s call. When necessary, change to the <Ack> mode by either:
    1. Enter the letter A to make the change, or
    2. Use the mouse to toggle the `radio buttons` to Acknowledge, or
    3. Hitting <Enter> on a blank callsign input - if that option is selected.
  • To mark a check-in as <Ack> you can either:
    1. <Enter> the ID # for that line, or
    2. Hit the <Space bar> - if that option is selected. The next non-Ack line is appended with <Ack>.  Entering the ID # still works when the <Space> option is selected. Go thru the list. While acknowledging check-ins, this could be the time to do some edits. Click a line and do right-mouse click and select an edit option. The <Enter> key can be used to input changes and you can also hit <Enter> if not changing an input.
  • Now ask for additional check-ins. You may use a beam heading sequence that would insure picking up all stations. The same sequence can be used when asking for comments later.
  • Now select the Acknowledge <Ack> mode again, if necessary. Acknowledge the last group of check-ins.
  • Ask for additional check-ins and acknowledge them.
  • Do the net announcements. If another station is giving announcements, you can toggle to the Comments <Com> mode and <Enter> that station`s ID number to mark <Com>.
  • Ask for additional check-ins and acknowledge them.
  • Toggle to Comments and ask for comments. Depending on your beam heading, whether a station is `DX` or other reasons, you may want to go out of order. Enter the line ID number or hit the <Space> bar (if that option is selected), to mark for comments. The line is appended with <Com>. The software keeps track of <Ack> and <Com> modes so you can switch back and forth as needed to run the net.
  • In the middle of comments, you may have check-ins break-in or you may ask for additional check-ins. While in either mode, entering a callsign sets the mode back to <Ack>. If you mark a check-in on the wrong mode by mistake, <Entering> C# clears <Ack> in the Acknowledge mode and clears <Com> in the Comments mode.
  • When all comments are done, ask for more check-ins. Acknowledge them and ask for comments.
  • Thank the participants for checking-in and close the net.

    Back-up and manual editing files

    If you must edit the master database file, save your NETCONT.ROL file for back-up. You do want to make a back-up copy of any file that you are going to manually edit. Use the File, Save NETCONT.ROL back-up file menu.

    Manual edits would be edits done in NotePad for example - which you can do, just maintain the format - 6 lines per record.


    The last line of each record is a placeholder for the `old call` when a station changes callsigns.

    When you check-in a station for the first time, try to edit the information during the net so the information gets saved into the NETCONT.ROL file and shows the next time that station checks in. You can re-run PRNet on the same day to make edits.

    Editing the check-ins

    Editing check-ins is done by first clicking a check-in line. Then right-mouse to display the menu options, and select an option. Selecting `Do multiple edits` is the easiest. At the prompt, <Enter> the new text. Hit the <Home> key to insert text at the beginning of the field. To skip the change on any edit prompt, just hit the <Enter> key. <Enter> does the same function as the 2 buttons, just easier.

    It is best to do edits while running the net, since you can get the info from the check-in station. Editing a log on the same day - after the net - is possible as well. The Connect to QRZ.com edit option is a useful tool.

    The NETCONT.ROL file is only updated when you exit the software. If you would rather make editing notes on paper and do the edits at the end of the net, you can do that. When you exit the software, the edits will be propagated to the NETCONT.ROL file for future nets, as are the new check-in dates.
  • When entering a check-in that is already in the netcontrol file - from DOS software entry - the 6-digit grid and heading may not be displayed. Right click the line and select the Insert grid and heading menu. If that callsign is in the {vhf4k.adi} file, the grid and heading are inserted in the check-in line and saved to the netcontrol file on program exit. If you do this operation twice for some reason, then the information is inserted twice. Use the QTH grid etc editor to remove the unwanted text.
  • A way to change the existing NETCONT.ROL file entries to include the heading from ADIF file look-up is:
    The check-in line is: K1WHS DAVE FN43 MAINE
    Click the line, do right-mouse and select QTH Grid etc. Backspace out the `FN43` and hit <Enter>.
    The check-in line reads: K1WHS DAVE MAINE
    Do right-mouse and select Insert grid and heading and hit <Enter>.
    The check-in line reads: K1WHS DAVE MAINE FN43mj  46�
  • The edit callsign field has limited use, since entering the wrong call populates the log with wrong information, that needs to be edited as well. It much easier to delete that check-in and enter the correct call.
  • The Update to new callsign is meant to do just that - update the database when a station changes his/her callsign.

    The NETCONT.ROL file can also be edited using the Edit pull down menu. Click a line and do right-mouse, then select the function you want. The QTH field can be edited to whatever you want - just don`t make the length of this field too long.

    Files converted

    Files generated in the old DOS version are either updated or temporarily formatted so they can be used with the new software. The new updated files cannot be used with the old DOS software. This is why the folder name being used is different. It keeps the software versions separate.

    Keyboard shortcuts

    Print these shortcuts from the PRNet File, Print shortcuts menu.
  • <Esc> resets the check-in window and puts the cursor at the callsign input.
  • <Enter> - on a blank input changes modes <Ack> and <Com> if that option is selected.
  • # - Enter the check-in ID number to mark that check-in as <Ack> in the Acknowledge mode or mark that check-in as <Com> in the Comments mode.
  • Entering a callsign also changes the mode to Acknowledge.
  • A - changes the mode to Acknowledge.
  • C - changes the mode to Comments.
  • C# - clears <Ack> in the Acknowledge mode or clears <Com> in the Comments mode, where # is the 1 or 2 digit check-in ID number.
  • D# - deletes the check-in entry, where # is the 1 or 2 digit check-in ID number.
  • DL - enter DL to delete the last check-in entry. If a callsign is correctable on the last check-in entry, first delete that entry, then log the correct callsign. This is easier than editing, since the rest of the information propagated from look-up files needs to be changed as well.
  • <Space bar> marks check-ins <Ack> in the Acknowledge mode or marks check-in as <Com> in the Comments mode, if the <Space bar> option is selected.

    Learn the software

    To learn the software, you should run the program from a temporary folder - otherwise you will have to delete the NETCONT.ROL file and check-in log files before running real nets.

    First make a new folder like c:\Test_PRNetW for example and copy the contents of C:\PRNetW to your new folder.

    Go to the c:\Test_PRNetW folder and edit the PRNet_Control.ini file [Path to check-in log files] to be C:\Test_PRNetW. Run PRNet.exe from the test folder to learn the software.

    Lookup files

    When you enter a callsign, several files are searched.
    NETCONT.ROL - unique callsign and check-in dates.
    ** RATSNEST.dat - Pack Rats members file.
    CK2LIST.dat - local operator`s names.
    VHF4K.adi - it was 4K callsigns and grids, now 5500+. This look-up supplies grid information not found in the other files. Your 6-digit grid and the grid from the ADIF file are used to calculate the beam heading - and distance for the net summary text file.

    Write a net summary file using the Write text file or the Write text file 2 menu functions. In the Options menu, select Miles, kM or Neither to have the distance appended to each check-in line of the summary.

    144 MHz Check-ins for 08-15-16
    Miles:     KB1JEY   MICHAEL   AMBLER, PA  FN20jd 191� 17 mi
    kM:         KB1JEY   MICHAEL   AMBLER, PA  FN20jd 191� 28 kM
    Neither:  KB1JEY   MICHAEL   AMBLER, PA  FN20jd 191�

    When entering a first-time check-in, the station`s grid square and beam heading are stored to the check-in log. When a call is entered that already is in the NETCONT.ROL file, you can insert the grid and heading using the
    edit function.

    The NETCONT.ROL file is the list of all the unique check-ins. At program start, the number of unique check-ins is displayed. At program exit, the NETCONT.ROL file is updated to include edits made to check-ins and the current date for the check-ins - which is used to show when that person checked-in last.

    Note: If you did tests initially to learn the software, you should remove the test callsign records from the NETCONT.ROL file before running a net, since those test callsigns will add to the total unique check-ins. Make a backup copy of this file, in case the file gets corrupted when you remove the test records. Check the file format - there are 6-lines for each record - do not change the format !

    ** Non-PackRat net control stations:
    If you are controlling a net where a large number of check-ins will be members of your club, make your own look-up file. The file is hard-coded in the software to RATSNEST.dat and it must be in the same format as my original file.

    If you have a club membership list file, send it to me and I will try to convert your file to a RATSNEST.dat file.

    New Callsigns

    When a station changes their callsign, use the Update to the new callsign edit option.
    1. This can be done while in the net where the new callsign is a check-in and he/she tells you that they changed callsigns. While in the net, do right-click on the check-in line and select the Update to the new callsign menu. Follow the prompts.
    2. It can be done when not in a net as well, if you hear that a club member changes his/her call for example. Use the Edit, Update to the new callsign menu. Follow the prompts.
    Note: when you run PRNet and do not enter callsigns, the empty check-in log file is deleted - so you don`t have all those 0-byte files in the software folder.

    If W3HJ checks in, you enter W3HJ. During one of his transmissions, Bill tells you that his old call was K3ESJ. To edit the data file, click the W3HJ check-in line, do right-mouse and select the Update to the new callsign menu. Enter the old callsign - K3ESJ - at the prompt. The new call is taken from the check-in line.

    The old call is moved to line 6 of that check-in`s record in the NETCONT.ROL file and the new call is now line 1. The results of the edit are displayed on the screen. The current check-in line is also updated to show that stations name, QTH and dates - which was taken from the old call entry. When you exit PRNet, the old callsign record is replaced with the new callsign record.

    If you don`t enter an old callsign at the prompt, or the old call is not found in the file or the old call and new call are the same, the edit operation is cancelled.

    Options and editing

  • To edit check-ins, click the line, do right-mouse click and select an edit option. Selecting the Connect to QRZ.com menu takes you to QRZ.com. The selected check-in is displayed on the web. If not, you can always do a normal QRZ search. Use <Alt> + <Tab> to move between the web browser and PRNet. Right-click the check-in line to select other edit options.
  • You can view past check-in log files from the View menu.
  • The station that checked-in the most since day 1 or checked-in the most in the current year, can be displayed using the View menu.
  • To output a text file summary suitable for copy/paste to an e-mail for example, use the Write text file menu. Select Miles, kM or Neither from the Options menu.
  • Removing the bearing field (last item on the check-in line) is also selectable in the Options menu.

  • An option selected in the Options menu, allows using the <Enter> key as a keyboard shortcut to toggle the mode radio buttons.
    Normal operation is by using the A and C shortcuts, plus mouse-click.
    If you select Use <Enter> as shortcut to change modes, the <Enter> key is added as a shortcut to change modes.
  • A second option selected in the Options menu, allows using the <Space bar> as a keyboard shortcut to mark <Ack> and <Com>.
    Normal operation is by entering the check-in ID #. 
    If you select Use <Space> or # entry to mark <Ack> and <Com>, the <Space bar> bar can also be used to mark <Ack> and <Com>. The next available check-in is marked when you use the <Space bar> option.

    To run multiple nets

    To run multiple nets - 222 and 1296 for example:
    Since you need to run the nets separately, you need 2 folders, 1 for each net.
    The default folder C:\PRNetW created when you installed the software can be used for the 222 net, just rename the desktop shortcut to reflect this - PRNet-222 - for example.

    Create a second folder - C:\PRNetW-1296.
    Copy the PRNet files from C:\PRNetW (the default folder) to this new folder.
    Do not copy PRNet_Control.ini, NETCONT.ROL or *.FLE files - these are generated when you run the new net.

    Go to the new folder. Delete PRNet_Control.ini, NETCONT.ROL and any *.FLE files if they exist. Do this to start a fresh net database - you don`t want the 1296 logs to be saved to the 222 logs location. Note: The [Path to check-in log files] option in the control ini file allows you to put the check-in logs in another folder - but never in a folder for another net.

    Use <Ctrl+Shift> and drag the PRNet.exe from the new folder to the desktop. Rename the shortcut to PRNet-1296 - for example. To run a net, you run the appropriate desktop shortcut.

    Do not just drag an .exe to the desktop - as the software will use the desktop as the startup folder - no support files are in the desktop folder! The other way to make a valid shortcut is to do right-mouse on the .exe and select make shortcut and put it on the desktop. Rename it as needed.