Topics

Digital Mode Hardware

Fred Dittrich <fdittric@...>
 

Hi

So, you are curious to try out digital modes but don't know where to start? Here is my $0.02 worth of experience with digital modes with emphasis on interface hardware. There are more experienced digital mode users in the club and I am sure there are many with other opinions so please take this with a grain of salt.

First a word about context. How do these various digital modes work? Do you know how telephone modems and fax machines use various beeps and chirps to transmit information? Digital modes use exactly the same sort of trick and concentrate large transmission rates into modest bandwidth. E.g. in the same 50 Hz or so bandwidth you can send 13 wpm with CW or 50 wpm with PSK31. Additionally there are digital modes which offer forward error correction, a feature CW lacks. The choice is yours.

Now to the hardware. In order to communicate using digital modes you must have some way to enable your PC to talk to/listen to your rig. Here are two hardware options which I know to be competent.

The first is the $109 tigertronics SignalLink USB model (http://www.tigertronics.com/files/slusbman.pdf). Don't be tempted by their other model which plugs directly into your PC's sound card jacks. Just say no to that option. If you use this second option then each time you want to listen to audio material on your PC you will have to swap the plugs in the back of your PC from your SignalLink to your PC speakers and visa versa.

The second is the $200 RIGBlaster Advantage (which I have and love) (http://www.westmountainradio.com/pdf/RB_Advantage_Manual.pdf).

Please read through both manuals to get a feel for connection and operation issues.

Both of these give you all the interface features you need to use digital communications software (e.g. fldigi or RMS Express) from your PC. Both will encode/decode the various digital modes and both will activate your PTT relay to transmit.

The RIGBlaster Advantage has an additional feature which I love but which other hams do not: CAT control. If your interface has CAT control then when you select a frequency in fldigi or select an HF Winmor server name in the RMS Express Winmor Channel Selection list, the software will set your radio to the selected frequency and operating mode for you.

Both of these interface manufacturers offer custom wired cables for your particular radio model which makes them almost plug and play. Look on their web site or e-mail them for details.

In order to perfect your skill you can earn 070 club certification. See
http://www.podxs070.com/

I hope this bit of information allows you to at least visualize how digital communication modes might fit into your shack.

73

Fred KD0PAI

Dewey Bennett
 

 

              Hey folks I have a signal link and think it is great.  If you get FLDIGI there are  about
              at least a dozen digital modes you can do, MT63 RTTY PSK just to mention the
              most used.  Be sure to get the cable that goes with your radio.

              dewey



Henry Taylor
 

You can also do it thru your native computer sound card but you have to build a (fairly simple) set of wires involving some rudimentary soldering. This info is "out there" if you need it. I have done it, but have since switched to the Signalink USB for the simplicity of 2 (only) wires.

Hank KD0BVQ

At 05:24 PM 2/5/2012, you wrote:
Hi

So, you are curious to try out digital modes but don't know where to
start? Here is my $0.02 worth of experience with digital modes with
emphasis on interface hardware. There are more experienced digital
mode users in the club and I am sure there are many with other
opinions so please take this with a grain of salt.

First a word about context. How do these various digital modes work?
Do you know how telephone modems and fax machines use various beeps
and chirps to transmit information? Digital modes use exactly the
same sort of trick and concentrate large transmission rates into
modest bandwidth. E.g. in the same 50 Hz or so bandwidth you can send
13 wpm with CW or 50 wpm with PSK31. Additionally there are digital
modes which offer forward error correction, a feature CW lacks. The
choice is yours.

Now to the hardware. In order to communicate using digital modes you
must have some way to enable your PC to talk to/listen to your rig.
Here are two hardware options which I know to be competent.

The first is the $109 tigertronics SignalLink USB model
(http://www.tigertronics.com/files/slusbman.pdf). Don't be tempted by
their other model which plugs directly into your PC's sound card
jacks. Just say no to that option. If you use this second option then
each time you want to listen to audio material on your PC you will
have to swap the plugs in the back of your PC from your SignalLink to
your PC speakers and visa versa.

The second is the $200 RIGBlaster Advantage (which I have and love)
(http://www.westmountainradio.com/pdf/RB_Advantage_Manual.pdf).

Please read through both manuals to get a feel for connection and
operation issues.

Both of these give you all the interface features you need to use
digital communications software (e.g. fldigi or RMS Express) from
your PC. Both will encode/decode the various digital modes and both
will activate your PTT relay to transmit.

The RIGBlaster Advantage has an additional feature which I love but
which other hams do not: CAT control. If your interface has CAT
control then when you select a frequency in fldigi or select an HF
Winmor server name in the RMS Express Winmor Channel Selection list,
the software will set your radio to the selected frequency and
operating mode for you.

Both of these interface manufacturers offer custom wired cables for
your particular radio model which makes them almost plug and play.
Look on their web site or e-mail them for details.

In order to perfect your skill you can earn 070 club certification. See
http://www.podxs070.com/

I hope this bit of information allows you to at least visualize how
digital communication modes might fit into your shack.

73

Fred KD0PAI

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