Well, I've been a Ham for a little over a month now so still finding my feet. Also trying to find out what I enjoy, what is a bit 'meh' for me but also trying things out as I go along.
I'd heard the downplays for digital modes, from the complete rejection of such things to the "OMG it's so complicated" phrasings...
Ignoring it all, I dug through my cables until I came across a phono to 3.5mm stereo cable. Scrabbled around the floor with my crippled leg to plug the damn thing into the tiny little 'mic' connector on the back of my PC! Then moved my radio closer to the PC as the lead was, perhaps not unsurprisingly, too short to reach.
My radio, (Yaesu FT757GX), has limited CAT capabilities but I can always manually tune it to the digital mode frequencies rather than the PC controlling it. It was suggested that I use 600 ohm 1:1 audio isolation transformers....didn't have any so plugged it all straight in....seems to work.
I download the software required for free! Link here if you want it :-
Then played around..... and this is what I got :-
It flipping works!
If you take a look at those callsigns coming through that was the UK, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Russia, Serbia and Italy, all in one 15 second burst! Unbelievable, especially on my wires in the loft antenna and the plethora of Christmas lights popping up in the village (in flipping November!), causing me much QRM.
There have been some issues though...
I couldn't transmit at first as I only have one lead, so I've ordered more leads.
I temporarily made up a lead to transmit, hooked to the FSK connection on my old radio and as I didn't have CAT PTT, (push to talk), control I stuck the radio on VOX. That way any audio out would pop the radio into transmit. The data stream doesn't work very well if it's interrupted by 'sound notifications' though and I get a heck of a lot of emails which seem to pop up everytime I transmitted.....Grrrr! Another sound card needed perhaps?
So as well as some audio leads, I've also ordered a secondary USB soundcard, (less than £4 including postage - brilliant!), which should get around the latter problems.
Top of the range computer required? - No.
This is running on a resurrected AMD64 PC of some 10+ years vintage. Only 3GB RAM and hence why I'm running Linux, (specifically Ubuntu 20.04), as WIndows 10 would probably fall flat on it's face. No fancy video card required, (It has an old Nvidia 4GB card that at least lets me run dual displays in HD), no fancy anything really. By all accounts a dinosaur of a PC. Still works!
So you could dig out that old laptop or PC to give it a go...the WSJT-X software comes in Linux, Windoze and Mac flavourings.
Top of the range radio? - No.
My Yaesu FT757GX is a great HF set and also an old girl at 40 years old.
Full CAT interfacing required? - No.
My Yaesu has a massive 8 frequency memory! Can you imagine?! 8 memories!
Still more than enough to program the standard digital mode frequencies for all the HF bands though.
PTT control? - Yes...and No.
As I mentioned I used the VOX setting to get around that but if I do go the whole hog of hooking up a CAT control I can used a spare DTR/CTS pin to my Yaesu PTT input.
Not once did I have to chew through my microphone connector with my false teeth to hook up wires via the MIC or PHONE inputs
(Got suggested that little 'tip' more than once!)
So that's about it so far. (More to come...I'm sure)
Everyone knows that 10W Morse will give you the world. A famous 'digital' mode at that. Frequented by those that refuse to code slower, hate your terrible code, (we all have to learn at sometime), and use inexplicable shorthand. Yeah, it has it's 'elitists' the same as any other mode!
(Heard an 80m moan today how the RSGB was handing out licences to CBers....really!)
10W, (remember this is the Foundation licence limit), will give you the world without learning Morse or dealing with the hassle.
Limited antenna options? Limited power outputs? Buried in RFI QRM? Don't fancy breaking the Credit Card on even more gear?
Then it's probably worth a go isn't it?
I'm bound to post up more as I explore this new option available to me, relish in the contacts around the world, generally be happy and do expect the postings to be as long as this one....I do like a good waffle
Have you tried digital? Are you a digital mode master? Perhaps you hate it and can't wait to tell us all how much you hate it?
Then post it on up!
All the best,